HERE’S HOW THIS HAPPENED:
In May, 2014 Steve Darnall, current producer and host of Those Were The Days, asked TWTD listeners to send a card or letter to Chuck Schaden on his milestone birthday, coming up in June. This was in a tradition that Chuck himself had begun while he was host of the program, asking listeners to send greetings to radio actors Les “First Nighter” Tremayne, Jim “Fibber McGee” Jordan and Gale “Osgood Conklin/Mayor LaTrivia” Gordon on their various milestone birthdays.
Almost immediately the cards and letters started reaching Chuck. By the time his birthday arrived, there was a huge stack of greetings from Chuck’s friends out there in Radioland, certainly enough to cover a wall in his home. A sampling of the notes and letters received is printed below.
BUT THERE’S MORE:
Barbara Latzel, owner of The Framemakers in Westmont, long-time sponsor and supporter of Those Were The Days, offered to host a “meet and greet” reception to mark a number of special occasions: Chuck’s 80th birthday, Steve’s Fifth Anniversary as host-producer of TWTD and Ken Alexander’s 55 years in radio. The event was held on Friday, June 27 in Westmont. Quite a number of TWTD listeners stopped in to say hello and have some refreshments.
AND THERE’S STILL MORE:
During the reception, a special radio sketch, written by Ken Alexander, was performed by Steve, Chuck and Ken. TWTD Support Staff members Koni Shaughnessey and Rick Johnston recorded the sketch and it was played on the air the next day, at the beginning of Steve’s Those Were The Days program, June 28, 2014.
To hear that 18-minute recording now, CLICK HERE
HERE ARE SOME OF THE BIRTHDAY CARDS AND LETTERS SENT TO CHUCK:
Quite a few years ago you asked your listeners if they would send birthday cards to Les Tremayne. I did so. And now, years later, Mr. Darnall is asking the same for you, and I am doing it and it gives me great pleasure to do so. I have enjoyed the old time radio programs that you have hosted for all those years and am glad you have passed on the torch. Your voice was wonderful to listen to on the radio and in person. Thank you for all the years and the good times. Happy Birthday. – LARA DERA, Chicago, IL
Remember when there were only three TV channels? Remember when music came on vinyl? Remember when the only computer you had in your home was, maybe, a calculator? Chuck, you remember when there was just Radio! Those were the days, my friend. Thank you for helping us live and re-live those magic days. – JOHN ZIELINSKI, e-mail
My wife Barbie and I started listening to Those Were The Days a couple of years before our son, Stephen, now 24, was born. In Addition to Jack Benny, Gildersleeve, Suspense and other shows, the one we enjoyed most was The Cinnamon Bear. I bought the tapes, then CDs, and we started listening as a family when Stephen was four. Three years later, our daughter Hannah joined us. We listened at night, just before sleep, alternating their bedrooms, with the only light coming from a lighted foot-high Christmas tree on the dresser. After one episode, on being tucked in for the night, four-year-old Hannah said, “I can see the Cinnamon Bear in my brain.”
Forward to a month ago. Our son is now an engineer with Caterpillar, living in Atlanta at the time. I flew down to meet up with him for a five-hour drive to Kentucky. The conversation covered a lot of topics, and at one point we touched on the Cinnamon Bear. His last comment was, “That is a really nice family tradition to have.” Thanks to you, Chuck, that we were able to pass it on to our children. And I am certain that they will pass it on to theirs. That is a wonderful legacy. –ED POLUS, Clarendon Hills, IL
Thanks for all the wonderful Saturday afternoons we spent together over the years. Brought back many happy memories. I’ve been listening since the beginning. –BERNICE MURPHY, Addison, IL
Thanks for the many hours of enjoyment. My children grew up listening to you on Saturdays. Even today, if it’s Saturday, they know what I’m doing, thanks to the Internet. –JUDY ZUBKA, McDonough, GA, formerly of Villa Park, IL
Congratulations on your 80th birthday! I’ve listened to Those Were The Days since I was 14 and I’m 52 now! –DAN RIEDSTRA, Chicago, IL
Cheer, cheer – another year! 80 is great! I’m “up there” in years, too, but still having fun. Hope you are, too. I’ve enjoyed your radio program for years. I even dance to the music at times, even if my kids laugh. –BARB McDERMOTT, Crestwood, IL
Last Saturday Steve Darnall mentioned that you were about to celebrate your 80th birthday. As a long time listener and follower of TWTD, I couldn’t help doing my own reminiscing of the good old days starting with WLTD, that low-power station in Evanston that was a daytime station. We lived in Palatine at the time and I was doing some lawn chores in the fall, listening on my Motorola transistor with the antenna extended all the way up hearing rock and roll on WLS. My one-year-old saw the radio sitting on the porch and wanted to be a big help and bring the radio to Daddy. In the process, the dial was moved to a different station – WNMP. I thought I had entered the Twilight Zone. Did my ears deceive me? Or was I hearing Fibber McGee and Molly? I asked my wife to listen with me. Was I dreaming? I finished my lawn work, picked up the radio and heard static. I didn’t write down the station’s call letters nor did I remember the frequency. I didn’t know at that time WLTD was a day station.
