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They Let Me Be Me

Story ID:7947
Written by:Michael Timothy Smith (bio, link, contact, other stories)
Story type:Musings, Essays and Such
Location:Caldwell ID USA
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I saved my money for a year. The Sears catalogue had one for thirty two dollars. It was
the best – twelve transistors and four bands. I dreamed of having that radio every day. From the
room my two brothers and I shared, I heard the blare of the television my parents watched. They
watched shows I wasn’t allowed to see.

I wanted to listen to my stuff. I wanted that radio. It took a year of saving birthday,
Christmas, Easter and chore money, before I had enough to buy it.

There was a knock on the door. It was the Sears’ delivery man. He held a box. It was my
radio. I opened the package and immediately smelled that wonderful chemical scent of new

I lay on my bed, propped up by my elbows, with my pillow under my chest. My scribbler
was spread open in front of me, as I worked on my math. The little radio was tuned to CJCH.
They played the best of rock-n-roll.

The television in the other room was inaudible. I listened to the Beach Boys, the Beatles
and many others. My head bobbed to the beat. It soothed me. My math problems were toys to be
played with.

I saved again. I wanted a cassette recorder. It took another year, but I got the recorder.
The Sears’ man brought it while I was at school. I sat the recorder next to my radio and punched
the record button whenever my favorite songs came on. I carried it with me wherever I went and
played favorite songs for my friends.

Those days are gone. We have digital recorders and game machines. Cassette recorders
and transistor radios are a joke to our kids. I doubt they know what one is. In my childhood, they
were me. They gave me musical freedom.

In their thirties, what will our kids think about the toys they have now? Will they feel as I
do? Will they look back and think, “I loved my iPod and cell phone when I was a kid. Those
were the days. They gave me the freedom. They let me be me.”

Michael T. Smith