4 November 2016

Published November 2, 2016 by rochellewisoff

Blue Ceiling FF

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The next photo is the PROMPT. Remember, all photos are property of the photographer, donated for use in Friday Fictioneers only. They shouldn’t be used for any other purpose without express permission. It is proper etiquette to give the contributor credit. 

PHOTO PROMPT © Jean L. Hays

PHOTO PROMPT © Jean L. Hays

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Genre: Historical Fiction

Word Count: 100

THE NIGHT AMERICA TREMBLED 

            In 1938 my dad sprang for a new RCA Victor 7K1 console.

            The radio took a prominent place in our home. President Roosevelt’s voice filled our living room. I loved Charlie McCarthy. My sister adored Bing Crosby.

            One night, putting the finishing touches on my Halloween costume, mom turned the dial. “Ramon Raquello and his orchestra.”

            I rolled my eyes. “Boring.”

            A panicked voice interrupted. “Ladies and gentlemen this is the most terrifying thing I’ve ever witnessed…”

            We cowered, believing, as many Americans did, invaders from Mars had landed. What a pity they weren’t real and didn’t devour the Reichstag.

.

.

.

orson-welles-wotw

“…it was intended to be the Mercury theater’s own version of dressing up in a sheet and jumping out of a bush and saying, ‘Boo!’ Starting now we couldn’t soap all your windows and steal your garden gates by tomorrow night so we did the next best thing.” Orson Welles, October 30,1938

 

102 comments on “4 November 2016

  • That happened before I was born and I’ve heard about it all my life. My parents weren’t worried by it as they probably weren’t listening to it. They were probably busy handing out treats for Halloween to kids who would come to the door in costumes. They could have also been listening to another station. Good story based on the facts, Rochelle. 🙂 — Suzanne

    Liked by 2 people

  • I like the allusion. The Reichstag fire was indeed an attack on the German people, but not in the way they thought. How it came to be known as a false flag operation is interesting, since such tactics rarely are exposed (the Maine in Havana Harbor and the Tonkin incident are now known to be fabrications, but 9/11 and 7/7 are never questioned as being anything other than attacks on Americans by outsiders).

    Funny how the narrative of the Welles broadcast has been altered over time. In reality, not very many people heard it at the time. It certainly wasn’t a national panic, as even a cursory glance at the newspapers of the next day will show. But the legend has lived on despite an inconvenient truth. The legend has a more compelling story.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear J Hardy,

      I love it that you got my story in such a big way.

      All my life I’ve believed the myth about War of the Worlds. At any rate, it did cause some concern and few phone calls to the CBS studio that night. It could’ve been convincing to a gullible few who tuned in after the introduction. The truth is, very much like today, the news media jumped on the hype wagon.

      And to think that, as a kid, I found history boring. What was I thinking?

      Thank you.

      Shalom,

      Rochelle

      Like

  • The last line is quite right. Perhaps the aliens had a strict intervention code, only go for the innocence. That seems to be most dictators strategy, for if they went for the bad guys they would soon put themselves out of business.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Just lost my previous comment, so apologies if this appears twice. Loved the story, last line and all, and loved the clip. Nemesis can be fairly selective as to where it strikes, sadly. Is it just me, or is Orson Welles hamming it up in an overly contrite manner in that clip?

    Liked by 2 people

  • We were told about that broadcast in school, as an example as to how easily people can be influenced by the media, and how easily the masses develop a dynamic of their own. But then, in my time, people were still anxious to teach (German) kids these things, to prevent this from ever happening again. So of course I think the last line is important. Great story, Rochelle.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Gabriele,

      Without the last line the story would be pointless. I can’t imagine the stress of growing up in post war Germany and bearing the weight of what happened. Hugs to you.

      Media has so much influence…particularly on the gullible. It was actually the newspapers that perpetuated the myth of Nationwide panic following WOTW. A fact I’ve learned recently.

      Thank you.

