questionsgot a good "old school" story?




I had to do algebra problems with only paper and a #2 pencil and make sure that I showed my work. Has it really been 30+ years?


I also had to do the antenna-twist.

I was also the remote control...usually I was in my room reading or listening to music and he would call me into the living room to change the channel. I don't want to call him lazy because he really was a hard worker so I will say he was "conserving his energy".

There was even a short time that we had a party line telephone. The eavesdropping was kinda fun but not being able to use the phone when you want is not!


@ohcheri: One of the advantages of having children was having them at your beck and call, at least way back in the [cough] old days. I remember that well from both sides of the becking and calling.


@robingraves: Only 30? I graduated high school in 1965. Please don't do the math, at least not tonight; it hurts to think about how long ago that was.

I remember my dad carefully writing out a little 3x5 flash card (ONE little card) when I was in third grade and trying to learn "the times tables through 12." And then we practiced for a week or so. I loved the attention from him, and I loved numbers, so it was easy for me. And yes, I had to do algebra and trig with paper and pencil, showing all my work. That was a good thing in my chem classes, which I enjoyed but really struggled through. I usually caught on to something about three weeks after we'd moved to the next chapter; the teacher gave us nearly full credit if our answer was wrong but the process had been used correctly.

We also did the twist-the-antenna thing, which is beginning to sound almost universal. Three channels. Everyone watched the same thing and talked about it the next day.

@rayray8822: Great question!


@magic cave and @ohcheri : Growing up we had a choice of 4 channels, and that depended on the direction the antenna was pointed. We eventually had a motorized "rotor", but it didn't help only meant that we could avoid the weather while our antenna rotated aimlessly. Good times.


@robingraves Only 30 years since doing algebra? Why you young whipper-snapper! And, as you may have heard from your parents/grands, I walked to school. In the snow. In grade school. No 'snow' days. Ever. No spring break.

Why when I was young, children actually went outside to play. On their own. Without parents scheduling "play-dates."

Clearly remember our family's 1st TV. A black & white set that received 3 channels. Also recall the 'sign-off' screen, w/a an annoying sound. They broadcast for so many hours a day...certainly not 24. Howdy Doody. The Mickey Mouse Club. Midnight the Cat, and Froggy who 'plunked' his magic twanger. <---odd that. Superman. Roy & Dale Rodgers w/Trigger. The Cisco Kid. Hopalong Cassidy. The Lone Ranger. Hmmmm Lots of Westerns.

Actually good memories. Life seemed less complicated. Physically active. My children were raised pretty much the same. Color TV w/more channels. Not all bad; pretty good, IMO. Today? I am totally out of the loop.


@gmwhit: Anybody ever heard of a remote control? Pfffffft...if you were a few years later you might get one that was wired.

ETA: We also used to play outside in the neighborhood until after dark...without cell phones...and without worry about shootings, rapes, kidnappings, etc.


For some reason the city where we lived (mostly) when I was in grade school only got ABC and CBS. I kept hearing about this really cool show called "Star Trek," but it was on the exotic network of NBC that wasn't broadcasting in our area. I remember the family traveling with my Dad for work one summer (our version of a vacation was staying at inexpensive motels with him while he worked) and catching a static-filled episode of this show. Everyone else went out to the pool, but not me! My inner geek was born that summer!


Our old antenna was on the roof. We kept a ladder up all year round to make it easier to go tune it when we wanted better reception or in case the wind spun it around.

I remember being trapped in a car with no air conditioning, driving across the country for 6 weeks and doing all the "All-American Tour of America" type stuff. We hated it as kids, but I have a finely tuned appreciation for it now. Flying with 8 kids wasn't an option. It wasn't even a thought in my parents' minds. We wouldn't stop for 10-12 hours at a time. I hope to torture my kids with it someday soon (and maybe the cycle will continue).

We used to play "One on One - Jordan vs Bird" on the IBM PC Junior. Color? Nope, just black and white. My brothers and I would crowd around the computer to watch and wait our turns.

We pushed mowed our acre yard. There was no riding mower on the days it was 90º.
Dad: "It builds character".
He changed his tune when we all grew up and moved out. That was the first thing he bought.


I was seven when we got our first TV in '54. I think it was an Emerson. Three channels. The first program I remember is Ding Dong School with Miss Francis. Then later the Saturday Night Fights. And the show with John Cameron Swayze.


Oh the day we got a color TV ! Such joy as a little kid. First thing we watched-- cartoons. Ok that was pretty much all my sister and I watched at that point. We were not allowed TV on school nights. Except for Sunday. It was family tv night.
We would have pizza -- my mom usually made it-- and watch Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom, followed by Walt Disney.
That was the only time we were allowed soda too. Sundays w/ pizza, soda and tv. Pure bliss.


Oh boy. Dad got the giant brick cell phone for his business when they first came out. I remember going camping with him and he brought it but wouldn't turn it on because it cost $3.99 a minute.

Central Air? Nope. I remember mom would have a ritual every day, she would close the blinds on one side of the house, then open all the windows on the other and rotate it throughout the day as the sun moved.

I remember my first pager. I snuck it, had a friend's brother go to the mall with me and cosign on the contract. My "call sign" was *13. So you would call the pager number, and then enter the phone number that you wanted that person to call you back at and your call sign so they would know who they were calling. 555 555 1234 *13.

