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Chuck Hinman: IJMA No. 140. Life before Tv?

'Yes, my beloved reader friends, there was intelligent life before TV (and computers). I was there!' -Chuck Hinman, and, as this story shows, it was even better then, living life, rather than watching it, watching someone else make their living
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by Chuck Hinman

Many of you readers may not know that people my age never saw a television show until they were thirty years old. I was a grown man, graduated from college, spent forty-two months in the military, had traveled extensively in the world, was married, had a home, and was awaiting a family, all before I owned a TV set.

"Incomprehensible," you say? What did I, as a boy growing up on a farm near Liberty, Nebraska, do in those days for entertainment? We're talking about the time period 1922-1942, still ten years before TV's came along.

I was in the military somewhere (1942-1946) standing with a crowd of GI's in a PX watching this box-shaped piece of furniture. The box was sitting on an elevated platform so all the curious GI's could see this electronic marvel. It was so far out that I was turned off by its unreality. I now realize that must have been an early day TV proto-type and I saw it at least ten years before they were improved and marketed on a small scale.

"Gee whiz," you say, "What did you do for fun all those years?" The answer is "Plenty -- and no, we didn't ride dinosaurs!"

We played two-man football year around. My brother Bob was two years older then me. Our best friends, Earl and Bill Price, were the same age as Bob and me. We had a football that we had to air-up with a tire pump every Sunday afternoon before using it. Bill Price and I were one team and Bob and Earl Price were the other team. We always played in our yard kicking the ball to the other team. They caught the ball and kicked it back from where they stopped the ball from advancing. The team who first kicked the ball over the other team's goal line won. Then we started another game and never got tired. We played until time to do the evening chores.

We walked or rode our bikes to country grade school (New Hope) and Liberty, Nebraska, high school for twelve years before all four of us boys went our separate ways in life. Speaking of boyhood friendships, at 89, I am the last one left of those four boys who loved playing football on Sunday afternoons instead of watching someone else play on TV.

Boring? Not to us!

Many times on summer evenings or Sunday afternoons we went to Finks Park. The park was on the Alvin Fink farm southwest of the Wymore, Nebraska, cemetery. It was a marvelous facility with divided six-foot and nine-foot pools, each with diving boards. The park was nicely landscaped with several ponds filled with white and orange goldfish swimming in and out of water-lilies. I wearied of Bob "ducking me" in deep water but I was ready to go back to Finks Park any old time. Truly, "There is no place like Nebraska" as the college football song goes.

In addition there was a large dance pavilion that hosted "name bands." A polka band from Yankton, South Dakota, the Lawrence Welk band played there. Some of you may have heard of that band.

Bob had a B-B gun and we took turns shooting each other in the butt as we stooped over for a target in the front yard. Bob and I wore glasses from an early age. It was a miracle we didn't shoot each other's eye out when we cheated and closed in on the target to add some sting!

It was depression days and we often made our own toys. One was a "a hoop and a stick." We rolled this hoop down the stick (lath) until it was rolling on its own. Then we chased this hoop and guided it "around the world"! Then my dog and I would rest a while and start over. Kids in those days went barefoot twenty four hours a day -- washing their toughened sun browned feet only before they went to bed for the evening.

What fun!

I could go on and on telling you how we entertained ourselves for hours ... side-arming small rocks so they skipped on top the water of our pond, making and using sling-shots, digging fish worms and fishing for bullheads, shooting caroms, making and walking on stilts, and other kid fun things.

Yes, my beloved reader friends, there was intelligent life before TV (and computers). I was there!' -Chuck Hinman

This story was posted on 2011-03-20 09:04:21
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