Tuesday, February 5, 2008

"Crossroads of a Million Private Lives"

I couldn't quite believe seeing this headline in the Times yesterday. It was for a review of a PBS show in the American Experience series. I didn't think that anyone would remember the beloved old Saturday morning radio show Grand Central Station, with its memorable opening. Later, watching the program on my DVR, I waited for some reference to the "crossroads" line, but none was forthcoming. The headline writer, though, knew something! He or she must have been "of a certain age." The program was informative about the origins and building of wonderful Grand Central Station (or Terminal), but thoroughly unromantic. Here's the Times review:

Nowadays, as much an Internet fan as I was a radio drama fan in my childhood, I Googled the great old show Grand Central Station, and, thanks to the miracles of modern technology, immediately found it with its fabulous "Day and night, great trains rush..." opening. Here it is. You don't have to listen to the whole rather simplistic and soppy story, but do take in that prologue:

As the informative Web site states, the stories often owed a lot to O. Henry, though not as good as many of his. 

The Canadian radio station CHML in Hamilton, Ontario, which, for some reason comes in—not always too clearly—at 900 on the AM dial right here in midtown Manhattan, broadcasts "those old radio shows" later in the evening (when they've finished with hockey or baseball—go, Toronto Blue Jays!). They're available on the Web, if need be. Also, iTunes has a selection.

Television, even in HD, does not stimulate the imagination the way old radio did, even if the programming was mostly quite unsophisticated by today's standards. NPR recently paid tribute to The Lone Ranger, who had a long life in comic strips, movies, radio, and television. They even corralled octogenarian announcer Fred Foy, still sounding pretty chipper, to do the famous "fiery horse." opening. You can probably find this on the Web, too.

Incidentally, if you listen to the entire Grand Central Station episode, you'll get some very amusing Pillsbury flour commercials. They sound almost like parodies. Pillsbury tried to find a rival for General Mills's Betty Crocker in the equally fictitious character (I guess) of Ann Pillsbury. The pie crust does sound good, though.

1 comment:

Rex Parker said...

"Quondam English teacher" - pardon my colloquialism, but "Quondam" is Hot! Way to rock the Latin! And thanks for dropping by my site and commenting.