We didn’t have a lot of money when I was a kid. This is not to say that we were desperate, you understand, just that there wasn’t a lot of free money around.
It’s funny how things change. In those days, when I was around five years old, the various rooms in all the houses I knew (like the family/front room, dining room, and bed rooms) had wooden floors with a rug (if you were lucky) in the middle.
At that time my childhood was a bit like one of those animated Charlie Brown cartoons. All I saw of adults was the bottom of their legs. The men were usually off doing “men things” and the kids hung out with the women. You could hear the ladies “trilling” and “warbling” high above you, but most of what they said was either incomprehensible or you didn’t want to hear it anyway.
But I do recall once hearing my mother and my aunt talking in hushed tones about the fact that one of the ladies (and her husband and kids, of course, but they didn’t really count) had just got “wall-to-wall carpet”. Having the extra couple of feet all the way round the room made such a carpet significantly more expensive than a rug in the middle, so this was big news on our street.
Like I say, it’s funny how things change, because these days a fitted carpet is seen as being less appealing than a bare wooden floor (with perhaps a rug in the middle [grin]). Of course there were other considerations, such as the fact that we didn’t have central heating, which meant that uncarpeted floors were always freezing cold in the winter (actually, since we’re talking about England, things weren’t much better in the summer).
But that’s not what I wanted to talk about…
Around that time (circa the early 1960s), anyone I knew who owned a television had only a black-and-white set, and I don't think I was even aware that such a beast as a color television existed.
On Saturdays my parents used to take me into the Sheffield town center. Since money was in short supply, we would simply amble around looking in shop windows and generally have a good time just being together.
During one such outing as we meandered our way through the city center we passed a department store. In one of the display windows facing the street were row upon row of black-and-white televisions of all sorts of different shapes and sizes. And there – in solitary splendor in the middle of the display – was a single color television.
Artist’s (or idiot’s) impression of the first color TV I saw
We were all transfixed. I stood there with my hands and face pressed against the window. I can even remember the program that was showing, which was some sort of documentary about a steel foundry. At one stage a big crucible full of liquid metal was tipped over to pour its contents into a network of channels that fed into molds.
The same program was showing on all of the televisions, which made the color screen stand out all-the-more. Seeing the white-hot metal pouring out of the crucible – turning to yellows and oranges and reds as it raced down the channels and cooled – was simply amazing!
Almost half a century later as I pen these words, this memory remains as fresh in my mind as if it were yesterday.Click Here
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series...Editor's Note: It would be great if – in addition to commenting on my articles – you took the time to write down short stories of your own. I can help in the copy editing department, so you don’t need to worry about being “word perfect”. All you have to do is to email your offering to me at max@CliveMaxfield.com with
“How it was” in the subject line.I can post your article as “anonymous” if you wish. On the other hand, what would be really cool would be if you wanted to add a few words about yourself – and maybe even provide a couple of
“Then and Now” pictures – for example:On the left we see me as a young sprog – I was still a student at this time, poised on the brink of leaping into my first position at International Computers Limited (ICL). On the right we see me as I am today – a much older and sadder man, beaten down by the pressures of work and bowed by the awesome responsibilities I bear (grin).
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