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It was the time before Netflix, Amazon Prime, Smart TVs, Showtime and HBO. It was the time our grandson Jake would call, “old fashioned.”
It was the time when a half hour before mom would call us for supper my brother and I sat on the floor in the den, TV tuned to one of the three channels, our eyes intent on the screen as Clark Kent pulled off his tie and in minutes Superman would fly out the window of the Daily Planet building.
“Look, up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s Superman!”
The excitement unfolded in black and white. Did we expect anything more? I doubt it ever occurred to us to wonder about the color of the big S on Superman’s chest. That bullets bounced off it was all that mattered.
Simple, perhaps, and before color TV.
My big moment during the early years of its arrival came the night my 5th grade classmate, Diane Place, invited me to go with her to watch a color TV show at her father’s store on Cedar Street in the center of town.
It was to be a very special night, some big live show of Peter Pan and I sure was glad Diane considered me her friend. Perhaps because her father owned a TV store he had this very special TV for certainly it must cost a zillion dollars. None of our relatives or any family in our neighborhood owned one.
After supper of the big night, my dad drove me to Diane’s house. She and I rode with her father and mother to his store. Diane and I sat on the floor in front of the TV and after her father turned the set on I couldn’t help but wonder what the big deal was. Granted, I was a kid weaned on black and white and perhaps not as smart a 10 year old as I should have been. I was still embarrassed that no matter how many times Mr. Thomas explained to the class how to subtract fractions when borrowing from the whole number, I never did get the hang of it. But still, this wasn’t fractions. It was a television. I sat there and watched intently before the show started and was disappointed. There were smudges of faded color around the edges of the screen and the picture was still in black and white. I couldn’t help but wonder, is this all there is to color TV?
At least I was a 10-year-old smart enough not to voice what I was thinking because as if by magic, the smudges disappeared and the peacock emerged and right before our eyes we saw distinct colors in its feathers that were brilliant!
Last Tuesday I drove to Newington to have lunch with four women I have known since junior high school. As I waited for the light to turn green at the intersection of Main and Cedar Streets, I saw that the restaurant, TJ’s on Cedar was located in the corner building that once housed Diane’s father’s TV store. The structure, unlike our local movie theater, bulldozed to make way for a pharmacy chain store on the opposite corner, still stood after more than a half century since that night two 10-year-olds sat on the floor in front of a color TV and watched Mary Martin, agile in green, fly into the Darling’s bedroom window.
I took a left into the lot behind the restaurant, parked the car and walked to the front of the building, opened the door and stepped inside.