Back In The Days Of Portable Radios

Retro Portable Radio 50s Beachball Dog Watercolor Painting Illustration

For our optional World Watercolor Month prompt of “Yesterday,” I first thought of the Beatles song of the same name. Then, while humming that, I thought back to when radios were actually a thing, and then way back to when they were the primary form of entertainment. I’m not old enough to remember a day without a television, but I do recall that time back in the day when a portable radio was once the coolest invention on the planet. Indeed, the earliest versions of most of these types of gadgets were quite large and the word “portable” simply meant you could try move it if you dared. Soon, however, handles appeared and things got a bit smaller and could actually live up to the claim. I used to listen to those early radio shows when I was a kid, because I loved to imagine all of the visuals in the stories they were telling. I would paint those scenes in my head, even though some of the shows were quite dated by that point. It didn’t matter. I loved letting my imagination take me to another place and time.

And these days, going to the beach or just about anywhere without a care in the world seems like something from the past as well. That’s why I adore being able to conjure up any little happy memory I want in my sketchbook. I get to travel in spite of it all! Indeed, often I get to time travel, which is something that was impossible to do in real life anyway. But, it’s quite possible inside the pages of a sketchbook along with a bit of creativity and imagination. And that’s one of my favorite things to DO! I love these memories from the past that make me realize just how far things have come in life. That said, I really miss those beautiful electronic objects that existing before, built with a touch of artistry. Those mid-century modern approaches to design where so many things looked like they came straight out of far future. These days, we don’t imagine what space age invention will come out next, we just sort of expect it to happen.

And while no time was likely simpler, since there was always something happening that we wished wasn’t happening, I still miss those days decades ago. As much as I adore the Internet, life was quite different before it appeared. For me, it’s a good reminder to occasionally unplug and read a book every now and again. Or, to just take a walk and enjoy nature and the natural “tweets” that appear there. Sometimes, I wonder what life would have been like if all of those imagined dreams of the future had come true. I certainly wish the fabulous “look” would have happened, but that’s more a side effect of costs than desire these days. And, what I most desire is still really simple. I just want to live a happy life with the people I love most and only the things I truly need. Okay, yeah, I just bought a new set of brushes with some credit card points, but art supplies are always something in the need category. It’s how I can continue my lovely time travel and visit a moment back in the days of portable radios.

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About the Doodlewash

Da Vinci Paint Co.: Hansa Yellow Medium, Gold Ochre, Vermilion, Quinacridone Red, Opus (Vivid Pink), Cobalt Turquoise, Terra Cotta, and Indigo. Lamy Al-Star Safari Fountain Pen with sepia ink  in an A5 Hahnemühle Watercolour Book. Want to purchase a print of this doodlewash? Send me a note with a link to this post, and I’ll add it to my shop!
Retro Portable Radio 50s Beachball Dog Watercolor Painting Illustration Sketchbook Detail
Recommended4 recommendationsPublished in By Charlie
38 Comments
  1. writerleenda 2 months ago

    Hey Charlie! Was that before or after transistor radios? I had one when I was stisll a teen or preteen. Remember that song about the tiny blue transistor radio? Those radios came with ear plugs.

    Cheers and thanks for reminding me of those and dating myself.Oops.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 2 months ago

      Thanks so much! 😃💕 I think this was after… hehe… though I just loved all kinds of radios!

  2. Mary Roff 2 months ago

    Nice one, Charlie!! Brings back lots of good memories!!!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 2 months ago

      Thanks so much, Mary! 😃💕 Glad this brought back great memories!

  3. sue clancy 2 months ago

    Ah memories!! 😊

  4. Sandra Strait 2 months ago

    Interesting looking brushes! I’m tempted, but I’ll wait and see how you like them compared to your Escoda! I remember those old radios well, and how expensive they were for the time, gradually getting cheaper. Makes me remember calculators too. Who’da thunk back then that they would be cheap freebies on every phone and computer!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 2 months ago

      Hehe! I know! Calculators are just a free concept now. As for the brushes, I’ve actually been using a Raphael travel brush like these for the last couple of months. It was an impulse purchase, then but I really enjoy it! 😃💕

  5. Robert Coleman 2 months ago

    Ah, love radios! I had one of the early transistor pocket radios as I walked along on my paper route. Also I built a no-battery mini transistor unit, a crystal set in Boy Scouts and received a shortwave receiver from a ham radio neighbor. And I am still a ham radio operator, contacting all ’round the world! Now that’s a blast!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 2 months ago

      Aww that’s awesome, Bob! 😃💕 Those sound like great memories indeed! so cool!

  6. Priscilla DeConti 2 months ago

    Wow love your sketch and checked out your brushes..would love to hear your opinions? I am always in the market for new and wonderful art supplies…😊

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 2 months ago

      Thanks so much, Priscilla! 😃💕 I’ve been using one Raphael travel brush for the past couple of months, and love it.

