New Civilization News: Ernest Chappell's A Christmas Carol    
 Ernest Chappell's A Christmas Carol53 comments
picture22 Dec 2007 @ 13:11, by Richard Carlson

Four years ago I wrote an article about a radio production of Dickens' Christmas Carol that my father constructed in our hometown back in the 1940s. He had based his presentation on an RCA Victor set of 4 12" 78 RPM records of the story, produced by famed radio personality Ernest Chappell in 1941. Nothing I've ever written has yielded such a prolonged response. Google still carries it and eventually Wikipedia picked it up in its entry about Chappell.

Each year I get requests from people in at least the English-speaking world for CD copies of that old RCA release, which of course is long gone in its original form (although EBay sometimes offers one I understand). In my original essay, I offer to make a copy for anyone---and that offer still stands.

In honor of radio drama and all the actors who made a living in that unique format---and who had such a huge impact on my life---I've decided to re-post the article...and some of the comments that have appeared since. My main motivation is the interactions with those people who want a copy, and the stories they tell of how much this production meant to them and their families. Hopefully the search engines will be reinvigorated and other people will get some answers---and maybe provide more!

The image accompanying this version is of the cover of the original set of records. It was sent to me by a contact this year in Ontario. The photograph I refer to at the beginning of the essay can still be seen at the original printing here [link] .

Do not be an embodiment of fame; do not be a storehouse of schemes;
do not be an undertaker of projects; do not be a proprietor of wisdom.
Wander where there is no trail.
Hold on to all that you have received from Heaven but do not think you have gotten anything.
Be empty, that is all.
The Perfect Man uses his mind like a mirror---
going after nothing,
welcoming nothing,
responding but not storing.


One can not be certain of living
even into the evening.

In the dim first light
I watch the waves
from a departing boat.


The truth dazzles gradually, or else the world would be blind.

---Emily Dickinson

The Kodachrome we have here most probably is of Christmas 1952. That would make me 12 and in 6th grade in the picture. Color photography just was becoming available to the public---although most people still could not afford it for another 10 years. My sister Ann seems to be wondering whether or not she is too big to be held by our father like that. Our mother Rhea never liked having her picture taken---and yes, there still were quite a number of people like that 50 years ago. Nowadays, when the TV or computer camera could be transmitting our image somewhere at any moment, we've learned to walk around with a pose available at all times.

Our father was known as J. Ralph Carlson. Ralph was his middle name and the "J" stood for John; but as his father's name also was John, the family soon called him something else so that both father and son didn't respond when the name was called out. When Dad went into local theater and radio, the name had a nice ring to it when said together so he kept it all. Everyone called him J. Ralph. Last Christmas I wrote about how he used to play Santa Claus at the biggest on-air celebration of the holiday in our hometown of Jamestown, New York. (There's a picture of him---and more important of the Children---at the archived entry, entitled You're Santa Claus from December 21, 2002 [link] ) But there was another side to my father...and he found a way to celebrate that on Christmas too.

Beginning sometime in the late 1940s, Dad devised a one-man radio production of Dickens' A Christmas Carol. At first there may have been a handful of other actors, and of course the ever-present Hammond organ accompaniment of George Pfleeger in all his original work. But soon my father figured out a way to do it all, narrating and playing Scrooge---and in a format that took only around half an hour. By the time this picture was taken, an electric transcription (ET) had been made of the show which was played thereafter every year. Before that it was done live---and I have memories of watching these programs from a space reserved for me under the studio piano. In fact, one year I even was given a line to say---no, not Tiny Tim. I got to be the boy Scrooge calls to Christmas morning about the turkey hanging in the butcher's window. I got to shout, from under the piano, "It's hangin' there STILL!" And of course the bird got bought and delivered anonymously to Bob Cratchit's house.

The production was enlivened by other voices that had been recorded painstakingly by one of the 2 brilliant engineers we had working at WJTN. His name was Ray Frehm, and he'd try to do anything you asked him---a rare trait in a radio engineer. My father had discovered a production on 12" 78 RPM RCA Victor records, done by a cast headed by one Eustace Wyatt and a collection of the most familiar voices in radio drama of that day. These were dramatic actors, many of them hiding out from Hitler on these shores, and they graced the very best live programs on the radio then, chiefly detective shows and the biblical The Greatest Story Ever Told. Radio drama did not fool around, these people were contracted actors, and the images they created in imaginations of those who heard them have lasted a lifetime. This production of A Christmas Carol was like that, and my father loved it. I did too, and to this day it is my favorite acted version---bar none. I have no idea who Mr. Wyatt was, nor are the names of the other actors listed on the album---but anyone who heard radio in those days would recognize their voices...even now.

