When I was a kid my parents brought home a beat up old B&W television from my grandparents’ house. It might have been from my aunt Trish and Uncle Don. Whatever. Looked like it was from the early 1960s or even late 50s. Probably an RCA. We had it back in the “recreation room”, so-named because of my dad’s original plan to put a pool table back there, which never quite happened, so it served the same purpose that a basement does in many homes up north. By that, I mean it was where all my shit was. My train layout on plywood. My 2 gerbil habitats. My aquarium full of goldfish and my other fish bowls, all with a network of aeration tubing, my supplies and card table for building plastic models.
The TV sat on the “old” coffee table. The one I had carved on and just generally messed up as a small child. Theoretically we had five normal channels and at least one UHF channel in North Dallas. In practice, with a 20 year old television with rabbit ears, the number of channels available depended on a number of factors, including tuning, position of the rabbit ears, the weather, and how I held my body.
Sunday afternoon was typically a sci-fi afternoon on Channel 11. In no particular order, one could watch Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Lost in Space, the Time Tunnel, and Land of the Giants. Yes, the great Irwin Allen owned the airwaves in that glorious time.
At risk of using the word “shit” again in this post, let me simply say that TV was a piece of shit, but I was lucky to have it. LUCKY. And APPRECIATIVE. As many of you “sports fans” are aware, Sunday afternoon is also a big day for televised sports. In fact, while I’ve not done my research and have no empirical evidence, I’d guess that there has not been a Sunday afternoon in the last 70 years (maybe more) without televised sports on all afternoon. So regardless the time of year, there was exactly a ZERO percent chance I’d be able to watch any of these shows on the color TV. So that black & white TV was my lifeline to true culture (space ships and creatures and weird ideas).
So I’d sit back there, on the floor, and periodically reposition the antenna, curse (quietly), and watch those shows and/or various monster and science fiction movies. I was compelled. That’s how human beings are. What we dig, we dig, and we don’t really care about much else. I have been drawn to science fiction and imagination since I was a small child. The cartoons I liked when I was really young, like 4 years old, tended to be SF-related. Might have something to do with the decade I was born into. Space exploration was starting up. All that stuff was big. Frankenstein Junior and the Herculoids were my favorites. Robots, alien worlds, and creatures.
In retrospect, it was actually great.
That room was my domain. It was, indeed, a recreation room, but it was MY recreation room. When I started skateboarding, in the winter I’d practice tricks back there on the linoleum floor. My mom never even got on my case for it. Even then, I still used that TV. There was still a lot of SF to watch, and still a lot of sports on TV.