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The Adventure Ahead Radio Program

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Young Ames Goes Down the River, ca. 1938
Young Ames Goes Down the River, ca. 1938

Young Ames Fights A Fire, ca. 1939
Young Ames Fights A Fire, ca. 1939

A Christmas Rose for Ames, ca. 1940
A Christmas Rose for Ames, ca. 1940

Adventure Ahead! was a brilliant Summer feature for 1944. Comprised of fourteen stirring adventure novels and stories from among America's greatest fiction writers, its somewhat more masculine orientation may have kept some of the young females of the era listening to Frank Sinatra that summer instead of Adventure Ahead!.

But it was indeed billed as 'famous stories for young people', not 'famous stories for young men'. And yet, how any rational programmer at NBC-Red could have construed the slant of this project to young people is anyone's guess. There's no discernible love interest, there are no female protagonists, nor any female authorities or mentors for that matter. Of course this was the 1940s after all, still in the throes of the fight for equality on many fronts. It's just quite obvious that NBC-Red programmers were simply completely out of touch with their era.

That having been said, each of these literary choices did have a uniting theme--defending Freedom, domestically and abroad. To be fair to NBC's programmers, there were several jingoistic, over the top, almost fascist 'public service programs' geared toward every facet of the domestic population at one time or another during the World War II years and the Cold War Years that followed. So overlooking the slant for the time being, let's focus in on the selected stories and their themes.

Virtually all of these stories were male-oriented, 'coming of age' tales of one type or another. Dana's Two Years Before the Mast was one of the books virtually any father would expect his son to have read by the time he was eleven. A stirring tale of independent thinking, the courage to act on it, and the satisfaction of correctly asserting one's convictions is always a satisfying read for boy and man alike. For young ladies, even during the 1940s, not so much. All it would have conjured up was more of the status quo the Rosie the Riveters and their daughters across America were fighting against, sweating to defeat, and earning the right to overturn. Sadly this same theme can be set forth in the other twelve selections as well.

Suspending belief a bit further, The Arrival of The Lily Bean, ostensibly the one female-oriented theme in the entire run, stems from Walter Dumaux Edmond's compilation of short stories that appeared over several installments in The Saturday Evening Post and Atlantic Monthly entitled simply, Young Ames. The fact that this is one of the two exemplars of the series not in circulation doesn't help. But from what I can recall from the Saturday Evening Post installment of the same name, The Arrival of the Lily Bean was yet another male coming of age story as well--but in the romantic arena.

T.B. Aldrich's The Story of A Bad Boy--as adapted--was a greatly abridged version of the original novel, which basically traced the entire life of the author at various critical 'coming of age' junctures throughout his life. What survives in the Adventure Ahead! installment is a series of vignettes of the 'bad behaviour' of the protagonist. The 'bad behaviours' are a series of inspired pranks which, in the final analysis were instigated with the best of intentions. It's just that most of them backfired in one way or the other.

Inside The FBI is a stirring tale of the inner workings of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Clearly fascinating fodder for the imagination of any young male. Reportedly blessed by J.Edgar Hoover himself, it doesn't take much thought to imagine how the piece is slanted. With most of the emphasis on FBI scientific procedure and analysis, there's plenty here to fire the imagination of any young man.

Robinson Crusoe is a classic of American literature. Even abridged, it's easy to understand how naturally this selection sprang to mind when developing the project. Daniel Defoe's classic exists here in skeleton form only, but it's a good listen to this day. And if it prompts you to reach for your own copy from the library shelf, so much the better. It's an amazing read--and re-read.

A Tooth for Paul Revere is one of Stephen Vincent Benét's most enduring short stories. It's been adapted and readapted in hundreds of productions over Radio, Animation, Television, and Film. If you've never read it yourself, then don't miss the opportunity to listen to the Adventure Ahead! rendition. It captures all of the key elements of Benét's original story.

Toby Tyler . . . is pure young male adventure fantasy, both delightfully spun and poignantly punctuated. One of the more realistically and sensitively portrayed productions, we found it one of the more enjoyable of the existing eleven exemplars.

Waldo Fleming's Talking Drums is pure male juvenile escapism very much in the Jungle Jim or Tarzan mold, but with a bit more cerebral moral dilemmas interwoven into the script. One of the better recorded examples from this run, the foley work is wonderfully evocative and contributes to the many turns in the script.

