I wrote a story about writing letters as a child to the media on Sunday, and it got me thinking.The first TV program I remember watching as a child was the Mantovani Show and not only was it boring, but it was in black and white. Because we lived 14 miles from the Vermont border in Quebec we were lucky to be able to receive American television but my family insisted on progressing from Mantovani to Don Messer’s Jubilee.
Cartoon Corner and Howdy Doody were favourites of mine in black and white on CBC. I also remembered having to unplug the TV when a thunderstorm occurred as my Mother said it was “going to blow the house up if one of those bolts wrapped around the venetian blinds”.
One day in the 60’s my father went to Keith Lachasseur’s Appliance store (just found out last week he is friends with Mac Knowles from Carleton Place-small world) and came home with a colour TV. I didn’t really care one way or the other as I was actually used to the rainbow hues of “the plastic sheet” on the front of the television.
For a few years my father had a special plastic sheet stuck to the front of the black and white that ‘simulated’ full colour. It was sold as a cheap alternative to buying an expensive color TV and its promise had sucked my father in. I think he immediately knew he had the wool pulled over his eyes, but, never knowingly admitting a mistake, he insisted that it was ‘just as good’ as the real thing.
My father was the only person allowed to touch the new TV and he was always up on the roof adjusting the antenna to get the best picture. After seeing everything in black and white for years my world had now progressed to technicolor with a new neighbour coming in every night to see ‘the TV.’ Some of the highlights were: ‘Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Colour’ when Tinkerbell would splash colour on the screen and of course the map burning on the TV show Bonanza was priceless.
The Friendly Giant went from this:
I will always remember that day because my father was afraid I was watching TV way too much and he took all the tubes out after “to test them”. Tube testing was usually a Saturday morning project, but he was always worried they were going to fry from overuse.
One night my father went out and my friend Sheila came over to watch The Man from U.N.C.L.E. David McCallum, who played “Ilelya Kuryakin” on the show, had been dubbed the “British James Dean” and was the only reason I watched that show. The fact that I had always seen him cast as a delinquent was a bonus for me since there is nothing like a bad boy. Sheila and I sat down and got ready to watch. The NBC Peacock came on and it remained in black and white. Where was the colour?
Had my father taken out the tubes for more testing? Was he last seen adjusting the roof antenna so I could not enjoy the show? The Man from U.N.C.L.E began and I started fidgeting around with the buttons. Instead of black and white the show suddenly turned red and then blue and I wondered if the rainbow plastic sheet had found its way inside the TV. Was I doomed? After fidgeting some more the picture started skipping and I had to play around with the “horizontal hold” button.
Illya still stared at me in glorious black and white, and I stopped playing with the buttons. Fifteen minutes before the show ended my father came in and tweaked his magic and it turned from back and white to colour.
Once you had colour TV you never went back to black and white- you just went to “upgrade”. Some of my friends in the late 60’s used LSD instead, and their whole lives became Technicolor without television. Instead of drugs my family just continued to ‘upgrade’ and in lieu of Don Messers Jubileee we inherited the television show below. Yes, it was just The Tommy Hunter Show on Friday nights. Who knew a Hoedown, Tommy Hunter and Brenda Lee could all exist in colour together? That is the exact moment I seriously thought drugs might be the answer. McLuhan said,“The medium is in the message. I shook my head as I heard Brenda Lee’s message full of Technicolor words,
“Brother, if you want to get the lowdown, come along and let’s all have a hoedown.”
More on “High Diddle Day” this week
Buy Linda Secaspina’s Books— Flashbacks of Little Miss Flash Cadilac– Tilting the Kilt-Vintage Whispers of Carleton Place and 4 others on Amazon or Amazon Canada or Wisteria at 62 Bridge Street in Carleton Place