Traffic lights somewhere in Melbourne, 2012
Colac, summer of 1962/63
“Bugger me! That’s a blast from the past,” I thought to myself as I sat at the traffic lights flicking between radio stations.
I had caught a snatch from a song I had not heard for a long time, in fact, I quickly reckoned, nearly fifty years. Surprisingly, Those Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days Of Summer by Nat King Cole, from the summer of 1962/1963, rekindled some long forgotten memories of a small blue transistor radio .
As I remember, the song was flogged to death over that summer and topped the Top 40 charts. A nice, feel good, catchy tune, it often blared out of my blue pocket transistor radio at full volume, rattling its tinny, tiny speaker.
The tranny was a Christmas present, and boy was I rapt when I received it. For the first time it provided me with a sense of independence from my large family. No more arguing and fighting with my four siblings over which station or program we would listen to on the radio. We only had two options in our household, the old cream bakelite wireless with the fiddly knob in the kitchen or the flash radiogram in the loungeroom. Naturally this made competition fierce for listening rights, as anyone from a large family knows. There was occasionally a third option, the car radio, though it was always a lay down misère: Dad’s choice.
Now with my own transistor I could listen to whatever pleased me, whenever I wanted to, and wherever I wanted, without interference, my choice and mine alone. With my earplug in my ear no one knew what I was listening to, which made it even better. You could say the pocket transistor radio was the iPod of its day! Everybody had to have one and you felt so groovy walking down the street with it in your hand. Certainly a real status symbol to the youth of my day in my home town of Colac.
Nat King Cole’s song was a reminder of that period in my life soon to be left far behind forever. His style of music would be dramatically overtaken and overwhelmed as The Beatles and the British Invasion exploded out from our radios, altering the face of music forever. And, the “ times they were a changing” as the world began awakening from its post-war slumber. Baby boomers were announcing themselves to the world. Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!
At this time I was entering my teenage years, about to start secondary school, meeting and making new friends and becoming aware of this exciting new world evolving around me.
But it was my tranny that opened up many new horizons for me. Music, of course, the obvious one, mainly pop on The Greater 3UZ and other commercial radio stations but surprisingly, also, the ABC , where I discovered jazz and classical music. (I would never let onto my friends I was listening to 3LO or 3AR. Except, when the cricket was on. Then it was cool.)
Walking to school with my mates we not only raved about the new music but also the changing fashions. Before long our hair was growing longer, our pants were getting tighter and our shoes and boots becoming pointier; that is, if your feet were big enough! ‘Titch’ was my nickname and I had small feet. I had to wait for my “Beatle Boots”. Boy, was I envious of my bigger mates.
The tranny was a fab way to attract girls. “What are you listening to, is it the Stones?” typically was asked by eagerly influenced, teenage Mary Quant wannabes.
There was something about a tranny in your hand or the obvious earplug in your ear that highlighted the fact you were a “with it, gas guy” and somebody “groovy” they should know. So I flaunted my tranny hoping it would work for me. Sometimes it did, sometimes it didn’t!
That catchy tune by Nat King Cole tune I heard at the traffic lights in Melbourne two years ago has inspired me to delve further for those locked away memories that are just waiting to be triggered. Who knows what I may discover next time waiting for the traffic lights to change!
But, what ever happened to that tranny?
© Colin Ritchie. More stories by Colin Ritchie.
This is an edited version of a story that was originally published on our partner site The Footy Almanac in 2012.