Tag Archives: television

Life Before the Remote……Linda Knight Seccaspina

Life Before the Remote……Linda Knight Seccaspina

Life Before the Remote……Linda Knight Seccaspina

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 some American television, and not just the staple Canadian three.

Cartoon Corner and Howdy Doody were favourites of mine back in the day 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”. Of course, I still think of that when it’s storming outside sitting in my lazy boy chair that’s pointed at the television along with every other piece in the room, and still with decorative venetian blinds.

Every night at 5 in 1961 I would watch the CBC TV show Razzle Dazzle hosted by Suzanne Somer’s husband, Alan Hamel. I had entered a writing contest and was eagerly waiting to hear if I won a pen with my “meatless meat pie” essay. A few weeks later I found out that I had indeed won a Razzle Dazzle pen for my story along with a photo of Howard the Turtle.

One day in the 60’s my father went to Keith Lachasseur’s Appliance store on the Main Street in Cowansville 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. It ‘simulated’ full colour along with rabbit ears covered in tinfoil to stimulate even better viewing. Of course it was sold as a cheap alternative to buying an expensive colour 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.

In our family he 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 while we simultaneously hunted dinosaurs in those days 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 burning map on the TV show Bonanza was priceless.

One night my father went out to a Lodge meeting 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?.

Was my father really not at  the Lodge meeting and 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. I think all of you remember that particular button with joy and happiness.

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 black 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. My family just continued to ‘upgrade’ and in lieu of Don Messer’s Jubilee we watched Tommy Hunter on Friday nights. Who knew a

Hoedown, Tommy Hunter and Brenda Lee could all exist in colour together?

McLuhan once said,“The medium is in the message”– or was that ‘the massage’.   But now we are confronted with all sorts of media so pardon me while I check my Facebook Twitter and Instagram and watch a season of something on Netflix real quick. Just remember if someone had not invented the TV we’d still be eating frozen radio dinners.

Sock it to me!

Did You Ever Watch Two for Joy?

Did You Ever Watch Two for Joy?

If you are wondering why I am documenting a lot of Mary Cook’s archives it is because she says she doesn’t have a lot of the newspaper archives. I feel it all needs to be documented for future readers to come so that is why I am doing it.


The Ottawa Citizen
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
04 Oct 1992, Sun  •

Having her books turned into a TV series isn’t quite what Carleton Place writer Mary Cook thought it would be. “I thought I’d be there on the set with my own chair, yelling out instructions,” laughs Cook, well-known local broadcaster and author of a series of stories about her Depression-era childhood in Renfrew County.


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The stories have been pounced upon as the basis of a proposed CTV series, Two For Joy. Actually, Cook has been so far removed from the process of turning her touching, humorous family recollections into prime-time Canadiana that she didn’t know the show’s pilot had been shot until a friend sent her a clipping from the Orangeville Banner. “Television crew turns Alton into movie set,” is the headline over a story that tells how a town of 400 south of Orangeville was dressed up to stand in for the Ottawa Valley.

The clipping was Cook’s first indication the series had gone beyond the script-writing stage, a process in which Cook was only peripherally involved. Then “like a bolt out of the blue,” executive producer Sheldon Wiseman of Ottawa’s Lacewood Productions phoned her last week and asked whether she’d like to see the pilot.

“I expected to hate it,” she admits. “I thought, I can’t sit through this and be sober.” Her fears proved to be unfounded. “It was wonderful. They’ve caught the feeling of the “30s exactly”. “The little girl who they’ve got to play me is a wonderful actress. She’s better than I was.”

There were some disappointments. “I was sorry to see they annihilated two members of my family, but I suppose that was to keep the budget down.” Word is that CTV officials are also quite taken with the project, which is co-produced by Lacewood and Toronto’s John Delmage. Wiseman says the pilot will be'”‘ taken to the international TV market”, in Cannes later this month in search of foreign sales to help with financing.

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Should I Have Done that on Television?

