“Today, watching television often means fighting, violence and foul language – and that’s just deciding who gets to hold the remote control.”

Everyday I make a list and every day I do nothing. I’ve read a bit, and that’s about it.  Losing Gracie is still so close. I keep looking for her, and I call poor Maddie Gracie. The house is quiet. Today, though, I have no choice but to go out. I’ve made a list with three stops, maybe four if I add the dump.

Today is a pretty day with a bright sun and a soft blue sky. The air is chilly but hints at being warmer. It is a good day to be out and about.

I watch television. It has been with me all of my life. When I was a kid, we had a cabinet  for the TV. It had doors which hid the screen. It was in one corner of the living room. A chair faced it, another chair was beside it, and you could get a great view from the couch.  My brother and I sat on the floor in front of it. My mother made us move back from the screen so we wouldn’t go blind. We had an antenna, rabbit ears, for fine tuning the stations. It sat on top of the cabinet. Most of the time it had aluminum foil around the ears. My father thought the foil brought in a clearer picture. I remember how often the TV screen was filled with snow. It made a static sound. The screen sometimes had lines and the picture kept jumping. If the TV didn’t work, my father would take some tubes from the back and bring them to the TV store to be tested. He’d do that until the offending tube was found. TV tubes were like Christmas bulbs. If one burnt out, none of them worked. It was hit or miss. When my father removed the back cover of the TV, I remember the tubes looked a little like Frankenstein’s lab with the lit filaments and their lights bouncing up and down the wires.

When my father couldn’t put the bulbs back in their original spots, it was time to call the repairman. We’d watch. My father would stand beside him and chat about the TV as if he knew something about it. The repairman wore a belt with all his tools and brought in a bag with bulbs. He always found the offending bulb.

TV’s now don’t get fixed. They get replaced and usually upgraded at the same time. The set I have now was one of the first HD sets on the street. I remember my neighbors coming to dinner and wanting to watch TV. They were amazed. This TV is 13 or 14 years old, and it still works fine. My next set will be a 4K UHD. I watched one at my friend’s house and I was drop jaw amazed.

Well, it’s time to get myself in gear, a fine metaphor, a suitable ending.

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12 Comments on ““Today, watching television often means fighting, violence and foul language – and that’s just deciding who gets to hold the remote control.””

  1. Caryn Says:

    Hi Kat,
    We always had a tv of some kind when I was a kid. My father was an early adopter of new tech. The earliest one I remember came inside a lovely cabinet. You lifted the top and the underside of that was a mirror. The actual screen was down inside the cabinet and pointed up at the mirror. I guess the idea was to present a larger image than the tiny tv screen could by itself. I have no idea if it reversed text to mirror image.
    My current tv is a flat screen led type that’s about 8 years old. It’s only 25 inches. One of my brothers was highly offended that I didn’t get one of those gigunda things that takes up whole walls. Too much screen for me especially since I seldom actually watch the tv. I listen to it while I do something else so gigunda is wasted on me.

    Today was briefly sunny before the clouds pile in. There’s no hint of warmth in the air but a lot of dampness.

    Enjoy the day.

    • katry Says:

      Hi Caryn,
      We got our first TV when I was four or five. I remember how small the screen was, and we still thought it a miracle of sorts. Wow, I haven’t ever heard of the mirror set. That was ingenuous.

      My set is a 34˚ inch stand alone TV. It is on a film storage cabinet. When I bought it, HD sets were massively expensive, but I figured I’d have it a while, and I have. It is just the right size for this room. Any bigger it would look like I was sitting in the first row at the movies.

      It got cloudy here. I need to go out so I’ll dress warmly.

      Have a great evening!

  2. BG Says:

    Kat, amidst all the childhood TV memories you awakened, I also related to your foil/rabbit ears story and recalled my dad’s antenna adventures. We lived in a small city that had a local TV station so rabbit ears worked okay, but those who wanted more could add a rooftop antenna and pick up snowy signals from other cities. I will never forget how proud my dad was when he finally made what was a big investment for him to have a TV tower with a remotely controlled antenna installed. The idea was that you ‘aim’ the antenna at whatever distant station you were trying to catch. As I remember, it was hit and miss. . .

    • katry Says:

      I’d be fearful of my dad climbing to the roof. That man was always an accident waiting to happen, but when we moved to the cape in the mid-60’s, you had to have an on the house antenna as we were so far from any channels except one in New Bedford. My dad hired someone to put up the antenna. Cable was on the cape by 1965 so we got that.

      At some point just after we put up the cable, the color set we had got dim and the colors looked faded. My dad blamed the cable and wanted it gone. The cable guy came and said the TV was the problem. It was dying. My dad, the techno guy!!

  3. Coleen Says:

    Hi Kat!

    The first TV I remember was a massive b and w RCA tube job from the ’50’s. It looked like a piece of furniture, was in the range of 20-25 inches for a picture tube, and weighed a ton, but it was built to last and we had it til about 1967. My Mom then downsized to a Zenith b/w that was about 18 inches. That too, lasted forever…I brought it along with me after I sold the house in the early 1990’s and used it in my apartment!

