This story was published in Radio Recall, the journal of the Metropolitan Washington Old-Time Radio Club, published six times per year.
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IT'S THAT TIME AGAIN!
The New Stories of Old-Time Radio
Edited by Ben Ohmart
229 Pages $15 + S&H
Bear Manor Media, PO Box 750, Boalsburg, PA 16827
Reviewed by Dennis W. Crow
(From Radio Recall, February 2003)
Ben Ohmart compiled and edited the twenty stories in BearManor Media's new release, IT'S THAT TIME AGAIN! THE NEW STORIES OF OLD-TIME RADIO. His own story in this collection, "You've Got Me, John," features John and Blanche Bickerson, old radio's most famous feuding couple. Like all the other tales in this wonderful anthology, one can actually "hear" voices. John's snoring and his wife's constant nagging --- both emerge just as they do on their radio show, except they are showcased in a new genre, the short story instead of a radio play.
The cleverness and worth of this unique approach immediately becomes apparent. Clair Schulz's "One Principal Too Many, One Principal Too Meanie," captures the essence of the Osgood Conklin which we know from Our Miss Brooks. This first story in the collection features Conklin in all his pompous glory, striving for a promotion whatever the toll on his colleagues. We actually hear Gale Gordon fussing and fuming as the radio show comes to life. Schulz's tale has a predictable feel; it sets the tone for what's to follow.
From Ma Perkins to Candy Matson, from Sergeant Preston to Pat Novak, we see our radio heroes fighting battles with different villains, yet remaining on the familiar ground of the radio show from which they originated. In Stephen Jansen's "A Poole of Blood," who else would it be but the sardonic Pat Novak, when he says, "I woke up to a vague silhouette outlined in foul morning sunlight, corrupted from streaming through my filthy office window." In an uncomplicated but clever tale, Novak once again is in over his head as he deals with a truly vicious client.
By contrast, "Patsy" could certainly take a lesson from the poised, self confident, and glamorous "Goddess of Detection," Candy Matson. Her wise-cracking one-liners go straight to the jugular, but Jack A. French in "The Japanese Sandman" writes about Candy with both style and respect. The local color in this inventive mystery is especially good; San Francisco literally surrounds the reader.
Some stories reflect the unusual, consistent with their companion radio series. In Michael Leannah's extraordinary, "The Ticket Stub," The Black Museum once again provides the backdrop for mayhem. Leannah's plot involves a chilling murder weapon (in more ways than one).
In Christopher Conlon's "Concerto in Death Major," a pianist's delusion is not what it seems. Conlon has adroitly woven into his tale spooky elements so typical of an Inner Sanctum Mystery ---a raging fire, a gravedigger, several murders, and a lonely mountain road. They are all there, and "Mary" too!
"Willoughby Goes and Gets It," an engaging Dimension X story by Joe Bevilacqua and Robert J. Cirasa, gives new meaning to the word "shuttling." The conversation of unconventional boarders sparkles with wit and intelligence.
Martin Grams, Jr.'s "The Cradle of Peace," focuses on cloning. It contains powerful, thought-provoking dialogue. The poignant ending would be worthy of any Quiet Please episode.
Humor and romance play a large part in several of the stories. In Carol Tiffany's little gem, "A Matter of Ethics," William Todhunter Hall's passionate love for Victoria and his gentle, understanding nature overcome any problem that presents itself, including the near loss of a large donation to Ivy College's building fund.
In Justin Felix's "Attack of the Crawling Things from Outer Space," Harold Hemp discovers the best way to forget a bad day! This splendid comic adventure stems from Hal Peary's second series, Honest Harold, which lasted only one season. Felix's writing really brings it to life and demonstrates how stories in this anthology can enhance their radio counterparts.
It would be impossible to comment on each of the stories in this collection, but the reviewer found the whole group to be compelling, absorbing, skillfully plotted, and often surprising. They were perfect matches for the radio shows which inspired them.
The short biographies of the authors suggest a mix between experienced professionals with lengthy credits, and first-time fiction writers, but all the works demonstrate a seasoned, polished construction, making it difficult to select a favorite, or "best of show." The tales in this wondrous volume deserve a wide audience.
Dennis W Crow is a retired Oregon public school administrator and English teacher who devotes his time to two hobbies: researching and writing about old-time radio, and collecting books on entertainment subjects of the thirties and forties. His special OTR interest is "The Cinnamon Bear." Dennis provides voluntary educational support on radio history for the Elderhostel Program at the Alton L. Collins Retreat Center in Eagle Creek, Oregon.