Memories of our families old Silvertone radio

by Lester Green
based on an interview in spring 2017

Allison Spurrell, 2017

Allison Spurrell turns the dial on his old Silvertone radio. I listen to a crackling noise and then a voice breaks in clearly. A wide grin comes on his face as he listens to the broadcast much like he did when sat with his father, Charlie, after they purchased the first family radio. Allison recalls some of these early childhood memories during my recent visit.

The first radios to arrive in Butter Cove were Silvertones. There was two at the time. My father’s brother, Uncle Will Spurrell had one and then Bob Spurrell had the other one. Now which one of them had the first one in Butter Cove, I’m not sure but that was the first two that I remember.

I was only young then, when father got the radio from my uncle in Southport. It wasn’t new like Uncle Will’s and Bob’s. They got new ones from Eatons or Sears.

Silvertone radio, model 276

I remember that the battery was big and it was really heavy for the radios back then. It was a dry cell and cost a lot of money. Father didn’t have it on all the time because we couldn’t afford to buy new batteries every time the old one wore out.

Now when Grandfather or the old man would turn on the radio you didn’t make many sounds. It was really quiet. We would listen to the news back then about the war. Nobody spoke and everyone listened to what was happening over in London that day. Sometimes we listened to church services broadcast by a station called VOWR,  St. John’s. It was in the basement of a Wesleyan Church. They still broadcast from there today. The station would carry local news about St. John’s and things that was happening out around the bay. It would have some country music, religious music, services from the church. Things like that.

Now Saturday nights, we would get some music. My buddies would come to the house and when the old man would go to bed, we’d put it on and turn the dial down low. You wouldn’t want the old man and them knowing you had the radio on. You would listen to the music from North Carolina. We would listen to the Carter Family, Wilf Carter, Hank Snow, Hank Williams and all the older singers. I used to like listening to the older Carter Family at that time.

I remember listening to some mystery stories that used to be on back then. I remember one of the mystery shows called Shadow. It was a crime show. The Shadow was a crime fighter and he was always fighting people like the Red Menace and Kings of Crime. Now at times my buddies might come over and we sit and listen to the mystery shows.

Now to get the signal for the old radio, we used to connect a wire to the radio and it went up the wall and to the outside. Now outside there would be two poles, one was nailed on to the side of the house and other was placed about 50 feet from your house on some little knob. It was set-up like I got for this one. Then you would run a wire with a glass insulator on each pole. The wire from the radio would be connected to the wire outside and you’d get the signal on the radio. You didn’t have to touch it, unless the wire would break and you lost the signal.

When my son gave me that old radio last year, I hooked it up and turned it on. The first sound I heard was this fellow making a speech in Germany when the war was on. He was talking about what was going to happen if people didn’t give up fighting and stop the war. I had to listen to all he was saying and to the man that explained that this speech was given during the war.

I looked at my wife, Maud, and said “we got an old Silvertone radio and now we are getting old news.”