What my father got Ray to do was record, possibly first on wire recording (an almost impossible medium, because if it broke it was like a spring that flew into a snarling mess all over the studio) and later on tape, specific speeches which he lifted off the 78s. My father would signal or "throw a cue" from the studio to Ray to start and stop the tape for a flowing dialogue. By 1950 or so, I think, the stolen speeches had been honed to perfection and cut onto an ET for easier handling in the control room. Now my father and the station did not think they were stealing. After all, commercial records got played on the radio everyday, and this was a commercial release. Artists got paid, in a very circuitous fashion, by the stations and the networks. So, they didn't see they were doing anything wrong...although I never heard them identify the 78 album---which wasn't available anymore anyway. For years, I listened to the 78s all the time---and still probably can recite most of it from memory. But eventually I broke one or 2 of them and the set was ruined. RCA reissued it on LP on its bargain Camden label in the late '50s, and miraculously I found a copy in a used record shop for a dollar. I was in heaven---and I still have it, as well as the ET of my father's production.

Mr. Wyatt's Scrooge was heartchilling, as was my father's and all the truly great ones. There is no sign of redemption in the character. He barks at a caroler at the office door. He threatens Cratchit for a lump of coal. He throws his nephew out, who simply wanted to invite him to dinner. He taunts the charity guys by urging death upon those who would rather die than go to debtors prison. "If they'd rather die they'd better do it...and decrease the surplus population." He even scorns the Spirit of his dead business partner, when Jacob Marley appears to him. Scrooge keeps it dark in his haunted old house: "Darkness was cheap, and Scrooge liked it."

The challenge for all actors who attempt creation of this role is the graveyard scene when Scrooge begs for mercy. I thought my father's delivery became too shrill---but he was soaked with sweat when he finished each year. George C. Scott's choice was to underplay it...and weep out the words, "Spare me," at the end. It's not a bad choice I think---but any way it's a huge challenge to pull it off. I like Albert Finney's realization because, besides his breathtaking acting, the musical approach becomes so joyous at the end. But enough of all this. If you have favorites to speak for, please do so in a comment---and we'll talk it over.

"Nephew, you keep Christmas in your own way...and I'll keep it in mine."
"But Uncle, you don't 'keep' it."
"Let me leave it alone then!"

