“The World Widens”

In 1956 a new way to access information came into our home in the form of a television set. At the time there was only one station and programming was very limited. As a result I never really formed the television watching habits of my younger siblings. Still it did deliver new images that intrigued me.

But the world presented to me during those first years was carefully curated. For instance, married couples slept in twin beds. No one kissed. No one swore. Violence was limited to the wars between “cowboys and Indians.” And the world still looked terribly white. The Lone Ranger had a sidekick named Tonto. Jack Benny had a butler named Rochester. That about summed up the diversity presented to me. Commercials featured white actors only.

I think that many adults who grew up after the 50’s tend to confuse the television portrayal of life with actual life during that time. As my daughter once asked when she was very young “back when you were a kid when everything was in black and white before there was color” what was it like? No one lived like Donna Reed or the Beav in “Leave it to Beaver.” But we were content to enjoy these families, regardless of how unfamiliar they seemed.

Television was calming, never needing any censors or trigger warnings. As children of war veterans we were going to be lovingly protected from much of real life. At least in books and television.

39 thoughts on ““The World Widens”

  1. It was much the same experience for me, though my dad bought a TV in 1953, when I was too young to watch it. A 10-inch screen, one channel at first, and an erratic signal that required constant adjustment of the aerial, as well as both horizontal and vertical holds. It wasn’t until 1964 that we had three channels, and our first colour TV was bought in late 1969. (Still three channels.)
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Television came late to us and we, too, only had one channel often fraught with more static and snow than pictures. Shows were very wholesome. I do remember when the Bob Hope tours in Vietnam were televised years later and the jokes and women seemed a tad more mature. Or perhaps my understanding was more mature.

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  3. I think many people who could afford a TV in the 50’s did live a lifestyle similar to Donna Reed. I’d rather have children watching television that projects a positive image and a wholesome message, even if it is not like them. It got better… thank goodness for Sesame Street and Mr. Rogers, as they felt the same way, yet incorporated real life into their shows. That was groundbreaking.

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  4. I remembered we didn’t have one until the 60s and it was black and white. My parents relied on the radio, complete with morning and evening news and radio programs in between😘


  5. I remember my first experience with television when I was 3 years old Elizabeth & my mother was on a TV Contest show. I couldn’t work out how she could be sitting in the chair in the lounge room & on the television at the same time, it totally confused my little 3 year old mind! Lol! Something I’ve never forgotten. Blessings, Jennifer


  6. I was 5 or 6 when we got our first television and it was much the same. I have never become a fan. Nowadays if I wouldn’t want someone in our house, I don’t want them on our tv in our house. Jerry Springer would never make the cut. 😂


  7. The first TV transmission in NZ was in 1960; we didn’t have one until the late 60s. The news came on at 6 pm and finished at 10.30 pm. It was another ten years until TV programs were aired during the day.


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