LET'S CALL THIS POST NOSTALGIA!
Definition of "nostalgia." Your nostalgia something did not smell right." (Ouch! Please excuse you humble author, who is given to the sin of punning. And did you hear the one about . . . (No! Stop!--OK) . . . the King's jester who was about to be hanged because of his constant punning. Then they thought: "He's a good jester. If he promises never to pun again, we'll let him live." When the jester heard the good news, he couldn't resist, and said: "No noose is good noose." And they hanged him. (Enough already!)
Let's try again. "Nostalgia"--the definition according to the Google-onians, who know everything:
. . . a sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal associations.
And we have a lot of that in this Post 10, beginning with nostalgia about the Zenith Distributors, who were vital to the success of Zenith, yet were put out of business when Zenith went bankrupt. Also, nostalgia for Lost Chicago, and lost Chicago Manufacturing, and nostalgia for old Zenith radios and televisions, and nostalgia for the maker of The Majestic Radio--Grigsby-Grunow company, and finally, nostalgia for the McMillan-McDonald arctic exploration.
The Zenith Distributors were vital to the success of Zenith. There were the eighty-nine Zenith distributors located throughout the continental U.S.A. We touched upon what the distributors did in Post 7, now in this Post 10, one the largest Zenith distributors will be described in greater detail. The Distributor was--
FIRST, let us review what the distributors did as shown by the ServiceWorld magazine cover. (Yes, you've seen it before in Post 3! But please be patient. )--
What does a Distributor do? Walter Fisher answered that question: A distributor is a wholesaling firm that buys products such as television sets, radio and stereo sets, and parts and accessories from Zenith. The distributor resells this merchandise to dealers, who in turn, sell to customers.
There are (were!) 89 Zenith distributors located throughout the United States and Canada. Here is a page from the ServiceWorld story about the J.A. Williams Company, that tells how a Mrs. Fitzurka found satisfaction in a Zenith television set--
So another Zenith customer was satisfied. Let's take a look at another page of J.A. Williams Company and its lovely people--
Note the picture caption where it says a buffet supper or lunch is served to employees of independent shops after a meeting. To says that Zenith "cossetted" its supporters is not an overstatement!
Another Zenith Distributor. One of the biggest , was--
So, to sum it all up: By means of its distributors, Zenith was able to offer a range of essential services. Yes, the quality went in at the factory, but the distributors ensured that that quality was maintained for the life of the product.
However--all the Zenith Distributors are gone now! Those stories and those photos date back 40 years. When Zenith went bankrupt in 1988 (the cause of which will be described in forthcoming Posts), the jobs of those distributor people were gone, as well. A search was made to see whether the distributors interviewed survived, but apparently none did. It is hoped that they were able to find another Zenith-like prime company to distribute for, or otherwise diversify.
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One of our devoted readers, who goes by the name "Art H.," suggested that the name of the wife of Eugene F. McDonald was "Inez," rather than "Marianne." I queried McDonald's daughter, Marianne, about that--
And Marianne responded: “Her maiden name is Elba Inez Riddle. She was an accomplished pianist and composer, studied at the Chicago Musical College, and her music was performed by the Chicago symphony Orchestra. She spoke five languages fluently. And she was beautiful!”
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You may believe that the products of Zenith--the radios and television sets and other items have been forgotten! Not so! Just go to this website www.radioatticarchives.com and scroll down through the hundreds of radio manufacturers to the name Zenith. There you will find 224 images of Zenith radios, including Zenith's first radio sets: for example,Karl Hassel's Paragon (1R), which was described in Post 2, and the Amplifigon (3R) which Karl mentioned.
Visit the Radio Attic Archives. You will find it the most fascinating place, with 11,400 old radios listed and made by manufacturers with once-familiar names such as Admiral, Atwater-Kent, Crosley, Emerson, Farnsworth, Hallicrafters, Kent, Motorola, Philco-ford, Packard-Bell, Warwick, et al
You may recall a Zenith radio you were particularly fond of, but discarded years ago. You may find it among the offerings of the antique radios club of Illinois:
www.antique-radios.org. You may buy it, or if you have some old radios yourself, get it by “swapping” one of yours for another member’s radio. The antique radios club of Illinois has periodic swap meets for that purpose.
The photo above shows a swap meet of the Illinois antique radios club. There are actually 55 antique radio clubs in the USA, and 49 clubs internationally. For the full list, which includes clubs nation-wide, click on--
Join in the fun! Join a club!
It was used to good effect during the Viet Nam war against truck traffic traveling at night along the Ho Chi Min trail that ran from China to supply the Viet Nam army. The sides of a slow-flying plane such as an old DC-3 were opened and the plane was fitted out with 50-caliber machine guns and Gatling-like cannons, all aimed at a predetermined target. The targets were clearly visible with the Zenith light amplifier. The plane would circle the target area where the supply trucks were passing. The drivers were chained in their trucks to prevent them from taking early departure when under fire. The trucks were like rows of sitting ducks, and of course destroyed in bursts of fire. (Note: However, the destroyed trucks were merely pushed out of the way and the unending train of trucks on the Ho Chin Min trail continued like a trail of ants. But it did halt traffic temporarily. What a loser for us that war was! )
In short, it proved to be an item of immense value and those who manufactured it made a bundle. It was also a product that was given away during the "great divestment" that occurred when Zenith was in financial trouble. It was one of the "babies thrown out with the bathwater."
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Also listed are Schwinn Bicycles / 1718 N. Kildare Ave. & 1856 N. Kostner Ave. Chicago, IL. , 1895-1982 (Bicycles once made in America are made in China now); Tucker Autos/ 7401 S. Cicero Ave. Chicago IL. (1947-1949), and many more!
(Note: Tucker's autos never succeeded. The final model couldn't go backwards, and went "put-put." Critics said it "lo0ked like an Oldsmobile sucking a lemon." But if you have one , they are worth a bundle, now.)
And this gem--
--aproduct of American Flyer, located at 2818 South Halsted Street.
--and THIS gem, also lost--
Become a kid again! When your are on the Lost Chicago website (see address above) click on LOST TV AND RADIO, and you can view posters for shows such as Kookla, Fran, and Ollie; Howdy Doody, Bozo's Circus, the Ding Dong School, Clutch Cargo, and many others.
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Jean and John's Antique Radio Collection,
Zenith made cabinet radios in the early years. The one shown above is the “Zenith 1004 Stratosphere” model.
--and those same kids of the 1929's went on to become the soldiers, nurses, and members of the Woman's Army Corps in World War II. It was a war in which over a million
of those kids were casualties. (Wikipedia)
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SO THAT IS IT FOR POST TEN! POST 11 will continued in this vein until we come to the account of why Zenith failed and who was responsible. And it was not only a failure of Zenith, but of the entire consumer products industry, which was handed to Japan on the proverbial "silver platter." It is a story to make the good angels of American industry weep.
Please encourage readership of the blog. If it doesn't reach enough of the former Zenithites, your friends and associates, and the public in general, then the memory of Zenith Radio (and Electronic ) Corporation, will be truly lost. And that should never happen! Google provides careful evidence of readership, and it hasn't proved overwhelming, as indicated by the readership response for June 24, and ensuing days.
And don't forget the space for comments below. I am always thrilled to hear from you.
(And receive your helpful articles!)
Apology: "Links" have been giving me trouble. When you click on an internet address (also called an URL--"universal address locator") the website is supposed to appear. If not, you will have to copy and paste the web address into your internet address bar. Establishing a working link is one of the things that drive me crazy about this blogging system.