Wolfku Musing 2

A song ends too soon
An ear catching up

What was that color?


 My childhood is filled with radios.

The big brown Luxor in the kitchen, always on—sometimes by the kitchen table, sometimes perched atop a cabinet, but always on. Mom loved music and would listen to just about anything (not that there was much to choose from—Swedish radio, at that time, sported two channels P1 and P2 (Program 1 and Program 2). P1 was the serious channel: news, discussions, radio theater, book readings, classical music and such; P2 the more entertaining one, quite often music, both light classical and popular, though no rock and roll as yet—that was to come later, in the early 1960s.

She’d always be up when I came down from what we called the children’s chamber to, literally, see what’s cooking—Mom was a great cook. “Good morning,” I’d say. And she’d reply with her stock response, “That should have been this morning.”

And there would be the music wafting out of that big, brown well of, yes, I guess you’d call it comfort. The kitchen window was open just a little but enough to say the morning outside was breezy with sweet air that promised that all was well with the world.

Mom asked me to sit, and then served up some oat meal porridge, not my favorite, but it was palatable if you poured enough sugar on top and if the milk didn’t have too many flakes of cream floating about like ice floes around the snow-covered porridge iceberg. I hated cream floating about but there was no getting around it: this milk came straight from the farmer, no homogenizing here. Let it sit overnight and the top inch or two will be thick, slightly off-white cream—wonderful as whipped, poison as floes.

The brown Luxor provided my childhood morning soundtrack.

Another radio: The black portable Centrum with FM (yes, I forgot to mention that the Luxor only had AM bands) and a built-in jack for your car antenna—clever, if you ask me. It was on this radio, lying in a summer field one Saturday afternoon (listening to the Swedish top-ten program) that I, for the very first time, heard the Beatles: “Please Please Me.” I don’t remember where it placed on the list that week, but I do remember that I liked Brian Hyland’s “The Night Has a Thousand Eyes” just as much, and would often, in the near future, confuse the two songs in my mind—I’d picture night stars when I listened to “Please Please Me.”

This radio followed us around a lot. On short drives, on long drives, on boat rides, and when resting it would sit somewhere in the kitchen as well, perhaps by the Luxor showing off is FM band.

Another radio: This was a crystal radio, a kit that I believe I put together myself, or (perhaps) with a little (or a lot of) help from Dad. It wasn’t much larger than a big (kitchen size) matchbox and it was blue. Only AM here, but late at night, if the weather conditions were conducive, I’d manage to tune in Radio Luxemburg from down on the continent (whose signal, I later found out, would actually bounce off the atmosphere and down into my blue little radio) and through star-like static listen to that far-away, wondrous world of my (Pop/Rock and Roll) music.

And the song ended with my mind still tossing about. Something had slipped me by, a word, a glimpse, a color. I had missed it, my ear trying to catch up, but it too late, now there was only starlight.