Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Life without television? Oh, yeah!

I remember when television first entered my life sometime around 1952 when I was not quite eight years old. The huge box--and even more gigantic steel antenna pole--graced my grandparents’ house next door to mine. At six o’clock every evening, the black and white test pattern magically changed to faces of real live people delivering the news, sports, and weather. Then the good stuff started!

I spent a lot of time with my grandparents anyway, so the television became an added draw. My grandfather was totally deaf, but he could see the television screen, and my grandmother literally wrote out everything about the programs and passed the clipboard across to his chair. I tried it a few times, but it seemed an impossible task.

“Sagebrush Theatre” with (Ithink) Buster Crabbe and Fuzzy St. John enthralled me. Sometimes, my parents came over, and we watched game shows or Bishop Fulton Sheen (though we weren’t Catholic). After the ten o’clock news, sports, and weather, a movie wound up the viewing marathon, and the television day ended with the playing of “The Star Spangled Banner”. Goodnight.

A few years later, my parents purchased their own television set. Sometime during my high school years, all-day broadcasting became the norm. I wasn’t allowed to watch at night until I could swear an oath my homework had been completed--although being terrified to show up at school without it was the only incentive I needed to finish!

My husband loved sports and watched anything remotely connected to same. One year for Christmas he bought me a portable B&W set so I could watch my old movies without bothering him. But--you guessed it--during the holiday season he moved it beside the big color set and had two channels going at once. Couldn’t risk missing anything, now, could he?

We had television throughout my sons’ childhoods. VCRs became the rage, so we could make sure nothing important went by the wayside. I did put my foot down on HBO and the couple of other movie channels available. Not only were they expensive, but I didn’t like the idea of my children watching what they showed.

Eventually the boys left home, and I wound up moving to another town to teach school. I took a television set with me--you know, the old kind where you had to turn the knob to change channels!--but I soon decided the expense of cable was something I could do without. I had a VCR and could check out movies from the library.

One son came to visit and wound up in withdrawal because of no TV. He rushed out, purchased a new set with rabbit-ears, and told me I could now get three whole channels. He was elated. I rarely turned it on, but he didn’t need to know that.

When I retired, I decided to get basic cable--until one night when I watched a biased mainstream media anchor bully a political candidate who’d agreed to an interview--and until one night when I was treated to three consecutive commercials: one on an STD, one on male “problems”, and the third on bladder control. #1 and #3 aren’t a problem for me, and, being female, I don’t need anything recommended by #2.  Then I figured out how much I was paying in a year to be subjected to these lovely visions.

Television left my house and has remained in exile permanently. My son thinks I should be committed.

Now  I have Amazon Prime and recently bought the Fire Stick accessory. I sit back and enjoy old (clean) movies and wonderful documentaries. And, if a documentary turns ridiculous, I can end it and remove it from my watchlist.  When I turn it off at night, I don’t feel I need to go bathe yet again because of what I’ve seen.

It’s a personal choice, but I get some satisfaction (a lot!) out of knowing I’m not contributing my ‘widow’s mite’ to the violent, graphic, obscene programming which abounds. I subscribe to the newspaper and can check out news stories on line--comparing them, deciding which is credible rather than being force fed the propaganda du jour.

I grew up with radio. Television was a novelty, then a seeming necessity.

But guess what?  Life goes on without it!

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