Rich Man Poor Boy

April 15, 2021-

When I was a kid in Florida, television was new. My family didn’t own a television set, and we didn’t know anyone who did. Back in the early black-and-white days, the kids in our neighborhood only dreamed what we would see if we had a TV.

One day I discovered I could send in two Wheaties labels to Battle Creek, MI, and they would send me a personal TV. I never went through two boxes of cereal so fast. Two labels were sent to Battle Creek, and in two weeks, I received my TV. The package was too small to be my awaited gift. Eagerly opening the box, I discovered a 2 inch by two-inch “TV.” The directions read, “Place the small circle of exposed film in the back of the unit and look at the wonder of nature.” What I had was a mini version of a view master.

One day I saw a TV antenna being installed on a neighbor’s house, only five doors down from my house.

The other neighborhood kids joined me as we stood in the street, outside of the “rich man’s” house. It was a unique and wonderful sight to see this tall antenna, including guide wires, being installed. The 2-man crew strapped the unit to the chimney of the house.

The installation crew finished their job and drove away. I stayed looking at the house and its new TV antenna. I stood for 10 to 15- minutes, but no one invited me in to see the new TV, the first one in the neighborhood.

Months later, when my father’s boss invited us over to his house to see The Lone Ranger on his 12-inch black-and-white round screen, I saw my first TV program and TV set. The strange fact was I always assumed the setting for the Lone Ranger was Texas, and there was snow all over the screen. That moment, I heard the word “static” for the first time. We were 90-miles from the broadcasting station and received interference (snow) on the screen. The snow didn’t bother me. I was in another rich man’s home experiencing TV for the first time.