Tag Archives: Music

A Year Without Television

Our first television, me and my sister, about 1959

Our first television, me and my sister, about 1959

It’s been a whole year now. Last October I was so fed up with the extremely biased election coverage that I decided to end my lifetime love affair/obsession with TV.

1952 Sears Televison receipt

My parents bought their first one shortly before I was born in 1954, so I was the first in my family to watch television my whole life.  I’m not sure exactly how to compare current prices to those in 1952 because everything has not gone up at the same rate. Milk was .96 per gallon, but the price range for a new Ford was only $1,526 – $2,384 and gas was only .20 per gallon, and postage stamps were 3 cents. So let’s say that generally things now are about 9 times higher. The average income was $3,515, now it’s $31,410. That would make that 1952 Sears model, $2,659.77 which is a lot more than I would pay now.

Carla Edens April 1967, first color set

Carla Edens April 1967, first color set

Growing up, I was a walking TV Guide. I could tell you what was on any channel at any time. Of course, we only had 3 channels then.  PBS didn’t count; it was only broadcast part time; besides, NO ONE I knew watched it.

The really old cartoons (from the 1930s and 40s) before school. The 3 Stooges after school. Play outside. My dad came home and watched the news. Eat dinner. Then Ozzie and Harriet or Have Gun Will Travel or Maverick or Wyatt Earp. Gunsmoke was on at 9 o’clock on Saturday night.  Watching Matt Dillion and Chester was a family event, and always accompanied by popcorn and Pepsi. Then my parents watched the news again while we got ready for bed.

Warner Brothers Cowboys

Warner Brothers Cowboys

Saturday mornings it was Bugs Bunny, Jonny Quest, Top Cat and Hucklberry Hound.  Saturday afternoon television was a wasteland, and my friends and I played outside.   But if it was rainy or my friends were all gone to visit their grandmothers, if I didn’t have a new Nancy Drew book to read, it was back to TV. The local stations must not have had much in their budget for daytime movies because they rarely showed anything good. I mean, anything that girls wanted to watch. Sometimes there’d be the beloved Ma & Pa Kettle or Abbott & Costello feature, but mostly it was stuff that boys liked. For instance, Tarzan or I Killed Hitler’s Brain or something like that. Then my dad would come home from fishing or hunting (depending on the season) and he had first choice. For him it was always wrestling followed by Porter Wagoner, etc.

If Daddy was off on a business trip or hunting, my mother and I would watch NBC Saturday Night at the Movies.  That was the first time I saw Rebecca and Rear Window.  Once we even watched the Laurence Olivier version of Hamlet.  The Shakespearean dialogue was lost on me, but Mama enjoyed it.

I didn’t watch much on Sundays because my mother and I were 3-services-a-week Baptists and there just wasn’t time, and even if there was, it was all sports.

Sunday was her day off, sort of.  Mama always had dinner in the oven before we left for Sunday School.  When we got back home, all she had to do was heat the vegetables. I honestly don’t know how she did everything – she must’ve been tired all the time.  She took very good care of our family and the house, sewed our clothes, ironed them, cooked from scratch and taught Sunday School. For years we had a washing machine, but no dryer.  Sometimes my sister and I would hang things out on the line for her or bring them in, but truthfully, it was mostly my mother doing it.

After Sunday dinner and the dishes were done,  we went visiting. My dad was the youngest of 7 children, so it was off to one of my aunts & uncles house, or a cousin’s or occasionally to family friends. If we were at my Uncle Johnnie’s, he’d let me watch his watch his black and white set – with a remote control!  He was the only person I knew who had one.  True, it was wired to the tv, and it only had one button, but it was so modern!

Then, it was back to our house and get ready for evening services. After church, we watched What’s My Line and Candid Camera.

whats-my-line

When Joe and I married, he didn’t want to have a television but I insisted. I couldn’t imagine life without it. We just had rabbit ears to get reception and then when we lived very far from Tulsa, the picture could be really bad. In the late 1970s, for a short time we lived in an apartment that provided basic cable at no extra charge (or we wouldn’t have had it.) But even so, we only used it for Star Trek and westerns reruns.

