Living in Society Social Commentary Writing

Brief Respite and T.V. Culture

Snowy Sunday in the Garden

The farmer sent a long text message. We delayed soil blocking because the forecast is cold overnight temperatures for the next week. The seedlings we might have planted would be at risk.

Lambing at the farm added a complication. Her sister posted a photo of a blanketed newborn near the furnace vent inside the house. If you didn’t know, farmers continue to bring livestock inside the house when needed and lambing is always a stressful time.

My Sunday schedule is now open and it is snowing.

Between two and three inches fell with more coming. I had planned to secure provisions in the county seat, but now I’m not sure. Even if I go, errands can wait until snow stops and roads are cleared in a few hours.

For breakfast I made an omelette using leftover taco filling. Except for the prep work it takes 20-30 seconds to cook an omelette. It’s so easy anyone can do it. On my first cup of hot cocoa, showered, shaved and nourished, I’m ready to turn to another day.

Unintentionally, I spend an early morning hour watching a 2003 documentary titled, Inside the Marx Brothers. The white-washed story recounted historical facts about the six brothers, leaving out the racism inherent in much of their work. I was a fan of the Marx Brothers before I left home to attend university. It wasn’t until later I realized the prejudices toward blacks and women contained in their films. I have VHS copies of most of their films, beginning with Cocoanuts and Animal Crackers, written by George S. Kaufmann and Morrie Ryskind. These were adaptations of the Marx Brothers successful Broadway shows with the same name. I can hardly stand to view them today. Like many of the acts that emerged from vaudeville, neither the actors nor the audiences were cognizant of their biases the way we can be today.

Marx Brothers films aired on television Sunday mornings in the 1960s. We watched the newspaper guide to see when the next one would air and looked forward to them. It was during that ten-year period from 1960 until 1970 that we became a T.V. family, with everything that meant at the time. On the playground before school my friends and I would play marbles or four square and discuss what was on television the previous night. It was formative in a way that moved us from the physicality of neighborhood play to an intellectual approach to abstractions in the world. It made part of who I am.

We didn’t think much about network commentary on current events. The Huntley-Brinkley Report was our daily source of news and we tried not to miss it. Fifteen minutes seemed an adequate amount of time to present the news. Our focus at home was more on the style of the co-anchors and the closure we found in their signature sign off each night, “Good night, Chet. Good night, David. And good night, for NBC News.” The report expanded to thirty minutes on Sept. 9, 1963, following the CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite which did it first. At the time we didn’t understand how they were going to fill an extra fifteen minutes.

A couple hours after sunrise and snowfall stopped. Time to chart the rest of the day while cultural memories of the Marx Brothers, Walter Cronkite, and the Huntley-Brinkley Report circulate in the tribal background. Considering the role television played in the 1960s, I wonder why we abandoned it, almost never turning a T.V. on, except to watch the weather during a storm.

Food for thought while I dig out a lane to get to the county seat and complete errands.

4 replies on “Brief Respite and T.V. Culture”

Huntley and Brinkley are such a clear memory from my childhood! I trusted them to tell the truth, it seems. As for the role of television, I think that the advent of the DVR and then watch on-demand changed everything. I do know people who still tend to watch certain things as they’re being aired, however. As for me, no cable but only a Roku, and I view nothing “live.”

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Thanks for reading my blog.

Yes, we own a VHS player and a couple of boxes of VHS tapes. Whether we will revisit them, other than to dispose of them, is an open question.


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