Friday, May 21, 2010

Random Misperceptions

In the days when radio was my primary source of entertainment I listened to many of the popular shows of the day: Jack Armstrong, the All American Boy; Inner Sanctum; Gang Busters; Lux Radio Theater; Grand Central Station; and Mr. Keen, Tracer of Lost Persons. (It wasn’t until many years later that I realized the theme show of Mr. Keen, Tracer of Lost Persons was Noel Coward’s “Someday I’ll Find You.”)

Radio show sponsors often held contests where all a listener had to do to win a prize was send in a postcard with her name, address and telephone number. The announcer told the listeners that the names of the winners would be selected at random from all the entries.

For years, when I heard “at random,” I thought the announcer meant the winners would be selected at a town called Random, and for some unknown reason I thought it was located in upstate New York.

Another of my misperceptions as a child had to do with Yosemite National Park. Since these were the days before television documentaries, my fascination for the national parks came from reading. As a child, I did not read Yosemite correctly as “Yo sem’ i te” but as “Yose’ mite,” with a long “o” and a long “i.”

I believe I finally learned the correct pronunciation from the cartoon character Yosemite Sam one Saturday afternoon at the Farragut Theatre on Flatbush Avenue. As he sang “I’m an old cowhand from the Rio Grande,” he asked the audience to join him by following the words on the bouncing ball. I was sitting next to a little boy who was too timid to sing out loud until suddenly Yosemite Sam pointed his pistol at the audience and yelled, “Ah said sing!” The boy next to me nearly jumped out of his seat and started to sing.

(The photo is of me and my litle sister in the 1940s.)