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Editorial Comment

Dad Takes Care of the Radio Problem


(SNN) - Once upon a time people listened to radios. The heart of the radio itself was a forest of diode vacuum tubes, later replaced with transistors. The tubes burned out with the rapidity of light bulbs and movie ingenues.

When a tube went, the radio quit. No one could determine visually which tube went bad as all were encrusted with a thick layer of schmutz.

So, every time a tube blew out, you faced a dilemma: (1) Throw out the radio and buy a new one. (2) Remove all the tubes and test them at your friendly neighborhood tube-testing facility.

I learned about tubes at the knee of my Father. Dad loved tubes. He enjoyed yanking them all out and traipsing down to the tube place.

“I got this,” he’d say to any shop owner who offered to test the tubes for him.

The tube-testing machine was a magical doohickey, which involved so much inserting of tube prongs into receptacles that Father Gilhooley banned tube-testing stations as proximate occasions of sin.

Dad reached the pinnacle of home repair when he replaced the granddaddy of them all— The Picture Tube from our family TV—an event only spoiled slightly when he dropped the new one lifting it from the car trunk.

But as the transistor age gradually arrived, tube replacement declined until the tube place was converted into a Beta cassette rental store.

Transistor radios were much more of a challenge to Dad, but it didn’t dissuade him from trying to fix them. Until a memorable day.

While home from college, I was talking with Mom in the living room of their fifth floor condo. Dad was in the master bedroom attempting to fix a clock radio. This particular clock radio had been the bane and challenge of Dad's home-repair skills for years. Dad and the radio had done battle before.

My Father had the upper hand momentarily as music intermittently wafted from the bedroom. Soon thereafter, however, the radio seized back momentum with a loud, static-filled squawk, a devil's howl of mocking triumph, roaring through the apartment.

And then, silence. A moment later Dad emerged from the bedroom, and without a word, sat in his favorite chair and began to read a magazine.

"Did you fix the radio, dear?" Mom asked. It is a wife’s sacred function not to leave well enough alone.

"No," Dad answered, not looking up.
"Are you going to take it into the repair shop?" Mom asked. "No. We'll be getting a new one."
Such admissions of defeat were rare for my Father.

"Well, bring the old one out here and I'll take it to the Good Will," Mom said. Mom was always taking worn out, broken, or obsolete items to The Good Will or other charities. Occasionally, she’s threatened to add my Father to that list.

Before Dad could respond, there was a knock on the door. Dad opened it, and admitted the building manager with a cheery welcome. Dad and he were on good terms, no troublemaker, my Pop, and a fine Christmas tipper to boot.

"Colonel Corcoran," the man said, shaking his head slowly, "I feel ridiculous even asking you about this, but, uh, I just got a call from one of our tenants. He, uh, well, he said he thought he saw you or someone in this apartment toss an object out your bedroom window.”

“That is correct,”

"Are you sure?" the manager said. "The eyewitness said the object landed in the parking lot and smashed to smithereens."

"That coincides with my observation." “You watched it fall?”

“All the way down. I had an aiming point and wanted to see where in the circle of proximity it hit.”

Dad used to fly bombers in WWII.

“ were having bombing practice?”
“Certainly not,” Dad responded. “But it never hurts to stay current.” "What was the object?" the manager asked.

"A clock radio." "A clock radio?"

"Actually, at the time of its demise, it was technically just a clock. I was unsuccessful fixing the radio, so I threw the entire kit and kaboodle out the window."

"But, why?"
“What good is a clock radio without the radio?” “I mean why did you throw it out the window?”

"Ah. So I wouldn't be tempted to try to fix it again. I knew it would be impossible to try to reassemble something once it’s reduced to smithereens." I could tell Dad was enjoying this.

The Manager appeared utterly confused, and Mom and I were attempting to keep from laughing.

"But Colonel Corcoran, if that had hit anyone it could have—" "I made sure no one was nearby before I heaved it."

The Manager wrote down some notes for his report, before making the only admonition he felt he could make.

"Promise me you won't do that again?" “Would you like a go next time?” Dad asked. “No thank you,” the Manager said and left.

As Dad closed the door and turned to us, I could see a look of satisfaction, a solace that word would get around to all appliances large and small that this was one man not to be trifled with. 

More from John "Cork" Corcoran Jr.
DISCLAIMER: The above article is OPINION.The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the authors of The Sage Opinion and forum participants on this web site do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of the The Sage News Network or the official policies of the The Sage News.



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