“Do you realize if it weren’t for Edison we’d be watching TV by candlelight?”

Misery fills my day. The temperature, the real, not feels like, was 2° when I woke up. The house was a bit chilly, think mid 60’s, so now the heat is blasting. As for last night, around 2:30 or so, I was reading in bed when the electricity died. I decided to nestle under the covers with the dogs and go to sleep, but only a few minutes later the lights went on, and I could hear the heat. This morning is when sheer misery entered my life. My TV died during the night. The poor old thing probably couldn’t handle the quick on and off of electricity. I am bereft. It feels as if I’ve been thrown back in time to the days before TV. I will hunt for a new one, and until I find what I want and can afford, I’ll watch TV on my laptop.

When I was a kid, we first lived in South Boston. I have flashes of memories from back then when I was all of two or maybe three or four. I remember playing in the yard filled with clothes lines, and I can still see in my mind’s eye the building where my mother brought me for nursery school. It was made of brick and was across the street from our building. I don’t remember leaving, but I guess I just went out the door and went home. My mother brought me back, and I left again. It was the same the next day. I never went back. That was my first school experience.

Still in South Boston, the neighbors got the first TV. They used to open their apartment door so all the other neighbors could watch. It was like a movie theater with lines of chairs in the hall. It was miraculous.

I don’t remember when we got our first TV, but I also don’t remember a time before TV. The first TV I remember was in a giant cabinet with two doors. The set itself was small. We had an antenna on the roof and rabbit ears inside, but, regardless, the TV picture was often streaked with lines, and it flickered. I don’t think I cared. It was miraculous.

When I was in Ghana, I didn’t miss TV. I had a cassette player sent to me by my family during my first year. They had also sent maybe five or six cassettes. I played them most nights. Music and reading were my evening entertainments. I was quite content. I hope the same for now!!!

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4 Comments on ““Do you realize if it weren’t for Edison we’d be watching TV by candlelight?””

  1. Bob Says:

    Hi Kat,

    Today is gorgeous with bright sunshine and 60°.the last of the ice is disappearing quickly. Luckily, this ice storm didn’t kill our power. During the great arctic breakout on Valentine’s Day 2021 left the entire state in rolling blackouts. It was horrible to only have a couple of hours of electricity a day for four days. It was especially hard when the low temperature reached -7°F. This last cold snap the electricity didn’t fail.

    My father bought our first TV in 1948 so I always had TV. Before I started school, I remember there was no daytime television, just the test pattern. The first TV show of the day was in the early evening. I think it was a kids show, “Kukla, Fran and Ollie” or “Howdy Doody”.



    Both of these shows are available on YouTube.

    Back in those days the top prime time TV show was, “The Texaco Theater”, with Milton Berle. Our neighbors came to our apartment to watch this Tuesday night hit program. Our first TV was a tabletop 10 inch Crosley TV. The mahogany cabinet was huge and it generated a lot of heat out its side vents from all those vacuum tubes. In those days we had only three television stations in NYC. The TV also contained an FM radio receiver, which was also a new technology after WWII.

    I can’t remember a time when I didn’t have a TV in my house. Our TV technology has evolved from live broadcasts to broadcast tape, to cable TV, to home VCR tape, to DVDs, to now streaming.

    • katry Says:

      Hi Bob,

      Right now it is 15°. Tomorrow we will have a terrific jump to the low or mid 40’s. I have a few errands I have been saving for a warmer day.

      I loved Kukla, Fran and Ollie. I think Ollie with his one tooth was my favorite. I also loved Howdy Doody and never missed an episode. Mr. Bluster and poor Dilly Dally were my favorites. I found the scheduled evening programs from 1948 to 1949.


      You described the same TV we had, the one with the giant cabinet and the tiny screen. I remember when the TV needed a new tube, and my father’s hectically searched for the dead tube. Sometimes he’d take a few tubes to the TV repair shop to have them tested. After that he just had to figure how to put them back in the right spots.

  2. sprite Says:

    Luckily, we’re in the run up to the Super Bowl, so there should be some good prices on tvs for the next two weeks. Good luck!

    • katry Says:

      Even luckier, one of my former students offered me a 40″ which works fine. I hope she’ll come soon, but the iPad is good for the meantime.

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