When we bought our first Zenith TV set, the dealer offered to throw in a black ceramic panther with eyes that lit up for the top of the set. That must have been a standard promotion because I saw a score of them over the years.
Mother thought they looked tacky, so Dad traded it in for credit on an Alliance Antenna Rotor and antenna.
We kids were given strict instructions that “NOBODY but daddy touches it.”
It made satisfying noises
Turning the dial caused a motor at the top of the antenna mast to turn the big antenna to bring in the least worst signal of a distant station. It couldn’t turn all the way around or it would twist off the antenna wire, so you would run it all the way in one direction, then reverse it.
There was some kind of big relay or something hiding in the innards that caused a very satisfying CLUNK-CLUNK-CLUNK! as the rotor was turning. That’s one of the reasons we didn’t mess with it. Dad could have heard the thing all over the house.
That’s it on the left
If you look closely, you can see the antenna sticking above the roof on the left side of the house. If you click on the 1970ish photo to make it larger, you can see Brother Mark’s Sears Spyder bicycle with its fake leopard-skin banana seat in front of the porch.
I figured Laurie Evertt would tell us to toss the gizmo in the dumpster, but she put it in the Keep Pile. Turns out that ones in good condition are going for about 25 bucks on the Internet. (It’s even got the motor and a stub of antenna mast, although it hasn’t been turned on it years. Check it out at Annie Laurie’s Antiques on Broadway if your life has been empty without an Alliance Antenna Rotor.
Dad died in 1977, so I guess it’s OK for you to touch it. If you get hit by lightning, though, I guess the curse is still attached.