I listened to the radio broadcasts of The Shadow from the time I was 7 until I was 14 when the show was discontinued (1954). I was told The Shadow aired for 23 years, making it the longest running radio show of all time.
The story lines were well developed, with each episode pitting Lamont Cranston (The Shadow) and his girlfriend Margot Lane against vampires, zombies, and other scary creatures.
I really liked this show, but occasionally I had wild dreams at night when I was asleep. In one nightmare, I was being chased by a laughing zombie swinging a sword at my head. I awakened, however, before he got me.
Other kids I knew who listened to The Shadow also had occasional nightmares. The sponsor of the show probably received complaints from parents, so the sponsors must have told the writers of the program to lay off the zombie stories, because very soon further stories of the living dead were no longer broadcast.
The writers, however, came up with new bizarre story lines featuring a host of malicious characters. I particularly recall a story where a physically small toymaker, who hated tall people, obtained a formula for shrinking people. The toymaker turned a very tall politician into a tiny doll by giving him a cup of coffee laced with the liquid formula.
Nowadays, the episodes would probably be considered corny, but what would the knowledgeable Shadow say?
I was also a great fan of Captain Midnight. I read the comic books, the comic strips, listened to the radio show, and I was also a member of Captain Midnight’s “Secret Squadron.”
Each day when the show aired on the radio, I anxiously waited to hear the secret code that would be given out at the end of the show, but could be decoded only by using a special decoder badge that only the Secret Squadron members possessed. The decoded secret message would let the Secret Squadron members know what would happen to Captain Midnight in the next episode. My friends who were also Squadron members and I felt pretty important knowing what would happen before the non-members did.
Another valuable device I received was the Captain Midnight Detect-O-Scope, which was a 1-inch-by-1-inch mirror attached to a popsicle stick that would allow me to see behind me without turning around.
One day in my sixth-grade math class, I was using my spy scope to watch the kid sitting behind me when suddenly our teacher, Miss Sawyer, was standing over me with her hand out, indicating that she wanted me to put my scope in her hand. Reluctantly, I gave the scope to her.
After class, I pleaded with her to let me keep my scope with the promise that I would never again bring it to school. She told me I could reclaim it at the end of the school year which was six months in the future.
Alas, my spying days were finished.
By the time June rolled around, I was a member of Captain Video’s TV Space Rangers.