Yes, R Kadin, you got there before me. As I caught up, at last, to "Treasure Island," and scrolled through the various comments, my own conclusions about a landlocked, motherless boy came to mind. I might only add that, though he may have been landlocked, in those days long before the St. Lawrence Seaway, he was still not far from water. A look at the map will show you that Kenosha, Wisconsin, is on Lake Michigan, forty miles from the sophistication of Chicago, to which Beatrice Welles was drawn, and perhaps seventy-five from Dubuque, Iowa, on "The Big Two-Hearted River," the Mississippi which figures so large in Twain's Huckleberry Finn, the subject of a later Campbell Playhouse production.
These bodies are, to be sure, far from " deep water," real sea water: the Sea.
Your remarks, mteal, about Moby Dick reminded me of the above, and of the opening of Huston's movie adaptation of that whale of a novel, where Ishmael speaks of all the freshets, creeks, streams and rivers running down to the sea, in which "we find ourselves."
It may be, too, that Welles, so interested in storytelling, and adapting stories and novels (rather than conventional plays) as he was, had learned one of the few great secrets of novel writing and tale-telling: A journey, especially one on water, over the millennia, has been nigh irresistible.
You might add to your Welles' Movie List, mteal, JOURNEY INTO FEAR and its voyage across the Bosphorus, from safety into danger and out again; or THE LADY FROM SHANGHAI, in which the cruise of the "Circe" through "The Panama" (actually on the "Zaca" of Errol Flynn, off Acapulco!!) takes Mike from romantic innocence into brutal corruption, as Welles must have decided his coming by way of New York to Hollywood had robbed him of freedom and discipline in the East for a luxurious decadence on the far West Coast.
A balance was needed, which he never found again.
We might addend one other program to Welles' Robert Louis Steveson work for Radio, a production he did of "The Master of Ballantree" (coincidentally, a Flynn movie vehicle) on Suspense.
Later, the Oceans of the World figure in a Horizons Unlimited radio production he narrated about a B-17 which was forced to fly around the World after Pearl Harbor.
And much later still, he is credited by some sources with not only speaking but writing the narrations for THE VIKINGS (Fleischer, 1958) and CINERAMA SOUTH SEA ADVENTURE (various director, 1958). In the latter example, he shared the narration duties not only with Don the Beachcomber but that other Radio master of voices: Ted DeCorsia.
And I liked, Jeff, your criticism of the show that the denouement of "Treasure Island" was too swift. This failing was a growing problem for later shows. Adapting a narrative of several hundred pages on short notice, often from scratch, in the time constraints of an hour, must have been formidable. If one listens to the rehearsals that are available for several productions, it is clear that the rough script of a short novel like Chesterton's "The Man Who Was Thursday" ran to an hour-and-a-half in recorded time. Years afterward, trying to reduce Moby Dick to a half-hour (I've never heard it) must have been impossible.
In fact, for a couple of other Welles' favorites, "The Count of Monte Cristo" and "Around the World in Eighty Days," he confessed the problems, on the air. But then, there is the famous original Welles private-eye tale, crafted along the lines of The Thin Man, in which they announced the cast in the middle of the show so they could have more time to work on fleshing out the ending.
And the charm of his remarks about the cast must have been a device to fulfill a potential need to "stretch" the material if, there was not enough of it. In practice, Welles' radio shows appeared to generally have too much content, and I suspect that he sometimes was reluctant to sacrifice his precious words of praise for the cast -- to the detriment of the show. This practice was also, I think, in part, an interest he had in humanizing Radio, The Theater, actors in general, and Mercury Actors, in particular, to "the greater American Audience," an idea which the Lux Radio Theater exploited to a much greater extent, on behalf of the Hollywood Studios, for decades. What a cruel trap he must have found, that in the latter stages of his career when he was mocked about his personal habits in remarks about his weight and his making of wine commercials!
[As I write, I'm listening with one ear to Michael Moore asking some cogent questions for Americans on IFC; attempts are being made to marginalize him, in a not dissimilar way.]
But in the 1930's and 1940's, Welles always seemed marvelously relaxed, when he broke "the fourth wall" of Radio and took us into the Mercury or Campbell Playhouse Green Rooms.
Finally, as to "Treasure Island" itself, I don't have a memory of the radio play, at the time, perhaps because my father had told me the story when I was little. He also had given me the novel for my birthday -- I don't remember which now, but it must have been after this adaptation aired. Treasure Island was the first novel I ever read . . . well, after Edgar Rice Bourough's Tarzan's Golden Lion . . . and perhaps Guy Endore's The Werewolf of Paris. During that long hot summer Sunday in 1938, I was probably outside playing ball, or at least, gazing toward Lake Erie.
Or perhaps, there was a thunder storm, which would have raised ned with Cleveland's WTAM (AM, of course).
Listening to the show later, on tape -- many years later -- like Jeff, I found the early scenes the best: the lonely Jim Hawkins outside gazing toward the sea, describing mysterious colorful figures prowling up Spyglass Hill . . . the tapping of Blind Pew's cane, the Treasure Map, the excitement of the preparations for a voyage of impossible discovery. All exciting, romantic, atmospheric stuff, in the best traditions of boyhood adventure.
As you suggest, gentlemen, it must have appealed to a lonely boy like Stevenson or Welles, as it did to me and millions of other Americans.
Let's continue sailing for a time!