We just got back from week with our kids and grandkids. Christian and Amy are wonderful people, great hosts, and interesting company, but Mattias and Zoe were the main attractions.
Zoe is 4 years old and is little Miss Sunshine personified. She is always smiling and rarely argues, and she fell in love with Grandpa David. I got my share of love from her, though, and we had fun planting seeds and going to the park.
Mattias is a more serious 9-year-old. He gives see-you-after-school waves and good-night hugs, but most of his interaction is verbal. He likes to talk and ask questions. One of his favorite questions is How were things different when you were a kid? I answered some of his questions, but I’m sure there are lots of differences left to explore. I’ve decided to devote a little space to the distant past from time to time, so Mattias, this post is for you.
I was 6 years old the first time I saw a TV. We lived in west Texas in a small town near Abilene called Snyder. Our neighbors invited us over one Sunday night to see their new television set. It was very different from the wide, flat screens you watch today. It looked like a big, bulging eye in a square wooden box, and the picture was more sepia than black and white. Even with the outside antenna that looked like it was a mile high, Ed Sullivan was a little blurry and distorted on the round picture tube.
That summer we moved to Mesquite, a suburb of Dallas, and a couple of years later we got a TV of our own. Our house was small with only one living area, and Mom didn’t want us sitting on the “good” furniture, so the TV was in the corner of the combination kitchen/dining room. We had a plastic and chrome dinette set, and we pulled the chairs around in front of the set when our “shows” came on. My favorite place to sit, however, was on the floor under the table. From there it was easy to scoot out and change the channel or adjust the volume. There was no remote control.
TV repair was a do-it-yourself affair. The back of the set was filled with vacuum tubes that looked a little like small fluorescent light bulbs. When the TV set went on the blink, Dad looked for any tubes that were discolored and took them to the testing machine at the supermarket. He plugged the suspicious tube into the proper spot, and if the meter showed a negative reading, he searched through the boxes of tubes on the shelf for a replacement. This usually worked, but sometimes it took a few trips to find the right tube. If the huge picture tube went out, it was time to shoot the set and put everyone out of their misery.
It was several more years before we got color, but I’ll save that for another time. When I tell you about that, I’ll also tell you how we managed to find something to watch with only three channels.
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