Yesterday I bought a radio. I went to four stores before I found “just a radio”. You can buy boom boxes, mini stereos, clock radios and any number of Ipod docking stations just about anywhere but it took a little digging to find my radio.
My radio is a small box (approx. 5” X 5” X 2”) and runs on my choice of three AA batteries, a lithium battery, AC power (with an adapter- not included) or you can crank it by hand in case of emergency. It also has an emergency light and a siren. But all I really wanted was a small radio that played AM/FM/SW (shortwave) and had a decent speaker.
I remember my father sitting at the kitchen table with a radio much like this. He’d sit with his ever present home-rolled cigarette and glass of rum and listen to programs from around the world on shortwave. His radio could also pick up police and marine broadcasts. It was the marine broadcasts that I liked the most: ship’s captains talking back and forth to one another. We’d listen as the tug boat captains gave orders to the ships they were leading into the harbour; we’d hear captains talk among themselves about where they had been or where they were going.
I had a tenuous connection with my father. His alcoholism was a barrier to the kind of relationship I would have liked to have had but we could sit and listen to his radio and be transported to a different world where there was no rum or cigarette smoke.
This morning is a grey Maritime morning. I am looking at the Bay of Fundy from my window and listening to classical music on CBC Radio Two. In a few minutes I’ll switch to shortwave and see who’s out there in that other world. And I’ll remember Dad with fondness.