I remember the day my mom took a hammer to the T.V. I was in High School. Having a T.V. was a status symbol – automatically catapulting you from a ‘have not’ to a ‘have’. It didn’t matter that we still didn’t have running water, central heat, or even a telephone. The television – with its one channel – was the measure of success.
Someone had given us the television. They were upgrading from Black & White to colour. It came in a solid wood cabinet and it was the best piece of furniture in our living room. We had not had it long – maybe one winter. Us children loved it. I even hoped it would help improve my marks in school since I had recently failed an exam in Phys Ed. How embarrassing. I won ribbons in track meets but could not fill in the blanks of Dallas _____ or ____ ____ Giants. If it didn’t involve hockey, I didn’t know it. Saturday evenings were spent visiting. Some poor neighbour would have our clan descend on them so that we could watch “Hockey Night in Canada”. Conversations about any other program – I love Lucy, Leave it to Beaver, Gilligan’s Island – were over my head. Ironic, considering I was named after Judy Garland, and my sister after Rosalie Allen (a popular country music disc jockey known for her yodeling ability).
But the T.V. had to go. In a family of 9, everyone had chores to do. There were cows to milk, meals to prepare, things to make. Everything was done large scale, so efficiency was important. Solving problems was a family affair. We tried to find the shortest/easiest ways of working. We spent time troubleshooting. We spent time building prototypes of our ideas. We spent time assessing problems, assessing resources and finding solutions. That was BTV (before T.V.). The T.V. changed our family dynamics from a positive to a negative. The T.V. turned mom into the chore police. She was spending her time/energy nagging and threatening. Her competition was in that box and she didn’t like it!
The cabinet the T.V. came in, however, was saved from destruction and remained in our living room. If the T.V. was not useful at least the cabinet was. In went her fabric. In went her yarn. In went her sewing supplies. A curtain covered the hole.