Yesterday after I posted two b&w commercials, I got thinking about the events that lead up to my mother finally allowing us to have a color TV. I don’t usually talk about my childhood, but just this once I’ll tell you more than you’ll probably ever want to know about me– and how it came to be that my mother allowed the two of us to have an extravagance such as a color TV.
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In May of my freshman year of high school we had unusually intense spring thunderstorms. Very windy, very rainy, with lots of lightning.
Our house didn’t have cable so to get reception our TV had an antennae attached to it. One night after Mom and I had gone to bed a bolt of lightning hit the antennae, came into the house, and went straight to the TV (which was off at the time). In an instant, the old b&w TV caught on fire.
The burning TV sounded like someone making popcorn. In fact, when I heard the popping sound I figured that Mom couldn’t sleep and had got up to make herself a snack. Naturally, I wanted some of it so I hurried into the kitchen to get something to eat.
But what I found in the kitchen was my mother on the phone with our small town fire department. They responded quickly and almost the entire fire department arrived to watch our TV burn up. This was because most of the firemen had heard about how old TVs could catch on fire, but had never actually seen one in real life on fire, so this was a learning experience for them.
They dragged the TV outside into the rain and then axed it to pieces. There was almost no damage to the inside of the house, but the old b&w TV was toast.
Weird as it is to say, the dramatic end of our TV got Mom and me laughing every time we talked about it. The whole absurd thing was funny to us.
Already that year: 1) my dad had died after a lengthy illness; 2) I’d had major surgery on my knee; and 3) while driving into the garage Mom had accidentally run over the family cat [who went on to live a very long and grouchy life]. So having your TV burst into flames seemed rather minor to us. Just something to laugh about. Endlessly.
Which was just as well considering that Mom had lots of bills to pay– and getting a new TV was not a priority. So for the next twelve months we lived in a very quiet home with only the radio, playing cards, boxed games and books for entertainment.
Eventually Mom decided that it was time for us to get a new television. She and I went to some local furniture/appliance store where we bought a brand-new top-of-the-line [Magnavox, maybe?] color TV.
Our first one. Finally.