A syndicated cartoon in our local paper, Non Sequitur, was titled, “Grandpa ups his game.” It shows Grandpa telling stories around a campfire to several children who are wide-eyed with imagined terror. He is saying, “. . . we only had three channels to watch on TV, and the phone was . . . plugged into the wall!!”
At our house we had a small UHF (ultra-high frequency) antenna mounted on top of the normal VHF (very-high frequency) antenna, so we could get three more channels, making six all together. I think one UHF channel was a New Jersey PBS station. Six channels to chose from! How could we pick just one to watch? We only had one TV, so the whole family had to watch the same channel. Usually, the channel was chosen by vote, but some votes counted more than others. Still, conflict was rare. Most times, one program was the clear winner for everyone. For example, Tuesday night was Milton Berle’s Texaco Star Theater by unanimous choice. No one even had to ask.
And that TV programming was free. Now, of course, we get about 50 channels on cable that costs over $100 per month, and everyone sits in their own room watching their own TV, but often there is nothing worth watching. That’s progress.
My phone is still plugged into the wall. I do not have a cell phone, only a landline, but at least it is no longer a party line. When I talk with someone, I picture them sitting in their living room holding the receiver to their ear, like me, and I am surprised when they tell me they are in their car driving to the grocery store. But they are paying way more than I am for the luxury. That, too, is progress.