The Graduation Present -
The Clock Radio
by Tommy Towery
Tide and time stops for no man, or so the Proverb says. Not only was time not stopping for me, I was becoming ever more aware of the little time I had left in the environment I loved. The two most memorable entries in the journal for this date are both connected to time. The clock radio which my paternal grandmother gave me was a very expensive present for the times, and one which I used for many years afterwards. I grew up in a home where we listened to the radio in the mornings while we were getting ready to go to school or work. I also grew up with a Baby Ben alarm clock possessing a terrible ringing noise designed to bring me out of a sound sleep each morning. I absolutely hated that alarm clock, but never thought about replacing it. I don’t suppose it ever seemed like an option to me, so I endured the nuisance each morning.
The new clock radio was a General Electric Model 434-B. I did not write it down or even remember the model number after all these years, but doing a web search I was able to find it on the internet. I could not find its original cost, but today as a vintage collector’s items they are going for $30 or more. It was a tube radio and was AM band only. There were no present buttons; I had to manually tune it with a knob. The dial also had the little triangle markings at 640 and 1240 which were the stations we were instructed to tune to in case of a nuclear attack or other national emergency.The whole time I owned it, I never had to change a tube and never had it quit working. The clock had dials with a light on it, allowing me for the first time ever, to see what time it was if I woke up in the middle of the night. My Big Ben alarm clock had luminous dials that would only glow for about an hour after the room lights were turned off, and it ticked loudly. The new clock radio had some great new features for me to enjoy, including a 60 minute sleep timer that was technology unknown to me at the time. It turned out to be a feature I used often, setting it each night to play music for 60 minutes while I fell asleep and then automatically cut off. I had never seen a radio before with a feature such as that. It also allowed me to select whether I woke up to a buzzer or to music from the radio, and thus I could ban the bell-ringing alarm clock to the bottom of a drawer forever. The final technology feature was one that was both good and evil. It was the first alarm clock I ever owned that had a snooze button. This stupid button on the top of the radio was responsible for me getting repeated awaken at seven minute intervals many mornings of my college days. I would slap it off and fall back asleep, only for it to wake me up and then I would slap it off again. I don’t know my record for the most times I hit the snooze button in one morning, but I would not be surprised if it was not ten or more times.
The radio serviced me throughout my college years and for many years of my Air Force career. It never quit working but somewhere along the way, during one of my many military moves I finally discarded it. I believe that happened when the digital red LED clock radios became popular. The replacement radio was AM/FM and was all-transistor, but was only the beginning of replacement clock radios I would go through as I chased technology until my retirement. I have never used a clock radio to go to sleep or get to up after that.
My Other Present -
A Bulova Caravelle Watch
The other timepiece I received for graduation was a watch, given to me by Dianne Hughey McClure. It was a total surprise she popped on me and one for which I could not repay. At the time watches were expensive and though I cherished our friendship, I never expected such a gift. I don’t know if I even wore a watch when I was given this one. The one watch I remember owning prior to this day in 1964 was one I won at the country fair when I was eight years old. I won it in a ten cent surprise bag which I picked from a group of small brown paper bags on a table. The barker at the booth held the bag up and told the crowd to come see what they could win. I felt like a celebrity and I worn the watch for a couple of years I know.
The watch Dianne gave me was worn to college and when I graduated and entered the Air Force I was issued a military watch which became my pride and joy. Her watch was stored in my jewelry box and still worn on times when I dressed up, but the military watch became my primary timepiece. Eventually it was replaced with a Seiko Submariner which I bought for $20 in Thailand on my first deployment there. A few years later the first red LED watches emerged and I sold the Seiko for $25, and paid about $50 for the basic plastic LED watch, which lasted about a year. Over the next 40 years or so, I chased watch technology with a passion, always trying to have the latest one. I had one with a built in calculator, then an address book, and then one that could connect to my computer with a USB cable. Every couple of years I bought new watches, until finally, after retirement I decided to go retro and paid $135 to replace the Seiko I sold in 1982 for $25. It was time to get back to the basics in my life and quit trying to always have the latest style.
Today, I got out the Caravelle from 50 years ago, wound the stem and set the correct time and placed it on my wrist. All day today I have worn the watch in memory of the day back in 1964. I posted a picture of it on Facebook and had scores of people comment on me still having it after 50 years. Dianne doesn’t use Facebook, so I emailed the picture to her and thanked her again for the wonderful gift a half-century ago.
She replied it would be hard to buy a watch today that would still work after 50 years, and it would be harder to find a friend who stays a friend for that amount of time. Time is on my side, yes it is. Thank you Dianne.
Memphis, TN - 50 years ago, on June 2, 1964 the class of '64 had its graduation ceremony. All I can say is 50 years sure flies when you are having fun. And I am still having fun. Best wishes to all of my classmates.
