Monday, August 20, 2012

TV News for 1955

A couple weekends ago, I was doing some "free styling", to swipe a phrase from American Pickers.  This is when I drive around on a Saturday morning with no destination in mind and just stop at any garage sales I come across.  Perhaps a very primitive approach given there's even an app these days to locate garage sales, but I seem to have success with it, so I don't mess with the formula.

One sale I stopped at off of Christopher Drive in Oakville had quite the collection of vintage salt and pepper shakers, but all priced retail at $8 or higher.  About to give up on the sale, I looked through a box of books marked at $1 each.  This one caught my eye:

Flipping through, it quickly became evident it was a bound collection of TV Guide-type magazines from 1955 called TV News.  It appears to have been a local magazine covering Terre Haute, Bloomington, Indianapolis, Lafayette, and Muncie, Indiana as well as Champaign and Danville, Illinois.

I thought it might be have been bound for libary use,  but I found this on the opening page:

Having never heard of John Hedges, I continued on.  One page featured a promotion for the upcoming "I Love Lucy" series of episodes called, "California, Here We Come!"  The map traces each episode:

Accompanying the map was some more detail.  Pardon the skewed scan:

One ad stood out, advertising the first regular television show in color called "Norby".  It was sponsored by Kodak film.  Unfortunately, the vast majority of household televisions were black and white.  "Norby" wrapped after 13 episodes.

A regular feature of each issue was a viewer mail section called "Video Hisses an' Kisses".  It's a little difficult to read this page, but the main complaint of the time was Kokomo abandoning its state's Central Time Zone in favor of Eastern.  Oddly enough, most of Indiana has since joined Kokomo in the Eastern Time Zone, but it continues to be a source of confusion. 

In an effort to deal with spanning a viewing audience in two different time zones, TV News attempted to appease the audience with the concept of Fast and Slow Time. It appears to have caused even further consternation.

 An ad for Zenith TV with exclusive Cinébeam:

I didn't recognize her until I read the article.  A much pre-Ginger Tina Louise:

Not to be confused with the Syfy network television show:

 A pre-Joker Cesar Romero in "Passport to Danger!"

Let's pause here a moment and reflect on the addressee.  John Hodges...  There's that name again.

But this quickly distracted me.  Homina, homina, homina:

I'd never heard of Joan Caulfield until this picture.  She didn't have an extensive career, but stayed in television through the 80's.  One legend has it J. D. Salinger was so taken with her, he named his "Catcher in the Rye" character Holden Caulfield after her.  Another says Salinger simply saw a marquee for a movie starring Caulfield and William Holden.

Jack Barry and Winky:

A few years later, Jack would be caught in the infamous "Twenty One" quiz show scandal which almost ruined his career.  I remember him best from The Joker's Wild.

Winky is Winky Dink who I met here.

 The face that needs no introduction.  Just hitting it big, he would be dead by year's end:  

 WISH-TV is still in operation and is still a CBS affiliate:

Who knew in 1955 what fate held for Johnny Carson and how big of an impact he would make on the medium:

There's that address again:

In fact every TV News in this book was sent to the same man who apparently autographed the front of the book along with the date June 10, 1955 and the cryptic message "Big (4) Page 28". Then I realized, it wasn't the date he signed the book, it was a clue to go look at that particular issue and page number. So I did and, AHA!

There's John Hodges on the standing bass, part of a jazz quartet known as The Big Four.  Note that he was also the "novelty singer" meaning he covered Spike Jones' numbers. It was his moment in the sun and he was going to make sure no one forgot it. But why bind 6 months of issues for one page. It remains a mystery for the ages. The house these issues were mailed to still stands.

They're modest homes, so I don't think John achieved the riches and recognition for which he may have hoped.  But never fear, John, you have been immortalized on the internet -- a medium which has come to replace the one which you so embraced.  So many channels url's -- so many choices.

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