When I was in Elementary school, I remember AOL was the internet we had. We had a monthly allotment of about 120 minutes. If you went over that allotment it was something like $2 a minute to use.

No iPads! My TI-81 calculator was my go-to leisure device.


Oh I forgot to add the TV! It was a color tube TV. With the channel "U".


I, too, remember most of this stuff.

We had a party line at the cabin in Maine we used to own. Our ring was long-short-long (why can I remember that 40 years later, but have trouble with somebody's name I just met). We also had the antenna rotor, which kinda worked. I should say that with the cord cutting phenomena, these have come back into vogue. If you live a ways from the antenna sources, but otherwise have a clear line of sight (no mountains in the way) a Yagi style antenna with a rotator will pull in most signals.


I had to walk five miles to school, uphill both ways.


@gmwhit: Sky King! Beany and Cecil. And what was that program for which you could buy a plastic film that stuck to the TV screen so you could draw bridges and roads and stuff to help the TV characters.


@magic cave: Thanks! I do remember Sky King. Missed Beany & Cecil. Or forgot it.

Of interest to me: As I recall, parents didn't have to monitor TV programs, they were all safe for children. Do remember years later when Ed Sullivan had Elvis on his show. Great alarm, complaints, yelling & sceaming about those gyrating hips. Looking back, was that ever tame. TV has changed - drastically. Not a prude, but some of the shows I see now are bordering on X-rated. And the commercials? Erectile Dysfunction. Please!

Again, life seemed less complicated years ago.


I just thought I'd throw a few things in.

As a little girl, it was entertaining to go to the shoe store and stick your feet in the X-Ray machine that showed whether your shoes fit or not.

When my mother would go to the grocery store, sometimes she'd ask for a "counter check" because she'd forgotten her check book at home. They'd ask which bank, and then hand her the correct check blank. She'd print her name at the top, and then sign it. I may still have one or two of those cancelled checks around.

When we went to Safeway's, at the end of the counter were round envelopes with needles, and pins, and a needle threader, for free. Here's a picture of some of the envelopes that everyone gave away, back in the day.

I could reminisce for pages, but real life beckons.


Getting back the TV theme, I recall when we first got cable. Back in the early days of cable, there was a trick where you could hook up an antenna of sorts to "receive" channels that you otherwise didn't pay for. I heard about this during a family gathering (how the hell did we disseminate information before the Internet I will never know). I remember doing this to our old console TV with the Chan-L-Lock dial since my dad had no clue for the technicals. Watched the original Alien on HBO with great clarity and no "beepbeepbeep" on the audio.
That TV eventually became the monitor for my TI-994A computer.

j5 j5

wow. ok. so here is going back and not that far:
1. we had to cut and split wood all spring/summer to stay warm in the winter. (woodburner, not a flip switch in the hallway)
2. draining our bladder and colon meant a trip to the 4x4 building in the back yard. (and then we got the fun of cleaning that out by bucket)
3. cleaning up involved pans of water on the stove to get warm enough to not freeze during the winter.
4. having water at the house meant going somewhere to fill the barrel/jugs. and when we finally got our own well was a big deal because lots of relatives were involved in helping hand dig it.
5. driving into town to buy stuff because we simply had no way to get otherwise. (long before internet. and one simply couldn't afford the gas on a random whatever day to go just "because i want out of the house")
6. everyone knew where/what the neighbor was doing because they had already volunteered to help each other.
7. mom and dad were still married TO EACH OTHER and always had been


I remember as a kid being able to stretch out on the sofa-like back seat of the car to take a nap during long road trips, unencumbered by seat belts or child car seats. Somehow I survived.

We used to get milk in glass bottles and fresh baked un-sliced loaves of bread delivered to a box below our mailbox. It was my job to collect them and the bread always had mysterious bite-sized nibbles gone from it when I got back to the house -- I blamed mice. :-)

I never even saw a TV until we moved to the US when I was 5. The first show I saw was Bonanza.


Ha! Thanks for the post. I am sitting here laughing because I have a very similar story. I grew up out in the middle of nowhere: poor, barefoot, 2 dogs and a field. My dad would turn the antenna one way to get NBC, the other to get CBS. When the First Gulf War started in 1990 (I was just getting out of high school), my dad (a vietnam vet) had me go outside and twist the antenna back and forth to get better reception. I guess the grounding was faulty, because when I let go of the antenna, he would shout out the window "NO! The other way!". So I wound up holding onto the antenna, in the light rain, with thunder in the distance, fearful for my life, just so my pops could watch the theatrics of "smart" bombs flying into foreign chimneys. Still love the guy though.


@josefresno: I was working late that night, doing data entry for a political organization I ran, keeping one ear on the TV out of boredom. Changed the channel and discovered we were in a war!! I stayed almost all night, both fascinated and repelled. I understand completely your dad's desire -- need -- to see what was happening.


Some of you probably remember these TV commercials on your first TVs. I've never forgotten Farfel. And I'm going to be singing "See the USA in your Chevrolet" for the next two days.


@ceagee: That one made me laugh out loud.


@pooflady: Who could ever forget Farfel!? And Reddy Kilowatt? "Call for Philip Morrrrrrrris!"

Shades of early childhood, all right.


We had the antenna but eventually got the large diameter satalite dish. Nothing like waiting a minute between changing channels! Definitely no channel surfing back then.