My Transistor Radio

You remember when there were no mobile phones, and our phones were black heavy objects with a front circular dial, which were situated on a small table in the hallway. Then in the 90s our children, nieces and nephews started arriving in with this new device called a “Mobile Phone”. Overnight our means of communication was changed forever, we could now communicate from anywhere, the street, the car, the field, words like Dijifone, Nokia, Eircell, were all new words to us. Around 2005 the “Black Berry” a business type of mobile arrived on the shelves which was made by Motorola. To me up to that time “Blackberry” was a fruit that grew along the side of the road, was picked, washed and made wonderful jam, but now I knew I had to “move with the
times”. It was also around this time we started to see the common use of computers, but that’s another story.


The same revolution occurred back in the 60s I was 14 years old, had completed my second year in boarding school, a friend of mine at that time arrived back in school in September with a “Transistor Radio”. I had never seen one before, and to me it was magic. It was battery operated, had earphones, so could be listened to without being caught, they had been forbidden in the convent and would be confiscated if found. Prior to this our home Radio was like our Phone, it was a brown decorative box, positioned on the sideboard, was plugged in and just had a few channels, 2RN or Radio Eireann as it became known was our main station. We listened to the News every day to keep up with events, some other programmes that were popular back then were “The Kennedys from Castlerosse”, “Take the floor with Din Jo”. My father never missed the Agricultural programme with “Cattle Market Reports” by Michael
Dillon and his other favourite was Michéal O’Hehir every Sunday as he broadcast a commentary of the football matches during the summer. Another really popular programme was “Hospitals Requests” with Terry Wogan. We also had Frankie the “Agony Aunt, with her “Dear Frankie” letters from women all over Ireland looking for her advice. Then “If you feel like singing do sing an Irish Song” The Walton’s Programme.


BUT, in the summer of 1965 we went to Bangor Co. Down on our holidays, a long drive back then. I was very excited and felt happy, I had 6 pounds in spending money for the week, and you could buy a lot for under a pound back then, so I would have a pound for every day I was there. The morning after we arrived we decided to see the town after breakfast. It was a seaside resort town, and had a lovely promenade. We walked along the streets and looked over the wall that divided the street from the sea, we could see the marina where the yacht’s were moored, I felt so excited the smell of the sea air and sound of the sea as the waves came in and out was magic, after a while we crossed the road to see the shops. As we passed an electrical shop I suddenly saw IT in the window, a little red transistor radio in a black leather case, in we went and enquired about it, the man behind the counter passed it out to me, I
removed it from its case, felt it, and knew it would be mine. My next question was “How much is it? 5 Pounds Seventeen and Six Pence” was his reply, I bought it, even though I knew that left me with just Half a Crown for the rest of the week.


When we arrived back at the guest house I removed it from of its case inserted the battery, and turned it on, and the first song I heard was “We all live in a Yellow Submarine” the Beatles song, I knew I had done the right thing. I would be able to listen to Radio Luxembourg and Radio Caroline now and hear all the lovely music of the times like The Beetles, Rolling Stones, The Monkeys, Elvis, Tom Jones and his great hit “Green Green Grass of Home” and Cliff Richards’s song “We’re all going on a Summer Holiday”. I had my little transistor radio for many years and still have memories of that difficult financial decision I had to make back that day in the 60s, but never regretted it.

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