A One and a Two Memories with Lawrence Welk

My Favourite TV Shows — Almonte Carleton Place

When The Friendly Giant was King on Televison

Magic Tom –A Suitcase That Was Full of Illusions

Remembering the Littlest Hobo

When The Friendly Giant was King on Televison

In Memory– The Last of The Five Little Peppers

In Memory– The Last of The Five Little Peppers Part 2 — Dorothy Ann “Dottie” Seese

The Hi- Diddle-Day House of Carleton Place – Puppets on a String

Did You Watch Maggie Muggins?

A One and a Two Memories with Lawrence Welk

A One and a Two Memories with Lawrence Welk


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For nearly 28 years I think I saw every single episode of the Lawrence Welk Show– or — sometimes it felt like I did.  Lawrence Welk was the musical voice of my wax coke bottle and candy cigarette generation before I discovered  punk rock, and Madonna. His shows carried on for almost 30 years, and after I stopped watching them I knew that my Grandmother and others had not stopped the tradition. In all honesty Lawrence Welk never really went away.

Through the magic of syndication and of course the internet, the late Lawrence Welk still blows his signature bubbles to this day. I was born from a generation that has long forgotten Welk’s music, comparing it to music found in second hand shops or those occasional visits to your aged relative’s home. Then there were some of the odd things that I will never forget. Maybe they weren’t strange to some, but I could not figure out what kind of allure those English tenors had, or how about those god awful powder blue suits everyone seemed to wear.

But, really it was the innocence of it all, something the whole family could watch and enjoy– especially those Lennon Sisters. It was a very different era when they were known as America’s sweethearts with their sugary smiles and angelic voices.

Those were the days of no remote control and you had to get up to change the channel. My grandfather not only got up to change the channel but he also adjusted the “rabbit ear” antenna on the top of the television set. I can still remember the clicking as it turned to one of the 5 channels we had.

What was watched on television was determined by the elders in your family. Evening television wasn’t watched until dinner was done, dishes put away, and the only television was in the living room.



1985-Now The Goyer Complex with Varins still there.


F. J  Knight Electrical Contractors and home

Every Saturday night my grandfather would cross South street to Varin’s Pharmacy and buy a large bar of chocolate. In the winter he would sit in his chair and carefully break apart the bar so we could all share while watching the Admiral television. In the summer the treat would be a bag of Laura Secord Fruit Flavoured Jelly Slices.

There are many cozy memories of huddling around the TV set with my grandparents. There was Lawrence Welk on Saturday, Ed Sullivan on Sunday, and Andy Griffith during the week. My grandfather would sit in his upholstered chair beside the old radio that he listened to the BBC news on. My grandmother was in her well worn arm chair on the left with a stack of Reader’s Digests on the small table along with whatever needed darning that week. I sat on the long blue couch that was covered in plastic that was never removed in my memory. It made a loud crunch each time you sat on it, and the plastic stuck to you in the summer heat. But everyone covered their couches in those days to preserve its beauty, and it was as normal as having a daily cup of tea.

I still occasionally watch Lawrence Welk on PBS and memories of my aging neighbour comes to mind who loved this show too. In the mid mark of dementia a few years ago she and I were watching a rerun of the famed bandleader and she turned to me and quietly said during a commercial,

“You know, I’ve always liked Lawrence Welk. But I think he was better before he died.”

Now that statement was worth any bar of accordion music any day of the year. Thanks for the memories Mr. Welk!



Where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in The Townships Sun and theSherbrooke Record and and Screamin’ Mamas (USACome and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read. Also check out The Tales of Carleton Place. Tales of Almonte and Arnprior Then and Now.

Should I Have Done that on Television?

My Favourite TV Shows — Almonte Carleton Place

When The Friendly Giant was King on Televison

Magic Tom –A Suitcase That Was Full of Illusions

Remembering the Littlest Hobo

When The Friendly Giant was King on Televison

In Memory– The Last of The Five Little Peppers

In Memory– The Last of The Five Little Peppers Part 2 — Dorothy Ann “Dottie” Seese

The Hi- Diddle-Day House of Carleton Place – Puppets on a String

Did You Watch Maggie Muggins?

Banking the Memories of Aretha Franklin

And That’s the Way it Was….

And That’s the Way it Was….


