The One-Eyed Monster……….#12 (the 50’s)

A large ten 1/2 inch screen

It’s arrival was unannounced, not a clue from his parents that it would suddenly appear,  the elder Willson consulting no one including  Mike’s mother of his decision to purchase the appliance.  Mike finding out that his Dad having bought it at the Eastmont Wisemans Store.  Mr. Wiseman saying he would take $20 off the payments for every customer his Dad sent him who bought one.  The family having  just acquired the 1937 De Soto, the old 29 Chevy relegated to history and now this,  a television,  spontaneous elation erupting from Mike and his Sisters, an aire of ascendancy beginning to prevail,  almost approaching a sense of superiority.   He believed he was the only person in his elementary school  class that had a television,  in fact he knew of only one other person in the school that had one,  but then again he didn’t know many outside of his class.  He had on a prior occasion to experience this new diverting entertainment device at Larry Smoot’s house, Mike having got acquainted with Larry at the playground after school.  Larry a year older was noted for two things, his kickball ability and that his parents owned an Ice Cream Fountain Shop on Foothill Blvd.    Mike always conjured that the latter was the reason for Larry’s popularity.

The Test Pattern - first thing in the morning and the last thing at night.

The Test Pattern – first thing in the morning and the last thing at night.

His sisters Kay and Nancy were overjoyed and he too was excited with the Magnavox, it wasn’t a six or eight, but a large ten 1/2 inch screen.   The television’s place of confinement  would be in the living room beside the front door entrance directly across from  the piano.   The inside antenna having an extra long cord, every time you changed channels you would have to move the antenna to another position in the room and for some  reason the best reception  was across the room on the piano,   therefore the extended cord ended up blocking the front door entrance.  The captive television bringing a change to everyone’s  evening,  after supper Mike and his sisters  who normally  found out-of-doors or downstairs  activities, now discovering themselves captivated and held prisoner by a television.  For a time  the Willson’s set  was the talk of the neighborhood  but soon television expansion  blossomed and  became commonplace.

Kukla, Fran and Ollie

Kukla, Fran and Ollie

The Howdy Doody Show

The Howdy Doody Show

Mike soon discovering television didn’t offer the suspense and drama that you could implant in your mind reading a book or listening to an adventure on radio.   He reasoned that you were nothing more than an observer to the small screen program, but with radio you became  part of the program, virtually able to place yourself in the program,  listening to the conversations, the  emitting sound effects,  the background music setting the ambiance of merging with the event, a feeling of presence, a conscious means to leave reality.   For now his radio program’s were still accessible,  but he had this feeling they wouldn’t be for long,  the likes of Kukla Fran and Olive, Howdy Doody, the music of Harry Owens and the Royal Hawaiians and the continuous old Hoot Gibson and Ken Maynard westerns didn’t spark his interest.   TV wasn’t that impressionable, Mike knowing that another adventure lay ahead,   it was called life.


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