from Radio News
Mr. Murchison's Radio Party
by Ellis Parker Butler
We are pleased to announce that, beginning with this issue and for the year to come, Mr. Ellis Parker Butler will write radio stories exclusively for RADIO NEWS.
Mr. Butler does not need much introduction. He is, without question, one of the greatest living American humorists, his works having been translated into many different languages.
Mr. Butler has turned out a great quantity of literature during the past 15 years, his best known work being, of course, "Pigs Is Pigs," then "Philo Gubb, the Correspondence School Detective," "The Incubator Baby," "Mike Flannery," etc., etc.
The discovery that this eminent writer is a radio "fan" of some importance will be hailed with delight by every one of our readers. Mr. Butler knows the foibles of the radio amateur well, and he has a keen insight into his mentality. His first story proves this contention, and we congratulate our readers on the new treat, and we know they will laugh and smile with "Pigs Is Pigs" Butler for the next 12 months.
For two weeks after Mr. Murchison installed his radio receiving set he and his wife did nothing after dinner but sit in the parlor and listen to it. For one week they used ear-phones, but at the end of the week Mr. Murchison decided that it was a shame to have all the pleasures of WJZ, WOR
and the other programs and not share them, and he bought a large horn-like arrangement by using which any number of persons could sit at the far side of the room and hear everything very well indeed. It was a great success.
This addition to Mr. Murchison's radio gave him full and happy evenings for one week, for he had become a true radio enthusiast and his days were merely hours that he had to pass somehow until the time came to go home and enjoy radio. He bought the best radio magazines he could find, and twelve books on radio, and he read them all and learned a tremendous lot he had never even imagined about radio. Although he had paid quite a large sum of money -- for him -- for his ready-made set, he was so excited about radio that he set about building a set himself, and he nearly drove his wife crazy trying to explain what sounded to her like utter nonsense about why a high-power reverse action transforms the antenna generator into an edgewise inductance -- which means nothing at all.
By the end of the week Mr. Murchison was such an enthusiastic radio builder that he told Mrs. Murchison he was going to take his boughten set apart to see what was in it, and he even kept Teena -- the kitchen maid -- from her work while he told her about indoor antennae and variocouplers. It was clear to Mrs. Murchison that unless something was done to bring Mr. Murchison back to the sane pleasure of listening to the programs of the broadcasting stations he would soon be like Mr. Brownlee, who was so interested in building better and better amateur sets that he did nothing else and never completed one sufficiently to hear anything with it. Mr. Brownlee was indeed a radio enthusiast. He had become such an enthusiast that he could talk nothing and think nothing but radio, and whenever he pulled his hand out of his pocket he shed screwdrivers and crystals and wire and insulators by the quart.
It was for this reason that Mrs. Murchison conceived the idea of having a radio party and, to her joy, Mr. Murchison welcomed the idea with enthusiasm.
"Great!" he exclaimed. "I'd just like to show some of these back-numbers here in Westcote what radio really is! We'll have a dinner -- a swell dinner -- and after dinner we will go into the parlor and we'll show 'em! And as for class -- think of giving the first radio party in Westcote! It will make you, my dear; it will simply make you!"
"I thought of that, too," said Mrs. Murchison; "It should not, to say the least, hurt my social standing. I thought of inviting Mrs. Bimberry, dear."
Mrs. Bimberry was the social dictator of Westcote; she was the society queen. She was also large. Mrs. Bimberry had for years been reducing, banting, starving and dieting and she still grew larger and larger. She hated it and she hated everyone who referred to her size or looked as if she was thinking of it. Mrs. Murchison greatly desired the favor of Mrs. Bimberry's social smiles and in the depths of "her heart Mrs. Murchison had a wily little plan. One of the broadcasting stations was sending out "reduce to music" programs every evening, and Mrs. Murchison felt that if Mrs. Bimberry heard the "reduce to music" number over the radio and was pleased with the idea and bought a radio outfit and reduced herself to music because of it, Mrs. Bimberry would feel everlastingly grateful to Mrs. Murchison and would be her friend forever.
