Dave Trout and I were in the first grade at North Lewisburg Elementary School. Our homes were separated by a pasture, so it was easy for us to get together for fun and games. Many evenings were spent in games of "Hide and Seek," or "Go, Sheepie, Go," and generally included Dave's brother Kenny, as well as other kids in the neighborhood.
Dave and I probably did not have much on our minds as we walked from my house along Sycamore Street one springtime early evening. I do not remember what we intended to do, but in a matter of minutes our lives changed forever.
We were directly across the street from a beautiful house owned by Ray and Ruby Patrick. They were the owners of the local John Deere tractor and implement dealership, located near the railroad which ran through our community. They also farmed some land at the northern-most edge of the community.
I heard someone calling, "Boys, boys." Dave and I stopped in mid-stride, and looked across the street to see Ruby waving at us from her front door. "Come here," she said. "I have something I want to show you. Hurry."
We delayed whatever it was that we were intending to do, and ambled across the street to the Patrick home. Ruby met us on the front porch, and held the front door open as she ushered us into her living room. "Just in time," she said.
"Sit here, on the floor boys," she said as she pointed to a place on the floor in front of a large, box-like piece of furniture. She crossed in front of us and turned a knob. Suddenly, a picture appeared on a screen in the contraption. At the same time, the room was filled with the sounds of "...hearty, Hi-yo, Silver!" and a classical musical piece which I later in life learned was "The William Tell Overature."
Dave and I sat fascinated as moving black and white images raced across the screen, like one could find at a small movie theater. A masked cowboy, on an enormous white horse, was charging from one point to another while the rapid music swelled in the background. The tune was catchy..."Ditty rump, ditty rump, ditty rump, rump, rump..."
Ruby explained that the new contraption was a television. The Patricks had just purchased the device and had it installed. Outside their home, someone had erected a tall, metal pole with outstretched arms. This antenna, Ruby told us, captured the signals from the air...signals which were being broadcast in our direction from a television station in Columbus, Ohio.
It sounded complicated and mystical to Dave and me. Neither of us paid attention to all of the details which Ruby was providing for our benefit - we were both too engrossed in what was happening on the screen. The masked man, we soon learned, was called "The Lone Ranger." Although he was masked, he was really a good guy. He fought against the bad guys in the half-hour movie, assisted by an Indian who we came to know as "Tonto." Dave and I did not pay much attention to the plot of the story, but at the end the good guys - the Lone Ranger and Tonto - had triumphed over the bad guys. The music we had heard at the start of the program filled the air in the room once more, and the now-familiar "Ditty rump, ditty rump, ditty rump, rump, rump" stirred us to cheer aloud.
Ruby asked us if we had enjoyed the program, to which we each responded with an enthusiastic "Yes!" She told us that she would try to have us visit her again to watch another program on her new television.
Dave and I walked out the front door, crossed the covered porch, and ran down the steps to the sidewalk. We split up then, each of us running to our own homes to share with parents and other family members the momentous event we had just witnessed.
That evening, I became a dedicated fan of television. Within a year or so, there was one of the new devices sitting in the living room of our house, bringing us all of the popular programs of the day. "The Lone Ranger" was soon in the company of "Hopalong Cassidy," and "Gene Autry," and "Howdy Doody." "Uncle Miltie" became a weekly guest in our home, along with "Red Skelton," and Sid Caesar and Imogene Coca. There were mystery shows, and westerns, comedies, dramas, Liberace, Bishop Fulton J. Sheen, and a host of other programs to fill our evening hours. Saturdays brought "Sky King," and "Space Cadets," and other shows too numerous to list here. And Sunday! Nothing was allowed to interfere with our enjoyment of "Lassie," or the "Ed Sullivan Show."
I was definitely addicted to the "boob tube." And someday I'll have to tell you about COLOR television!