05 July 2009


Little post, because it has been a busy week-end, but I wanted to add something that harks back to our time in Bakersfield. It was the first time I saw television.

We had no television in Bakersfield. This did not mean that we were deprived of (or protected from, depending on your point of view) of the wonders of moving picture shows. There was a time - I do not recall exactly when nor how long it may have lasted, time being very different to a small child - there was time which may have lasted for a summer, possibly longer, when I recall us (all three of us?? Just me and Peter??) being at a local theatre for what was called "Saturday Matinée." We were there without our parents - of that I am sure - for westerns, slapstick comedy, even, occasionally, stage magicians. I seem to believe it cost $ .25 to get in. I remember it all with great pleasure.

On 2nd June, 1953 Princess Elizabeth was crowned Queen of England - and of a lot of other places as well; the United Kingdom and the whole Commonwealth, in fact. Our neighbours the Deweys had a television set. Did they buy it for the purpose of seeing the Coronation? Perhaps. I don't suppose the spectacle was broadcast live - how would that have been possible in 1953? - and therefore I assume we watched a film - a 'newsreel' - of the affair.

It was very exciting. I remember nothing of the coronation itself; I do remember being awestruck at the possibility of seeing movies in one's own home.

We got a television only when we had moved to Oroville. My father built it, and not from a kitset but - at least such is my understanding - from circuit diagrams in a magazine. It stood in a refrigerator-height open wooden frame, with no-doubt lethal circuitry all accessible to reach. It was, of course, black and white, and, naturally, used valves rather than transistors, which had only just been invented then. I don't recall exactly when this was but I would say about 1956.

When I went to University in 1960 student dormitories did not run to television sets. Edna and I had one (which I had built from a kitset) in Honolulu, from 1966 to 1968. I recall little of the rest of my life being much involved with the dread box. Certainly a generation later was much mastered by the world of television, but it has never been much more than a sort of novelty to me. No doubt this explains some of the ways I fail to fit in with the experiences of many.


Unitman said...

In fact, we had a television -- two of them -- while in Bakersfield. One was in the house in the living room -- about 1953 or so, just before we left for Oroville. I remember asking mom about the war ships that were being shown on Sunday afternoons, and she said the films were "Victory at Sea" series. Dad also bought a small TV for the "reception" place in the front office of his business, next door to the house. I remember going in there to watch TV with Jon Dewey, until mom or dad booted us out. Peter

John Thayer Jensen said...

You astonish me! I have no memory of either of these. This shows how untrustworthy my memory is - or possibly that 'Unitman' is trying to drive me mad by telling me about things that aren't there :-)

Unitman said...

Indeed, re. your response to my comment. I have NOT forgotten the Kildees - or is it Kildeers?