Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas Radio Memories: Tuesday's Toast

We continue our Christmas countdown tonight with an old radio drama first broadcast 60 years ago to the day: on December 23rd, 1948.

This broadcast comes to us from the heart of the so-called "good old days", the supposedly simpler time that people lived through in the aftermath of World War II. Surprisingly, given how "good" their times were supposed to have been, the culture of the postwar years regularly flirted with a darker, more nihilist form of drama than had been the case even in the pre-Code pit of despair during the Great Depression. In fact there were so many cynical dark-themed films made that a whole "genre" was named to categorize them: film noir.

Radio plays reflected that shifting culture as much, if not more so, than movies did. There were, nevertheless, many attempts to renew the ability to see the potential for Good in Man, a possible goodness that fresh memories of the War taught many to believe had been but an innocent dream.
Today's Christmas memory is from the comedy series Duffy's Tavern, "where the elite meet to eat", as the opening catchphrase reminded listeners each week. The gimmick was that you never knew just who would drop in on Duffy's Tavern, and be greeted by the king of malapropisms, Ed "Archie" Gardner, who ran the filthy big-city dive on behalf of absentee owner Duffy. The series boasts of a fame that far outlived its original popularity on the air; there remain several drinking and dining establishments from north to south named in its honor, a tip of the hat probably unknown to most of those who fraternize them. (Cheers, the long-running tv sitcom, was created by the son of one of the original writers on Duffy's Tavern, keeping the tradition of mixing bars and comedy alive..)
As Archie runs down all the reasons to be miserable at Christmas, the modern-day listener can shake his head in sympathy; the more things change, the more they stay the same, and Archie would find equal amounts of misery to justify his cynicism today as he did on this same date sixty years ago. Yet the guest who visits during this Christmas episode of Duffy's Tavern would probably give the same advice to us, as he gives to Archie... in the end, it all comes down to the same choice, to see our way clear to drink of life for the right reasons, not the wrong ones.

1 comment:

maccusgermanis said...

And another good selection. Thanks Charles Henry for these timely posts, and the too kind words on Mondays edition. I always find thought provoking words here, whether submitted by yourself, Truepeers or Dag. Merry Christmas!