Hoping to be the glorious TV sitter


It strikes me as funny how reading something can trigger a memory that was long ago filed in the ancient memory bank.

At our house, after the evening milking and outside chores were done, it felt great to head in to the house for a good meal.

Especially in the dead of winter, it first meant peeling off layers and layers of clothes, barn boots and coveralls first.

We had hooks and nails to hang everything on along the cellar steps, where the furnace churning away during the night would insure they would be dry once again when 4:30 a.m. rolled around and it would be time to start the morning milking.

Variety of life. Dinner often consisted of potatoes, prepared any number of ways, and we had all learned to love any variety that mom cooked up.

Sometimes there was a roast, ham, or meatloaf, sometimes a big pot of ham and navy beans was simmering, or chili with lots of oyster crackers, goulash with mashed potatoes.

There was something called “supper dish” which I remember as a casserole made with pasta and tomato soup, and was a big hit for a time until Dad said he was ready to go back to meat and potatoes, please.

The last legs. For a stretch of time at our house, our old black and white TV was definitely on its last legs.

During that time, I often found myself sending up some mighty whiney prayers all during the unraveling of barn clothes, washing up and supper that Dad would “choose me, please choose me!” to be the TV sitter during the nightly news while everyone else washed dishes.

The lucky one. First off, the TV sitter’s job was to turn it on early enough so that it could have a chance to “warm up,” the gray-green screen taking forever to produce a fuzzy picture.

Then there was a vertical hold feature on that black and white beast that had decided to give up the ghost.

So, the “chosen one” got to park right in front of the big TV console and fiddle with the vertical hold knob for the duration.

Commercials were break times, but no one expected the TV sitter to go to the kitchen for such short sessions, as that person was so envied by the rest of the crew that sauntering out to the galley would have been hazardous to the TV sitter’s health.

Contortion. There were times that the blame thing would act up so badly that the TV sitter would have to stand up, reach for the rabbit ears in order to bring in any picture at all, while figuring out how to get a grip on the vertical hold button at the same time.

This required the patience of Job and the gymnastic aptitude of a double-jointed magician.

Better than alternative. No matter how challenging, it sure beat washing, drying and putting away all the dishes required to feed a family of seven (or 10, depending on how many hired hands might have stayed for supper).

If all the planets were aligned properly, and if the birds and microscopic insects were all flying south at the very same time all across the universe, sometimes the TV sitter hardly had to do a thing.

That, my friend, was a glorious moment in time.

Perfect timing. And if the TV sitter had been a perfect child and said all of her prayers without a glimmer of a whine, the timing of the words, “Goodnight, David; Goodnight Chet … and goodnight for NBC News” would coincide perfectly with the final icky pots and pans being scrubbed, rinsed, dried and put away.

Ah, life was good!


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