The end of a war: Old-time radio, 14 August

At long enough last, the second World War is over. At long enough last, the United States and the world celebrates—even if there will be those, in America and elsewhere, who tremble behind their celebratory visages, over their postwar prospects or possible lack thereof, having gone to war, seen more world than they might have imagined growing up at home, and managed to live through the battles.

Trout had the pleasure of announcing the war's end with a CBS bulletin. (Photo: CBS.)

Trout had the pleasure of announcing the war’s end with a CBS bulletin. (Photo: CBS.)

It may well take awhile before the lives of many who fought and lived to come home stabilise. This backstory to the war often becomes forgotten in the years to follow, even if it will be addressed memorably enough in such film classics as (especially) The Best Years of Our Lives. It is a story that needs to be re-told and, in due course, will be re-told.

For now, however, even those who fear for the quality of their lives to follow, and those who fear the full revelations to come from the murderous regimes who launched the war and plunged their own peoples, never mind the world, into hell, cannot help being swept in the immediate euphoria of the long, arduous war ending at last.

When Edward R. Murrow and Fred W. Friendly put together the second volume of their seminal spoken-history album I Can Hear It Now, they apologised in the liner notes for lingering a little too long on sounds of the war’s end and the celebrations it provoked. They needn’t have apologised. As I will not for doing likewise here.

The launch of war is always to be lamented; the carnage of war is always to be mourned; the end of war is always to be celebrated. Even if the sober truth is as Albert Jay Nock, the quietly graceful bellettrist, would write to a friend, “You are not going to stop war until you change man.”


Bulletins: Japan Surrendering “Soon” (Mutual, 1945)—The Mutual Broadcasting System breaks into a music broadcast with its own bulletin on the war’s coming end, based on a report from Tokyo radio; then, after a brief return to the regular program, bulletins an “unofficial” acceptance of the surrender terms; and, finally, the all-but-official word pending word from Washington.

News: Forrestal’s Reaction (NBC, 1945)—By way of the Associated Press, NBC reports Navy Secretary James Forrestal hopes the reports of Japan’s surrender are not exaggerated, slightly or otherwise.

News: A Report from the White House (NBC, 1945)—A quick report from the White House grounds on Truman’s acceptance of the surrender terms.

President Truman Accepts Imperial Japan’s Surrender (CBS, 1945)—The CBS bulletin, before a quick cut to London reporting and quoting Truman’s acceptance of Japan’s surrender accession.

CBS News: The End of World War II (CBS, 1945)—Robert Trout delivers a more formal bulletin on the end of the second World War at long enough last.

Kaltenborn With the News: The End of the War (NBC, 1945)—The distinguished commentator says, “You can say it with empathy,” before offering his thoughts on the at-last end of the war, the word that Gen. Douglas A. MacArthur has, indeed, been named Supreme Allied Commander for the surrender and Japan’s immediate postwar reconstruction, and all but the order of battle, so to say, for the formal surrender signing and imposition.

Public Service Announcement: V-J Day Services (Unknown , 1945)—A church’s announcement of special services once this evening and once at mid-day 15 August.

News: A Woman Reacts (Unknown, 1945)—An unidentified woman describes her family’s reaction upon the news that the war is over at last.

News: Reporting from Chicago (NBC, 1945)—NBC’s Don Oder from atop the United Artists Theater marquee in Chicago, observing the Windy City’s weather-subdued celebrations of the war’s end, even if there may have been a few untoward incidents in the early heat of the joy.

News: Reporting from Cincinnati (CBS, 1945)—The Queen City whistles, rings, and howls in celebration, as reported from Broadway . . . including, apparently, one particularly enthusiastic reveler managing to tie down a train whistle to hold a sustained racket.

News: Celebrating in Times Square (NBC, 1945)—Ben Grauer reports smack dab in the middle of Times Square as New York begins celebrating the war’s end much the way it does New Year’s Eve: crowded thick, screaming joyously.

