This is just poetry. It won't save you, but it may locate you so that a rescue party can be sent out. — Dean Blehert

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Before Television

When I was little I'd sit on the rug
before our huge wooden-framed radio
with glowing orange dial (as if
at the feet of a master). I'd peer
into the dial, trying to penetrate
its translucence so I'd be able to SEE
The Lone Ranger, Sergeant Preston, etc.
It's like that when, trying to see you,
I look into your eyes.

Note: I became a radio addict around age 5 (1947), at which point I'd never heard of TV, nor did we own one until 1952 (one with a tiny black & white screen). The floor-model radios were huge -- 3 or 4 feet tall. The wooden console of this one had trim that was fluted. It was originally dark, but for some reason my Dad had painted it a light yellow-beige color. I remember pealing bits of loose paint off the edges (hope it wasn't lead based).

What else do I remember? Going to the cookie jar and stuffing my hands AND my pockets with cookies (especially if they were chocolate chip or peanut butter -- oatmeal raison were just tolerable), pulling threads out of the huge pink easy chair in the corner of the living room by the radio and getting cookie crumbs in all its cracks (beneath the cushion), while listening to "all the good shows" I hated to miss.

About two feet off the floor at the center of the radio was the dial, behind which glowed with a soft orange light. I thought if I looked into it carefully, I might be able to see the people I was listening to. When our first TV made vision possible, the result was at once thrilling (wow! So THAT'S what the Lone Ranger looks like) and, of course, disappointing.

Looking into "your" eyes is more thrilling, less disappointing (at least with the main YOU's of my life), probably because you look back. The radio didn't, though it let me imagine a great deal. I also thought there must be images in the radio vacuum tubes I saw on occasion, with their delicate filaments and plays of reflected light.

The TV not only didn't look back, but pretended to and kept mistaking me for some idiot. (Hey, Kids, What time is it? It's Howdy Doody time!" C'mon, you smiling condescending vacuity in buckskin, I'm ten years old and have spent years listening to Gangbusters, Suspense, Tarzan, Life of Riley, Our Miss Brooks, Tales of the Texas Rangers, even Gunsmoke and Dragnet (monotonous, so "adult"), so don't talk to ME as if I were a little kid! (Poor Buffalo Bob, I was way too hard on him, right, Boys and Girls?)

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