Eighty-one years old, alive and well, the Ole Philco has been passed down for three generations in our family, from Grandma and Grandpa to Dad, and to me. It is destined for my son and grandchildren. This 1929 Philco radio originated in Philadelphia, lived in Illinois for 30 years, and since resided in Fullerton, Brea, and Hemet, California, and currently Buena Park, California. My first memory of the Ole Philco was Grandma and Grandpa walking out to the sun porch every evening at 6 pm taking their seats in large wooden rockers with black leather cushions, sitting back and listening to the news. According to dad, this was their nightly ritual. After my grandparents sold their house in 1958, Dad acquired the Ole Philco.
In the 1950s, Minnie Pearl’s comedy routines belted out "How-w-w-DEE-E-E-E! I'm jes' so proud to be here!” Pearl told monologues involving her relatives. Other favorites were "Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows!" on the The Shadow Knows. The Green Hornet or Mom’s favorite The Kate Smith Hour frequently played on The Ole Philco. Every morning my sister and I ate breakfast with David and Rickie Nelson listening to The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet.
Growing up, we listened most nights to Dad sing along, strumming his acoustic guitar, with Hank Williams, Johnny Cash and Eddie Arnold using the Ole Philco as a karaoke machine before karaoke originated in the 1970s.
Its most legendary program broadcast on Sunday, October 30, 1938, when millions of radio listeners were stunned to hear radio news alerts announcing the arrival of Martians. They panicked when they learned of the Martians' brutal and seemingly relentless attack on Earth. What the radio listeners heard was a segment of Orson Welles' adaptation of the well-known book, War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells. Many of the listeners believed what they heard on the radio was real.
Dad kept the vintage radio in mint condition. Through the years he refurbished the oak cabinet and the beautiful cutout grille with the correct reproduction grille cloth. He scoured garage sales and Goodwill’s purchasing tubes to replace the worn out ones. He was proud of the Ole Philco. We all were. It brings back cherished memories of Grandma and Grandpa, Dad, childhood, and times gone by. Currently, its place of honor is a corner of my family room. It now plays mostly talk radio programs. Television, movies, CDs, MP3 players, and IPods have replaced the Ole Philco for music.
I love the quality of the sound that comes through the Ole Philco and it even smells good, too. It's a smell of age, of old cloth and wood. I’m proud to be the owner of The Ole Philco.