TV Memories

As far as I can remember, we had a TV.  It looked something like this;

No rabbit ear antenna, though – we had the aluminum kine on our roof.

Living on the other side of the Koolau’s, we needed all the help we could get to pull in the TV signal.  And even then, we could only get channel 2, 4 and 9.  Channel 13 would come in a little bit – but it was like watching TV in a snowstorm.

Of course our TV shows were in black and white.

And when the TV would go on the blink, it meant removing the back of the TV and pulling out all the tubes.  Then taking them to Wigwam and use the tube tester to find out which was the bad tube.  Remember that?

Then later, someone gave us a solid state TV.  Still in black and white, but a clearer picture.  It was one of those that you put on a TV cart – something like this:

I spent so much time watching the Three Stooges and Little Rascals on that TV.  We made it a habit of putting the TV guide on the rack underneath the TV – which made sense because I had to walk up to the TV to change the channel so might as well leave the TV guide there.

Then we stepped up and got our first color TV.

Wow, it was like a brand new world.  You could actually tell which team was which when watching a game.  And you could play with the knobs to adjust the tint, contrast, color, etc.

Remember playing with the UHF channels?  Nothing ever came in, but it was fun trying.

And like most families, we had only 1 TV.  And that meant fighting over what to watch.  So my dad made this rule; if it was your turn to wash the dishes, including setting the table – then you had full control over the TV for that day.  Ho, so much power!  If there was something on that someone desperately wanted to watch – but it was your turn to “turn the TV” – you could score some good candy and stuff from them.

I remember when my brothers would want to watch something that I didn’t care for – like Rat Patrol, Star Trek, or Wild, Wild, West – I’d retreat to my bedroom and listen to songs on KKUA.

Summer time TV meant watching cartoons until 8:00 in the morning.  Then game shows for another couple of hours until the soap operas started.  That meant either time to go outside to play or watch “ETV” on channel 11.  I always opted to go play so I never grew up with Sesame Street, Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood, and all the other educational programs.

Remember falling asleep in front of the TV?  Especially when it was your turn to turn?  You’d be watching some show that everyone was bored with – including you – and you end up falling asleep.  Then someone tries to sneak up to the TV and turn the station, and quickly you wake up and yell “Eh, I watching!”.  lol   Aaaah, so much power.  It’s today’s equivalent of having control of the TV remote.

How about Saturday morning cartoons?  I think cartoons ran until about 10:00 in the morning.  That was two extra hours of cartoons!  But then Sunday morning made up for that as there were zero cartoons on.  Nothing but church shows on TV.  Sometimes we didn’t even bother turning on the TV.  Plus we had to go church anyway.

Weekdays meant turning on the TV to channel 9 at 3:00 to watch; “Here comes Checkers, here comes Checkers – Checkers! and Pogo Poge!”.  I’d watch Checkers and Pogo all the way to 5:00 when The Flintstones would come on.  And that would be followed by Gilligan’s Island.  I remember for a while they used to play F-Troop in place of Gilligan’s Island.  I guess that didn’t go over too well as they went back to Gilligan’s Island.

At 6:00, that meant “the news”.  That was dad’s half hour of TV.  Channel 9 ruled the airways back then.  Checkers and Pogo, Flintstones, Gilligan’s Island all lead up to Bob Sevey, Tim Tindall, Bob Jones and Joe Moore doing the Channel 9 news.

Sunday night TV – It started early with Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom followed by Let’s Go Fishing with Stan Wright and Hari Kojima.  Next it was The Wonderful World of Disney, Ed Sullivan Show, Carol Burnett Show.  Then it meant time to sleep because school the next day.  booooo.

Those are my small-kid-time TV memories.

What do you remember about TVs back before the days of cable?  What kind of TV did you have?  Notice I said TV because only the rich uncle/aunty had a second TV in their bedroom.  Share your TV memories with us.


