Friday, August 7, 2015

Sepia Saturday: Good Times with the Boob Tube

Sepia Saturday challenges bloggers to share family history through old photographs.

This week’s Sepia Saturday photo of a showroom full of television sets is nothing like what we experience today in shopping for the latest in home entertainment. Instead of meandering in and out and between the sets, we stand back and gaze at display room walls lined with flat screens showing off their high resolution and sound in football games and Eagles concerts. Who can help but admire the picture quality and sleek lines? I would not want to go back to the days of black and white, but the boxy “picture tube” television set standing quietly on four legs was the television of my childhood.

I do not remember NOT having a TV. It was as much a part of our household as the stove and refrigerator. Maybe that is why the TV set is rarely seen in any family pictures. In fact, the few glimpses of one are actually of my grandparents’ Zenith. They lived next door, and I spent a lot of time there, so I remember their TV more than my own. 

Wendy Slade, Mary Jollette Slade, Bobbie Davis at Grandma Davis's house 1964
Wendy and Mary Jollette with our cousin Bobbie
Grandma's Zenith
(Were we playing with some toy make-up?? I don't know.)
December 1964
This is the TV where
Mac McManus as Poopdeck Pappy
Poopdeck Pappy

  • my family saw me on “Poopdeck Pappy,” a local show in which Mac McManus starred as Popeye’s father Poopdeck Pappy and showed “Popeye” cartoons in the afternoon. Scout troops, Sunday School classes, children’s choirs, and various organizations were invited to walk across the “gangplank”onto Poopdeck Pappy’s “fishing trawler.” My Brownie troop were the guests of the day.

  • we laughed at Red Skelton’s skits as Clem Kadiddlehopper and Freddie the Freeloader and waited for his signature address to the audience at the end of every show: “Good night and may God bless.”
Red Skelton
as Freddie the Freeloader
from wikimedia commons

  • my friends and I sat up late on Friday nights to watch old Frankenstein and Dracula movies on “Shock Theater.” The vampire host rose out of a coffin with his eerie greeting, “Good eeeeeev-en-ing.”
The Lennon Sisters
from wikimedia commons

  • we gathered to watch Lawrence Welk. I wished I could play the piano with the confidence and joy of JoAnn Castle, that I could dance with Bobby Burgess (all grown up – I remember when he was a Mouseketeer) and that I could be friends with the Lennon Sisters.

  • I watched “Wizard of Oz” – it came on only ONCE a year, and even then it was not every year. Grandma served Jiffy Pop. What could be better?

  • my grandmother watched her “soaps” in the afternoon until I got home from school to interrupt her peace.

  • we sat speechless following reports of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

The TV set brought families together.

It’s time to change channels and see what else is on the Sepia Saturday Show.

© 2015, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.


  1. I love that shag carpet saying! Cracks me up every time.

    Yes, that was my play makeup. I think Scoop and Orvin Jr. brought that to me.

    I see Joel in you!

    Fun post girl!

  2. I remember we didn't have a TV one time for about 6 months when I was growing up. I do remember listening to the radio a lot during that time :) I also remember how fun it was to get our first color TV and that TV channels actually went off the air and didn't stay on 24/7. My how times have changed!


  3. A fun & memory-renewing post. Love the shag carpet saying. Before we had a remote channel changer, we had one that was attached to the TV by a cord which my husband insisted on keeping with him. He sat across the room from the TV and anyone needing to go down the hall to the bedrooms, or across to the dining room & kitchen had to be careful to step over the cord or run the risk of tripping. Fortunately the cord-remote period didn't last very long.

  4. And my older aunts and uncles sat in front of the television every Saturday nite for the Lawrence Welk Show --- and we wouldn't think of doing anything to disrupt their time with the bubble king.

  5. Bobby on Lawrence Welk was the SAME Bobby on Mickey Mouse Club? I didn't know that! I had my own set of Mickey Mouse Ears (really!) , was in love with Spin and Marty, and thought Karen and Cubby the cutest kids on the planet -- how embarrassing is that?

  6. We didn't have a tv until I was 5 or 6 years old in 1952 or so. I remember watching Shock theater with my sister and The Wizard of Oz a couple of times with my sister and cousins, Howdy Doody every evening.

  7. I am jealous that you got to visit a TV show--I never did.

  8. You actually appeared on TV? I wonder how many other Sepians can say the same. You’ve reminded me that there were some fairly dire programmes in the early days of TV.

  9. Wendy, I loved the Lennon sisters. I wanted some of their pretty dresses!

  10. I loved the Lennon sisters, too. I wanted to join their family so I could perform with them - too bad I can't sing or I know they would have let me. I was on a dance show once - kind of like a local American Bandstand.

  11. I dn't know many of the shows you mention, but as a child in the 1960s the Mickey Mouse Club and the Lone Ranger were among my favourites, and I remember my parents watching stuff like Z Cars and Dr Kildare and shooing me off to bed because they weren't 'suitable' for kids.

  12. Poopdeck Pappy!! Great! I'd love to do a post on local kids' TV shows from the '50s and '60s ...we had several in the Seattle area. I remember shopping for our first TV, a Motorola, when I was about 5, and watching daytime TV (this was before kindergarten) - sitting very close (my folks hadn't yet realized I was terribly nearsighted). My favorite show was (wait for it) "Queen for a Day"!!

  13. Very fun post. I can't say I relate well personally as I'm clearly younger than you by a fault, but it's amazing even in my own short lifespan to see how much has changed. I can only imagine what it has been like for you. Nonetheless, I'm a little jealous. Poopdeck Pappy sounded like fun!

  14. Yes, we always had a tv too, and when my parents got the larger color tv set my sister and I both got our own little 13 black and white tv sets for our rooms! Watching the Wizard of Oz every year was a big deal for me too, and once I married my first hubby and discovered he'd never ever seen it, I couldn't believe it!