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Managing editor

I’ve always been very curious about the way things work: TVs, radios, walkie talkies - just about anything electrical.

When I was a little girl, I used to get in trouble for taking things apart - that was, if I got caught. wink

If I took an item apart by myself, I could 99-percent of the time put it back together because I would remember where each piece was originally placed. And it helped if I didn’t get interrupted because if it took me a bit of time to get back to my task, I sometimes forgot the placement of some items.

My curiosity got the best of me one day when I wondered about the inner workings of an old radio that we had: A large-ish, tan and white radio. But this time, I didn’t wonder as much about the inside of the radio - although that didn’t stop me from taking it apart - I wondered how in the world was sound able to come out of the hole on the side of the radio and through a set of earphones.

I then reasoned that if I put a bunch of bobby pins together, sound would probably come out of the end of them, especially if the bobby pins were wrapped in thin wire like the kind my dad had sitting in a box in a closet.

I put the bobby pins together, wrapped a little bit of wire around it, made sure the plastic part was removed from the ends of the first bobby pin, and stuck it inside the radio. Waaaaay inside the radio. But I forgot to unplug it in order for it to only run on the batteries.

It was still plugged into the wall.


I got electrocuted.

It wasn’t that bad of a shock, but it was enough to cause me to let go of the bobby pins so fast that I knocked over the radio.

Then - of all the worst timing in the world - my dad walked in as I was holding my hand it was tingling a bit.

I think my eyes may have been a little bit crossed - and there’s the fact that the radio was on the floor - because my dad asked: “What happened to you?”

I didn’t answer for a beat or two. He looked at the crazy contraption that I had devised as it was still stuck inside the earphone hole on the side of the radio.

He surmised what I’d done, and then he asked me the dreaded question:

“What were you thinking?”

I didn’t dread the question because something violent or mean would happen after the question was asked. I dreaded the question because it wasn’t rhetorical: My dad always wanted an answer.

As he waited for the answer, he would simply interlace his fingers, place his hands behind his head, sit back in his chair and wait for your answer. And usually, there were several seconds of awkward silence before the answer was given.

He wouldn’t have a stern look on his face, he wouldn’t glare at you, his mannerisms in no way portrayed anger. He simply wanted an honest answer to his question.

And most times, he wouldn’t say a word until you gave him that honest answer - unless he felt the need to ask again:

“What were you thinking?”

(I truly think the man should have been a lawyer.)

His reasoning was that - and it was effective - if you actually say the words out loud, you can hear for yourself how stupid your idea was. And he was absolutely right.

If the offense was serious, you would get punished like not being able to go outside and play, or not being able to watch you favorite TV shows which, at the time, mine were “The Six Million Dollar Man” and “Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom.”

(Let me explain: This was before there were VCRs that allowed you to record your favorite shows, which meant you had to wait for - and then remember - to watch the missed episode during re-run season. How times have changed, right?)

  • And for those of you too young to remember that time, just remember: About 10 years ago or so, there were no smartphones, and listening to music meant using an iPod.

I finally ‘got hold of my senses’ and admitted to my dad what I’d done and why. Surprisingly, he chuckled, stood up, told me not to do anything like that again and to pick up the radio after unplugging it, stood in the doorway of the room, shook his head and said:


(But at least I still got to watch my TV shows that Sunday. Woot!)

Tammy Frazier is the managing editor of the Camden News. Email her at

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