52 Responses to “TV Memories”

  1. Ross Mihara says:

    As always you bring back great memories Rodney. One small kine correction — back in the good old days Let’s Go Fishing was hosted by Bruce Carter with Hari as his sidekick.

  2. JN says:

    Always enjoyed Checkers and Pogo after school, even sat in for one show at the old KGMB news building. After the show, they handed out a pretty good snack bag to us kids. Later, as a teenager, it was The Brady Bunch/Gilligan’s Island and What’s Happening/Welcome Back Kotter in the late afternoon.

    I gotta laugh about the roof-top antenna. As the youngest child, my older brothers made me climb the roof to rotate that thing…

  3. sameguydifferentchannel says:

    The Munsters was one of my favorite TV shows. I thought grandpa’s Dragula dragster was cool!

  4. sameguydifferentchannel says:

    On hot summer nights, like tonight, we’d sit in the dark watching TV with a tray of water below the screen to catch those flying termites. Outside, they’d be swarming around the street lights.

    • Seawalker says:

      Hear you, man. Parents had this feather duster to use on those pesky termites. When you held the duster up to the light bulb where they were having a party, the termites would congregate on to the feather duster. Then they shook it over a bucket of water and it got stuck there. Seems less of those termites flying around nowadays. Must be the global warming. Whatever you say, Dr. Seawalker!

  5. 4G says:

    Those earlier TV’s would take forever to start-up 🙁

  6. KC fan says:

    I remember my older sisters watching Lawrence Welk Show. Think there was a guy playing the accordion and the pop sound Lawrence did with his finger in his mouth.

  7. Seawalker says:

    Still here, @4G. In them younger days, my muddah used to pull my ear and twist and turn ’em when I used to yak too much. Hoe Lee Chet, it hurt! Same goes for writing on the blog. No like get one sore ear anymore.

    Think I saw Mr. Mortar Board in Costco one time. Had my Pake a$$ laughing in stitches. But good to know the buggah still alive and kickin’, no? What a stud!

    Eh, heard about the iPhone 8? 1,200 smackers.

  8. Rodney says:

    I remember my 2 older brothers sharing a story with me. One night they were monku’ing about having to always have to go sleep early when they wanted to watch TV. So my dad called their bluff and said “Okay, you guys like watch TV all night, go for it”. Ho, they were so happy. After a while they started to nod off until my dad shook them awake and said “Eh, you wanted to watch TV, so watch”. Then they start nodding off again and my dad started shaking them awake again until they were almost crying for him to let them go sleep.
    My dad – smart buggah.

  9. mows says:

    I remember my dad on the roof while my mom or brother would yell at him as he rotated the antenna as to which direction gave the best reception. This was our first color tv as well. Cannot recall the b&w one too much, vaguely remember seeing a bag of tubes. Would watch tv from the hall peering into the living room as I was supposed to have been in bed but with killdozer on who could sleep?

  10. 4G says:

    There was like a Zorro series, too, no?

  11. 4G says:

    My Favorite Martian

  12. 4G says:


    The Lone Ranger

    The Roy Rogers Show

    Mister Ed

    Oh – Captain Kangaroo! LOL

  13. 4G says:

    Eh, @Seawalker – where you stay? 😉

    I saw @KAN mentioned Professor Fun . . . . 😀

  14. 4G says:

    Captain Honolulu and that hand sign over your eyes 😉

    Robin Mann (Romper Room) had to be one of my earliest crushes. *sigh* LOL

  15. sameguydifferentchannel says:

    Checkers and Pogo On The Go! The one on Dole Cannery was among my favorites…little did I know that I’d spend 3 summers there. It’s a neat look back though, the sights and SMELLS! And old ladies going, “C’mon boy-san pick up your pine!” hahaha

    • mows says:

      Ah yes the one about the patented ginaca machine. My favorite was the zoo where the hippo attacked the camera man; so exciting real tv before reality tv.

