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.