Radio Days

Buddy (Roy Stott, Jr.) and Rawa (Rena Stott Roach), 1944

“In 1945 the Air Base was taken over by the Air Transport Command, so there were no more cadets coming in. The boys stationed out there were flying planes to the war zones and many of them were combat veterans, some having been trained here before they went overseas. Mama left the Cadet Club and went to the Red Cross, where much of her work still involved assistance to service men and their families.

“John Stott served in the European Theatre and Buddy in the Pacific, and Big and Uncle Roy spent much of their time glued to either the cathedral-shaped radio in the kitchen or the other big one in the living room, which was actually two pieces of furniture, one with the controls, the other with the speaker.

John and Roy Stott, 1944. Uncle Roy is seated in his legendary "big chair" in the Stott's living room.

By the side of the radio was Uncle Roy’s big old chair, and when he would drive up at 5 o’clock from the Light Plant we knew to get out of his chair and put the newspaper down if we were reading it, because through the years Mama had told us to to.

“They listened to all of the war news while I spent my time on the porch with the small record player I had bought, listening to music by the big bands. This was a period of emphasis on music, partly I am sure because we did not have television and we listened to radio all the time. All of the big bands were playing at the ballrooms around the country, and most of the favorite hits were related to the war in some way: ‘Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree with Anyone Else But Me,’ ‘He Wears a Pair of Silver Wings,’ ‘Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition,’ ‘White Cliffs of Dover,’ ‘You’d Be So Nice to Come Home To,’ and many others. Frank Sinatra was the most popular singer of the time, and when he performed all of the girls would scream and swoon, a forerunner of what was to come later with the Beatles.”


Sara progressed from her little record player to transistor radios, TV shows like “Sing Along with Mitch,” cassette tapes (she skipped 8-tracks) and finally CDs. We gave her every collection we could find of Big Band music, Perry Como, Tony Bennett, Bing Crosby, and anyone who could croon and rhyme “swoon” with “moon.” She loved them all and kept them going almost constantly as she got older. Russell was an Engelbert Humperdinck fan and the Beatles nearly did him in. In her last years, Sara tagged on with her younger granddaughter, Emily, as Michael Ball’s American groupies, primarily because this guy knew how to sing, and he sang her songs. Simple pleasures.

About sec040121

Hello....I'm in possession of a priceless collection of memoirs and memorabilia left by my mother, Sara Evans Criss. She was a native and lifelong (88 years!) devotee of our small town, who covered this peculiar and volatile corner of the world for 30 years as the Memphis Commercial Appeal's Greenwood bureau chief, a job that started out with debutantes and high school football and wound up spang in the midst of one of the twentieth century's most enduring social upheavals. This blog is dedicated to her memory and the legacy she left behind, both for her family and her community.
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