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Today is October 15, 2018

Grin 'n' Bare It

TV galore and nothing to watch

Kay Grafe
Kay Grafe

Last week at one of our late-afternoon board meetings, I told Mr. Roy that I wanted to close our meeting early and watch TV.

“You go ahead,” he said. “I’m tired of TV. There’s nothing worth watching anymore. I’ve seen all of the reruns for the ‘Andy Griffith Show’ and ‘Jeopardy,’ and now I’m tired of ‘Fixer Upper.’”   

Then he made one of his profound statements that was really the main issue: “We have too many choices.”

This verbal exchange stimulated my brain and caused me to remember the first one of those wonderful entertainment boxes I saw. It’s hard to believe, but I can remember when there was no television. Soon after World War II was over we began to hear and read about this new phenomena called television that people in large cities were watching in their homes.

By the late 1940s, television had reached the rural South. I remember the first one I saw was at Payne’s Furniture Store on Main Street in Lucedale. In fact, after Mr. Payne closed his store each afternoon he would leave a TV turned on in the front store window. It faced the street so folks could watch the night’s programs.

There was only one channel available, WDSU-TV from New Orleans. In just a few years two more channels from Mobile were added. The programs were in black and white, and most of the time the picture’s clarity was marred by an interference that looked like snow.

Poor picture or not, people came each night (some with fold-up chairs) to marvel at this strange new entertainment venue. The more affluent citizens of the county began to purchase their own entertainment boxes.

It’s hard to remember exactly when my family purchased our first television set, but I believe it was 1953 or ‘54. Many of my friends who had a TV discussed the previous night’s programs during the breaks at school. I felt out of the loop. Needless to say, after my parents bought a television, we were glued to the set after supper.

My memories of some of those old programs such as “I’ve Got A Secret,” “I  Love Lucy,” the “Milton Berle Show” and the “Ed Sullivan Show” were so “groovy.” I was also happy I could join in the conversations at school.

At our next board meeting, I told Mr. Roy I’d been thinking about what he said regarding so many TV programs, yet so little to watch.

“I can remember in the 1960s through the 1980s we had our favorite programs such as ‘The Dick Van Dyke  Show,’ ‘All in the Family,’ ‘Hill Street Blues’ and so many more that we looked forward to each week, and seldom missed. Yet today, with tons of available programs and ‘Nightly News’ in competition with one another, if we miss one we like, it doesn’t break our heart. Why is that?”

I could tell he was in deep thought, so I said, “Do you want to give me an off-the-cuff opinion or do you want to ponder this for awhile?”

Mr. Roy said, “I agree with everything you have said, but I don’t know the reason. Let me give it some thought.”

“OK, but consider the fact that we may be a minority that has this viewpoint. When you are ready to report back, let me know.”

The next afternoon, Mr. Roy said, “OK, I’m ready to give you my assessment of why our television watching habits have changed.”

“OK, let’s have it.”

“Well, this is what I believe. But first let me tell you what I did to reach this conclusion. I turned on the computer and consulted my trusty Google site. I checked out the top TV programs for each 10-year period, starting with the 1950s and ending with the 2010s. For the early years I would have selected the same hit shows that they did. But when they got to 2000 until today, I didn’t recognize many of the hit show’s titles.     

“Our generation has been zapped by the generational gurus. We are not the majority anymore. Advertisers, businesses and entertainers are catering to a younger clientele, one that seeks immediate gratification, sensational action, fast pace. The reason we don’t watch a lot of today’s TV shows and movies or listen to today’s music is because it’s not made for us.”

“I don’t like your assessment, but you’re probably right,” I said. “What do you suggest we do?”

“Well, I guess we have two choices: We can either join the young folks, or keep watching Fox News, Home and Garden and old movies,” he said.

Do my readers have any suggestions?

Kay Grafe is the author of “Oh My Gosh, Virginia.” To order, send name, address, phone number and $16.95, plus $3.50 S&H to Kay Grafe, 2142 Fig Farm Road, Lucedale, MS 39452.

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