I’m So Old I EVEN Remember

Wringer Washing Machines

Yes, my mother had one of these for years, until the glorious day when she got her first automatic washer. You couldn’t just put clothes into a wringer washing machine, walk away, and come back when the device was finished. Working with one of those was an interactive experience, requiring a lot of time and attention, especially when putting clothes through the wringer. If you didn’t watch out, the wringer would take your hands along with the clothes. You also had to be careful with the laundry soap because putting in too much might mean suds all over the utility room floor. It required time, skill, patience, and the ability to cuss under your breath at the right moments to operate one of those machines. This must have been hard on my mother because her most potent curse was, “Gosh darn it!”

My Grandmother’s Old Wood-Burning Stove

Speaking of devices, I well remember my maternal grandmother’s old wood-burning stove. Whenever she wanted to cook something, she had to light it with kindling that she gathered herself. If the wood were too green or too wet, it wouldn’t burn. My grandmother was a very religious woman, and she never cussed, but she must have felt like doing so on those occasions. I have to hand it to Grandma, though. She made some wonderful things on that old stove. She was happy when she finally got an electric range, but somehow it wasn’t the same.

Rabbit Ears and Black and White TV

This was the old-style TV antenna. It was placed on top of the set. It was supposed to be an aid in getting a decent picture. Sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn’t. It often worked best when someone was standing near it. Cajoling a little brother into doing this was a favorite family occupation. As soon as the person moved away, the picture went loopy again. The real trick was to learn how to aim the “ears” of the antenna in the right direction(s) to try to catch whatever TV signal was floating around. You would often have to do this whenever someone changed the channel.

Some channels always came in clearer than others. Great skill and patience were involved in adjusting the rabbit ears or fiddling with various dials on the TV set. This was complicated by the problem mentioned above: as soon as the person moved away from the set, the picture might or might not go weird again. It was as if the device was playing a sadistic practical joke on its owners.

It wasn’t until the 1960s that people began to buy color TV sets. Until then, black and white sets were the norm. If you’re thinking high-definition with true colors, think again. Those first color TV sets had to be adjusted so that you wouldn’t get a preponderance of red or green. The people on TV often looked like clowns. Again, it required great skill and patience to rectify this.

By the way, there were no remote controls in the early days of home TV. Someone had to get up and walk over to the set to change the channel or the volume or adjust the rabbit ears. You couldn’t be a couch potato in those days. You got your exercise watching TV.

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6 thoughts on “I’m So Old I EVEN Remember”

  1. Black and white films can’t be beat. That’s it, I’m bringing black and white films back. You heard it here first.

  2. You’re old! …. oh, wait.

    My mom had the wringer washing machine, and although we didn’t have a wood burner, our home was heated by a coal furnace until about the time I hit teen years. The only place guaranteed to be warm was with your back against the chimney, which fortunately went up the center of the house and bordered my bedroom. And yes, our TV was black and white until my stepdad got a colored one when I was around fourteen … but when I moved out it was with a 13 inch black and white set that I had for the next eight years.

    We did have a big outside antenna, though … you just had to go outside and move it depending on what station you wanted to pull in.

    Explain that to kids today!

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