Bub’s Got Color!

Those were the words my mom proudly announced at the dinner table.
She continued, “We’re invited over this Saturday to watch the Rose Bowl Parade.”
We were excited. The first color television was in the neighborhood…and two doors away.

Yes, our neighbors, Bub and Edna (he called me little bub), were hosting a colorized Rose Bowl party and our family of four would walk two doors away and join their family of three (Bub & Edna and a snorty, sniffy, snotty little Pekinese that hated kids)
This was a big deal, my friend. RCA had announced eight months earlier, March 1954, they would be producing the very first color television sets just 90 miles south of our home–down in Bloominton, Indiana. They promised they would be in stores in late summer. The retail price would be $1000.
How much is that in today’s dollars? Just over $8700. Wow! This was a big deal.

The TV store had delivered and set up the new set on Thursday, December 30, the day my mom announced the news. I wanted to go over right then and see it, but we were told to have patience until Saturday, New Year’s Day, 1955.
Going to Bub and Edna’s wasn’t ever fun. The adults would sit at the kitchen table drinking beer and playing Euchre (Indiana’s number one pass-time after basketball). My brother and I would sit on the living room couch with our feet under us, watching that little mutt growling, snorting, and pacing back and forth…hating us for being in his house. If our feet touched the floor, he would start snipping. I read my books and my brother ran his little cars back and forth on the armrest. Once in a while we would punch each other. If he cried, I got yelled at from the kitchen and straightened out.

But this time was different. We were going to see what television looked like in living color.
On New Year’s Day I ran in the house ahead of everyone. I was excited. The TV set was monstrous. It looked as big as my dresser. The screen was a circle… twelve and one half inch circle.
first color tv

Think about it. Think about heading to Best Buy tomorrow and laying down Eight Thousand Seven Hundred dollars—for a round 12’’ television that weighed a ton.
I sat right in front of the TV set on the floor. To hell with the mutt, I was excited. The TV was on, but in black and white. There were hardly any color shows because there were hardly any suckers buying these things yet. I thought our black and white set had a much better picture and of course it had a bigger screen.

But then it was time. NBC and RCA announced in black and white, they were now presenting the 1955 Rose Bowl Parade in LIVING COLOR. OMG!
We all screamed at once, “Look”…No, it wasn’t the NBC stupid peacock…they wouldn’t think up that monstrosity for another couple years. It was just a white background with big red NBC letters. We didn’t care…it looked cool. The announcer came on, in color, and his face was as red as a fire truck and the rest of the screen was a hideous blue-green smear.

Edna was beside herself. “The guy had it looking good on Thursday, Daddy (that was Bub) do you remember how to adjust the color?”
Bub got up and went over and knelt down, raised his glasses up on his hair, stuck his eyes close, and starting turning knobs. The color went all green. He turned the knob again, stood and backed up, and said, “How’s that Mommy (that was Edna).
He just got the words out of his mouth when a loud “POOF” and smoke rose from the back of the set. Everyone was stunned. The picture was black. Edna started wailing unlike anything I ever heard until a few years ago when the news was showing a Muslim funeral. Bub started cussing and they were new cuss words I didn’t hear again til I was older. The mutt ran under the couch.
We had our pot-luck in the kitchen, instead of the living room. Mom invited them to our house to watch the Rose Parade, but they declined. Crying and cussing hadn’t stopped yet.
In 1955 we still couldn’t even spell “technology.”

About bakoheat

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4 Responses to Bub’s Got Color!

  1. Mary says:

    I remember getting our first color television — magic. A friend of mine noted the other day a color TV and asked, “Do they even make black and white TVs any more?”

    “Hmmm,” I wondered. “Do they?”

  2. gypsyvln says:

    Love this story! Our big console TV we got in 1969 was a color Magnavox. The first year we got 13 channels, I thought cable was sooooo cool! One of the first movies we all watched together was “The Old Man and the Sea.” The neighbors and visiting family all gathered ’round. We didn’t plan a meal for so many folks so mom made us tuna sandwiches and we ate them as we watched the Hemmingway Classic.

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