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READ: From a pole wired to a fence post

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By PETTUS READ

I have to admit that during the winter months I am a TV watcher addict. Yes, it is true that I enjoy settling down in a comfortable chair and watching a really good western every now and then. I really like the older western movies and the cheesier, the better.

Every since we put that Zenith black and white television in my parent's house in 1956, I have had a problem passing by this modern day marvel without running through the channels to see what is on. I’m also a stop-and-looker as well. Never been one to skim. Skimming doesn’t work with me in books and it also has its limits in the TV channel-hunting arena as well. I have to digest what I’m looking at. I do admit there are some things that I can tell really quickly I do not need to digest and move on to my G-rated viewing choices.

The addictive qualities of TV are hard to overcome, at least for me. It all began with something as simple as Ding Dong School, Winky Dink, Howdy Doody and Buffalo Bob. After getting hooked on the fairly soft shows, my habit then called for harder programming, like Roy Rogers, Fury and Sky King. Today, I am now hooked on old movies, The Walton’s and the History Channel. You never know what will set a habit off until it is too late.

In the early days of my addiction, local programming was all right, until one day, I discovered cable. From three major channels, I was up to over 50 channels a day. Also, I went from getting up out of my chair to change the channels, to using a super dooper remote control device. I could now surf the channels and change the channels as fast as I could push the button. It is amazing how you can get caught on the hard stuff so fast.

I do remember a time back in the late ‘90s and on into the early turn of the century, when I went into TV withdrawal. We moved to an area that did not have cable. I had to go cold turkey on watching TV. It was terrible. I tried everything to get cable. I called the cable company and found out that the cable lines were only three tenths of a mile from my home. They agreed to do a study to see what it would take to get me back into my old habit.

I waited the required days for their study. With excitement, I called the cable company to see how long it would be before I would be back to watching the Weather Channel for hours. When I called to find out about the study, the lady on the phone told me, in a pleasant voice, that they would be glad to run cable to my house and it would only cost $8,654.

After being reassured that she was not joking, and telling her that for $8,654 I could start my own cable company, I thanked her for her time and went into deep withdrawal after hearing this news. I was once again back to three major channels, PBS and an antenna outside. Thinking the cable would be coming to my house, I had placed the antenna temporarily on a fence post near the house. Every time the wind would blow, I would lose a channel, requiring me to go outside during commercials to adjust the pole. Since I was not going to get cable, I decided I would have to place the antenna more securely on the house.

One afternoon I began the task of placing a six-foot long antenna on the eave of the house. It required me to climb a ladder more than twenty feet off of the ground, and to carry the antenna to the top. I had seen acts like this in the circus, but my desire for TV had now gone beyond common sense.

After moving the antenna around twenty-plus feet in the air to locate a signal that didn’t leave my television looking like a January snowstorm, I discovered that the best place for it was back on the fence post. I couldn’t believe that after three hours of performing a circus act on the top of the house, with neighbors driving by and pointing, I had to move the antenna back to where it had been.

For months it stood wired to two metal fence posts, about fifty feet from the house. I got seven channels and took up reading as one of my major past times. Though living a more productive life, I still had the drive for more channels. I soon discovered satellite TV and have now gone through my second dish on our house and can now get over 200 channels! It came with a remote you can fly the space shuttle with. Better yet, I can watch RFD-TV and see our Farm Bureau programming also.

One problem. So often after scrolling through all those channels, including satellite radio, I end up watching PBS, which I could have gotten on the fence post set up. And now, after all these years of satellite, the cable company is finally running their lines in front of my house.

Maybe we’ll have an early spring and I can deal with the temptation of TV watching come winter. At least while being outside, I am not tempted to change the channel on the scenery.


Pettus L. Read writes for the Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation.
He may be contacted by e-mail at pread@tfbf.com

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