rand’s esoteric otr

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Pick and Pat - May 31, 1937

August 27th, 2009

Note:  This program contains racial stereotyping themes that may be offensive to some listeners.

This week, I'm starting a series of posts of "Pick and Pat", a rare variety show featuring two blackface performers.  These programs, unheard since they were originally broadcast, come from a series of aircheck lacquers I recently obtained.  Except for one program, the shows are incomplete.  I'm still working on transferring and restoring the discs, so I'm not sure how many I will be able to offer here since the discs are in bad shape and starting to deteriorate.

transcription label

The episode of May 31, 1937 includes routines where Pat plays the harmonica and the pair do a sketch playing Indians selling the island of Manhattan.  The latter includes some jokes about the stock market crash and Depression and, with two Irish vaudeville comedians in Blackface playing Native Americans, considerable cognitive dissonance about race that might make your head explode if you try to analyze it too much.  The show features music by vocalist Edward Roecker and an orchestra led by Benny Krueger, including "That Old Gang of Mine" with a recitation.  The series was sponsored by the U.S. Tobacco Company to promote Model and Dill's Best pipe tobaccos.

According to Dunning's "Encyclopedia of Old Time Radio", Pick Padgett and Pat Malone were Irishmen who teamed up in 1929 as Molasses and January and worked regularly under that name on the "Maxell House Show Boat" program.  They were heard on radio in their own series on NBC from 1934-35, CBS from 1935-39, Mutual in 1944 and ABC in 1945.  You can see a picture of Pick and Pat and read an interview with Pick Padget from the St. Petersburg, Florida Evening Independent of June 16, 1933.

These discs were made for the producer of the program, Frank MacMahon, and each show was recorded on 16" lacquers in three parts.  In the case of this particular episode, the second disc is missing, so you'll hear a fade-out in the middle of the show before we continue with the third part.  The discs also preserved a bit of the shows on the air that evening before and after "Pick and Pat"; this set includes the last minute or so of the "Ted Weems" show, a special announcement by the WABC announcer on how to get tickets for the program, and, at the end, the WABC station id and opening of "Lux Radio Theater".

The show was transferred directly from an original WABC lacquer aircheck made by the National Recording Company, New York.  The file has been run through click reduction software to improve the sound.  Note that the sound levels vary during the show.

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