    I do not presently have my own TV – – I am using the one that was in my room when I moved in. When I move out soon, I will be in the market to purchase one. I can give myself a headache thinking of the possibilities that are out there now!

    Wow, you had cable in 1965? I’m impressed. Cable did not come to my little town on the Jersey Shore until about 1972 or so…

    Waving my arms like an antenna in a windstorm and sending hugs,


    • katry Says:

      Hi Coleen,
      Our first TV looked gigantic in its cabinet, but when you opened the doors, it was a small screen. I don’t remember when we got that monstrosity, but it lasted a long while.

      I remember the first color TV. My dad was going to wait until the prices came down, but our TV died so he figured he might as well get one. It was big in itself and had no cabinet. It was just the screen.

      I had an old black and white TV in my bedroom when I was around 10. I don’t remember how I got it, but it must have been a castoff from somebody. The first TV I bought was when my roommate added a den to her house,and I bought the TV for it. When I bought my own house, that TV came with me and worked for a long time.

      Without cable, there wasn’t really TV for the cape as the single channel was out of Providence, not Boston. My father had no choice but to get the cable.

  4. Bob Says:

    My dad bought our first TV in 1947 which was the year I was born. It was a Crosley table model with a ten inch screen. The mahogany cabinet was more than twice the size of the screen. When you turned on the TV the picture didn’t appear for a few seconds while the tubes warmed up. When you turned off the TV the picture would collapse into a white dot that stayed on the center of the screen for a few seconds. When the TV stopped working the TV repairman would come to the house to replace the various vacuum tubes that had burned out. Usually, my father called him after he had attempted to repair the TV himself.

    Many audiophiles and serious electric guitar players like the sound from vacuum tube amplifiers than solid state ones. They claim the sound is warmer. Unfortunately, I can’t hear the difference. Believe it or not you can still buy vacuum tubes via the Internet. They are imported from Russia where vacuum tube technology is still prevalent.

    When I was kid I never realized that the images on the ten inch screen were not in color. I first realized the difference when my dad took me to a Brooklyn Dodger, yes the Dodgers originally came from Brooklyn, and I was shocked to find out that the grass at Ebbets field was green, the base paths were tan and the Dodger baseball caps were royal blue. In my mind baseball fields were some kind of shade of gray. Spring training is only a few weeks away.

    Today was sunny with highs in the low 50s.

    • katry Says:

      Your father and my father must have been kindred spirits as my father tried to fix it himself as well. Once in a while he succeeded, but those successes were far between each other.

      I remember looking at the back of the TV and seeing all those tubes. The shop uptown had a checker where you could put the tubes to see if they worked. My father would bring few at a time until he found the dead tube.

      I didn’t know anything with tubes was still being made.That surprises me.

      One of my friends had a color TV, and I watched it and was quite jealous. Our black and white TV lasted a bit longer though we were all hoping it would die. My dad had promised a color set when it died, and he did come through. What a difference!

      It was the low, low 30’s today, but it will be a bit warmer tomorrow, maybe even 50˚.

      • Bob Says:

        Men of that era were the family fixit men. It was considered manly to remove the tubes and take them to be checked in a tube tester. Even drug stores had tube testing machines. Those old TVs had numerous knobs of which I was only allowed to touch the on/off volume and the channel selector. The other knobs adjusted the vertical and horizontal size of the image, the focus and the contrast of the image.

        I saw the first color TV at the State Fair of Texas in 1959. RCA had an exhibit there showing off their new technology and I was amazed. We didn’t get a color TV until about 1963 or 1964 because my father said there where so few programs broadcast in color he didn’t want to spend the money. My Uncle Sam wouldn’t buy a color TV until they had perfected the technology. He died in 1975 watching a 19 inch Zenith B&W TV with a hand wired chassis. He also didn’t believe in printed circuit boards. 🙁

      • katry Says:

        My dad was a great man of business but he wasn’t a fix-it guy. He could paint but that ended his expertise. He broke the toilet and the plumber was aghast. My mother knew to call an expert before my father would get to work on the offending appliance.

        Our TV died so we needed a newline, color one made sense.

  5. olof1 Says:

    I too remember those bulbs and it was usually my mother who changed them. I also remember the repairman and he too had a belt with all his tools 🙂

    We didn’t have that kind of antenna though, we had ours on the wall outside our window. We needed to change to a new one when we got a second channel to look at but lots of people just bought an extra antenna and put it beside their first one. I guess the two channel antennas were a bit expensive if they preferred to buy an extra instead.

    A bit on the chilly side here today and it doesn’t look as if we’ll get any sunshine, maybe tomorrow but I’m just happy that we on’t get any more snow 🙂

    Have a great day!


    • katry Says:

      My mother knew to call an expert once my father put his hands on anything needing fixing.

      On the cape, we were too far from Boston to get their local stations. We all needed inside and outside antennas. It was wonderful when cable came and we could get so any stations.

      It is warmish today!!

      Have a good day.

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