Friday, June 20, 2014

Television - 75 Years

RCA ad from 1939 explains new TV broadcasts

_Television Marks 75th Anniversary
This year, 2014, marks the 75th anniversary of regular television broadcasting.
           See information about the history of TV toward the bottom of this post.

I can’t remember a time before television.
The TV stations in southwest Oklahoma and north Texas were established and began broadcasting in 1952 and 1953.
I was born in 1953 and by the time that I was old enough to process many memories, my family had a television. That must have happened in about 1954. We were living in those years on a farm 12 miles west of Frederick that we always referred to as “the river place.”
My family's first TV was similar to this one.
Our first TV was a big wooden “table-top” set that came with a wrought-iron stand. I remember it well. I think that it was a General Electric brand.
The picture was, of course, black-and-white, but my family had a “modern” plastic cover that could be attached over the screen to give it a “color” look. That plastic screen was used infrequently, though. Even though none of us had ever seen a color television in those days, I knew at the time that the fancy plastic cover sure didn’t produce a color picture. It did provide a sort of green tint to the normal black and white.
In addition to the volume and channel selectors, sets in those days had all sorts of twist knobs for adjusting picture quality, vertical hold, and reception. Every home in our area had a TV antenna atop a pole mounted outside the house. Picture quality on any given day was primarily dependent on how well that antenna functioned. On windy days, one sometimes could hear the wind whistling around the antenna!
Fuzzy was not an uncommon picture quality. We didn’t complain much, though, because it’s all we knew.
And… when the TV went on the fritz, a repairman would come to the house. Odds are that the haywire television had a burned out tube of one kind or another. This was before transistors or sophisticated electronics. Glass tubes in the TV’s insides would burn out and need to be replaced, just like a light bulb.
The earliest shows that I remember were “Ding Dong School” with Miss Frances, “Captain Kangaroo” with Mr. Green Jeans, Bunny Rabbit, and the Captain,  “Kukla, Fran and Ollie” with Miss Fran, “I Love Lucy”, “The Jack Benny Show”, “Gunsmoke”, “December Bride” with Spring Byington, “Burns and Allen” with George Burns and Gracie Allen, and “The Dinah Shore Show” (“See the USA, in your Chevrolet!”). Of course, there were many others, too, but these were some that I clearly remember.
In the earliest years, on the farm west of Frederick where my family lived, we received three channels – KAUZ (CBS) and KFDX (NBC), both out of Wichita Falls, and KSWO (ABC) out of Lawton.
Of course, none of those stations broadcast during the night. They signed off well before midnight, replacing their programming with a test pattern until broadcasting resumed the next day.
TV in those days was squeaky clean. There was no bad language and all shows were “family friendly”.
TV, even in those days, was sort of controversial in some circles. For many years my father’s parents refused to own one. They thought that television was the devil’s tool. Considering some of the things that are on TV these days, they may have been onto something. Even they came around to television late in their lives, though.
Today, of course, we take television for granted. We have wall-size TV screens, hundreds of channels, crystal-clear high definition pictures, DVR recording capability, and live satellite broadcasts. There’s always “something on”. And… I love it. I love and am continually amazed at the capacity for television to provide information and entertainment.
But… Looking back to simpler times, old black and white TVs, and simpler television programming, I’m glad to have had those experiences. TV in the ‘50s and ‘60s was a shared family experience, and there’s no doubt that those early television shows helped shape the person that I became. I wouldn’t take anything for those experiences.
FDR's opening address at the 1939 World's Fair marked the beginning of TV broadcasting.
The television as an invention dates back to the 1920s, but there was no regular television broadcasting until 1939.
1939 Advertisement
On April 30, 1939, President Franklin Roosevelt opened the 1939 World’s Fair in New York City in an address that was televised to the nearby RCA and Westinghouse pavilions where televisions had been set up. Technology and vision of the future was a theme of the fair.
Although there had been sporadic television broadcasts before that day, Roosevelt’s address at the World’s fair marks the beginning of the television age. On that day – August 30, 1939 – W2XBS (which later became WNBC/4) began regular programming.
Through promotion at the fair, average folks got a look at television… and they liked it! Nothing would ever be the same.

