December 1958 Radio-Electronics
[Table of Contents]
Wax nostalgic about and learn from the history of early electronics.
See articles from Radio-Electronics,
published 1930-1988. All copyrights hereby acknowledged.
The December 1958 (my
1st Christmas) issue of Radio-Electronics magazine featured a clever take-off
of the famous children's story
"Twas the Night
Before Christmas," by Clement Clarke Moore (originally titled A Visit
from St. Nicholas). "The Day Before Christmas," by Jack Darr, might contain
some terms not familiar to a more contemporary crowd. For instance, how many even
know that "Gunsmoke" was a
Prime Time television shown from the 1950's, and is not just a forbidden word in
today's public schools (since it contains the word "gun")? How about an
antenna on the roof, or a
telephone with a "dial" on it? Most people don't even carry paper "pelf" around anymore.
If you're under 30 years old and run across an unfamiliar word or phase, simply
speak it into your smartphone and Siri
(or some variant) will be glad to look it up for you ;-)
The Day Before Christmas
By Jack Darr
'Twas the day before Christmas, and all
through the house,
Not a creature was stirring, save me and my spouse.
The gift shopping done, exhausted and broke,
We'd just settled down to wait for Gunsmoke.
The TV was purring; the picture was clear,
Not a hint did we have that disaster was near.
When up on the roof there arose such a clatter
I sprang from my chair to see what was the matter.
The picture had faded, the sound was real gone;
I turned to my wife with a face pale and drawn.
"The picture tube's quit us," I cried, all aghast,
"Yet the serviceman promised it had years to last!"
"Don't jump to conclusions," my wife did cry, "Send
For old Mr. Wetzel, our technician friend.
He'll hurry right over, our troubles to end."
She rushed to the telephone, twiddled the dial,
And returned to my side with a face all a-smile.
"He's coming a-running, he promised me so,
To end all our troubles and clear up the snow."
Soon out in the yard there arose such a clatter
That I jumped up again to see what was the matter.
And what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a wee panel truck heavy-laden with gear.
And a bearded old driver so lively and quick
I knew in a moment it must be Old Nick.
More rapid than eagles his helpers they came.
And he whistled and shouted and called them by name.
"Now, Ollie; now, Freddie: now, Lewis; now, Burke,
Out of the truck now and let's get to work!"
With a crunching and scratching that made me feel faint,
I could hear his long ladders defacing my paint.
"To the top of the porch, to the top of the wall,
Watch out for your balance, be sure not to fall!"
So up the long ladder old Wetzel he flew,
With a belt full of tools and an antenna, too.
And then in a twinkling I heard on the roof,
The crashing and smashing of each monstrous hoof.
(Old Wetzel weighed 200-plus in his skin;
I feared my roof timbers sure would cave in!)
So out in the yard, to watch the debacle,
I dashed to see how the job he would tackle.
Down from the chimney there hung Mr. Wetzel,
And my once-tidy Yagi, bent up like a pretzel!
(To make the thing rhyme, much less to yet sell,
You see why I called on a man named Wetzel!)
He yanked off the old one, snapped on the new,
And it seemed in a twinkling to me he was through.
As I went in the house and was turning around,
From the ladder old Wetzel came down with a bound.
He was dressed all in denim, from head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.
A bundle of tools he had flung on his back,
He resembled St. Nicholas, with one certain lack.
His eyes they were beady; his dimples? Not merry.
Cheeks not like the roses, but nose like a cherry.
His mean little mouth was drawn up real tight,
And the beard on his chin was a scraggly fright!
A cigar butt was clenched in his few snaggle teeth,
And the smoke made me ill, and faded my wreath.
He had the broad face, and the round little belly,
That shook when he laughed, like that bowlful of jelly.
In his hand was the bill, that jolly old elf,
And I blanched when I saw it, in fear for my
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.
He spoke not a word, but turned straight to his work.
He checked the TV set, then turned with a jerk.
I looked at the bill: only seventeen-fifty!
Old Wetzel had changed: now, he looked rather nifty!
I gave him a smile, a cigar and the cash;
He grinned and was out of the door in a flash.
He sprang to the truck, to his gang gave a whistle,
And away they all flew, like the down of a thistle.
And I heard him exclaim, as they drove out of sight,
"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!"
(And the same to you, from all of us!)
Here are a few other Christmas-related items on RF Cafe:
Posted December 24, 2020
(updated from original post on 12/3/2014)