Phil Goldstein | North Forty News
As my wife and I are about to ‘cut the cord’ because of the dearth of worthwhile fare on television and the exponentially increasing cost of not watching that fare, I’m reminded of the time when there was no ‘cord’ at all, only my parents’ rooftop antenna that received 11 channels, with only 3 of any real interest.
If TV viewing now brought anywhere near the enjoyment it brought me as a young child, I’d probably still be spending more time in front of the tube (which actually had tubes back then). Some of my still-memorable TV experiences:
Today there are whole channels devoted to cartoons. Back then, there was only one cartoon show, period, Crusader Rabbit. But we did have Howdy Doody, a cartoon-like marionette. Howdy had 48 freckles, representing the then-48 states, and my favorite toy was an exact replica of the character, complete with control sticks and strings with which to manipulate his limbs and mouth.
My first seminal TV event was November 3, 1956, when what’s still one of my favorite movies, The Wizard of Oz, was broadcast for the first time, one of the first movies shown in color. We had only a black and white TV but were invited to a neighbor’s house with a color set. When the movie changes to color as Dorothy steps out of the house in Munchkin Land, “Hey Dad, it’s time to upgrade our own tech.”
Another early but painful viewing experience was Old Yeller, 1957. My despondency at the namesake character’s demise was no doubt the reason I then wouldn’t adopt a dog for 41 years.
But my whole TV viewing life changed in 1958 when Paul Shannon’s Adventure Time out of Pittsburgh became the first station to air the old Three Stooges short features. The daily show, with a studio audience of mostly kids, also included guitarist Joe Negri, who sang catchy tunes, and puppeteer Jim Martin, who later worked on Sesame Street. The airing of the Stooges’ films revitalized their careers after other TV stations caught on and began carrying them too. The Stooges were so grateful that they gave Shannon a part in the last movie they ever made, playing Wild Bill Hickock in The Outlaws Is Coming.
And while I seldom missed Adventure Time, the absolute greatest viewing moment for me was when Paul Shannon had the Three Stooges (although Curly had been replaced by then) on his show. I was as surprised and excited as was the audience. Had the VCR been invented yet, I’m sure I’d still have the tape.
Meanwhile, in 1993 my favorite recording and performing artist, Meat Loaf, further memorialized the Three Stooges for me in his fabulous ode to living life on one’s own terms, “Everything Louder Than Everything Else,” with these pointed lyrics:
If you want my views of history
Then there’s something you should know
The three men I admire most are Curly, Larry, Moe
Life has been more challenging than usual of late. I wish all of one’s problems could be solved by a good nyuk, nyuk, nyuk!
Phil Goldstein writes Tales from Timnath periodically for North Forty News. Phil is a 12-year Timnath resident who proudly serves the Town of Timnath as chair of the Timnath Planning Commission. Phil is finally using his journalism degree after getting sidetracked 49 years ago. The views expressed herein are Phil’s only. Contact him with comments on the column or suggestions for future columns at NFNTimnath@gmail.com.