It was 1952, and I was 10 years old. I was in Atlanta for several days visiting my uncle, aunt and two cousins. They had something I didn’t. Again, going from memory formed 64 years ago, my recollection is that the convention was in Chicago and came on at 10 a.m. every morning while I was there, but that did not prevent me from starting earlier by watching the test pattern, perhaps 30 minutes or so, lest I miss anything with my interest being more on the television, itself, and the wonder of it, than the convention, even though the nomination of Dwight D. Eisenhower probably whetted my already budding interest in politics.
If Aunt Lillian would let me, and generally she did, I would watch all day and until the station signed off (shut down) at night (11 p.m. or so?) with the playing of the National Anthem.
Fast-forward. Finally, we got television in Perry and were able to get two or three stations delivering black and white pictures, the quality of which varied significantly depending on how your antenna or “rabbit ears” were turned. “Our stations” were in Macon, and thus our “rabbit ears” had best be focused in a northerly direction.
Fortunately, as to our television in Perry, we got and were allowed to watch the Washington Redskins football team on Sundays. I was relieved because Daddy wouldn’t let me go to the “picture show” on Sunday, but he liked football as much as I did, so we watched it together, although I did feel a little sinful by doing so. Now, I am over the sinful feeling.
Grandma and Papa got television over in rural Washington County several years after we did, but the few stations they could get were still in black and white. I remember watching with Grandma “The Lawrence Welk Show” (she loved it), and a very good musical group, the Lewis Family out of Lincolnton, Georgia.
Now, Janice and I get probably 150 stations in full color (almost life-like on wide-screen), and when Peyton Manning completes a pass in Denver, I see it as soon as he does. And when the NFL breaks for a commercial, I switch to public television and try to keep up with what’s going on with the “Antiques Roadshow” or “The Lawmakers.”
“The more stations we have, the less there is to watch. There’s nothing good on television.” I hear it. I’ve said it. It’s just not true. What is true is that we are spoiled and it’s harder and harder for us to achieve contentment.
On Saturday, July 2, I watched the hour-long Georgia Farm Monitor beginning at 6 a.m. This is a great show hosted by my longtime friend, Kenny Burgamy, and the co-host, Ray D’Alessio. You can get this show each week on several stations, and at different time slots, and I try to see it every week. You should too. Let me tell you a little about last week’s show.
There was a feature on my friend, Duke Lane Jr., and Lane’s Packing in Peach County. Hardy Farms and their roasted peanuts was another feature. The FFA (Future Farmers of America) and Courtney Barber from Ware County were part of the program along with Nora Mill Granary (grinding corn with water) in Helen, beef and dairy cows with a UGA specialist, cotton with an old photo of the Cotton Board, Bermuda grass, steam maggots spreading throughout Georgia, beautiful farm properties and even a very well and tastefully done commercial by attorney Carl Reynolds of Macon. To me, this is an excellent weekly program that deserves your attention.
Public television has some great programs including the aforementioned “Antiques Roadshow” and “The Lawmakers” when the state Legislature is in session. And Janice and I even like some of the paid programming like the Easy Living Classics (songs and artists from the early ‘60s) that was on last week with probably 50 artists including Bobby Darin, Tony Orlando and Dawn, Glen Campbell, Ray Charles, Elvis, Buddy Holly, Dean Martin, Roy Orbison, Dionne Warwick, Olivia Newton-John, Patsy Cline, Louis Armstrong, etc. You get the pictures — on your color television.
What about “Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown”? And, my favorite, college football, followed closely by college basketball. The History Channel has some good stuff. And there’s unprecedented and excellent news coverage. We know what’s going on. And, I could go on and on, but must stop.
No, it’s not your Grandmother’s TV. It’s better. Much, much better. But I’ll tell you, that 1952 Republican National Convention was mighty exciting to me.
Larry Walker is a practicing attorney in Perry, Georgia. He served 32 years in the Georgia General Assembly, and presently serves on the University System of Georgia Board of Regents. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.