We had no television in the house growing up.

Seriously, in this day and age I commend those who can do it. In the 70’s when I was growing up it was easier. Upon return from our sabbatical in England, my parents literally threw the television out the window. It was an old set that my mom inherited from the divorce and it was dying. In fact, I remember trying to watch the World Series that fall during fifth grade and the players were turning bluish green color. Not long after, the set was gone and never replaced. My parents could give up Columbo and Kojak but my cartoons were long gone. I had to watch football on Sundays at my buddy Derek’s house a few blocks away. He not only had regular television but cable too, which in the 70s was few and far between in subscribers.

Instead of television, my parents relied heavily on the local University of Illinois college station feeding NPR and All Things Considered. It was their way of bringing the world into the house. Oh and the radio stayed on for most of the day tuned to that station. Except when opera came on and I could hear my mom shout, “Berni, the fat lady is singing again. Shut her off!” Which I thought was hilarious. Mom could only take so much of the Saturday simulcast of opera. My stepfather had hearing loss due to the Korean War so every now and then the radio would go up a notch or two in volume. Even better, he would be in another room adjacent to the kitchen where the radio lived; he would turn up the volume even further which would get under mom’s skin.

Let’s stay with NPR and my mom. Fast forward to when I moved to Evanston, Illinois after college and had my very television with cable no less. Mom flies in for a four-day weekend. I am sure she was researching at the Newbury Library and wrote the trip off which is neither here nor there. Regardless it is a Thursday night and I am watching ESPN. My mom arrives from the bathroom wearing some facial mask and sits down next to me on my futon. ESPN breaks to a commercial featuring Larry Bird commemorating his final season in the NBA. Mom was glued to the advertisement and restrained me from hitting the mute button. With her facial mask on her face, she turned to me and asked, “Are we going to see him tomorrow night?”

I replied, “who?”

“Larry Bird. Are we going to see Larry Bird lay against the Bulls?” She asked as she wore her facial goop.

“Ah, how do you know about Larry Bird? How do you know he plays with the Celtics whom the Bulls are playing tomorrow night?” I asked.

“They interview him all the time on NPR.” She said with a straight face behind her mud mask.

I burst out laughing. How life from throwing out the television to NPR had taken a 180-degree turn. I never again questioned my mom’s connection to pop culture visa vie NPR.

Leave a Reply