While I was digging through a drawer looking for something else, I found a treasure buried deep within: my first transistor radio, small enough to fit in a jacket pocket. The last time I specifically remember listening to it was the night of the Great Northeast Blackout, on November 9, 1965. I used this radio for updates on the chaos in Boston, where we were living at the time.
I received the radio as a birthday gift five years earlier. Transistor radios were quite the hot item back then, much like iPods are today. I was dying to own one, and I was simply blown away when I found this dream gift by my plate at breakfast on my birthday, together with a charger and rechargeable 9-volt battery. It wasn’t until a couple of years ago that my father told me what a strain this gift had placed on the family budget. “... but I knew you had your heart set on one, and I wanted you to have it.” I fondled the small blessing and thought back in time.
Compared to now, teenagers fifty years ago had relatively few possessions, and transistor radios were the first form of portable electronic gear. I took it to school a time or two to show off, but since they were banned during classes, it seldom left the house. It did return during the World Series that fall. Being a girl was a great advantage. I could hide the cord and tiny ear piece under my sweater and long hair, and listen to the game during class. What a thrill to be able to announce the score during breaks!
As the memories faded, I opened the radio to plug in a battery for old times' sake. What a disappointment. The tiny transistors, diodes, and other components have become fuzzy with corrosion. I gently snapped the back cover in place, and returned it to its leather case. The carrying strap is broken now, and the small ear piece and its case missing in action. The label from the front of the radio disappeared ages ago. If memory serves, it was a Silvertone.
Even though it no longer works, I’ll keep the small radio in my Memory Box for at least two reasons. The first is its historical significance in the parade of portable, personal communication devices. But more significantly, of all the birthdays and Christmases I experienced growing up, this was the only time I recall getting exactly the gift I’d dreamed of.
You never know when you’ll encounter something that brings a story so vividly back to mind, but this time of year is full of memory triggers. Recipes, traditions, seasonal decorations, tree ornaments that carry generations of memories ... . Be sure to keep lots of index cards handy to capture this gifts from your muse until you have time to write.
Write now: about memorable gifts you have received, early electronic gadgets you recall, or how technology has changed your life.
Sharon Lippincott, aka Ritergal