A Funny Story Involving a Portable TV in the 1970s

By Last Updated: April 2, 2024Views: 2063

Do you want to hear a funny story?

Not exactly but something like this.

When I was a youngster way back in the 1970s my family owned a portable TV. It was bulky and kinda heavy and a little awkward to carry from place to place, but it had a handle on the top and you could carry it from place to place fulfilling the requirement of being portable. It had a tiny screen and only showed programs in black and white. Reception was an issue so you had to choose your placement carefully and spend a minimum of five minutes adjusting the extendable antenna to get a relatively clear picture.

Now by today’s standards it wasn’t exactly convenient seeing as how everyone essentially has a portable TV in their pocket (and you are probably reading this on that device right now) but this relatively tiny TV was a wonderful addition to my family and was a source of endless entertainment for me personally. You see I would bring into my room at night and watch the late night programs like Johnny Carson, re-runs of 1950s sitcoms, and old movies from the 1930s and 40s. An activity I still do to this day.

This isn’t the funny story by the way. This is just background on the funny story.

So one day my mother was preparing dinner while talking to my aunt Alice who was staying with us at the time. The kitchen wasn’t very large but it had enough room for a small table and a decent length of countertop for my mother to set the portable TV. She would place it there so she could watch her “stories” during the day (I think it was Days of Our Lives she watched but to be honest I never paid much attention to that). Now imagine the scene – the appliances were harvest gold, and the floor was linoleum tiles with a gold-orange floral pattern. The table my aunt sat at was made of aluminum with a yellow floral top and accompanying yellow metal chairs. The two drank Fresca from recycled jelly jars with Looney Tunes characters on them. This scene could not be more 70s unless the two wore bellbottoms and shouted “groovy!” after every sentence.

This still isn’t the funny story. The funny story starts now.

At one point during their conversation my aunt Alice excused herself to go to the bathroom and my mother asked, since she was headed upstairs, if she could bring the portable TV up to my mother’s room. Of course my aunt Alice said and grabbed the portable TV and made her way upstairs.

Now to get to the bathroom (there was only the one) she had to pass through the living room where my father was watching a baseball game in his favorite chair. As Alice walked by my father casually glanced up and said, “What cha doin’?” like you do when you’re trying to be polite. My aunt replied that she was going to the bathroom.

My father looked her in the eye, then looked down to the portable TV in her hand, then looked back in the eye again and said in a genuinely astonished tone of voice, “Jesus Alice, most people just take a magazine.”

That’s the funny story. I assume there are those who do not find that story funny. But to me, a 7 year old boy watching that entire scene play out, I thought that it was comedic gold. I literally rolled on the floor and laughed out loud.

And now whenever I see someone walk toward a rest room with smart phone in hand I think to myself: I’ll be damned, Alice was a trendsetter. No one brings a magazine anymore.

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