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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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The Enormous Radio: 1941

The Enormous Radio: 1941

January 1941. "Steelworker and family. Aliquippa, Pennsylvania." Medium format negative by John Vachon for the Farm Security Administration. View full size.

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Scooby: Do you realize how expensive "nylons" were during the war years? She was fortunate to have ANY...pantyhose didn't come into existence until around 1964 either. And the adorable boy isn't dressed badly - just that his pants are squished into his "galoshes" I love this photo. I inherited a similar radio from my parents. It was the only piece of "furniture" they had when they got married in 1935. I wouldn't give it up for anything - and it still works.

Scared us silly

We have a similar radio up at my grandparents cabin in the Poconos - it took so long to warm up that the grandkids would forget it was on until it thundered to life and scared the bejeesus out of us all. It actually belongs to my mom, but the thought of shipping it across the country and then finding a spot for it...needless to say it's still in Pennsylvania.

Enormously bad radio

Courtesy of Wikipedia: a short story by John Cheever in 1947 recounts a hapless couple whose lives were ruined by a radio in an ugly, dark cabinet. It's a Twilight Zone sort of story.


In January of that year, Franklin Roosevelt spoke on the radio to the American people emphasizing the "Four Freedoms." In December, 2400 American servicemen died in the attack at Pearl Harbor. The average annual wage was $1,750, gas was 12 cents a gallon, average rent was $32 per month and a new car was about $850. Money was not to be wasted, the motto was "Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without." Able-bodied men were being shipped off to war, the movie "Citizen Kane" was released, as was "Dumbo" for the kids. The warmest element in this thoughtful, provocative photo is the unconditional, loving admiration between mother and son.

Fight the Boots!

I remember putting bread bags over my shoes to make it easier to pull those rubber boots on. I don't see the telltale socks on this kid.

That radio

is sitting in my dining room. It covered broadcast and shortwave, and when I was about 10, when it was given to me by a friend of my mother's, I used it to listen to Cincinnati police broadcasts (I think it was on 1760 kHz).

"Inner Sanctum"

Anytime I see any kind of reference to radio in the '40s it jogs my memory about the "creaking door" opening to the "Inner Sanctum" mystery show. The show was scary to me as a little kid, but I couldn't resist listening to it and other radio shows including "The Shadow."

Enormous Radio

This is actually a Philco model 37-10X, which is not quite as enormous as a 116X. There are a number of differences between the two, but you can tell them apart easily just by counting the knobs: A 116X has six knobs whereas the one pictured has only four.

edit: or five.

[So far, not one person has remarked on the pop-culture reference here. - Dave]

Nice Philco

I misidentified the Philco, but I've got it right this time. It's a model 37-10X. Model 37-10X has automatic tuning and "magnetic tuning" (automatic frequency control to automatically center the tuning on a station and prevent drift). Philcos were again America's best selling radios in 1937.

My collection

About 40 years ago I dated a girl whose father owned a TV and radio repair shop. He still worked on these old console radios for some older clients, and when the old couple decided to get a newfangled transistor radios, they had to do something with the old radio. He and I went on many a mission to retrieve these old radios, and he would repair them and give them to me, since I was dating his daughter. I had many sets like this, some old round tube televisions, and one Zenith TV had a remote control with an umbilical cord. It attached to the tuning knob, and had a long cable that rotated in a sheath which was attached to a knob on the other end of the cable, which you held and rotated to change the channels. This is a photo of a radio, but I got so immersed in my past that I eluded to televisions also. When I moved, I had to sell all my sets for pennies on the dollar. They did take up a lot of room, and provided plenty of heat in the winter.

Billy wasn't really backward

But his coveralls were if that one hip pocket and lack of a fly are any clues. We called those boots "arctics" in Central Pennsylvania.

Loved that radio

My grandparents had this exact radio and it worked well into the 1980s when I inherited it.

Legs and Leggings

Nice legs on Mom, but what's with the ski boots on Junior?

Baby Needs A New Pair Of Shoes

Nice radio, dad. Now spend some coin to get your son some clothes. And get your wife a new pair of pantyhose while you're at it.

Ah, the days

Yup, that kid could have been me with my parents -- only our radio was one of those old Zenith monsters. It had four "bands" you could tune in on. One was the AM broadcast frequencies; the other three were short wave and ham bands. Many an hour was spent laying in front of the monster imagining what was going on as Superman, Gene Autry, and the Green Hornet came forth from the speaker.

Those Can't Be

Was there such a thing as Dollar Store plastic flowers in 1941? Even in black and white they're hideous looking.

And we see

nattily attired Billy with the most patched pants in history and those "four bucklers," as we used to call them; he seems to have acquired the skills to buckle up only one.

SHORPY HISTORICAL PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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