My father became known for both his Santa and his Scrooge around our town---and so Christmas each year absolutely sparkled beyond belief! I do the best I can to carry on the traditions we grew up with in the 1940s and '50s at home. J. Ralph had a daily radio program of common sense inspiration, which he called The Radio Scrapbook. George accompanied in flawless improvisation at the electric organ. It probably was pretty corny, but the town and especially my mother loved it---and listened everyday. He honored Tiny Tim and Dickens in each show with his closing salutation---which now I will leave with you. "God bless us...every one."

~~~~~~~~~ Comments ~~~~~~~~~

Zepp: Beautifully written, a warm and very human piece! Thanks for sharing!
(Posted on 12-23-03 at 11:26 am)

jstarrs: Ah, Jazz, this is pure poetry...
I love your personal, historic essays...thanks.
(Posted on 12-23-03 at 4:46 pm)

swan: I can't agree more, this is what I have missed about your newslog, the personal essays. This is a gem.
I remember our first television. It was so small that we had to all sit under a sheet so it was dark enough to see the screen. I think that was the closest we have got as a family.
My favorite Christmas memory is of going to my grandmother's house on Christmas day. All the relatives were there and we would pack around the dining room table like sardines. My uncle Bill would alway drop an olive in my milk at dinner, it was some kind of "Christmas Tradition". The tree was my favorite tree of all time. There were beautiful old ornaments from many Christmas' hanging among the twinkling bubble candles and tinsel. Under the tree was a Christmas scene, with a manger and houses and a skating rink made from a mirror with snow sprinkled on it. I could lay under the tree for hours watching that scene as though it were real. I still have the manger and a few of my grandmothers ornaments and that memory of Christmas is still alive in me today.
Merry Christmas Richard.
(Posted on 12-23-03 at 5:34 pm)

spiritseek: Merry Christmas Richard...
your memories brought back some of mine, so heartwarming to remember some of the family who are gone now. Grandma's was the best place for the holidays, lots of food,presents and a family gathering that allowed us to visit with the rest of the relatives we didn't get to see all year. The presents were few but the memories are huge. Love to you!
(Posted on 12-24-03 at 4:49 am)

RP: Thanks for this lovley insight into your roots and for the opportunity it brings to explore common ground. I had no idea you were offspring of an eminent radio personality! I remember well our hometown station, WJTN, George Pfleeger, Jack Dunnigan, the Radio Scrapbook, and expecially the Swedish Hour. It was on Sunday afternoons, and I would often be out in the barn helping my dad with chores or working in the shop. We wern't allowed to know or use any language other than english, but that Swedish fiddling and the vocal harmonies penetrated me right to the core. It seemed that the Swedish hour was always too short, and I'm sure my affection for folk music started there.
Jack Dunnigan with his " window at the end of the lane" somehow generated a curosity and reverence for the magic of radio which is still a part of who I am. We usually had the old floor console radios in the barn, and when they quit it was often a bad tube and I started learning electronics keeping them running. The humid atmosphere would kill any radio eventually, so it would be replaced & I would take the dead one apart to try & find the magic. I ended up with boxes of parts and started trying to put them togather in new combinations with my own magic. Early attempts were weak and feeble "crystal" sets and (surprise) I couldn't get anything but WJTN with it's massive 500 watts a couple of miles away. I got older, the sets got more sophisticated the antennas got longer ( and longer and longer), and I moved up to shortwave bands where I could tour the entire world in bed pretending to be asleep and listening on headphones! Preu, Ecudor, Cuba, Germany, It seemed as if I could find any country if I listened long enough. The magic on the internet just isn't the same as hearing voices and music of people from anywhere in the world all at the beck & call of mother nature and the way the atmosphere feels right now.
Well, it's almost 2004. WJTN now has a late afternoon feature every day with a guy who is way to the right of Rush. Radio doesn't play the same role in our lives that it use to, and we are tho poorer for it. If we are given an open forum where we can present the best our cultures have to offer in creativity and in beauty surely love and respect will be able to fill the void where selfishness and hatred flows. All the best to you and yours this holiday season! With gratitude and respect for who we were, and joyful anticipation of who we can become...
Merry Christmas!
Well RP leaves enough material here for me to add a whole new entry of footnotes. First of all, he's a brilliant guy who, with his equally brilliant and rather more beautiful wife, lives way out in the sticks around our home stomping ground in New York. Our mutual friend Indira, currently from LA, had been staying with them for a few days, and so I thought especially to send RP and Sally a copy of these memories. Hopefully all of us might get together for New Year's Eve. What do you say, RP?
Jack Dunnigan (there may have been only 1 "n" in that name) was a C&W singer and player, who'd been to Nashville, gained a little fame and a wife, and come back to town. He had his own show everyday on WJTN for years when he just played records, but during the period about which RP and I are chatting he and Gertrude performed live all the time. I'm surprised you didn't mention Gertrude, RP...unless you never got to hear Little Lena. Jack 'n Gert had an imaginary little girl, who appeared with them on the radio. She was a cross between Charlie McCarthy and Baby Snooks, but with a Tennessee twang, who got into and made trouble and kept everyone laughing on the show. The first time I watched Gertrude create Little Lena, from my viewing spot under the piano, I couldn't believe my eyes! That's what radio did to you. As a kid I thought there really was a little girl somewhere, who'd show up!