And That’s the Way it Was…. Linda Knight Seccaspina as read in the Sherbrooke Record

The first TV program I remember watching as a child was the Mantovani Show, and not only was it boring, but it was in glorious black and white. Because we lived 14 miles from the Frelighsburg–Vermont border we were lucky to be able to receive American television channels, but my family insisted on progressing musically from Mantovani to Don Messer’s Jubilee. My father always hated radio and I think he couldn’t wait for television to be invented so he could hate that too.

For a few years my father had a special plastic sheet stuck to the front of the black and white TV that ‘simulated’ full colour. It was sold as a cheap alternative to buying an expensive color TV set and its promise had sucked my father in. Finally he gave in and bought one of the first colour televisions on Albert Street in Cowansville and our home instantly became the local tourist attraction. 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 watch my father play around with the “horizontal hold” button.

Of course he was the only person allowed to touch it and he spent a great deal of time on the roof adjusting the antenna to get the best picture. After constant calls to Lechausseur’s TV on the Main Street he became obsessed with something called tubes.  Picture tubes were expensive, and it was a sad day if the repairman told you that you needed a new one.

This TV was considered state of the art in those days and was not like the old black and white where he used to take all the tubes out “to test them”. Tube testing was usually a Saturday morning project, and sometimes I went with him. Back in the 50s they used to have a display setup in the local drugstores and I used to watch him put the tubes into a display socket and a meter would tell you if it was good or ‘fried from overuse’.

Once you had colour TV you never went back to black and white- you just went to what was called an “upgrade”.  In the late 60’s some of my friends 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 Jubilee we inherited 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.  Canadian professor, philosopher, and public intellectual Marshall McLuhan once said,”The medium is in the message”. I shook my head after 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.”

You bet your sweet bippy Brenda! Don’t you wish there was a knob on the TV to turn up the intelligence sometimes? There’s one marked ‘Brightness,’ but it has never seemed to work. For me anyways.

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As read in the Sherbrooke Record Quebec


  1. Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read. Also check out The Tales of Carleton Place and The Tales of Almonte


Who Wears Shorts Shorts? The Law Against Shorts!

If You Can’t Wear a Princess Dress on Monday — Then When Can You?

Linda’s Nickel Opinions — Blasts From the Past Part 11

Linda’s Nickel Opinions — Blasts From the Past — Part 10

Linda’s Nickel Opinions — Blasts From the Past — Part 9

Linda’s Nickel Opinions — Blasts From the Past — Part 8

Linda’s Nickel Opinions — Blasts From the Past — Part 7

Linda’s Nickel Opinions — Blasts From the Past — Part 6

Linda’s Nickel Opinions — Blasts From the Past — Part 5

Linda’s Nickel Opinions — Blasts From the Past — Part 4

Linda’s Nickel Opinions — Blasts From the Past — Part 3

Linda’s Nickel Opinions — Blasts From the Past — Part 2

Linda’s Nickel Opinions — Blasts From the Past Part 1

What I Learned From Rhoda Morgenstern



Valerie Harper died Friday in Los Angeles after a long battle with cancer at the age of 80.  She and The Mary Tyler Moore Show hold enough personal memories for me to last a lifetime. Please raise your hand if you wanted to live in Mary’s apartment and wear all her clothes.  I used to sit around watching a snowy television set minus today’s remotes, iPad or cell phones, and always related to Rhoda Morgenstern– because she and I felt the same way about life.

You’re having a lousy streak. I happen to be having a terrific streak. Soon the world will be back to normal. Tomorrow you will meet a crown head of Europe and marry. I will have a fat attack, eat 3000 peanut butter cups and die.” – Rhoda Morgenstern-

Rhoda helped me get over bad adolescent memories like Valentine’s Day and other horrid ‘heartfelt’ festivities in school. I can never remember any year being a Hallmark moment and sometimes you just wished the day would go away. Like Rhoda I kept waiting for that magic moment to happen and it never did until many years later.

“Allow me to introduce myself, I’m another person in the room – Rhoda Morgenstern. .” 


