TV Memories At HHW Day
By Ken DeLaat
Once again on a hazy cool Saturday morning a cluster of volunteers gathered at the Newaygo County Road Commission on an annual undertaking aimed at purging these parts of undesirables.
I’m talking about household hazardous waste of course, not spongy moths.
For many years the Board of Public Works has provided this invaluable service and many of us are veterans of the day-long initiative with donuts and pizza serving as participation awards.
It’s a labor of love as countless cans of paint, a sea of batteries in all sizes, enough fluorescent lights to illuminate an arena in their working days, and a wide variety of fluids, some identifiable some not so much, enter the garage in trunks, trailers and truck beds while volunteers haul them to tables where professionals pack it all up to be hauled away. Believe me, there was a lot of dicey looking stuff gotten rid of that day.
And then there were the electronics.
On this day we took in more televisions than one would find in any four Best Buy warehouses. There were home theaters, old consoles, small sets, big sets and a flotilla of flat screens.
Looking at the numerous huge cartons filled with these once revered items felt a bit strange.
Maybe it’s a generational thing but when I was significantly younger TV’s almost always came into the house with a great deal of fanfare. I recalled the armoire sized set we had in our living room as a kid. A B&W beauty on four sturdy legs that often required service and revealed a marvelously maniacal mass of tubes and wires when the back was opened for repair.
Our first color TV arrived in the fall of 1968 in time to see the Tigers appearance in the World Series. Getting color TV was like the scene in The Wizard of Oz when Dorothy’s house crash lands on a witch and the gray landscape of Kansas transforms into the vibrant panorama of Munchkinland.
In our early years Lifetime Spousal Companion Lil and I had an old portable non-color 19 inch Zenith that weighed in at about 80 pounds. It was only portable because it came with an aluminum cart that had long since given into the weight of the beast. The antenna had the obligatory aluminum foil flag, of course, to aid in reception and the channel changing dial, long since broken, required a vise grip to operate. To tune in another show also required maneuvering the antenna into the right spot in order to pull in one of the two or three (depending on the day) channels available.
Side note providing perspective on the development of personal entitlement:
Where once I watched with frequent interruptions involving getting up to change the channel or attempt to fine tune the horizontal and vertical settings, or adjust the antenna, nowadays when the remote is not within my grasp it borders on a crisis when I want to access one of the endless options available via streaming.
But I digress.
I couldn’t help but think of those dozens and dozens of now defunct gateways into perpetual entertainment. Vehicles that did their time delivering families access to all things television. Was there a sense of excitement when it arrived? Will families miss gathering round the giant home theaters with an acre or two of popcorn to take in the latest Marvel offering complete with surround sound?
Looking at the lonely looking tech trash, I wondered how people felt as they dropped them off to be transported to a recycling place to be eventually and systematically shredded, sorted, separated, purified and repurposed.
Later I mentioned the experience to Lil who looked kind of puzzled then asked me if I recalled any emotion tied to our former televisions or any other device.
I didn’t, of course. After all, it wasn't like a family pet passed. Beyond the numerous TV’s we have moved from turntables to cassettes to CDs and back to turntables over the nearly half century since I somehow convinced Lil to marry me and of course the past couple of decades have seen a steady stream of cell phones and laptops being similarly ‘retired’ as well. There was no mourning period for any of them. They were simply replaced. Pushed aside for something new because they were broken or victims of a desire to try the latest version on the market. I didn’t really ever think of them again.
In fact the only one I felt any attachment to whatsoever was that old Zenith with the aluminum foil flag and the vise grips perpetually clamped on the channel changer.
But maybe, just maybe, the fond memories were more about simpler times than that grainy, snowy picture the old beast was known for providing.
On a good day.
“The past was always there, lived inside of you, and it helped to make you who you were. But it had to be placed in perspective. The past could not dominate the future.”- Barbara Taylor Bradford
Your comment will be posted after it is approved.
Leave a Reply.
Letter to the Editor Policy
Near North Now welcomes original letters from readers on current topics of general interest. Simply fill out the form below. Letters submissions are limited to 300 words.