Have you ever heard the expression, “everyone’s where they are supposed to be, other wise they wouldn’t be there”? That’s the way I feel about my hometown, Brockton, Massachusetts. I was born there one year after World War 2. We “Baby Boomers” don’t remember life before television or radio and there’s a reason.
At the ripe old age of 3, my dad piled me into his brand new 1949 Ford sedan beginning my life long love of show biz and the mass media. We lived in Stoughton, MA and he decided to purchase a new electronic devise called television, so we drove downtown to Barbados RADIO & Television Shop. It was located one block south of James Lehan Ford. In the 20’s, Henry Ford came to Lehan’s to open his the first U.S. Ford Dealership and today the Stoughton Post Office sits there. What a great day in our home when we brought home our 15-inch television worth hundreds of dollars. That evening, after an antenna was perched on the roof, I couldn’t take our eyes off the moving black & white pictures coming from our new Emerson Console Television. I still remember Clara belle-The Clown’s seltzer bottle not to mention Bob Crosby and the Bobcats, Art Linkleter, Kate Smith, Flash Gordon and Pinky Lee. Incidentally, pinky’s name wasn’t Lee and his clothes weren’t pink.
Original 1946 Jack Raymond Building, Park St., Stoughton
(the street where Sacco and Vanzetti once lived)
Since there were 4 tv sets in town, neighbors and relatives stopped in almost daily to take a look at the new video entertainment appliance called television. Back in the late 40’s, you could only watch television between 2:30 and 9:30PM at which time all 2 Boston stations signed off the air. Monday night was the preferred evening because Uncle Miltie, the King of Comedy, was on for an hour. I was too young to remember vaudeville, so I thought all his crazy physical humor and gags were brand new. We still own that 60-year-old set and it still works. Our sons apparently favor our 73 inch HDTV in the family room because they’ve never asked to catch a Patriot’s Game on the 15 incher in the basement.
The Raymond’s 1949 Emerson TV (15” screen)
My dad was a successful businessman beginning in the 40’s but he also had a great sense of humor. So we always listened to Bob & Ray on WHDH radio when cruising around town. They became America’s my popular radio comedy team and went Coast-to-Coast on NBC in 1951. But between 1946 and 1951, Bob Elliott & Ray Goulding came out of our car radio at 850 AM from 2-6PM or until Red Sox Baseball. While riding with my dad one afternoon, I noticed, out of the corner of my eye, he was giggling at Ray Goulding’s deadpan humor. I asked what he thought of it? He was still grinning when he turned and said, “they’re a little DRY”.
One of Bob and Ray’s signature bits was a daily visit from the “Coffee man” and I
stole…er…uhh…borrowed “it” along with a lot of their ideas and actual material.
I made use of a coffee man routine on my show. No one is born with ideas. We all get them somewhere and the reason some entertainers seem so original is because they’ve seen more material than you. Bob and Ray probably stole the idea from a hotel waiter, coffee cart routine in a 1940’s Abbott & Costello movie.
WHDH’ sBob & Ray (1949)
Click Play to hear the COFFEMAN
In 1952, Brockton offered lots of potential to grow a business and my dad was an excellent businessman and really lucky. So that year, my family built a new home in Montello on the north side of the city.
Two things happened, his business flourished and I entered the first grade. What a great place to grow up in the 50’s. Just the right size, 72,000 with a thriving, vibrant downtown shopping district and one of the best school systems in Massachusetts.
Howard School in ’52
Because I was drawn to radio and my mother-loved music, I heard lots of different genres of music that still echo in my mind. There are certain songs that every time I hear them I have memory flashbacks. For example, whenever I’m in earshot of Tony Bennett’s voice, I think of, “In The Middle of an Island”, a ditty often played on Tom Russell’s CBS Morning Show. By the 8th grade, I found something on the radio that would change my life. Music that spoke to me and resonated like nothing I had ever heard and it was presented by funny djs. Songs such as “Mission Bell” by Donnie Brooks, “Hey, Little One” with Dorsey Burnette and “Hello Walls” by Faron Young. I didn’t marry my first love and I’m glad because it was a radio station on Brookline Avenue in Boston. A friend of mine once said that whatever music you loved when you’re 16, you’ll listen to forever. It’s true; I’ve loaded all those favorite Silver Dollar Survey Songs into my iPAD air. But even more interesting were the WMEX “Good Guys”. I was really taken up with them and had to find out what made’em tick. So I made a point of meeting Mel Miller, Ed Hider, Jim MacKrell and J.J. Jeffrey and often showed up at their record hops. Sometimes bands such as Miles and Wild Ones and the Rock’n Ram Rods played live.
The Original WMEX “Good Guys” (1960)
Click Play to hear the “Good Guys” Song by Chubby Checker