The dinner part of Mrs. Murchison's radio party was a great success. Not only were Mr. and Mrs. Bimberry present, but also Mr. and Mrs. Claygull and Mr. and Mrs. Brownlee. At the last moment Mr. Murchison had insisted that Brownlee be asked, for Murchison was an extremely nervous little man and as the time for the party approached he became panic-stricken lest his radio set should not work. He wanted Brownlee on hand in case there was any hitch in the program. Brownlee could certainly find what was the matter with the radio outfit if it did not work properly. The dinner was excellent and all were very merry and talked nothing but radio, and after dinner Mrs. Murchison proudly led the way into the parlor and seated her guests in a semicircle after they had examined the radio outfit and exclaimed over it.
"Ah!" said Mr. Murchison, glancing at his watch when all were seated. "We are just in time. The program is just beginning. Now you will see how simple this wonderful invention is. You see here three dials. I turn one, and I turn the next, and I turn the third, and from many miles away comes the -- the -- the --"
He had turned the dials, but nothing happened.
"Perhaps Central has not given you the right connection," puffed Mrs. Bimberry, who had eaten too much -- as usual -- and felt a trifle cross.
Mr. Brownlee, who with difficulty had made himself sit at all, now jumped up and went to the table.
"Let me tune her up, Murchison," he said. "I know all about this game. You see, folks, I turn this dial to light the amplifier, and this one to find the wavelength and this to -- to -- to --"
Mr. Brownlee and Mr. Murchison, quarreling in low tones pushed each other aside and turned dials this way and that way, but nothing at all happened.
"What in thunder did you do to this thing?" Brownlee demanded, and Mrs. Murchison tried to hide the annoyance she felt by asking Mrs. Bimberry in her sweetest voice, if the coal situation wasn't just too pitiful.
"Get a move on, Murchison; get a move on!" urged Mr. Bimberry. "I've got a date at the club if this thing isn't going to pan out."
"Oh! I'm sure it will" said Mrs. Murchison sweetly, and then, to Mr. Murchison: "Henry, dear, do you suppose it makes any difference if the wires you had stretched to the barn are gone?" "What!" cried Mr. Murchison. "My word, Mary! Do you mean to tell me --"
"Now, please, Henry," begged Mrs. Murchison. "There are guests present, please remember. Of course those wires are gone! I certainly did not know those wires were necessary, did I? You distinctly told Teena -- I'm sure I heard you -- that the wires out there were no longer necessary. So when they fell down this afternoon I gave them to a little boy who asked for them."
"Well, of all the idiotic -- " Mr. Murchison began, but Mr. Bimberry interrupted him.
"Well, Jane," he said to Mrs. Bimberry, "I guess we might as well be going; there doesn't seem to be any radio radiating here this evening. I told you -- "
"Now, wait; please wait!" exclaimed Mr. Murchison distractedly. "Don't get mad, Bimberry. Don't blame me for this! I did happen to say that outdoor aerials were no longer necessary, but I did not mean they were not necessary for us. It's a nice state of things when a woman picks up your slightest word and gives your antenna to the first red headed boy that comes along --"
"He was not red headed!" exclaimed Mrs. Murchison. "And if you feel called upon to say mean things to me, Henry Murchison, you might wait until a time when --"
"Don't mind him, Mrs. Murchison," said Mrs. Bimberry, giving Mr. Murchison a cruel glance. "He's nothing but a man -- a mere man --"
"Oh! I am, am I?" cried Mr. Murchison, flaring up. "Well, I'll thank any woman that comes into my house --"
"Who are you calling a woman, Murchison?" demanded Mr. Bimberry fiercely. "If you mean my wife I'll tell you we did not come here to be insulted! You enticed us here to hear what you call radio, but if you did it to insult my wife and me I'll mighty soon show you --"
Mr. Bimberry was actually doubling his fists and something horrible might have happened immediately if Mr. Brownlee had not drawn the attention of one and all by clapping his hands together.
"Please! One moment, folks!" he cried. "Please listen to me one moment!
I know you are all disappointed because Mr. Murchison's radio does not work, but you forget that Brownlee is here! I know something about radio. I have studied it. It is my life's joy it was well that Mrs. Murchison invited me here tonight, because --"
"Because what?" asked the indignant Mrs. Bimberry grimly.