The Big Valley

The Big Valley

Our older son pleaded with us to get cable in the mid-80’s and we tried it for a short period of time.   And in 2004, that son and his family were living with us and he couldn’t stand it not having “cable” So we had satellite installed but only had it for about a year until he was posted to Ft. Drum and they moved to NY; we sent the equipment with them.

We were watching less and less, but I still wasn’t ready to give it up completely. How could I live without I Love Lucy, Perry Mason, Andy Griffith and especially Leave It To Beaver? Sadly, one of the local UHF stations had already abandoned classic westerns (Rawhide, the Rifleman, etc.) for Spanish programming. So, for years we watched very little in prime time. Mystery on PBS, Antiques Road Show, Foyle’s War and a few others. But programming and ads just got worse and worse.

It took the absolutely outrageous biased election coverage from the American media during the 2008 election for me to quit cold turkey.   That was it. I couldn’t get away from the news coverage because of station break news, etc.  It was always there in my face.  I realized that for my own peace of mind I had to stop.  So we did.  Cold turkey.  We didn’t even unhook the antenna.  We just quit watching. When the signal changed from analog to digital it finalized our decision.   Our set was old and not compatible with the digital platform; we didn’t get the conversion box.

Television is very demanding. Have you ever been somewhere with a program running, that you dislike but you have no power to change it or turn it off (like at a friend’s or in a waiting room)? It takes sheer force of will to not look at it – even when you don’t want to!

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It’s been a lot quieter around here and that’s a good thing. I listen to music a lot more, preferably my husband’s piano playing, but  I have music folders to fit almost any mood, too.

For news I listen to the radio or read it online. I prefer reading news on the internet rather  viewing it on television, anyway. The scope is much broader – Liberty Daily has a huge list of top stories every day.  The Gateway Pundit and Breitbart update several times daily and have mostly quick overviews on what’s happening.  Frontpage Magazine is excellent for more in-depth coverage.

We use the television set for watching DVDs and our old VHS tapes. I read a lot and when we go to the library for books every week, we often check out movies or old television programs to watch. They have a very good selection. There are a few programs that we don’t have or can’t check out, and most of them can be found somewhere online.  My favorite movies are the classics and so many of them are online. Garage sales and thrift stores are good resources for cheap copies.  I honestly don’t feel entertainment deprived.

Piano Man and Piano Grandson

Piano Man and Piano Grandson

So, this year has been The Year of Living Peacefully. Not merely quieter; we live out in the country, and it’s very quiet anyway. Our lives are more peaceful. We aren’t worried about filthy commercials in front of our grandchildren. It’s embarrassing that it didn’t occur to me before, but my husband must have felt that I didn’t want him to be playing the piano, because the TV was on so often when he came home from work. Now he plays daily, I read a lot, we play board games, dominoes, cards and Scrabble. We have more time to do what we want, what’s important to us. And thank the Lord, television is no longer very important to me.

This post is linked to Frugal Friday @ Life as Mom.

Update and links cleaned up:  July 15, 2021.

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Waxahachie Chautauqua – Cotton, the Fabric of a Community

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We got there late and had to leave early, so we didn’t get to hear the Vocal Majority. But they’re on youtube, so we can hear them there and I’m just glad we got to go at all.
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First, Heather Boykin demonstrated the layers of clothing a Texas woman in the Victorian era would’ve worn to church or an event in the summer. She weighed before and after donning all the garments – it totaled 8 pounds. With all that and the corsets, it’s little wonder that the life expectancy was shorter.

The Emcee was Joe Green, who grew up chopping cotton. Between speakers, he recited his poetry or sang duets with Merry Agape. They were very good.

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Dr. Clayton Brown, History professor at TCU, spoke on the history of cotton in Ellis County and the Blackland Strip (the counties from the Red River south to San Antonio). Nancy Farrar shared the history of the county’s first cotton gin, which was her great-great-grandfather’s in the mid-1800’s.