The Biscuit Eater by James Street is a wonderfully charming story of a boy and his dog, a useless 'biscuit eater' of a pup, saved from the drowning well by the boy who fell in love with the pup at first sight. It's one of the more enjoyable and inspirational programs of the thirteen. A wonderful little morality play, the touching interaction between a boy, his faith in his dog, and his love for his own father resolves itself in a wonderfully satisfying manner.

Mabel Leigh Hunt's Have You Seen Tom Thumb is one of the two missing episodes from this production. It's still very easy to see why it was included in this anthology. The original story is the fictionalized account of the famous dwarf, Charles Sherwood Stratton, who, as General Tom Thumb became a living legend in the Circus world, and eventually made a wonderful life for himself and his family in the process. From performing for the crowned heads of Europe to saving P.T. Barnum from bankruptcy to meeting President Abraham Lincoln himself, Tom Thumb's life story is both a fascinating adventure and a tale of great inspiration to any young person with a physical limitation of any kind.

Hubert Skidmore's Hill Lawyer is a wonderful adventure in small town human relations and interaction. Both inspirational and well-grounded in basic American decency, there's no question that this program left an impression on its young listeners--and perhaps a few of it's older listeners as well.

G.A Henty's One of the 28th and Greenmantle, the wonderful espionage story by John Buchan round out the last two installments of this adventure series. Very similar in their militaristic slant, they're both wonderful period adventures in their own right. The former, a rousing vignette of the Battle of Waterloo, is perhaps the one exemplar in circulation that provides a heroine as a protagonist. Greenmantle, by contrast, is a riveting tale of spycraft and espionage at the turn of the century. Espionage adventures almost always build far more anxiety and anticipation in the course of the script and this one is no exception.

The series closed prematurely with Alexander Dumas' stirring The Three Musketeers, the classic adventure story of four loyalist Musketeers, D'Artagnan, Athos, Porthos and Aramis, who take a mission to England to retrieve a wooden box full of diamonds and eventually take down Cardinal Richelieu. Their motto, ''one for all, all for one'' becomes a popular rallying cry of enduring friendship and loyality for millions of youngsters throughout the world for two centuries.

The series was overtaken by events with the NBC-Red-wide broadcast of the Sixth War Loan Drive on November 11, 1944, effectively ending the series.

The better encodes of this remarkable Summer series are wonderful reminders of the type of inspirational fare of the 1940s during a world at War. Not preachy, not particularly jingoistic, but clearly selected and adapted to act as both a comfort and inspiration to the thousands of young people anxiously awaiting resolution of the War and the return of their brothers, fathers and uncles. In this respect alone, this gem of a short series is a definite keeper from The Golden Age of Radio.

Series Derivatives:

Genre: Anthology of Golden Age Radio Adventure Dramas
Network(s): NBC-Red
Audition Date(s) and Title(s): None
Premiere Date(s) and Title(s): 44-08-05 01 Two Years Before the Mast
Run Dates(s)/ Time(s): 44-08-05 to 44-11-04; NBC-Red; Fourteen, 30-minute programs; Saturdays in most markets, time varies depending on market.
Syndication: NBC - World Broadcasting Transcription
Sponsors: NBC and its Affiliated Independent Stations as a Public Service.
Director(s): John Mansfield [Supervisor]; Herbert Rice [Supervisor]
Principal Actors: John Thomas, Alastair Kyle, Craig McDonald, Juano Hernandez, Neil Fitzgerald, Rod Hendrickson, Paul Conrad, Kermit Murdock, Ed Collins, Brad Barker, Roger DeKoven, James Tansey, Joseph Wiseman, Jackie Ayers, Eleanor Audley, Jean Gillespie, Fred Baron, Paul Ford, Jack Manning, Nicholas Joy, Bernard Lenrow, Georgie Walton, Jim Boles, James Van Dyke, Martin Begley, Louis John, Brad Barker, Lawson Zerbe, Walter Bond, Richard Keith, Jack McBride, Tony Merrill, Alexander Scourby, Guy Spaull, Jack Stanley, E.A. Krumschmidt, Horace Braum, Guy Sorel, Len Scherer, Kathleen Cordell, Charme Allen.
Recurring Character(s): Varied with the program
Protagonist(s): Varied with the program
Author(s): Richard Dana, Walter Edmonds, T.B. Aldrich, Daniel Defoe, James Street, Waldo Fleming, Stephen Vincent Benet, George A. Henty, John Buchan, Hubert Skidmore, James Otis, John J. Floherty
Writer(s) Tom Gutay [Adapter]; Howard Carroway [Adapter]
Music Direction: 'Doc' Whipple; Leo Kampinsky - Composer/Conductor; Henri Nosco - Composer/Conductor
Musical Theme(s): 'Doc' Whipple Organ Music
Announcer(s): [Unknown]
Estimated Scripts or
Episodes in Circulation: 11
Total Episodes in Collection: 11
RadioGOLDINdex, Hickerson Guide, Wisconsin State Journal.

