“From Chicago it’s Wrestling at Marigold Arena!”
That’s all it took to send our family rushing for seats in front of the new television set during the early 1950s.
Much to our surprise, Dad had recently made the monumental appliance investment. After all, he wasn’t the sort to splurge on an expensive, new fangled item. At least not until most of the neighborhood had already taken the plunge.
But there it was – rich reddish-brown mahogany cabinet sporting a large rectangular gray window dominating a big chunk of the living room. Twice the floor space the console radio had occupied just a few weeks before. A new form of entertainment that was definitely dominating our lives.
Everyone loved the new Philco. Each weekend our house would fill with extended family. We would also share the living room with the likes of Milton Berle, Sid Caesar, Lucy Ball and Ed Sullivan. The list seemed endless.
Yet with this phenomenal assortment of entertainment available the main draw each weekend was Saturday night’s professional wrestling.
Laying claim to the two choicest seats Grandpa and Grandma Rood would settle in for some serious action. The buzz of conversation would instantly fall to silence with one disquieting glance from our patriarch.
Normally not one to advocate violence in any form. Grandmother would be at the edge of her seat grunting and groaning as Ivan Rasputin applied unmercifully a scissor hold to Verne Gagne.
My soft-spoken grandfather would turn the air blue as he shouted protests to an official for not noticing the illegal flying armlock Killer Kowalski violently forced upon Gorgeous George sending him to the mat.
Popcorn would fly as my reserved grandparents registered their dissatisfaction with the sudden defeat of Pat O’Conner thanks to the sinister sleeper hold executed by Mr. Moto.
One Saturday night, as the final match came to a close and the action interrupted by a message from the sponsors, my father brought the house down.
“I think it’s all fake!” he said as he exited to the kitchen for a refill of popcorn.
Never had I seen my grandparents more incensed. It was as if he had questioned the legitimacy of our government.
It took some sweet talking to keep them from leaving in a huff. I believe Mom even brought out the cherry pie she had baked for Sunday dinner.
I wonder if that particular episode had anything to do with Grandpa buying a television set the next week?
(Ed Rood is the former publisher of the Tri-County Times. He lives near Cambridge.)