Between Friends: Television changes take us from times past into the future

Published 6:00 am Thursday, January 11, 2024

By Bob Ann Breland
Columnist

“My, how television has changed,” I thought loudly as I clicked the remote from station to station looking for something to watch.  So many programs and still so little one cares to watch.

Television – such a part of our everyday life. If you think back, we can almost chronicle our past lives by what was happening on radio or television.

We were so happy to have another television station when WWL-TV started in the area so many years ago. Until then, there was only one station — WDSU-TV — and you watched what was on or you didn’t watch. There was virtually no choice.

One reason I remember WWL’s appearance so well was I was introduced to the soap opera “As the World Turns”. Soap operas were not new as I had listened to them on the radio for most of my life.

During the summer, Mama would send us outside to play when the soap operas came on, but we would gather quietly outside the window and listen anyway. When we started back to school, we put our younger brother up to listening and he would fill us in when we got home from school.

My grandchildren can hardly believe that I grew up in a time when there was no television.  They can’t imagine life without a television in every room, not to mention all the other technical devices they take for granted.

I remember when we first read about television in our Weekly Readers at school. From what we read, it was like a radio with pictures, unreal.

I was in the seventh grade when I saw my first television. A boy in my class had a birthday party at his house and everyone was excited because they had a television. We wanted to see it more than to experience the birthday party and we didn’t get that many invitations to birthday parties.

It was pretty unimpressive because all we saw was a snowy screen. When TVs first came out, there were times when there was no programming and when the set was turned on, you just saw a screen filled with static snow.

We had one neighbor who very early had a TV and every night they would have a room full of people watching whatever program was on the air. They didn’t seem to mind the company…or at least they didn’t show it!

From then on, televisions popped up in our neighborhood and we went often to watch. I was married and had my own TV by the time my parents got theirs. Sometimes we had to go outside and turn the antenna to receive the signal and to watch other channels. Satellites now beam the programs – even streaming them to our various other wireless devices if we choose.

Technology changes very fast and I try to keep up – but sometimes I have to get one of the grandchildren in to change things on the TV, cell phone or other electronic gadget.

Have you ever watched a two-year-old take a “selfie” with a cell phone? It can be mind-boggling to watch these young ones. They seem to spring from the womb with electronic expertise.

I have a very old radio and sometimes I think it would be nice to turn it on again and be able to listen to “Baby Snooks,” or “Our Miss Brooks” or the scary fingernail-chewing adventures of “The Intersanctum” which we called “The Squeaking Door” — but somehow it wouldn’t be the same.

The world changes and we have to pull ourselves from the ancient past and try to go into the future – if only to keep our grandchildren from laughing at us.

About Timothy Holdiness

Timothy Holdiness is a native of Louisiana and has been published in several state, national and international publications. He has earned two undergraduate degrees in Biology, most recently from Northwestern State University in 2022. Notably, Holdiness was the 2014 Microsoft Office Specialist United States Champion in PowerPoint 2010.

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