The following Saturday, I found the station by hearing an ad for Polk Bros. I was hoping for some more Fibber McGee. What I got was Northwestern football. Somewhere along the listening day, old time radio was mentioned that it would be back the following week. I’ve been hooked on TWTD ever since.
I have been to a few of your reunions. My wife Judy and I had the pleasure to be part of the excursion on the river boat to New Orleans and meet up with some fellow listeners. I loved going to the MGM Shop. I purchased John Dunning’s book, “The Encyclopedia of Old Time Radio.” At Christmastime we still have the Silver Star (also purchased at the MGM store) that Judy and Jimmy searched for and the Cinnamon Bear helped find.
In the early ‘90s my company shut down and we moved to Cincinnati. I missed old time radio and for Christmas, my family found a 1937 Zenith console that had AM and lots of short wave bands. The card attached to the ribbon said “To Dad – now he can listen to Chuck Schaden every Sunday on WBBM.” Every Sunday I would turn on the Zenith and adjust the station until the green light was perfect, sit back and enjoy.
Fast-forward to 2014. You have retired and Steve Darnall and Ken Alexander continue to bring TWTD to the world not only on WDCB but on the Internet (that’s the way I listen). As the weeks and years go by, new generations will be enjoying the program. Have a great birthday. –PAUL CARLSON, Batavia, Ohio
Thank you for all the great memories. I have been a listener since the beginning and as a result my daughters also love the old time stories. You are a big name in our family and I congratulate you for all the wonders and imagination you have brought us. –LIZ DRABOWSKI, Gurnee, IL
Congratulations on your 80th! I still remember when my dad, announcer Bill Griskey introduced you to me in 1970. Your contributions in radio are excelled only by the contents of the programs, which you have shared and preserved. Thank you for bringing so many happy hours of broadcasts. I continue to listen. –LOU GRISKEY, Menifee, California
Thank you for introducing me to the joy of old-time radio. I was so honored to meet you and write a story about your retirement in 2009 for the Daily Herald newspapers. –LAURA MILLBRATH STEWART, Island Lake, IL
Many thanks for TWTD. I’ve been listening since 1971 and no matter what is going on in my life, it’s good to know TWTD is there every Saturday. –NAN DOUDICAN, Chicago, IL
We just wanted to join the hundreds of others that are sending you birthday wishes. This is also an opportunity to thank you for your great website. This is a tremendous resource and truly a showcase of key moments in your career. –STEVE AND LINDA MUCHOW, Elgin, IL
My wife and I and our four children were your listeners going back to the WLTD days. You provided us with many hours of good entertainment and much pleasure. Thank you for all you did to keep the Golden Age of Radio alive. You enriched our lives.
Stolat! (In Polish it means may you live a hundred years.) –THE CLARENCE KRUSINSKI FAMILY
Three generations of our family have come to know and love old time radio from your broadcasts, almost from the beginning. Julie’s dad discovered your broadcasts and from then on, whenever you were on the air, we were listening. Saturdays were, and still are, planned around being able to hear Those Were The Days! When Julie married, the tradition came in to our new family, and soon our daughter, Olivia, became a fan!
