My blogger friend Dan A. over at No Facilities wrote a post that brought up memories of TV times before remote controls . It got me thinking of a few things . So , here goes .
My family had a TV with a black metal exterior . I think it was our first set . That was in the days when , if something went wrong with the TV , and things sometimes did , it was probably a burnt-out tube . Remember TV tubes ? Someone would call the TV repair man . He’d come out to the house , probably later that day . He’d be wearing a TV repairman’s uniform. He’d get right to work futzing around behind the TV set as all of us kids watched . He’d take the back off of the set and put his hands inside . He knew what he was doing ; that was for sure . After taking its pulse and listening to its heart and lungs , or whatever he did , he’d inevitably tell my mom : ” It needs a new tube . ”
If he said ” picture tube ” , then that was big trouble , as I remember . Mom would have to wait for Dad’s decision on that one . New picture tubes ! That might have been comparable to : ” Do you want him to get the transplant or not , lady ? It’s your set . It’ll be expensive , sure . But right now , even though it’s still alive , it’s useless without a picture . What do you want to do , lady ? ” My dad was at work . Mom would have to consult with Dad . Time for a new set ?
Things weren’t tossed out in those days . The TV set would be repaired . It would last another ten years , at least . Maybe twenty . It would be , eventually , banned to the back room from the earlier living room location . My parents enlarged the house in the late 1950s . The back room had been a bedroom for me and my two brothers . It went from being ” the boys’ room ” to being , from then until eternity , ” the TV room”.
I remember sitting in an old wooden wagon on a vacant lot in the neighborhood with a couple of buddies of mine when I was about 10 . It might have been raining and my mom might have made sandwiches for us to nibble on as we sat there and talked . The wagon was some kind of a wooden box on wheels used by a construction company . We had discovered it one day after school and decided that it would make a great place to sit . Kids ! We sat there that day and talked important stuff , I remember , like TV shows . There were some new comedies beginning that season which we were discussing : Mr. Ed , Beverly Hillbillies , and …………. , and ………………. Well , I don’t remember the third one . It was a long time ago , after all . Maybe there wasn’t a third one . It may come to me later .
An obstacle in those days for kids , as I recall , was that the show you really wanted to see came on just at your bedtime . I loved Leave It To Beaver , but it started at 8:00 p.m. , and , yeah , my bedtime was 8:00 . What to do ! I think I cried and whined a lot . Sometimes that worked , but not often . Sometimes my mom would try a bit of negotiation involving , usually , homework . Didn’t matter the year or how old I was at the time . Every great show began just beyond my bedtime , as if the networks had it in for me and most of the kids I knew . Of course there was that one kid in town who didn’t have a bedtime , and who got to watch any show he wanted . At least that’s what he told the rest of us . That kid was always thrown in as part of the negotiation with Mom , as a counterweight to her homework suggestions .
I was never the remote , as I remember . I Was The Remote at No Facilities tells of the kid changing channels for his dad . I don’t remember ever doing that . My dad watched THE NEWS . When he watched THE NEWS we were all banned from the area . I think the ban was as much self-imposed as imposed by Dad . We were a noisy , quarrelsome , annoying bunch , I think . He wanted to hear his news . Can’t blame him for that .
You know , I just realized that McHale’s Navy was the third new show that season . Actually , though , Mr. Ed , about the talking horse , had already ” been on ” for a few years . So , let’s rearrange : Two new shows being discussed in that wooden wagon : McHale’s Navy and Beverly Hillbillies . I’m sticking to my story that they came on just at , or past , my bedtime , though .
Dad liked to watch McHale’s Navy , though , too . He was a Navy veteran and had been in the Pacific during the war , where the silly TV sitcom was set . The show made fun of clueless Navy brass and I guess Dad could relate to that . He had been a Lt. Commander , but he spoke disparagingly of ” the military mind ” , meaning those at the top , admirals and rear admirals , generals , and such . He had been in the Navy for eleven years , during WWII and later , so I’m sure that he knew of which he spoke . At any rate , Lt. Commander McHale’s shenanigans made him laugh .
One more memory from the inside of that wooden wagon that day : One of my pals in there , Larry Bye , told us his middle name . He had a middle name that embarrassed him to no end . He had always kept it a secret . But , that day in the rain , he revealed the secret . I’d like to tell you what it was , see what you think about it , but we each swore an oath never ever to reveal the name . Sorry .
I’ll sign off now . Maybe I can use the Indian head sign-off test-pattern signal that was used in the old days when programming for the day ended :
You won’t hear the crackle . Too bad .
Maybe I should emphasize : programming for the day ended . About 11:00 p.m. or midnight all the programming quit and this Indian showed up , with a crackling background noise of static . TV was done for the night . Done .
As old man Wexler used to say over the school P.A. system at the end of the day : That’s 30 for now .