Monday, November 23, 2015

1558 My Father's Radio

1558 My Father’s Radio

So this guy Max comes here in 1930-something because he’s a Jew and no longer welcome in Germany. He has a sponsor, his sister, already in New York and already a citizen.  She signs a paper that says in effect “I promise not to let this guy goof off, get ‘home relief’ as they called welfare in those days, will brush after every meal, salute the flag and mean it and speak something vaguely resembling English.”

As you may recall from your history class, we had a little war then.  Germany and Italy were the bad guys.  And while the war went on, German emigres were not always greeted with open arms in the US.

You never knew when that sneaky Hitler fellow might slip in a spy or a mole.  Oh, you say, Max couldn’t have been one of those. He was Jewish and Hitler had production lines going where he killed Jews.

But you can never be sure.  Even when Max applies for citizenship.  Takes the test. Passes. Gets sworn in.

After some years, he gets married.  To an American, yet.  An American with no German in her bloodline.  Perfectly safe, right?  No closet Nazi, right?

They move into an apartment they’ve furnished with one and only one luxury, a console radio-phonograph. With a short wave band.  Which some government guy came along and disabled.  Could be used for getting messages and instructions from Hitler.

Short wave was kind of like Facebook and Twitter in those days.  Reached everywhere.  One difference, though:  you couldn’t reply to messages.  Just listen to broadcasts from around the world. Including the bunker and the Reichstag.

The technician who disabled the shortwave band left the house with some radio parts and a promise he’d return them when the war ended, which he didn’t.

The only “messages” Max received on his shortwave were from Beethoven and Brahms.  Guys like that. They “spoke” in musical notes.  And you could get those same “messages” from the New York Times’ radio station which broadcast classical music from a sinister looking antenna array in Queens and for which you needed no tricky radio that brought in programs from Berlin or anywhere else.

All this to show you that while today’s immigrants are getting hassled, this is nothing new.  And it’s no more worthwhile now than it was then.


--Our comment in another venue that we should build a wall around Syria and make Syria pay for it has received an outpouring of support. But some responses have been over the top.  Like the one that suggests building a dome like a sports stadium or a giant version of the thing they use to keep room service meals hot during delivery.

--Recalls are all the rage in the world of small toys, mid sized cars and anything to do with babies, especially faulty playpens, cribs and car seats. This leaves us intellectual proprietors feeling left out.  So we’re recalling this column just because we can and urging you to bring it to your local Wessays™ dealer for a no cost fixup even though its warranty period expires in two days.

--Do you share this view?  Those endless loop videos on Facebook and other sites are making people crazy, causing seizures in some and hypnotic- like trances in others.  Plus how many hundred times can anyone watch the same cat bat the same ball of yarn off the table and into its water bowl and then scooting off at screen right before we want to throw the computer or tablet out the window?

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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© WJR 2015

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