Growing Up On a Small Farm Near a Small Town
Now I get more TV channels than I can keep track of and, oh, about 75% of the time...there's nothing on. Oh, I mean there's something on, but there's nothing on. Hard as it is to believe, it wasn't always that way.
Back there in the 'old days', in the dust bin of my memory, back there on that little farmstead just a short mile south of Leota, that big 'ol Motorola television got 2 channels. Yep, 2! And you know what? There was always something on!
You had your KELO and you had your KSOO. Which one did we watch the most? Well, as I recall, it would be whichever one had a western on or the Beverly Hillbillies. Those were the ones that my dear departed Pa liked and so we did, too. If Matt Dillon is hitting on Miss Kitty or Ben cartwright is teaching the boy's a Ponderosa lesson, we were watching.
But there was one more thing, one more amazing thing!
If it was rainy, foggy, drizzling, and just generally yucky...wow, there's a third channel!
It might come from Mitchell, South Dakota (a million miles away, I was pretty sure) or more likely Sioux City, Iowa (a million miles away, but in a whole other direction). Somehow that fog and drizzle carried that far-away picture all the way to Leota, Minnesota. And no, it didn't carry it 'clear'. There was snow through that picture, but it was there just the same.
I didn't know how that magic worked, but I thought maybe it was one of those 'the Lord works in mysterious and wonderful ways' things. When the weather was just a bit too miserable to take a ball and bat and play outside, He gave us another TV channel to watch.
All these decades later I have a great friend and co-worker named Engineer Mike. I was talking to him about that one time, about how if the weather was clear as a bell, we only got the 2 stations, but when things got foggy and wet, we got that third one. And he knew exactly why that was (you see, Engineer Mike is a whole lot smarter than me...hard to believe). He explained it to me, starting out by saying 'You see when the atmosphere...'.
I don't really remember the rest. My attention span for that sort of thing is about the same as it was when I was ten, and that third channel came into our farmhouse. I didn't know how, I didn't care how I just liked it.
It doesn't seem all that long ago when we'd turn on the TV set and wait...and wait...and wait. And there it was, the picture in pure beautiful black-and-white (That NBC peacock was black-and-white at our house for quite some time). And when you turned it off, the picture would dissolve into a little white dot until...poof! Gone.
100 channels now, and nothing on.
2 channel's then (except when the weather was yucky) and 1 mesmerized little boy.