Here’s a surprise for you – your Dad thinks Life is Great because of BIG TVs and HD digital cable. I was so stoked when we got that beast behind me, which was a puny 60″ and I have of course moved on to an 80″ monster as HD become the standard – Wow! If CostCo comes out with a bigger TV, I will have to raise the ceiling on the house and pull you out of college to afford to pay for the renovations. Sorry, but I have my priorities. I do apologize if over the years you had to compete for my love with this electronic marvel, but you are still here and many of those hypnotizing-opium boxes have come and gone.
Let me go into old man Dad mode – as if I have any other mode? When I was your age, the typical TV was 19″ across… diagonally, smaller than many computer screens. There was much less channel surfing in those days because there were way fewer channels! If you were lucky enough to have a TV obsessed dad whom spent your college savings to buy a color TV, you were still stuck watching mostly black and white shows because that’s how they were filmed. Also, only the mega rich had TV remotes, often a butler stood by the TV as the wealthy viewer shouted to turn the channel. For the less wealthy, kids often served this function. We were not rich, so we had to get off our butts, walk over to the TV and actually turn the channel by rotating a clunky knob on the TV. Now, if you were doing alright financially, then this meant you would turn another huge dial on another box next to the TV which would rotate the TV antenna on the roof very, very slowly so you could see what was on TV instead of what appeared like a snow storm. It would take approximately 20 minutes to rotate through the 5-6 grainy TV channels you had.
It could take hours to change channels if you could not afford that little antennae rotating box. Without that box, you either watched the only TV channel that came through clearly or changing channels was a family event. One person would go on the roof and the other would change channels and scream at the person on the roof to manually move the antennae around. Neighborhoods were much louder in those days due to channel surfing. On rainy days you had to be really desperate to change a channel. Also, often the person that did the most work (the roof man) got screwed. You’d go on the roof on a cold windy day and come back down to discover your brother had you tune the TV to some show you hate – screaming at you the whole time that you were tuning in the show you wanted to watch. Overtime, you became a master at remembering which direction the antennae should be pointing for the different channels, so your sneaky lazy brother would not trick you again.
In those days most kids had callous on their fingers from turning those clunky dials, rotating the antenna poles, and climbing on fences to jump on roofs. This was also why gyms were not as ubiquitous back then, people got their exercise from changing channels. Gyms only became popular after TV remotes and cable became more affordable. Of course, TVs also had to get bigger because with cable there is so much more to watch on TV that it required a bigger TV for all that content to fit inside. You kids today have streaming – you just can’t wait for something to come on TV and plan your whole day around when your favorite TV show starts? No, you demand that TV bow to your schedule. I sometimes think your generation doesn’t deserve TV because you don’t appreciate it enough! Your loyalty to it seems questionable as you watch your YouTube videos, sometimes right in front it! What was I even writing about again? Oh yeah, be happy you got big TV’s and HD cable and don’t have to jump on the roof.
P.S. I do love you more than the TV and always have … most of the time!