Friday, December 2, 2016

25 More Days of Old Time Radio Christmas - Day 2: The Story of Christmas Seals from Cavalcade of America

For over 100 years, Christmas Seals have not only added an attractive picture to letters and packages at the holidays, but also generated much needed donations to support those with tuberculosis,  Later, the American Lung Association would use these monies to help combat  lung cancer and asthma.  The story of Christmas Seals was featured in an early episode of the Cavalcade of America - and a great entry for the second entry in my 25 More Days of Old Time Radio Christmas.

I will once again try to get these out every day (though I will probably miss some here and there and repeat some of my favorites).  Here is a link to all the previous OTR Christmas entries.  If you have Sirius/XM, you can listen to Greg Bell's Old time radio channel (#148).  He does a great job of showcasing great holiday themed episodes, especially as we get close to Christmas.

114/365 (October 3, 2008) - Wonderful Day at the Pittsburgh Zoo (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania)

Sleepy seal at Pittsburgh Zoo - October 3, 2008 (see what I did there...)

The Cavalcade of America is a great series sponsored by DuPont.  The purpose of the program has been one of great study and I am definitely glad that I have a few episodes to talk about it.  The long-running show ran from 1935 to 1953 and then had a second life on television.  Starting first on the CBS Network, it moved to NBC in 1939.  This 30 minute program provided a great platform to showcase some of the lesser known incidents and people who made the country great.  Not only was this series a great source of historical dramas, there were numerous fictional stories brought in as well.  From the Internet Archive page (see link below),  "The company's motto, 'Maker of better things for better living through chemistry,' was read at the beginning of each program, and the dramas emphasized humanitarian progress, particularly improvements in the lives of women, often through technological innovation."

On December 9, 1936, the Cavalcade showcased the history of Christmas Seals and how they were introduced into the United States.  While they were first used in Denmark, they came to the United States thanks to the work of Emily Bissell.  She was an officer for the American Red Cross in Wilmington, Delaware, a writer and fundraiser who made a name for herself supporting the fight against tuberculosis.  Bissell sought a way to raise money to help a Delaware sanatorium raise money to ensure that they can serve the numerous children with tuberculosis.  In 1907, she designed these seals and sold them at the post office for a penny each.  With a very modest goal of $300, she ended up selling over $3000 work of seals that year.  The popularity of this program grew so great that they could credit Christmas Seals with raising $83 million dollars over the first 29 years.  The Christmas Seals were synonymous with fundraising by the American Lung Association and its predecessor organization - National Association for the Study and Prevention of Tuberculosis.

The episode provides a dramatized recounting of Emily Bissell's work to bring Christmas Seals to the United States and and end to tuberculosis.  Two things of note.  First, Emily Bissell was in the studio audience and gave a brief statement at the end of the program.  Second, Emily Bissell is also closely associated with the anti-suffragist movement in the late 19th Century.  I am personally very glad that she was more successful at the former than the latter!  Hope you enjoy this episode from The Cavalcade of America.

The Story of Christmas Seals (Cavalcade of America - December 9, 1936)

Here are some links to programs relating to Old Time Radio and Cavalcade of America:
Another 25 Days of Old Time Radio Christmas (from 2016) & Other Links

25 Days of Old Time Radio Christmas (from 2015) & Other Links

25 Days of Old Time Radio Christmas (from 2014)

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