Where are the Channel Changers?

A few nights ago my neighbors and I were visiting in our backyard while our children played for a few minutes before heading in for baths and bed.  The husband and I somehow got into a conversation about who had it “harder” growing up, while his wife stood back and laughed.  “Y’all sound like a couple of old folks,” she said.

Things like when we got a color TV, how old we were when we first had central heat and air, and such as that.  It made me laugh to think about how different my own growing up was compared to what my children will remember.  We had baseboard heaters and an attic fan that pulled cool air through the windows–only if there was a storm you couldn’t use it because it would pull in rain too.  I was in high school before we had color TV or a VCR or a computer.  Our first computer was a TI-99/4A that hooked up to a tv–yep, a little black and white.  I was SO excited when we got it.  Wow.  Little did I know where that kind of technology was headed.  Today what used to be huge bag phones are really pocket-sized computers, cameras, and boom boxes all rolled into one “smart” phone.  Amazing.

I think what we laughed the hardest over was our televisions and how we changed the channel.  This was back in the day before television remotes.  Hush your mouth, you mean there ever was a time such as that?  There sure was. Hard times.  You had to get up and WALK TO THE TV to change the channel or the volume.  I think I was grown and married before I saw a remote for a TV.

My friend said that he and his sisters sat just far enough away that they could still turn the dial for changing the channel with their feet.  Usually his older sister, the tallest of the bunch, was elected to do it.  I love the picture of them scooching across the floor until just close enough to use their feet to operate the television.  Too funny.

But I win.

Because this is how we changed the channel at my house.

pic of slip joint pliersChannel changers.

Say what?  Pliers?  Noooooo, those are channel changers.  To this day, that is what my family calls them.

See, the plastic dial on the TV that you gripped and turned had broken off of our old black and white set, leaving only a metal stick-shaped piece jutting out.  Being the good steward he was, Daddy figured out everything still worked perfectly well if we took the channel changers, gripped the metal piece and turned.  Voila! Perfection.  The only problem was when those blame things had been carried off to be used for something other than their intended purpose–changing the channel.  (And this was not a job you could do with your fingers–believe me, I tried.)  That was when whoever was trying to watch something different could be heard calling from the living room–“Where are the CHANNEL CHANGERS?!?!!!” Well, that and you never knew what channel it was on until you sat and watched for a few minutes.  Oh, and that was the other thing, we only had one television set.  In the whole house.

The thing I love about my conversation with my friend is that we both were acting as though we had it SO hard growing up.  And maybe by the standards of some, we did, but I don’t think either one of us thought we had it hard when we were living it.  It was just the way it was.  And life was pretty doggone good.

Tonight I’m thankful for great friends and laughing over the past together.  I give thanks for my resourceful Daddy who could fix just about anything.   He taught me to see beyond something’s prescribed purpose and be a problem solver.  Though I may not know where the screwdriver or hammer got off to, and even though I don’t need them for that purpose anymore, I always keep the channel changers handy.  Because you just never know.

5 thoughts on “Where are the Channel Changers?

  1. We had an enormous wrought iron antenna on top of our house, with a crank to turn it in the best direction to get a signal from one of the three available channels. The first show I ever saw was “Howdy Doody!”

    • Okay, you win! 🙂 I heard about these antennae, but I guess we were new-fangled in that ours was on the TV. We had four channels if you counted the fuzzy PBS one when the weather was just right. Can I get a hardship point or two for the tin foil we had to put on our antennae? (I think there may be some on the little set in the kitchen now.) I don’t know if I ever saw Howdy Doody in its entirety but I know who he is. Thank you for reading and sharing! That means a lot.

  2. OMG! I remember those days! My dad was very resourceful too 🙂 I think I had the same blow dryer for about 10 years…he would fix It every time it broke. I was so excited when I finally got out on my own and it broke and I rushed to the store to buy a brand new one because dad wasn’t around to fix it 🙂 I remember taking a huge DVD player to college with me since my parents had bought a newer one. That thing was so heavy! My first computer I saw was my senior year in high school when I took computer math, I don’t even know what type of computer it was but all we did on it was write programs to change the color of the words…I thought that was so exciting! Now look what it can do. Technology amazes me but sometimes I would just love to go back to the simple life 🙂 Thanks for bringing back such great memories of the good old days for us old folks 🙂

    • Old my foot! You are younger than many folks twenty years behind you! I know what you mean about the computers. The TI one we had, Daddy learned BASIC programming and wrote a couple of game programs. My baby brother could spell “RUN”–“R-U-N-Enter.” 🙂 My first experience with e-mail was in 1998 when I moved back home and my brother went to England. It’s how we communicated during his trip. And here we are fifteen years later. We could instant message if we wanted. Amazing. That cracks me up about the DVD player. We only had VCR until much, much later. The girl who brought one to campus with her was very popular–we made Thursday nights movie night. I love your hair dryer story. They knew the meaning of getting their money’s worth didn’t they? Thank YOU for sharing your memories and making this all worthwhile.

  3. Pingback: The Right Tools and the Right Folks | I Might Need A Nap

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