Old-Time Radio Playlist: Vacation, Part 2

Labor Day has come and gone, but it’s not too late to take a vacation over the old-time radio airwaves. Fairfield_Beach_Connecticut_Postcard_1930s_or_1940s

“A Vacation on the Prison Farm”
Life of Riley, June 26, 1948


“What would a bellhop want with a gun?”
Story: Cash-strapped Riley has a brilliant idea for a cheap vacation—swapping homes with a friend from out of town. Unfortunately, he doesn’t quite grasp that his friend is caretaker of a prison farm.
Destination: Escudero State Prison Farm.
Wish You Were There? You’ll have to dodge some bullets, but this premise is funny enough to make it worth it.

“Vacation Time”
My Favorite Husband, April 29, 1949


“Travel is great. I wouldn’t go anywhere without it.”
About My Favorite Husband: Lucille Ball and Richard Denning starred in this 1948-1951 comedy about a happily married young couple. Three of the show’s writers–Bob Carroll Jr., Madelyn Pugh, and Jess Oppenheimer—later helped to adapt the program into the TV show I Love Lucy.
Story: With different ideas about the ideal vacation, Liz and George agree to a trial run of George’s plan—camping in a trailer.
Destination: Goose Grease Lake, but they don’t quite make it.
Wish You Were There? If you enjoy the Lucille Ball movie The Long, Long Trailer, you’ll probably enjoy this, too.

“The Goosby Vacation Cottage”
The Bickersons, July 10, 1951


“I’m never able to sleep in a strange place.”
About The BickersonsDon Ameche and Frances Langford played battling John and Blanche Bickerson in the mid-1940s on the shows Drene Time, The Old Gold Hour, and The Charlie McCarthy Show. In the summer of 1951, Langford returned to the air as Blanche, with Lew Parker playing John. You probably remember Parker from his role as Ann Marie’s father on That Girl.
Story: Blanche tries to manipulate John into a rural getaway.
Destination: A vacation cottage in the country.
Wish You Were There? Nah…you’ll have a more peaceful time staying home with the cat, Nature Boy.

“Hawaiian Vacation Slogan Contest”
Duffy’s Tavern, December 28, 1951


“I like Honolulu because when I land on the island of Honolulu, I hope I land a honey that’s a lulu.”
About Duffy’s Tavern: This popular show aired for 10 years beginning in 1941; this is, in fact, its final radio episode.  Ed Gardner, who plays Archie, helped to create the series.
Story: Archie wins a slogan contest–a kiddie slogan contest.
Destination: Hawaii, but only in Archie’s dreams.
Wish You Were There? Of course–and you have a better chance of getting there than Archie does.

“Having a Horrible Time”
CBS Radio Mystery Theater, August 21, 1974


“We believe in making every minute count.”
Story: Amy, who helped convict a drug kingpin and has been getting death threats ever since, makes the brilliant decision to vacation at a “swinging singles” resort.
Destination: Tomahawk Tree Lodge in the Poconos.
Notable Performers: Lynn Loring, who plays Amy, grew up playing Patti on Search for Tomorrow, then racked up a variety of TV credits in the 1960s. During that period, her marriage to Roy Thinnes made her a fan-magazine fixture. Tony-winning actress Frances Sternhagen, who plays Lois, has appeared in many movies but is probably best known as Cliff Clavin’s mother from Cheers.
Wish You Were There? Only if you want to spend your vacation worrying about which resort guest is trying to kill you.

Other Old-Time Radio Playlists you might enjoy:

Vacation, Part 1

Summer, Part 1

Summer, Part 2

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Old-Time Radio Playlist: Happy New Year

This is the first installment of a two-part New Year playlist. I’ll post the second part on New Year’s Day. Best wishes for a happy and healthy new year!

The Happiest Person in the World”


Family Theater
, January 8, 1948
“Everyone could be happy if they would think happiness into their lives.”
Story: Time is a newspaper, and City Editor Father Time has to break in a new reporter. He gives cub reporter 1948 an assignment to find the happiest person in the world—an assignment that teaches the new year about human nature.

