If you are under the age of 40 you will likely not remember the early days of black and white television but your parents and grandparents are always pleased to tell us how great it was when those fancy electronic picture boxes invaded their comfortable little living rooms.
The first thing you saw when you switched on the television set was the test pattern, there was no remote control, and before those big old antennas went up on the roofs we had to adjust the rabbit ears to get a good picture.
Here are some of my favourite memories of those exciting days of black and white, and I am sure that those of you who grew up in the Fifties, Sixties and Seventies will share the same and many more great stories.
• We were not allowed to watch television during supper or before our homework and chores were done, but some of the wild and wonderful programs included: Howdy Doody, the Honeymooners, Annette and the Mouseketeers at Disneyland, the Ed Sullivan Show, Saturday morning cartoons, Spanky and Our Gang, Stampede Wrestling, Batman and Robin, western heroes like Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, the Lone Ranger and Tonto and a few mushy soap operas during which we had to sit real quiet.
• Our mothers used to cut chicken, chop eggs, and spread mayo on the same cutting board with the same knife and without bleach, but we didn’t seem to get food poisoning. The yummy school sandwiches she made were wrapped in wax paper and placed in a brown paper bag and not in quick freeze ice pack coolers, but I can’t ever remember getting e-coli. We were also required to eat all our lunch or else, because the lunch room supervisor was watching.
• All of us kids would have rather gone fishing or swimming in the lake or river instead of having to behave in a pristine community pool, and there were no beach closures in those days.
• We all took phys-ed, and risked permanent injury wearing a boring old pair of Dunlop sand shoes instead of having cross-training athletic shoes with cushion soles and built in light reflectors. I can’t ever recall any injuries but they must have happened, because they are always telling us how much safer our kids are now than in the wild days when we were somehow growing up.
• We all said prayers and proudly sang the national anthem together first thing in the morning at school. Students were required to take a spoon full of cod liver oil as well as to line up for regular immunization needles from a nice nurse, who even gave us a treat after the shot. If we misbehaved in class we had to spend noon hours or after school in detention, and got all sorts of negative attention, especially later at home.
• When and if we got hurt, mom would wipe the tears, wash of the dirt, and then pull out that 48 cent bottle of mecuricome (which didn’t sting like iodine), which usually fixed just about any owie. Then we got our butts spanked for playing on the gravel piles at an out-of-bounds construction site, but we quickly recovered and headed out to show off all our Band-Aids then go and embark on other adventures, such as building tree and underground houses, or daredevil stunts on our bikes. Nowadays when they get sick or hurt it’s usually a trip to the emergency room followed by a 10-day dose of expensive antibiotics, while the parents are calling their attorneys to see if they can sue someone for daring to make it too dangerous for the children to play.
• I just can’t recall how bored we were without computers, Play Station, Nintendo, Xbox, or access to 270 digital TV cable stations, simply because there were so many other neat things to do, dream up, and invent every day together with family, friends, or your neighbourhood team, come rain or shine. How did we ever survive you might ask? It was with a free spirit and a deep respect for others that we made it through the good and the bad times of growing up, and while most of us would never trade that experience for the world, we must always strive to share the joy, the lessons, and the memories with each generation.
Have a great week, all of you!