Friday, June 12, 2009
Today I witnessed the death of an old friend. I felt sad in that split second to see him go. Another era passed by, another way of life succumbing to newer technology. At 12:59 I stood in my son's room and watched his little 13" TV tuned to KSL, channel 5 in Salt Lake City. At 12:59.59 our faithful little friend, the Philips rabbit ears antenna died. In the blink of an eye it leaped into obscurity as the screen went from color television to a snowy blizzard. The world silently slipped into the all-digital era.
It's not that we depended on the rabbit ears or had even used them in a very long time. They were only on Richard's "Game Cube" TV so he could watch cartoons once when he was sick in bed. The rest of the televisions in the house have been up to speed tech-wise for years now being hooked up to satellite receivers (and what would we do without those dishes now that we know how nice it is to have them?). I simply felt drawn to the rabbit ears in that last moment of their life. I couldn't NOT be there! I have asked myself why this is. "History happening" some might say. Well, yes, I suppose so. But there was so much more to it for me.
I am in the category of "antique" now. An antique is defined as anything 50 years or more old. Swell. But in my time on this blue swirly marble in the galaxy I have seen a lot of things come and go. I was born in 1957. It was a time of Elvis and Little Richard spinning around on vinyl discs making their static-y music to drive parents crazy. Drive-ins and car hops were still going strong, and the Chevy that year was a pretty sweet looking car! Television was coming out of it's infancy and finding it's way into more homes across America and with it...the antenna.
As I recall, we did not have a roof top antenna until I was an adolescent. The rabbit ears were always there on top of the TV on the cart. Sometimes the "signal" was not so great and my mother would add aluminum foil to the ends making them look very alien. It was fitting for the beginning of the "Space Age"! Who needed remote controls in those days either? When you had kids that's all you needed! It was either Richard and me, and later me and Gena who would help our father tune in to the outside world.
"Pull the left ear down ju-u-u-st a bit..no, too far! Back up a little...there, stop! Now twist the whole thing to the right. OK, now make the "tin" foil a little wider on the left side. Good!"
Remote control child would then settle down in a comfy spot on the floor knowing that it was coming...wait for it..here it is...
"I'm not liking this show.Let's turn the dial and see what's on channel 10."
Appointed child would be back at the TV in seconds flipping the dial.
"Not so fast! Do you want to break that thing? That cost your mother and I GOOD money! Slow it down next time."
Remote child gets to channel 10 which was, as I recall, KOOL-CBS out of Phoenix. Seeing a snowy picture, child sighs, and begins the adjustment as directed by the big man on the couch.
That wasn't all...oh no! There was also the problem of the horizontal hold losing its' grip and causing the picture to roll..but we won't go there today. Today is in memoriam of the rabbit ears.
Goodbye old friends. You were there in my youth to bring me the likes of "Leave it to Beaver" and "I Love Lucy". You were with me the night I saw the first ever episodes of "I Dream of Jeannie", "Petticoat Junction", "Gilligan's Island", "Bewitched", and "The Beverly Hillbillies". You helped me see the Beatles on "Ed Sullivan" one Sunday night though I didn't understand the mania at the time. With your help I watched during a solemn week of memorial and finally the funeral of a young American president. You were there when man first walked on the moon although you had been relegated to the TV in the family room. The TV in the "Front room" had the luxury of the golden roof top antenna. It was downhill for you from there. Over the ensuing years you filled in for us whenever the big antenna went out, or later when we moved from house to house and the cable had not yet been hooked up. You were a faithful substitute. Now you are no more.
You served us well. You deserve a rest!