Some dates in TV History

The RCA TRK-9 premiered at the 1939 World's Fair
1939, April 30 – The RCA TRK-9 television was introduced at the World’s Fair in New York
1939, August 26 – The first televised Major League Baseball game: the Brooklyn Dodgers vs. Cincinnati Reds from Ebbets Field
1939, September 30 – The first telecast football game: Fordham University vs. Waynesburg College, broadcast from Triborough Stadium on Randall’s Island in New York
1940, June 24-28 – The Republican National Convention was broadcast from Philadelphia on the city’s W3XE (now KYW-TV) and New York’s W2XBS
1941, July 1 – The first TV commercial aired: a 10-second ad for Bulova watches
1942-45 – TV production halted for World War II
1946, June 19 – The first televised heavyweight boxing title fight: Joe Louis vs. Billy Conn from Yankee Stadium
1947, December 27 – “Howdy Doody” debuted on NBC
1948, June 8 – “Uncle Milty” Milton Berle became the first real TV star with his variety show “Texaco Star Theater”
1949, January 29 – The first Presidential inauguration to be televised was that of President Harry Truman following the 1948 election
1950, February 25 – “Your Show of Shows”, a 90-minute live comedy-variety show, featured Sid Caesar and Imogene Coca
1951, November 18 – “See It Now”, an adaptation of the popular radio “Hear it Now”, premiered on CBS hosted by news legend Edward R. Murrow: its first episode opened with the first live simultaneous coast-to-coast TV transmission from both the East Coast (the Brooklyn Bridge and New York Harbor) and the West Coast (the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge and San Francisco Bay), as reporters on both sides of the continent gave live reports to Murrow who was in the control room at CBS Studio 41 in New York City
1952, January 14 – TV’s first and longest running morning show, “Today”, premiered on NBC hosted by Dave Garroway
1953, January 19 – Little Ricky was born to Lucy and Ricky Ricardo on “I Love Lucy” (the same day that Desi Arnaz, Jr., was born to Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz)
1956, September 9 – Elvis Presley caused a sensation when he appeared on “The Ed Sullivan Show”
1957, August 5 – After beginning in Philadelphia, Dick Clark’s “American Bandstand” went national, broadcasting five afternoons a week on ABC
1960, September 26 – The first Kennedy-Nixon debate is widely determined to have influenced voters’ perceptions of the candidates… and determined the outcome of the Presidential election
1961, May 5 – 45 million viewers watched the suborbital flight of Alan B. Shepard, the first U.S. astronaut in space
1963, November 22-25 – TV news covered the assassination and funeral of President John F. Kennedy, bringing the nation together in a time of tragedy
1964, February 9 – The Beatles became a national sensation with their first appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show”
1967, August 29 – The finale of “The Fugitive”, in which David Janssen’s character confronted his wife’s killer, ‘the one-armed man’, was the highest rated TV episode to that date
1969, July 21 – The world watched as Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong took first steps on the moon
1970, September 21 – “Monday Night Football” was launched
1970, October 5 – The non-profit Corporation for Public Broadcasting was formed, later becoming PBS (Public Broadcasting System)
1971, January 12 – “All in the Family” aired; the first hard-edged comedy sitcom that dealt with real-life controversial issues
1973, May 17 – The Nixon Administration unraveled as the nation viewed hearings of a special Senate committee that investigated the Watergate break-ins
1975, October 11 – “Saturday Night Live”, a modern “Your Show of Shows”, began its run on NBC
1979, September 7 – ESPN was launched
1980, June 1 – Cable News Network (CNN) began broadcasting
1980, November 21 – The “Who Shot J.R.?” episode of “Dallas” became the most-watched show up to that date (83 million viewers)
1981, August 1 – MTV (Music Television) was launched
1983, February 28 – The two-and-a-half hour finale of M*A*S*H became and remains the most-watched non-sports program of all time
1986, January 28 – America watched in horror as the space shuttle Challenger exploded 73 seconds into its flight
1991, October 11 –Testimony of Anita Hill before the Senate Judicial Committee in hearings for confirmation of Justice Clarence Thomas transfixed the American public and made the issue of sexual harassment part of the American consciousness
1994, June 17-1995, October 3 – The nation was fascinated by events leading to and during the O.J. Simpson murder trial
1995, April 19 – The nation watched and grieved in the aftermath of the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City
2000, May 31 – “Survivor”, the first reality TV show, aired
2001, September 11 – TV brought the nation together to mourn following the 9/11 terrorist attacks
2002, June 11 – “American Idol” premiered, introducing a whole new genre of TV talent competition shows
2009, June 12 – Digital TV broadcast became the exclusive standard in the U.S.; analog TV broadcast ceased

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Abernathy Day 2014

Fans of the Abernathy story watch as Jaye McLaughlin, as Jessie Pearl Abernathy, tells the story of the Abernathy boys. Fred Peters as Jack Abernathy looks on.


