ME AND…thoughts during a power outage

 

The power is off in our community and my regular Friday blog is locked in the memory of my iMac desktop computer. I’m writing this substitute post on my iPad mini with the battery running low. So here I sit. In the dark save for a couple of candles and the glow from my mini screen. NO TV! Next to Dave and our dogs, one TV or another has been my most constant daily (and late night) companion.

I remember the first time I saw a TV. The year must have been 1947. I was four years old. Our neighbors up Market Street in Lykens, Pennsylvania shocked the whole little town by wasting money on buying one of the new fangled, impractical contraptions. Nonetheless, my mother was pleased, no actually honored, that our family was the first to be invited to watch a show. The Saturday Night Fights. I didn’t like the sound of that.

My mother, being a Pennsylvania Dutch woman, reacted the only way she knew how. We had a cherry tree in our backyard and Saturday afternoon, she baked fresh picked cherries into a pie to take to our host and hostess. She then put my big sister Sheila and me into the bathtub and scrubbed us until our skins glowed. We both had curly hair and I can still feel the hairbrush being dragged through my mop to get out every last tangle. Even though we weren”t twins, she put Sheila and me into starched and ironed dresses that were exactly alike. Next came black patten leather Mary Jane shoes and white anklets. She insisted that my father wear his suit. She wore her best wool dress and her most beautiful set of matching ear rings, necklace, and bracelet. Nylons with perfectly straight seams and black high heels.

We walked up the street with our heads held high. My mother carried her purse, although my father tried to tell her she’d have no need of it. He carried the pie under an immaculate dish towel. Neighbors peeked out from living room curtains slightly pushed aside. Looking back on it now, except maybe for the pie, we may as well been on our way to visit the Pope.

The TV screen was tiny. Thanks to the surrounding mountains, the picture was fuzzy. I hated watching the two men punch each other. Blood running down their faces. I was grateful when our hostess served the pie. After that, I fell asleep on my father’s lap.

As we took our leave our host asked me, “How’d you like watching TV?”

Barely awake. I said the first thing that came to mind, “I hope I never have to look at one again.”

I clearly remember the uproar that followed. My mother shouted, “Jean! You say you’re sorry right this minute. And thank you for inviting us.” I was too terrified to utter another word and took cover behind Sheila. That’s what big sisters are for, right? My father, not having the pie to carry home, carried me. I cried all the way down the street, using the shoulder of his suit as a handkerchief. My mother would have paddled me had she known! As we walked along he tried to calm her down and assured we wouldn’t have to move just because the gossip the next day would be all about how I had insulted the richest people in town.

Things happened pretty fast after that. My father received a job offer and we moved to Lincoln Park, Michigan. It was a community filled with women who stayed home and took care of kids and houses. The men worked on the “line” at Ford’s, Chevrolet, or GM. Or in one of the machine shops that supplied them. Thanks to labor unions the men earned good wages. Most families had a TV. Sheila and I went with our parents when they went out to buy one. Average screen size was 12-15 inches. My mother insisted on one that came in at 27 inches. It seemed like a theater screen in our tiny living room.

It was Saturday night. Lots of neighbors crowded into our front room to see our monster big TV. (Nary a suit in sight.) My mother served pop corn. Beer for the adults. Vernor’s ginger ale for the kids. The program we watched was Saturday Night at the Movies. Kirk Douglas in THE BIG TREES.  By then, I’d come to love TV, but I didn’t like boxing until Mohamad Ali.

The power has just come back on.  My TV has flickered back to life.  Just in time for Project Runway.  All is well.  But it was nice to have had a TV free, quiet moment.

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13 thoughts on “ME AND…thoughts during a power outage

  1. This brought back many memories. My neighbor bought the first color tv on the block. I remember when Dorothy wakes up in Oz and the screen changes from black and white to color, we all gasped. By the way, that was almost twenty years after the time you’re talking about. We were seriously behind the times! I don’t think we had a tv larger than 19″ till digital hit the market. Fun post!

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  2. What a perfect introduction to color TV. Mine was the channel four peacock, the thrum of musical cords, and the words, “The following program is brought to you in living color.” I like yours better!

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  3. I obviously got over my original dislike of TV. I remember watching 3D TV in your living room. That was fun. 4G TV is the latest innovation. Tom says it’s fabulous. Now we have digital streaming of TV shows and can watch them any time any where on any device. Zooming through commercials and binge watching are my favorites.

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  4. I seem to remember that our first tv was about 9 inches. Rabbit ears dominated the space alongside it. Yes, boxing, wrestling and old movies were the typical Friday night fare. Thanks for the memories.

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  5. I remember both the Black and White days and the first color TVs in the early 1960’s. I use to help my Dad ‘fix’ the TV when it was out of adjustment; in the days of tubes (before solid state devices). We’d follow the schematic at the back of the TV when you took off the back cover and take the tubes that affected the particular feature that was acting up (Horizontal; Vertical; Synch) down to the local drug store where they had a good business of selling replacement tubes. We used their tube tester and I got my first introduction high voltage electronics when I inadvertently got a screwdriver too close to the main cathode ray picture tube. I think that shock knocked me into the next room!!! [Fortunately, I wasn’t hurt, but came away with a healthy respect for the dangers of electricity . . . . and graduated years later as an electrical engineer — avoiding old fashion TVs!!]

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  6. Thanks, Ken. Such an interesting comment. Lucky you weren’t seriously injured. My father and I used the diagram (lay term) on the back of the TV and took ttubes to the local hardware tore to test them. Although I never became an engineer, I have been V P of electronics in our household since Dave and I married. He’s V P of all things intellectual and I’m pleased with this division of labor.

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  7. I look forward to your posts, they are always interesting and memory provoking. I too remember our first T.V.. My mother was working at Hudson’s at the time and I guess she got a discount. Anyway, we were living in Detroit at the time, in a flat above my grandparents home. We had the T.V. and at the time, I loved watching boxing and the Gillette commercials, there was also a variety show that had someone named, Spike Jones and Dagmar and a bunch of others. It probably wasn’t kid friendly, but it was funny. I remember my Uncle Bob coming home from college on the week-ends and bounding up the stairs to watch Dinah Shore sing the Chevrolet song and give the country a huge kiss. See what I meant about memory provoking? Thanks Jeannie, my “regular” friend.

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  8. Lonnie, I remember Spike Jones and Dagmar. I thought he was the funniest man on earth. Kid friendly shows – remember Milky the Clown and Miss Mary? Sky King? Later I loved Bill Kennedy’s afternoon movie. Thanks for being a faithful follower of my blog.

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