Lou Powsner, America’s Columnist

Lou’s back, and he’s talking about radios!

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There was always life come springtime in Coney Island. Steeplechase’s season began every Palm Sunday — watch it come to life I could from the window of my bedroom that faced the Railroad Ave Trolley tracks below.

That was the way it was until my brother Martin was born — and I lost my room, and my view. They set Lou Powsner up in a big bed up in the room in the front, facing Mermaid Avenue. Slept facing Our Lady of Solace, I did, then a large wooden church at the corner of West 17th Street and Mermaid Avenue.

One night while I was in my front bedroom, I heard my dad close his store downstairs early because my mom’s brother Morty — found nickels in my ears, he always did — was coming to visit us on his way home to Rockaway from his job in important, busy Washington D.C.

On this visit, Uncle Morty brought a surprise with him, he did. I overheard my mom ask him “What’s in the box?” My uncle’s retort: “It is a radio,” to which dad innocently asked “What’s that?”

My mother and father looked puzzled as Uncle Morty opened the box on our kitchen table. He could not find an electric outlet, but then found a transformer. Suddenly our kitchen was popping hot with the voice of Enrico Caruso belting out an opera.

“That man can really sing,” said mom.

Dad looked at the radio box amazed with a giant smile and said, “I heard that a radio can talk, but sing too?”

Morty explained that there were other stations and that he would help us explore more on his next visit.

Tinkered with all those strange knobs we did during the next month, and then got excited when we hit some music or voices. But we did not know how to adjust the volumn, and our dad warned us not to touch the strange device out of fear that we would “burn up some kilocycle or something.”

Eventually learn how to turn those knobs, we did, and turn into a whole new world of WOR, WIZ and WEVD, those stations that are all so dear to me — and some of you.

Stay tuned and avoided that static, we did. And you should, too.

This is Lou Powsner.

Read Lou Powsner twice a month on He is 92 years old and doesn't have e-mail, but he does listen to the radio.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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