Cream of Wheat … ‘so good to eat’

Published 7:30 am Saturday, February 5, 2022

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“Cream of Wheat is so good to eat…”  Although surprised to hear that from an unidentified tape I found in the back of a drawer, I immediately turned up the volume and began to sing along: “Cream of wheat is so good to eat and we have it every day. We sing this song, it will make us strong and make us shout Hurrah. It’s good for growing babies and grown-ups too, to eat. For all the family’s breakfast, you can’t beat Cream of Wheat.”

I couldn’t even begin to figure out how many years it had been since I heard those familiar lyrics. I found, to my delight, that as I sang along, I remembered every word.

The tune introduced “Let’s Pretend,” a children’s radio program of fairy tales and classic stories. I loved that program when I was a little girl. It aired every Saturday around 10 a.m. I missed it only if I could not get to a radio. The cast featured juveniles and many of them went on to more radio drama shows through the years. On the air from 1934 through 1954, “Let’s Pretend” was a Peabody award winner, judged as radio’s outstanding children’s radio theater.

It really captured my attention. I got so absorbed in those stories that when the program was signing off, I felt like it was just time to start it. I knew it must have been the shortest program on radio.

During that time I was swept away into enchanted forests where good fairies wore flowing white clothes and evil witches wore black, all in my imagination, of course. I cringed when the witch did a dastardly deed and I knew exactly how scary she looked when she threw back her head as she flew off. I stayed in pins and needles as the plot moved forward, then sighed with relief at the end when good always triumphed

That was one of the joys of radio. The listener pictured the actors, the scenery, and the action. During the long summer vacation from school, I also enjoyed a weekly morning program, the “Don McNeill Breakfast Club,” He had a wonderful voice and I pictured him as a very handsome man. Years later, when that show came to television, I found that Don McNeill looked nothing like I expected. He was a handsome man, too. He just did not fit the image I had of him.

Another program that fascinated me featured a man named Ted Malone. His voice was mellow and soothing. He often read poetry. Of course, in my mind, he was also very good-looking.

In the evenings, my parents and I pulled close to our TV to listen to Fibber McGee and Molly, Baby Snooks, Jack Benny, Lum and Abner, and numerous others.

In the evenings, my parents and I pulled close to our TV to listen to Fibber McGee and Molly, Baby Snooks, Jack Benny, Lum and Abner and numerous others.

Radio has taken a back seat these days, pushed back by television. I do enjoy some commercials on TV. I think it is time to pull out some of my Golden Age tapes and spend some time going back to singing “Cream of Wheat…”