It still amazes me how a song from the past can magically take us back to where we were when we first heard it.
Tonight I heard the song, Magic Moments, sung by Perry Como. There is a good chance you youngsters have never heard of him.
But in the late 1950s, when I was a child, he hosted a variety show on tv. Perry started his career as a barber, but his smooth, easy voice was soon noticed, and the rest, as they say, was history.
My memories of Perry are only a gateway to my memories of what it was like to watch tv in those days.
The tv was much smaller than our big screen of today. There was no remote. Often the youngest, most able bodied person was tapped to go to the tv and turn a knob to change the channel.
There was no streaming. Channels were limited to what you could get from the tv station located closest to where you lived.
We lived in a small town between several major tv stations. We could get two channels from Augusta, Georgia, two channels from Savannah, Georgia and two channels from Charleston, South Carolina. We were amazed at all these choices.
There was a slight hitch, however, to getting a clear picture. The antenna on top of the house had to face in the perfect direction. To accomplish this, someone had to turn a device on top of the tv to move the antenna.
Periodically, usually after the winds of the thunderstorms that frequented that area, the antenna would get stuck.
When that happened, one person would have to go out and watch what was happening with the antenna while someone inside moved the device back and forth.
It usually required a third person to stand at the window and relay messages back and forth between the person watching the roof top antenna and the person inside fiddling with the tuner.
If that did not work, someone would have to go up to the roof and pull and push on the antenna to get it moving.
Of course, by this time, we may have missed the show. Again, there was no streaming. The show came on and ended at defined times. If you were not there, you missed it.
And speaking of missing it, many people took their bathroom breaks on the commercials. If anyone took too long, there were shouts of, “Hurry up! It’s starting!”
Since the time limit of the commercials was brief, usually only one person at a time could go to the bathroom. Anyone else would have to wait for the next commercial.
TV shows were family friendly. No cussing. No sex. Even married couples slept in separate beds. No political overtones except heavy doses of patriotism.
There were mysteries, westerns, cartoons, and family shows. There was comedy and variety shows. The choices were outlined in a little book called TV guide, which arrived in the mail every week.
We all reviewed the guide and agreed on what to watch. Since there were family favorites, it was usually an easy choice. But we understood that in the case of dissension, the parents decided.
There was only once I can remember that my mother cast a vote against my father. I begged to watch a much publicized episode of the Ed Sullivan show. He was going to introduce a young boys’ band from England. They were called The Beatles.
My mother thought we should see what all the fuss was about. My father tried to keep an open mind. But after a couple of lines, he folded his arms and said, “That’s disgusting. Turn that noise off.”
My mother suggested he go get a snack from the kitchen. He did. We watched it!
My father was a mailman and also an avid gardener. This meant weather forecasts were important to him. The world stopped when the weatherman came on (And yes, for some reason they were all men.)
Living between Augusta, Savannah and Charleston, he watched them all and tried to “average” them to figure out the weather for our location. I was amazed at how many times he got it right!
And remember, watching the different locations required a quick tune of the channel dial and turning the antenna.
Anyone watching the turning antenna on our roof every night between 6 and 7 probably shook their heads and said, “Don’t worry about it. It’s just Horace getting the weather!” (And sometimes people would call to see what he had calculated our weather to be.)
Those times were family times. We smiled, laughed and sometimes cried together. We watched the news and were amazed that we could find out what was happening outside our little town.
My parents would be amazed at the television of today. The big screen tv with surround sound and endless choices of what to watch is far more than they could have imagined back then.
Being able to watch when you decide to watch and just putting it on pause when you want to go to the bathroom would wow them.
But even more, having a remote where you can change the channel from the comfort of your chair, all without messing with an antenna, would be truly amazing to them.
I enjoy the way things are now, but I also enjoy the memories of that time from long ago when we shared magic moments.
If you would like to remember (or if you are younger, just imagine), close your eyes and listen to Perry. Here is the link.