Monday, January 2, 2012

A Christmas Story

This is the city. Bangor, Maine. I live here. I'm a kid. December 24, 1953. 5pm. I was working the day watch out of the living room when a big white truck pulled up in front of the house. A tall man with sculpted bronze hair and glasses held together with what looked like a band-aid got out and opened the back.

"Swede's here," my mother said and my dad was out the front door like a flash. Together they wrestled a large box from the truck to the front porch where they peeled off all the cardboard and packing material revealing a beautiful Bendix Television Set about the size of a kitchen stove. Dad and 'Swede' Nelson eased the new TV through the front door and into a corner of the living room that had been cleared to make room. That explained why the Christmas Tree was not in it's usual corner this year.

The men tilted the case this way and that while my mother spun the legs on and finally there it sat. Huge, awesome, unbelievable. We finally had TV! Dad plugged it in and Swede played with the knobs in front until finally a ghostly, snow covered John Cameron Swaze appeared extolling the virtues of Camel Cigarettes.
Swede said, "We'll need to do some fine tuning," and stepped behind the TV. He fiddled with something back there and the picture magically cleared to (17" diagonal) glorious black & white and we could hear Swaze reading the news. Exciting stuff but the real  excitement was about to begin.

Swede called to my dad to join him behind the TV and showed him the rod that came out beside the picture tube and explained the fine tuning. Then he pointed to the back end of the picture tube and said, "Whatever you do, don't touch th...BAM! Swede slammed off the wall behind the TV and crumpled to the floor. Before anyone could react he shook his head and climbed unsteadily to his feet. Like Boston Blackie's fedora, Swede's sculpted bronze hair was undisturbed.  "I hate it when I do that. But that was why you never want to touch that." Dad said we would all learn from his experience and be careful. Dad & Swede retired to the kitchen (probably for some lemonade) and we all stared bug-eyed at the new one-eyed monster in the corner. All the wrapped gifts under the tree were totally forgotten.

Swede & dad came back into the living room and Swede reminded us that although there were channels 2-13 on the dial, we only had one channel in Bangor so we wouldn't have to change it. Dad walked Swede to the truck and then we all sat down to dinner, rushing to eat so we could go watch TV.

Finally we settled down and heard the famous "Dum-de-Dum-Dum" sound as Dragnet started. You can watch the very same episode here:


  1. So nice to have such memories.... :-)

    Happy New year Tom !

  2. That little tale brings back similar memories of the arrival of our first TV set....but it was about 7 years after yours, Tom, as we lived in a rural location that did not get TV coverage until well after the cities of Melbourne & Sydney (both in 1956).