Old Time Radio at OTRCat!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

I wish to share a joy with all my Reader.

I present: the incomparable Robert Benchley:


We are occasionally confronted in the advertisements by the picture of an offensively bright-looking little boy, fairly popping with information, who, it is claimed in the text, knows all the inside dope on why fog forms in beads on a woolen coat, how long it would take to crawl to the moon on your hands and knees, and what makes oysters so quiet.

The taunting catch-line of the advertisement is: "This Child Knows the Answer—Do You?" and the idea is to shame you into buying a set of books containing answers to all the questions in the world except the question "Where is the money coming from to buy the books?"

Any little boy knowing all these facts would unquestionably be an asset in a business which specialized in fog-beads or lunar transportation novelties, but he would be awful to have about the house.

"Spencer," you might say to him, "where are Daddy's slippers?" To which he would undoubtedly ]answer: "I don't know, Dad," (disagreeable little boys like that always call their fathers "Dad" and stand with their feet wide apart and their hands in their pockets like girls playing boys' rôles on the stage) "but I do know this, that all the Nordic peoples are predisposed to astigmatism because of the glare of the sun on the snow, and that, furthermore, if you were to place a common ordinary marble in a glass of luke-warm cider there would be a precipitation which, on pouring off the cider, would be found to be what we know as parsley, just plain parsley which Cook uses every night in preparing our dinner."

With little ones like this around the house, a new version of "The Children's Hour" will have to be arranged, and it might as well be done now and got over with.

The Well-Informed Children's Hour

Between the dark and the day-light,

When the night is beginning lo lower,

Comes a pause in the day's occupation

Which is known as the children's hour.

'Tis then appears tiny Irving

With the patter of little feet,

To tell us that worms become dizzy

At a slight application of heat.

And Norma, the baby savant,

Comes toddling up with the news

That a valvular catch in the larynx

Is the reason why Kitty mews.

"Oh Grandpa," cries lovable Lester,

"Jack Frost has surprised us again,

By condensing in crystal formation

The vapor which clings to the pane!"

Then Roger and Lispinard Junior

Race pantingly down through the hall

To be first with the hot information

That bees shed their coats in the Fall.

No longer they clamor for stories

As they cluster in fun 'round my knee

But each little darling is bursting

With a story that he must tell me,

Giving reasons why daisies are sexless

And what makes the turtle so dour;

So it goes through the horrible gloaming

Of the Well-informed Children's Hour.

--Love Conquers All, by Robert C. Benchley


The REAL "Children's Hour" poem is by Longfellow:

There is also a Librivox audio release of "Love Conquers All". Enjoy!


MacLaren said...

That's funny. But that's also the kind of kid I was. Probably drove my parents nuts.

Stop me if I've told you this before, but I once got in trouble for stabbing a child (lightly) with a pencil in kindergarten.

This made me a Very Bad Kid. And the principal lectured me on the danger involved with pencils. That "I could have given me friend lead poisoning!"

And I told the principal that pencils had been made with graphite for a long time - lead was no longer a danger.

That was my last year in "regular" school.

The Aardvark said...

Yeah, I learned that you don't correct the teacher's pronunciation.