Monday, July 7, 2008

TV in Cedar Vale

A comment by Phil jogs my memory about the first times I saw television. Bohanan Electric had the first TVs for sale in Cedar Vale. They had one set up in their showroom and there were many folding chairs set up like theater seating for the locals to try out the new medium. The screen was inside the console pointing in an upward direction. You raised the top of the console, which swung upward on hinges at the back, revealing a mirror through which you could view the screen.

Cedar Vale was far from any station so the signal was quite weak. The first TV station was in Tulsa later followed by a station in Wichita. To receive any signal at all required a fairly tall antenna tower and the antenna had to be turned very precisely in the direction of the station, requiring a motorized antenna rotator if you wanted to be able to tune in to both Tulsa and Wichita.

Early programs I remember were Milton Berle and Kookla Fran and Ollie. Of course, there were sporting events such as baseball and wrestling. If it was a good night and the atmosphere was cooperating you could get a picture that was recognizable through the constant snow. On a bad day it was just shadows moving in a blizzard.

It was quite some time before we had a TV in our home. Those who had television sets early on had nightly company as neighbors and friends came to watch. By the time we had a TV they were plentiful enough so that we were not the local theater.

For those of us who are old enough to remember our first TV experiences write in with your comments. What was your first experience with the new medium? When did you get a TV at home? What was it like being the local theater every evening?

7 comments:

nbhowell said...

My parents, like yours Gary, didn't get a television set until they had been out for a while. I remember going to school and hearing a lot of the kids talking about the shows they had watched. Made a persn feel a little out of contact with the latest thing.

I do remember that my boyfriend's parents did have a set and a lot of our dates (to my disliking) suddenly became a night of watching Wrestling with his parents. His Mother was really into the wrestling which I didn't care a thing for. I would have much rather have gone to a movie!

Jay D. Mills said...

Gary,
We lived just 2 blocks from the Bohanan store and I used to go over to watch The Lone Ranger after school. We also did not get a TV until many others had one. On Saturday mornings I would go down to Lincoln Robinson's to watch TV as Margaret was in my class at school.

We were in a very high sun spot period which causes long distance reflection of radio & TV waves. This is important because I remember receiving Ch. 2 in Havana, Cuba at the Robinsons while the antenna was pointed at Tulsa.

I do remember that the picture was mostly snow. In later years, my daughter has been overheard asking me; "So dad, what was it like way back in the dark ages before TV?" She's lucky to be an only child with comments like that!

Gary White said...

Yes, Naomi, the coming of TV would have spelled the end of Leonard Theater, even if Bill had lived longer. That we would trade the full technicolor big screen for a tiny, snowy image is amazing, but trade it we did.

Now the movies are again in full blossom, with even bigger screens and surround sound that is deafening. I still love the film medium and attend regularly.

If you can get out to see "Wall-E" do so. It is a kid flick, but with a very adult theme.

wayne woodruff said...

"Omnibus" was one of the earliest TV programs that I remember.

Anonymous said...

I thought we were pretty late getting a television, but you learn something every time you read this blog.
My first show was Dragnet at Hazel Wilson's house. Turns out the lady had poisoned her husbaband's milk.

Anonymous said...

Husband's. -- Jim Robinson

Anonymous said...

I am amazed at Jim's grammar proficiency. Was Miss Fromong his English teacher??