  16. sameguydifferentchannel says:

    While watching Checkers and Pogo, “Max, the 2000 Year Old Mouse” probably taught me more about history than in any classroom at school! LOL

  17. sameguydifferentchannel says:

    Remember cigarette ads?
    Come to Marlboro country

  18. Rodney says:

    I remember the Don Shaw and Mike Salta car dealer commercials used to come on late at night. Cheap air times.

  19. sameguydifferentchannel says:

    When Bob Lowrey’s “The Beard’s Weird Movie” was on, my cousin and I hid under the couch with our Mattel tommy guns and blasted monsters when they appeared. LOL

  20. M says:

    The TV stations would sing off at midnight and play the Star-Spangled Banner.

  21. sameguydifferentchannel says:

    One of our childhood heroes: Kaze Kozo

  22. sameguydifferentchannel says:

    “Stay tuned for technical difficulties.”

  23. sameguydifferentchannel says:

    Always wondered about UHF vs VHF. All I know is one didn’t work.

  24. sameguydifferentchannel says:

    I recall turning off the TV and the screen would turn black except for a small lighted dot in the middle that remained for a few moments. I’d run up to peek in and see if there was any image there…LOL

  25. M says:

    I remember watching The Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show in their first American TV appearance.

  26. losthawaiian says:

    Hey Rodney, didn’t checkers and pogo also have speed racer and princess knight?? I remember watching Astro Boy in black and white. Kazi Kozo on ch. 13 and then later Toyama no kinsan and Koya no suronin(sp?) with toshio mifune.

    • Rodney says:

      Hi @losthawaiian – I vaguely remember watching Princess Knight in the morning. I kinda remember that Checker and Pogo also had other shows inserted – like the Banana Splits as @KCfan mentioned.
      How come KIKU channel 13 came in for you folks – you lived only up the block from me. LOL Maybe we had junk antenna.

  27. KC fan says:

    I remember “Let’s go Fishing” with a guy named Bruce Carter.He liked drinking Olympia beer. Think that was a sponsor.Our first tv was a Zenith black and white. Didn’t get color tv for years. If I remember, there was a kids show called “The Banana Splits”. Think they were dogs with a program and cartoons in between.

    • Rodney says:

      That’s right – Bruce Carter was the host in the 70’s. Stan Wright came on later from ’77.
      And yes, the Banana Splits was shown during the Checkers and Pogo show, I believe.

      • KAN says:

        Yes, Banana Splits and Danger Island (“uhoh, CHONGO!”) both appeared during Checkers and Pogo. Remember Professor Fun?

  28. 4G says:

    I’m not aware of a time in my life where TV didn’t exist. I’m not sure exactly when TV became a mainstream household appliance in the islands, but it must have been either before and close to when I was born since I can’t really remember a time without it being present.

    Being a townie, we were able to get away with either an (external) indoor antenna, or the rabbit ears that were built-in to the set. The fancier external antennas had kind of a “channel selector” knob on them – kind of like the tuner knob on the TV. For the life of me, that knob on the antenna never really seemed to make that much of a difference.

    I remember attaching aluminum foil “flags” to the antennae in a effort to improve the reception. I believe the results were marginal, at best. What seemed to work best is having someone stand next to the antenna and grasp one of them in their hands. Kind of hard to see the TV from that position, though. 🙁

    My grandparents out in Waialua had to have a mast-mounted antenna. It must have been like 30′ tall – and the reception still sucked! LOL.

    Not only were the channels very limited back then, but the mainland programming was shown on a week’s delay. I was really happy when cable TV finally was available because there were so many more channels to choose from (in addition to the far superior picture quality).

    Oh – and the TV stations would actually sign-off at night (and back on in the morning). No 24-hour TV like we have today.

    It’s funny that KGMB had the strongest over-the-air signal in the analog days, but now seems to have one of the weakest over-the-air signals in the current digital version. Why is that? It really sucks. LOL.

