It’s the early 1950s, after school in a red house along the Britt road in Britt, Ontario.
Lucy is seven. She lies on her back, staring at the livingroom ceiling. Mr. McGarrity says, “Well, Maggie Muggins, I’d say you’ve had quite a day!”
Lucy smiles, kicks her legs in the air, and leaps to her feet. “Tra la la la lee!” she sings. Lucy wipes a piece of long, blonde hair from her face with one hand as she turns the knob on the radio to the ‘off’ position with the other.
Lucy feels the quiet of the house push up against her chest. The tic toc of the ship’s wheel clock on the radio cabinet whispers at first, then grows louder with the beating of her heart. Lucy hates to be home alone.
Her brother Charles was over at Ollie’s house. They were probably poking at grass snakes or pretending to chase bears. Her sister Julia went with her mother for tea at Mary’s house down the street. Lucy’s father was probably down at the boathouse. It was an unusual afternoon.
Lucy went to Begin’s Store with her father the day he bought the ship wheel’s clock. It was a Christmas gift for Lucy’s mother.
“What do you think?” Lucy’s father asked.
“Mom will love it!”
Lucy’s father looked at the clock carefully, turning it over in his hands. Everyone knew he found buying gifts difficult. He always had trouble deciding if it was just the right gift.
Lucy felt butterflies doing somersaults in her stomach Christmas morning when it was her mother’s turn to open the clock. She was thrilled when her mother exclaimed, “what a beautiful clock!” Lucy’s mother admired the clock a moment, then placed it gently on the radio cabinet. The clock watched over the family from that spot for years.
Lucy turns the radio on again to stop the tic-toc, tic-toc from making her bonkers. She hopes she can find Orphan Annie or The Lone Ranger. After dinner she and Charles will listen to Inner Sanctum Mystery.
What I Learned About the Clock So Far
- The clock was purchased in the 1950s at Begin’s store in Britt, Ontario.
- The clock may have been bought by my grandfather as a Christmas present for my grandmother. My aunt remembers feeling excited for her mom to open it.
- The clock sat on the record player or radio cabinet in the house. That led to some wonderful memories about radio programs my aunts enjoyed as children.
What I Learned About 1950s Radio in Canada
- In the early 1950s television came to Canada but many families continued to spend their leisure time listening to radio programs. Television, electricity, and now Internet takes longer to reach isolated communities. Highway 69 was completed in 1952. Prior to 1952 the only way in and out of Britt was by boat or train. In 1955, television services were available to 66% of the population. Eight million homes in the US owned televisions. Since the 1950s were a time of transition, the story of radio was woven into part of the story of television.
- CBC Radio dominated the Canadian airwaves.
- Many of the popular children`s radio programs became television programs by the mid-1950s (including The Lone Ranger, Orphan Annie, and Maggie Muggins).