Life, and a box with dials.

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Valley Pioneer talks TV memories.

An old two bedroom home sits on the hill of Upper Kangaroo River. Four brothers to one double bed, grateful for the luxury a feather mattress can bring. The cold night fills with owls hooting and foxes yelling – a sound Graham Scott can only describe as “eerie.” From the bedroom window, 177 acres stretch out  across the mountains and right down to the fog-filled valley.

Graham was just twelve years old when his family got their first and only TV – black and white, and simply described as, “just a box with an oval screen and dials.” It was 1960. He remembers coming home from school and there it was, in the Kitchen against the wall –  the only room with an open fireplace and therefore the room most used.

“Yeah, we’ve got electricity now, so we can have a TV,” said his dad that day, to Graham’s surprise. This was the man who raised five sons and one daughter on the farm alone. He was considered by many as an ‘early pioneer’ of the Valley, Graham’s mother however took off down the coast when he was just ten years old. His sister was three.

Like most homes back then, an antenna was perched high on the roof, stretching out for a signal. The reception however was nowhere near perfect, particularly from living on the South Coast.

“We would sit around the kitchen in ordinary kitchen chairs,” says Graham, now 66 years old. “It was the only warm room in the house. But the reception was awful, you only got two channels.”

Before getting their own TV, Graham and his brothers used to trek three kilometers down to his auntie’s house and watch TV there. This was about two years beforehand when Graham was 10, and it became a weekend ritual.

The reception there was no better. “The reception was ghostly,” he says, “You would get an image but the image doubled up so it looked like there was a ghost behind it.”

His auntie was never used to the idea of  having a TV and would  fall asleep as soon as she started watching it.  “All it took was 15 minutes and she was asleep,” says Graham, “Then we’d have to go back into the cold, back to our place at about 10:30 at night.”

Graham admits he only watched TV at a night time. Living on a farm, they always had plenty of work to do. “Dad was always watching the news, but he was pretty busy. He would never stay up watching TV because he had to get up early the next morning and milk the cows at five,” he says.

“You wouldn’t want to be staying up all night watching TV anyway because you’d be tired at school the next day.”

At 18 Graham saved enough money to buy a new TV for his father – the family’s first coloured TV – a second hand JVC, just like the old one, only coloured. “I thought it was time to get with the modern times,” he says jokingly. Along with colour, the TV did have another luxury; an extra channel and a screen that was “just a bit more clearer.”

Graham doesn’t remember much about the programs that used to be on, nor has he had any memorable TV moments. Surely he has some recollection of the historical moon landing? “Nah,” he says with a slight chuckle. “When was the moon landing?1969? I wasn’t there [home]. If I knew how important it was I would’ve stayed home and watched it.” He seems surprised that he missed it, almost dumbfounded.

“I didn’t even hear that someone was gonna land on the moon, let alone at a certain time. I found out a couple of weeks later; ‘Oh someone just landed on the moon’, and I said, ‘Oh I wish someone would’ve told us, ‘could’ve watched it on TV.'”

But these days, almost fifty years on, Graham is a self-proclaimed expert on current affairs, never missing a major TV event again. “I like watching TV because I missed out as a kid. Kids these days watch so much TV that they don’t appreciate it.”

Despite being an owner of a 3D Smart TV now, Graham spent most of his adulthood watching just another ol’ box with dials. “Everyone was watching flat screens and we were watching a 30-year-old TV,” he says about the TV he owned after he got married in 1990. And it was only two years ago that he had to chuck that TV out. Into the tip pit it went as the shift to digital television forced him to ‘get with modern times’ once again.

“I felt bad because it was still working. The colours were distorted and it kept going out of focus, but it still worked, even if I did have to hop out of bed and move the dial to get it back on the station.”

ROSEANNE SCOTT

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