Dad’s Old Radio

Posted: March 8, 2011 in Deep Thoughts from a Shallow Mind!

Here is a photo of a Grunow All Wave Superheterodyne radio from the mid 1930’s. My dad has one almost identical to the one seen here.

I remember the day my dad bought that radio. I was maybe twelve years old when he called me and said, “Go get in the truck. We’ve gotta go pick something up.”

It was summertime and I remember riding in his 1966 Ford pickup out into a rural part of Scottsboro that I had never been before. We had the vent windows pushed out, allowing the wind to cool us without blasting us out like a full blown rolled down window will do. (Vent windows were awesome!)

We arrived at our destination and walked out to an old shed where a man was waiting for us. Into the shed we went and followed the man through a maze of mostly just old junk before turning the corner and seeing the radio. Dad handed him some money and the two of us carried it back to the truck, loaded it and headed home.

I thought the radio was neat, but I was more interested in modern technology… like cable tv! The cable company had just ran the service through our neighborhood and after having three channels on the antenna, we now had about thirty! I couldn’t believe there were thirty channels on the tv! We’re talking about 1978 here; My brother had an Atari video game with a joystick and one red button and we had thirty channels on the tv!

When we got it home, I helped dad carry the radio into the house and place it next to his bed. He plugged it in and… just as the man promised, it lit up and began to crackle. The dial was interesting. It lit up white, green and red and had different bands you could adjust the needle to and pick up the police band, regular radio broadcasts… and one of them allowed you to select what country you were interested in tuning in to!

“Dad, does this thing really pick up other countries?” I asked, suddenly a little more interested in ancient technology.

“That’s what it says… I guess we’ll find out soon enough.” He answered.

Dad left the room and came back with a small piece of cable, a small metal post and some antenna wire.

“I’m gonna go under the house. You stay here and listen for me.” He handed me the cable and the antenna wire. “There’s a hole drilled in the floor right here behind the radio. When I call you, thread that cable down in the hole to me.”

A few minutes later, he called and I fed the cable down. “Now send one end of the antenna wire,” he said and I poked the wire down in the hole, letting it slip through my loose grip as he pulled the slack.

A little later, he came back to the radio and started working at the back of the radio.

“What are you doing, dad?”

“I went under the house and drove that metal post into the ground under the floor here and wrapped the metal cable around it and now I am hooking it to the ground post on this radio.”

“Why do you have to do that?”

“Well, I don’t guess you have to, but it will protect it from lightning and probably make it work better.” He worked silently as I watched for a minute more and then said, “Now, I’m gonna connect the antenna wires,” pointing to where they connected. “Then I’m gonna run the other end up to the tv antenna and see what all we can pick up.”

Well, we didn’t need it for tv anymore, so… why not.

Dad took his ladder, climbed up on the roof and connected the wire while I just stood and watched. Then, we went back inside to see if the old Grunow had any life in it.

Dad turned the switch, the lights came on and the crackle was now a low, warm tone. Dad turned all the knobs and dials and… unbelievable to me, picked up stations in several foreign languages, ham radio operators, local country radio stations… I was amazed! It had WAY more than thirty channels and I was hooked on it for the next several hours, slowly turning the dial and checking out what all was coming  at us over the air. It was amazing!

I thought about that radio the other day and couldn’t shake the thought that before we got it, all of those signals were coming at us already, but we had no way of listening to them. It seemed to me to represent our relationship with God.

God is speaking, but are we listening? Are we plugged into the power source of Jesus like the radio was plugged into the wall? Are we grounded in the truth of his word like that steel cable? Can we survive a lightning strike without it? Do we lift our hands in worship to him like that antenna stretched out to the sky, trying to capture the signal? Are we even tuned to the right station to enable us to hear what He is saying to us?

There are a lot of signals out there… There are a lot more than thirty channels on the cable; there are a lot of schools of thought; there are many pairs of itching ears… searching for something new under the sun… but I think deep down we all know, the old way is better.

Let’s tune in to God.


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