Fremont County, Iowa

Bringing Washington D.C. to My Folk’s Living Room
by Lona Lewis
View from the Attic ~ A Weekly Series
Fremont County Historical Society
January 6, 2016

Today none of my grandchildren, nor my son (their father), could imagine a world without T.V. Neither could they fathom not being able to see everything in color in such a sharp image that you can see the smallest details. My generation saw the transition, from connecting to the world, by setting around the radio listening to news of the world, to watching their T.V.

My introduction to T.V. was when I visited my grandparents in Topeka. They had this wonderful T.V. set and my sister and I wanted one. Mom and Dad, living on a farm in southwest Iowa, finally were able to buy a T. V. I realized in later years that they had had to wait until we could get a T.V. signal. After the T.V. arrived, I felt like the world was coming to my door. All the nights, I had set looking out my bedroom window wondering what it was like out there were over. Now I could look at T. V. and get some answers.

I remember an Omaha station that featured the movie “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” for us to watch. The Mickey Mouse Club became my afternoon treat. I watched Annette who I thought was an airline stewardess and dreamed of having her job. I remember only being able to get T.V. for a few hours a day. Each night the stations signed off before midnight and the screen became a test pattern for us to watch until the next morning.

As a child I did little traveling. Europe, Asia even the coasts of this country were only in my imagination. When it came to Washington D.C., I saw the pictures but they were of little help. I had no perception of how it all fit with the Capitol and the White House.

I was attending a one-room school house in the lower elementary grades when Eisenhower was sworn in as President. My parents, having the only T.V. in the area, invited the whole school to come and watch the Inauguration Day activities on our T.V.

We left school around noon, taking our lunch sacks with us, and headed for my home a mile away. As I remember Mom had baked cookies for all of us. I think there must have been a few parents who helped because I know we rode over with several students in each car. We gathered in our living room filling every chair and space staring at the T.V.

The T.V. was big for those days, probably a 15 inch screen. The picture was black and white with its share of snow. But there we were a part of history, hearing firsthand the new president speaking to the crowd. Then we watched him waving at the people with his wife beside him. The parade was long with float, after float, shown going by him. We could barely make out the details they were all so many shades of gray. But we heard the bands and the crowd noise.

I will always remember that day because it was my first time experiencing history as it occurred. It was also the day the world became smaller, for me, and I realized that people were people wherever they lived.

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