One of the biggest events of all time was the arrival of a color television to our neighborhood. For you young folk… please note that I said “a” color television.
We did not all run out and get a color TV when they hit the market. If your parents were like mine, you waited for your own set for a long time after the first buyers brought one home. That did not stop us from whining and begging as people we knew began to purchase these modern wonders.
My dad said simply “That’s stupid. They don’t even have color shows yet.” This ended the whining and begging. My mother who had the knack of getting him to spend money that he wanted to keep said “I think Jack Paar is in color.” When he looked up from his newspaper to glare at her, she pretended to be deep in her women’s magazine. The rug rats dared to hope. The Jack Paar Show was his favorite program.
The first color television in our neighborhood did not belong to us. The McPs were the lucky family. My parents had five kids. The McPs only had one. My father often pointed out this fact. That one child was my friend Priss. She was totally cool on a whole other level being the only child we knew who’s father had run over her foot with a lawn mower and mowed off a couple of toes. I myself had parted with one toe that was gratefully sewn back into place. Priss’ toes were not in any condition to be put back on once spewed all over her lawn. She was chasing her toy poodle around the corner of the house when the collision occurred. Yikes. What a scream ! Loud and undulating. Made me stop in my tracks and refuse to look around the corner.
The television set was in part to make up for the accident. Guilt is a powerful thing. But the McPs were heavy into being trendsetters. They not only had an outdoor pool, but they had a pool house. They didn’t just have a garden, they had a gazebo in the middle of the garden and a gardener who did the crap that goes with keeping a garden like that up. In the garden next to the gazebo was a fish pond. I could go on, but you get the point I’m sure.
We watched the Sears truck make the delivery and we all knew what was in that box. Priss had talked nonstop about it for days. Mr. McP looked at us from his porch and said “What are you all staring at? Go on… run on home.” He was smiling. I went home, laid my bike on its side and ran inside to call Priss. Yes, it was the television set. Yes, they were setting it up. They had to put up a new antenna first. I sighed and hung up the phone.
A waiting game began. I called so many times about it that Mr. McP answered the phone and told me to stop calling. Days passed and nothing. No invitation to watch the miracle of color on the television.
Sunday rolled around and I happened to see Priss coming home from church. I’d passed her house a hundred times already that day hoping to get a peek. She begged her dad to let me see it. He sort of sagged, then sighed and agreed. I could come at 6:00 and watch the color portion of Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color. I was higher than a rocket. Wahoo! I was in.
I wasn’t the only one. When I arrived at 6:00 so did every kid on two blocks. Even Abercrombie the zombie and his older meaner brother who called us “babies” showed up. Priss stuck her head out the window and told us to gather around.
“They’re going to break the roses… better let them in.” Mrs. McP complained. Thus we gained entrance to the foyer, where we stood in a huddle, nudging and jockeying for better position as we peered down the long living room at the shiny mahogany cabinet with the fancy brass bling and a dull black and white screen in a tiny window. Someone behind me whispered “Where’s the color?”.
Then Tinkerbell brought the magic! The castle came into view and Tink… darted across the screen tapping her magic wand here and there and where it touched a color blossomed and ran down the screen. Red, yellow, blue, black! All the children gasped. It was magic of the highest order. We were awe struck. A brief montage of color photos...then with a wink as wicked as Sleeping Beauty’s Stepmother...the color vanished and was replaced with Walt Disney’s less than magical face. As a unit we groaned.
Mr. McP ran us all out then. That was the color portion of the Walt Disney Wonderful World of Color. It was followed by the same dull black and white travel log of the