Wednesday, March 08, 2006

No Television?!


What did you do before television? Old goats like me get that question a lot from the younger generation. First, today’s children can’t really believe that there ever was a time without television, cell phones, microwaves, computers, etc. Yes, Virginia, there was joy in the non-tech world.  In the evenings when our generation was still in school we did home work. We played quiet games like Monopoly. It is still around, but not the rage it once was.. We read books, newspapers and magazines. There was radio in my youth. Tom Mix, Bobby Benson, Buck Rogers, Little Orphan Annie, Flash Gordon – were all fifteen minute adventure serials that many of us listened to. They were on in the early evening before our parents switched to Lowell Thomas who read fifteen minutes of news. In the New York area there was a great music program on every afternoon called the “Make Believe Ballroom” on WNEW. The host, Martin Block, was the first of the great disc jockeys. That was all AM radio with static a frequent interruption to listening pleasure.

Ipods were unheard of in those days, but we did have our big clunky phonographs. We collected 76 rpm records which were about 10 inches in diameter and had about 3 minutes of music (one song) on each side. We played them until they wore out or got so covered with scratches that they sounded horrible.

Without television, movies were a more popular source of entertainment, particular after sound and then Technicolor came along. They were a lot cheaper then also. We, the kids, used to go to the Saturday afternoon double feature complete with two serials for twenty cents. Adults wouldn’t be caught dead at that show. Too much hooting and hollering. We used to take a candy box (empty) and blow in one end making a very rude sound. Great fun
.

Building models from kits was a big time kids’ hobby in those days. Balsa wood, glue and paper properly cut and assembled could create neat model airplanes, ships and automobiles. Kits came in various degrees of complexity and detail to match abilities.  There was a company named Heath that put out Heathkits (imaginative name?). These were based on the growing field of electronics. They provided the parts and instructions for anything from simple radios and accessories to complete weather stations. My first wind meter was home made.I made a fine short wave radio with which I spent hours listening to stations around the world.

Oh yes, another lost art that kept us busy – writing letters. There were no e-mails or text messages or IM with their cryptic shortcuts. We spent evenings writing legible letters to friends and relatives. Stamps were two cents and then went to three cents later.

Technology didn't first enter my Mom's kitchen with the microwave oven. I think it was just before WWII(long before the microwave) that the pressure cooker became the thing the Jones had to have. It was a pot made out of heavy steel that cooked things very much faster than the usual pot or pan. Veggies in two or three minutes, for instance. It was sealed so that very little water was turned to steam under pressure. They had safety valves that released steam at critical pressure so the whole business didn’t blow sky high. Our kitchen ceiling was repainted several times to remove evidence of untended beans or peas. The microwave came along and only a few diehards still use pressure cookers

Net, net, what we did without TV and pop technology was enjoy ourselves just like you do with it.

5 comments:

Archana said...

Ah, a pressure cooker is still considered a very essential part of an Indian kitchen :-) (even if there is a microwave or other such appliances). Almost of us who came to the USA carried a pressure cooker in our suitcases the first time!

I really miss handwritten letters. These days, if I write one, its more as a novelty than ath else!

Hmm, life without television sounds very interesting!

Floridora said...

archana- that is fascinating. What do you cook in the pressure cooker? Anything special or everything?
i have always said thatI don't like Indian cooking because I don't like curry, but I suppose that that does not define Indian food. I will have to be a little more adventuresome.

Archana said...

I guess we cook pretty much most of basic things in the pressure cooker - rice, lentils, idlis(rice-cakes), veggies etc. It takes lesser time than on a stove-top or in the microwave and some things taste better when made in the cooker!

You are right - there is a lot more to Indian food than just curry :-)! I think you should try south-Indian cuisine some time. There is not too much curry there and it's a whole lot different than the usual stuff which is labelled as Indian cuisine.

Marilyn said...

Growing up, our pressure cooker got a lot of use...but my most vivid memory of it was being forced to peel a sinkful of potatoes and then boil them in the pressure cooker (without the lid) for mashed potatoes. I swear I think we ate mashed potatoes nearly every single night. My mother would call from her job, "Have you started the potatoes yet?" Gah. It's a wonder I still love them today. :)

I think back to an entire childhood spent with two television stations...and how it would have never occurred to us that that wasn't enough of a selection...ha! On our bedroom dresser right now is a tiny white B&W portable TV that my mother bought in 1969. Still works like a charm...and I can pick up about 10 stations (in Sacramento) on it with the single rabbit ear.

I think I'm sort of a Luddite at heart. :)

SeniorNetDallas Blog Monitor said...

My, you have such a vivid memory! Please don't stop writing. Do you mean people don't cook in pressure cookers anymore? I still have mine (but of course I haven't used it in about 20 years).

You've inspired me. I think tomorrow I'll buy a little pork roast and sauerkraut and resurrect my pot.

Valle in Texas

(Our vegetable man was named Jimmie. And yes, we did only see the milkman when he collected his bill. Did you have mornings when the milk bottles froze on the doorstep and a neck of frozen cream rose an inch above the lip of the bottle?)