In 1947, Motorola introduced the VT-71 television for $189.95, the first television set to be sold for under $200, finally making television affordable for millions of Americans. Does it seem coincidental that this occurred shortly after my birth? I think not.
I grew up alongside the developing television industry. I first remember watching TV at Grandma Della's. I was enthralled by the antics of Howdy Doody (I don't know if this link works)...and his friends, Buffalo Bob, Clarabelle the Clown, and Princess Summerfallwinterspring. These were watched on a small black and white set in my grandparents living room. Grandpa Earle and Grandma Dorothy were also early adopters of the new technology. (Here's Aunt Val at Grandma Eck's...notice their TV on the left)
At home we didn't get a TV until I was about 9 (1954). Clarabelle the Clown started his own show as Captain Kangaroo; another favorite was I Love Lucy and Perry Mason, Superman, The Lone Ranger, Lassie and Rin Tin Tin. I was delighted to get a Howdy Doody marionette one year for Christmas.
Disneyland on Sunday nights...Disneyland was opened in 1955. We were all glued to the set to watch the serialized Davey Crockett. After school we would tune in to The Micky Mouse Club with the lovely Annette, Darlene, Cubby and Karen. We loved the adventures of Spin and Marty. Later we watched American Bandstand with Dick Clark and Rocky and Bullwinkle.
My parents liked to watch The Dinah Shore show and Ed Sullivan. I can remember sneaking into the family room after being put to bed and hiding behind the orange Naugahyde couch to watch Dinah and her guests(See the USA, in your Chevrolet!)
Color TV started to become available in the late 50's, but I don't think Grandpa Roger got one until maybe after I went to BYU(maybe Val remembers?).... I remember babysitting for the Kravitch's who had a color set and being amazed at seeing Bonanza in "living color".
Watching TV was different then. For one thing, when we watched TV, we watched TV, and, except for afterschool kids shows, or baseball games, we watched as families. And there was no channel surfing because we didn't have remote controls. You actually had to get up, walk to the TV and turn the knob! There wasn't much motivation to channel surf however because there were only three channels. The TV was usually turned off for dinner, although there were some new inventions, TV Dinners and little TV trays. We often begged to be able to "finish this show" before coming to dinner. I remember seeing a program (like Mr. Wizard) that showed how in the future there would be machines that would "save" your program so you could come back after dinner and watch it later!Can you imagine? It was beyond my comprehension. Other favorite shows included Leave It To Beaver, This is Your Life, Alfred Hitchcock, The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet,
TV caused a bit of a crisis during high school...in those days I always did my homework at my desk in my bedroom. Doing homework in the family room while watching TV just never occurred to me. So some nights I would have to decide whether to do my homework or watch Have Gun, Will Travel, 77 Sunset Strip or The Honeymooners. I would do a little self talk...in 20 years what will matter most? me watching this show or doing my algebra? Of course I always decided to go do my homework (I was no fun!)...if only I'd known about reruns!
One last experience I remember was when I was babysitting Aunt Val and Uncle Jesse while Grandma Janiece and Grandpa Roger were out for the evening. I liked to watch The Twilight Zone...but in our family room we had a big sliding door that took up most of the wall opposite the couch where I sat. If I forgot to close the drape before the show started it became a big black wall looking out into a dark moonless light. Who knew what lurked outside...I was often too creeped out by the show to get up and close it and go to bed. I'd wait until mom and dad came home before I'd venture past.