Sunday, January 17, 2016

Pops and the color television

Color television (it sounds exotic to type out the entire word rather than just say TV) was relatively rare in the late 1960s. At a time when $100 a week was a decent income while color sets cost better than $300, they were something of a luxury. Still, parents then as now liked to treat themselves and their families to the newest technologies, and fads tended to spread quickly. In the Bill Cosgriff household circa 1969, as the color fad rolled on unstoppably, this meant that Pops had decided to buy a color TV for the family room.

I don't remember all the details of that old console. But it was big to a 9 year old, huge indeed, and took two hulking delivery men to carry it into the house and put it in place. Dad plugged it in and put on a channel, which happened to be showing an episode of Gilligan's Island. And the picture was black and white.

Pops began playing with the dials, the contrast button and what have you, and still no color. His frustration mounting and with nothing making a difference, as a last resort he went to the instruction manual, a thing real men don't do unless a last resort. No color, despite trying everything the manual said to try. He was ready to call the appliance store, the manufacturer, and perhaps even the President himself to rant about this travesty to a working man and his family. I don't blame him; I would have been upset. Anyone would have.

Then someone, I don't know who, produced the then current issue of TV Guide. It showed Pops clearly that yes, Gilligan's Island was on that channel at that time. It also showed that the particular episode was in black and white. The first season of Gilligan's Island it turned out had been filmed in black and white. The TV was fine.

As Dad slowly calmed down, laughing about it within a few minutes (I never thought to try another channel, he would soon joke about himself) we settled into a family night watching our new color television. And our new TV brought us many wonderful nights of entertainment for several years. Even, or perhaps especially, as we would knowingly tune into a black and white program.

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