As for the Swedish Hour, I didn't share your love for that music of our ancestral heritage until just recently. I don't know if you've heard any of the groups recording out of Sweden these days, but they are simply staggering! But back then, all the HOUP-la polkas and stuff embarrassed me, and it was years before I even could listen to an accordian. (West Coast jazz is just about the opposite from Swedish folk tunes. Except for Stan Getz.) The host of that Swedish Hour way back was named Inge Kilberger, who also was some kind of local diplomat sent to Jamestown from Sweden itself. Jamestown had so many Swedes in it that it merited an official ambassador. However, the city had an equal population of Italians. Sicilians particularly came to Jamestown in great numbers, but the ambassadors they sent were rumored to be of a rather less official sort. Swedes and Italians have absolutely nothing in common---except the meatball...and even they are so different in size and texture that a war easily could have started over the recipes. We also shared skills in furniture-making though, and that is how the two nationalities worked side-by-side in the many furniture factories that used to be there. My friends and I were 3rd generation and so we didn't care so much about the rivalry---although we each got a smattering of education about both cultures. I remember some wonderful Christmas Eve celebrations among Roman Catholic friends and families.
Well, here I have gone and written a couple more Log entries in complement with RP's comment. Thank you, friend, for stopping by...and also for reminding us of the big old tube-driven radio consoles that were so like temples in the living rooms---and the barns apparently (yes, dairy farmers used to tell my dad all the time that the cows enjoyed his show and gave especially good milk then) of our youth. I used to love standing in BACK of ours, and looking at those glowing tubes---like some fantasy city from Flash Gordon. How sad I was when there no longer were any shops where I could take a bagful of tubes to test and replace, if need be! There's no romance WHATEVER in a transistor.
Thanks again for stirring me up, RP. And now I'd better get another Swedish transfusion (that's a cup of coffee to you outsiders). ;-)
(Posted on 12-24-03 at 3:54 pm)

Grange Rutan: Remembrance Because....
Tis more than a moment I spent with yea as I rode the magic carpet to that point in time when you were someone's child and...believed in the true spirit of Christmas, created by Big Daddy. The picture is caught in a freeze-frame and the gift of time stays, and keeps you, ever young. Thanks for the memories shared and I truly felt a bit of the old fear which stays waiting to jump out at me even at this young age.
You gave me a smile. Each day you stir up the emotional pot when I least expect it. Dannn-ah, you must be a powerful ingredient which keeps R. C. mentally going 90 miles an hour while the rest of the world is fast asleep. I am sure Santa is putting some extra thought in what he will leave at your house.
Greetings from New Jersey and thanks! Happy Holiday.
Grange and Rolf
Grange has finished a book about her deceased husband, jazz pianist Al Haig, and we currently are looking around at publishers. Anyone interested?
---R. C.
(Posted on 12-25-03 at 7:49 am)

sparkle: May 2004 bring you all the light you need to flow in life waves, a toast to you and all your loved ones A bright and happy New Year *cheers*
(Posted on 12-26-03 at 11:35 am)

jazzolog: The CD of a 1938 broadcast by Campbell Playhouse finally arrived, thanks to the diligence of my new friend, Terry Salomonson at What took so long? Well...I don't know about you, but I am finding the postal service, here and/or abroad, has taken to losing at least my packages, coming and going, at a completely alarming rate. (Or is it Homeland Security?) A Christmas gift to Sparkle disappeared too---and packages overseas (or even to Canada) get really expensive! She does admit the postal dudes in Trinidad can be rascals, so I've asked her to listen when she drops by her branch office for any boogieing in the back room to the tunes I sent. Anyway, Terry had to make up a new shipment...and it arrived over the weekend. I went for A Christmas Carol at once. [link]
The script does seem to be the basis of the later production mentioned in my essay. There are significant variations but essentially it's there, and I'd guess Chappell used it. However, I was surprised that Welles plays Scrooge rather than Wyatt, who is limited only to an appearance as Christmas Present. My ears tell me Orson also is narrating, rather than Ray Collins. Probably Collins has a part, but I haven't detected what it is yet. Joe Cotton plays Fred, Scrooge's nephew. There are others in the cast who also may have appeared in the later commercial recording, but I'm not sure. I've sent a copy of the CD I made of it to Terry, and we'll see what he comes up with. Overall, it's not a bad show, but Welles is rather bombastic and his Scrooge still doesn't edge out what Eustace Wyatt created.
