Magic Dials

“These are a few of my favorite things,” chirped Maria von Trappe in The Sound of Music.  While I claim that the ICP Library is more than just books, I love the books.  This is one of my long-time favorites.

My grandfather, Jan Repa, was a radio and TV repairman, among other things, and his workshop enthralled me as a child.  Magic Dials: The Story of Radio and Television by Lowell Thomas, illustrated by Anton Bruehl [Polygraphic Company of America, 1939] is a time-machine back to my grandfather’s workshop [via the photographic endpapers, below] and to the old radio shows I still enjoy on my i-Pod.  The color illustrations even get a credit on the colophon: “Lithographed in the United States of America in Polytone Process by Polygraphic Company of America.”

The chapters have titles such as “Once upon a Time…,” “Magic Megacycles,” “Cabalistic Kilowatts,” “Network Necromancy,” and “Generating Glamour.”

1939 is such a magic moment for technology and for New York, era of more than just the World’s Fair.  New York’s visionary zeal resulted in a slew of museums, schools and cultural bastions that still endure.

The “ham” explorer.  A young amateur of 1919 actually gets receoption.  Crude magic, but it dazzles Dad too.

Left:  Alfred Wallenstein directs the orchestra as Margaret Speaks sings her solo on the Firestone Hour.

Right: Magic City from the Enchanters’ Tower.  A view from the RCA Building featuring the Chrysler Tower which houses the new CBS transmitter.

Magic Dials is in our Rare Book collection call number TR820.5 .B78 1939

Happy New Year!

Deirdre Donohue, Stephanie Shuman Librarian

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