Well, now that we have the big electrical pole in our side yard like most everyone in Greenwood Center, it only stands to reason that Dad has been talking about getting a television set. Rex and I have gone to Gram Martin’s and watched “Dragnet” and a few other shows, and of course Gram and I yelled at the wrestlers until the Japanese Sumo wrestlers made me have nightmares.
I have been so busy working at Miss Hobbs’ this summer I haven’t paid much attention to what is going on at home, but this week-end I notice that Dad has been sitting in his Morris chair with a lot of loose papers and booklets. He usually is out fishing on Twitchell Pond or at Indian Pond, but the look on his face tells me he is determined to do something. There’s a big black case next to his chair and I am waiting for him to tell me what is in it.
He sees me standing in the doorway and looks up. Muff, I’m studying, he says. What are you studying, I reply and he says, well, it looks to me that everyone has a TV now and sooner or later something is going to be wrong with them and I am going to be ready to fix ’em. We don’t even have a TV, Dad. I know, I know, he says, tapping his foot, and that is going to be remedied this afternoon. I am going to Norway and coming home with a DuMont. They’re supposed to be one of the best.
Well, the thought of our having our own TV is almost too much for me and I go into the kitchen where Ma is sitting at the kitchen table resting with a cup of tea. Are we going to have a TV for real, Ma? She shifts her weight around in the old wooden kitchen chair from MacDonald’s on Old County Road in Bryant Pond, and says, well that is what your father has said. He has been studying for a couple of months so he can learn how to fix them when they go bad. Well, I know Dad only went to the eighth grade in the little school here in the Center, but he is really smart so I have no doubt he can do it. That should be interesting, I say to Ma, who raises her eyebrows and says, well, it should be. I think Ma has a couple meanings behind that statement but I am not going to even question that right now.
It is hard getting up on Sunday morning, but I crawl out. Ma is already at the breakfast table and seems pleased that she watched Lawrence Welk on the new TV! Yup, it is there and Dad has placed a moose ashtray he won at Waterford Fair right on top for decoration. Dad only let Lawrence Welk show go on because he loves polkas and he likes Myron Floren with his accordion.
I don’t know how he will make out fixing other people’s sets, Ma says in a very low voice. I know he can do it, but people are already asking him to come look at theirs. Guess they heard about it at the mill. The car is gone and Dad is nowhere to be seen. I figured he had gone to Ray Langway’s for the Sunday kerosene. Oh, no, Ma says, he has gone to look at a TV and he took his tube tester along and his spare tubes. I can tell she is a little worried that maybe he will come up against something he can’t fix.
Well, no need to worry. A half hour later in pulls Dad, who jumps out and carries his tube tester into the kitchen. There, by gar, he says, that wasn’t bad. I put the tester on there, found the bad tube and replaced it in no time. I can tell he is really proud of himself. Ma is beaming in relief. Do you think you can make out all those State forms each quarter, she asks him. No problem. I can handle that with no sweat, so speaks the victorious television repair man. Don’t give up your mill job, Ma says, as she swings by with a basket of clothes to hang on the line.
Dad grins and says, you know, Muff, some of these people should clean behind their sets. This one had cobwebs in and around the tubes, but the worse was trying not to step in the cat leavings on the floor in the corner. No, I say, you are pulling my leg. He pulls himself up to his full height and says, no, but you don’t say anything because they are your customers. You just go with it.
I really am proud of Dad. I never thought he would want to do anything except work in the mill day after day, year after year. He doesn’t mind the work but now he has something else to fall back on. I finally get up the courage to ask him …why? He looks at me and says, it will be a lot easier on me fixing television sets than logging it if the mill burns again.
Now there is a smart man.
My Dad’s birthday was yesterday, March 8th. I will never forget his carrying his tube tester and working into the night after working all day at the mill. Many people never paid him and he didn’t dun them for money, saying they probably had other bills to pay. Others thought of him as a friend and never considered that he had his own business. He never complained about the non-payments, but those people were put on the bottom of the list when he had a lot of repair work to do. He was not only smart, but shrewd. I miss him.