Television and the Way It Impacted my Life

Do you remember the first time you saw a television set? I do. I was eight years old, and Santa bought it for the family at Christmas. Back then, I hadn’t realized how my parents had scrimped and saved to get us this wonderful, magical device. They’d had it on layaway( the system by which you put a little down each week until you paid off the purchase before you got to take it home) for more than a year. Dad had stopped buying cigarettes and rolled his own, Mom had stopped buying butter in favor of Blue Bonnet margarine, that my sister and I were required to knead in bag until the red bead’s coloring was evenly divided. For the record, it didn’t taste like butter. We ate more perch, rabbit, and venison, and meat from the butcher was rare. We’d done without treats, never understanding why until that morning when we got up and saw what Santa had left under our tree. To put it into perspective, the average cost of a television set in 1958 was $269.95 for Sears’s “best 24-inch console TV” or the equivalent of 136.34 hours of work at the average hourly wage back then. It was an extravagant gift for the family of a millworker and a salesclerk, but my parents always wanted us to have the best.

Most of my friends didn’t have television sets, in fact, I don’t think I’d even heard of such a thing, until I saw it. My dad quickly learned to supplement his income by adding the job of aerial installer to the jobs he had when he wasn’t working at the papermill.

The family fell into a new routing. Once supper was over–always served at five o’clock on the dot when my father wasn’t working the three to eleven shift, after the kitchen had been cleaned and we’d put on our pajamas, we all settled in front of the television for the two hours left before bedtime to watch a program my parents chose and considered suitable. Due to the fact that there were two channels, one English and one French, there really wasn’t a lot of choice.

There was Father Knows Best, Leave It To Beaver, The Honeymooners, Bonanza, The Wide World of Disney, Lawrence Welk, Country Jamboree, and The Ed Sullivan Show. My sister and I developed our own routine to the theme song associated with Chip and Dale, mischievous chipmunks put on Earth solely for the purpose of driving Donald Duck nuts. I remember seeing Elvis, The Beatles, The Animals, Petula Clark, and countless others, even The Singing Nun on his show. If we happened to be at my grandparents’–they got one a year after we did, we’d watch the French channel with Seraphim, La famille Plouffe, and of course, hockey. My grandfather was a Canadiens fan right up to the day he died.

Some of my best childhood memories centered around those times when we sat on the floor, there weren’t enough chairs facing the TV for all of us to sit, watching old Western movies. As I got older, television time changed. We watched if after school and during the day when we weren’t at school. There were more channels and different programs including Saturday mornings just for kids–cartoons, Sky King, F-Troop, Rin-Tin-Tin, and of course, Roy Rogers. Times changed and so did our television set.

By the time I was in my mid-teens, there were thirteen channels, some French, some Canadian, some American, and a wide variety of programming. I didn’t always watch the same things Mom and Dad did, although if they were around, the choice was theirs. While I watched American Bandstand, Hullabaloo, and The Monkeys, as a family, we watched The Outer Limits, The Rifleman, The Untouchables, Dragnet, Star Trek, Lost in Space, and the news, but Sunday evenings still belonged to Disney, Ed Sullivan and the Cartwright Family.

I used to walk to my grandmother’s for lunch since she lived closer to the high school than we did, and after quickly consuming my hot lunch, I would sit with her and watch The Guiding Light and Search for Tomorrow before returning to school for the afternoon classes.

How times have changed. Now, the television has hundreds of channels, more programs than i can name, and people, including children spend far more time parked in front of it than ever. I can admit to being guilty of using the television to babysit. My kids watched Sesame Street, Mister Rogers, The Electric Company, He-Man, and Scooby-Doo, while my grandkids watched Dora, Thomas the Tank Engine, Wonder Pets, Bob the Builder, and the Backyardigans, but to be fair, Grandpa liked those, too. When the grandkids came along, we also had VHS tapes to add to the litany of what they could watch on TV. There were many Disney movies and others including CARS, several stories about Barbie, and The Mask.

But the more things change, the more they stay the same.

It’s early evening, the dinner dishes are done, and it’s time for you to relax after a busy day. Remote in hand, you turn on the television and start channel surfing for something to watch. What will you choose? Comedy, drama, romance, sci-fi, a series you never miss or will you opt for a dose of reality with a cooking show, a home makeover, a news report, a historical analysis, a sneak peek into the secret lives of animals, a documentary, or one of the other reality shows out there? Me? I’ll watch drama, sci-fi, or one of the latest movies–maybe I’ll make it a retro night and binge on something from the past. Star Trek anyone?

This week I released a brand new book, Atonement. It’s a paranormal suspense romance. Check it out. If you like stories about witches and Salem, this is the book for you!

Although she was raised in an alleged haunted house by a Wiccan priestess, Anca Cole, a bartender with a degree in psychology, refuses to believe in magic, demons, ghosts, curses, or anything remotely supernatural. There’s a logical explanation for everything.
When her aunt has an accident, Anca rushes back to Salem, arriving home to realize that things aren’t what she expected. The family ghost exists and insists it’s time for Anca to accept and fulfill her destiny.
With help from Dr. Walt Tanner, the man who broke her heart, a couple of unusual cats, and an ancient parrot, Anca sets out to discover the truth about Cole Cottage and find the key to saving the future. This fight may have started more than three hundred and fifty years ago, but the war ends now.
Unless she and Walt can find what was lost, evil will prevail and destroy any chance they may have at a future together. Can their love overcome centuries of hatred, jealousy, envy, and greed, or will they be doomed to stay apart forever?

See you next month, and to all the mothers out there, Happy Mother’s Day on May 14.

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About Susanne Matthews

I'm a retired high school English teacher turned author. I'm Canadian. My husband and I have been married 48 years and have 3 children and 5 grandchildren, as well as 2 step-grandchildren.  I enjoy traveling, especially somewhere warm in winter.

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