Honeysuckle Wall: First TV

by Ginny Brinkley

My family was not the first household on our block (in Arlington, VA) to get a TV set. In fact, we were probably one of the last. I’m not sure if this was solely because of financial reasons, or if my parents were just waiting to see if television was a trend that might be likely to stick around a while, or just a passing fad.

However, my best friend Janet, who lived on the same block, had a TV at her house. She and I had a daily ritual, Monday through Friday. We would play at my house every day after school until almost 5:30 pm, at which time we would run down the street to her house and plop ourselves on the floor of her living room, in front of her 9″ TV screen, and wait for the Howdy Doody Show to begin. Since no programs were on before that one, we would patiently stare at the “test pattern” until it was “Howdy Doody time,” as their theme song proclaimed.

Buffalo Bob Smith and Howdy Doody
Buffalo Bob Smith and Howdy Doody

For half an hour, the puppet Howdy Doody would entertain us on the small black and white screen, along with his pals Buffalo Bob and Clarabell the Clown, and fellow puppets Flub-a-Dub, Dilly Dally, and Mr. Bluster. A live audience of about 40 children, known as the “Peanut Gallery” sat on the stage and participated with the characters.

At 6 pm, when the show was over, I would run home for dinner. (Why do kids always run instead of walk?)

My family finally did get our own TV in 1952. What a milestone! With a black and white screen somewhat larger than Janet’s, my brother and I couldn’t have been more excited! Interestingly, the first show I remember seeing on it was actually a soap opera called Hawkins Falls that my mother liked to watch every afternoon from 5:00 to 5:15.  It was broadcast live from Chicago, and one of the announcers was Hugh Downs. The show was sponsored by Surf detergent, which was no doubt the reason this type of show became known as a “soap opera.” (It turns out that Hawkins Falls is now considered the first “successful” soap opera since it remained on the air for five years.)

© Copyright 2016 Ginny Brinkley

If you are “of a certain age,” these tales will evoke reminiscences of your own growing-up years. For those a bit younger, these windows into the past will validate the childhood memories your parents or grandparents may have shared over the years.

About Tracy Connors

Tracy D. Connors graduated from Jacksonville University (AA), University of Florida (BA), the University of Rhode Island (MA), and Capella University (Ph.D. with Distinction, human services management, 2013). Ph.D. (Honorary), Leadership Excellence, Jacksonville University, December, 2013. Designated a "Distinguished Dolphin" by Jacksonville University, Feb. 2, 2010.