Ok, so our parents bored us to death with their stories of how they walked three miles to school in the snow without boots and the girls wore skirts with short socks and blah, blah, blah! But we baby boomers who were born from 1946 to 1964 did endure a life much different to what we have today.
When I was about three years old, our family got the first television set in the neighborhood. It was a Motorola and it sat on top of our console radio and phonograph combination. It was a about two feet square that was about twelve inches tall and the screen was all of seven inches and it was black and white because color television was not yet invented. I remember the vertical control would never stay still and my dad had to operate the control from the back of the set while we would sit patiently for it to stop. Compare that to the movie theater size screens that we take for granted nowadays.
Channels were very scarce too, we had about four or five channels and they were not all on for twenty-four hours. The programming day would start with the national anthem. I would get up early on Saturday morning to watch my kid shows and have to deal with a test pattern that filled the screen and if the sound was up, there was a hum that went along with it that could really get on your nerves. So when the national anthem came on, I knew it was not long before I would see my shows. Back then there was; Andy’s Gang, Rin Tin Tin and Howdy Doody to keep my young heart happy.
As for a phone, yes we did have one and it was available in any color you wanted; as long as you wanted black! It had a dial and it came with either a four party or two party lines. That meant you shared the phone line with either four or two other families. Oh, you could get a private line, but it was expensive, so we made due with a two party line. Unfortunately, whenever we wanted to use the phone, the jabber jaw that we shared the phone with, would never hang up and give us a turn. The phone sat on a desk or table or wherever you could put it, because wall phones were not yet available.
Encyclopedias were where we found information needed for homework. That is, if we were wealthy enough to afford them. I remember door to door salesmen would come to the house and show us the set of encyclopedias and I as an avid reader would chomp at the bit hoping that my mother would buy them for me so I didn’t have to walk two miles to the public library. Luckily or unluckily as luck would have it, as my mother made payments, the books would come in the mail in alphabetical order. If my homework assignment was within the letters we had, it was great. If not, I would trudge to the library to get my info. No instantaneous internet back then. As for computers, they would show this ginormous computer system on some game shows that took up a whole room with large reels of tape on the outside like giant movie films and a slot where the questions would come out for the emcee to read to the contestant.
The funny thing in my recollection about television was that when my husband and I came back from our honeymoon, we made one stop before going home and bought the first color television in our family. It cost $579. We put the $79 down and paid off the balance with monthly payments. My father was appalled at the nerve we had as two kids financing a television set. We both had jobs back then and had no problem paying the television off. In October when the World Series was on television, we had the family around our color television, just as the neighborhood sat and watched our little black and white almost twenty years before.