More Than Just A Television

As my Nanna, Father and myself sat around my Nanna’s dining table enjoying a late Saturday breakfast, I thought it the perfect opportunity to ask them about their memories of television and their television space.

My Nanna, who was once quite the explorer had moved from Perth to England in1954. Whilst young, poor, newly married to my Grandad, this is where she first ever experienced television, in a shop window on one of the streets in London. Seeing as television had been in England since the 1930’s, it wasn’t completely unbelievable for the locals. For Nanna however, she just couldn’t believe that a type of machine existed and although she couldn’t own one due to their expense she was completely awed by this new technology.

Shop Window London 1950's

Shop Window London 1950’s

A few years later after moving back to Australia, and starting their family on Sydney’s north shore after giving birth to my dad, Nanna explained that television which still hadn’t been introduced in Australia seemed nothing more than a memory of her travels in Europe and time living in England.

It wasn’t until about 1966 when my dad was 8 and his twin siblings 6, when a Nanna and Granddad bought their first ever television set. According to both Nanna and Dad, it was an AWA, with a highly curved glass screen fitted inside a big wooden grain box that had four small peg legs at the bottom. It of course was only black and white and even though living in Sydney reception wasn’t the greatest because of the massive gully they were living in.

Not AWA, but similar looking TV from the 60's

Not AWA, but similar looking TV from the 60’s

None the less, she absolutely loved it because it was the perfect device to keep the kids entertained in the afternoons. It was placed strategically in the living room, in a position that could be seen from the kitchen enabling her to keep an eye on the kids placed right in front of it, whilst she cooked dinner and cleaned.

Dad recalls the strict television rules that were in place while he was a child. Only Nanna or my Granddad were allowed to touch the television and change the channels, television off over dinner and television was entertainment for the evening and wasn’t to be played in the morning or during the day.

Over the first few years of having a television my dad remembered Mr Squiggle as one of the distinctive cartoons of his childhood. And although cartoons may have been what dominated the TV in the afternoons, a fond memory of both my Nanna and Dad was the family time after dinner spent sitting around their television while the kids played and Nanna and Grandad would watch programs on the ABC most evenings.

Mr Squiggle, 1962

Mr Squiggle, 1962

When reflecting on major events and eye opening things the television brought the moon landing in 1969 was one of dad’s all time fondest memories. At only 11, the amazement that the footage being watched was from the moon stuck with my dad his entire life, still able to feel the amazement that for those few moments, because of this one device, the television, people from around the world were together in unison to witness a world first event.

Nanna on the other hand, found one of the most confronting experiences from television. Having been a child during the Second World War, twisted horror stories of war was all she had to depict what was going on in the outside world. But, once her AWA television was introduced in the 60’s during the same period of the early Vietnam War, true images washed the screens of television of the destruction and horror that war really caused. For my Nanna, the real images exposing war for what it truly was on her television was a major moment in her life.

As we sit in her living room, having breakfast with her LG 60 inch flat screen playing in the background, probably depicting images of war or news from somewhere in the world, it becomes apparent just how much times have changed over the past 50 years. Television, once a luxury is now a standard house hold object found in nearly every room of a house, images that were once considered unique and amazing and have become treasured memories are now a typical everyday NEWS scenes hardly given a second thought.

All in all, the memories that resonate with television for Nanna and my Dad are more than just the television itself. It reminded them of Travel, New Beginnings, Family, Childhood, My Grandfather and world unison just to name a few. It brings me happiness that this device has given my family such fond memories of their past.


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