The treasured hours by the radio that our family has shared are too numerous to recount. You also introduced us to the wonderful Don Roth’s restaurant in Wheeling, where we even joined you, Ken Alexander and a group for dinner, and where our family made many trips just to enjoy the food and atmosphere.
Then there was the Museum of Broadcast Communications and the Fibber McGee’s Closet display, which we made a trip to see, and also saw a live Saturday afternoon broadcast of Those Were The Days.
And your memorable World War II retrospective, over four years, that gave us the chance to step into the shoes of our parents and grandparents, and at least hear what their lives must have been like during that time.
Our thanks cannot begin to express what we feel for you and what you have given us. Thank you for being part of our family. –MARK, JULIE and OLIVIA GOLTERMANN, Sussex, Wisconsin
Mr. Schaden, thank you for everything you have done to keep the Golden Age of Radio alive! WDCB and Those Were The Days has been a huge part of my childhood and I looked forward to Saturdays! Have a blessed birthday and wishing you many more. –OLIVIA GOLTERMANN, age 18, Sussex, Wisconsin
I want you to know what an important part of my Saturdays were for all those many years. Every Spring you helped me clean up the accumulated detritus of Winter. In the Summer vintage radio accompanied the restoration work on a vintage automobile. In the Fall you helped me organize the lecture materials for the coming semester and during the holidays we addressed cards and wrapped a lot of presents together.
And the hardest moment? Your retirement. I was there for that, too. I know that all of your listeners recognized, as I did, the passion you brought to the program and for four hours every week you shared that with us. And in fine tradition you left your audience wanting more. Well done, Chuck, well done. –JONAS WINGFIELD, Crystal Lake, IL
I will be 84 in September and have delighted in your programs for 40 years. Realize that you have created a joyful purpose in my being a “tape worm” (as you called it) and having a complete library of Nostalgia Digests since Book 1, Chapter 1 of December, 1974. Thank you sincerely. You have been a true friend to me as you have been to thousands of others. I raise a toast to your 80 years of young life. –DON ANDERSON, Elmhurst, IL
Loved listening to you until you retired. I listened on Sunday night while ironing and sewing, making my chores and hobby a nostalgia time. I now listen on my computer to WDCB from Raleigh, North Carolina area so I don’t miss my favorite “oldies” every Saturday afternoon. Thank you for your great shows and years of presenting programming from my past. –BARBARA BURDETTE, Rolesville, North Carolina
Thanks for bringing the Golden Age of Radio into our homes for all those years. A great idea that certainly stood the test of time, much like yourself. –RON HARRINGTON, Barrington, IL
I am the same age as you and remember lying on the floor reading the comics and/or enjoying Fibber, Archie, Throckmorton and, when I became a teacher, Connie Brooks. Thanks to you for continuing my joy. My Saturdays were spent tuning in to Those Were The Days and loving every moment. –JOAN YOUNG, Lombard, IL
I first heard your dulcet tones when I was 10 years old in 1977. I…was…hooked. Fast forward to the early 1990s and I called in to Those Were The Days and asked you what you knew about Phil Harris. You kindly gave me his address, I wrote him a letter, and he gave me an autographed photo of himself which I cherish to this day.
I remember spending hours upon hours with my friend Frank inside the walls of Metro Golden Memories. Whenever you came in we would whisper to each other, “There’s Chuck! That’s really him!” We never had the nerve to say “hello.” So, “Hello, Chuck!!!”
Well, from a fan who looks upon you as one of the most influential and important people in my life I say, happy, happy birthday. I remain, as always, obediently yours, –RAUN C. GALLEGOS, Skokie, IL
Happy birthday to the one and only you! I can’t tell you how grateful I am that your love of old-time-radio spilled out onto the airwaves, and I am the lucky beneficiary. I was born in 1948 and even though I was alive during the “golden years” of radio, believe it or not, the only program I heard was, thanks to my grandfather, The FBI in Peace and War! I had NO idea what I was missing.
