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Don't Call Vast Wasteland and Boob Tube Trashy; "She" Was a Good Friend

I was born in the south. I live in the south and will die in the south. This is only a small part of the memories I share.

I loved the new models of TV. They got better and better.

I loved the new models of TV. They got better and better.

Unless You've Never Had One

then you haven't missed anything. But if you had a TV, then you wll remember these priceless memories to this day. This sounds serious because it is. This is not an understatement. TV was once only used for entertainment. Today, our TV's are much the necessity. We watch every network news program, weather programs, of course we cannot afford to miss any sports-related show to see the scores of last night's game.

Philo Farnsworth invented TV in 1938 and from 1951 perfected the system as well as the TV camera and receiver through the Farnsworth Radio and Television Corporation. From there is the equivalent of tossing a match into an Exxon refinery. It was wild, I tell you. TV came as our guest to have dinner and never left. And we loved every moment of her lengthy-stay. I say her, because the first time that my eyes laid upon our TV, I instantly fell in love. And fell hard. Still in 2021, I am still deep in love with TV because she is never boring.

TV in 2021 is more like a newspaper with moving pictures. While this is not a knock on newspapers, because I worked for a newspaper 24 years. But to show our complacency, we did not treat a new job like we did our first TV. Even the thrill (and smell) of a new car wears off in a year or so, but not TV. With working in a newspaper I never had the chance to watch The Lone Ranger; Maverick; Gunsmoke or The Untouchables. I tell you. It can get really hum drum, but it helped feed my family.

"TV was such a complex machine, that we all thought that the sign broadcast that the TV station had a problem, would put up a sign that read, "Stand By," and we all thought that it was a new western."

Kenneth Avery

Then in 1960

"she" waltzed into my life, TV, And into our living room. Looking as dazzling as The Rockettes, "she" hypnotized my eyes as well as my dad. He loved the cop shows such as M-Squad with Lee Marvin, and I was a western fan and loved Rawhide with Gil Favor (Eric Fleming) and Clint Eastwood as "Rowdy Yates." Life, although my dad was sharecropping a lady's cotton and cornfields, (he was good at it, mind you), we were not on Fith Avenue nor did we know anything about Putting On The Ritz. We ate, slept under a nice tin roof and we loved it. I did too because I got to enjoy "her" until 9 p.m.

It did not take long until we came in from our day, ate dinner, then crowded into our living room to visit with "her." "She" never complained. And was always cordial and glad to see us. But me? "She" was extra-happy to have me just sit and soak-in "her" varied entertainment and even a serious side with the news. But the more that I enjoyed being with "her," I knew around 8:45 p.m. that I would be "hitting the hay" for bed so I could get ready for school the next day.

My life was never boring in my young life, but as you all know, when a young man or girl begins to grow-up, human beings change. This growth many times does not come without pain. As I grew with our TV, I noticed that there were a few things that (for me) used to be fun and exciting, but now, they became laborious tasks. I would sometimes mumble underneath my breath as I was carrying-on these tasks, but if "she" were to give us an evening of entertainment, these things had to be done.

The Things That I am Talking About

may seem boring, I can attest to you that they are not. At day or night when we would be glued to our TV, a summer thunderstorm would start bringing hard winds which caused our TV antenna to go round a few times and cause the TV reception to go south. My dad would run out and manually turn the antenna while my mom or me would stand near the window to yell at hm when the antenna was set just right.
In the summer this worked like a charm, but those northwest Alabama winters can get tough. Bitter cold, near-zero weather and the worst part was someone had to bundle-up and try to turn the antenna, which was a toug task because as everyone who knows a thng about winter time, the ground can freeze and where our TV antenna stood was no exception. But dad toughed it out and many times he would save us from a night filled with no TV.

Then sometimes the toughest task had to be done. In 1960, the TV used brown plastic wires that were strung out of the window to the antenna so the TV would pick-up whatever TV networks were on, but if these wires were tangled from those hard winds, TV reception became all but impossible--and that can bring a lot of sad faces on faces who were spoiled to enjoing America's newest thrill: TV watching. But we did what we could to keep our TV working and there was n't many nights that we went without TV.

The most-startling fact about our TV, was we didn't know it, but along with the TV, we received the lion's share of physical exercise. Yes. In 1960, there was no such thing as a TV remote, so we all took a turn at literally standing-up, walking to the TV, and (depending on the hand), we would physically turn the dial until we had all agreed on what station we all wanted to watch.

And TV stations in my day had a feature that we all despised. Every night around 10 or 12 midnight, each station would sign-off from the day's broadcasting activities. This is the truth if I ever told it. All of us went to bed about the same thing, then my dad, the one with a large amount of intelligence, would turn-on our radio and listen to WSM Nashville because it never signed-off. He would sit-up and lsiten to his Country Music and then retire to bed. We figured that he was the one who worked and helped buy groceries, he should be given a break.

Speaking of TV Stations

we only had three stations to choose from. They were: WCBI-TV, Channel 4, Columbus, Miss., WAPI-TV, Channel 13, Birmingham, Ala.,and WBRC-TV, Channel 6,also in Birmingham. Three channels! Not 300 channels as we have today on the many satellite and cable companies that we have today. When these companies first had 300 channels, a lot of people laughed and said that there were so many channels, no one would have time to watch them all. Oh, how right they were.

In 2021, we have 100-200 channels with local and sports channels. So again, I humbly age that these folks way back in the way were so right that I thought them to be fortune tellers. But with TV and various choices, my wife and I have nine channels total. That's it. Most of our 100 channels consist of people who speak foreign languages selling products that we cannot afford from Electric Snow-Boards; to Knowing Your House's Secrets and then those 24/7 music channels playing everything from Mozart to American Disco. Yeah, Disco lives again in those upper satellite channels, but fortunately, my wife and I are already asleep.


yes, we Americans are spoiled with our 300 TV channels and with our lives, we can only have a few to enjoy.

This fact does remind us of "that" day when "she" entered our lives. We joked and called our TV, the "Electronic Mistress," because she came into our home one day and never left.


January 23, 2021________________________________________________

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© 2021 Kenneth Avery

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