Notes on Provenances:

The most helpful provenances were the log of the RadioGOLDINdex and The Wisconsin State Journal. The Hickerson Guide was almost entirely in error, as well as its source,

Digital Deli Too RadioLogIc

This entire run was a public service directed toward the young people of America during a time of War. Clearly transcribed, it was made available to all NBC-Red independent affiliates, who for the most part aired the fourteen installments in order for fourteen weeks. The two departures from the log we prepared appeared to be the El Paso, Texas stations and most of the Ohio Stations.


We point out the above to illustrate the major misconception circulating about this fine, short series: it aired for only fourteen unique installments, not the sixteen installments reported everywhere else throughout the 'otr' community. Underhanded 'otr' sellers have intentionally clipped two of the key episodes in an effort to justify their inaccurate dating and numbering of their sets. We've annotated those episodes below.

Toby Tyler, or Ten Weeks With A Circus is misnamed Toby Tyler, or Ten Weeks With the Circus in most 'otr' logs.

There was never a book entitled Green Mantle. The correct title is Greenmantle, by John Buchan. The newspaper listings simply got it wrong.

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We don't pronounce our Golden Age Radio research as 'certified' anything. By the very definition, research is imperfect. We simply tell the truth. As is our continuing practice, we provide our fully provenanced research results--to the extent possible--right here on the page, for any of our peers to review--or refute--as the case may be. If you take issue with any of our findings, you're welcome to cite any better verifiable source(s) and we'll immediately review them and update our findings accordingly. As more verifiable provenances surface, we'll continue to update the following series log, as appropriate.

All rights reserved by their respective sources. Article and log copyright 2009 The Digital Deli Online--all rights reserved. Any failure to attribute the results of this copywritten work will be rigorously pursued.

[Date, title, and episode column annotations in
red refer to either details we have yet to fully provenance or other unverifiable information as of this writing. Red highlights in the text of the 'Notes' columns refer to information upon which we relied in citing dates, date or time changes, or titles.]

Adventure Ahead Radio Program Log

Date Episode Title Avail. Notes
Two Years Before the Mast
[Premiere Episode]

9 a. m. — Adventure Ahead
(WIBA): new program; dramatization of Richard Dana's' "Two Years Before the Mast,"
The Arrival of The Lily Bean
9 a. m. — Adventure Ahead
(WIBA): new program;
episode from Walter D. Edmonds" "Young Ames," "The Arrival of the Lily Bean."
The Story Of A Bad Boy
9 a. m. — Adventure Ahead
  "The Story Of A Bad Boy" by T.B. Aldrich
Inside the FBI
[open intentionally clipped]

9 a. m. — Adventure Ahead
  "Inside the FBI" by John J. Floherty
Robinson Crusoe
12 n. -- Adventure Ahead (WMAQ): "Robinson Crusoe" by Daniel Defoe
A Tooth For Paul Revere
12 n. -- Adventure Ahead (WMAQ): "A Tooth for Paul Revere" by Steven Vincent Benét
Toby Tyler, or Ten Weeks With A Circus
12 n. -- Adventure Ahead (WMAQ): "Toby Tyler, or Ten Weeks With A Circus" by James Otis
Talking Drums
12 n. -- Adventure Ahead (WMAQ): "Talking Durms" by Waldo Fleming
The Biscuit Eater
8 p. m. ...Adventure Ahead (WIBA): "The Biscuit Eater," by James Street.
Have You Seen Tom Thumb
8 p. m. ...Adventure Ahead (WIBA): "Have You Seen Tom Thumb," story by Mabel Leigh Hunt.
Hill Lawyer
12 n. -- Adventure Ahead (WMAQ): "Hill Lawyer" by H. Skidmore
One of the 28th
(end intentionally clipped)

