Thursday, November 12, 2015

The Radio Boys on Secret Service Duty

by Pa Rock

The Radio Boys on Secret Service Duty is the second in the short series (ten books) penned by journalist Gerald Breckenridge.  The books were written in the 1920’s to entertain teenage boys with tales of adventure, and each volume had a strong connection to the new electronic medium of radio. 

I have actually read three of the books so far – having begun with one in the middle of the series - The Radio Boys Rescue the Lost Alaska Expedition  -  and I have found each them to be relatively good yarns with an infusion of useful information about early radio devices.  The first volume, The Radio Boys on the Mexican Border, actually had several pages dedicated to explaining how radios work - and provided inquisitive youth with instructions for building their own radios.

That said, I do not like this series nearly as well as the Hardy Boys mysteries which were being published contemporaneously to The Radio Boys.  I have done some self-reflection to try and determine the reason for my preference of Frank and Joe Hardy over Bob, Jack, and Frank, of the Radio Boys, and I think it is because the characters in the Hardy Boys novels were so distinctly drawn that I was never confused on who was who.  Chet, Biff, Tony, Iola, Frank, Joe, and even Aunt Gertrude all had qualities that were repeated endlessly and made them easy to remember and identify.

Bob, Jack, and Frank on the other hand were all the same age, and strikingly similar in their backgrounds and interests.  One was motherless and lived with his dad on Long Island, one lived with both parents on Long Island, and one was an orphan who resided with one of the other two.  But don’t ask me which was which, because I honestly don’t know.  It’s difficult keeping them sorted.

This volume of the series focused on smugglers who were bringing Chinese coolies illegally into the United States.  The boys accidently overheard a bit of the plot and reported it to the Secret Service.  A good story with plenty of action followed – the type of story that would, if updated, appeal to certain young people today – especially those with an interest in technology and its impact on fighting crime..

The copyright for this work was 1922, when radio was truly in its infancy.  My particular volume is inscribed  “Clayton Sidney Hall from Aunt Lizzie  - Jan. 21, 1923.”

I trust that Clayton enjoyed the book – that would have pleased Aunt Lizzie!

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