Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Another 25 Days of Old Time Radio Christmas - Day 11: Missing Christmas Money from Life With Luigi (1949)

As a kid growing up - I was fascinated with banks. Not sure why I felt this way - but there it is. I loved the idea of savings accounts (more than the reality of saving money) and thought that a passbook was a magical passport. I also was very interested in the concept of the Christmas Clubs that banks offered. You would save a certain amount every week, starting in October, that would be the money you could spend on Christmas gifts the following year. What probably did in the Christmas Clubs is the relatively easy way with which we can get credit now. But this was a great way for many of us to save money for Christmas gifts. is a great way to introduce this next program in my blog of Christmas during the Golden Age of Radio. It is a program I have heard often enough, but have not featured on my blog until today. The program is Life With Luigi, a comedy series staring J. Carrol Naish in the title role. I expect to have some repeats, but also some new shows featured as well. If you have Sirius XM, you can listen to Greg Bell's Old time radio channel (#148). Or you can see my previous OTR Christmas entries (or drop to the bottom of this message).

Farmers & Merchants Bank - Downtown Long Beach, California - October 21, 2015
Farmers & Merchants Bank - Downtown Long Beach, California - October 21, 2015 

From 1948 to 1953, CBS Radio featured a weekly half-hour situation comedy telling the story of a recent immigrant to the United States in the times after World War II.  It was the brain-child of Cy Howard and starred J. Carrol Naish plays the title character, Luigi Basco, who was spending his new life in Chicago.  Character actor Alan Reed (maybe best known as the voice of Fred Flinstone) plays Pasquale, Luigi's sponsor and best friend.  Each of the episodes starts off this the same opening - as announcer Bob Stevenson would say:
We invite you to enjoy life – Life with Luigi – a new comedy show created by Cy Howard and starring that celebrated actor, Mr. J. Carroll Nash with Alan Reed as Pasquale. 
A year ago, when Luigi Basco left Italy to start his new life in America, he promised his mother that he would write and tell her about his adventures. So now let’s read Luigi’s letter as he writes to Momma Basco in Italy. 
The episode we are featuring first aired on December 20th, 1949. It was repeated again on December 19, 1950 and December 25th, 1951. Luigi starts off (as he does each week) with his letter to Momma Basco and was talking about Christmas shopping. He even talked about buying a washer for his kitchen sink at Sears and still had it gift wrapped! Luigi was describing the toaster that he was sending to his mother - along with instructions on how to use it.

Luigi was most proud about his gift for his good friend Pasquale. To pay for it, he saved a $1 a week in his bank and had just collected the $50 for his big gift. He was so excited that he did not even need to include Pasquale on his Christmas gift list. He was very excited telling his fellow classmates in his citizenship and English class with other immigrants. But at the class, he makes a horrible realization. He has misplaced the list...and the money... Luigi panics that he has lost all that money and his ability to buy his good friend a present. His good friend, is thinking about something completely different. While Pasquale found the envelope and the list - he was furious that he was not on it. In typical situation comedy fashion - the mix up leads to lots of comic moments - and a very happy ending. The cast also includes Mary Shipp, Joe Forte, Ken Peters, Hans Conried, Jody Gilbert and was written by Mac Benoff and Lou Derman.

I hope you enjoy this great Christmas episode.

Another 25 Days of Old Time Radio Christmas (from 2017) & Other Links

25 Days of Old Time Radio Christmas (from 2016) 

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

25 Days of Old Time Radio Christmas (from 2014)

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