New year, new…

resolve… not to procrastinate in getting my posts completed. (See how well that one’s working…)

Anyway, a new year and I thought I’d make some small changes for 2012…

1.  As you may have noticed, whenever I’ve uploaded something I’ve played/recorded, I’ve accompanied it with this picture.  For 2012 I thought a new picture was in order… so here’s the new me.   I gave some thought to using my accordian pic  but I didn’t want to scare you from listening.

2. When I started doing this back in September 2010 I endeavoured to maintain a “three posts per month” schedule.  By and large, that’s been successful to date… but I’m going to drop to “two posts per month” for the new year.  Content-wise, I intend to have one of those two monthly submissions with a music orientation and the second a more “verbal” post.  This one (as you now may be suspecting) is of the latter (verbose) variety.

And so I’ve come to my first submission for the new year and my subject is, strangely enough…

Colour Television

The ruminations which follow all began with a series of greetings passed on via email to Terry Kirkman (he of Association fame). Beyond the usual Christmas greetings, you see, in the month of December is also his birthday, Hanukah and (of course) New Year’s Eve.  His reply detailed some of the colours of nature which mark this season in California (as observed during a journey to visit his extended family during the holidays) and a brief description of his hometown’s (Pasadena) preparation for the annual Tournament of Roses Parade.

Terry Kirkman, in a more recent incarnation.

That mention of the Rose Parade triggered a series of memories from my childhood.  I was, after all, a child of the “television generation”.  It was a medium which, like me, came of age in the fifties and sixties.  Except that it was, for virtually all viewers of the period, a black and white world (with a touch of grey).

A black and white world.

The Beatles on Ed Sullivan. The tragic deaths of John F. and his brother Robert Kennedy.  Canada’s centennial and Expo 67.  The senseless killing of Martin Luther King. The Apollo moon landing.  All of these  as well as the shows of the period remembered in black and white.  So it was an event of note to encounter a colour television during the during 60’s.  And I recall two such occasions.

The first come during a visit to a great uncle and aunt living in Detroit.  Their neighbourhood would kindly be described as less than affluent but there was at one juncture a need, for reasons I don’t now remember, to visit a neighbourhood bar/variety store to pick up some grocery items. I came along (with whoever performed the errand) and witnessed there my first colour television.  In point of fact I noted with some disappointment that the overly vibrant colours appeared to have been randomly smeared over the screen.  Not an auspicious introduction to colour television.  Fascinating nonetheless.

It is with some shame that I recount my second encounter.  I recall the death of an adolescent relative (who I really didn’t know) due to cancer and a lengthy visit to the local funeral home by my parents and me (only child).  I should observe that these occasions served both to pay respects to the family of the deceased and to renew acquaintance with a seemingly endless stream of relatives and friends.  This particular visit lasted for several hours and I guess the funeral director, observing me patiently (?) sitting by myself, took pity on me and, with my parents’ permission, ushered me into an adjoining office which contained a television (in fairly decent colour tones this time) broadcasting The Wonderful World of Disney.  Now I had seen my share of movies in colour… so it wasn’t remarkable in that sense.  But here was a show which I had watched faithfully week by week and now Walt and this particular episode were actually in colour!  I don’t remember how much of that show I watched.  I do recall remarking (in that unthinking manner children sometimes display) to my parents, as we drove home, that it was the best funeral visitation I’d ever experienced.  As you might suspect, I was briskly reminded that such observations were inappropriate.

Now, you may be asking, what does all this have to do with the Rose Parade?  Two things.  First, it is worthwhile to note that the parade was (in 1954) the first major colour broadcast on television.  Second, it was wistfully spoken of by my parents as a broadcast worth the purchase of a colour television.  Because my parents (in this period) owned a gas station/snack bar/service garage, they worked seven days a week virtually year round (7-11).  New Years Day represented one of a handful of holidays in which the operations ceased and one of the few occasions where both of them would watch a show uninterrupted.  And what would they see when they tuned in?

Watching the Rose Parade in living black and white.

In spite of this desire, it would be the early 70’s before they finally conceded the need for a colour set.  I think we (Jane and I) might have provided some incentive.  You see our little black and white portable (with which we began our married lives) was, within the first year or two, struck by lightning.  We were definitely not well endowed financially in this period but with the aid of a friendly lender we were able to borrow in order to purchase our first colour television… a 20-inch unit which sold, at the time, for about $500. It should be noted that, by this juncture, network broadcasts were almost exclusively in colour and the picture quality had improved markedly from the early 60’s.  My father, who had often voiced his opposition to such frivolous purchases based, in part, on his own observation of colour televisions of the previous decade eventually (with my mother’s encouragement) agreed to purchase one.  And now we could all see the Rose Parade in colour.

And now in colour...

One brief tangent. A number of years later my parents opted for another, somewhat larger model (now with remote) and we inherited their first colour purchase.  This benefited us in that the tuner on our own set was becoming very temperamental.  I mention this because it was in this period that we got Gem.

Our little OCD dog...

She was (and is) many things. Very clever.  A tad crazy at times.  And obsessive. Early on in her puppyhood she discovered (I suppose from watching us) that this television could be shut off by pushing in a button located on the front of the set (no remote)… so, pull to turn on/push to turn off.  It soon became common practice for her to charge into the living room unannounced and run at the TV, turning the set off with her pointy little nose.  This sometimes amusing and more often annoying practice eventually ended when the set finally wore out and a new one took its place… with a remote but no pull on/push off button.

I was reflecting on this post’s topic on the way back from a recent dog walk.  Looking at the sky as we drove home (for darkness comes early on these winter days) we could see that a particularly magnificent sunset was unfolding.  We drove down to the lake (Lake Huron is noted for its sunsets) and watched a truly magical display of light and texture. And that brings me back to the Kirkman missive which started these ruminations.  He was observing the colours of the orchards and vineyards as hints of spring were beginning to appear on the California landscape (something we here in Canada can only dream about).  Whether it’s Californian spring, a Lake Huron sunset or the spectacle of a Rose Parade in high definition,  colour is one of many gifts to be appreciated as we begin this new year.

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