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Grandpa's TV - and mine

Man came by to hook up my cable TV
We settled in for the night my baby and me
We switched 'round and 'round 'til half-past dawn
There was fifty-seven channels and nothin' on
Fifty-seven channels and nothin' on
Fifty-seven channels and nothin' on - The Boss

Like most guys, I drool everytime I go into Sears or Best Buy and pass the gianormous flat screen TVs. When I start talking them up to the LWW, she reminds me of just how little television we watch, how good our current (picture tube) sets already are, and that we should be spending our money re-tiling the bathroom shower. And like most guys, I just whimper and shut up I recognize the wisdom of her words.

This week I got a check in the mail from my grandfather's estate. I will use a little of it to get one of those TVs. I think Grandpa would approve.

When I was a little boy growing up on the Iowa prairie, Grandpa had one of the first, if not the first, color television sets in the county. All his kids and grandkids would go to his house on Sunday evening to watch the Wonderful World of Disney and Bonanza and the Flintstones in "living" COLOR. It was like I'd died and gone to heaven. Dessert, cousins and dreams of Disneyland all in a single evening.

Television watching has changed. Multiple sets in a house means that television watching is less social. 71% of kids 8-18 have a TV in their bedrooms. (Remember negotiating what cartoons to watch on Saturday morning with your sister?) DVRs have made time shifting the norm. Portable devices and Internet delivered  content makes television access ubiquitous. In '92 Springsteen sang "57 channels and nuthin' on." Today it's 500 channels and still nuthin' on along with streaming Netflix and Hulu and YouTube and who knows what else. TVs are used as much by my children and grandchildren for playing video games as they are for watching programs.

We didn't put televisions in our new schools. We found out with Obama's inaguration that nobody - teacher or student - was content with the old 35" CRT set hanging like a cobweb in the corner of the room. If the image wasn't projected, it just was't good enough.

For anyone over the age of 35 or so, television's impact has been greater than that of the Internet. TV will continue to be influential, I'm sure, in my grandkids lives.

I just wonder how.

Oh, I used my daughter watching Sesame Street in about 1974 as an excuse to buy my first big 13" color TV.

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Reader Comments (4)

I have wonderful memories of sitting in the "formal" living room at my grandparents and watching the only color TV in town -- only time we were allowed in there was on Sunday evenings. I now frequently wander through the TV section of Costco to look at LCDs/LEDs/Plasmas on my way to purchase something more mundane like cat litter or paper towels -- it has gotten anymore that Kathy steers me right past reminding me that we have a 36 inch Sony (tube tv) and when it dies then we can reconsider -- I make whimpering sounds and then go on my way.

August 23, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJay Bansbach


You're a man after my own heart.


August 24, 2010 | Registered CommenterDoug Johnson

Oscar is my main man. I have a figurine of him on my desk.

August 27, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMary


A role model? I think not.


August 27, 2010 | Registered CommenterDoug Johnson

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