Levee Singers
The Levee Singers performed for about an hour. They are four retirement aged fellows, kind of Kingston Trio-like, who have been singing together since the 1950’s. Very talented and energetic, they put on a good show and were just plain fun. They also are on youtube.

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“Cotton Clothing Through the Ages: Historical Fashion Show” was the last event we were able to see. Lauren Craig and her sisters demonstrated the history of fashion, modeling clothing that they’ve made for 4-H Fashion Shows. The outfits were amazing. Those girls can really sew.

Throughout the program, I learned how much easier our lives are now than those of previous generations. I am so grateful for all that the pioneers of this country did for us.

The exhibits tent had a quilting demonstration, a man from the cotton gin to answer questions, and a hand-cranked demonstration (I think it was a very small cotton gin, but I couldn’t get close enough to ask).

Next year the theme will be Railroads. I hope we can take our grandsons with us. When they get restless we can always take them over to the park area and let them run off steam.

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Chautauqua

1905chautauqua waxahachie

When was the last time you saw a Victorian fashion show?  Went to a pie social?  Heard a concert by the Levee Singers?

If any of that sounds good to you, then come to Getzendaner Park in Waxahachie, Texas on Sept. 26 and see all this and more at the beautiful, round pavilion.  Built in 1902 for the princely sum of $2,750, it was designed to seat 2500 people for Chautauqua meetings.  With the windows raised, it became an open air auditorium and overflow crowds – sometimes numbering over 2,000 – would gather around the sides, eager to hear the programs. It is now included on the National Register of Historical Buildings and Sites.

The Chautauqua movement began in 1874, when a Methodist minister had an idea to help solve the problem of cultural isolation of rural Americans.  John Vincent and businessman Lewis Miller organized a series of meetings  in a campground setting.  Storytelling, music, lectures, political reform topics (such as child labor laws, temperance, prison reform, women’s suffrage) humor, entertainment and sermons were provided.  The meetings were popular and it ignited a movement that spread all across the country from the original site in Chautauqua, New York. Among the original headliners were William Jennings Bryan, Will Rogers and the U.S. Marine Band. At it’s peak in the 1920’s over 45 million Americans were attending. Then with improved availability of transportation, radio and the movies, the national culture changed and attendance dropped off dramatically.  A few communities have had continuous meetings all these years.  Waxahachie, Texas revived their movement in 2000 with an annual one day meeting, each year choosing a new theme.

This year, the planners are highlighting the history and importance of  King Cotton.  Saturday, September 26, 2009 the theme will be Cotton:  the Fabric of a Community and will include a historical fashion show, a lecture on Dressing the Victorian Woman, a book signing, hands-on demonstrations and exhibits, 2 concerts plus sing-a-long music, a catered dinner and pie social and more.

Two years ago my husband and I attended and loved it.  The programs are well planned and interesting.  That year the subject was the Texas wind and one of the lectures was by a Channel 8 meteorologist.  Now, anyone that knows me can tell you that science is not one of my favorite subjects, but that man completely held my interest (I learned why weather reports vary from station to station and how they are wrong so often.)

Here’s the Waxahachie Chautauqua website . They’ve included a wonderful slide show of the auditorium and last year’s event. Even if you can’t attend, I recommend viewing the pictures. As you can see from the photos, it’s a beautiful building.

It doesn’t list the admission price (which won’t include the dinner and probably not the evening concert) but they do have contact information. If I remember correctly it was somewhere between $10 – 15 per person. And for all you get, that’s a bargain.

Waxahachie  Christmas 2008
This is a photo I took during their Christmas home tour last year.

Merely driving through Waxahachie is a treat. The Victorian houses are lovely, the courthouse a treasure. Even if you’ve never been there, you may have seen the town if you’ve watched Places in the Heart, Tender Mercies, The Trip to Bountiful, Pure Country, 1918 Walker Texas Ranger,and a whole lot more. Most of Horton Foote’s stories were filmed there. A more complete list of the movies made there is at this website .

And incidentally, if you’re asking for directions, it’s pronounced Wocks-uh-hatch-ee. I liked to never learned that after we moved to Texas.

Hope to see you there.

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