Like Valerie Harper in her final television sitcom days as Rhoda,  we search our entire life to find the answers, to accept ourselves. As I type this I want to tell Valerie Harper that you gave me the message I needed to understand years ago.

Rhoda finally found husband Joe, and after decades I finally found my Hallmark moment. My “Joe” helped me accept myself for who I am, and he “can always take a nothing day, and suddenly make it all seem worthwhile.” Real love is not based on romance, candlelight dinners and walks along the beach– it is based on respect, compromise, care and trust.



These beloved women from “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and “Rhoda” created characters that meant a lot to each and every one of us. The humour and laughter they brought is nothing compared to the inspiration and lessons about life we have learned from them. They have proved that friendship isn’t about whom you have known the longest, it’s about who came, and never left your side. We truly have been blessed by their longevity, and for some of us they changed our lives.

Me? I am  trying to ‘live every moment as much as I can’. Thanks Valerie Harper for your words of wisdom. I have not stopped living each day to its fullest and I bet Hallmark doesn’t even have a card for me either– and that’s okay with me– because it was okay with you. I will miss you Valerie Harper.







TV Shows We Loved




Photo–Me, Linda in front of my tv circa 1957


Claudia Allen began a Facebook thread remembering how she used to watch Hockey Night in Canada on her Grandfather’s TV as no one else owned one in the immediate family. I soon remembered coming home from school and watching American Bandstand every afternoon or listening to my Mother ramble on about what soap-opera horrors were on the Guiding Lightthat day. These small thoughts of course got the whole group remembering what their favourite shows used to be during the CHS years.

Paul Cournoyer- I remember getting home to watch American Bandstandon ABC Channel 8- Poland Spring, Maine with a snowy TV screen.

Decker Way– I Used to watch American Bandstand,  wished I could dance as well as they could and I also liked the Mickey Mouse Club with Annette.

Keith McClatchie– I hardly ever missed an episode of Queen for a Day and I remember being in total disbelief of some of these sob stories! Annette Funnicello and Cubby O’Brian on the Mickey Mouse Club. Do you folks remember The Adventures of Spin and Marty on The Mickey Mouse Club and at  supper time they had a different adventure/action show every day – Robin Hood, Lone Ranger, Hopalong Cassidy, etc.

Channel 8 Poland Springs was once owned by Jack Paar (Tonight Show Host) and on Saturday afternoon they would show a triple header Western Movie every week.


Bob Bromby – Only time I got to see Queen for a Day was if I could convince my mom I was too sick to go to school or a school holiday and there wasn’t something more interesting to do outside. In those days the outside usually won!

And now a word from our sponsor- Bob Bromby’s CHS Bus Complaints!

We got home too late from school after the bus ride as the bus dropped us off at about 4:30 and then another 15 minute walk from there. We left to catch the bus at 7:30am and returned after 4:30pm. Our bus was the 1st to arrive at CHS in the morning and the last to leave at 4:00pm. The bus did a double run to Dunham so we got dropped at school in the morning and it would head to Dunham to pick them up. After school it would drop the Dunham crowd off 1st and then come back to pick us up. Could never understand why if we got dropped off 1st in the morning and then why didn’t we get picked up 1st after school. You Dunhamites were a bunch of pampered woosies!

Audrey Bromby – You just forget Rocky and Bullwinkle.

Audrey, were Rocky and Bullwinkle part of the Dunhamites?


Decker Way – Fess Parker as Davey Crockett was a must watch but as Bob says outside stuff took precedent over TV. I had the hat, vest & pants—did you know that Davy & about a dozen others survived the battle of the Alamo but as they fought under a flag of no surrender, were put to death after the battle was over!



Bob Bromby – The Flash Gordon serials were before TV and played in the theatres..They were broadcast on American channel 8 after school for a while. Think they were produced in the 1930’s and Ms. Arden was Flash’s lady. I always had a thing for Jane Arden (no not that Jann Arden) of the Flash Gordon serials and talk about special F/X.

