Our First Television

Do you remember your family’s first television set (TV)?

We finally got one in the early 1950’s, an RCA. The picture tube was small and located inside a wooden cabinet.  Color television sets were introduced in 1953, but our first one was black and white.  And, until we got a roof antenna, we used “Rabbit Ears.” They sat on top of the TV and you had to move the “ears” around until the picture was focused.

There were three television stations in our viewing area:  KFVS, CBS Channel 12, based in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, began broadcasting on October 3, 1954; WSIL, ABC Channel 3, based in Harrisburg, Illinois, signed on the air for the first time on December 1, 1953; and WPSD, NBC Channel 6, based in Paducah, Kentucky, debuted on May 28, 1957.

Prior to regular daytime programming being aired, we could only watch shows at night. Sometimes, I would sit in front of the TV watching the pattern thinking if I sat and stared at that screen long enough, a show would begin.   But, alas, it never happened. Now, on Saturday nights, we always had RC colas and popcorn and watched “Tarzan” starring Johnny Weissmuller.  Mom would freeze the RCs for a couple of hours so they would have ice in them – yummy.  Saturday nights were always a big treat for us; that was the only time we could have soft drinks.

As Cheryl and I got older, Saturday morning cartoons were the main event in our house.  We had our favorite cartoons; we got up bright and early every Saturday because we couldn’t miss a one of those wonderful shows like Popeye and Mighty Mouse.  There were other programs too like The Howdy Doody Show, The Little Rascals, The Lone Ranger and Sky King.   Oh, and do you remember The Mickey Mouse Club?  That was one of my very favorites.

Did you ever watch The Ed Sullivan Show?  If you have never heard of it or don’t remember, The Ed Sullivan Show was a variety show that offered virtually every type of entertainment including opera, pop artists, comedians, and even circus acts. Many of the top-name rock stars made their first television appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show.  In September 1956, Elvis Presley appeared on the show and The Beatles appeared in February 1964. The show came on every Sunday night; and since we were church-going people, that posed a big problem for me.  The only way I could watch it was if I happened to be too sick to go to church; and believe me, you had to be a death’s door to miss church.  But you know something, the world didn’t end because I couldn’t watch The Ed Sullivan Show.

See ya next Wednesday.


The Bully

Were you ever bullied?  Well, I was and I’m gonna tell ya how I took care of that sucker.

When I was in First Grade, there was a bully who rode the same school bus as I did. Almost every afternoon, I would get off the bus crying because he constantly picked on me.  I have to be honest here and say that I don’t remember exactly what he did to me, but I was afraid of him and he knew it.  My mother finally told me that I would have to stand up to him or she would whip me every time I came home crying.  And believe me, she did that well.  However, she did come up with a solution to fix the problem. She suggested that if I were to catch him bent over the water fountain, I should walk up and whack him over the head with my lunchbox and book satchel.  I just knew that would be certain death; but I had to decide if I wanted to continue to be bullied and get a whipping or stop this kid from messing with me.  Well, the decision came a day or two later.  That morning I got off the bus and started into the school building.  Just inside the door was the water fountain and there he was getting a drink.  Yep, you guessed it, I hit him as hard as I could with my trusty Roy Rogers/Dale Evans lunchbox and book satchel; pretty much mashed his nose all over that water fountain.  I truly expected him to kill me right then and there. He raised up rubbing his nose and yelled at me, “Whaddya think you’re doing?” Oh crap, here it comes!   But I stood my ground and said, “You leave me alone.” I could see that he really did want to hit me, but he just gave me a dirty look and walked away.   After that, he never bothered me any more.  And since that day, I have not allowed anyone to bully me.

Speaking of my Roy Rogers/Dale Evans lunchbox, there was a little block building next to the school where everyone who brought their lunch ate.  My mom always packed a cold-cut sandwich, a dill pickle and an apple for my lunch; I bought a carton of milk for two cents.  In the winter, there was a roaring hot pot-bellied stove in the middle of the room that we all tried to sit near while we ate.  After lunch, we had recess and I either went to the swings or back into the gym, depending on the weather.

Hope you enjoyed this little trip back to school.  There’s plenty more stories about school coming.

See ya next Wednesday.

The Balloon Caper

There were two small groceries in Sharpe, KY located across the street from one another but there was never any real competition between the two.  They both carried all the usual grocery items and also sold minnows for fishing and had gasoline pumps. These groceries were a gathering spot for the local farmers and many travelers since there were no interstate highways then.  My grandmother worked at one of them; and every day, some of the farmers would come to the store around lunch time and buy bologna/cheese sandwiches.  My grandmother sliced the bologna and cheese right there in the store while they waited. Soft drinks cost a nickel; I don’t remember how much they were charged for the sandwiches. During the summer, some of the farmers would bring fresh vegetables from their gardens and set up stands under the shade trees beside the store and sell their goods to travelers and local folks who didn’t grow gardens.

Now to the balloon caper.  On a beautiful summer day, one of the neighborhood kids came to visit and we decided it would be fun to get some balloons and have a little fun with them.  So, I walked to the store, got a bag and brought them back to my house.  The plan was to play with them for a while, then take them back to the store.  After all, I was only “borrowing” them.  I had no intentions of keeping them because stealing was wrong.  Anyway, this kid and I started blowing up the balloons and letting them fly around the yard.  Just when we were in the middle of having all this fun, my mom came out to check on me, saw the balloons and asked me where I got them.  I explained to her that I borrowed them from the store and was going to return them when we finished playing.   Well, she got upset, started crying hysterically and said that the owner would probably send me to jail because I stole the balloons from his store.  She immediately called him, explained what had happened and begged him not to put me in jail.  When she got off the phone, she told me that he decided he wouldn’t put me in jail this time if I promised to never take anything again unless I had permission to do so.  That sounded like a good plan to me.

No, she didn’t call him at all, but I learned my lesson and never “borrowed” anything else again.

See ya next Wednesday.

Vacation Bible School

Do you remember Vacation Bible School (VBS)?  I remember that was something I looked forward to every summer.

We attended Sharpe Church of Christ; and every summer we went to VBS along with a lot of the neighborhood kids.  Each morning, we all would gather in the auditorium where the preacher would welcome everyone and we would sing some songs before going to our classrooms.

There were classes for all ages.  When we reached our classrooms, we would find them all decorated and workbooks on the tables.  We would study, then have a break out under the trees where the ladies of the church served cookies and kool-aid.  After the break, we would go back to class for a little while and return to the auditorium for more songs before being dismissed.

When class was over on the last day, the preacher would present awards and certificates for perfect attendance and we would sing more songs before being dismissed.  After being dismissed, we would go outside where the ladies had prepared a huge picnic for us.  We had fried chicken, all kinds of sandwiches, side dishes, chips, soft drinks and desserts of every kind.  Now all of this food was homemade so you can just imagine how good it tasted. You know, there’s nothing better than cold fried chicken.  Anyway, everyone went home a little smarter and a whole lot full.

See ya next week.

By the way, I have added a Southern Sayin’s page and a Recipe page.   Check them out!