Our first color television became something to argue over, just like a million other things when we were children. My brother and I were assigned days of the week when we would take turns to choose our programs. Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays were mine and David’s days were Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. This schedule worked pretty well except for Sundays, which were to be divided between us. David and I didn’t share well; in fact, we barely got along, so the only television in the house was the source of countless conflicts. To add to our troubles, we had a live-in housekeeper named Sadie who favored my brother. Of course, when my parents were around, she wouldn’t display this inequity; no, only when they were out for the evening and she was in charge.
As soon as I found this old photo of David in front of the T.V., it brought back all the memories — good and bad. I loved those programs because they took me away from the turmoil in our house and out of my own spinning head for the few hours in the evening when I was allowed to watch. The problem was always Sunday.
This particular Sunday that I recall, David took charge of the T.V. early in the evening and wasn’t going to share. When I complained to Sadie, she responded that David could watch what he wanted. I remember arguing how unfair that was, and before long, Sadie was dragging me out of the living room and into the bathroom. Maybe her intention was just to wash my mouth out with soap, but then why was she forcing my head against the porcelain sink? She was careful not to break the skin or cause any bruising that would alert my parents, but the repeated banging was painful.
Another Sunday evening when David and I were arguing over what program to watch, Sadie forced me outside on the porch and locked the kitchen door. It was dark, and I yelled to be let back in. I don’t know how much time passed, but it seemed like forever until she opened the door, careful to make sure it was well before my parents were due home.
I must have told my mother about what was going on when they weren’t home, but when I asked her as an adult why she didn’t do anything about these attacks, she told me she never knew. Why wouldn’t I have told her? Did Sadie threaten me in some way that things could get even worse if I tattled on her? Or could it be that my mother was afraid if she told my father that it would be the end of their “nice evenings out together.” I wish I knew the answer.
Still, I loved watching my favorite programs. These are the ones I liked most: Lassie, The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin, I Married Joan, Leave it to Beaver, Perry Mason, Beat the Clock, The Millionaire, My Friend Flicka, Queen for a Day and Whirlybirds. Do you remember your favorites?
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