One of my favourites had three characters Sandy, Dusty and a third who was their comic relief. I can,t recall his name. Then there was Lash Larue, Whip Wilson, Cisco Kid with Pancho-all in dazzling fuzzy B&W.
Decker Way: Then a tad later came Gunsmoke with Marshall Matt Dillon & Chester was a woman to but forget her name—mustn’t forget the adventures of Palidin in Have Gun Will Travel!



It was Miss Kitty Decker- Technically she died of liver failure brought on by viral hepatitis, which was AIDS-related.” Blake’s secret was known only to a few intimates. “Once she knew she had it, she decided to keep it to herself,” says her closest friend, Pat Derby.
Bob Bromby – Gunsmoke- The barmaid was called Kitty.

I just said that Bob! Boy we both must be mindreaders today!



Manuel Greig ‎@ Bob-Funny,when I read Jane Arden, I thought of Jann Arden and her song “Insensitive”. I don’t recall a Jane Arden as it must have been before my time!
Claudia Allen: We’re much younger than Bob, Manuel . . haha
Hmmm- How old is Bob anyways??
Decker Way– How about the first soap La Famile Plouffe?

Manuel Greig– I think all these things are before my time- or maybe before we got a TV.
Claudia Allen– I was too young too Manuel but I did hear of the Family Plouffe and think they were on the radio first.

Audrey Bromby- I loved the Loretta Young Show in the afternoons. But, as Bob mentioned, we sometimes had to (fake) be sick to stay home to watch them during the weekdays. My Grandmother used to love to watch The Edge of Night and As The World Turns. I used to sit and watch them with her when she was visiting.
Manuel Greig-  I don’t remember these shows. I guess I had other things to do- like being a farmer!

Linda Seccaspina- I named my son after the villain of The Edge of Night – Schuyleur Whitney.

Insert sounds of silence and birds chirping as very few name their kids after soap-opera villains except Linda!


The Weather

Claudia Allen -Anyone remember Bird Berdan the weatherman? Bird Berdannnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn?
Keith McClatchie: Bird Berdan the Weatherman from Channel 5 WIRI b4 they changed to WPTZ

Bob Bromby- Then of course there was Percy Salzman the Canadian weatherman with the chalk board. He would toss the chalk in the air at the end of his forecast.

Claudia Allen: Righto, Percy, he was a great weatherman! I remember the chalk thing !

We suddenly revisit The Mickey Mouse Club
Manuel Greig ‎@ Decker-there was another on Mickey Mouse, besides Annette, can’t remember her name,cute little thing…
Bob Bromby: Darlene was the blonde one and Annette the dark hair. Annette went on to those horrible Beach Party movies with Frankie. She was a role models none the less- overly naive but compared to the role models todays kids have!

Bob- are we talking Britney Spears here? No!!!! Not a role model? What a shocker!

Manuel Greig ‎@ Bob-Darlene…that be her…good man Bob!
Bob Bromby – I think Darlene went on to be a Dallas Cowgirl Manuel.

Manuel Greig ‎@ Bob –.No ,last I heard she was down on her luck…..:(

Linda Seccaspina – Manuel Has she hit The Enquirer yet?
Manuel Greig – Oooh ya !! Probably so, a long time ago….

In December 1998, Darlene Gillespie was convicted in federal court of aiding her third husband, Jerry Fraschilla, to purchase securities. She was sentenced to two years in Federal prison. Gillespie was never seen cheerleading behind bars.
Carole Beattie- I remember we would all sit around the T.V. to watch The Honeymoons with Jackie Gleason every Sunday night and I Love Lucy with Lucille Ball. I think they were much funnier than the comedy programs they have today.  The quiz show I remember was What’s My Line? and a news show with Harvey Kirk and Joyce Davidson (Can’t remember the name of it now).

Google does not compute Canadian television and Joyce Davidson was born Joyce Brock, used her first husband’s name even after marrying (and divorcing) the late David Susskind. Ever wonder why CBC’s news anchor Yvan Huneault mysteriously disappeared after a CBC  newscast joke about a Basset Hound named Isabel?

Paul Cournoyer- Jackie Gleason- One of these day”s Alice Pow to the moon?”

Yes, Paul that is what happened to Yvan Huneault 

Paul Cournoyer– Rowan and Martin’s Laugh In-  “sock it to me!”

