My blue tranny and “Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer! Those days of soda and pretzels and beer!”

Just recently as I was flicking between stations on the car radio I caught a snatch of a song I had not heard for many, many years. Surprisingly, this sparked a stirring of nostalgia in me. “Those Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of Summer” was a popular song by Nat King Cole during the summer of 1962/1963 and it stimulated some childhood memories in me, especially of a small blue transistor radio which lead to some transformations in my life.

As I remember, the song was flogged to death over that summer and topped the Top 40 charts. It was a nice, feel good, catchy tune that often blared out of my blue pocket transistor radio. The sound was always turned to full volume causing a rattle from the tiny, tinny speaker. The tranny was a Christmas present to me and boy was I rapt when I got it. For the first time in my life it provided me with a taste of independence from my large family. No more arguing and fighting with my four siblings about which station or program we would listen to. As 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 requiring mum or dad’s operation so naturally it made competition fierce for listening rights as anyone from a large family knows well. There was a third option, the car radio, though it was always a “lay down misere”, dad’s choice. Now with my own transistor I could listen to whatever I wanted to, whenever I wanted and where ever I wanted; my choice and mine alone. With my earplug in my ear no one knew what I was listening to making it even better. You could say the pocket transistor was the mobile phone 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 town.

The song is a reminder of a period in my life that was soon to rapidly change and to be left far behind forever. And that style of music would quickly change and be left to linger in the past as The Beatles exploded out of our radios and altered the face of music forever. And, the “ times they were a changing” as the world was beginning to awaken from its slumber. Baby boomers were about to announce 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 the exciting new world evolving around me. But it was my tranny that provided me with a vehicle to open up so many new horizons for me. Music of course being the obvious one, mainly pop on “the greater 3UZ” and other commercial pop stations but surprisingly also the ABC where I discovered jazz and classical music though I would never let onto my friends that I was listening to 3LO or 3AR. Except, when the cricket was on, that was ok, it wasn’t uncool then.
Walking to school with my mates we raved on to one another about the new music we had heard on the radio the night before. Soon our hair started to grow longer! Our pants got tighter and our shoes got pointier; that is if your feet were big enough! Titch was my nickname so naturally 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 and meet girls.
“What are you listening to, are the Stones on?” was typical of the questions asked by eagerly influenced mod chicks.
With a tranny in your hand or the obvious earplug in your ear you were bound to attract attention and hopefully extract the admiration of the opposite sex. There was something about a transistor that highlighted the fact that 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!
But above all else I loved listening to the cricket on the radio. I loved the silky smooth modulations of the commentators’ authoritative voices emanating from the radio. So many pictures were painted for me in my mind, so dream like in fact, visions created of many fabulous things. I’m getting carried away but that’s what radio did to me; it carried me away to different places. It carried me to the MCG and Alan McGilvray, it carried me to Lord’s and John Arlot, and it carried me to South Africa with Charles Fortune. I could vividly picture the scenario that was being so prescriptively painted for me and it was magical. I was there at the ground. Who needed that new fangled thing called television!

And those times were so carefree. Cricket and the beach went together just as Lawry and Simpson did. Stretched out on the sand, watching the surf, watching the girls and listening to the radio especially if the cricket was on was a cool thing to do. Later on beach cricket and the chance to relive and imitate some of the moments etched in my memory from the recently listened to broadcast. A cracking drive through the covers to the boundary, of the incoming tide; a diving one-handed catch, into the breaking wave, and the almighty heave over the bowler’s head, down the beach; and we ran six! Fond memories. That tranny took a beating at the beach. It was dropped numerous times, covered with sand and surf, smeared with ice-cream and absent-mindedly tossed into bags but it never failed me. Push the little round black wheel, a click, and then, sound. Always.

