Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Librarians on Old Time Radio: Damaged Library Book from Suspense (1945)

Kresge Library Collection Surplus - July 17, 2014

Lots of Damaged Books Here
Kresge Library (Michigan) Collection Surplus - July 17, 2014

I have started up a number of series of blog posts on the Golden Age of Radio - or old time radio.  I have focused on Christmas, Thanksgiving, diet, baseball, African-Americans, world travel and lighthouses.  Today I am starting a new series that I have been planning for some time.  As a librarian (13+ years at the University of Michigan), I have long wanted to match my love of old time radio with my profession.  So today, I start up my new series - Librarians on Old Time Radio.  I am going to feature programs that have librarians and related information professionals in key roles in the story.  These might be fairly straight forward - or only tangentially related to librarianship.  Maybe there is a minor part of a librarian in the story.  Anyway, I should have a good number of episodes to feature over the upcoming months.  I hope to feature one entry a week.  Hope you enjoy them.

Among the very best shows that were broadcast during the Golden Age of Radio, the CBS Network's Suspense really stands out as one of the best of the best.  Radio's "outstanding theater of thrills" had a 20 year run on CBS - starting in 1942.  In fact, the last Suspense episode in 1962 marks the end of the Golden Age of Radio.  As you might imagine for a program that ran for 20 years, you have a great combination of excellent stories and fantastic production values.  If CBS was the best network on the radio, this was their star attraction.  Week in, and week out, they had one amazing program after another.  One of the reasons why I love listening to the early episodes is because I enjoy the sponsor, Roma Wines.  Their commercials are the best - Salute!  

So maybe I should have held this one back - but why not start with a bang!  On September 20th, 1945, Suspense featured the great actress Myrna Loy as Prudence Roberts, in their production of "Library Book." We open with Prudence Roberts at the circulation desk at a librarian answering a phone call to see if they carry or carried the Racing Form. We are then have a patron return a book the counter. Gone With The Wind was returned 2 days late (that would be 4 cents) when the patron mentioned that pages 931 and 932 were pulled from the book. So Prudence followed the rules and wanted to charge the patron who returned the book for the vandalized copy of this work. The last thing she wanted to do was to buy another best-seller. When a colleague interceded and suggested that if the patron vandalized the book, would she have brought it up? While many might have tossed the now damaged book aside, she discovered that words were marked up on page 933. While Gone With The Wind is a romance, this is becoming a mystery. (Though to the young boy who thought it was about airplanes, it was very disappointing). Prudence discovers that the missing page and the one afterwards are leading to a kidnapping plot.

Joining Myrna Loy in the cast were Cathy Lewis, Wally Maher, Conrad Binyon, & Joseph Kearns as the announcer. The story is based on the 1939 short story by Cornell Woolrich called "The Book That Squealed." It was adapted by William Spier, who also directed the episode. I hope you enjoy this episode, albeit filled with the stereotypical depictions of librarians, but the accurate telling of our love of rules!

Library Book (Suspense, September 20th, 1945)

Here are some links to programs relating to Old Time Radio and Suspense:

    1 comment:

    1. Corey,
      Would you consider profiling the Dark Fantasy episode "The Letter from Yesterday" (May 1, 1942) for your Librarian series?