TV and Love in the Afternoon, 1950’s Style

No, this post is not about soap operas, even though I was captivated by As the World Turns from the time of its premiere in 1956.  But it does orbit around TV technology of the 1950’s, that era when we grappled with terms such as horizontal hold, vertical hold, fine tuning and mahogany cabinetry shielding myriad vacuum tubes, diodes and the magical cathode ray tube which turned electron beams, somehow, into glowing moving images that entertained us.

In those days TV channels could be counted on one hand, so choosing what to watch worked no hardship.   But actually turning on the TV set and watching your choice could be daunting.  Rotating the aerial, adjusting a row of picture-tuning knobs, setting the volume, all to capture the best reception possible.  Not infrequently, you’d get wiggle-squiggles, snow, or worse yet, pops, crackles and no picture at all.  Well, nothing to do then but rush to the phone and dial up that very popular service– TV Repair!

When such scenarios happened at my house, I would sit on the front steps mourning the temporary loss of my friend, The One-eyed Monster, while keeping my own eye riveted to the street awaiting the approach of a paneled vehicle emblazoned with the logo of Brown’s TV & Radio Repair.  No one can fully appreciate my 1950’s happiness at the sight of the TV repairman’s truck pulling into our driveway.  I’d leap from the step and usher the repairman through the front door and point to my sick buddy.  Then I’d crouch behind the TV set beside this big, burly man with “Gus” embroidered on his uniform shirt, a lock of black Vitalised hair falling over his left eye, and together we’d look at its innards with the back removed while he diagnosed the ailment of my magical friend, patiently answering all my youthful concerns.   Diagnosis completed, I’d walk back to his truck with him, watching him sort through the racks of vacuum tubes and wiry switches to find the replacement parts that would restore the glowing images on our TV screen.  He’d tinker within the TV set awhile, me hovering at his elbow, then he would sit back on his heels with short-sleeved arms folded across his broad chest and grin as the picture returned.  It seemed to me he basked in its restored glow– and in the warmth of being elevated in my eyes into a personal superhero.  I loved him.


5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Cindy A
    Nov 15, 2010 @ 13:10:11

    I loved gas station guys in the 50s. None of us knew how to fill up the car with gas because when you’d go to the station, a team of guys would descend upon you and fill the car with gas, clean the windshield, check the oil. I loved watching them from the backseat. Gassing up the car was an event.


    • Winston
      Nov 16, 2010 @ 11:03:11

      Yes, going to the filling station and getting the “full treatment” was a grand specialty experience, too. Friends involved in the convenience store business where almost all gasoline is sold these days tell me of horror stories of customers’ lack of respect or knowledge of the flammable properties of gasoline. It’s all about gas-and-go these days, like it is some version of inalienable rights to purchase and pump one’s own gas at any time, in any fashion. Yakking on their cell phones incessantly through the process, spillages often occur due to self-induced distractions and go unreported– hazardous puddles of liquid explosive just waiting for accidents. It is my understanding that the state of New Jersey prohibits the sale of fuel without trained personnel on site to perform the actual pumping of gasoline. What a shame full service gasoline stations have virtually vanished from the landscape. I long to trust my car, again, to the man who wears the star, the big red Texaco star!


  2. Cindy A
    Nov 17, 2010 @ 14:06:31

    You remind me of the demise of jingles. I loved them. Wonder why they went away?


  3. Ruth Pennebaker
    Dec 01, 2010 @ 17:14:37

    Just love this photo and post, Winston: priceless. Have you noticed, though, that the Texaco star looks alarmingly like the North Korean flag?


    • Winston
      Dec 02, 2010 @ 04:17:20

      Ruth, has your piercing mind revealed a secret sign? Have Texaco and North Korea undertaken a merger? Well, politics and oil do make strange bedfellows.


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