THE ADVENTURES OF TOM DRAKE, GUARDIAN OF THE BIG TOP. “The Invisible Thief.” Mutual, Summer replacement show, June 1949. Air date: a Wednesday. Probably the second show of the series. Vince Harding as Tom Drake, and Fred Rains as his sidekick, Eddie Roth.

   Kids’ shows on OTR such as this one don’t show up very often, so when one does, I’m always happy to hear about it. Tom Drake was a 1949 summer replacement on Mutual for Superman, airing M-W-F and alternating with Bobby Benson on T-Th. I remember listening to the latter, since it lasted longer, but 1949 was maybe a year or two early for me to have been listening.

   The circus that Tom Drake works for is having problems with a thief in this one, an invisible one who sneaks into the performers’ tents and steals things with no one ever seeing him (or her). Since only small things are missing, Drake thinks the thefts are meant to be diversion for something bigger that is being planned.

   He’s wrong, though, and I had it figured out within the first three or four minutes. You may, too, if you listen to it here, but if I (or you) were eight or nine, maybe we’d both be fooled a while longer. Interestingly enough, there were no commercials for the show, only promos to get the show’s young listeners to call their friends in to listen too. To me the show seems far too tame to get a lot of kids excited about it. It lasted only for the one summer.

   For more information about the show, go here.