I found this on Youtube!
From Our Mailbox
Subject: Roy Rogers Trivia
Barbara Wilkerson Donnelly
I never even thought about the cowboy/cowgirl theme co-existing with all the modern-day stuff! WOW! Okay, here are my answers: 1. Buttermilk was the name of Dale's horse. 2. Cannot remember Roy's real name -- I'm thinking Leonard something. 3.The back-up group was the Sons of the Pioneers. Thanks, John, for the trivia questions. This is fun.
Subject: Western Trivia
Class of '66
Dale Evans horse was called
Buttermilk. Dale said Buttermilk was a rough ride.
Subject: TV Trivia
I think the answers are:
2: Leonard Slye
2: Sons of the Pioneers.
Subject: John's Westerns
Class of 1964
I tip my Stetson to John Drummund for the past episodes of his well-written and well-researched survey of TV Westerns. His essays have brought back pleasant memories of the shows that entertained us, but most of John's clever questions have stumped me. Although the subject is not esoteric, it's tough to haul up some of that American popular culture information from 60 years ago. Finally, though, up gallops a quiz I (and probably everybody else) can deal with successfully. Dale Evans's horse was called Buttermilk. Roy's birth name was Leonard Slye, and the singers who accompanied him around the campfire were The Sons of the Pioneers. Only 30 or 40 more shows to go, John. I'm looking forward to the Maverick and The Riffleman installments, my two favorites. Giddyup! (and "Hi-Yo, Silver! Away!" and "Oh, Cisco! Oh, Pancho!").
Roy Rogers, "King of the Cowboys"; a brief biography
Congratulations to our classmates who nailed answers to TV Western trivia questions about "The Roy Rogers Show." This icon of our generation deserves a closer look.
Leonard Franklin Slye was born in Cincinnati, Ohio on November 11, 1911, in a tenement building on 2nd street; it was located on the exact site of the future Riverfront Stadium. Roy later joked that he was "born at second base." The family moved to California in 1930, when "Len" was 18. After finding work in a shoe factory during the depression, he formed a musical group with a cousin, calling themselves "The Slye Brothers." His talents as a singer and guitar player evolved into "The Sons of The Pioneers" in 1934. In 1935 he appeared as Leonard Slye in the first of over 100 films, often as a supporting actor to "The Singing Cowboy" Gene Autry.
In 1938, Gene Autry walked off the set of a film in progress due to a contract dispute. Republic Pictures then changed Len's name to Roy Rogers, and made him the leading man in countless Westerns, later billing him as "King of the Cowboys." Future sidekicks included the jeep-driving Pat Brady, Andy Devine, and the always irascible George "Gabby" Hayes, whose famous reprisal "Yer durn tootin', Roy" still lingers in memory.
Roy's film titles always had some reference to a place or person in the West, such as "Red River Valley" (1941), "The Yellow Rose of Texas" (1944), or (I swear this is true, even if it would not make it to the silver screen in 2014) "The Gay Ranchero" (1948).
Dale Evans was not Roy's first wife. He married Grace Arline Wilkins in 1941; she died of complications of childbirth after Roy, Jr., ("Dusty") was born in November 1946. Over a year later, he married Dale on New Year's Eve, 1947. She co-starred with him and was dubbed "Queen of the West" by their studio.
I could find no record of military service, but during World War II, Roy churned out one or two films each year, and started a radio show, so one would assume he spent the war years in Hollywood.
"The Roy Rogers Show" ran on the radio for 9 years beginning in 1943, then became a TV series in 1951, running for 100 episodes. No one was more associated with TV Western heroes during the 1950s than Roy Rogers, because he was what he was---a good guy. Need I add that he always wore a white Stetson?
Roy was a Freemason and Shriner; he and Dale were active supporters of adoption (Roy adopted daughters with both Arline and Dale) and many children's charities.
During the 1940s and early 1950s, Roy was voted most popular cowboy star every year but three, when he placed second to Randolph Scott (look for him in a future issue).
Roy enjoyed a long, scandal-free career in radio, films and TV; quite a climb for a guy who at age 20 was working in a shoe factory. Roy Rogers died of congestive heart failure at age 86 in Apple Valley, California on June 6, 1998, having lived The American Dream with a guitar, a six-shooter, and a horse.
LEE HIGH SCHOOL
FIRST GRADUATING CLASS 1964
50 year Reunion
DEADLINE EXTENDED TO September 1, 2014
We will be celebrating the First Graduating Class of one of Huntsville’s Historic High Schools on
September 26-27, 2014
WELCOME ALL 1965, 1966
ACOMMODATIONS AVAILABLE: Blocked Rooms at the Embassy Suites: 20 suites blocked; 1964 1ST priority;
$119.00/night, must reserve early; rooms will not be held until Sept; specify LHS 50th Reunion Code#636