Earlier generations didn’t need T.V.

Earlier generations didn't need T.V. By: Bob Karolevitz
Writer at Large The stereoscope was the television of the 19th century. After a hard dayâ�?�?s work, a guy could sit back in his rocking chair and transport himself into the far reaches of the world. The double-view cards â�?�? when seen through the twin lenses â�?�? gave a strange third dimensional view of being there. From the Boer War to the Battle of Slim Buttes, up the Missouri River by paddle- wheel steamer and off to the valley of the Nile went the parlor-bound traveler. To the Crimea, to the Alps of Switzerland, to romantic, mysterious India he roamed without disruption by commercial messages on the picture tube. It was an entertaining, educational way to relax, to forget the problems of the day. The simple pleasures of the stereoscope would be viewed as square and cornball by later generations, but it was the best 19th century folks had to offer. The stereoscope was a one-person means of entertainment, but the whole family could always enjoy a popular game of Parcheesi, a domino game or a few hands of rummy or euchre (if the â�?�?devil cardsâ�? werenâ�?�?t outlawed in the home by religious beliefs.) Or they could all gather around the pump organ and sing Polly Wolly Doodle All the Day. (It was the Mares Eat Oats and Does Eat Oats and Little Lambs Eat Ivy of the era.) A button concertina brought from the Old Country, a mail-order Jewâ�?�?s harp and a squeaky fiddle could always add to the musical entertainment. If the family had a gramophone, they could all listen to John Philip Sousa, Enrico Caruso, Jenny Lind or the Three Black Crows at the same time. Reading was a popular pastime, too, although flickering kerosene lamps and even the new-fangled carbide gaslights were not conducive to lengthy book sessions. Even the seven-pound edition of the Sears Roebuck catalogue soon found itself relegated to the three-holer out back. The Bible, of course, was the favored fare in that era of uncomplicated, unchallenged beliefs. That was how the good families of that long ago time spent their evenings â�?�? no television to fight over programs or whether Monday night football should take over the set. In those days â�?�? before video â�?�? stereoscopes were preferred by many folks for their entertainment â�?�? unfortunately, they only had one channel, and that was used by whoever got there first! �?© 2008 Robert F. Karolevitz

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