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"1941 Slam Poetry"
Fred Friendly at Quonset

Produced by Jay Allison

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  • Read excerpts of Fred Friendly's letter to David Gullette.
  • Read the transcribed text of Fred Friendly's speech at Quonset.

    Quonset Point Naval Air Station, 1941. The base was disestablished in 1974.
    Courtesy Library of Congress.
    Fred Friendly delivers what David Gullette of Newton, Massachusetts calls 1941 slam poetry. And poetry it is. The way Friendly turns a phrase - strong and with a punch - out of his mouth, through the air, over the radio.

    He draws in his listeners and paints a picture of how Americans contributed to building the Quonset Naval Air Station at Quonset Point, Rhode Island. It was a time when the country was on the verge of entering World War II, and Friendly's spontaneous remarks on a local Providence radio station communicate his pride in a powerful nation.

    At the time, the future famous broadcaster was 25-years-old. NPR listener Gullette found the 78 r.p.m. record of Friendly's speech at a flea market, and called it in to our Quest for Sound. He also sent a copy to Friendly, before he died in March 1998, who replied with a letter of thanks.

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    Copyright 1999 The Kitchen Sisters