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Sunday, March 20, 2016

How I escaped

It was an early summer morning when my father set out his radio on his job sight of remolding old homes, I sat on the cold cement steps on this stinky house sitting outside drinking my orange juice and wondering what I was going to be doing all day at the strange place. I was maybe 7 years old just listening to the radio as suddenly a whole new world unfolded before my imagination of sitting in the warmth of the sun light while the street before seem alive with birds singing and bugs crawling across the sidewalk. I watched on all around me smelling the freshness of a new day mixed with hints of wet paint as my father rolled along the living room walls in his paint clothes, my mother was scrubbing down the kitchen and the radio played loudly for me and my siblings to focus in on......
The setting in the radio played out into this wonderful small town where everyone seemed to know each other ins a friendly greeting and in that neighborly social way.
I listened on in real interest and in curiosity as an elderly man began to speak to us listening narrating his own environment to us like we had always been good friends. I liked his voice instantly, warm and kind, wise and clever. I was drawn into his sharing about his life in that magical small town, his cheerfulness and his reflection over the passing of his wife as he loved his home and town so dearly. The background of children playing, of him walking to his local business a soda fountain, ice cream parlor full of books and kids hanging out there. the little bell on the shop's door because a common sound in this 15 minuet radio drama. The popularity of this program allowed the show to turn into 30 minuets and they renamed it "Adventures in Odyssey."  but in the very beginning as trail run the short radio dramas unfolded before me through the static of the speakers and the very real escape it gave me! I was there in my mind's eye instantly there in such a perfect place, His voice was so clearly confident and sharing his christian faith was so comforting and nice, not rude or preachy instead he introduce himself as John Avery Whitaker in this wonderful world through the radio as I imagine the perfect looking old man whose hugs were big and whose laughter was encouraging! He talked on the phone with his best friend an old time farmer named Tom, they chatted about the importance of family values, of their small community changing and dealing with big life questions in how to still be true to God. I listened intensely and felt myself changing right before the story ended until the next week's program to hear more about "Whit's End" John's cafe in the small town of Odyssey. I was changing into a wonder of "How can I live in such a place???"
It's funny how that moment was vital for the rest of my life and why I romanticize everything, why I try to create the very same style for my life based on Mr. Whitaker's introduction to being perfectly setup to walk everyday to work, waving and greeting everyone along the way! He's being old made him endearing and approachable, I realized at 7 years old I can not wait to get old like him! I want to know all he knows and have that calm being in helping others and being brave to have faith like that....I because a huge fan of this radio program, it grew into my own personal escape. I tried to never miss an episode over the next decade, every Saturday morning I had the radio station setup as my alarm then it played until the theme song came on and I went to sit by the radio like a loyal listener.
This show brought the outside world to me while abiding by the rules of Christianity, which allowed my parents to leave me alone to listen. I lived in this town every week and then began collecting all the sets of episodes they sold in packs. I saved 25 dollars to give my siblings these cassette tapes for Christmas gifts knowing I would get to listen to them over and over again too. I had almost every single episode memorized by the time I was 17 years old. When Mr. Whitaker almost died in an episode I cried so intensely because he had become a role model for my life, he was the biggest part of why I loved this show and escape into that world he created, in fact all through my life now I realize I am drawn to the wise old man in all movies and drama shows. I want to grow old being just like Mr. Whitaker, in his friendliness and his wisdom. I don't follow his faith structure anymore, but i do follow his classy behavior in having respect  towards everyone and knowing how everyone's life is worth something. I use to lay on my back on the floor for hours going through each new episode side by side lost in this familiar welcoming town, listening to the voices of people i knew so well and drinking in all the wonder of such powerful issues and thoughts, their adventures and their mistakes, their moments of joy and of sorrow I grew up with this radio program as my true delight in escaping the real life and time around me. As a teenager this show allowed me conversations with my friends at church, we would run into each other arms on Sunday squealing over that Saturday cliff hanger! It was fun to get books on the growing love for "Adventures in Odyssey."  and I listened on as I grew up, even when I had my wisdom teeth pulled when I was 20 years old I asked my boyfriend to play the show so I could relax from the pain and he snorted on listening saying "What is this propaganda? Where in the world would there ever be such a town like THIS??" I chuckled and realized it was a simple bubble I liked living in. In fact it was my personal escape from everything else, a world where God is always loving, a world where children can grow and learn without harsh punishments, a world where the weather is beautiful while they walk through the neighborhood or they gather in Whit's End to get out the storm while supporting each other and making their town a safe good place by all helping each other learning to not be selfish or mean. I think this radio program changed me into that kind of dreamer, that kind of desire in me to create in real life a make-belief place, my imagination was sparked by this show when I was 7 years old and now 30 years later I still carry that very same spark inside of me where ever I go!

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