Phase 2, Days 43 and 44: Radio Anthropology 

Whew! We picked up a 1,400 mile load from Illinois to Texas, drove it all day and all night and all day again. That will drop me to about 6,900 miles remaining in Phase 2 upon completion of this run.

When I went home last, I brought my Xbox 360 back to the truck with me. I haven’t really spent much time playing it, but it’s nice to have in instances like tonight, when we will arrive at our destination at 9pm and won’t be able to deliver until 9am tomorrow. My copilot and I can slay the forces of evil in Diablo 3 while we wait for the consignee to open their doors for us. Still, when my partner is driving and I’m in the sleeper, I’m spending most of my time sleeping and reading books. I’ve rededicated myself to the pursuit of literary and writerly interests.

Speaking of literature, I finished listening to The Shadow. 10 discs, 10 hours, 20 shows full of melodrama and ridiculous plot contrivances… It was fun, most of the time. But what interested me the most was how dated it was. There were live-action commercials for coal heating, farm salt and “incredible” glow-in-the-dark Shadow Rings. But above all, the most interesting advertisements were for the Red Cross and wartime savings bonds. The Shadow was on the air during World War 2, and much of their advertisements related to supporting troops with the Red Cross and investing money with U.S. Bonds, which helped the government fund its wartime needs while promising a 33% growth rate over 10 years. 

I also found it interesting to note the views of the age regarding various subjects like medical science and religious equality. In many episodes, the villains called upon Hindu deities or used dark Hindu magic to promote their nefarious plots, or started cults to attack good Christian people. There’s a clear bias in favor of Christians above all other religions, and there were numerous examples of religious misrepresentation in the show.

In terms of medical science, it was curious to me to see common modern medical procedures portrayed as “god-forsaken” mad science. For example, there was an episode that hinged on a doctor performing unspeakable evil in the form of live organ transplants — he took living organs from the recently-deceased and put them in other people’s living bodies. Oh, the humanity! But these days, such transplants are commonplace and save lives! In fact, both myself and my copilot are organ donors, with the Donate Life designator on our licenses.

So The Shadow, while entertaining in its own right, was even more curious to me as a time capsule of American media and mentality during the 1930s and 1940s. It makes me appreciate how far we’ve come since then — and how far we’ve yet to go.

We drove through the day, reaching our destination a day early. Unfortunately, the consignee is only open from 9am to 5pm, so we’re going to have to spend the night at a nearby truck stop and make our delivery in the morning. So it looks like we’ll be playing plenty of Diablo tonight…

I’ll catch up with you all tomorrow after the delivery. Until then, take care of yourselves, and remember: crime does not pay! The Shadow knows!

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