Tuesday, July 19, 2011

red

It was some Saturday in 1968. I'm certain it was Saturday because Dad was at home and we were not getting ready for church, which would have marked the day as a Sunday. Saturday, then. 

Dad moved our little black and white television out of the den to make room for the brand new COLOR TELEVISION! It was a large piece of furniture, a dark walnut covered box that was so heavy and bulky that it required the help of the neighbor, Mr. Batt, to muscle it out of the back of the station wagon and up the porch steps into the den. 
Dad muttered as he plugged it in, attached it to the antenna on the roof with small wires and screws. We even had an extra set of "rabbit ears" that could go on top of the television if necessary. Now, the final adjustments with the mysterious knobs. Because the knobs were on the back of the television, Dad relied on us kids to sit in front of the screen and shout out if the picture was better or worse with his adjustments. 

Since we were all under 8 years old, we were not the most helpful assistants. Enthusiastic, yes. Helpful? Not so much. We did not have a clear idea that there was some kind of color television perfection (already established out there by someone) we were trying to achieve. We liked it when the picture squeezed in at the sides like an hourglass. Or when the contrast was so high that everything looked other-worldly.

Dad had to walk in front of the screen several times to see for himself if the picture was better or worse from his ministrations. The vertical knob made the picture stop flipping. Contrast helped us see things out of the colored fog on the screen. Finally, the color knob. If not adjusted right, faces were green instead of flesh. And landscapes were red. Color was always the hardest adjustment because Dad is color blind and we kids liked seeing Captain Kirk with a violet face. Mom was called in to be the color judge. She always knows the direction of the perfection standard.

As I painted this color sketch, I thought back to that day, that Saturday in 1968, when my family got our first color television set.  And I smiled.

12 comments:

Nancy Van Blaricom said...

Beautiful work, beautiful story.

Joni James said...

Very beautiful! I think we got our color t.v. a little bit later then that. My dad was super frugal. I can't imagine watching I Dream of Jeannie in black and white! Remember her cool pad inside that bottle? Lots of orange and reds/purples.

SippicanCottage said...

Ha! A perfect vignette.

I remember distinctly, same Bat-time, same Bat-channel, gasping out, "Star Trek is in color?!!!"

SamArtDog said...

Zowie! Love that red!

I do remember our first color TV. It was Maine, so reception was often marginal. Channel 8's transmitter on the top of Mt. Washington gave us colored snow.

Carolyn Rondthaler said...

Nice painting and thanks for the memories. I miss the times when everyone watched the same programs on tv....Ed Sullivan, Milton Berle, Perry Como!!!

Katherine van Schoonhoven said...

Thanks, Nancy.

Joni: we were not the first on our block with the color tv, but many of my friends had black and white only for another year.

Katherine van Schoonhoven said...

Batman?! Absolutely!! Back to the days when the bad guys were truly bad and everyone could tell them apart from the good guys. Now I'm going to have that theme song running through my head. Thanks a bunch, Gregory (Sippican). It beats "Stairway to Heaven"! Doo-doo-doo-doo-doo-doo-doo-doo... Batman!

Katherine van Schoonhoven said...

Sam, isn't that red a velvet curtain? We had good reception in LA, but I can remember when the national anthem played and then the single tone played and the Indian in headdress came on. I'm older than I think I am!

Katherine van Schoonhoven said...

Hi Carolyn! We might not have all enjoyed the same program, but there was one television playing one program and that's what we watched! My parents never missed a Bob Hope special. Thanks, for the memories!

Carrie H. said...

You have landed! Quite effective in your color, format and composition!

Nick said...

That sounds much like the TV that Alex and I used to play Nintendo on back in the day. You're right, it was totally fun to tweak the colors so people were purple!

Nick said...

Also, with regards to the batman theme: http://xkcd.com/851/