    I remember several trips to GEM with a couple of brown paper grocery bags filled with vacuum tubes with my dad to test the tubes.

    Ever splash a few droplets of water on a black and white TV tube and notice how colors would shine through? Cheap man’s color TV? Not!

    I don’t remember exactly when we finally got a color TV, but it must have been in my later years of intermediate school, at the earliest. I seem to remember RCA TV’s almost exclusively from those early years. They were mostly console TV’s, too – the big, heavy suckers . . . . Wireless remote control wouldn’t come for me until much later (like the early 80’s?). The closest was the long-wired box for controlling channels that came as your “cable box”. It had a row (or, was it two-rows?) of like 10-15 small, rectangular buttons that you would press for the channel – worked like the old style car radio selector buttons. It also had a “shift” switch that effectively doubled the number of channels that could be selected.

    It strikes me that TV for me and my parents generation is like computers for my daughter and my generation. Both revolutionary products but newfangled for the older generation, and just a matter-of-fact fact of life for the newer generation. What was it for our parents’ generation – radio? LOL

    I remember, a couple of years ago – my daughter tells me that she cannot listen to sports on the radio. I guess so – if you’re not used to it, it probably takes some imagination and attention to keep up. Nothing like necessity, eh? 😉

    • Rodney says:

      @4G – I remember the one-week delay of shows. That sucked when we had to watch Christmas episodes when Christmas was already pau. Same with Thanksgiving, Easter, and all the other major holidays.

      I remember the cable box you’re talking about. My friend’s mom was one of the first to get cable and she had that box with all the radio buttons like you said. The reception was so clear compared to over the air so my friend connected his bedroom TV to the front TV. Only problem was whatever channel his mom was watching, he had to watch. And he used to get frustrated when she went channel surfing. LOL

    • sameguydifferentchannel says:

      @4G, for real, no? KGMB had the clearest (least amount of ghost) picture. For us, KHON had the most ghost.

  29. Rodney says:

    Remember playing with the vertical hold knob? The picture would scroll with the black line dividing it. And you had to turn the knob to get the picture centered just right. Turn it too much and it begins to scroll the other way.

  30. Rodney says:

    Remember when our parents said “No watching TV after school”? But we watched anyway and when the car came home we quickly turned it off. Then they ask “were you watching TV?” and we’d say “No.” Then they go feel the side of the hot TV. lol BUSTED!

  31. 96744girl says:

    Living in Kahaluu, we only had one channel until 4th grade. That was Channel 9. However, on the plus side, we were one of the first areas to have cable installed.

    • Rodney says:

      @96744girl – Thanks for posting your TV memories! I could imagine that Kaneohe and Kahaluu people who lived right next to the mountain had a hard time getting a signal. Channel 9 was smart to have the strongest TV signal.

  32. jaydee11 says:

    Our first tv was a Zenith, black and white with remote control. If my sister dropped her purse (which had a chain link handle) the channel would change.

    When we got a color tv everybody thought we were rich. lol. I remember the first show we watched in color was The Wonderful World of Disney… it was amazing!

  33. Bruddah Sam says:

    Sundays were my favorite time to watch TV. My grandma liked kung fu theatre in the mornings, then we’d watch the samurai and other Japanese programming in the evening. She was a cool grandma, and we bonded over shows most other adults in my life didn’t care about.

  34. Kristie says:

    I’m LOL about the “Eh, I’m watching,” after falling asleep part!! Wendell and I still do that!! 😂 Funny we watched a lot of the same programs. I remember we had a black and white TV with rabbit ears and tin foil! I remember the local CBS news team too and when we only had three 3 major networks and PBS and they Japanese channel which used to bed on channel 13 if I recall correctly… Loved Checkers and Pogo and when I was young watched all the educational programs on PBS, then went outside to play! PBS was my Romper Room… What a nice trip down memory lane!

  35. HbH says:

    For me I remember the original KIKU-TV with kikaida and other japanese hero programs. We had it good back then.

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