Since moving to Chicago in 1973, I have had the wonderful opportunity to “catch up”. I am so grateful. Thank you for being your loveable self, and for all the fun I’ve had over the years. –LINDA PALEY, Palatine, IL
Thanks to you I’ve enjoyed countless hours of enjoyment listening to the old time radio shows every Saturday afternoon, and when you had the evening shows during the week. I met you once in the Metro Golden Memories store years ago. We talked about Riverview. Nothing can really compare with Radio, truly “The Theatre of the Mind.” Happy 80th birthday. I’m not too far behind you age-wise at 72. Thanks so much for capturing and preserving all those old time radio stars in your interviews. They’re saved for posterity for all to enjoy. –JIM KOZIOL, e-mail
I still remember that Saturday in July, 1970 when I was looking for some classical music on that Evanston station. And what do I hear but The Lone Ranger theme song. I stayed tuned and that was the beginning of a long and beautiful friendship with you and old time radio for all these years. Thank you for sharing all those good programs and for all the good times you provided us.
Although I still listen to “your” program, it isn’t the same without you. But I thank you for the format you created that they still follow. I also enjoy Speaking of Radio! –DOLORES ANAYA HIETBRINK, Fairfield Bay, Arkansas
Many thanks for years of enjoyment. Used to visit your store and listen to your broadcasts every weekend. You have touched a great many lives for the better! (And continue to do so as I listen to your Speaking of Radio broadcasts. Steve Darnall is doing a good job, too. A wonderful institution you started, to be sure. –BILL DONAHUE, e-mail
Yes, those were the days, and at least I can go back to them on Saturday afternoons. There is no way to thank you for what you did to save all those good old shows that give me so much joy, no matter how many times I’ve heard some of the programs. What passes for humor today is very sad –sex and bad behavior. I’ve been a listener for almost all the years your show has been broadcast. Thank you again for saving a wonderful era. –ROSE HAMMER, Burr Ridge, IL
I have been listening to you and your wonderful radio program since 1982. What you have done to bring old and young alike is incredible. My 25-year-old daughter grew up listening to The Cinnamon Bear. I clean my house on Saturday afternoons listening to your program. Thank you for all your hard work and dedication to old time radio. You have made life even more wonderful! –MRS. CINDY BIRN and family, Leesburg, Florida.
Thanks for bringing us a world we had only heard about from our parents. Thanks for being a welcome visitor in our home for decades. –KAY AND JERRY STEMNOCK, Chicago, IL
I wish you all the best on this special birthday. Was glad to meet you in your store. Still enjoying Nostalgia Digest and have read your book. Love your new on-line site. Thanks for memories, past and present. –TIM HOLT, Orland Park, IL
I can’t tell you how many hours I have listened to your old time radio shows. I looked forward to your show every Saturday and when I had to work, my husband taped the show for me. –MARGARET HORMANN, Chicago, IL
Many happy returns on your big Eight-Oh! In the early days of Chicago television, there was a show called Life Begins at Eighty. If we were to view that program now, those fossils wouldn’t look so ancient to our ageing eyes. I just turned 75 and cannot believe the calendar.
An old boyfriend introduced me to TWTD in late 1975. You endured and the BF is long gone. I married my one and only husband in 1976 and introduced Rod to the Saturday Afternoon Ritual. In fact I discovered you on the Internet after moving to Maine and emailed you about the time I was tuck pointing our chimney interior while listening to “Donovan’s Brain” and Rod touched me on the shoulder causing me to nearly jump up said chimney.
