Remembering the old ‘boob tube’ and ‘Howdy Doody’

Published 6:00 am Sunday, March 26, 2017

By Jim McCauley

This story starts the way most stories start: “It was many-many years ago in a small town in Indiana.”

I was in St. Mary’s grade school and I’m not real sure how old I was. My father came home one day, caring a medium size box. I’m trying to remember what it said on the side of the box, I think it said Philco. He brought my mom and I into the front room, which was the room that the family sat in to listen to the radio, which was really a big deal back then. He opened the box and pulled out something that looked like a radio, but it had a glass window in the front. I’d say the window was about the size of a hardback novel.

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The total size of the whole box was about 18 inches wide and 14 inches high. Dad plugged it into the wall socket, pushed a button on the front and the window started glowing and the radio inside started talking. The big news was the window had a picture of some man talking – WOW!

Since that time I have been hooked on television. I remember all the nights and weekends sitting in front of the new TV and becoming totally attached to the talking picture box. The one thing I saw the most was the “test pattern,” which was usually the only thing to look at. I do remember a couple of the shows: “Howdy Doody” was a big favorite and I remember that Buster Brown had a dog and they both lived in a shoe — go figure.

It does sound a little strange, but television itself also sounded a little strange. That was a long-long time ago and today I often think about throwing all our televisions out the window or in the garbage. Most of the late night shows I watched were Johnny Carson, Jack Parr, Steve Allen, Jay Leno, and they all were a lot of fun to watch. Today most of the late night shows seem to spend most of their time mocking our current president.

Maybe worse than that are the commercials that fill our TV airways. The Memphis lawyer “Trotz” seems to dominate the airways 24 hours a day and you can’t turn on your TV without hearing his voice. Then you add: Montesi, Morgan & Morgan, Hurst Law and JMB who is always showing how he’s going to knock someone’s head off.

Well, of course I can’t throw them out right now because of the big basketball tourney’s and you have to keep your priorities straight. However, after basketball out they go! I probably won’t throw them too far because baseball is here and in six months football will be top dog.

I saw a saying on a piece of wood, it said, “All we really need is LOVE … and a bottle of wine!”

Jim McCauley is an Oxford retiree. He can be reached at