Saturday, January 12, 2008

New Old Radio

I've been searching for a dining room table so, of course, I drive 50 miles to Tarpon Springs to buy this:

Ah, you noticed. It's not a dining room table. It's beautiful, though, isn't it? It's a Philco radio from 1942, which I know because it still has its tag inside listing its model number 42-360. It receives AM and shortwave signals and it works!

I bought it from a sweet woman named Lucy. When I called her last night, she said that an electronics dealer had called her first but he wanted her to deliver it to him the next morning. I said I didn't want to steal it out from under anyone but that I'd be happy to come get it that night. She agreed.

The trip to Tarpon Springs is better made in daylight because it's got a lot of sites to see. It's also a trip better made when you're absolutely certain you want what you're driving there to get. The picture in her craigslist ad looked good but you never know. I once drove 40 miles to look at a futon I thought I wanted but didn't and vowed that I would limit my excursions to purchase furniture to places closer to me.

OK maybe "vowed" is too strong a word because, there I was, on my way north en route to a radio. Lucy lives with her husband in a century-old house near the Spring Bayou, where the annual dive for the cross happens every January 6 on Epiphany Day. The city's large Greek immigrant population came here to work on the sponge docks, for which Tarpon Springs is also famed. Strangely enough, I've not heard of Tarpon Springs being well-known for Tarpon but that could just be my ignorance talking.

Which it does too frequently, I grant. So shaddap already.

Lucy and her husband had moved here from Oregon and filled their house with color and antiques. It would have been rude for me to ask to take pictures or I might have. Lucy said she loved the radio but needed to move it to make room for a buffet her husband wanted to put in its place. The radio was on when I arrived, scratchy as man AM stations sound at night. She warned me that when I got it home I should not panic when I turned it on and heard nothing. Its old tubes take time to warm up.

I pulled the bills out of my wallet and handed them to her. She thanked me and said she was happy that it was going to a good home. "It's good karma," she said. I got it home in one piece without banging it into anything and it still turned on when so I'll take that as a start.

Like I needed another antique radio. I have an old Atwater Kent radio, probably from the 1920s (the company stopped producing radios in 1936) that my father had bought at an auction or flea market in Pennsylvania. It doesn't work and the fabric covering the speaker is not original. Below is a brochure courtesy of Mine is model #469 on the left. It sold new for $89.

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