Orson Welles was a tremendous influence on my father. His film career was so amazing and classic that we tend to forget how dominant Welles was on radio before attempting the leap to Hollywood. I would guess that Dad heard this 1938 Campbell Playhouse, in which we have the Narrator also playing Scrooge. Possibly when Chappell's production came out on records, a chord in memory was struck and my father put them together into his own annual performance. If he was commemorating the Campbell yearly production (with a different script each year incidentally) he never mentioned it to me or on the air. But my father was like that. He had a secretive side to his ego, and often concealed sources and influences upon him. He made no secret of what he liked though, and I treasure his influence upon me---and I make sure my children know of it. I believe it is important for fathers to pass their sweet teachings onto their sons and daughters, rather than make a mystery of everything. You see, this is why you find me poking through all this a radio detective in search of clues for an elusive papa.
(Posted on 01-27-04 at 5:33 am)

jazzolog: How time flies, as coincidentally my last comment here was 2 Mozart birthdays ago. (Yesterday was #250 though!) Anyway in the meantime I was surprised a couple months ago by a message at this entry's appearance over at New Civilization Network by Sam Walker from Arizona. He apparently was Googling around looking for the Chappell version of A Christmas Carol, because like me he had grown up with the 12" 78s---so easily cracked and broken back in that day. I was delighted to send him a copy of the production I had turned into a CD. (Anyone else want one, just let me know.) Yesterday comes a large envelope from Sam containing his thanks...AND a photocopy of the original cover and liner notes by Chappell. I was incredibly surprised and grateful.
He lamented there's no date anywhere. I had decided the performance must have been from the mid to late '40s, because Wyatt was in Hollywood making some very interesting movies from 1942 until 1944 [link] . But this morning I found it at last at a remarkable website~~~
[November 16, 1941 - Washington Post record review headlined "Dickens 'Christmas Carol' Tops Children's Yuletide Albums" by Jay Walz]
We turn for a minute to the Children's Corner where a large variety of things are being piled up, possibly for the help of Santa Claus. For example, Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" is done up in an attractive four-disc Victor album which means you can have the famous Yuletide without reading it. Ernest Chappell who has been associated with the annual radio broadcast of the carol for several years, adapted and produced the piece for the records. He also narrates it with the help of a score of actors and musicians. It is all done with the utmost sympathy for the Christmas spirit, with the appropriate exception of the part of Scrooge who is played most villainously by Eustace Wyatt, Lew White supplements traditional Christmas tunes with original music, and plays it all on the organ. The album, G-29, is listed at $3.50.
And so we are looking at 1941, which explains the extra fragility of the records given the needs for the materials of the ingredients for the war effort. It also brings us closer to the Campbell Playhouse annual radio productions, upon which the script seems to closely based.
The most delightful aspect of the liner notes is the listing of the entire cast...including the sound man! Bob Cratchitt was played by John McGovern, no less, who was only 29 at the time. I wish there were a picture of him here for you [link] , if you don't place the name, because you'd recognize him at once. John Gibson (NOT the rightwinger on FOXNews) played Marley, Belle's husband, and was a network radio actor in a number of minor series, like "Casey, Crime Photographer." Richard Gordon is Christmas Past, who I still believe was the doorkeeper at Inner Sanctum, where the organist here, Lew White, also provided eery and brilliant music. Shirling Oliver is listed as Christmas Present, although I thought it was Bud Collyer who also plays Fred. (Collyer is spelled "Collier" here.) Craig McDonnell, an incredibly versatile radio actor, played The Solicitor---and I think was Peter each week on The Greatest Story Ever Told. Helen Brown is a wondrous Mrs. Cratchitt, while Larry Robinson was Tiny Tim. (We used to hear him on Let's Pretend.)
Evelyn Devine was Martha, and "Master Dickie VanPatten" was Peter. OK, everybody knows Dick Van Patten [link] ---even if only as the maker of your favorite dog food [link] ! Lesley Woods, playing both Belle and Belinda Cratchitt, was as typically versatile a radio actor as the rest of this amazing cast---although I fell in love with most each week when she was Margo Lane to Brett Morrison's Shadow. A favorite interval for me in this version is when the 2 pompous businessmen meet in the street to discuss Scrooge's funeral. They were played by Alfred Shirley, who is best remembered as Dr. Watson in the later Sherlock Holmes series, and Burford Hampden, who I think played Mr. Keen (Tracer of Lost Persons) later on. The boy who runs to get the turkey was James Donnolly.
Trying to find these radio actors online only demonstrates to me how much research still could be done, if for no other reason than to pay tribute. Goodness knows, not all the old radio shows hold up to contemporary dramatic and comedic scrutiny. But here we have an essentially radio production that's 65 years old this year...and Sam and I clearly both still are torn up by it!
(Posted on 01-28-06 at 7:54 am)

jazzolog: Apparently this article now is linked from Wikipedia in some way or other...maybe regarding Ernest Chappell. At any rate I still get inquiries about it, particularly my burn of the old RCA Camden reissue of the original Chappell production. (I'm told EBay is another place to look for a recording.) This year I got 2 requests for copies, which I'm happy to send out to anyone who asks. One guy is in Dayton and the other seems to be an actor in New York. Craig Wichman knows his radio people and so gave me some additions and corrections to all this~~~
Dear Richard-
Got the CD, the graphics, and your essay - thanks!
I look forward to listening...
A few responses below; forgive me if they're outdated!
Happy Holidays,
"Richard Gordon is Christmas Past, who I still believe was the doorkeeper at Inner Sanctum"