      Shalom,

      Rochelle

      Like

      • I never learned more about the story than what I learned back then. It’s interesting to know that it wasn’t such a nationwide panick at all.
        About growing up in post war GErmany–most of my classmates felt like I did: shame and horror about what my people, my country had done. There never was a sense of patriotism or pride. It’s one of the reasons why many Germans (despite the claims of the far right) are passionate Europeans. I always defined myself as European. And finding my country doing well within that context was a hopeful feeling. I’m rather shocked about what is going on, right now. But enough of that.

        Like

  • I believe Welles claimed they had no intention of trying to fool the public … Myself, I think he was the ultimate showman, even at that young age! Anxiety had been growing globally about events unfolding in Germany, so I’m guessing the world was a little on edge anyway. Still no one could have imagined the awful reality of what was to come. You’re right – that last line puts the rest in context. Powerful story, Rochelle.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Lynn,

      No argument. I agree, Mr. Welles was playing to an audience. Somehow I don’t believe he was all that concerned or frightened about public reaction. And I’m glad that you got the major point of my story which is really about the global unrest and threat of war. Without the last line, it would be pointless.

      Thank you very much.

      Shalom,

      Rochelle

      Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Iain,

      That broadcast, due to its innovative presentation and the effect it had on a cross-section of the population will continue to impact, I think. Although, it didn’t cause the widespread panic the media reported, it certainly made a point. 😉 Thank you.

      Shalom,

      Rochelle

      Liked by 1 person

  • “We annihilated the world before your very ears and utterly destroyed the CBS.” Shoot! I wish I had written this story. I have known the background on this since high school. It was a lot of fun to listen to, I had the recording, the book from the library, etc. Orson did one memorable radio broadcast that changed everything and a movie that also changed everything. After that? Eh.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Alicia,

      Actually I’m surprised that no one’s asked how I got there. 😉 I’ll share it with you anyway…you wanted to know, right? When I first looked at this photo, my eyes went the ‘RCA Victor Radio’ sign which eventually took me to WOTW. My dad used to love to share the story of how he’d heard the broadcast and the panic it caused. The rest is…um…er…history. Thank you.

      Shalom,

      Rochelle

      Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Tracey

      I wonder if I can copyright that blessed are the gullible…somehow it popped into my head. 😉 And…if there’s a different road to follow, I try to find it. 😀 Wow, do I ever sound arrogant…ick. At any rate, I’m glad you liked the story. Thank you.

      Shalom,

      Rochelle

      Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Ali,

      Although the broadcast was introduced with a disclaimer, some tuned in later and thought it was real. I can only imagine how they felt later as they mopped the egg from their faces. As for the last line…glad you caught it and understood. Thank you.

      Shalom,

      Rochelle

      Liked by 1 person

  • That panicked the whole English-speaking world. Perhaps the Martians would have been preferable to the NAzis – on the other hand, to them we might all have been expendable – billions rather than millions.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Well that was awesome! I was on the roof of the Reichstag this last summer having a marvelous dinner! It had an incredible view! I wrote a story based on it.. my last post.
    I hope you are well Miss Rochelle and having a fantastic fall! 🙂 ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  • Dear Double Bubble,

    I read the book when I was in Jr. High.–very entertaining.

    Talk about wide-spread panic, I remember on 9-11 how everyone ran to the gas stations to fill up, fearing we would have a gasoline shortage. It was ridiculous, but fear has a way of stripping common sense and turning sensible people into blathering idiots. (Not that I’ve ever been considered a sensible person).

    Off to the outhouse,
    Margo

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Margo,

      My dad used to talk about this story. He got to hear it first hand. Naturally the news media perpetuated the story of the widespread panic. In reality there were some who bought the Martian story but most didn’t. I think Orson Welles played the frightened, exhausted young man to the hilt. I’m not buying it. 😉
      Sensible? Whassat?

      Shalom,

      DB

      Like

  • Querida Rochelle,
    Another walk down memory lane for me. I was too young to know about this but my father-in-law loved to talk about it in a very humorous way. He liked to kibbitz (kibets).
    He recanted the story each time one of my children reached an age where they could understand. The tings that come to mind when an image is presented for us to write about. MUY BUENO, mi amiga, como siempre.
    Gracias … buen fin de semana 😍
    Abrazos Bubela,
    Isadora 😎

    Liked by 1 person

    • Querida Isadora,

      My dad talked about it a lot. I’m too young to have heard the broadcast firsthand. But even in listening to it in retrospect it’s disconcerting. Muchas gracias. Your comments make me smile.

