Friday, January 26, 2007

Back In The Day

You may have seen it as it's been passed around in email, that hilarious post detailing all the ways in which the current Over 30 crowd had it tough, compared to today's kids. One point made was, "Sure, we had cable television, but back then that was only like 15 channels and there was no onscreen menu and no remote control! You had to use a little book called TV Guide to find out what was on."

This immediately prompted a response from a member of the Over 40 group. "You wanna talk about TV?" she asked. "We had one, a 13" black and white -- that's right, no color. We got a color TV when I was 7 but we could only get three channels, none of them clear, because in the town where I grew up, there WAS no cable in 1980!"

Heh, heh. If you think the Over 60 group can't beat that, you haven't been paying attention. Although it existed in other parts of the country, we didn't get TV on the south coast of Oregon until I was about 17-18 -- 1956 -- and it was black and white and very snowy.

What we had when I was growing up was the good old-fashioned radio. Ours was a table model Cathedral style Philco, very much like the one in the above picture. It couldn't have been more than a couple of feet high, if that, because I sneaked it under the covers one night so I could listen to Inner Sanctum. That was simply an extension of hiding under the covers with a book and a flashlight after lights out was called. Except the books weren't forbidden. Inner Sanctum, however, was judged too scary for one of my tender age. (Eight or nine, I think -- totally bloodthirsty, of course.)

Well, I only got to try that once. Just when the program was getting to the good part, Mom whipped the covers away and marched off with the Philco, heedless to my pleas and abject begging. It had never occurred to me the grownups might listen to that stuff after we kidlets went to bed or that they might actually miss a piece of furniture not in its accustomed place.

I don't mean to claim we were deprived without television. Of course we weren't. How could we miss what didn't even exist? And, oh! What great radio programs we got to listen to. Boston Blackie. The Green Hornet. The Shadow. The Cisco Kid. The Roy Rogers Show. Jack Benny.

Oh, Jack Benny. Now there is an example of what wonders your imagination can produce. I listened to Jack Benny for years and always loved the episodes where he went down to his vault to visit his money. When Jack and the rest of us finally graduated to television, I could hardly wait to see an episode showing that fabulous vault. You know what? I was sorely disappointed. My vault was far more impressive than their version.

I find that happening in other contexts, too. Think of the difference your imagination makes if you read the book first and then see the movie, instead of the other way around. For that matter, think about the different visual associations you have when you hear a song before you see it in a music video. In a way, we lose something when other people present us with the picture before we can create our own.

That's why I don't think today's kids really have it better, where the imagination is concerned. Not worse, either. Just different. But, man, you should have seen my version of the vault!


John Bailey said...

"Just different" That's right. But there are some instances where we had the best of the difference, I think. And visualisation was one of them... :-)

bb said...

I only seem to recall listening to music or Hopalong Cassidy. I was a Senior I believe before the black and white TV came into our house. With it's booster box on top.

Did you see the Maxine I stuck up yesterday? Just for you.

Oh did you get the silly cartoon I mailed?

The Old Guy said...

Well, if you're prepared to haul your computer under the covers, Dee, you can retreat to your Inner Sanctum once more, and maybe find out what really happened.

And here, for your listening pleasure, are links to the other ones you mentioned:
Boston Blackie
The Green Hornet
The Shadow
The Cisco Kid
The Roy Rogers Show
Jack Benny

Delicata Squash said...

When i was 12 or 13, I was babysitting my brother and sister. My parents were out for the evening. I was in their room listening to the radio, and I found Inner Sanctum on there, which was new to me and way cool, this being 1974. It scared me SO bad I couldnt hardly get up out off the bed to go to the bathroom. To this day, I remember the shusshing of the waves (as something horrid was coming out of the water, i suspect) and the ticking of a clock. Never has the ticking of a clock had so much Portent.

Dee said...

Hi, everyone. I'm a bit late checking in and it's all the Old Guy's fault. (grin) Been listening to some of those radio programs they have at (thanks for the link, Bill) and found a few I'd forgotten about.

Bonnie, yes! I loved the Maxine cartoon. As for mail, I guess I'd better trot over to the P.O. and check. Been somewhat confined to quarters lately, between a snarfy back and a bit of the creeping crud.

Delicata, (love that name) you'll have to revisit Inner Sanctum to see how you feel about it now. Just go to the bathroom first. (smile)