That was Raymond Edward Johnson, and then Paul Mcgrath. Ray, though having had progressive dystrophy since his golden age career, attended Friends of Old Time Radio in a gurney! A very sweet man of faith.
Gordon played Holmes (in an imitation of William Gillette that doesn't work for me) on American radio before Rathbone
"although I thought it was Bud Collyer who also plays Fred. (Collyer is spelled "Collier" here.)"
That's Superman himself!
"Larry Robinson was Tiny Tim. (We used to hear him on Let's Pretend.)"
Yep. RIP.
Also, worked with Norman Corwin; THE GOLDBERGS, many soaps, etc.
"Evelyn Devine was Martha, and 'Master Dickie VanPatten' was Peter. OK, everybody knows Dick Van Patten"
Last year, he was the King in CINDERELLA at New York City Opera, where my wife's in the chorus.
"Lesley Woods, playing both Belle and Belinda Cratchitt, was as typically versatile a radio actor"
She did lots of TV, starting in the 50's.
"although I fell in love with most each week when she was Margo Lane to Brett Morrison's Shadow"
Not to get repetitive, but another, Margot Stevenson, did a few lines in a recreation at FOTR last year (and her daughter was Cinderella to my Prince Charming, in the LET'S PRETEND recreation that I spoke of earlier.)
DID Wyatt (he was indeed British) do Scrooge on Campbell's in '37? I thought Lionel B. was firmly established by that time (he started in '34 or '35.)
As mentioned before, Orson subbed for him in '38 (Eustace was in that cast.) Lionel's brother John pitch hit for him once, too; no recording known to exist.
Keep Christmas well,
Craig, I don't believe Eustace Wyatt ever played Scrooge for Welles. I'll research further and continue this comment if I find something.
Craig Wichman studied with Stella Adler, through New York University, and has since worked in all media – from corporate video (for clients such as Kraft Foods and Chase), to Off-Broadway (Fronte-Page's Julius Caesar); most recently, as "Lucifer" in the Boulevard West film, The Devil You Know. New York theater: The Lark ("Warwick" - Horace Mann Theater); The Beggar's Opera ("Macheath" - Florilegium Chamber Choir) Anne Fleming's award-winning The Little Canoe ("Nicholas" - created role); Browning's Fra Lippo Lippi (Player's Club). Regional theater: Twelve Angry Men ("Juror #8" - Act II Prods.); Showboat ("Steve" - Renaissance Players); Tecumseh! ("Lt. Ross"). Television: One Life to Live, All My Children, Law & Order, Kojak. Founding actor/writer/producer of the nationally syndicated Quicksilver Radio Theater, he has performed with them the roles of "Ebenezer Scrooge," "Antonio" (The Merchant of Venice); "Frankenstein's Monster," "Sherlock Holmes," and Abraham Lincoln.
(Posted on 11-29-06 at 12:23 pm)

Jen: Im' looking for the old Victor 78's of a Christmas Carol. It sounds as though you may know how I can obtain them. My father listened to it every year when he was a little boy. He passed away two years ago and I've been trying to find it for my brother and sister.
I listen to my father's old ones, but when he was a child one of the records got ruined with a soda being spilled on it. ANy help you could give me with this, I would be forever greatful.
Thank you and Merry Christmas,
(Posted on 12-25-06 at 4:17 am)

jazzolog: Good morning Jenny, and Merry Christmas! Let's see, how should we do this? Sometimes these comments don't provide a hyperlink to email. Scroll up to one of my comments that is linked and email me. If that doesn't work for you, go to the Guestbook and leave me a private message with your email addy on it.
(Posted on 12-25-06 at 7:32 am)

jazzolog: Looking in this year, as a Guestbook comment has appeared with a request for a copy. I don't believe Jenny ever got back to me from last year. If you're still out there, let me hear from you.
(Posted on 12-14-07 at 12:38 pm)

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10 Aug 2008 @ 16:46 by Cassie Greene @ : A Christmas Carol By Ernest Chappell
We do Estate Liquidations and found a copy of the above "A Christmas Carol" by Dickens by Ernest Chappell "Adapted produced and narrated" (Victor Records) It is in MINT condition. Please let me know if anyone you know is interested in it.

11 Aug 2008 @ 08:14 by jazzolog : Those Delicate 78s
I'm presuming Cassie Greene has uncovered the original set pictured above and mentioned a few times in the repost. It's hard to imagine a mint copy, because 1941 required the products normally involved in records manufacture to go into the war effort. As a result these particular 12" 78s could break or crack if you so much as accidentally knocked one on the spindle, and they wore out quickly from repeated plays by the heavy tonearm---and funky stylus. Columbia began strengthening their 78s with a slim piece of cardboard in the middle between side A and B, but RCA never went for that. I don't know personally of any collectors looking for the original, and the lady who was vanished into cyberspace. A new transfer by somebody professionally would be a great idea off these 78s. The sound would be greatly improved. I do know of one guy who might do it, and I'll see if I can find his email address.

PS Cassie's email link doesn't work for some reason. If you wish to contact her, try .  

5 Mar 2009 @ 23:00 by Kristie @ : Found ...
I just found a copy of this in things of my grandmother's that I was going through. It didn't have a year or anything on it and I'm so glad I came across your information for a bit of background on it. Thank you.  

4 Nov 2009 @ 21:00 by CHERI NIXON @ : Ernest Chappells A Christmas Carol
I work at the Comal County Senior Citizen Center in New Braunfels Tx. The 4 record albumn turned up in our Thrift Store--I was asked to look it up--not an easy job. So glad to find info. on it. Do you know the value of this album?
Thank you.  

5 Nov 2009 @ 10:21 by jazzolog : It's That Time Of Year
