Friday Night Fights

Friday night was "Fight Night". The kitchen was at the rear of the house and the table covered by a red checkered table cloth sat beneath the window. Towards the back and in the center of the window sat the shiny brown RCA Victor radio with the big lighted dial that also had a fine tuning knob so that you could precisely tune the distant channels even when the signal was weak and interference heavy.

Gpop would sit in his chair between the table and the ice box (the Ice Man still came by twice a week) and when I was good I got to sit up with him and listen to the fights from Madison Square Garden. Gpop would smoke one of his Romeo & Juliet coronas, drink a few bottles of National Bo and eat oysters from the tin that had been shipped fresh that morning all the way from the Eastern Shore.

We'd sit there, listening to the bouts while the smoke from his cigar danced in the light and the smell of beer and cigar, the sounds of the crowds, the bell between rounds set the tone and the pace for the evening. Between rounds and bout we'd talk, slowly, quietly, about how things had changed, about the Victory Garden that was still down the hill in the big vacant lot and what we had harvested or planted or planned for the coming season.

When the last bout ended the station would sign off for the night, and after the last echo of the NBC chimes the night was filled with static and it was time for bed.

In that time before FM radio, all night programming, before even TV, the AM Radio was king. And to this day I still remember those evenings, the sound fading in and out, the smoke rising slowly dancing with the currents that blew in through the open window, the streets outside silent with no traffic, only the wind, the occasional dog barking and far away the sound of a steam whistle of a train heading north to New York or Boston or south to Richmond then on to Miami.