– memories of a man getting older –

Liberty 9-1327 and TV

November 13th, 2011 · No Comments

Li9-1327. That was our phone number in New Jersey. World War II had recently ended and words like Liberty were left over from the war effort. We had a party line when we first got the phone. When you picked up the phone to make a call you had to first listen to make sure the phone line wasn’t being used by the other party. We used to share the line with one other person but I think some party lines were shared by more than two.

Now get this, I don’t recall ever making a call or getting a call. Fact is, the phone would hardly ever ring. That changed over the years.

My sister, Vicki, 3 years my elder, had her room upstairs across from me. Her room was about triple the size of mine. She also had wall-to-wall carpet. And a television. And, her own phone. So, I recall my sister during her high school life being on the phone quite a bit. Also, she played Johnny Mathis albums which I could hear in my room. I really liked Johnny Mathis.

I’m told we were one of the first families in the neighborhood to get a TV (this was in the living room, not my sister’s room). People on our block would come over, pull up a chair, and stare at this new form of media. Television shows were only on for a limited number of hours a day. I recall watching “Million Dollar Movie.” It was broadcast by WOR-TV and played the same movie for the entire week. The theme music was from “Gone With the Wind.” The one movie I remember vividly was King Kong. I would come home from playing, lay on the floor in front of the TV and watch King Kong every day of the week. Also, Gunga Din was a favorite.

Of course, no one had any idea how TV would change the landscape of the American family. It became so popular that the TV Dinner was introduced. A forerunner to today’s microwave meals, these early models came in aluminum trays. They seemed to always include mashed potatoes and a vegetable mix of peas and carrots. Some had a dessert of some kind. The dinner would be placed upon a “TV Tray.” Take a TV, a TV dinner, and a TV tray and you’ve destroyed one of the key soul-centers of a family: the dinner table get together. What was once a normal family event has become an effort for families today.

It’s still worth trying to re-establish the family meal time. The gathering in a circle to share the meal dates back to time before recorded history. It’s in our DNA to socialize around meals. Now, you’ll have to ask everyone to turn off their cell phones, put down their electronic gizmo. And there will probably be some awkward moments as everyone tries to awaken the lost art of conversation. But ultimately you’ll get there and you’ll find that there is nothing more interesting than in the moment with others. Then, the nourishment you receive won’t just be from the food on the table.

Tags: Early Years · Family · Metuchen N.J.

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