Television in my family

Television in my family

Old Philips television set We did not have a television while I was growing up. I remember listening to the radio a lot when I was young. When I was in the second grade (1957), we lived in upstairs of a bakery in downtown Anoka, Minnesota. Next-door was a bar (beer joint) that had a television. Actually, they had one of the earliest color televisions. I remember my grandmother, Donna, taking me there to watch special events. I specifically remember watching the Tournament of Roses Parade and the Rose Bowl in color there. It was amazing.

We did not have our own television until I was in the fifth grade (about 1960) and were living in Spring Lake Park, Minnesota. It was a black and white TV. I remember watching morning cartoons a lot and my favorite TV show at the time was “Have Gun Will Travel.” At the time, I thought Richard Boone and my grandfather, Dick, look a lot alike. I think they had the same kind of mustache.

In 1961, my mother married Budgar and in 1962 we moved to North Minneapolis (1502 Fremont Ave No.). While there, Budgar purchased a color television. “Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color” and “Route 66” were my favorite television programs then (although I still loved “Have Gun Will Travel” but it was only in black and white). It was the first television I recall having a remote. I could change channels by clicking my cap gun (with a Paladin holster) – I guess TV remote was ultrasonic and the clicks of my cap gun made the TV change channels.

RCA Indian Head test pattern
RCA Indian Head test pattern

About 1965, we, my mother, younger sister, and I, lived in Detroit for a short time. In Detroit, we had a weird television. Rather than the standard clicking channels, the TV had continuously tuning through the VHS band much like UHF channel selector did in those days. Between channels six and seven there were a multitude of things that could be received. FM radio stations were there along with amateur radio and some, as I recall, police/fire radio communications. It was a cool television and the only one I’ve ever seen with that type of tuner in the VHF band.

Television notes from other family members via Facebook:

My sister Glennis says: “We got our 1st TV when I was 7… an RCA Victor. For many years we only had one channel, our own local channel 4 (then an NBC affiliate.) a second channel came in a few years later when they built a repeater for the Eugene ABC affiliate. Our second TV was also Black and White. We got a Magnavox color TV when I was a senior in high school. By then, we had three channels.”

Aunt Barbara says: “I think we got our first black and white TV in about 1949/1950. It was a gift from my Uncle Bob. We loved it and him too.”

My nephew Luke says, “We had a TV already when I came along. My first memory of television was color, a little 12″ or so screen with green backlit pushbuttons down the side of the screen for channel selection and a roller wheel for volume control. It was undoubtedly a Sony. We had it in Roseburg Oregon and I remember only two channels. My mother (Glennis) had a black and white TV after the divorce, a yellow plastic housed unit with a tiny little knob on the bottom right for on/off and volume control. This was in Eugene, I remember at least three channels.”

A favorite childhood memory – The steam car

The Steam Car – Motley, MN, circa 1962

A Childhood Memory

I recently received a very nice story from a friend regarding her childhood. After reading it, I thanked her for sharing it because it was a really nice story.  Then she asked me, “What are some of [my] favorite memories of childhood?”  Wow, good question.   Certainly, some of my fondest memories relate to visiting my grandfather, Richard Earl Brown, up in Motley, Minnesota. One of my favorite memories was the first time I drove a “car” by myself.

Me sitting on the steam car ready for a drive
Motley, MN  circa 1962
(The red barrel on board contained the water.)

I had this crazy uncle.  I’m not sure he was actually an uncle, he may have just been some distant relative they called “uncle,” or maybe just a neighbor that they called “uncle.”  Anyway, this uncle was into steam power.  In the early 1960’s he believed that steam would make a comeback. He had built several large steam powered “tractors” that were in various stages of operability.  He also built a much smaller “car.”  This was a real contraption: a steam engine, with space behind the driver for wood, a tank for water, and open belts and pulleys on an old truck chassis with car tires.

One day “Uncle Steam Engine” fired started a fire in the box of the small steam car and had me load it up with wood to get a good head of steam going. Once it had a good head, and he showed me how to operate the contraption he let me go and take it around the block.  At that time it was all dirt roads around his place but it was amazing.  It probably only went about 25 or 30 miles per hour and you had to slow down a lot to corner the bald tires around the soft sand but it was amazing.  No horn but it did have a funny low pitched whistle which kind of sound like a “Dooo.” I was about 12 at the time and found this experience to be one of the most exciting experiences of my life.

I would love to hear from anyone who remembers who it was in Motley that had the steam engines.  As I recall he lived south and east of the Hanson Bait Shop and only a few blocks from the old Brown house (Mary Elizabeth (Manning) Brown and her son, Richard Earl Brown) in the early 1960s.

Thanks Lee Ann for asking and helping me remember an interesting and exciting experience from my youth.