Your shows as well as Speaking of Radio mean a great deal, especially when hearing a show I might have heard as a kid. I am not one to write fan letters, but you are an exception. You, Ken Alexander and Steve Darnall are faithfully maintaining a tradition of sharing creative, FUNNY entertainment. Keep it up! –MARY LANCEY, South Portland, Maine
I have your radio program on now with Steve Darnall. I never miss, since Summer of 1975. I will be 78 years old this year. Thanks for all the good times on the radio. –BOB GRANATA, Orland Park, IL
Heard about your birthday on the computer. We’ve been listening since we moved to Arizona in 1992 and many years before that. We met you when you did a remote from the Scottsdale radio museum. –FRANK and JANICE BRAUN, Tempe, Arizona
I consider you my longtime (I don’t use that word “old”) friend. I am a charter listener to Those Were The Days I started listening when I read of your program in the Chicago Daily News. It came in very handy to me as every other Saturday I worked from 8 a.m. til 6 p.m. It certainly helped to keep me from falling asleep when we weren’t busy. I even won two of your contests. Thank you so much for the idea to present this wonderful program. –MOLLIE TAYLOR, West Chicago, IL
Thanks for the years of giving laughs and thrills, excitement and wonderment. Creativity and sincerity always accompanied your gifts. –BUD MILLER, Naperville, IL
I’ve been listening to you since Those Were The Days started in the seventies. I helped support the Fibber McGee and Jack Benny exhibits (the closet and the vault) at the Museum of Broadcast Communications and love listening to Saturday’s programs all the time. Love ‘em! Thank you for making my Saturdays so happy. —BARB REED, Geneva, IL
When we lived in the northwest suburbs we listened to you on the radio. In Colorado, via the Internet, we have been able to listen to TWTD. Truly enjoyed the warmth and sincere appreciation you voiced about the shows. Really enjoy Speaking of Radio.” So greatful to you for creating and sharing the web site. –FRED and ELEANOR STRUNK, Colorado Springs, Colorado
I have been listening since 1984 when I moved to the Chicago area from Urbana. I look forward to Saturday afternoons. While I miss you hosting the program, I am pleased the program continues to be available. The programs are enjoyable, but they provide insight into America and its values when my grandparents’ generation was raising my parents’ generation. Thank you. –MARKI PHILLIPS, Addison, IL
In the late 1970s I came across Those Were The Days and have been a follower since! In 2012 we moved to Ohio to be closer to family. I’m grateful for streaming audio as my “great Saturday” is Riverwalk Jazz, Swing Shift, Those Were The Days, and Midwest Ballroom (although I did enjoy Zephyr on WNIB). Just sent a donation to WDCB to renew my membership. (I donated my late father’s saxophone to Fibber’s Closet project at the Museum of Broadcast Communications.) –MICHAEL MIZEN, Lakewood, Ohio
Wow, 80 is something worth celebrating – as much as the enjoyment you have brought so many of us through the years with your dedication to preserve and expose old time radio to those of us who missed the opportunity. My life has been so enriched with all the hours of radio programming available through TWTD!
I remember the first time I came across the program on my radio dial. It was a Saturday in December, 1975. I had finished up my fall semester of graduate at University of Chicago and had some much deserved discretionary time that Saturday afternoon. I had started reading James T. Farrell’s Studs Lonigan and, as I often did, had the radio (WNIB, one of three classical stations) as background music. Like many other stations, 1 p.m. started something different, fortunately, not Opera. But… you know the rest! One broadcast was all it took. While living in Chicago through the ‘80s, I would schedule my Saturday afternoons to include TWTD.
Then I moved from Chicago and, for a long time, missed TWTD. Yes, some other stations offered old time radio –usually after normal (for most of us) hours and with little or no discussion or introduction to the broadcast. So much was lacking compared to TWTD. My family and I would make our occasional treks to Chicago and I could tell you exactly where in northwestern Indiana we could pick up TWTD along Route 30. Thank goodness for the flat Midwest! So, for most of the time, TWTD became a treat or special offering.
But now with the Internet, all geographical limitations have evaporated. Using wonderful applets like Tune-In, “dialing into” TWTD is a snap – arguably easier than the days of analog radio. I still have the time considerations, but generally work around them by electronically capturing the “broadcast” for time-shifted listening. And, as we are all subject to father time, I hear your voice at the start of the Broadcast, but have accepted that you have handed the responsibilities to two very capable individuals – Steve Darnall and Ken Alexander.
Chuck, you have been a rare instance to preserve an amazing art form with unbelievable properties. It’s all there – unabashed, unedited commentary about the early to mid-20th century, societal perceptions, the way our family and friends thought and acted (some good, some not so good) – it’s all been resurrected and made readily available to Chicago and environs and to the world!
As you reflect upon your many, many accomplishments during your special celebration, please include how at least this one individual has benefited from TWTD.–EBEN KENT, Columbus, Ohio
SINCERE THANKS TO EVERYONE WHO SENT A BIRTHDAY WISH.
YOU MADE MY DAY!