I feel sorry for kids who grew up with only 13 television channels.
But not for the reason you might think.
Not because today we have unlimited entertainment at our fingertips. Not because we can watch an entire series in a day.
Because I grew up with three channels. Well, until Dad bought that giant spaceship of a satellite dish that had to be mounted in concrete on the lawn and steered with a joystick while we waited for it to squeak from satellite to satellite.
Before the dish, were three channels. One had sketchy reception at best.
So I watched what was on. And if I was lucky, maybe two or three good half-hour shows lined up: Charlie Brown, Flintstone Funnies, Pink Panther…
Eventually, it was news or weather or Candlepin Bowling.
And I would turn off the T.V. and wander out into the kitchen to find Mom baking banana bread or on the deck reading a book with a glass of iced tea or pinching back suckers from her cherry tomato plants in the garden. Dad would be mowing the lawn on the ride-a-mower. Fresh cut grass filling the air.
I’d hang out with Mom for awhile and then reach for the phone, which was connected to the wall but we had a long, curly cord that allowed me to pull it through the deck door and stand outside while I called my cousins to see if they could play.
I’d walk or jump on the little Z-50 Honda motorbike and cross the fields to meet them.
We’d play outside: building speed bumps for the Z-50, playing barn tag, calling meetings to order and attending to clubhouse business in the old yellow bunkhouse with the wire-frame beds, the old stove and Nan’s vintage shoes still in the cupboards.
There were no clocks. No watch-watching or time-keeping. We played until either hunger overtook us or darkness fell. Sometimes we raided Grandpa’s garden —peas and carrots to tied us over.
I don’t know what those kids with 13 channels did.
But I’m glad we had only three.