when the world falls in love. Heh, the new US Post Office CD of Christmas tunes got me listening to Sinatra just yesterday.

Of course the value of the album depends on the condition, not only of the 78s but of the cover too. Records made in the years around World War II tended to have pretty cheap composition...and of course the tone arms and needles used to produce the sound were heavy jobs. Naturally too the value of any recording really depends on finding someone who wants to buy it. Most of us who might want it for nostalgia are dying I guess you'd better go to EBay.

Thanks for you compliment about the research that's here, Cheri. It wasn't easy to find this info---but once somebody has heard this version, one is devoted forever! Peace.  

16 Nov 2009 @ 10:41 by swanny @ : Ho Jazz
Ho Jazz
good to see you
and seasons greetings


17 Nov 2009 @ 10:58 by jazzolog : Always Good To Hear From Swanny...But
I guess in the last several months, Swanny's abandoned membership here. Active, concerned, respectful...and missed. Oh well Swanny, enjoy these holidays and keep in touch!  

3 Dec 2009 @ 23:54 by cari @ : Ernest Chappell's A Christmas Carol
I have obtained a copy of this 4 albumn set. It is in very good condition, except 1 of the records has a crack. If anyone is interested in this, they can contact me. It won't last long at my house. I am hoping it might have some sentimental value to someone, not like today's society of disposable, and meaningless everything!!  

16 Dec 2009 @ 20:51 by Mike @ : Ernest Chappell's A Christmas Carol
Do you have a way to download a copy of this? I remember listening to it over and over when I was a child, loading up the turntable with the platters and having them drop and then turning them over to get the second sides. My mother has lost them somewhere in here moves and I'd love to listen again.  

17 Dec 2009 @ 04:26 by richard @ : scrooge
HI Richard.....My mom owns a copy of the very same record,but has no 78 record player! I wonder if I could get a CD copy(am willing to purchase if necessary)? THanks in advance and Merry Christmas  

18 Dec 2009 @ 12:09 by jazzolog : Mike & richard
I need mailing addresses for you guys. I'll be glad to send you CDs of the production. Contact me at  

27 Dec 2009 @ 23:47 by Earl @ : I need Cari's contact information
Hi, All:

I HAVE my grandfather's set of this production -- the very ones we used to listen to every Christmas in the '50s. The only problem is that the first of the four records is missing.

Cari, I would happily send you money for shipping, plus donate to your favorite charity, or even PAY you for your records, if the first of the four is intact.

I tried writing direct, but that's apparently not an e-mail address, or I'm too klutzy to make it work. Please contact me at if I can get the record to make my set complete. I want to share this with the newest generation of grandchildren.

Thanks so much,

Earl Aagaard  

31 Dec 2009 @ 12:58 by jazzolog : cari & Earl
cari's IP information indicates at least her computer lives around Canyon Lake, Texas...but unless she happens to glance back in here, there's not much I'm willing to do to find her contact information for you, Earl. However, I remember the breaking of all the sides of our family collection, and in those days it was terribly easy to do. You might consider that problem when buying a set with the record you want possibly already cracked.

As you can see there are others who have written in with a set to sell...and I understand EBay has some too. The copy I used to make the CD currently winging its way to you was from a 12" Camden LP, which must have been issued in the late '50s. You might look for that...although Camden was the cheap reissue and new artist subsidiary for Victor and the quality was pretty wretched. Happy New Year!  

3 Dec 2010 @ 10:50 by Rebecca Nagy @ : original for sale
I have an original "A Christmas Carol" by Ernest Chappell (Victor Records) for sale. It is in pretty good condition with all albums in good condition. Would you know of anyone interest in the purchase of this collectible?
Your response is appreciated.
Rebecca Nagy  

8 Dec 2010 @ 20:22 by jazzolog : Dear Rebecca
I've had questions like this before, but they're really out of my domain. I get requests from people who still have the album, but no 78 rpm player. The difficulty you have in mentioning it here is we have to way to contact you.  

22 Dec 2010 @ 02:37 by Dave Shaw @ : BUY Christmas Carol 78 rpm
I see a number of these for sale. I am interested. CALL 216-707-2178  

26 Aug 2011 @ 08:27 by Corky S. @ : Ernest Chappell's "A Christmas Carol"
I recently unearthed (literally) a copy of "A Christmas Carol" on the Camden LP (CAL-137). After cleaning it up enough to be barely playable, I've fallen in love with the performances, enough so as to request a CD copy from you, please. Not only are the performances remarkable, but the editing job that must have been done is spectacular considering the equipment of the time. Thanks, because were it not for your article, I'd never have known what I have. -- Corky  

27 Oct 2011 @ 17:00 by bob photo @ : "A Christmas Carol" Victor Record Set
I have a copy of this on Ebay at the moment for 10 very nice condition...thanks  

27 Oct 2011 @ 20:47 by jazzolog : Time Takes Its Toll
Dear Friends,
The time has come for me to retract my offer to send out free CDs of this performance. Hopefully enough interest has been aroused that copies will be come available through other channels.
Best wishes all...and
as Tiny Tim observed,
"God bless us, every one."  

20 Nov 2011 @ 05:26 by glenp217 @ : A Christmas Carol Ernest Chappell
Hi, I just listed this on Ebay tonight! Thanks for such a inspiring illustration. I almost kept it since its in beautiful shape except for a sticker taped on the cover. I dont have a 78 playing machine and have enough problems with my ever growing like 4,000 lp collection lol Glen  