News: Reaction in Washington (Unknown, 1945)—The nation’s capital celebrates, and the President plans a more formal announcement of the surrender treaty later in the day.




Vic & Sade: Bacon Sandwiches (NBC, 1940)—Sade (Bernadine Flynn) frets about the changing August air while Rush (Bill Idelson) reveals Rooster Davis’s rather unique restaurant plan and singular (very) menu. Announcer: Ed Roberts. Writer/director: Paul Rhymer.

Vic & Sade: Uncle Fletcher Prolongs His Stay (NBC, 1944)—Uncle Fletcher (Clarence Hartzell) wants to stretch his rest “just a little longer,” and Sade (Bernadine Flynn) thinks he may stretch it longer than that—despite his living a mere three blocks away—because of his landlady’s possible marriage plans. Vic: Art Van Harvey. Russell: David Whitehouse. Writer/director: Paul Rhymer.

Bob & Ray Present the CBS Radio Network: Mr. Sciences (It’s in the eye, 1959)—The classic parody of an early children’s science television program. Also: an update on the kidnapped Smelly Dave, including one or two reports that turned out to be false. Writers, rumour has it: Bob Elliott, Ray Goulding.


Crime Drama

The Whistler: Best Friend (CBS, 1949)—At a tony party, Bob Kaufman (David Ellis) wants to avoid his former paramour Liz Wheeler (Joan Banks), who’s married to his best friend, Henry (Ted Osborne), but it proves easier said than done when she all but insists on rekindling their affair—by just about any means necessary—until he proves by fatal accident that he’s serious about leaving their affair behind . . . even if it means Henry facing the rap. Additional cast: William Conrad. The Whistler: Bill Forman. Announcer: Marvin Miller. Music: Wilbur Hatch. (Whistling: Dorothy Roberts.) Director: William Tracy. Writer: Norman R. Kramer.

Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar: The Crystal Lake Matter, Part Two (CBS, 1956)—With Edward Russell found dead in a Crystal Lake cabin, Dollar (Bob Bailey) accompanies the cabin owner (Herb Ellis) to the cabin, then calls Leona (Charlotte Lawrence) and looks up the man who wanted to buy the cabin in the first place . . . and a bartender Russell was believed to have sought—and fought with over, whether the bartender had ever been to Denver. Sheriff: Richard Crenna. Announcer: Roy Rowan. Music: Amerigo Moreno. Director: Jack Johnstone. Writer: Robert Wright.


Drama/Dramatic Anthology

Words at War: Love at First Flight (NBC, 1943)—Yalie Lester Dowd (Lawson Zerbe) pursues a Navy pilot’s wings after Pearl Harbour, armed with all the right credentials, amused by some of the cynicism he receives, anxious particularly to share a “tender goodbye” with a certain girl (Evelyn Varden), and addled by his own latent uncertainties. A sterling example of this unique series, which dramatises books written during and about World War II and those who participate; if you disregard the sometimes-exaggerated bravado, the occasionally cartoonish interjections, you may conclude it’s hard to beat this series for telling the story of both a war and what a country thought during its fighting, so long as you take it in the context of its own era. Based on the book by Charles Spalding and Otis Carney. Additional cast: Missy Gould, Walter Kinsella, Don McLaughlin, Stutz Kotsworth, John Griggs, Art Carney, Francis Carlin, Gerald Keane. Announcer: Jack Costello. Music: Frank Black. Director: Joseph Losey. Writer: Edward Bernbrier.



Suspense: Smiley (CBS, 1947)—Convicted falsely of stalking and confronting a woman, once happy-go-lucky Harold Smythe (Donald O’Connor) comes out of prison with a very different attitude, returning to his old job, and possibly feeling compelled to commit the crime in actual fact. Curly: Sidney Miller. Cookie: Lurene Tuttle. Music: Bernard Herrmann. Director: William Spier. Writer: Charles Glenn.

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