Thursday, February 24, 2011

To Grandmothers' House We Go

                                        To Grandmothers' House We Go

                                                                  Jay Agan

      I hated going to my grandparents. Being there was OK, but the trip itself? Eight hours from Mt. Vernon, Ohio to Elmira, NY & Dad loved his air conditioning & cigars. (In the dead of August we're wearing sweaters!) It was great when we stopped. We'd all pile out of the wagon to warm up & clear our sinuses.

      The actual visit to Grandma & Papas' was great. Visiting relatives & getting away with what we otherwise couldn't.

      "Hey, Grandma! Wadya get me!?"

      "Why hon, I have it right here."

      We were steeped in materialism at an early age.

      Yeah, there were things to look forward to in out bi-annual visits. One of which was "different TV". When we left for central Ohio in '61 there were only two TV stations in Elmira. We didn't know about ABC Network until we got to Mt. Vernon.

      While Dad was building a new life for us in the mid-west, Grandpa aquired the services of this new fangled tech. called Cable Television. I got aquainted with it on subsequent visits back to New York state.

      Eleven (Count em!) WHOLE channels (2 through 12. 13, the "meter channel" didn't count.) with something different on each (Unlike hundreds today with NOTHING on.). Back then, TV stations did a lot of their own programming & weren't as dependant on networks. Much of their production, graphics, & shows were either produced locally or "in house".

      Grandpa got cable so he could take in Yankees & Mets games on the New York City independants (WPIX et al). When there, I found a much better use for it: Movies & cartoons! (Including some of those "different" cartoons that I later learned were made in Japan.)

      4, 6, & 10 (WLWC/WCMH, WTVN/WSYX, WBNS) in central Ohio were OK as far as they went but they did have their drawbacks. Almost no sci-fi or horror flicks were ever shown during the day. 10s' Chiller Theater/Armchair Theater reserved that for Friday nights in the 60s through the 90s. 6s Terror In the Night/Seymour Presents on Saturday nights in the 70s. 4 showed quite a lot on weekend afternoons during the '81 baseball strike.

      Anime in central Ohio was next to nonexistant. 10 had Marine Boy/Undersea Boy Marine in the mid 60s on Saturday morning & 6 had Speed Racer/Mach Go Go Go in the early 70s weekday afternoons. Aside from the rare movie (Alakazam the Great, Panda & the Magic Serpent, & Jack & the Witch) that was about it here until Sandy Frank came up with Battle of the Planets/Science Ninja Team Gatchaman in the mid 70s.

      NYC TV via cable? Wow! Sci-fi/horror flicks (As these stations rented different movie "packages" I got to see a lot of flicks I couldn't see at home.) every afternoon in the summer & seemingly wall to wall anime on at least two stations (WPIX ch 11, & I think WNEW ch5.) No one called it "anime" back then. To me, they were those "wierd cartoons we can't 'pick up' back home."

      The "line ups" included 8th Man/8 Man, The Amazing Three/Wonder 3, Astro Boy/Mighty Atom, Gigantor/Tetsujin 28-go among others. "Stone age" anime of the 60s. Mostly black & white, with very minimal animation. Peter Fernandez, Corinne Orr & crew scripted/dubbed the English versions for just about all of them (They also did a LOT of dubs for Italian & Japanese films.) As these were edited down for US audiences, the results were pretty much "kid stuff". Being a kid, that didn't matter much to me at the time. They were still quite different enough for me to appreciate their "otherness".

      Cable finally came to Mt. Vernon in the 70s but we couldn't get it. We lived about a mile & a half out of town & WMVO (1300 AM, 93.7 FM) who ran the franchise, wouldn't go beyond the city limits. Something about it not being profitable enough. I figured it was part of the then ongoing conspiracy to keep me from watching anything kool. How I rankled about what I was missing out on as I would look over the TV Guide & newspaper listings (I envied the kids in New York City!). There were plenty of people living out our way, but as they knew I was out there too, well .....

                                            Article copyright © 2-24-2011 Jay Agan

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