For some reason I researched the history of television this week.
It's a fascinating tale of inventors and engineers testing and innovating for decades around the world to develop the medium that's evolved. Talking with an older friend about it brought back memories for us.
His memory was of being six years old and seeing a television for the first time, in a San Fransisco hotel lobby in 1949. He lived on a farm and a neighbor later had a television. Every Friday night, the neighbor would turn the television to face the front window and turn the sound up. All the neighbors would bring chairs and come over to watch television on the front lawn. Fresh popcorn in a sheet of newspaper was often served in a treat.
His story reminded me of my mother's tale. Her town, Turin, Iowa, had one television. It was in the front window of a general store. She and the rest of the children would go down and watch it through a store window.
It wasn't until she was an adult that Mom finally owned her first television, a black and white console with rabbit ears. Growing up, her family always listened to the radio. Their routine was to make popcorn, popping it in bacon grease, and eating it while listening to radio broadcasts.
Her popcorn habits carried over into our television life. Mom loved making popcorn with fudge and lemonade so we could all gather together in the living room and watch television shows and talk. Sunday Night at the Movies was a big weekly event, especially when they were broadcasting one of the box office biggies of the era, like The War Wagon, Ben Hur, Cleopatra, or The Ten Commandments. We'd get out pillows and blankets and turn the lights down to heighten the atmosphere. Kool Aid replaced the lemonade later and the drive in become a frequent venue for our popcorn and fudge enhanced movie watching.
I grew up accepting television as much as today's younger generations accept cell phones, computers and digital clocks as being around forever but I vividly remember seeing a color television for the first time. A pro baseball player, Dick Groat, was my neighbor. He was the Pittsburgh Pirates' shortstop from 1952 to 1962 and won National League Most Valuable Player one year, as well as playing on championship teams. He had two daughters that were around my age, Tracy and Carol Ann. Carol Ann became my first girlfriend.
Naturally, as the boyfriend, I was invited into the house. Usually we went into the basement. Part of the basement was set up as a gameroom where we would play but one evening I was invited upstairs to the living room. Their father was playing baseball somewhere and the family was gathering in the living room to watch the game.
There it was, a color television, showing those broad green fields from somewhere across the country. It was an eye-opening moment for a nine year old boy.
Carol Ann and I broke up shortly after that and I moved away but I owe her and her family. She was the first girl I remember kissing, and I saw my first color television broadcast in her home.
Causes Michael Seidel Supports
Kiva, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, Propublica.org, Doctors Without Borders, GreaterGood.com