At the age of eight, I truly learned what it meant to be an Army brat.
Within a couple of years of my mother's marriage to my stepfather, an Army officer, I found myself on a post near a small village in southern Germany. A country that, a few months before, I didn't know existed.
People spoke a language I'd never before heard—and it was everywhere, even on the television, so TV I could actually understand would be out of the question. For three years.
In this instant-communication, Internet age, it's hard for anyone under 30 to truly understand how isolated American kids like me felt. Calling relatives cost a small fortune, and you often had to yell to be heard, so I had to learn how to craft a good letter fast. Entertainment from the states came in dribs and drabs; we might, once and a while, catch films of a two-month-old football game and some King Leonardo cartoons. We might as well have been on the far side of the moon.
Fortunately for my youthful sanity, there was Armed Forces Radio.
Wherever in Europe or the Far East there were American troops, Armed Forces Radio was there, trying to bring at least a taste of home. Our affiliate, AFN-Nürnburg, had a rather novel way of doing so.
It would play anything it could find on records or tape: top 40, Stan Freberg novelty records, and most amazingly for me, old radio shows.
For someone like me who was only vaguely aware of a world before television, this was a lost treasure; who knew there were sitcoms and westerns you could only "see" in your head? It was as though Doc Brown had come screeching up in his DeLorean and plopped the entire family into 1947, but I quickly grew to love it. And one program was a particular part of my schedule of Must Hear Radio: The Magnificent Montague.