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broodings from the burrow

December 22, 2019

virtual advent tour 2019: day 22
posted by soe 6:00 am

Virtual Advent Tour 2019

It’s the final day Sunday of Advent and the first full day of winter and the first night of Hanukah, a point in time where many ancient traditions collide.

My own ancient traditions include radio theater productions. I may have mentioned before that I was not a good sleeper, at least not at the hours that children were supposed to be in bed. My parents were dutiful child-rearers, though, and put me to bed promptly at 8. For much of the year, they’d put on the radio or a cassette of music and tell me that even if I couldn’t fall asleep, I should just lie there with my eyes closed and listen.

At holidays, though, though, my dad, who grew up pre-tv, would go to the library and get cassettes out of radio broadcasts, which he would play for my brother and me.

“Greetings from Hollywood,” the announcer would intone on Lux Radio Theatre, who would then introduce a radio adaptation of a recent movie. Often the adaptations, edited down to fit the hour-long show runtime, would star the original cast members, but sometimes an actor would be unavailable, and they would just get another actor to fill in. On Lux, the actress would be expected to tout how, after a long day in makeup on set, she enjoyed using Lux Toilet Soap to keep her skin silky smooth. On other broadcasts, they’d extol other sponsors — Campbell’s Soups or tobacco, for instance. But Lux is the brand I associate most closely with these holiday broadcasts, and Christmas had the best ones of all.

Josh was particularly fond of The Miracle of the Bells. It featured Fred MacMurray, (Alida) Valli, and Frank Sinatra in a Christmas tragedy:

I enjoyed It’s a Wonderful Life, which featured James Stewart and Donna Reed, but not Lionel Barrymore:

Dad is a big Dickens fan, so I know he picked up A Christmas Carol for us to listen to. My guess it would be the Lionel Barrymore-Orson Welles version, which appeared on Campbell Playhouse, because that’s the most famous version (Dad, if I’m wrong, let us know which version you remember):

I hope you enjoy listening as you wrap gifts, bake cookies, or travel. I’ll see you back here tomorrow.

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