The First TV and Radio

By the early fifties, television was becoming very common in most area of the country.  But in the New Home community, it was much heralded, and read about, but seldom seen.  At this time, my uncle by marriage (Early Fuller) acquired a set, and my father become became interested.  He suggested that the family visit my uncle to check out this new radio with pictures.  Fortunately, the program that was on during the visit was a western.  My father enjoyed it enormously, even though there was an interruption of several minutes.

The next, while on his regular weekly egg selling trip to Birmingham, my dad was selling to a combination grocery and appliance store.  He purchased a TV!

Getting a picture on it was not as easy as the purchase.  The first aerial was installed, but the picture was snowy and unacceptable.  A taller aerial was than installed, and the picture, though not perfect by any means, became enjoyable.  The set could pick up on two channels, six and thirteen, both in Birmingham.

News of this TV in the area spread like wildfire.  All the neighbors wanted to view this marvel.  They came to visit after supper in the droves.  At first they just came out of curiosity, but soon they had certain programs they wanted to see.  Entire families came, and the living room where the TV was located was crowded with people.  Every chair was filled and many sat on the floor, especially on Friday night, a favorite for programming.

A popular program ended at nine o'clock, and then wrestling started.  This was the most popular program.  My father usually went to bed at about eight thirty.  Often he and Mother would tell the visitor: “Well, we are going to bed-when the last one leaves, turn off the TV and the light.” They would do so, and the next evening the room would be filled again.

This went for about six months, and then, one by one, other families got their own sets.  With TV, the miracles of the outside world were brought to another isolated community, but there was much less socializing, as people turned inward to their living room.

In the early thirties, there was not a single radio in the New Home community area.  They were still quite expensive (by local standards), and since there was no electricity, only battery-powered radios would work.  At this time (1934-35), the Selfs, who lived at the top of the bluff, purchased a radio.  The first Saturday night thereafter, the entire community was at the Self's house to hear the Grand Ole Opry, which came on WSN out of Nashville.  The radio was in an open window, the volume turned high, while the entire group marveled and enjoyed the music.

At our house, a radio was purchased about 1937.  Two poles were placed about twenty feet apart, and an aerial was tied to the poles.  It also was a battery-powered radio since the introduction of electricity was still ten years away.  In the morning at about six o'clock, a preacher, C.C Wilcutt, had a half-hour program.  My parents liked to listen to him, and my dad could never understand how he was cut off as soon as his thirty minutes were over, when he was still preaching so hard.

When I was a small boy, the radio brought many enjoyable programs to the house.  I remember hurrying to get my chores done , to be ready for a favorite.  I always had to bring in kindling for the morning fire, stove wood for the kitchen stove, firewood for the fireplace, gather the eggs, and slop the hogs.  I would hurry so all would be finished and then listen to the Lone Ranger, the Squeaking Door, Jack Armstrong, the all American boy, the Shadow, and others.  Some of these were sponsored by Postum, which I have never seen.

The entire family enjoyed the Amos and Andy Show, which was a universal favorite.  In addition, the Birmingham Barons baseball games were enjoyed by the entire male part of the community.  In later years, when Joe Louis was fighting, his monthly fights almost always filled the living room.  Every man without a radio came to watch.

I can remember his fights with Billy Conn.  The sentiments of the group were always for the underdog, and there was disappointment when Louis always won.  Radio also brought news, most of it bad.  Although we were some 5000 miles from Pearl Harbor, the news reached us about noon on December 7, 1941.

Even after seeing TV and and the movies, I still believe a radio program can be just as enjoyable and suspenseful as either.

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