Radio Review: Abroad with the Lockharts

Whatever our circumstances, radio allows our mind to escape to another time, another place. Bold Venture, Dangerous Assignment, and The Man Called X frequently took us to exotic locales while Dimension X and other Science Fiction shows took us to fantastic new worlds.

However, during the Depression, a trip to Europe was probably as fantastic to most people as a trip to Mars for listeners in the 1950s. However, less than a year after the Crash, Gene and Kathleen Lockhart took listeners on such a fantastic trip in Abroad with the Lockharts.

Will (played by Gene) wants nothing more than to continue his annual tradition of taking a fishing trip with his friend Charlie while his wife wants to take a trip to Europe after having put up with several boring fishing trips. So she takes him to Europe ( a point that’s emphasized each episode in the opening.)

The episodes are a travelogue with the Lockharts encountering new situations on their boat trip and then later in the U.K. and Europe. Will encounters each new situation with characteristic trepedation and crankyness. However, each new encounter seems to end with him pleasantly surprised. But that doesn’t stop him from being cranky and reluctant at the next stop.

Kathleen places a few humorous bits. She has studied and prepared for their European trip, but her French fails her when  trying to purchase tickets. She is also somewhat flumoxxed when Will enjoys a somewhat risque show they attended in France.

The show is escapist in taking Americans who could never go to Europe on a grand tour. It is also optimistic. Abroad with the Lockharts is filled with friendly foreigners in every port who kindly introduce them to their different cultures. Even in countries that were governed by America’s once and future enemies, this optimism would prevail. In this way, Abroad with the Lockharts seemed to be part of a post-World War I move to increase understanding of the rest of the world in order to maintain peace: A noble aim that proved useless with madmen like Mussolini and Hitler running around.

Still, Abroad with the Lockharts remains an entertaining slice of life that still is worth a listen even 80 years after it first aired. There are 9 episodes available including the first seven and apparently the last two. The longest run of the series  Digital Deli could locate was 16 episodes but as they note, “There may well have been a twenty-six week, though we have yet to discover such a run. Given the format of Abroad With the Lockharts, once the couple boarded the S.S. Mauretius, there could have been any number of ‘modular’ adventures either aboard ship, or at their various European destinations.”

Rating: 4.0 out of 5.0

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