Prairie Memories by Gary Heintz: TVs in my Life
The first tv I remember watching sat on the kitchen counter of a 20 foot camping trailer in Green Cove Springs, Florida. It was globe-shaped and all I remember watching was a snowy baseball game. The tv was the center of attention in the small camper my uncle, aunt, and two cousins lived in. You sat on the end of the beds to watch, and there was no talking allowed as the snowy figures moved around the screen. Florida had one of the strongest networks in the country at the time, which wasn’t saying much.
The second tv I watched sat on a shelf above the front door of Bohnings grocery store in Harrold. We kids would hurry down to the store after school, buy a bottle of pop or a candy bar, then sit on the bottom shelf in the clothing aisle so we could watch Captain 11, the Lone Ranger and Sky King on the black and white set high above the door. Saturday nights were always busy, with people shopping and watching Gunsmoke and the Honeymooners between purchases.
After supper, on weeknights, when the grocery store was closed, people would go to the drugstore across the street to watch another black and white tv on another shelf at the back of the store. Friday nights always generated a crowd. It was fight night, and dads and sons would gather to watch the fights as they faded in and out on the snowy, black and white screen. Quality of picture wasn’t ever good, but we always had a good time.
The first set we had in our home was a black and white (color tv was still in the future) Motorola, with a 19 inch screen in a blond cabinet. I spent a fair amount of time on the roof adjusting the antenna , trying to clear up the picture before Lawrence Welk came on. My biggest thrill was staying up Friday nights to watch the old black and white suspense movies, many made in England, so there was fog as well as occasional snow on the screen. I also remember seeing such great westerns as High Noon and My Darling Clementine on some of those Friday nights.
Our neighbor was the first one to have a color tv, well before most of the shows were in color. It took awhile before there was a reason to have color tv.
November 22, 1963, was a terrible day. Everyone was glued to their tvs, watching the nightmare unfold surrounding the assignation of President Kennedy. It was impossible to believe such a horrific tragedy could happen, and to be able to follow the events on tv made the death of our president so real to all of us.
When KELO tv in Sioux Falls finally started broadcasting in color, the rush was on for color sets. Although the colors were never “real” at first, it was a welcome change from good ole black and white, we thought.
The news about Watergate and Viet Nam was now coming to us in vivid color, and if tv ever played an important role in society, it was during the 1970s. We learned to depend on Walter Cronkite to tell us what was happening in the not-so-perfect world we learned about on those first colored sets.
My family has been no different when it comes to tv watching. We bought a colored tv in the 1970s, and upgraded in size and quality as the years have gone by. We now have a 55” smart tv that I know how to turn on and change channels on, and I smile when I regularly turn to TCM, and watch some of the old black and white, foggy movies I first watched when I was a kid, sprawled in front of our old black and white set on Friday nights.
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