Yesterday's post about my defunct television set made me think about the TVs of my youth. We've come a very long way in this particular technology and its kind of amazing to think about. But honestly I don't really even understand how it all works. I know there are people that do, but I'm not one of them!
I don't ever remember life without TV. I understand my parents bought their first just before I was born and from what I hear it had a very small screen and was bought mostly so my father and grandfather could watch the Friday night fights. I'm sure that's probably true because my parents had no money to spare in those days and I'm guessing my grandfather bought it and gave it a home in my parent's living room so he could come use it. That's kind of the way things happened in my family.
Anyway, the televisions I remember as a kid were always in cabinets, like pieces of fine furniture. Usually people had these pieces in their living rooms and very often they included a record player or radio in the cabinet. They were "entertainment centers" if I remember the correct terminology. We didn't always have that fancy type and there were times I can remember simple portables on topf of a table with antenna that we needed to fiddle with in order to get a clear picture on one of the two channels we could get out here in the hinterlands.
I loved it when the television broke and the repair man had to come. He had a special suitcase kind of thing that folded out on both sides and was filled with tubes of every size imaginable. He would open up the back of the set, determine which tube it was that was blown, and replace it with a new one. That was usually all it took and those old sets lasted for years. Of course there wasn't all that much to watch with so few channels and the fact that it came on at 6 or 7 in the morning and went off at 11 at night meant forget trying to see anything in the middle of the night. I remember at 11:00 every night the national anthem played and there was a visual of the flag on a tall pole waving in the breeze. As soon as the last note faded the picture went blank except for that small white dot that stayed for a minute, eventually fading into oblivion. We children of the '50s remember those details all too well.
Those early television sets are part of my childhood, along with Annette and Jimmy from the Mickey Mouse Club. They are happy memories because they come from a pretty carefree time of life, before the heavy things of life descended. So I'll keep them.