This thing. I am so ambivalent about this thing. It dominates the family room. In fact the furniture is arranged so as to accommodate it. It's quite large. To me anyway. The biggest one that we have ever had in fact. The size and improved quality of the picture on it was a little disconcerting at first. Sort of like having actual people in your family room performing, live, for our entertainment. We've come a long way baby.
The first television that I remember my family having was when we lived in California. I believe I might have been in the first grade. It was small, the picture was grainy and black'n'white and as far as entertainment goes, the pickin's were slim. I don't know what time programming stopped at night, but it did and there was a very annoying, very specific sound that I associate with it. In the morning, there was an American Flag waving and someone (Kate Smith maybe?) singing. We kids had to ask to watch a program, and more often than not, the answer was, "No, go outside and play" and so we did. Kids still did that back then. We played outside. Nothing organized, just a bunch of goofy kids, thinking up things on our own, running amuck in the neighborhood.
I do remember the Mickey Mouse Club theme song, so I assume we were allowed to watch that sometimes. I vividly remember something I was not allowed to watch, "The Twilight Zone". Oh I loved that show. My Dad liked it too, which is how I knew about it. My dad's recliner sat at a slight angle so there was a small gap between the side of the chair and the wall. When I was feeling terribly brave, I would sneak down the hall and sit behind his chair, watching the show in that little gap. My mother was concerned that it would give me nightmares. My only nightmare was that I would get caught watching the show!
We were allowed to watch the Ed Sullivan show. I think it was on Sunday nights. If my dad was home, we would gather as a family to watch that one. Mostly, I recall jugglers and the little mouse puppet, Topo Gigio. Apparently I wasn't too wowed by Ed Sullivan. Otherwise in the evenings, I was either reading or forced into playing some board game.
The very first colour television show that I ever saw was the program, "Bonanza". We were supposed to be on vacation heading to visit my dad's family in Michigan but had car trouble. Long story, aluminum engine, hard highway driving on hot days, engine blew up.....yadayada. So there we were stuck in some town about halfway to our destination. We checked into the nearest cheap hotel. We didn't often stay in hotels, usually we stayed with family or friends along the way so this was kind of a big deal right off the bat. Icing on the cake, colour television! It was early in the colour TV days and was far from perfected. In fact, the screen seemed to be divided into horizontal thirds. The top part of blue, the middle part was an orangey colour and the bottom was green, regardless of what was on the screen. Watching a western like , "Bonanza", with lots of action and long shots, it worked out pretty well, but close ups, not so much. Hoss Cartwright in rainbow face. Still, we were mesmerized.
Enough so that by the time we moved in Texas, (many moves later) my dad bought one. The colour problems were hammered out better by then. The only TV show I really remember from my days in Texas was, "The Monkees" and of course that would appeal to me then. I was a teenaged girl at that time. I'm sure I watched other things, that's just all that comes to mind. The television was in the family room and even back then the furniture was arranged to accommodate it. I do recall that my Nana watched soap operas. She would knit or sew or snap beans while watching. Occasionally I would ask her something about one of the shows and she knew everything about each person. Very complicated story lines, but she knew them all, chapter and verse.
And then I went away to college and didn't see television for 4 years. Seriously. My school did not have one in the common room. A few monied students had small portables in their rooms, but I didn't know any of those people well enough to be invited to watch with them. Didn't matter, because you know what? I did not miss it one bit. I honestly didn't. There was too much other stuff going on. School, work, and school-work, socializing, partying, I was still running back then too. No time for TV. We did occasionally see a movie though. There was a second or third run theatre just down the street from our dorm. With a student ID and 99 cents we could get in on Sunday night for the 9:00 show. Sometimes I had the 99 cents, sometimes not. Sometimes I had a paper due or a test on Mondays, sometimes not. So that was merely an option and how many times can a person watch "Gone with the Wind" anyway?
I do recall being shocked when I finally saw television again after college as to how much the TV "rules" had changed. From the Dick Van Dyke show" to "All in the Family"..wow! Big Change. Norman Lear changed television forever. Maybe because I wasn't already watching the old tube back then so that the change was not incremental, but initially I was vaguely embarrassed while watching. Oh eventually I got used to it. But then, I got married and immediately produced three children, boom, boom, boom. I didn't have time to watch television. Eventually they were old enough to appreciate "Captain Kangaroo" and "Sesame Street". Then a little older and it was" Thundercats" and "G.I. Joe", both theme songs to which I still can sing, verbatim. But they honestly didn't watch a lot of television. They played outside, they had chores, school work and to be fair, I encouraged them to do other things.
And now the kids are long gone, off and living their own lives, and it's just Tim and I and we can watch whatever we wish. In the evenings, it's nice to shut off the brain and turn on the tube and just let it all wash over us. There are roughly a zillion channels and sometimes, still not much to watch. Tim has found some oldies TV channels where "Twilight Zone" is still playing and "Bonanza" too. We watch some of that, sometimes. Occasionally there is a prime time show that we enjoy, but mostly not. I have a stack of books on the table on my side of the sofa, so very often while Tim is watching the millioneth rerun of "Mythbusters", or "NCIS", or an old episode of original "MacGyver", I have my nose buried in a book or maybe I'll play games on my tablet.
Hah! I guess the more things change, the more they stay the same. This is a prime example of circular evolution. The technology has improved, I've certainly gotten a lot older, we live in a different place but honestly, otherwise, everything is the same.
It's an uncertain world, my friends. It's nice to know that there are still some things that you can count upon.
Yup, this is me. Some people said, "Sam, you should write a Blog". "Well, there's a thought", I thought to myself. And so here it is.