Pieces of a Childhood: 4. Hoping
We got our first TV in the late 1950s, and watched everything available. Every night, half an hour before the first program started, we would turn the small, black-and-white TV on, just to make sure that the test image was OK. Five minutes before the hour, the TV clock was shown and we would sit mesmerized, watching an exciting future coming closer, second by second.
“We” mostly meant Father, my siblings and me. To Mother, watching TV was a lazy man’s business. She’d rather stay in the kitchen and do something useful.
But one day, when her brother was visiting us, she accepted to join us for the evening news. Harald was a young, practical handyman who had just started studying mechanics to become an engineer.
That specific evening, there was some extraordinary news. A sensational discovery had made it possible to watch color TV on regular, black-and-white TVs! No need to wait several years for advanced technology to find out about it.
A technical expert appeared and explained what to do. It was easy. You just took an old nylon stocking, cut it up and taped it onto your TV screen. On a chart, he showed how light, when passing through a filter of tiny holes, breaks into a multitude of colors. It was easy, quick, and inexpensive.
“That’s impossible!” Mother pessimistically stated. My father, my siblings and I knew that Mother almost always was right, but we still desperately hoped for the news to be true.
My uncle was enthusiastic. From his studies, he could confirm that what the expert had said about light rays was correct. “Elsie,” he told my mother, “don’t you have an old pair of nylons? Let’s try it!”
When we had cut mother’s stockings up and taped them onto the TV screen, we could barely see anything. The image was dark brown, the same color as mother’s nylon stockings.
Next day was April 2. We saw in the newspaper that many Swedish families, like us, had tried to transform their black-and-white TVs into color TVs the previous night. We were in good company.