Again Paul I bet that is what happened to poor Huneault too.


Bob Bromby- Anyone old enough to remember the Dobie Gillis Show with Tuesday Weld? The beatnik Maynard G Krebs who went on to be Gilligan.
Manuel Greig- Before my time, Bob….lol

Bob Bromby ‎@Manuel- What? Were you born in like 1980?

Bob Bromby- No one has mentioned the Howdy Doody Show. I know Manuel is too young to remember that far back.

Carole Beattie- It’s Howdy Doody Time…. it’s Howdy Doody time, it’s Howdy Doody Time…. it’s Howdy Doody Time 🙂
Carole Beattie– Kookie….. lend me your comb !!!! And then there wasDragnet.

Bob Bromby– Just the facts Mam!

Decker Way- Oh yeah Dragnet, looks like a young crowd here that don’t remember these old shows, more into the 60’s—-Route 66, swore to drive it one day, finally did some 45 or so years later, highly recommend doing so!
Bob Bromby- When we 1st got a TV, the only station was CBC out of Montreal and they broadcast in French and English. The Indian Head was on the screen until about 5:00pm and returned at 10:00 or 11:00pm. A kids show with a guy with a guitar who sang to a frog down in a well would start off the daily programming.

A frog in a well? What year was that Bob?

 Oh heck, this concludes our broadcasting day!

From Linda’s second book Cowansville High Misremembered


Those Darn Kids from Cowansville High School Facebook group




From the book Cowansville High Misremembered

Lanark County Genealogical Society Website

Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in Hometown News


Those Darn Kids from Cowansville High School Facebook group

Bob Flint’s TV Tips








Photo from Steve Flint..The man with his arm up against the TVs is my grandfather Bob Flint. Also in the picture who at the time worked for my grandfather is well known since passed carpenter Bruce Sadler. Bill Baird is also in this photo. This would have been taken around 1954 to 1956. The first shipment of course TVs to Carleton Place. At the time I was told there were 3 places in Canada to get colour tv. Toronto , Montreal and Carleton Place.



Memories of Carleton Place in the 70s from the Carleton Place Canadian files from the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum



The Danger Zone —TV Technicians in Carleton Place

Would You Like To Be Queen For a Day?


My grandmother began to wear wigs at the age of 52. It was about the same time she started watching the NBC TV show Queen of the Day. Her hair had been badly burned at the hands of a 1930’s salon perm and her thinning hair failed to cover her bald spots. Even though she was a Canadian citizen she wrote NBC constantly hoping to get on the show. Grammy wanted a fancy new American-style wig as the ones she was buying in Montreal were out-of-date she said.

Once a week I would watch one contestant being chosen as Queen of the Day at the Moulin Rouge with Jimmy Cagney’s sister Jeanne acting as Jack Bailey’s Vanna White. Today, Queen of the Day  is still considered one of the first big-prize giveaway shows and I can still remember Bailey ask,
“Would YOU like to be Queen for a day?”

This was basically nothing but a sympathy show with female contestants that all appeared to be excruciatingly poor and destitute. Each contestant had to explain why they were worse off than their peers on the show and then the audience would vote on whose story was more miserable. The ultimate decision was left up to the applause meter.

Some asked for washing machines, vacations, or one wanted close-fitting false teeth so she could resume her coronet playing. Of course she also got a years supply of Orafix, which was a sponsor of the show.
My Grandmother and I would share her cotton handkerchief many times during this particular TV show on a weekly basis. Queen For a Day is where I learned how to pity-cry on the spot and acquired knowledge about Ex-Lax and Sarah Coventry jewelry.

Often the requests were ridiculous and one just married wife asked for new underwear for her husband as she figured two months wear on his skivvies was enough. Sometimes the audience and the TV viewership rallied to the rescue when the contestants did not win. One particular woman’s husband had just left her and was saddled with two hungry children and was shunned by the audience. The viewers donated a two room apartment free until she found a job, a years free babysitting service and 8 bucks from a man who won the money at the racetrack.

