AS the towering volcano rumbled and roared, a prehistoric man shouted to his fellow cave-dwellers: "The gods are angry unless we make a human sacrifice to the fire mountain, we will all be destroyed!"
Another crisis had arrived as I sat by our parlor radio listening to Og, Son of Fire. I was 10 years old in 1934. That's when Og's caveman adventures became the newest weekday afternoon kid's program, airing three times a week on the CBS network.
The setting for the show was 100,000 years or so back in time. And although it's hard to imagine now, youngsters like me were captivated listening to people fighting dinosaurs on the radio.
Og, a young caveman, experienced daily perils with his close companions "Ru", and a cave girl, "Nad". "Gnu", an older friend, was the best hunter in the tribe.
Most of the adventures took place when Og and his friends left their rocky homes in search of food. Our caveman hero encountered dangers like vicious cave bears, woolly rhinoceroses, meat-eating gorillas, huge swooping "thunderbirds" and giant lizards called "The Stalking Death".
Fought Fierce Dinosaurs
I'll never forget a Friday-night episode that ended with Og holding a four-horned, armored monster at bay. I could hardly wait until Monday to find out what happened.
Much of the "realism" brought to the show can be credited to the sound effects people. The terrifying hiss of a giant green-eyed snake, the guttural roar of a saber-toothed tiger or the vicious "snap" of a bull crocodile's jaws snapping shut ... all helped me clearly "see" the action.
The mysterious locales were almost as exciting as the episodes themselves. There was The Valley of Fear, The Valley of the Mysterious Death, Mountain of the White-Haired Man and The Valley of the Mists, where steam oozed from holes in the Earth's crust.
Of course, Og and his tribe had to protect themselves from a lot more than just wild animals. Other nearby warlike tribes were a constant threat. Among their adversaries were the Tree People, led by the sinister "Scarface", and the cruel Flathead Band, led by "Long Tooth".
To my delight, the show's sponsor, Libby Foods, began offering program-related premiums, including several tiny metal figures of Og, Ru and Nad, plus a three-horned monster and a dinosaur. Later, there was an attractive full-color map perfect for following along with the action as we listened.
The radio program become so popular that retail stores began selling Og games, figures and puzzles. The show's success also prompted its creator, author Irving Crump, to write several books about Og's prehistoric adventures.
But it was the weekday radio show that remained my favorite way to travel back to an age long vanished and have it all become "real" again. Such was the magic of radio and Og, Son of Fire.