Saturday, May 16, 2015

Before the Magic Box by Roseanne Dowell

I was nine years old when our magic box arrived. We all gathered around and watched the deliverymen bring it in.  I’m not sure who was more excited, my parents or us kids. Never one to sit still for very long, it was difficult to remain patient while  they lugged it in and hooked up some odd looking things they called rabbit ears, and set them on top of the box.
“Everyone ready?" The men turned a knob and the little box lit up. Wavy lines flashed across the screen. They moved the rabbit ears this way and that way and suddenly a person appeared. They turned another knob and sound came out, just like in the movie theater only smaller. Way smaller.  "Enjoy," the men said and left.
My brothers, sisters, and I sat on the floor in front of it and watched as the voices we’d heard on the radio now had faces. It was the greatest thing since applesauce.  We all sat there mesmerized while the characters moved across the nine inch square.

Before the magic box, we always gathered in front of the radio and listened to stories played out by actors.  Life before the magic box was more imaginative. On cold winter evenings, we listened to our favorite radio programs, The Lone Ranger, Fibber McGee and Molly, and Jack Benny.

Our summer days, we spent our time bike riding, playing hopscotch, tag, kick the can, and oh yes, at twilight hide and seek and catching lightening bugs. We went on picnics in the park almost every night, weather permitting. Back then we didn't own a grill, let alone a gas grill. No one we knew did. Families went to parks to cook out. When my dad came home from work, Mom already had the picnic basket packed. While he washed up, we kids loaded the car and before you knew it, we were on our way to the park.

While Mom and Dad unloaded the cooler and picnic basket, we kids gathered twigs for kindling and larger dead branches for firewood. No, we didn't use charcoal back then either. My dad crumpled up newspaper and layered twigs on top for kindling. Once it caught, he added the larger firewood and we waited until it burned down and was glowing just right to cook.

Occasionally my aunt, uncle, and cousins joined us. Then a baseball game ensued. With eleven kids and four adults, it was quite a game. I can still hear us on that dusty field screaming if we hit the ball, or cheering someone on to run home, and yelling at someone in the outfield to catch the ball.              
Sometimes we took a walk with my brothers up a long hill, to a place we called the witches house. The house is still vivid in my mind, covered in thickets of ivy, the yard overgrown with weeds and trees. It was probably abandoned, but as kids that thought never entered our minds. Besides, my brothers told us it was the witches house and our brothers never lied. 
Did they? 
We certainly didn't think so back then.
 We walked up the hill closer and closer to the house until someone’s imagination spooked us.
“Look there she is!” someone yelled. We raced down that hill, like the devil himself chased us.

It was a simpler time of life filled with memories of family togetherness. We managed to live without all the new electronics. I’m sure modern day children with their wide screen televisions, surround sound, cable or satellite dish, VCRs, DVDs, computers and nintendos can’t imagine life without them.

What have they missed I wonder? Where are their imaginations? Can they even imagine television with only three channels and signed off at midnight. Can they comprehend life without MTV, twenty-four hour programming and hundreds of channels. Has progress squashed the minds of our young people?

Probably not, now they have to figure out how to combat the evil doer on their x -box.  They are a different breed of children. Their lives, unlike ours, are involved in technical things.

I think back to memories of days before the magic box came along like a thief in the night and stole family life, and progress created individuals instead of unity.  I think back to a time when we gathered on the floor in front of the radio and played games. While we listened to our favorite programs, our imaginations played out the scenes in our minds. I remember many evenings spent in front of that radio listening to the Cleveland Indians in the 1954 World Series.

Ah, yes, I enjoy the memories of a simpler time. Before the magic box, when fun, love, and imagination abounded.

Strange, realistic visions and dreams invade Rebecca Brennan’s mind. When she experiences someone’s pain, she’s determined to find out who shares her mind. Her search leads to a small town filled with 
Victorian homes and interesting people and puts her life in danger.

To learn more about Roseanne's and all of her Books We Love books visit her Books We Love page

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