Remembering the days of radio

In the olden days folks who lived in the boonies didn’t have many formal entertainment choices.

We could see a movie in town on shopping day, usually Saturday. The local theater kept the same movie a couple of weeks, so except for the Saturday afternoon serials (that always ended with a cliffhanger to get us back next week) we could just see the same movie again.

When “The Ten Commandments” came out, it stayed in our local movie house almost a month. It was a good movie, but by the time it left I had Moses’ speech from the mountain side overlooking his peoples’ debauchery memorized.

Saturday night was country dance night, and in summertime we had rodeos most weekends. The rest of the time we were on our own, which wasn’t all that bad. We played cards, dominoes, marble games and, in our family, music.

There was one other entertainment — the radio.

We could only get a few stations, but after school on certain days we could hear “The Lone Ranger,” and sometimes there were mystery stories on.

There was a preacher, also — Herbert W. Armstrong —  who assured us with each sermon that we were headed for destruction.

There was one nifty radio station on every night. XELO, Clint, Texas. The announcer repeated, often and loud, “equis, eh, elle oh, X-E-L-O, Clint, Texas. That’s C-L-I-N-T, Clint, Texas.”

I learned those Spanish pronunciations of XELO and had a great time saying them often.

The reason he repeated himself so much — you could order stuff and that was the address. I learned, years later, that the station was actually across the border in Mexico, which explained its unbelievably strong signal (which never would have been allowed in our country) that carried across much of the United States.  

My friend Jeff (his name is changed for his protection) grew up on a farm near Clint, which is southeast of El Paso. He says tourists from all over would come there looking for that station.

“We would point to the desert east of us and say, ‘It’s right over that little hill,’” he says with a laugh, “and they would disappear for days.”

My brother ordered a harmonica from XELO. It worked well enough that he managed to drive our mom nuts with it for a month or so.

Jeff ordered a pen light. “I wanted to read comic books outside at night, and it actually worked — for awhile,” he says.

Jeff and his friends had a lady school teacher they didn’t care for, so they ordered a “love potion” and had it mailed to her. “We never found out what it was,” he says with a big grin.

Truth in advertising wasn’t a big deal, although they really didn’t lie. A local farm lady ordered a fly killer — guaranteed to work or your money back.

This is what she got: two matching polished metal blocks about three inches wide and eight inches long, marked “A” and “B.” The instruction sheet said: “Place fly on Block A. Hit with Block B.”

Glenda Price has been a contributing editor to New Mexico Stockman magazine since 1982. Contact her:

Glenda Price