Blogs > Jim Collins' Editor's Notebook

Jim Collins is editor emeritus of The News-Herald and also serves as executive in residence at Lakeland Community College. His popular weekly column appears each Sunday in Comment in The News-Herald.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Clarity helps hit a few more musical notes

I thought I was going to be able to extricate myself from the bottomless pit I had been digging into trivia about Old Time Radio.

But the lady of the house raised a point worth mentioning at breakfast the other day.

“That stuff may be of interest to people of our generation,” she said, “but your teenage readers probably won’t know what you’re talking about.”

I was caught off guard — but only momentarily.

“I’m not sure I have legions of teen-age readers,” I replied. “They are probably too busy with their Facebooks, their Tweeters and their Woofers.”

I was prepared, as I mulled sermon topics, to drop the subject and go on to the burning issues of the day — for example, is there any legitimate reason why Brandon Weeden should ever, in his lifetime, start another game at quarterback for the Browns?

The answer is, are you crazy? Of course not.

I cannot drop the subject of soap operas, however, without paying respect to at least a few of the people who have been kind enough to bring their thoughts to my attention.

Ever reliable Art Baldwin, former mayor of Waite Hill, expanded on his previous comments by saying: “There was a soap about a woman with Broadway connections and I could not, for the life of me, remember the name. This morning, while reading your article, it came to me: Mary Noble, Backstage Wife.”

Yes. Or, as Bob and Ray spoofed it, Mary Backstage, Noble Wife.

Art also mentioned that he has, somewhere in his mountain of trivia, a recording of the first time Fibber McGee ever opened the door of his infamous closet.

That is worth keeping, although I am certain the studio used the same sound effect every time.

Anne Scott of Concord Township commented on the spelling of singing brothers Bob Eberly (with Jimmy Dorsey) and Ray Eberle (with Glenn Miller).

“The family name was spelled Eberle,” she said, “but Bob changed it.”

I knew they were brothers, and have a ton of records by both of them, but never knew why they spelled their names differently.

Tonda DiPlacido told of a recent trip to her hometown, Franklin, Pa., and a visit to Debence Antique Music World there.

“Many friends of my parents were instrumental in getting this beautiful and interesting tribute to music up and running,” she said.

Kevin Sroub said he recalled that Tchaikovsky’s “Pathetique” was the theme for Backstage Wife, but Lorraine Gauvin, one of the great teachers at Eastlake North before she retired, insists that “Story of a Starry Night” (the ‘Pathetique’ theme) introduced Road of Life.

And she has the citation to back it up:

“There’s a thorough chart listing all the radio programs, years they ran, creators, themes, etc.,” she said.

Nobody can throw more light on a subject than Dr. Ron Taddeo, a retired plastic surgeon who has a remarkable memory for just about everything.

“A memorable piece of classical music used as a theme was Rossini’s ‘William Tell Overture,’ which brought The Lone Ranger galloping into our homes. Actually, this radio drama also utilized excerpts from two other classical compositions, the ‘Hebrides Overture’ by Felix Mendelssohn and ‘Les Preludes’ by Franz Liszt.”

Who knew?

“Back in the ’40s,” he said, “every young male knew he could become another “Jack Armstrong, the All-American Boy.” All he had to do was eat Wheaties and “wave the flag for Hudson High, boys, show them how we stand,” which was somewhat confusing since we lived in Cleveland, not Hudson.”

Ron even knew that the theme was sung by a choral group called the Norsemen.

He also had fond memories of Terry and the Pirates, based on the comic strip created by Ohio’s own Milton Caniff. Its most memorable character was the pirate queen, the Dragon Lady.

He also recalled that Rimsky-Korsakov’s  “Flight of the Bumblebee” introduced the Green Hornet, and we would soon hear the purring of his high-speed car, the Black Beauty.

“The Green Hornet’s faithful Japanese valet Kato became Filipino after Dec. 7, 1941,” he said.
Ah, the fortunes of war.

And just think of the wonderful organ music, “Someday, I’ll Find You,” that introduced Mr. Keen, Tracer of Lost Persons.

I can hear it now. I will never forget it.


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