1954 Service Contract for TV
I was rooting through some of the files in the basement when I ran across this Dec. 17, 1954, receipt for the service contract for our Zenith T.V. from C.F. Hopkins Hardware Co. in Marble Hill. Unfortunately, I haven’t found the actual bill of sale.
Not only did we get the TV, but it came with an All Channel Alliance Rotor, and a Winegard antenna atop a 20-foot mast.
Only Dad Could Touch It
I’m pretty sure I was well into my teens before I could adjust the antenna rotor outside Dad’s supervison. It made cool sounds while the antenna was swinging around. Sort of a “Clunk, Clunk, Clunk.” If it started buzzing, that meant that it was locked up and you had to press a reset button on the back or bottom.
How did we survive with one TV?
When I think back on it, we managed to survive for decades with only one television set, and it was located in the basement. Here’s a link to the folks who are watching it.
Our Eyes on the World
That old Zenith brought us entertainment and the news of the day.
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.
There are some things I know about this photo, and a lot of stuff I don’t know.
What I think I know
- It was taken in the Steinhoff family basement.
- That’s our Zenith television. You can see the antenna rotor control on the top left of the set.
- We’re probably watching KFVS because the picture looks reasonably sharp.
- I’m pretty sure that’s Albert Underwood on the left, Bill Hopkins on the floor and Linda Folsom on the right.
- It’s probably 1963 or 1964.
What I don’t know
- Who the girl on the left is. I sort of want to say Margaret Randol, based on the hairstyle, but that’s a wild guess.
- Why they are watching TV at my house. Underwood was a year or more ahead of me and was on the school’s photo staff, but we didn’t run around together. Hopkins was the ineffective (or corrupt) campaign manager who handled / mishandled my unsuccessful student body presidential run. Linda Folsom and I dated briefly (her choice). It’s a strange combination of people to be engrossed in a TV show.
- What they are watching so intently. It doesn’t appear to be a news program.