Mark Evanier, veteran television writer, has dubbed the show “one of the most ghastly shows ever produced” and further stated it was “tasteless, demeaning to women, demeaning to anyone who watched it, cheap, insulting and utterly degrading to the human spirit.

My grandmother was never chosen for the show but I think that this show had more impact than anyone realizes. Whether or not it was demeaning to women, the home audience lapped it up and the show increased its running time from 30 to 45 minutes to sell more commercials, at a then-premium rate of $4,000 per minute.

That was a lot of money in those days and the rights are still owned by television executive Michael Wortsman, and a Spanish-language company, Reina Por Un Dia. Worstman is shopping around for a deal and I bet the premise for the revived game show will be; whoever has the biggest “sob story” gets more government funding.

If I could pick anyone to host the show today it would be icon John Waters as I can hear him yell,

“This is John Waters, wishing we could make every woman a queen, for every single day!”

Photos by Google except the top one that is my family.

Photo-Bernice, Arthur, Fred and Mary Knight- with little Linda and Robin Knight. I am the last one standing and may they all rest in peace.


What Ever Happened to Beat the Clock?



Montreal Gazette, March 17 1973

‘Whatever happened to the actor who hosted Beat the Clock? Why did he leave?
K.E.L. Carleton Place


The original show, hosted by Bud Collyer, ran on CBS from 1950 to 1958 and ABC from 1958 to 1961. Contestants were required to perform tasks (called “problems”) within a certain time limit which was counted down on a large 60-second clock. If they s ucceeded, they were said to have “beaten the Clock”; otherwise “the Clock beat them”. The show had several sponsors over its run, with the most longstanding being the electronics company, Sylvania.

The show was revived in syndication as The New Beat the Clock from 1969 to 1974, with Jack Narz as host until 1972. The stunt show which was shot out of CFCF-Montreal began its syndicated life on 40 stations and dropped drastically the following two seasons. and then he was replaced by the show’s announcer, Gene Wood.

I miss these old shows


The Danger Zone —TV Technicians in Carleton Place



Television reception came of age in the 1950s. It was a time when prosperity had returned to most homes and many people could afford to purchase a black and white television.  However, television reception in the 1950’s was an expensive, and at times a challenging, experience. I know first hand that my father was on the roof on an almost daily basis adjusting the antenna for better reception. Those were the days of TV repair safety hazards– technician and home owner.


In the 1950s, a black and white television receiver might have had several dozen vacuum tubes and cost approximately $300.That was a lot of money at a time when an AM table radio cost only $20. The 1950s television receiver was physically large and complex. In fact, it was probably the most complex device ever to be introduced into our homes.



I have deep respect for the people who could decipher that mess– but then again, hello fellow vintage Volkswagen owners. Service techs back then didn’t have cameras on their phones to remember where that piece they took out went back. There was no board. Technology and wiring in general was really complicated/clusterfinicky before circuit boards

My father, the electrician, told a story many times about some fellow who was working on a television who went out the room to get a beer. His partner in crime decided he would take matters in his own hands and plugged the TV back in. It didn’t do anything, so he turned it off. The  original guy assumed it was still discharged, touched something in the back, and sent the screwdriver in his hand flying so fast it embedded itself in the wall.

They were fire hazards, and lethal to anyone that dare take the rear cover off, and poke around with a screwdriver. If it was an old TV, you better also know how to safely discharge the high voltage cap that was still charged even after pulling the plug! Many an old TV tech got the crap zapped out themselves on a regular basis. Do you know how many times I was told never to touch or go near the back a TV set– and for God’s sake unplug the TV when there was a storm.


Top marks for being able to service something like this. Considering the amount of bare wire inside, it makes me wonder how these things didn’t just burst into flames. Wait, didn’t they burst into flames periodically?  So were the dangerous days of being a technician. Hence the offer of a free house from Mr. Flint!

Ah, the smell of old electronics… oh man!

1959 ad in The Ottawa Journal
Photo of one of the first Televisions from Flint’s TV store from the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum.


Dedicated to Keith LeChausseur- Our man of the hour for TV repair back in Cowansville, Quebec.

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