There was a very interesting advertisement in the March 27, 1942, issue of the JN — the paper’s very first issue. The ad was about the great selection of portable radios offered by “Boyer’s Haunted Shacks.”
First, the technology of the day is interesting. According to Zenith Electronics company history, a historic maker of radios and televisions, its accomplishments include the world’s first portable radio in 1924; that is, the first portable on the market. Radio pioneer Edwin Armstrong, inventor of FM radio, had created the first portable radio, which he gave to his wife on their 1923 honeymoon. Early portables were very large, heavy items that used horns instead of speakers to project the sound.
By 1942, great progress had been made. Portable radios used lighter tubes and batteries and were now only about the size of a small microwave oven! A bit larger than your smart phone or radio today.
There were also plenty of radio stations broadcasting in the 1940s. By 1922, two years after the first radio broadcast, there were more than 600 radio stations in the United States. However, another interesting point in the ad was the line “Uncle Sam suggests” families should have a portable, battery-powered radio for the “air-raid shelter room” in their homes for “news and instructions.” This reflects the fact that America had just entered World War II, and no one knew what to expect on the home front.
I am puzzled by one other thing in the advertisement — what the heck was the origin of the name “Boyer’s Haunted Shack”? According to the ad, there were 17 locations in Detroit in 1942, with the main store Downtown on Broadway and Gratiot. But, so far, I can find very little information about Boyer’s, only that the chain of stores sold appliances and advertised in the JN in the 1940s and 1950s. I’m not sure why Boyer’s Shacks were “haunted,” but I hope to find out someday.
Want to learn more?
Go to the DJN Foundation archives, available for free at www.djnfoundation.org.