I love my cricket, and I love watching it but not on the television. There was nothing better than being at the MCG for an Ashes Test Match on a sunny day with a few special friends with the expectation of some great cricket to be played. And of course my faithful transistor would be there with me keeping me up to date with all the action even if I happened to miss any of it. The roar of the crowd just as you were bending down to get something out of your bag meant only one thing; you had missed a wicket or a great shot! And how often did that happen? Seemed to be all the time for me. Thankfully, the experts on the radio filled in the missing gaps so well for you.
And just as enjoyable was being at a cricket ground in a small country town relaxing in a deck chair, with a slight cooling zephyr wafting in from the lake taking some of the heat out of the day, watching the local team compete while discussing the pros and the cons of both batsman and bowler with some mates as another ice cold beer was pulled from the esky. Naturally the tranny would be on in the background just loud enough for us to either listen to a broadcast match or music. And if I couldn’t be there to watch a game I just hoped a match was being broadcast on the good old ABC!

Often I wonder what came first; was it my love of cricket in general or was my love of cricket defined by the magic of radio? Certainly radio has played a huge part in my appreciation of the game and will continue to do so. Radio was also a pathway to books about cricket, cricketers and of games past, primarily written by such doyens of the craft like E W Swanton, Neville Cardus and many others whose names I have now forgotten. Discussion during matches by various commentators provided me with so much background information of names and exploits which I eagerly followed-up and explored with a furvour.

So that catchy tune by Nat King Cole enabled many memories to flash back to me, but in particular, the memory of that little blue transistor radio I got for Christmas all those years ago, in fact, it was over fifty years ago remains vividly. Undoubtably, it was a huge stimulus for my love and appreciation of cricket. Now I’m encouraged and inspired to further explore memories of times past that have for so long been locked away and are now ready to be rekindled.
I wonder what ever happened to that tranny?

About Colin Ritchie

Retired teacher who enjoys following the Bombers, listening to music especially Bob Dylan and drinking a robust cab sav.

Comments

  1. N eil Anderson says:

    Loved your tranny story Colin. We must be about the same age. Even the word ‘tranny’ is special to us baby-boomers and I wonder what the Gen X’s and Y’s and Zee’s think about us old timers and our ancient technology.
    If an academic read your article and did some analysis rather than read it just as a fun piece of nostalgia, I reckon he would probably say, ” The tranny was huge symbol of youth announcing they had arrived as a force in society. They had a new cheap piece of technology that they controlled for the first time. Combined with a licence, car and drinking legally at eighteen instead of twenty-one, youth were suddenly independent and very mobile. As they spread their wings, the tranny was always there and what they listened to on full volume defined them even more. Stones or Beatles. Anything but what the oldies listened to on the big unit in the loungeroom. When the Beatles arrived in Australia in 1964 it was the start of a youth revolution as thousands gathered to get a glimpse of four of their beloved leaders. They had about a year and a half to learn everything about that game-changing group before they arrived largely due to the fabulous tranny.”

  2. Colin Ritchie says:

    Thanks for the comments Neil, you’re spot on with all of them. I’m a 62 y.o. baby boomer who remembers my teenage years in the magical 60’s with great fondness though I don’t really think we fully appreciated what we were going through at the time.

  3. Loved it Colin. You are a despised Victorian and 5 years older than me, but the eras and backgrounds are similar enough for me to sigh at your every nuance,
    Your thoughts on cricket broadcasts and commentators really settled an inner debate I have been having for sometime.
    For years I had eagerly turned on the radio hoping that Peter Roebuck was commentating. His enquiring mind and left field slants on all thinks cricket and cultural were a joy to me. Given the right opponent Harsha Bhogle or Jonathon Agnew could be enchanting, but the rest of the ABC crew were banal or boorish.
    Buddy Holly’s death was “the day the music died to Don McLean” and your piece confirmed that I had been listening to Roebuck – not the cricket – for years.

  4. Dave Nadel says:

    Fine piece Colin. As a a 65 year old baby boomer the transistor was also my prized teenaged possession – sport, music, listening to the tranny under the sheets when my parents thought that I had gone to bed early.

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