It was our first TV from the early 1950s. A Sears Silvertone 12-inch black and white Television. It was, what they called, a ‘table top’ model. The picture tube was fitted in a two-foot square by two foot deep mahogany box sitting atop a wooden box frame with skinny mahogany wood legs. This television had a round 12-inch picture tube in front with a straight frame at the top and bottom. Looking like a movie screen but rounded ends. When this showed up in our living room in 1952 it was the first television I had ever seen. Wow! Early on my favorite thing to watch was the Indian feathered test pattern.
Now, this TV had one mechanical channel selector and operated by hand. Click-click-click. No remote. Plus it had one on-off/volume switch, one contrast knob, one horizontal hold knob, one vertical hold knob, and one tone knob. Again, all controlled and operated by hands on.
When the TV was misbehaving it would either roll up or down like a slow frame by frame film. Or it would lean diagonally to the right or left. Just a collection of compressed diagonal lines. Driving the viewer into total aggravation.
But for an eight-year old boy it was a chance to play TV engineer. A little twist here or a twist there. And waa-laa, a scrambled mess. If that weren’t enough there were recessed slotted controls on the back of the TV to stick a screw driver into and twist one way or another. One could learn a lot by experimenting. Just don’t let your dad catch you fiddling with this big wooden mahogany device. But when no amount of twisting and turning seemed to help, take off the removable back panel and pull out the crystalline glass vacuumed tubes and take them to the nearby drug store for testing on the tube tester. This alone was fun to watch as my dad would plug in each glass tube. It would tell you if the tube was good or bad. If all the tubes were still good we would take them home and attempt to fit them back into the right slots, unplug the TV power cord, and leave it for a week. Perhaps by some magical means or Karma or maybe banging on the cabinet before plugging it back in to the wall receptacle it just might work. The end result of all this troublesome TV fiddling resulted in something like viewing a black-and-white photo through a sheet of wax paper. Sort of fuzzy. Almost good as listening to ‘Old time’ radio. Just turn the darn TV on good and loud and go feed the chickens. End of the broadcast day. Signing off.