Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Boob Tube...

Remember when TV was called the 'boob tube' by those who thought it would be the ruination of all future generations. That's a topic for another day especially considering all the junk that is on today. I want to go back to when getting a TV was a big deal and that first color TV put you on the map and hyped up your prestige on the block with the other kids.

I'm a child of television. I was seriously, seriously addicted to TV. I can remember the TV we had when I was a young child. It had a screen about 24", came in a cabinet with doors that closed and was black and white. Our next TV was a bigger model that had a color picture. I remember them delivering that TV!

I watched TV like going to church. It was a religion to me. To my parent's extreme frustration, I watched Saturday morning cartoons until about 12:30. The cartoons came earlier in the morning and shows like Sky King, Roy Rodgers and Rin Tin Tin came on later. Also on Saturday was Wonderama with Sonny Fox. There was another show that was a combination of games, cartoons and Johnny Carson on Sundays, also with Sonny Fox. He would sit at a desk like Johnny and had a small couch or chair next to him. Both the Sonny Fox shows had a live audience or bleachers of kids that would serve as contestants for the games. They gave away AWESOME!! prizes.

My parents weren't too fond of my TV addiction and my grandmother, much to my mother's dismay sealed my fate by giving me a portable B&W TV for my birthday. I don't know how old I was but it was well before high school and I quickly became adept at turning it on and off with the littlest amount of noise possible and watching it with the volume turned down so low it couldn't be heard downstairs. You see, my room was on the second floor - all by myself... My dad would send me to bed and I would get ready, turn out the lights, close the door as much as I dared and turn on the TV and watch all those 10:00 p.m. shows I couldn't stay up to see. My dad was a firm believer that a child needed 9-10 hours or more of sleep per night. Me, I could easily get by on 8 or less, but dad didn't buy into that.

Weekends were great. I'd go up and clean my room every weekend and watch Million Dollar Movie on WPIX. I discovered Fred Astaire and Ginger Rodgers, Eleanor Powell, Gene Kelly, and all the great 30's and 40's movies that filled up airspace on the local channels in NYC like WOR and WPIX and channel 5 which I can't remember the call signs for. It was like discovering a whole new world!

As I got older and my grades got lower, my TV was banished to the basement. That was fine, I had my rocking chair, a refrigerator and at Christmas time, my mother's cookies to snack on as I watched my evening shows.

I watched sports with my mother on the weekends. Bowling year round with Chris Schenkel and the Professional Bowlers Tour on Saturday afternoons, followed by the "thrill of victory and the agony of defeat", Wide World of Sports with Jim McKay.  Golf during the spring and baseball - the Mets during the summer and the Giants during the winter. I also got a smattering of tennis, ice skating, and car racing.

When it came time to go to college - I admit it, I panicked. No TV in my room, what would I do? The dorm had one TV in the basement lounge. I became a permanent fixture. My dorm mother always knew where to find me. On weekends my future husband and I would be the only ones there and we would get take-out grinders (subs), push the couches together and settle in for an evening of TV watching.

It's true what they say about college students scheduling their classes around their favorite soap operas. Our dorm was a designated "Young and the Restless" viewing site. Commuter students, students from other dorms, guys - would show up to watch Snapper, Jill, the Chancellors and others on a daily basis.

I'm a lot better now, I'm not as bad as I used to be. I don't have to have the TV on as background noise like others turn on a radio. I don't watch soaps everyday, sometimes I don't see them for weeks at a time. I do have my favorite shows though and DVR'ing is a must at times. I don't get a physical reaction (all right, maybe a little one) when my favorite shows are cancelled and the last episode is shown, sniff, sniff.

For the most part I still watch far more TV than most. I still have very eclectic tastes. I stopped buying the TV Guide way before they changed the format and ruined it. But I still look forward to the beginning of every new season, just not as avidly as before. I am more melancholy about TV knowing what great shows have gone before and dwindling amount of just as good show that have replaced them. This week I'm especially sad as I have watched the last week of All My Children. But, I think I'll come back to comment on that later in the week. For now it's time to check the listings to see what's on tonight.