Sunday, February 7, 2010

A Lyon

Like clockwork I knew that at a certain time each day my Aunt Welma and Mom would be positioned in front of the TV waiting for a woman to appear on the screen. One who opened doors for women, who took them away from the farm and into a much larger world.

Her microphone was hidden in a bouquet of flowers. I knew it was in there not only because she talked into the flowers but also because the flowers had a cord hanging down snaking across the stage. Poised and strong she was a liberated woman before the 60’s rebellion.

Ruth Lyons was a trailblazer. As a piano player on a radio show, she was called into action when a broadcaster was ill. Her temp position handed her the lead broadcaster role. Her fame grew when she stayed on the air non-stop during the great 1939 flood praising the resiliency of those in the Ohio Valley and asking for donation. She continued on the air throughout the 50’s and most of the 60’s.

Ruth Lyons was a friend to women. They loved bringing her into their homes. I remember Ruth talking lovingly about her husband, Herman, who was a professor at the University of Cincinnati. She shared her family with ours.

She entertained with her piano playing and brought in stars like Bob Hope and Pearl Baily. Newcomers like David Letterman and Phil Donahue sat on her sofa and spent time.She was often visited by Arthur Godfrey. Their similar shows seemed to compliment one another. Arthur brought in fresh talent, and Ruth gave them another venue in which to perform.

We came to know her sidekick Bob Braun with his thick black hair and another handsome man named Nick Clooney, father of George. Rosemary often showed up. It was family, and we were allowed in.

Ruth left broadcasting after her daughter died on a family cruise. Cindy had leukemia. Ruth later confided to a friend that Cindy had jumped overboard to her death. A viewing audience grieved with her.

Aunt Welma would walk into our kitchen immediately sharing what she had seen on the 50/50 Club. She and Mom discussed the show as if having just visited a close friend. I know that these women in my life were influenced by Ruth Lyons. Their world became larger. They learned more about the world and who they were. As a child, I saw my first woman in a powerful position.

A friend came to visit our home every day. Her name was Ruth Lyons.


Janet said...

Pam, did you ever go to the program? Mom took me there several times. You remember so well. Her daughter, though, was "Candy". I had never heard she committed suicide while on a cruise. As we all would be, Ruth & Herman were heartbroken, their only child. So very sad. Paul Dixon was another legend in the business at Cincy. One time I visited his show and he rubbed my leg. His favorite saying was "it was a 4-H project that got out of hand" when speaking of a young married couple. I've used that saying several times! Thanks for the memories!

Pamela Loxley Drake said...

I did not go to the show but watched it many times. You're right. It was Candy. Remember the Maquire Sisters and Jilius LaRosa??? A step back in time.