Our very first television.
It was 1952 on Simmons Avenue in East L A not that far from the Willard Battery factory water tower and just downwind from the B. F. Goodrich tire factory. The latest electronic marvels had entered our Okie home. Once television was brought into our tiny East Los Angeles Livingroom entertainment quickly transitioned from radio listening to the new watch-it-now visual format of T V.
It took the better part of a Saturday afternoon for my dad and my older brother to rig this thing up. Lots of shouting through the roof to “turn it to the right. No, stop. Turn it back the other way.” And what they were doing is rotating the rooftop antenna mast back and forth to hone in on the best TV signal And hopefully a signal without double images. A single image is best. All of this was after running a flat brown wire from the antenna, down the side of the house, into the window, and attach it to the televisions antenna screw down connection on the back of the TV set. An engineering feat equal to doing a load of laundry. But anyway, my brother and dad got the job done. There it was. A single image picture on the screen but a bit ill defined. It was like taking a black and white photograph and laying wax paper over the image resulting in reducing the detail of the picture. Just a bit fuzzy but discernable none the less. Sometimes an Indian feather headdress test pattern would appear or sometimes a tall hatted cowboy on a spotted horse would be shown on the fuzzy screen. All this magic coming from the television transmitter farm up on Mount Wilson near the observatory. TV technology in Los Angeles was just amazing back then.
What we had here in our Livingroom was a 12-inch simi-round Sears black and white TV screen set into a square mahogany wooden box set atop for mahogany legs. There was a big channel selector knob and an on/off switch below. A volume knob, a contrast knob, a horizontal hold control knob, and a vertical hold control knob along with several smaller tweaking settings on the back panel. Probably weighed about fifty pounds. Not sure how much it cost. My dad never told us.
But anyway, I as an eight-year-old boy when alone in the living room loved to tweak the many knobs. The fuzzy picture would lean to the left. Then lean to the right. Then the image would start to rolling like a slow reel of film. If I couldn’t achieve a steady picture, I would just turn it off and go listen to our less complicated radio. “Hi Ho Silver! The Lone Ranger rides again.”