Fifty years ago, I read my first book. The title was The Winning Basket, or something like that. Twice that summer, it left the public library; I was the only one to check it out. Fascination with my imagination’s power and the emotional attachment to a new hero best describes my discovery that summer.
Later that autumn, “Big John, Big Bad John.” A story told musically, by Jimmy Dean, on the black-and-white television. (Yep, the same guy selling sausages today on the Hallmark Channel . . . so I’m told.) The 45-rpm record purchases at the local Woolworth’s store are similar by comparison, and the best description is stories set to music.
The first exposures to AM radio were stories in the form of weekly serials with abundant sound effects, or in today’s lingo, books on steroids. The small one-AM-station town attempted to service every audience and were fairly successful: early agri-news, daytime serials, big band and Welk on Tuesday evening; country music on Monday and Thursday evening; Wednesday was—I forget; sports on Saturday afternoon; but Friday and Saturday nights were rock n’ roll.
I was hooked on rock music, and lay-away provided the path to the latest in technology if suggestions for birthday and Christmas gifts were not successful. Equipment and media stockpiling in the storage room included stereo hi-fi, 8-track, quadrophonic 8-track, 33 1/3 LP’s, FM radio (piped-in on the local cable system), cassettes, and cassettes with Dolby. Storytelling continued to be the central theme of choice. The Moody Blues, Doobie Brothers, Dan Fogelberg, and some country western artists (hidden in the trunk) filled the portable 8-track case and home’s LP shelf.
In college I discovered that instrumental music was pretty cool. Notes, instruments, volume, and speed let the imagination visualize what the composer is trying to “say.” Like a book, the imagination is given greater latitude to create the characters and scenes.
Imagination began requiring less effort when the V’s became a major entertainment source: VHS, VCR, video rental, DVD, and MTV. Followed by the colors: Redbox and BluRay. The latest is downloading movies from the comfort of our homes. A powerful combination of music and storytelling is a movie theater. Running a close second is a movie on a large screen television with surround sound. (Video technology is advancing so fast that an announcement of two new formats or delivery systems might happen before the end of this post.)
Until recently, books are books and available in a favorite version: hardback, paperback, or used. The three versions are still strong, but technology options are entering the book world: e-books, e-readers, audio books, podcasts, downloads, mobile devices, and so on.
From AM radio to 8-track to cassette to DVD to e-readers, none of this technology matters without the stories or, said another way, without the stories why do we need the technology advancements. Technology has enhanced the delivery of stories, but it’s our imaginations guided by the craft of the author, composer, or performer that makes the stories interesting, suspenseful, joyous, compelling, . . . entertaining. Without their skill, life would be pretty dull.
Maybe The Winning Basket will come out in audio form so I can listen to it on my 200-watt, eight-speaker surround sound car stereo. I can enjoy my first imaginary hero swishing the winning basket. (I promise to keep my hands on the steering wheel as the ball goes through the net.)
Hoping life blesses you with good stories!
Leo N. Ardo
As a young boy, I can recall sitting with my father at the local gas station listening to the stories, and thinking what a wonderful life. In reflection, I realize we had everything that mattered: good friends, comfortable life, sense of community, … and good stories.
Now I am a thirty-five year veteran of small business, and author of the Jon Hersey – Industrial Spy series. Jon Hersey, the hero, battles terrorism on American soil. He must be a ghost to accomplish the goals of: culling terrorists from the company’s employees, maintaining employment, ensuring that products ship to the armed forces, and eliminating the shipments to the enemy.
Several short stories can be found at the blog listed below.
Another passion is photography, which I find to be similar to writing. A photograph tells a story—1000 words worth. Like an author, the photographer has to make judgment calls when framing—what to include, or exclude. Altering the position of the camera changes the exposure and may reveal flaws, much like a writer’s pen enlightens the reader by revealing character flaws.
When the world is closing in I pack up the fly-fishing gear. Fly-fishing has a required calming rhythm to cast a fly where it needs to land.
Saved for the happy ending: luck has blessed me with the girl in my dreams. We enjoy family, movies, travel, reading, golf, and biking. To be near our families we call Utah and Wyoming home.
Visit our website www.LeonardoStories.com
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