“We had it good”

My Dad recalls his early memories of the television, growing up in 1960s Scotland.

The scenes on the television were a far cry from the reality that greeted my Dad outside his window. In 1968, Mexico hosted the summer Olympics – my Dad recalls waking up early to watch the events, “it was always sunny”. This resonated with me, knowing that his childhood in Scotland was often cold and bleak. My Dad, not yet a teenager then, used the television as a form of escapism, running into the living room to watch the athletes compete under a blazing sun which was all too foreign in the place he grew up in.

Technology today grants us myriad entry points to discovering new information – for example, if we wanted to know what the weather was like in Mexico we’d simply use our iPhone app or Google it. However, for my Dad, Television was the portal to a whole new world, unimaginable sights brought right into his family living room.

A smug grin washes over his face as he tells me of when the family bought a Philips TV; “It even had push-buttons…we had it good”. Feeling proud of his accomplishment, he adds, “I also found out you could tune those buttons manually”. Qualifying as a mechanic in the late Seventies, his early memories of tinkering around with the television tuners contributed to my perception of him as a young man.

Right up until his late teens, when technology granted portable televisions, Dad reminisces that watching television was a communal, family event with everyone enjoying the evening programs together. Shows like Bugs Bunny, Walt Disney classics and Z-Cars are among some of his earliest memories. I prompted Dad to think of when it was that the television, for him, started to be seen less as a tool in orchestrating ‘family time’. And, like me, that began when he became old enough to come and go from the house as he pleased; he recalled coming home from nights out to his Mother and Father watching programs, where he would sit and talk with them for a while and then go to bed. This is extremely similar to our household today, when we often play catch-up on each others days when everyone gets home, sitting around the TV with a tea.

I asked him when it was that having two or more televisions in a household became commonplace. Today, having a television in every room isn’t thought twice about, but back in the 60s and 70s when television started to grow exponentially, a new TV was only purchased after the old one died. My parents adopted this behavior well into my childhood– I remember having only one TV growing up, being left behind as all the cool kids got shiny silver flat-screens whilst our boring, black Panasonic sat inside its clunky cabinet (with convenient doors that hid it away from sight).

– Orcadia 🙂


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