8 p. m. ...Adventure Ahead (WIBA): "One of the 28th," by George A. Henty

Preempted in some markets by President Roosevelt
8 p. m. ...Adventure Ahead (WIBA): "Green Mantle," by John Buchan
The Three Musketeers
[ Last Episode ]

44-11-04 The Daily News
8 p. m. ...Adventure Ahead (WEAF): "The Three Musketeers"

44-11-11 The Daily News
8 p. m. ...Sixth War Loan Drive (WEAF)

Adventure Ahead Radio Program Biographies

Bernard Lenrow
(Actor, 'Talking Drums')

Stage, Radio, Television and Film Actor

Birthplace: Binghamton, New York, U.S.A

Education: Cornell University (1926)


1938 Great Plays
1939 Ideas That Came True
1942 The Jack Benny Program
1943 Words At War
1944 NBC War Bond Parade
1944 Molle Mystery Theatre
1944 Adventure Ahead
1944 The Eternal Light
1944 We Came This Way
1944 Perry Mason
1945 Treasury Salute
1945 Voice Of the Army
1946 Casey, Crime Photographer
1946 NBC Parade Of Stars
1947 Famous Jury Trials
1947 The Shadow
1947 The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes
1948 The Golden Door
1948 You Are There
1948 Secret Missions
1949 Mystery Theatre
1950 Up For Parole
1951 Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar
1951 Now Hear This
1951 Dimension X
1951 Cavalcade Of America
1951 The Silent Men
1952 Out Of the Thunde
1953 New World A' Coming
1953 The Chase
1954 From the House Of Bondage
1954 Hallmark Hall Of Fame
1956 X Minus One
1958 The Ave Maria Hour
1961 Suspense
Hollywood's Open House

Bernard Lenrow, ca. 1947
Bernard Lenrow, ca. 1947

Cornell University Seal
Cornell University Seal

1957's The Violators, Bernard Lenrow's last Film credit
1957's The Violators, Bernard Lenrow's last Film credit

Although Actor Bernard Lenrow had his first NBC audition in 1928, it was the fan mail he received while broadcasting occasionally in connection with his College teaching eight years later that made him decide to go into Radio. Lenrow was born in Binghamton. N. Y., and educated at Cornell where he also did graduate study in Speech and Dramatics. He became an instructor in the University's Department of Public Speaking and Assistant Director of the Cornell Dramatic Club. He later taught Speech at Hunter College in New York, and at the U. of Iowa, where he also directed the Iowa State Players.

His Radio debut in a commercial spot was a success, and he was busy from that time on as free-lance actor and narrator-announcer. He was narrator at The City of Light at the New York World's Fair, and had done the narration for such film documentaries as "Men Against Microbes." Tall and powerfully-built, red-haired Lenrow kept busy with gardening and carpentry at his Englewood, N. J., home. An ardent cyclist, he taught his three young sons equal proficiency in long-distance cycling.

Lenrow's Radio work wasn't confined to narration or announcing chores. Lenrow performed in several straight drama roles over his 32-year career in Radio. He had recurring roles in Perry Mason (1944), Mystery Theatre (1945), and Casey Crime Photographer (1946). Indeed, Lenrow's most memorable role in Radio was as Detective Captain Logan on Casey, Crime Photograper. Lenrow often appeared as authoritarian figures such as doctors, judges, lawyers or senior detectives.

Not long after his debut in Radio, Lenrow found himself peforming in several New York Stage plays, among them, Ten Million Ghosts (1936), The Man with Blonde Hair (1941), Compulsion (1957) and The Gang's All Here (1959). Lenrow also performed in the Stratford, CT Shakespearan Festival for several years, beginning in 1955.

Lenrow's Film debut was in an uncredited role in 1945's The House On 92nd Street. Lenrow's last Film appearance was in 1957's The Violators, as Judge McKenna. Bernard Lenrow also peformed in several early Television programs, among them, Tales of Tomorrow (1951), Decoy (1959) and The Defenders (1963). Bernard Lenrow passed away shortly after his last performance in The Defenders of a sudden, unexpected heart-attack while hospitalized in an Englewood hospital.

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