Transistor Radios and Inappropriate Animals

Mid-July always brings me back to baseball/softball, the Red Sox and having a pint in the tavern after an evening of listening to the Sox on the radio and playing a softball game in the old men’s league – often doing both at the same time.

Those were the days.

There were no cell phones or pagers or any of that sort to tie one down to someone calling from work or for a wife/girlfriend calling to demand that one leave the game and come home.

You were simply gone, and unless someone came by the tavern or the softball field, then you were left to your devices. Naturally, there was always potential trouble when you came home or went to work the next day, but that wasn’t for several hours.

One summer sticks out in particular.

It was a really hot summer and no games were cancelled for rain or mud. I had visited a consignment shop – they call them Vintage stores nowadays – and found this svelte little transistor radio for $1.65.

I couldn’t resist.

The radio was made by Sylvania – of all things – and was just a little grey rectangular box that fit just right in one’s hand. It had the tuner on top, the speaker below and a sturdy antenna that you could pull up or push down. It even had a nice string to go around the wrist so you wouldn’t drop it.

You couldn’t break it. I dropped it, a softball smashed it, and even a guy on the T bus sat on it and crushed it by accident. In all cases, I was able to re-assemble it, put it all back together and duck tape it secure. Such a thing back then was made to last. Low-tech and long lasting.

That thing went everywhere with me.

I listened to the Sox almost every night. Joe Castiglione was my best friend that summer. On my walk to my part-time weekend job, I’d dial up old WILD AM radio to hear classic soul in the mornings. There was always WBZ to catch the breaking news (as an aside: anyone feel like there is a lot more breaking news than there used to be? I think the standards for breaking news, much like the college grading system, has had a substantial lowering of the bar…).

I often carried it to the games, and everyone on the team would listen in the dugout – back then I played up on Mission Hill. We’d all listen to it on the way after the game to Curtin’s Roadside Tavern, a real classy place that also had the potential for the whole place to erupt into a pub-wide brawl at any moment.

Yea, the summer of me and my radio. I thought it was going to be like that every year forever, but the radio didn’t last past the fall, and the days of uninterrupted softball and taverns and easy living didn’t last either. But they were good when they were there, and I’ll never forget them.

It was like a warm bath on a tired body.


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I’d like to know what in the name of all that’s good is going on with PBS and it’s nature shows constantly delving into and displaying the sexual lives of animals.

First it was monkeys, apes and orangutans, and now they’re showing us graphic sexual activity of beasts like the great elephants. God help us.

I know sex sells, and PBS is hungry like the wolf for pledges during pledge drives, but this is the animal kingdom for goodness sakes.

The other night I was with the missus and our young neighbors – who had brought over their two boys. After a nice round of burgers and Pearl dogs on the grill, the rain came and we sat down and watched ‘Nature’ on Channel 44 (that’s WGBH for those with an antenna). The next thing I knew this giant elephant was going for it all with another female elephant. There were no illusions about what was happening; it was all on the screen. And when I say all, I mean hook, line and herd. Had it been humans, we’re talking about pornography.

The Pearl dog no longer felt so comfortable in my stomach. I shifted in my seat quick-like looking for the remote.

The boys were on the floor, eyes as big as Eisenhower dollars.

Holy cow!

Can we all agree that graphic animal sexuality isn’t necessary on television? Jeez.

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