28 Nov 2011 @ 16:48 by jazzolog : Empathy
I understand the problem: I have a roomful of LPs plus 78s too. Best wishes for the holidays.  

27 Jan 2012 @ 01:35 by jim @ : A Christmas Carol
I have the 4 record collection in very,very good condition which was found in my father-in-laws attic of a very old home. I would be happy to give this to you as a gift, free of charge. I am in Chicagoland and you seem to be in Jamestown, New York but I may be attending an RV rally in Canton,Ohio in May of 2012 and that is about 130 miles to you. I can drive the extra miles to you knowing that you would appreciate this offer, what do you say?  

23 Feb 2012 @ 00:16 by jim @ : A Christmas Carol
Are you still there?  

28 Feb 2012 @ 16:38 by jazzolog : @jim
You are most kind with your offer. I'll suggest you offer the album on Ebay or even through Amazon. There are people who will pay you for the item. Folks have sent me CDs they've made of the 78s, with all kinds of digital improvements and things. I still do have 78s, but I tend to sell or give them away now when a CD shows up with the performances on it. It's astonishing what's on CD now, but as far as I know the Chappell production remains elusive. Enjoy Canton in May, and of course swing down to Southeastern Ohio if you're in the mood.  

9 Sep 2012 @ 01:26 by Duane Kucera @ : a christmas carol
at age 8 I got an album of a christmas on rca camden. It was broken and because of the mamouth music mart a few years ago I found another copy of it. looking for scratches and skips. I recorded it to cd with a minimum of scratches.  

15 Sep 2012 @ 13:16 by jazzolog : Excellent
That Camden is what I found too, also in a bin. It remains a brilliant performance, even after 70 years.  

8 Dec 2012 @ 23:28 by CCR INTERNATIONAL @ : A CHRISTMAS CAROL Ernest Chappell CD
We have a CD restoration if interested. The restoration was done with the iZotope RX / Cedar system software. By far the best we have heard  

20 Dec 2012 @ 03:09 by Jerry @ : A Christmas Carol
Hi. I'm looking for that CD of A Christmas Carol if I might copy or purchase it, or clean copies, preferably unabridged, of the "great voices". I'm another re-awakening old fan of Chappell's 4 platters. It was played many times in our home. Wherevera part was missing due to a damaged plate, we had Father doing his very best "Scrooge", Ghost, Tiny Tim and Bob. Dad was adamant that the old green Victor album was the Only real rendition of A Christmas Carol, and that all the others were cheap imitations recorded by poor specimens of the acting world, all of inferior quality and probably of contagious low moral character. All that was heard in our house was the Real Chappell/Wyatt complete with scratches, chips, and cracks, and even one very careful glue joint of marginal effect. When even those efforts met their inevitable end, we had Father putting heart and soul into each of the characters. He would always say that "Here ... let me whisper..." was absolute genius, as it left the actual sum of Scrooge's charitable donation wide open to mankind's limitless imagination, whatever their station in life.

This play, this one recording, colored so much of our lives that were to come later.

So now, I wish to assemble a small collection of the voices of this much loved play. I certainly would welcome your suggestions.

Mister Carlson, I have encountered a few wire recordings and can relate to the comment that it is "an impossible medium"!

God Bless Us, Every One!

Jerry Arvin

(Christmas Carol in the topic line, please!)  

24 Dec 2012 @ 04:30 by bowen broock @ : A Christmas Carol
I'd welcome a quality disk re-record of this unchallenged classic. I found a disc on the internet a couple
of years ago, complete with a 4-color re-print of the original 78rpm jacket! Unfortunately, the final product came out "off pitch"; that is, just a little fast. I'm picky, I'll admit, but I can recite the entire eight
sides of the album from memory and the authentic pitch of the various voices is deeply imbedded.
I hope that this newer product retains the original (78) pitch.
Merry Christmas to all, and "God bless us, everyone".
Bo Broock  

24 Dec 2012 @ 16:20 by Adam Schoales @ : Recording of eustace Wyatt production
This production was my late grandfathers favorite. In the years prior to his passing he made me a cassette recording which sadly I've lost.

This Christmas my father and I attempted to transfer his vinyl set, but sadly all our 78rpm machines had bit the dust.

If anyone could send me a high quality transfer of this if be forever grateful.

adamschoales at gmail dot com  

24 Aug 2013 @ 13:34 by jazzolog : Christmas Carol Requests
I used to make copies and send them out for free, but it has become something of a burden of late. I'll see if I can find time, thank you, and best wishes.  

26 Aug 2013 @ 02:02 by John D. Whitfield @ : A Christmas Carol
Dear jazoLOG,
I was born in 1941. I cannot remember a Christmas without playing the 4 78 RPM records of A Christmas Carol. I have loved them for years and would like to allow my Grandchildren to enjoy them also. My 4th record has a break which extends from the outer edge to the center hole. It still plays but not too well. It was amazing to see the cover picture again in this posting.

I would be more than willing to compensate you for your time if that would work for you. Please just let me know what the cost would be. I would dearly love to have a copy which I could play more readily and to not have the bad crack in the last two sides.

Thanks for you postings. It was great to see interest in these old recordings once again.

God Bless you and your family,

John D. Whitfield.  

30 Nov 2014 @ 01:32 by Stephen Canneto @ : Track Names
Could you please send me a list of the 8 sides of the album? I only have 2 records of the 4.

Thank you  

31 Dec 2014 @ 17:32 by jazzolog : Which 2 Do You Have

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