Houses with antenna

It’s funny what sticks in your mind and what doesn’t. I vividly remember seeing color televisions for the first time at the Texas State Fair in Dallas. I remember eating my first corn dog there, and heartily recommending that Dad add corn dogs to the menu at the Health Camp, the burger joint he and my Uncle Jack owned.

I remember how much I wanted a color television, and how disappointing our black and white TV seemed after that trip to Dallas. But I don’t remember when we finally moved up to color. Knowing my father’s reluctance to embrace new technologies and our chronic lack of money, I’m guessing it was quite a few years. I do recall friends at school talking about how amazing the new western, “Bonanza,” was in color, but I had to watch the early episodes in shades of grey. It premiered in 1959, so I know it was well after that before we joined the technicolor crowd.

In Dad’s defense, the first color TVs were fabulously expensive, and few shows were filmed in color until the technology became widespread. If you bought an early color set, a technician had to install it in your home, and adjusting it was a nightmare. It wasn’t until 1965, the year I graduated from high school, that as many as half of the network shows were offered in color, and not until 1972 that the three major networks finally broadcast their entire schedules in color. I’m guessing that my memory lapse is because my family didn’t buy one until after I went off to college.

I’m certain that my kids, spoiled as they are by 500 channels of high-def, wide-screen offerings, find it impossible to believe the hopelessly limited world I grew up in. And no computers. It must seem to them as though we lived in a third world country back then.

Readers of a certain age, though, share my memories.

This from Trent:

Although I’m (almost) a Colorado native, your Waco upbringing wasn’t that far removed from mine and, thanks to your superior memory, you’ve given me the chance to recall experiences long buried.

Your latest offering on the subject of transitioning from black & white to color TV’s reminds me of an amusing anecdote from those days:

My grandma purchased (from God knows where) a large sheet of transparent mylar which had been dyed in three horizontal colors (from top to bottom: blue, green and brown) which was affixed to the front of her (black & white) TV screen.  The intention was to simulate a “natural-looking” scene in full glorious color (get it…blue sky, green grass, brown dirt?) I didn’t have the heart to tell her that it was ineffective at best and downright confusing for indoor scenes.

Kathleen adds:

I remember the colored plastic on a friends TV! Hadn’t thought about THAT for years.

Adonna says:

I remember our first color TV vividly. It came from Hicks Rubber Company and when the man brought it he had a big round color circle that he waved in front of the TV then pulled it back and all the colors popped out. I thought that was really weird, but the first color TV Ken and I owned was the exact same (back in 1968). The repair man had to come back once again a few weeks later to wave the color circle in front of our TV because the color just went away one day. Thank goodness the art of color TV has been perfected.

Larry T:

Ed, I remember seeing a color TV for the first time at the HOT fair.

For those of you not from Waco, that’s the Heart of Texas Fair, held annually at the Waco Coliseum and fairgrounds.


My dad is about your age, and he remembers when all television was black and white. He said one of his friends had color TV, and would always go to his house whenever he could just so he could watch color programs. He remembers the days when NBC had that “in living color” logo, with the peacock. However, he had a B&W set at the time, and never actually saw the logo in color until he looked for it on YouTube, about 40 years after NBC stopped using it. I have my own personal anecdote. I was selling some comics I drew in a comic convention, which sold pretty well. They were in black and white, due to it being cheaper than color printing. At one point, a kid came up, looked at my stuff, and said “no color? Black and white is stupid!” His mother ran up and scolded him, giving me a sheepish smile. I should’ve guilted her into buying something from me (HA!).

Larry H., responding to last week’s posting, remembers looking for Sputnik in the night sky.

I’m still a phenomenally dissociated space case at 63, spending well more than half my time on other planets or alternate timelines, but at 6, I could barely make contact with this reality at all.  My standard mode of locomotion was to run as fast as I could until I smacked into a stationary object (tree, clothesline pole, side of the garage) that had always been there and hadn’t just leapt up in front of me, I wore scabs not just on my knees like most six-year-olds, but all over my head.

It was agony when everyone else was looking at something I didn’t see:  ring-necked pheasant, beautiful butterfly, rabbit in the brush. “Look at that deer!”  “Where?”  “Right THERE!?”  “WHERE???”

So you can just imagine me standing out in the back yard at night with the whole assembled family, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousin, all pointing up at the sky.  “See?  The star that’s moving?”

Finally, this from Miriam:

15 weeks already? I love Wednesdays!

Thanks. I hope all my readers feel that way.