"Because," said Mr. Brownlee, "instead of the evening being a failure on account of Mr. Murchison's lost antenna, it may turn out to be an evening we will all remember all our lives. And why? Because, with your permission, we will make a most interesting experiment."
He paused to allow his words to have full effect, and then proceeded.
"Recently," he said, "things no one dreamed possible have been done with radio. One man, instead of using outside antenna wires, has received with perfect results the radio concerts through his bed springs. Another man received them by using a common window screen. But, most marvelous of all, another man -- doing away with all antenna -- has received the concerts through his own body! Yes, it is indeed wonderful, Mrs. Bimberry, as your face shows me you think. And, with the kind permission of one and all, we will try that very thing. We will use Mrs. Murchison as the antenna and, if we have success, we will still hear the radio program tonight!"
Instantly everyone was excitedly interested and Mr. Brownlee flew from spot to spot, disconnecting a wire here and attaching it there, winding a wire around Mrs. Murchison's waist and running another from her ankle to the radiator for a ground connection. When all was ready Mr. Brownlee tuned in and, to the wonder of all present, a voice -- very faint and very indistinct -- muttered from the horn of the loudspeaker. Mr. Bimberry threw the first monkey-wrench into the amazed admiration of the listeners.
"But you can't hear it," he said. "I can't make out a blame word. I don't call that such-a-much. If that's the best you can do, Brownlee, I call the whole business a fiz --"
Mr. Brownlee was working at the dials nervously, now turning one, now hastening to see that the ground wire was well connected with Mrs. Murchison's ankle. He was excited and flustered. He stopped and wiped his face, for it was hot work.
"One minute!" he cried. "We've got something; we've almost got it! All we need is -- Just let me think this out a moment! Ground wire -- feed wire -- induction -- voltage -- battery -- antenna. I have it! I know what's the matter!"
"What?" asked Mr. Bimberry. "What's wrong?"
"Mrs. Murchison," said Brownlee. "Mrs. Murchison is wrong. She's not -- not enough. There isn't enough of her. What we need is more of her. She doesn't gather enough wave. We need somebody big -- huge."
He looked at Mr. Bimberry, who was large, but his eye passed him and alighted with on eager glare on Mrs. Bimberry, who was far larger. In an instant he had connected her with the radio box. In another instant he had detached the ground wire from Mrs. Murchison's ankle and had attached it to Mrs. Bimberry's.
"You!" he exclaimed joyfully. "Just what we need!"
"Sir!" exclaimed Mrs. Bimberry haughtily. She turned to her husband. "Joseph," she said, "we will go. I have been sufficiently insulted in this house! And as for you, Mary Murchison, if you think you can let your guests be outraged in this manner the less we see of each other the better! Good night!"
At that moment Mr. Brownlee must have touched a dial or a wire, for the mumbling whisper from the horn suddenly came forth loud and clear in the introductory words of the "Reduce to Music" selection. Clear and strong, as if aimed directly at Mrs. Bimberry came these words:
"No one, except for reasons of laziness or gluttony has any excuse to be fat!"
For a moment Mrs. Bimberry's face went purple; her vast bosom heaved with anger. She cast a murdering glance at poor Mrs. Murchison and started toward the door.
But only started toward the door. At the first stride the ground wire became taut. For a moment the queen of Westcote society stood on one leg, her arms stretched out before her and one leg extended backward toward the top of the radiator to which she was wired, like a high art nature dancer, hopping on one leg.
"Ready! Begin!" cried the voice from the radio horn: "Hop! Hop! Hop! Down!"
Mrs. Bimberry hop -- hop -- hopped and at the word of command "Down!" she sat down on the floor so suddenly that all her hairpins fell out and a tall glass vase of chrysanthemums fell off the table, but she did not have to follow the next command. It was "Raise your right foot!" and Mrs. Bimberry did not have to raise her right foot; it was already high in the air, pointing to the top of the radiator. It was her ground connection but it had no connection with the ground.
And still, relentlessly, through Mrs. Bimberry and out of the horn, came to her ears valuable advice on how to reduce. Radio is indeed wonderful! But that was not what Mrs. Bimberry was saying just then.