I picture my lounge room, only 40 years earlier. The same fire place, the same big room, the same intricate ceiling patterns and country-based paintings hanging on the walls. Replace our black leather recliner lounges with cream vinyl, and most importantly, replace our 65″ TV with a small, fuzzy-reception, four legged box TV. One bonus of listening to my dad recall on his TV experience as a child is that I can actually imagine both the place and the people (younger versions anyway).
My dad James, who everyone knows by his nickname “Mule” (stubborn little kid I suppose), grew up on our family farm “Kalua”. He lived with my grandmother and grandfather, and four siblings (three sisters and one brother).
I immediately could tell that reminiscing back to early-childhood television habits would not be as easy as I first expected. In hindsight, I should have anticipated that recalling something 40 years ago is not the same as me thinking about my TV habits 10 years ago. (I should point out at this point that I removed a lot of the umming, ahhing and small talk during this conversation and kept strictly to what was most important).
What do you remember about the television in your house?
Hmmm. We only had two channels, ABC and Prime I think. It wasn’t very big and usually had quite fuzzy reception.
Colour TV came out around 1976 when I was probably 12. We didn’t get it when it first came out but my grandfather had it so I wasn’t completely new to it.
He also comedically emphasised the fact that he had to walk up to the TV just to change the channel, something that we definitely take advantage of currently.
What kind of setting was the TV in? Was there more than one television in the house?
There was definitely only one TV; we didn’t really watch it too much. It was just free standing (has its own legs) so it wasn’t in a cabin.
Asking about physical components was one thing, however asking for specific memories was a whole other ball park.
What memories do you have of watching it? Where did you sit? Who did you sit with?
We sat on an old vinyl couch..
*After a long period of thinking*
Definitely had to watch countdown..
and I was fond of HR puff n stuff. Disneyland maybe. F troop. Bonanza.
I probably watched it by myself, maybe a sibling or two. We didn’t really browse through the channels like we do now. We would come in to watch TV when our shows were on and they were the shows we watched.
We didn’t really have any big family shows but we all did watch sporting events like a test match or Wimbledon.
This last comment of the interview struck a chord with me. In todays society, we view TV and most technology as essential and feel deprived without it, however when these technologies first emerged they were viewed as privileges.
How did you feel watching television?
Sitting there eating my ice-cream and milo I suppose I felt pretty good. We never felt deprived because it was cutting edge technology at the time.
This interview opened my eyes to a number of patterns and issues. Firstly was the difference between TV viewing patterns. A lot of the time when I watch TV it is not for a specific show, I’m just bored and flick through channels (usually while I’m on another device like my phone). However it seems this strategy changed drastically from when my dad watched TV, where they would watch their favourite TV shows at the time they aired and then would go back outside to play etc. Another main theme was the view that television was a complete privilege, however this tech-savvy generation views it more as a norm and perhaps even a necessity.