Media in the 1950’s and 1960’s was so different than today. I can actually remember when we purchased our first television set. It was common for them to have a screen of only 12 inches. They were black and white. That is IT! NO color. Zero. Nada. We had rabbit ears on top of our set so we could “receive” three different channels–2,5 and 11. Television stations only ran certain hours– not 24 hours a day. At midnight, the stations would show the American flag and play the Star, Spangled Banner. Then all you would see is a test pattern and hear a tone until the stations started up again the next morning.
I cannot remember everything that was on TV but I can remember the ones my parents let me watch. In those days, parents were in charge. Period. At our house, the television did not come on early in the morning. The radio did. It was the source of news and weather and music and programs like “The Shadow”. Everyday at 12, Back to the Bible came on the radio and we always listened. The theme song in those days was “I Love to Tell the Story”. We always listened and ate lunch. Well, except on Thursdays. That was payday and we would pick Dad up at the Plant and go to the bank.
Our little household would generally halt every day around 1 because that is when “As the World Turns” came on the television. That is generally when the television was turned on for the day. People worked in their homes. They listened to the radio and worked. All the women tuned in to their favorite soap. They laughed and said they would not even answer their telephones!
After school, children played outside or did their homework. Sometimes children watched TV because there were a few children’s shows on. One I can remember was The Howdy Doody Show. It had a clown and showed a few cartoons. Another very popular show was ” The Mickey Mouse Club”. I knew every word to the song. Annette and Tommy and the others were glamorous to all us who watched from home. One of our local channels had an afternoon children’s program and my Brownie troop was in the audience. We were so excited to be on TV. There was no taping of shows. You saw it or you didn’t. VCRs were not invented.
Night programs included a few that you may be familiar with today. The KING of evening TV was I Love Lucy. You may remember that the couple had twin beds. That was just the way it was. Even married couples were not filmed in bed together. I have many favorite episodes. Do you remember the chocolate factory? Or the Vita Veta-Min Commercial? Other favorites included “Father Knows Best”, “Donna Reed Show”, “Ozzie and Harriet” and “Dragnet”. On Sunday night, you could watch the Ed Sullivan Show. I never saw Elvis on it. My parents said no. But years later I saw The Beatles. You could watch Lassie but I never watched animal programs. I was a weepy mess because Lassie was always in trouble. And you could watch Walt Disney World. On Saturdays I watched Sky King and The a Roy Rogers Show. I loved Roy and Dale! They were always singing and doing the right thing. I also watched The alone Ranger. He was another good role model for children. As a preteen, my all time favorite program was Dr. Kildare and Ben Casey. I even had an autographed picture of Ben Casey! And one of those white button up jackets like interns wore. Lots of girls had them. I received mine as a gift. I ironed and starched it myself. crazy, I know! This seems mighty tame compared to the stars that children look up to today. I have to say I prefer the old days even now.
So I guess I will leave you with this tidbit of a song. See if you can finish it! Mickey Mouse. Mickey Mouse. Forever let us hold our standard high!