There comes a time in everyone's life, I suppose, when he reflects on events from his childhood and wonders, "Did that really happen, or did I just dream it?"
Lifelong Hickory resident Glenn Miller had just about come to the conclusion that he had been dreaming, or worse, that he'd grown a bit loopy, when he began experiencing recollections of a 1930s radio show called "Og, Son of Fire."
Seventy-six-year-old Glenn is a fun-loving sort of guy who's always surprising family and friends with unusual memories and out-of-the-blue ideas. So they, not having heard of the radio show, thought maybe their much-loved Glenn had begun wearing his hat too tight.
At about the same time as the memories surfaced, Glenn subscribed to a magazine called Good Old Days, a periodical that, according to its cover, features stories, photos, and illustrations "of the happy days gone by."
In the back of the magazine, Glenn discovered a "Wanted" column where subscribers pose questions about the past or about certain items they can't find.
"Now, I'll just try this," Glenn told himself. "Somebody might remember that radio show."
Glenn's advertisement, which appeared in the June 2001 issue, read, "Would like to hear from anyone who remembers a radio program called 'Og, Son of Fire.' It was sponsored, I think, by McNeill & Libby and was aired in the early 1930s." Glenn closed with his name and address.
In no time, letters started pouring in from folks who recalled listening to the radio show about primitive cave people fighting dinosaurs.
An elated Glenn had the proof he needed to convince his loved ones that the 9-year-old Glenn had, in truth, tuned his family's floor-model radio to the CBS station at 5 p.m. three afternoons per week to listen to the thunderous sounds of dinosaurs and the tales of cave characters.
"I lay down on the floor in the parlor (to listen)," recalled Glenn about the show, whose episodes lasted 15 minutes.
Judging from the response to Glenn's want ad, many 1930s boys and girls stretched out on parlor floors to hear the prehistoric drama. It aired from Oct. 1, 1934, until Dec. 27, 1935, as part of the Libby Packing Adventure Hour. Pennsylvania resident Gloria Gambone wrote to Glenn to share this information from John Dunning's "The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio" (Oxford University Press, 1998).
Mike Rapchak of Indiana sent Glenn a list of the program's characters, including Og, Nad, Ru, and Big Tooth. Victor Zell wrote from Illinois to say he remembered the show and the tiny figurines of the characters that fans could order.
Arizona resident I.H. Weeks said he hadn't written a letter in five years, but when he saw Glenn's "Wanted" announcement, he had to write. Weeks stated that he "really didn't think anyone remembered `Og, Son of Fire.'" He had the set of Og figurines at one time but assumed they had either "gone back to their cave or the wooly mammoth must have gotten them, as they (are) gone." The set cost him 10 cents and a box top of some sort.
Richard Poplin of Tennessee listed other radio programs he enjoyed as a boy, including "Buck Rogers in the 25th Century" and "Little Orphan Annie."
From South Carolina came Albert Lewis' Polaroid photo of the Og statuette he still owns.
Ohio resident Mrs. Richard Grimm wrote that her husband had pleaded long and hard with his mother to help him get an Og figurine, and when it came, he was terribly disappointed that it was so small. He had expected Og to be at least a foot tall.
James Thistle from Montana wrote, "Ah, the joys of boyhood and fertile imagination." When he was a schoolboy, Thistle explained, he and friends played games dramatizing the radio stories. "Og, Son of Fire" was his favorite.
Glenn's favorite letter came from New York. Henry Smat had been suffering from the same mental anguish as Glenn before reading Glenn's wanted notice and realizing there was someone else in the world who remembered "Og, Son of Fire."
Smat wrote, "You have caused (the) release (of) my bondage, (freed me) of ridicule of 6½ decades (from) my many same-age peers, family (members and) radio history buffs (who thought) I indeed was ready for the funny farm, losing my marbles, and (was a) candidate for vivid imagination. Finally YOU have set me free. There WAS a radio serial 'Og, Son of Fire.'"
As a boy, Smat lived in a New York City tenement and listened to Og on a radio that "had a dozen dials" and was "hooked up to a car battery," he said.
From across the United States came letters from Og fans, but so far nothing from anyone in North Carolina. Could Glenn have been the only Tar Heel child who found something captivating about caveman life? The only Unifour lad terrified by the loud roars of colossal reptiles?
Are you one of those people who thought you had just dreamed about listening to a prehistoric radio program?
If you were an Og enthusiast, write to me in care of the Neighbors, and I'll pass your notes to Glenn, Son of Fun.