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Television was just a passing fad

Convinced that television was a passing fad, my father steadfastly refused to buy one of these newfangled inventions. When my school friends talked of watching Howdy Doody and Pinky Lee, I listened with envy, while fervently hoping that dad would change his mind. This seemed highly unlikely, but through unexpected circumstances, he finally agreed to consider the purchase of a television set.

In the summer of 1954, my father, who was senior captain at the Glenora Ferry, was sent to Erieau where he was to spend several months while the new ferry, The Quinte Loyalist, was being built. During his stay he boarded with an older couple who owned a television set. When dad returned home, he admitted that television was entertaining and agreed to consider the purchase of a TV set. However, he pointed out that TVs were expensive and money was a consideration. After much discussion, my parents decided there might be a way to purchase a television without breaking the bank.

Several years before, my older sister Mary had shown an interest in taking piano lesson. A piano was purchased and she began her musical education with Mrs. Effie Hooper of Catherine Street, who was a well-known teacher. Mary’s interest in becoming a pianist was short-lived. After master a few hit tunes of the day, including Beyond the Sunset and The Blue Skirt Waltz, she gave up her lessons. The piano gathered dust in our parlour, for five years, before mother announced that she had arranged for me take music lessons. Mrs. Hooper became my teacher and for several years, dutifully, I practised the piano. Eventually, I rebelled and complained so bitterly about my lessons that mother allowed me to give them up. .

My parents agreed that it would make good sense to sell our piano and use the money towards the purchase of a television set. My sister and I strongly supported this proposal and our piano was advertised for sale in the local paper. Within a few days time it was sold and my father visited Nourse Radio Electric to buy our first TV.

Our big, black and white Sylvania television set was delivered promptly and an antenna was installed on the roof of our house. The direction of this aerial could be changed by using a rotor box that sat beside the TV set.

The new television was a great success. My sister became a fan of The Eddie Fisher Show, while my parents watched the evening news with John Cameron Swayze. My favourite programs included Howdy Doody, Pinky Lee, Fury, and Lassie. Our whole family watched The Life of Riley and Father Knows Best, as well as I Love Lucy and the General Electric Theatre. The Ed Sullivan Show also was a favourite. Westerns were popular in the early years of television and we quickly became fans of Bonanza, The Virginian, Wanted Dead or Alive, Riverboat, Gunsmoke, and The Rebel, starring Nick Adams.

In later years, my mother and I watched All My Children and As The World Turns. My parents became big fans of the Lawrence Welk Show and no Saturday night was complete without “the lovely Lennon Sisters”, Joe Feeney, Maurice Pearson and Champagne Lady Alice Lon. Alice’s appearances ended abruptly and movie magazines hinted that it was because her skirts had been too short for this family show.

With the advent of colour television, I was hopeful that my parents would retire our old black and white model. However, they insisted that colour TV was too bright and would hurt our eyes. They remained firm in their opinion, until 1974, when I successfully nudged them into the 20th century.

Today, I have fond recollections of those long ago winter evenings on The Commons, when my parents, my sister, and I would gather in the living room to watch our favourite television shows. We did not own a flat screen TV, or even a colour television, in those years, but this did not diminish our enjoyment of a night at The Long Branch in Dodge City or an exciting hockey game. Perhaps, our real pleasure lay in the knowledge that, as we sat there together, eyes glued to the screen, we were a family.

Filed Under: Margaret Haylock-Capon

About the Author: Maggie Haylock is a freelance writer and former newspaper reporter who has co-authored several books with her husband, Alan Capon.

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  1. Ann Sherwood says:

    I remember watching many of those old shows. They certainly were far superior to most of the drivel that passes for entertainment these days.

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