My family and I recently moved. After many months of unpacking, we are finally coming down to the last six or so boxes that need to be unpacked. Of course it’s those things that really don’t have a place. Those things that we really don’t use, but couldn’t bare to part with. Like my husband’s transistor radio.
I wish I could have captured on film the exact expression he had on his face when he unpacked the little white box the other night. Instead though, I asked him to tell me some stories about it.
Chris told me that he and his brother sometimes listened to the radio together. They would both put their ears up to it and talk about what they were listening to or sing along with the music.
Harry Harrison was the DJ that was on at the time Chris used the “clickwheel” to set his A.M. (as opposed to F.M.) radio to WABC, though he remembers ABC being the popular station at the time. He has no recollection of what was popular on the F.M. stations as he had no access to them. It was circa 1971.
If you look inside this portable media player (PMP), you’ll see that it ran on one 9 volt battery. Whoever gave Chris his transistor radio, was nice enough to leave him notes indicating how to correctly insert the battery. Not only did I notice that, but I opened the PMP without even thinking about it. I wanted to explore. I wouldn’t dare do that now for fear of breaking the tiny components of the electronic/digital gadgets my family has accumulated.
I listened to Chris’s stories and watched the expressions on his face as he reminisced. I rather enjoyed listening to him talk about something he seemed to have gotten so much pleasure out of as he typically tells me only stories of how horrible being the youngest of three brothers was. As I listened, I compared how he used his portable device back in the 1970s to how our students are using them today.
Chris told me he could take his radio anywhere. He could walk around holding it up to his ear. He could walk on the street. He could hide it in his backpack at school. And late at night, if his brother wanted to sleep, he could put his radio under his pillow to muffle the sound a bit. He could listen to the music that he liked (we have very different tastes in music) and he could listen to the news. He remembers his time with his transistor radio fondly.
Going into this year, with so many portable media players in school, we might want to consider thinking about occasionally just enjoying them for what they are. Children enjoy music. Some learners will even work more productively with music in the background. But music is a part of our culture. I know that in my family the songs that were playing at social events are part of the memory. I think that seeing the radio that brought him so many hours of musical enjoyment, most likely kept Chris thinking about his childhood for hours.
Here is a list of places where you can access and download free music for your students to enjoy: