Television, Anyone?

Can you tell what this picture is of? And no, it’s not some tortuous medical device. It’s a —drum roll please— television remote control. One of the earliest ones around.

You’re looking at the picture again, aren’t you? Trying to figure out how this bulb and tubing could be a remote control? Well, this is what changed the channels on our old Philco television when I was growing up. You plug the non-bulb end into the t.v., then use the bulb to pump air through it, which would then switch something inside to change the channel. Only up, no down. But with only 13 or so channels to cycle through back then, it didn’t take long. AND, it meant less getting up to change the channel, a chore that fell to the five of us children at that stage of life.

I thought it might be fun to chat about what television shows you watched as a child. For us, Sunday nights were spent mesmerized by the acts on the Ed Sullivan Show.  Does anyone still remember that? The Beattles, the death-defying acts, the plate spinning, Topo Gigio (LOVE that little guy!)

I fell in love with a short-lived show called Maya, about two boys traveling through India on an elephant.  I think I was a little in love with Sajid Kahn. My brothers used to terrorize my on Saturday nights, saying they would change the channel when my show was coming on. The horror!

My husband’s favorite shows from “back then” were Dobie Gillis and The Phil Silvers Show (Ernie Bilko anyone?).  He’s been able to catch some of these shows on the tvland channel and has been enjoying the heck out of them.

How about you? What did you watch growing up?


23 responses to “Television, Anyone?

  1. My childhood TV in England was full of many American shows, including Bonanza, Gunsmoke, Rin Tin Tin and Rawhide, I Love Lucie, My Three Sons as well as many English programmes such as Thank Your Lucky Stars (pop show) Emergency Ward 10 and the 5 0’clock Club. I inherited one of the first remote control TVs available in the UK from my father-in-law. It would change channels ( all two of the them!) but you had to get up to turn it off and on. Looked nothing like your picture in that it didn’t have a bulb, was simply a switch on a box connected by a lead to TV. How things have changed. Great Post. Brought back a lot of memories! 🙂

    • Oooh, I forgot about My Three Sons. How about Father Knows Best? And the Nelsons?
      Yep, we had it pretty good growing up, didn’t we. 🙂

  2. Fascinating about the remote, Laurie. I was indeed looking at that photo and trying to work out how to use it 🙂

    Oh, and what fun travelling back down memory lane. The TV show that sticks out in my mind was Wagon Train – Flint McCullough was my very first love. Had his photo all over my bedroom wall. *sigh*

    • When we helped Mom clean up the house for sale about 10 years ago, my brother found it and kept it. He cleaned out his garage recently and found it, causing lots of fun conversations amongst us siblings. 🙂

      Wagon Train was great. I just had to go google Flint McCullough. I forgot how cute he was. 🙂

    • Oh, I’d forgotten about Wagon Train, thanks for reminding me, Tricia. Another all time favourite as a kid, a not to be missed, was Casey Jones. Still have the theme song rattling and rolling around in my brain after all these years.

      • **Casey Jones
        Steamin’ and rollin’
        Casey Jones
        You never have to guess
        When you hear the tootin’ of the whistle
        It’s Casey at the throttle of the Cannonball Express**

      • You realise now, I shall have that song singing in my head all day now, Tricia. LOL
        Stop, look, listen ’cos you’re gonna hear
        A brand new story ’bout a great engineer,
        He’s the greatest of them all we claim
        Number one’s his engine, Casey Jones his name.
        And what about Champion the Wonder Horse!
        …. we could be here along time.! 🙂

      • Laurie Ryan

        I had to go look up Casey Jones. I remember the song, but couldn’t visualize the show. Alan Hale was in this? As in the Skipper from Gilligan’s Island? 🙂

      • Try this link! Casey Junior was Bobby Clark. Always remember his name as that is also my brother’s name!

  3. Valerie J. Patterson

    Ha! Really enjoyed your post Laurie! Liked the remote you had there. Technology is always amazing whether you’re looking back or ahead.

