Radio history — War widow poet
A Queensbury war widow channeled her grief into writing poetry to be broadcast on the radio.
“’Spring Fever’s Back and I’ve Got It,’ a poem written by Mrs. Gertrude M. King, 2 Glenwood Avenue, will be read by Ed Mitchell in the near future on the “Chanticleer” program, which is heard from Station WGY at 6:30 A.M. every Monday, Wednesday and Friday,” The Post-Star of Glens Falls reported on June 13, 1946.
King was somewhat of a regular contributor to the program, which had previously broadcast five of her other poems.
The morning music, entertainment and news program had great reach.
In 1949, WGY advertised that “Chanticleer” had received 48,227 letters from 27 states.
Mitchell also was an announcer on the WGY “Down on the Farm” program, which broadcast “Habit,” another of King’s poems, in 1946.
King was the widow of Army Pfc. Lester R. King, who was killed in combat at Germany during World War II.
Lester, who was in the Seventh Army, had written Gertrude on March 27, 1945 that he expected to be home for their son’s 11th birthday on June 24.
The husband, who had served in the Army for one year, was killed in action the day after he wrote the letter.
The Army awarded him a Purple Heart, which was presented posthumously to his wife.
Before enlisting in the Army, he worked at the Buddy “L” Wood Products factory in Glens Falls.
WGY wasn’t the only radio station that Gertrude submitted poetry to.
On March 18, 1946, Bill Sullivan, host of the 11:30 A.M. “Turning the Pages” program on WFFA of Manchester, Vt., read her poem “I’ll Remember When.”
She also wrote prose.
On Jan. 16, 1948, Don McNeil, host of “The Breakfast Club,” broadcast nationally from Chicago, read a humorous letter that King submitted.
“The humorous letter, used by the program’s sponsors as a commercial, evoked laughter from the studio audience,” The Post-Star reported.
In July 1948, King opened The Brick Village gift shop at the intersection of routes 9 and 197 in Moreau.
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Sources: The Post-Star May 22, 27, 1945; March 23, April 12, 26, May 16, June 13, 1946; Jan. 16, 17, 29, 1938; radiohistory.com