Radio and Television at Burke

The First Radio in Burke

Franklin Weeks recalls visiting the home of Dr. Woods and listening to the first radio in Burke. They listened to the first World Series and heard Babe Ruth hit a home run for the Yankees. The game was not broadcast live but instead the key events were sent by telegraph to the radio station, where the announcers recreated the game. Mr. Weeks says that base hits were announced by ringing a bell.

The author recalls listening to network radio programs in the evenings when he lived on the Treadwell farm. One program he remembers is a quiz show called "I'd Walk A Mile For A Camel."

The Arrival of Television

The author remembers when television first came to Burke. The owners of the first sets were very popular, and they often had viewing parties. The author remembers going to watch television at the home of Lummy Williams.

At the time the author and his family lived on the Fairchild place northeast of the airport. A neighbor Jimmy Huntress had a set, and Don Burrous and the author were watching the Howdy Doody Show there one afternoon when the author's mother called him home. Reluctanty he left in the middle of Howdy Doody, but his mood changed quickly when he discovered that the Murrah house now had a new TV!

The only station available without a tall antenna was KTRE-TV in Lufkin, which obtained its programs from stations in Houston and Tyler. At first KTRE was not affiliated with any network, but later it became an NBC station. Initially KTRE broadcast only in black and white, but when the author was in college KTRE finally began broadcasting in color.

Sputnik and Clyde Grissom's Shortwave Radio

On October 4, 1957 the space age began with the Soviet launch of the Sputnik satellite. It was a small metal ball with several projecting antennas and containing a radio transmitter. All it did was to transmit a radio signal that went "BEEP BEEP BEEP". The webmaster remembers his uncle-in-law, Medford Largent, sitting on the front porch at his Murrah grandparents and telling about a "baseball" that would soon orbit the earth. Uncle Medford was very intelligent and college-educated, but a baseball-sized thing orbiting the earth was hard to believe.

At the time the webmaster's family lived on the Weisinger farm not far north of Ryan Chapel Church and recalls arising with his parents early one morning and watching the sky from the back yard in an attempt to see the small point of light moving through the stars. We never saw it.

It must have been within a few days, or perhaps it was a few months later when the American satellite was launched, that the webmaster visited the home of Clyde and Sylvia Grissom, who lived down the road from us. Clyde had a shortwave receiver, probably the first one the webmaster had ever seen. It was exciting watching Clyde tune the radio trying to locate the beeping satellite, but again we did not hear it.

There was also an old man who lived nearby who was reputed to have a fabulous shortwave radio. He lived alone and acted oddly--he was known to sing the old Pepsi slogan, "Pepsi Cola hits the spot. Twelve full ounces that's a lot." His unusual behavior led to obvious questions by boys of the webmaster's age about his sanity. So the webmaster , despite his curiosity and interest in radio, never summoned the courage to ask about the radio.

The expereince with Clyde Grissom's radio began a lifelong interest in radios and electronics, and the webmaster later received a Hallicrafters shortwave receiver from Santa that gave many hours of listenting pleasure. The shortwave radio brought the world to the Murrahs farm at Burke. The webmaster's interest in radio culminated many years later in a college degree in electrical engineering and his qualifying for a ham radio license, which he holds to this day.

Sources:

  1. Franklin Weeks, Personal Recollections as told to M. Lee Murrah
  2. M. Lee Murrah, Personal Recollections