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the genre's premiere review magazine for short SF & Fantasy since 1993

The Hermit's Cave -- "Mystery of the Thing"

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The Hermit's Cave aired "Mystery of the Thing" sometime during 1937, a more precise date being impossible to determine. Out of some 800 shows over a 17-year time span only around 30-40 have survived, and the show's history is relatively sparse and convoluted, going by different names and without information surviving as to the writers and air dates; even show titles have been lost. The short version runs something like this: The show operated more like a franchise than a single, straight up syndicated show originating out of one radio station, even moving from its original station out of Detroit to California at one point. Below is a timeline of the show's various incarnations, though "The Little Theater of the Air" was also appended as a subtitle under the primary title in some instances.

History of The Hermit's Cave

  • 1930-1936 - The Mummers, 15 minute sketches, featuring a character called The Hermit; WJR, Detroit
  • 1936-1937 - Unsponsored, introductory run called In the Hermit's Cave; WJR, Detroit; 19 episodes
  • 1937-1947 - Olga Coal sponsored run called The Hermit's Cave; WJR, Detroit; 539 episodes
  • 1938-1939 - Don Lee-Mutual run called The Devil's Scrapbook; 37 episodes
  • 1940-1944 - West Coast run called The Hermit's Cave; KMPC, LA; 217 episodes

The opening of this episode uses "The Mummers" as the show's title, though this is not one of the 15 minute sketches noted above, but a full half hour (minus the commercials) show, which eliminates it as coming from the 1930-36 era. Other sources have placed this episode as the 7th, but with sponsors, so this eliminates the 1936-37 unsponsored shows from Detroit and pushes it into the 1937-47 Olga Coal sponsored decade, which fits. So while an exact air date is impossible to nail down we are reasonably certain "Mystery of the Thing" aired during 1937, marking it as being 77 years old, not to mention one of the rare surviving episodes.

Speaking of "Mystery of the Thing," it tells the story of a doctor who finds a woman dazed and amnesiac, walking in a park near a hospital, and wearing tattered antiquated clothing. He eventually marries the woman, only to lose her at some point as she goes mssing. It is at this point that the story takes off, revealing in drips and drabs her creepy tale, and why she is haunted by a strange...thing...or being...or entity that puts a most unusual twist to a specific horror trope. The dark mood and building tension of the bride's plight holds listener attention as the story unfolds, finally revealing the true nature of the Thing which sucks at her, tries to absorb her entire being, both body and soul, into its own. But why?

Play Time: 23:30

{Below:  Page three of theThe Hermit's Cave promo book.}