Halloween Horror Story

31 10 2011

Since it is Halloween, I thought it was a good time to tell a true story of such unimaginable horror you better be sitting down.  Are you ready? It is the story of television before VCRs, DVDs, Netflix, streaming video, and other fun things like that. It is the story of television in the 1960s and 70s.

Back in the 1960s and 70s, you watched what was on television right then. If you were out of the house you made sure you got home before you favorite show came on or you would miss it. If you were invited out or were trying to schedule a meeting, you not only looked at your calendar for other appointments, you also checked to see when your favorite shows were on so you could schedule your life around them. If you, god forbid, missed an episode of your favorite show, you searched around at school or work the next day  until you found someone who had watched it and then you made them tell you about the whole episode, scene by scene, because that was the only way you were ever going to know what happened, unless, if you were lucky, that  particular episode ran as a repeat in the summer.

This brings us to another horrifying aspect of television in the 1960s and 70s, repeats. During the day and on local television stations both day and night, there was this thing called repeats. That is why, for you youngsters out there, your parents know every episode of I Love Lucy, Gilligan’s Island, and the Beverly Hillbillies. Old shows would run over and over again, day after day, and at times were the only thing on!

During the day, the only new programing on television was game shows and soap operas. Again, you had to watch whatever was on TV at that moment.  Watching game shows helped several generations of children learn useless trivia from annoying hosts and B and C level Hollywood actors and actresses. It is the memories of those game shows that make people of a certain age get all misty when reminded that Paul Lynde was the center square. Don’t know what that means?   Ask someone who is over 50.

Did I mention that you could only watch what was on TV right then? In the summer of 1973 that was the Watergate hearings. Every major TV channel televised the Watergate hearings day after day, kind of like the OJ trial but with no glove and no murder.  While the adults went to a workplace with no computers and no internet, us kids stayed at home and, to escape the sweltering heat, watched the Watergate hearings, because it was the only thing on TV.

I will stop now. I am sure by now you are sweating and your heart is beating frantically from this scary tale. Go watch some TV, whatever you want. And fast forward through the commercials. You will feel better soon.

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