      Shalom y Abrazos, mi amiga,

      Rochelle

      Like

  • Dear Rochelle,

    A brilliant take on the prompt. I love the last sentence in particular! Such a young looking Orson Wells there on that video. War of the Worlds is a brilliant book. My husband used to live next to Horsell Common in Woking, Surrey, UK, the original landing site of the martians! http://www.thewaroftheworlds-woking.com/war_of_the_worlds_landmarks_woking.html

    Sorry, I haven’t got around to doing a FF story yet again, as my week was gobbled up with reviewing and okaying the recording of the audio version of my latest novel. It arrived unexpectedly, a month early, thanks to my wonderfully enthusiastic narrator. And today, I’ve been busy sorting out your guest storyteller post for tomorrow. Exciting stuff.

    All best wishes
    Sarah

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Sarah,

      It does sound like you’ve been busy. I’d really love to talk to you about doing audio versions. I’ve been asked about it and I have no answer. At any rate, how exciting for you.

      I do appreciate you’re swinging by to read and comment. I always found it interesting and fun that WOTW was written by H.G. Wells and broadcast by Orson Welles. Perhaps one day I’ll read the book.

      Hmmm…I’ll have to check out that guest storyteller. 😉

      Thank you and shalom.

      Rochelle

      Liked by 1 person

      • Dear Rochelle
        The recording to my book was done through acx.com. Basically, you (or possibly your publisher or literary agent) submit your book details to the site, plus a short excerpt for auditions, and a request for the type of narrator you would like (age, gender, accent etc). Then you hope that someone suitable applies to narrate for you. You state whether you’re looking to do a royalty share with the narrator, or pay an upfront one-off fee. There’s also stuff such as whether you grant exclusive distribution rights to Audible or not, but whatever you opt for, you are the rights holder to the book, which includes the recording. Anyway, have a look at the site, as all will be revealed. But be warned, resizing your book cover image to turn it into a perfect square, whilst not losing its definition, is a total nightmare with which I’m currently grappling!
        Hmmm…my guest storyteller is a most talented lady. 🙂
        All best wishes
        Sarah

        Like

  • I will add my praise to the long list of others. Nice take on the prompt. You set the scene beautifully. I like that it was from the perspective of a little girl.

    Liked by 1 person

  • It is a pity they didn’t devour the Reichstag, Rochelle. Well told as always.
    I’ve been in Prague this week and whilst there heard an anecdote you may appreciate if you haven’t heard it before.
    On top of the concert hall are 4 statues of famous composers. One is Wagner who the Nazis revered and another is Mendelssohn. The Nazi commander at the time of occupation ordered Mendelssohn to be taken down as he was a Jew. The soldiers arriving on the roof realised they didn’t know which statue was which, all they had to help them was their anti-Semite lessons which told them Jews have big noses. So they took down the one with the biggest nose, Wagner.
    I liked this as a small victory and exposure of their ridiculousness and ignorance.

    Liked by 1 person

  • I find this quite interesting. I’ve always wanted to write these stories that are banging around inside my head. Now…I’m having trouble finding inspiring ideas, since I’ve lost some memory and cognitive abilities over the past 6 or 8 months ago. I’m still interested, though.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Did they not check Facebook to confirm it? It must have spread like wildfire on Whatsapp, right? Ah! The those days of radio. I remember as a kid listening to reruns of some classic shows on BBC Radio – the Goon show still stands out in my memory. Nice one.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Such a brilliant bit of history and fun story telling to honor it! Admittedly, having spent the day calling swing state voters, and the evening drinking wine, I’m not sure how the prompt got you here… but I always love your stories, so it barely matters! May we all survive the next few days! Nice story telling, Rochelle.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Dawn,

      I’m always happy to share my process. The first thing that caught my eye in the photo (aside from the obvious, of course) was a sign over the window that says, “RCA Victor Radio.” The rest is history. LOL. I hope today affords you some rest and relaxation.

      Shalom,

      Rochelle

      Liked by 1 person

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