January 22, 2012

TV has impacted life

TV or not TV? That is the question. I was organizing a time line in my mind recently as to what memories I have concerning television and what impact it has had on my life.

I invite you to think, if you will, of the first time you saw television. In my case, it was decades before our family actually owned a set. My dad took us to New York City for an exciting television demonstration. I was probably 5, and to watch as a picture was transmitted from one room to the next was more mind-blowing than Flash Gordon.

It was probably 1942, when gasoline cost 19 cents a gallon, a postage stamp was 3 cents, and the minimum wage was 30 cents an hour. It was shortly after that amazing demonstration that World War II began, and most commercial television was banned for the duration.

Obviously, even the rich couldn't buy television sets during the war, and we were relegated to listening to Walter Winchell, Gabriel Heater and others over the ancient radio in our kitchen. After the war, the late 1940s saw an explosion in the production and sale of television sets and commercial TV broadcasting. Of course my poor preacher dad couldn't afford such a luxury, but some of our more well-to-do relatives could. I was thrilled when I was invited to stay for a few days with my Aunt Rae and Uncle Harold Brewer in Maplewood, N.J. Watching the tiny screen on their Crosley television set produced awe and wonder in this 11-year-old. I remember sitting cross-legged on the floor and watching with wide eyes such early TV offerings as Kukla, Fran and Ollie, Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts and the Howdy Doody Show. Uncle Harold's White Owl cigar smoke permeated the air as my aunt served delicious snacks.

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