Rushville Republican

February 25, 2014

Looking back as television came about

By Bill Ward
Rushville Republican

---- — I sure miss the times when auto tires had tubes, radios had tubes and if one wanted, your car had whitewall tires with big circles of white on them. Television was new and still being found out not only by the viewers, but those doing the broadcasting. I believe Channel 6 and 8 were the first two with 6 being first.

The first year we had a TV they broadcast the 500 mile race and dad and I thought that was a great thing to do. Of course it was far from the coverage one gets today, but for the time it was really fun and interesting. We spent all afternoon in front of the fuzzy tube watching the cars go around the track. That stopped later on when they figured out they could make more money if it was not broadcast but people had to pay to get in to see the race.

Roller Derby was a mainstay in TV’s early years both men and women. That and professional wrestling were the major sports on the tube and everything was real time, no taping or anything like that.

Even the ads were at times live. I remember Betty White one time doing a commercial for a GE refrigerator and she had opened the door for some reason and the darn thing would not shut and stay shut. She did her usual outstanding self and muddled right on through the ad. Because of her problem with the door and it being live, it was what today we would say went viral.

Children’s shows Captain Video and Howdy Doody were fun to watch and usually something would go awry during the show.

One thing I really remember was how primitive the productions were at the time. Of course the fact that TV even existed was the main attraction, but the growing pains of the media were at times even more interesting than the shows. Dad and I thought the wrestling was fun to watch even when much to my displeasure I found out it was all basically a hoax. If Roller Derby or wrestling was on, dad was there.

When the Lone Ranger came on, I was in heaven, my favorite radio program was now on TV. A lot of the old radio shows were tried and found to be way off when on live action TV. If you listened to Lum and Abner or the Great Gildersleeve on radio, you had to use your imagination and that was the best part of it. On TV, you could see what was going on and at times it was far from as much fun as what you may have thought in your mind.

One of the things I remember is Miss Ball some how knew one of the professional wrestlers of the time. A fund raiser for something, the school was having a real live actual Professional Wrestling match in Rushville at Memorial Gym. One of the detested wrestling villains of the time was Ivan Rasputin, a barrel chested squat nasty guy who did every dirty trick that there was. And Miss Ball knew him.

Prior to the match when I was just goofing off, I saw both Ivan and Miss Ball and wondered what was going on? It seems some where along the line they met and knew and liked each other. Both hammed it up for the crowd and the gym was full and loved the extra entertainment. I will never forget that evening and my respect for Miss Ball, which was pretty high anyway, went way up.

Dad sold Philco televisions and so that was what we had. I loved to watch the Philco advertisements and thought dad surely had something to do with that. Auto dealers then as now were heavy into TV. Furniture stores were too and usually had a pretty stupid ad to go along with it . And of course there were some auto dealers who like to make a fool of themselves too, so guess it was the camera that made people be stupid. Just look at the reality shows of today to see that. We had Admiral, Philco, DuMont, RCA, General Electric, Sarkis Tarzian television sets sold in Rushville and all the dealers did a land office business.

Of course the sets were huge, the tubes small and round not at all like today. I remember our first set was larger than the console radio, phonograph dad had brought home one day. And of course it cost a lot more too. I think our first set retailed for $125 and this was a lot for the time too, plus the antenna, rotor, and installation of them. One could get a wad of cash invested in a TV. Funny thing was so many felt they needed a TV so went out of their way to get one.

If at the time one would tell of how things are today they would have been run out of town on a rail. In fact there are so many things today that are so different and would never have been thought of or about in my youth it amazes me frequently. I sit down now and again and think of all the things that have changed or came about in my life time and it is scary. There are so many things today that were not even consider or thought of in my youth. I hate to think of what is to come, is it more and better or less and not so good?