Ruminations From the Western Slope

Ruminations From the Western Slope
Colorado River near Moab, Utah

Thursday, February 3, 2011

My Big Fat Greek Television Set

I can still remember the first television set that my parents ever bought. We were living in a little house in the Sunset District of San Francisco, about four blocks from the beach. It was about 1952 and I was not yet five years old. The television was a blonde Philco console model, black & white of course. I can remember seeing part of the Democratic National Convention that year and thinking that Harry Truman was George Washington. I remember Saturday night boxing sponsored by Gillette Blue Blades. Also Ding Dong School with Miss Frances and Howdy Doody with Buffalo Bob. There was the local programming too…a guy named Captain Fortune who had puppets and showed cartoons, and a pitch man named Les Malloy. Pretty dynamic stuff.

Several years later, when the family had moved down to the Peninsula, the old Philco came with us but was eventually replaced by a color set. We got to know a local tv repair man named Mr. Hessler, a burly, blue collar type who actually would come out to our home to fix the set. He spent as much time talking to my folks about his adventures as he did repairing the television. He was a real Life of Riley kind of character. Little did he know that his job would become obsolete in another decade or so. Hopefully he had retired by then.

What brings this all to mind is my recent quest for a simple television set to replace my second-string model which recently went belly up in my basement “man cave.” It was a simple 19” Sony that I was using strictly as a monitor for transferring VHF and TIVO’ed programs to dvd. Occasionally I might sequester myself down there and actually watch a movie. In any case, one morning about ten days ago it just stopped working. So I figured I could just head to my local big box electronic store and replace it in kind.

You know the rest. They don’t make fat televisions anymore. Not even little ones. Every model I looked at had a flat panel and a high price tag. Which I can understand. Obsolescence is not a thing of the past. But I didn’t want to make a huge investment at the moment so I made a last ditch stop at the nearest Goodwill Industries store. There amidst the Radio Shack receivers, the No Name brand speakers, the well-used VCRs, and still viable cassette tape players were several lonely, little televisions of fairly recent vintage. I ended up buying a flat-fronted Emerson that looked minimally shopworn, took it home and hooked it up, and commenced my video pirating activities.

I’m not sure how long the Emerson will last but, for now, it’s got a good home in my basement. But eventually, I suppose, I will have to reconcile myself to the fact that my pudgy little appliance will go the way of Mr. Hessler, lord rest his soul.

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