I was born in 1941 on Amboy Street in Brownsville, Brooklyn. My four brothers and I, along with my father and mother, lived in a two-bedroom apartment. My father was a mailman for the U.S. Post Office and since he had to get up early, he used one of the bedrooms as his own room.
That left only one bedroom and a convertible sofa in our living room that opened up into a bed. We kids slept together, all in different positions, and I guess that may be why we’re so close.
We were the first in our neighborhood to buy a TV set. It was an 8-inch Philco that was always breaking down. My dad kept extra tubes and was always fixing the set. I remember one tube, the 6NF7, that was always going bad.
One day my dad brought home a large magnifying glass that he attached to the picture tube, then a few weeks later he attached a reddish tinted plastic shield that stuck to the glass. This transformed our small TV set into a large, color television.
Many of our neighbors would visit us, bringing in chairs to watch some programs like “The Ed Sullivan Show,” and others featuring Milton Berle and even Joe Louis, when he fought for the boxing championship. We always had people in our apartment.
There were times when I would watch cowboy films with my brothers — those with Roy Rogers, Gene Autry and the "Lone Ranger." I also watched “Howdy Doody,” and even today I still have the puppet.
At night I would open up the sofa, and we would all find spots on the convertible bed to watch TV together. My dad would go to into his room early to get a good night’s sleep so he could deliver the mail. I remember one evening my older brother came home from a date. He loved to watch Steve Allen play the piano. Coming toward us, my older brother would yell “I am coming in for a landing,” and we would all reposition ourselves on the bed to make room for him.
This particular night when he came in for a landing, the sofa-bed leg caved in and the bed collapsed on the floor. After that I had a new job, which was to pile books under the broken leg so the bed was level.
It’s hard to forget those early years and the fun we had as a family. Today, I say to myself that when I was younger and we only had three channels to choose from, there was always something to watch. Today, I have more than 200 channels — and I can’t find a good show.
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