Mystery Castle - Pgm 9

And now a special piece of local old time radio history, previously unheard since it was originally broadcast. I posted to a couple of mailing lists about the show, but couldn't turn up any more info on it, so what I have here is based on the disc itself.

transcription label

"Mystery Castle" was a local serial adventure show from WKBN in Youngstown, Ohio. Run during the holiday season, and probably inspired by the success of "The Cinnamon Bear", the program follows the adventures of a boy and girl in an enchanted forest as they try to figure out "mystery packages" hidden around the forest.

The show was sponsored by a local department store, Stambaugh Thompsons, and if you were a young listener you were encouraged to have mom and dad take you down to the store to buy your own "Mystery Package" (for only 25 cents!) that you can open as you follow the program. The store also had displays featuring characters from the show.

Episode 9 of the series has Happy and Ronny stealing a special key from Santa that they hope will open one of the mystery packages in the castle. It includes the original Stambaugh Thompsons commercials at the beginning and end of the program. The show was written by Ellamae Casteel, produced and directed by Chick Lynn and the sound effects were by Howard Rampus.

There's no date on the label, but a sharp-eyed listener to the blog spotted entries for the show in the WKBN schedule listings in the Massilon, Ohio Evening Independent showing that the series ran in December 1947. Jay Hickerson noted that Clay Cole, host of an influential New York rock and roll tv show in the late 50s and early 60s, mentions in his autobiography being part of the cast of the program when he was a child.

WKBN, according to Wikipedia, was founded in 1926 by Warren P. Williamson, Jr. and was Youngstown's first radio station. Early on, the station became an affiliate of the CBS radio network and remained so until the station was sold by the Williamson family in 1999. Currently, WKBN is one of many stations owned by Clear Channel Communications.

Our program was transferred from an original lacquer transcription from WKBN, Youngstown, Ohio. The show is previously uncirculated among otr collectors and appears to be the only surviving episode of the series.

Update: See the comments for detailed info on the show from readers of the blog.  The local paper in Youngstown, the Vindicator, has made a post on their blog seeing if any locals remember the show and looking for more info.

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  • Steve Lewis

    This is quite a piece of history. Thanks for sharing it!

    There is a snippet of additional information about ENCHANTED FOREST online at Google books, including the name of Clay Cole’s leading lady, Gerri Myers:

    http://books.google.com/books?id=T8JQmqUBag0C&pg=PT28&lpg=PT28&dq=wkbn+enchanted+forest&source=bl&ots=uc6AhzuEms&sig=TUqSe_g8OLs4pmzCjMOkyVZa5-w&hl=en&ei=BQAjS8fYAonwsQPL38TgDg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=6&ved=0CCEQ6AEwBQ#v=onepage&q=wkbn%20enchanted%20forest&f=false

    — Steve

    Dec 11, 2009 at 10:33 pm
  • Bob

    A search of “Ellamae Casteel” on Google Books turns up entries in _Catalog of copyright entries_ and _Dramas and works prepared for oral delivery, Volumes 1-3_, both dated 1947:

    “THE MYSTERY CASTLE (Radio program) Episodes in this series are by Ellamae Casteel. © Ellamae Casteel. 1. First trip to Enchanted Forest 2. Meets Foxy Woxy 3. Meet Happy, the rabbit …”

    December 1947 issues of the Evening Independent (Massilon, OH) list a show called “Mystery Castle” on WKBN at 5:15 p. m. Seems to have run Monday through Friday.

    Dec 12, 2009 at 1:52 am
  • Clay Cole

    The WKBN radio broadcast of “The Enchanted Forest” was written and produced by Ella Mae Casteel, whose broadcast name was Elaine Carroll. She also appeared each day as the Fairy Princess. Gerri Myers played Nancy and I (Al Rucker,Jr) played Tommy. In 1947 I was nine years old. The sound effects man Howard Ramus was my first television producer when I began my Saturday night teen record show on WKBN-TV in 1953. Seeing this amazing research brings back a flood of memories, Oh, how I would love to hear one of those broadcasts again. Thanks to Jay Hickerson, et al. Clay Cole (aka Albert Rucker Jr)

    Dec 20, 2009 at 10:48 am
  • Tim Lones

    Hello: Fascinating bit of history-As the above link indicates, I write a blog about Historic Cleveland area TV and Radio, which includes the Youngstown area..Some of the names mentioned are intriguing to me..The above mentioned Elaine Carroll/EllaMae Casteel was an early fixture on WKBN-TV, hosting first The Elaine Carroll Show in 1953, then by 1955-57 there was a wonan’s show called “Casteel’s Carousel”, also on WKBN-TV 27, it would be too much of a coincidence for Ms. Casteel not to be hostess of both, just under different names..

    May 29, 2010 at 1:25 am