  7. Lisa 2 months ago

    I remember my first transistor radio. It was black and in a plastic case. It had a 9 volt battery that when touched on your tongue have you tingles. Joe wants one of those old bakelite radios. They cost too much though.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 2 months ago

      Aww that’s that’s so awesome! Love those memories. And yeah, I wake one of those old bakelite radios as well… I’ve already been searching them online now. 😉

  8. Karen Fortier 2 months ago

    Fantastic Charlie! I remember when radios were fun. In my early teens I had a portable one that was also a record player that played 45s. I’d take it to the beach. At night we could listen to stations from New York and Boston on the AM dial.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 2 months ago

      Thanks so much, Karen! 😃💕 Aww that sounds perfectly lovely!

  9. Lisa Ann Ulibarri 2 months ago

    Precious!!! 😍

  10. Marisela Delgado 2 months ago

    Great painting and cutie dog! I remember always having a radio on in my bedroom. What I LOVED was my portable tape recorder. I would spend my allowance on new blank tapes and would spend HOURS taping songs off of the radio. As a pre-teen, I just had to have a Walkman. It went from being a radio to a cassette player to CD player to obsolete. Life was better back then. You could innocently sing and dance to Olivia Newton-John without a clue that you were dancing to a sex-you-up song. Head band and leg warmers included. haha haha I felt so silly when I found out. 😊

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 2 months ago

      Thanks so much, Marisela! 😃💕 hehe! I agree! Here’s to getting physical! lol

  11. Nellie Nellie 2 months ago

    OK yay! I had to read a few comments before I shared about my Toot-a-loop(?) radio! I wanted to be sure some else actually carried theirs around with them too😆 Mine was a funky off-centered donut contraption that had to be twisted into an s-shape so you could see the dial. I listened to the local radio station K-EZY, which was right down the street and came in really clear-if I didn’t move! I’m working on my ‘yesterday’ prompt right now. I have loads of them to choose from, for which I am very grateful 😉🤗

  12. Gary Middleton 2 months ago

    Great doodle. I had a little transistor radio which I used to take to school. I would listen to it, to and from school, through the little white earpiece. On a Tuesday lunch time I’d take it into the playground so that a group of us could find out who was number one in the top twenty.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 2 months ago

      Thanks so much, Gary! 😃💕 Aww love that you took it to the playground. These things are always better with friends!

  13. Mugdha 2 months ago

    Hello Charlie,

    Great sketch as usual! That radio must be playing something terribly interesting to induce the doggie to put down his ball and just listen. I love radios too and your point about listening to imagining visuals when listening to stories still holds true. Had you been living in India, you’d have been able to relive your childhood coz these days, Ruskin Bond – one of India’s favorite authors – holds a story session on the radio. Lastly I love how simply you’ve summed up your life desires. Im sure you will always get what you want. You truly deserve it. 🙂

    Love,
    Mugdha

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 2 months ago

      Thanks so much, Mugdha! 😃💕 That’s so sweet of you! I think we all deserve to get what we want. As long as what we want is special and beautiful!

  14. Sharon Nolfi 2 months ago

    I love visiting the pre-digital era with you! Radios and the beach went together – in my case a little transistor radio that played AM stations with a lot of static. Radios like your red one were a bit later.

  15. LoriCtoo 2 months ago

    What a fun sketch! Tee hee, radios were a staple kitchen appliance when I was growing up. My dad listened to the radio every morning before going to work. I can picture him sitting there quietly drinking his coffee with only the stove light on. Apparently he wasn’t a morning person. Haha!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 2 months ago

      Thanks so much, Lori! 😃💕 Aww those are wonderful memories! And yeah, I’m so not a morning person, either! hehe

  16. jkpringle21 2 months ago

    Good morning Charlie
    Ah memories!! Loved playing my record player, sorry not the Beatles but Elvis Presley, what a collection I had.
    What a wonderful painting and great story of early memories that everyone can take away something from.
    Got my beautiful large pencil cases yesterday, and my friend loved here’s. Each yearly Watercolour Month is exciting, my collection is growing but each one is used.
    On a different note, I found 2 fountain pens Lamy Al-Star Fountain Pen and Lamy Safari Fountain pen. Very interested in sketching with a fountain pen, suggestion would be wonderful even if its not a Lamy.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 2 months ago

      Thanks so much! 😃💕 Aww I loved Elvis as well! So thrilled you’re enjoying World Watercolor Month! Yay! Actually, I use my Lamy Al-Star Fountain Pens every day!

  17. Linda Calverley 2 months ago

    Lovely drawing. I didn’t have a transistor radio when I was a teenager, I use to use my dad’s record player or radio to listen to music. I did have a ghetto blaster in the 70’s I think.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 2 months ago

      Thanks so much, Linda! 😃💕 hehe! Yay! I had a ghetto blaster too!

  18. Walt. F Pierluissi 2 months ago

    Very, super nice… Good memories from a time long gone…. But your scenario and paint skill is wonderful friend… ✌️👍🤗🤗🤗

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 2 months ago

      Thanks so much, Walt! 😃💕 Glad you enjoyed this. And what a sweet compliment! I really appreciate it!

  19. bloggingboehme 2 months ago

    I miss cassette tapes and vcr’s! Lol

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