Abernathy Day a Great Success

     More than 100 people gathered at the Pioneer Townsite Museum on Saturday evening, June 7, to remember the early-day exploits of the larger-than-life wolf hunter Jack "Catch 'em Alive" Abernathy and his remarkable sons Bud and Temple.

     Following a dinner of barbeque brisket, all Abernathy descendants in attendance were introduced. State Senator Don Barrington showed a new painting depicting the Abernathy Boys that has been commissioned to hang in the Oklahoma Capitol Building, and two celebrated storytellers performed for the group as Jack Abernathy and his wife Jessie Pearl.

     It was a wonderful meal and program, in a peaceful setting, on a beautiful southwest Oklahoma evening.

     A good time was had by all!

  Scenes from the special day and the evening event follow.

During the afternoon, descendants of Van Abernathy (Jack Abernathy's brother) visit the original Abernathy ranch northwest of Frederick. Above, they inspect what's left of the foundation of where Van Abernathy's home once stood. The family lives in the Tulsa area and June 7 was this part of the family's first attendance at one of the Tillman County Historical Society's annual Abernathy events. They had a great time and promise to return for future events!
Marilyn Abernathy Stevens, daughter of Temple Abernathy, addresses the crowd at the Abernathy Dinner.
Program MC Ray Walker (left) introduces Case Waldroop and Kolt Walker who attended as Bud and Temple Abernathy.
State Senator Don Barrington displays a new painting that depicts Tillman County's Abernathy Boys in the 1910 New York City parade that honored President Theodore Roosevelt. The painting by artist Mike Wimmer of Norman was commissioned by Barrington and State Representative Don Armes as part of the Oklahoma State Capitol's permanent art collection.
Fred Peters performed as Jack "Catch 'em Alive" Abernathy.
Jaye McLaughlin entertained the crowd as Jessie Pearl Abernathy.
Jaye McLaughlin as Jessie Pearl Abernathy and Fred Peters as Jack Abernathy (left) and State Senator Don Barrington (right) are pictured with Mike Wimmer's painting of the Abernathy Boys. The painting will hang permanently in the Oklahoma State Capitol.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Washita County Courthouse

The historic Washita County Courthouse with its imposing dome sits square in the middle of downtown Cordell, Oklahoma. Its windows and doors have currently been removed, allowing a clear view through the building. This view from the east shows that scaffolding is installed on the building's west and south sides.
Washita County Courthouse Undergoes Major Remodel

     Tillman County's neighbor two counties to the north, Washita County, is currently undertaking a total remodel/restoration of its historic courthouse. The unique courthouse is located in Cordell, approximately 65 miles north of Frederick, and sits on a distinctive courthouse square in the middle of downtown.

View from the southwest... scaffolding covers the building's south and west sides.
     The Washita County Courthouse is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It was designed in 1910 by Soloman Andrew Layton and completed in 1911, and has been called the "Grandfather of Oklahoma's Courthouses." Layton later served as architect for the State Capitol Building in Oklahoma City.

     The courthouse's unique dome underwent a restoration in 2012.

     The striking photos on this page were taken on Tuesday, May 27, and show the historic courthouse in its present state of restoration. Windows and doors have been removed and the building appears to be almost gutted inside. Exterior steps on the east and west sides have been removed and scaffolding has been erected for work on the exterior brick.

     An April 15 item in the Cordell Beacon notes that it was necessary to remove windows so that new self-leveling floors could be poured.

Windows and doors have been removed. Interior work is extensive.

An interesting note about Washita County history...

     The area that is Washita County was opened by land run on April 19, 1892, more than nine years before most of the area that is Tillman County was opened by land lottery on August 1, 1901.

     The first Oklahoma Territory county seat for Washita County was Cloud Chief.

     Today, many of us know Cloud Chief as a tiny, out-of-the-way town just off of Highway 54 in southeastern Washita County.

     On August 7, 1900, an election was held in which Washita County voters approved the move of the county seat from Cloud Chief to Cordell. The U.S. Supreme Court voided the election, though, because the U.S. Congress had designated Cloud Chief as the county seat. In 1906, Congress officially named Cordell as the county seat.