About the Colony

Help! I’m stuck in the pre-TV big band era

A few days ago, I watched with fascination an old Twilight Zone TV show.

The focus of the story was about a man who appeared to be my age (late 70s) who lived in a boarding house with other seniors. His fellow boarders enjoyed modern music and a new invention called television.

But the protagonist loved his vintage radio. It continued to play radio comedy and drama and, most of all, aired only big band music. He didn’t want to come out of his room and join the others. The old man kept hearing Tommy Dorsey’s rendition of “I’m Getting Sentimental Over You” on his magic radio.

But when our hero invited his friends up to his room to listen to his radio, it wouldn’t work. There was only static. Trying to help him, they turned to the entertainment section of the newspaper and showed him there was no listing of his radio program. A phone call to information showed the radio station had gone off the air years ago.

But our hero couldn’t be convinced.

The story was about me.

I’ve decided that my late wife was right. I haven’t progressed from about 1947. I’m still hopelessly in love with old-time radio.

As I write this column, an actual vinyl record is spinning on a turntable here in my home office, playing some Benny Goodman tunes. Coming up is “Sing Sing Sing” featuring Gene Krupa’s wonderful drum solo. I stop all work to listen to that 12-minute masterpiece of big bandism.

I had radio as my entertainment source well into my teens. Nothing has ever been as frightening or funny as it could be on radio. I was still listening to the “Jack Benny Show” on my car radio while driving back to Cal Poly from my San Joaquin Valley home on Sunday nights.

Even in the 1950s when I was still in high school and my friends were listening to rock ’n’ roll, I was buying big band music. I also bought classical and Broadway musical stuff.

So, with the sound of Dorsey and his orchestra, Frank Sinatra, Jo Stafford and the Pied Pipers washing over me, I pen this column to openly admit I have not progressed very much from what brought me pleasure 60 years ago.

I even gave a talk a few weeks ago to my friends in Kiwanis on the subject of The Lone Ranger.

During the most recent California Mid-State Fair I made two trips there just to listen to a Dixieland jazz and big band group from near Yosemite who provided an oasis of wonderful music in a shady quad near the entrance. It was heavenly!

So what happened to our friend in the “Twilight Zone” episode? Typical of most of those programs, when his friends checked in with him they found that he had been magically transformed back to another era.

I know that can’t really happen. But I will continue to enjoy a past era while also having fun in the one I live in now.

Lon Allan’s column is special to The Tribune. He has lived in Atascadero for nearly five decades and his column appears here every week. Reach Allan at 466-8529 or leallan@tcsn.net.