Remember how television used to be? While I am young enough to say that we always had a color television, we used antennas. Actually cable did not reach the area until my undergraduate days, and we were not going to install one of those large satellite dishes outside to watch TV. During my elementary school days we made the jump from the indoor rabbit ears with tin foil extensions to an outdoor aerial. A 25 foot 2 inch pipe sitting on a cemented base with a 1.5 inch pipe 2 feet underground with 3 feet extending up beyond the base held what I believe was a 72 inch antenna. Multiple straps secured it to the side of the house before the pipe ran through a large U-bolt attached to the roof.
My parents had a very sophisticated remote control (me) for both television and antenna. If they were already seated or occupied, they simply said the channel. I would walk up to the television, turn the dial and then step out the screen door and twist the pipe to rotate the antenna. Baton Rouge stations called for a Westward direction while New Orleans necessitated a turn to the Southeast. We even picked up the UHF stations with limited snow appearing on that massive brand new 19 inch screen my Dad bought.
I remember that purchase from the “big purple building” on Airline Highway. The store was McLeod’s, a locally owned appliance store owned by Mr. Lloyd McLeod who did his own television commercials. My Dad managed a K&B in Baton Rouge at the time so he and Mr. Lloyd knew each other. Entering the business, Dad would shoo any salesman away because he only dealt with “the large man.” Depending upon how busy each happened to be, their conversations often lasted hours in the store. With this television, my Dad had planned on buying a cheaper model being discontinued. Mr. Lloyd, however, had a much more expensive deluxe model. Earlier that day, a worker accidently scratched the cabinet while moving another item, but aside from that cosmetic flaw the set worked perfectly and had far superior parts than the other model. He told my Dad that he could have it for the price of the cheaper discontinued model. My Dad asked about the warranty, and Mr. Lloyd said full manufacturer’s and if anything went wrong later he would fix it. They shook hands which for both men was as binding as any contract. Mr. Lloyd then cut the price because he said that they would have haggled some over the cheaper TV, so he would just throw that in as well. Money exchanged hands and after another hour of the men just talking, Mr. Lloyd had some workers build a wooden box since he did not have the original and load the TV in the pickup truck.
What led me to thinking about the days of handshake business among men who built businesses with quality work and superior customer service was a conversation about television families. We started creating our “dream” family. It’s actually a fun exercise in nostalgia and interesting with all the different choices. The only limitations I placed on my choices were that all television shows were from the past, and the character from the show had to play the same role as in my fictional family. I could not really settle on single characters, but here is my initial list. When multiple actors or actresses played the role, my favorite is listed.
•Lucas McCain (Chuck Connors) The Rifleman
•Steven Douglas (Fred MacMurray) My Three Sons
•Andy Taylor (Andy Griffith) The Andy Griffith Show
•Heathcliff Huxtable (Bill Cosby) The Cosby Show
•Donna Stone (Donna Reed) The Donna Reed Show
•June Cleaver (Barbara Billingsley) Leave it to Beaver
•Florida Evans (Esther Rolle) Good Times
•Claire Huxtable (Phylicia Rashad) The Cosby Show
•Russell Huxtable (Earl Hyman) The Cosby Show
•Zebulon Walton (William Greer) The Waltons
•Daisy “Granny” Moses (Irene Ryan) The Beverly Hillbillies
•Anna Huxtable (Clarice Taylor) The Cosby Show
•Hoss Cartwright (Dan Blocker) Bonanza
•Wally Cleaver (Tony Dow) Leave It to Beaver
•Patty Lane (Patty Duke) The Patty Duke Show
•Cathy Lane (Patty Duke) The Patty Duke Show
•Billie Jo Bradley (Meredith Macrae) Petticoat Junction
•Mark McCain (Johnny Crawford) The Rifleman
•Michael Evans (Ralph Carter) Good Times
•Winnie Cooper (Danica McKellar) The Wonder Years
•Colleen Cooper (Erika Flores) Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman
•Katie Miller Douglas (Tina Cole) My Three Sons
•Betty Jo Bradley (Linda Kaye Hennig) Petticoat Junction
The triplets of Rob and Katie Douglas from My Three Sons
The twins of Elvin and Sondra Tibideaux from The Cosby Show