Snow in June
It was June 1, 1953 and the first television in our middle-class neighborhood was about to be installed in my living room.
At last! It was morning! I threw off the sheet concealing the fact I had slept in my clothes and headed outside. I hadn’t slept a wink and neither had my parents judging from the whispering wafting from their room all night. It was June 1, 1953 and the first television in our middle-class neighborhood was about to be installed in my living room. Maybe not at 6 a.m., but this ten-year-old would be ready whatever time it showed up.
At ten o’clock neighbors began moseying in and out our open front door and several could be found mulling around the porch smoking cigarettes while waiting. My dad sauntered from person to person to soak up their congratulations as he laughed and joked with them; his pride escalated with each pat on the back.
My friends played tag and laughed as I looked up and down Spruce Street for the people who would bring us this great treasure. Today, I had no time for playing. My television could be here at any moment.
Soon, three workmen arrived in a battered, blue truck with several big, long boxes and a square box in the back. My friends and I kidded and laughed as we followed the workman and the square box inside. Five kids and I jockeyed for prime positions on the couch as we got ready to watch TV. "When will it be ready?" I must have asked a gazillion times unable to contain my excitement. As the workman lifted the TV out, he told us there wouldn’t be anything to see for several more hours. My disappointed friends fled outside to find more interesting things do. I was so crestfallen, I couldn’t move. I had been up all night waiting for this moment. I tried to hold my tears back, but I think a couple escaped down my face.
According to my daddy our television had the biggest screen made—it was a 12-incher. I didn’t care right then as I couldn't see anything. I was crushed. Momma cared, however, and went about dusting and polishing the new arrival until it shone like black marble. It was just plastic, but Momma didn’t notice. This was her fifteen minutes of fame and she was enjoying every minute. Satisfied with her work, she retrieved the sandwiches and tea she prepared for the party going on outside. She placed the goodies on a large cookie sheet she prettied up by draping with Grandma’s best lace doily. I winced as I thought about Grandma ever finding out about that sacrilege. Taking off her apron, Momma checked her hair in the mirror above the couch before setting off to serve her guests. Vowing not to move from the couch until there was a television that worked, I fell asleep, a most disenchanted child.
Daddy said that it took about three hours to get the huge antenna up on the house, anchor it down, and hook up the television. “If the neighbors hadn’t been there to offer their support and suggestions," he added, "the feat might have been accomplished in much less time.”
I woke up as people started gathering in the living room and I almost missed Daddy turning the television on. Trying to pull out of my stupor, I watched the technician work like a beaver on cocaine. It may have taken some time, but he finally tuned into a picture. Well, perhaps a bit of a picture—if you used your imagination. I thought it was the most wonderful picture on earth. It had movement and sound and it was in my living room!
The new term we learned that day was snow which stood for millions of gray, white, and black dots dancing all over the screen and obscuring the picture. In those days, sharp pictures really didn’t exist, at least not at 220 N. Spruce in Little Rock, Arkansas. But, I didn’t need a sharp picture. I was in love with the wonder of sitting at home and watching snow. Before everyone left, my parents invited everyone back tomorrow to watch the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.
At least twenty-five people scrunched in our living room, enthralled by the coronation of the snowy screen while our ears strained to decipher what was being said over the static. But we didn’t mind. We were all happy to be with each other and watch the official crowning of the Queen of England. However, I do remember feeling a bit sorry for the queen. She just had a crown, but I had a television.