Saturday, April 30, 2011

Only 4 Channels on TV But Nudity Included

When I was a kid things were rough up in the holler ("Hollow" for you northerners). What with only 4 channels on the TV, one phone in the house, and having to do actual chores it is truly a wonder that we even survived to pass on our genetic code. Yet a few of us are still running around griping about the laziness of the current generation and how the 'good ole days' were so much better.

Sesame Street in the 1960s!
Our TV "antenna" was a run of two copper wires separated by plastic pieces (It looks like a ladder). These wires were run up the hill and across the mountainside and connected to a big aerial antenna which was way up in a tree at the top of the mountain. TV pictures and sounds were sent magically to the antenna in the tree so if we could keep a connection to it we could actually see and hear them on our TV, yes I know, amazing right? These wires were always getting broken by tree imps, gremlins, and storms so it was an almost constant job to track down breaks and wire them back together. Some folks shared too. There might be three or four different houses connected to the same antenna.

Try to imagine having to get up and walk across the room to the television set whenever you wanted to flip the channel or adjust the volume... Luckily there were only the 4 channels to choose from so channel surfing didn't take up too much time and you could walk back over to the couch and sit back down. Lawd those were rough times indeed!

Hey is That Morgan Freeman?
Yes it is!
Would you believe we could watch cartoons only for a short time after school and early on Saturday mornings? All the rest of the time TV was boring and so I spent the entire week waiting for those cartoons on Saturday morning.

All through the week when mom yelled, "It's time to get up!" I would moan and groan and roll over in bed and try not to hear. The dread of waking up just to head out to feed the animals and then go to school... But the anticipation of seeing those cartoons on Saturday morning would have me up at the break of daylight ready to slip down stairs and sit in front of the TV. Mom often commented about this. "when you're going fishing with your dad or you're gonna watch your cartoons you can get up early. Why cant you get up so easy when its time for school?" Well, the answer to that is fairly easy. You have heard of selective hearing? Well I suffer from selective waking! I like to wake up to good stuff don't you?

One of the 4 channels we got was PBS educational TV. I grew up watching the original Sesame Street and Electric Company on PBS. At that time people like Morgan Freeman and Rita Moreno, who were just starting out and on their way up, were regular cast members of the Electric Company.

Benny Hill: Best of Benny HillI have seen the Electric Company recently and was very disappointed in it. The "new" Sesame Street is Ok but nothing like it use to be. Captain Kangaroo was another favorite. I also watched Mister Rogers Neighborhood occasionally but I never really liked it too much.
Monty Python and the Holy Grail (Special Edition)
I found something else on PBS that my mother definitely would not have approved of if she had actually watched it. I found British comedy; Monty Python and Benny Hill. I didn't get to watch them often but when I did I really liked it. I was around 10 years old and here were a couple shows that had scantily dressed girls and even showed partial nudity from time to time. I am still a Monty Python fan today.

At around midnight or 1 am the TV would just "sign off" Some station might show "snow," another might show a bar of colors with a sign, "Off the Air". Just before going off the air they would play the National Anthem. It didn't really matter much though since no one ever stayed up that late anyway.

People didn't start staying up late until the modern age of 24 hour a day TV, indoor plumbing, microwave popcorn, and a better selection of breakfast cereals. Strange stuff you say? Yep, me too. Just glad to be here and this story just happens to be 99.9% pure truth.

What a long strange trip it still is!

Benny Hill and some of the crew
Wild stuff indeed for a 9 or 10 year old boy in the early 1970s!

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