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The Spectator
founded 2004 by ron cruger
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 by Frank Shortt
Television: A Career Decider
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The Shortts were a poor Appalachian Mountain family that had few pleasures in life.

Dad was a coal miner who was paid as little as the mine owners could jaw him down to as there were several men waiting in line for his job if he refused to work for such low wages. This was the way it was in pre-Korean war Buchanan County, Virginia.

Before television we had an old battery radio that someone gave dad for a song or two. We listened to it late into the night if we could sneak to it without being caught by our parents.

The programs we listened to were of the crime, cowboy, or comedy variety, called the three Cís of Radio. The crime shows were Dragnet, I was a Communist for the FBI, or any other one that came our way. The cowboy ones were The Lone Ranger with Brace Beemer, Have Gun Will Travel with John Dehner, Gunsmoke with William Conrad, The Six Shooter, with Jimmy Stewart, Doc Six Gun with Karl Weber, The Gene Autry Show, Hopalong Cassidy with William Boyd, and whatever else we came across. The comedy shows were The Jack Benny Show, The Red Skelton Show, Fibber McGee and Molly, Our Miss Brooks, and the Lucy and Desi show. There were also a lot of specials that came our way as a bonus.

Then came television! We could not afford one! The only one around was the one at Mr. Altizerís dry goods store. God only knows how much we aggravated Mr. and Mrs. Altizer. We would use any excuse to go to his store just to get a glimpse of the precious t.v. set. It was a magical box that brought the radio characters to life. Oh, to just be able to relive those days of yesteryear! We finally got to see how Eve Arden looked, as well as, John Dehner, Jimmy Stewart, Jack Benny, Red Skelton, and a host of others. After a bout with Mr. Altizerís T.V. we Shortt children had ammunition for at least a week of outdoor play. We would try to emulate our favorite characters and did play after play toward meeting the goal of mimicking them all.

The shows we sneaked up to Altizers and watched were: Boston Blackie with Kent Taylor, Sagebrush Theater, usually with Jimmy Wakely, (Saturday afternoon)  The Cid Caesar and Imogene Coca show, (Saturday Night) Steve Allen Show, Davy Crockett, Boxing, Wrestling, Superman, Dragnet, Perry Mason, The Cisco Kid, The Herb Shriner Show, Frontier Doctor, The Gene Autry Show, The Jack Benny Show, The Lone Ranger, (now Clayton Moore), Captain Kangaroo, The Roy Rogers Show, Tombstone Territory, Walt Disney Presents, You Bet Your Life (Groucho Marx and his cigar), Amos and Andy, Howdy Doody, Milton Berle, and a host of others I cannot remember!

I was a very impressionable child and always wanted to be a cowboy. It is unfortunate that television and the movies gave the wrong impression of being a cowboy. In actuality, the life of riding the range was not glamorous at all, only if one liked eating hard tack and fat bacon and sleeping on the ground! After going through basic training for the military, I had a change of heart and chose to be an airman for six years total and becoming a school district employee for the remainder of my working career!

I would venture to say that a lot of careers were decided by what was seen on the little and big screens. These dreams faded into nothingness as reality was faced!