When my sons, Craig and Adam, were together at our house recently, they were kidding about our television set. I think they may have been referring to it as an “antique.”
We have had that television set for over 20 years; we watch it almost every day, but very seldom for more than an hour at a time – mostly for the news or a special program. In season, I watch football and basketball games.
It has been a very reliable television set. We have never had to take it to a repair shop. It comes on when I push the button, the picture is clear, not fuzzy, the color is good and it fits perfectly in the spot I have for it on top of the dresser.
My sons seem to think that the set itself is big, bulky and heavy, but that the screen should be much larger — as in “wide-screen” television. Personally, I like the way my TV set is. I sit in a small room, about five feet from the screen, which is plenty big enough for me.
Thinking about our television set has reminded me of the various other TV’s I have watched. Our family was among the television pioneers in our neighborhood when I was growing up. The Woods family, which included 12 kids — most of them living at home at the same time — was the first family on our street to own a television set. It wasn’t easy finding a spot in front of the TV among the 12 kids who lived there.
We also were able to watch television once a week in a downtown storefront across from the Syracuse post office, where we accompanied my father every Sunday evening while he mailed his orders for the coming week. I’m not sure what we watched – maybe “What’s My Line?” – but we were engrossed while standing there for at least half an hour.
Tiring of our neighbor’s crowded living room and standing out in the cold, we were able to talk our parents into investing in the family’s first television set.
I remember that first TV set well. It was a console model, which meant that it was comprised of the picture tube on top, the speaker under that — all built in to a cabinet which sat on the floor. Somewhere in there were rows and rows of tubes and transistors.
The feature that made our television set unusual, even back then, was that it had a round screen. With all those parts, television sets didn’t last a long time back then, and TV repair men visited regularly.
When my wife realized that I was writing about our early television sets, she was reminded of the time that her TV set was hit by lightning during the night. All of a sudden she was awakened by the national anthem playing in her living room.
We were never alone watching television in those early days. Programming started just about the time we arrived home from school and my brother and I both brought several kids home from school with us to watch western movies hosted by Gabby Hayes, Howdy Doody, Kukla, Fran and Ollie and Captain Video.
Before the programs started we watched the test patterns and listened attentively to the National Anthem.
When my grandparents knew that our family had bought a television set their reaction was, “Why would you want television? The radio is good enough for us.” The day we got our TV set, Grandma and Grandpa came over after supper to take a look at the new arrival; their new television set arrived the next day.
As in other homes, gradually through the years the size of our TV screen grew larger while the cabinet was smaller. Then came the Disney channel and color. Although we had listened to the radio shows and had our favorites, TV was much more exciting.
To read the rest of the column, pick up a copy of The Valley News or subscribe today by calling 598-6397