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Monday, September 28, 2009

The First on Our Block

My parents were raised with radio, and it looked like my brothers and I would be too, until the day new technology arrived as a Motorola television set. We didn’t know what to expect when dad unpacked the large, cardboard box. It looked a lot like our radio in its big wooden cabinet; but instead of a speaker, there was a screen in the middle.

Our parents were excited, so we knew this was something special, not like the way they acted when we got a new car. This occasion was more like the anticipation of getting ready for a family outing to Cedar Lake.

With great curiosity we watched our dad fiddle with the antenna and knobs and waited for the screen to do something. Up until now, the only screen we watched was at the local movie theatre where on Saturday afternoons for 25 cents, we could fill up on popcorn and Good N’Plenty candy while we laughed at Bugs Bunny cartoons and cringed when Tarzan wrestled a crocodile.

Could this new fangled contraption, this TV, bring that kind of adventure and fun into our home every day of the week? All the time? It was an exhilarating possibility. As my dad tuned the fuzzy little screen and adjusted the antenna, we eagerly awaited to be greeted by the daring deeds of our movie idols.

What emerged was our first commercial for Texaco gasoline introduced by someone who called himself Uncle Miltie. He made us laugh. We decided that “TV” was fun, and we could even watch it while we ate dinner. And so my family transitioned from radio to television.

We sat mesmerized in front of the screen watching anything that moved: live demonstrations of food being chopped and people showing how to get stains out of the carpet. With only two channels, and most them on at noon or dinnertime, we were captives of whatever appeared.

We were also the envy of the neighborhood. No one else had one yet. Kids would ask to come over and see it. We felt a real pride of ownership and the distinction of being the first family on our block to have a TV.

Dad took our newfound technology leadership even further by buying an accessory for the TV. It was a plastic sheet divided into three color stripes. When overlaid on the screen, we had “color” TV. It didn’t matter if everybody’s face was red, torso yellow and legs blue. It was color TV. We were ahead of our time. We felt rich.

Copyright © Erana Leiken, 2009 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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