Notable Performers: Life of Riley star William Bendix plays Father Time, while The Great Gildersleeve’s Walter Tetley plays baby 1948.
Referencing Radio: Bendix mentions his own show.
My Verdict: The performers make this entertaining, and the story keeps you guessing about the moral that it’s building to. Actually, it seems to me that the story fails to support the stated moral, which is quoted above. At one point, I thought they were making the point that happiness stems from giving, which made sense. For the characters in this episode, though, happiness stems from external validation, and you can’t just “think” that into being.

“Big New Year’s Eve Party”


The Great Gildersleeve, December 24, 1944
“Be a good boy if you can, but have a good time.”
Story: Gildy rings in 1945 with Leila, but his Delores troubles aren’t over.
Musical Notes: Harold Peary sings a love song…but it’s a good episode anyway.
Interesting History: There’s a reference to 1943 as the year of penicillin and sulfonamide. Penicillin did come into widespread use around that time, but my brief research seems to indicate that sulfa was available earlier.
My Verdict
: The jokes seem sharper in this episode than in many Gildersleeve offerings. I like Birdie’s comment when Gildy asks her about preparing an intimate supper: “I fix the supper, Mr. Gildersleeve. The rest is up to you.”
I must be a total nerd (big surprise!) because the lawyers’ club’s mock trial of the old year sounds fun to me. Unfortunately, my New Year’s Eve will be more like Peavy’s.

“Puckett’s New Year”


Gunsmoke, January 1, 1956
“A man’s gotta make a change once in a while, ain’t he?”
Story: Buffalo hunter Ira Puckett heads to Dodge to kill the man who left him to die in a blizzard. Matt, who doesn’t want to see the old man hang, intervenes.
My Verdict: A Gunsmoke rarity—an episode with no deaths! Puckett is an endearing character, and I like Matt’s efforts to keep him out of trouble. I feel bad for Kitty in this episode—her New Year’s reflections are sad, and Matt sure isn’t going to intervene to help her.

“Gladys Zybisco disappoints Jack on New Year’s Eve”


The Jack Benny Program, December 31, 1939
“What this world needs is a few less people who are making less people.”
Story: This episode follows Jack on New Year’s Eve, as he leaves the broadcast early. He’s in a funk because Gladys cancelled their date.
Interesting History: This episode tosses off many topical references. Jack mentions social security; President Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act in 1935, but monthly checks started going out in January 1940. “It can’t happen here” is a Phil punch line; it was also the title of a 1935 Sinclair Lewis novel about fascism. Mary mentions the movie Gone with the Wind, which had just premiered earlier in December.
Celebrity Name Droppings: Mary is attending Ginger Rogers’ New Year’s Eve party. Don is planning to take in Sally Rand’s show; you can do the same through the magic of Youtube.
Musical Notes: Dennis sings “All the Things You Are,” and I actually enjoy his performance, for a change.
Jell-o Hell No Recipe of the Week: Strawberry Jell-o combined with pineapple juice, egg whites, and crushed ice to create pineapple snow, a “foamy rose pink” dessert.
My Verdict: This episode’s unusual structure provides laughs for listeners, if not for poor Jack. Comic highlights are Gladys’ surprise appearance and Phil’s response to “In just a few hours the old year will pass right out.”

“Babysitting on New Year’s Eve”


Our Miss Brooks, January 1, 1950
“Liberty? You can take shore leave!”
Story: Connie takes a job babysitting Mr. Conklin’s nephew on New Year’s Eve; she needs the money to attend a party with Mr. Boynton. Of course, things don’t work out the way she planned.
Celebrity Name Droppings: Famed lion tamer Clyde Beatty gets a mention.
My Verdict: Connie’s attempts to woo the clueless Mr. Boynton are always a hit with me. I love the record scene, in which they express their feelings through contrasting song titles.

Enjoy more old-time radio playlists!