    I was maybe 10 years old when the Hardy Boys were on. Every one of my friends were yammering about Shaun Cassidy but it was Parker Stevenson that caught my eye! Every Sunday night I plunked myself down on the floor and watched him solve mysteries week after week. 😛

    • I’m with you. I liked Parker better, also. I love reminiscing about the shows we watched when we were younger. It brings back a lot of happy memories.

  4. what a cool device. I love it. I think it’s awesome that you had that. I’ve never seen one. Thanks for sharing it.

    haha. I liked Parker Stevenson better, too!

    • We’ve gotten a lot of laughs over it amongst my siblings. That and the fact that my mother found an old calendar with the “dishwashing” schedule on it. Even with it written down, we kids would argue over who’s night it was. lol

  5. That”s hilarious, Laurie. I love that she still had that.

  6. Kit, THANKS for the youtube link. My husband, a steam train aficionado is going to LOVE remiscing by watching it…when he gets home from fishing.

  7. I’m so glad I can go back to these blogs and not miss them completely. Geez it was only week. I feel like I’ve been out of it for a month. Love this post. And yes Parker Stevenson was my favorite too. And a favorite show was lost in space. Just couldn’t miss those.

    • Heeeeyyyyy! Welcome back, homey! And I LOVED Lost in Space! “Danger, Will Robinson. Danger!”

  8. Hi Laurie ! here in Buenos Aires, in my childhood (I was 9 in 1967) there was a Philco TV set in my home.It had a 18″ screen – this is not certain – and the outside was made of a nice light grey and creme (very light yellow) plastic.This was the second tv set, and it was in my parents’ room.The main set was a custom made one built by my uncle who worked as a tv technician.It was bigger and mounted within a very big wooden piece of furniture
    The Philco was “modern” had golden plastic knobs and of course the magnificent air remote control.
    But mine had a different bulb.I mean, it was inside a metalic 2 piece thing that you had to squeeze in order to ssqueeze the rubber bulb inside and then…..voilá ! the channels big knob moved like it was telekinesia.Each squeeze, one channel up; as you said, only UP.Greetings from the july winter in Argentina.

    • Ruben, it was wonderful reading your comment. And, hearing from someone so far away. At the present we have guests visiting from New Zealand where it’s winter there. We live up by Seattle.

      • Rubén Botas

        Hi Laurie ! I felt the same about the bulb remote.Until now I never knew anybody who knew this device.Ok we can start a select group 😉
        yes, of course it’s winter now, but temperatures are not very extreme.
        rarely goes under zero celsius, maybe a few days by the end of july and beginning of august.
        It seems that it’s everywhere the same.Girls used to not like the Stooges.
        maybe because is humor based on punches and things like that.
        For me, I’d always loved the nonsense humor and this was what attracted me the most from that series.
        May the sun shines for all of us.dear friends !

  9. Ah ! and about the series I was a fan of Gerry Anderson’s puppet sci fi things.supercar, Fireball XL5, CAptain Scarlet (fantastic music !) also big fan of Batman The Fugitive, Time Tunnel, Twilight Zone (this often scared me) And of course the wonderful Three Stooges. Love !

  10. Hi, Ruben! I’m absolutely THRILLED someone else knows about the bulb technology they used in early television sets. I’m not sure folks believed me when I told them that. 🙂 And I love that the internet can pull folks together from all over the world. Buenes Aires is a long way away from me here in the Pacific Northwest.
    As for the shows you watched, some of them I don’t remember (although we are close in age). I do remember enjoying Time Tunnel and the Fugitive. I think liking the Three Stooges is probably a guy thing? My husband loves them still. 🙂
    I hope you’re winter is tolerable. The weather here has been grayer than summer should be, so we are hoping for some sunshine.

  11. Thanks, Ruben. We could use some sunshine here. Sounds like you could, too.

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