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  • Writer's pictureCat T. Gardiner

The Mind's Ear

The most recent trip in my 40s Experience brought me to one of my favorite - and not so favorite places - a rundown indoor/outdoor junk flea market where the only worthwhile store is Ye Olde Record Shoppe. Dusty, filthy, maybe even moldy (and I don't even want to consider what hides behind the cobwebbed boxes) it has thousands of records, all kinds of discs: 33 LPs, 7" 45s and pre-1950 78 rpms, many box sets and old collection storage books that are falling apart and stacked. I bring latex gloves and keep a hand sanitizer in the car. Afterward, every record gets washed, quickly dried, then aired out, along with the sleeves, on the lanai. Yeah, it's a labor of love because the finds are incredible, and since the proprietor has been going out of business for 2 years now, every record is $1. Again, one of my lucky dollar finds at a time when music lovers are once again turning to disc records and the music industry is responding with whopping $35 LPs.

Primarly I look for original records, not the re-released stuff. Records such as Frank Sinatra and Peggy Lee when they just started out with Big Band leaders. The Dorsey/Sinatra Sessions 83 songs between 40 & 42. V-Disks (Victory records produced for the boys overseas) are tough to find, but the record man has them. It just takes a while to dig through the disarray. So, I go into his shop every three months or so when time (and my tollerance for filth) allows.

One of the things I find so appealing about them is the subtle scratch when playing them. It transports me.

Meet this past Saturday's hidden gem, lucky find - all for $5.00 (five 78 records $1 each.)

Oodles of research is at my ears and fingertips, delivered in voice. Pieces of an era between 1933-1945 are preserved forever in this original 1948 disc set / book.

I sit in wonderment with a pen and paper making notes as I listen to the actual speeches made by Presidents FDR and Truman, etc. The famed journalist Edward R. Murrow, celebrated for his dramatic wartime coverage, narrates.

No internet find or whitewashing of history will lead me down an "alternate history" path - THIS is true history to learn from and incorporate into my novels as bona fide fact from the personages who were there. It helps me to paint the picture of my heroine sitting at the radio listening to the American Broadcasting Company broadcast the Normandy Invasion where she assumes her sweetheart is on June 6, 1944. She intently stares at the illuminated radio, paying attention to the garbled words transmitted from the invasion flagship USS Ancon as the convoy approaches. She wrings her hands together in anxiety and shushes her younger sister so she doesn't miss a word as the battle unfolds in the air and at sea. And even though it builds to sound like chaos and bombing, in her mind's eye she sees the man who owns her heart in that B-17 roaring over the English Channel.

Here's a video of the broadcast (which is included on the record.) Let your imagination slip back 72 years - and ignore the 50 star flag. Close your eyes and listen. Can you see it?

The passage of time will reveal that on that day alone (6/6/1944) Allied casualties have been estimated at 10,000 killed, wounded, and missing in action: 6,603 Americans, 2,700 British, and 946 Canadians.

The inside sleeve of the record book leaves us with this profound observation when we imagine families - and our heroine - sitting beside the radio:

"The events of this period from 1933 to 1945 will probably be better remembered by ear than by any other dimension. There were more ear-witnesses to Dwight D. Eisenhower on D-Day than there were witnesses at Gettysburg, Waterloo, and all the other battles of history combined. It was an era for ear. The first and perhaps last. Future great happenings will be televised and remembered visually as well as in the mind's ear."

I think how things have changed in one century. The Great War didn't have radio coverage because voice over radio hadn't been invented until 1921 by Guglielmo Marconi. By the time America entered WWII 22 years later, 90% of all homes had a radio. At the time of this record - 1948 - my mother's family was the first on the block to have a television. Only 21 years later, the 1969 Moonwalk reached 125 Million viewers. I can only imagine the statistics on the day the World Trade Center came down - all of the world sat riveted in shock, horror, and absolute terror as they watched the planes over and again. That image will replay in our mind's eye forevermore.

As a New York City girl, I cannot overlook another research gem, which has greatly impacted my writing. Because all my WWII-era novels begin in New York, I would be remiss in not glomming on every word that Mayor Fiorello La Guardia spoke during his Sunday afternoon addresses to the Big Apple. Similar to FDR's "Fireside Chats," "Talk to the People," airing over WNYC radio, the people's mayor gave New Yorkers updates on war activities abroad, the ration, price control, and events in the city. I absolutely love this history! He ends every conversation with "patience and fortitude."

Have a listen to an excerpt from August 29, 1943:

Thanks for stopping by! I'd love for you to drop me a line! Til next time ... Keep Em' Flying

#wwii #1940s #CatGardiner #records #news #history #research #radio #homefront #DDay #LaGuardia #TalktothePeople #NYC

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