TV Fatality

An old trashed TV with a smashed screen isolated on a white background.© 2009 Brooke Allen
brooke@brookeallen.com www.BrookeAllen.com
Originally published in International Family Magazine

 

In 1960, when I was eight years old, my parents bought a television. It was a black and white console model and it cost my dad about a month’s take-home pay.

It changed my life.

I could now entertain myself without friends, family, books or using my imagination. I could pretty much have fun without doing anything.

It started slowly but by the end of the decade that box had taken over our family. We would even watch television while eating dinner.[1]

In September of 1970 I went off to college in Indiana. For nine months I did not watch one second of television.

While flying home I practiced the first words I would say to my parents, “I have lived the greater part of a year without television. I will stay the summer in your house because I don’t have enough money to stay somewhere else, but I warn you that I refuse to watch television with you. There are so many more important things to say and do.” After my time away, I had so much I wanted to discuss with my folks, and the thought of competing with Laugh In, Ed Sullivan and the Million Dollar Movie both scared and sickened me.

“Dad, there is something I must say to you.”

“Sure, son. But first, are you still into ham radio?”

“Yes.” There was an amateur radio club at my college and I’d remained active.

“Do you still keep a junk box?”

“Yes.” A junk box is a large chest in which electronics enthusiasts place old equipment from which they hope to someday cannibalize parts. In the ninth grade I had taken apart a discarded television and rewired it as my first short-wave transmitter. Using Morse code, I’d been able to contact people in every state and dozens of countries with that “homebrew” transmitter.

“I’m glad,” he said. “The television is in the barn.”

It was in pretty good shape except that there was a bullet hole through the picture tube.

My family had figured out the same thing I had. One evening, after dinner, my dad gathered my mom and my sister around the TV and he shot it.

Usually, the best way to end an addiction is cold turkey.


[1] Warning: Extremely dangerous — do not try this at home.

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Author: Brooke Allen

A retired Wall Street executive with a whimsical side.

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