Rail Kid: Before TV

By Terry Economy | Sep 09, 2011

One day, my 10-year-old grandson, TJ, while visiting, came up to me and said "Grampy, what did you do during the summertime when you were young beforetelevision and computers?"


As he sat on my lap with his arms around me, I said, "TJ, it was a different era than today."


We went swimming at Sandy Beach and Chickawaukie Lake, or wwimming and picnics at Sandy Shores in Warren. We played baseball without uniforms at a local field. When it rained, we went to a afternoon movie. During the early evening we went to Schofield Park, sat on a banking, and watched the adults play softball. The best part about that on the way home after the game. it was a a ritual to walk up Main Dtreet and stop at Louie's Hot Dog stand and get a hot dog and soda for 25 cents. Now remember, we didn't have MacDonalds or Burger King back then.


Other evenings and Sunday afternoons, we would go to Community Park on Broadway and sit in a wooden grandstand that had a screen in front of it to watch semi-pro Knox-Lincoln baseball that involved our hometown teams, the Rockland Pirates and the Rockland Rockets. We got to know all the players and their uniform numbers.


In the summer of 1948, the first night baseball game was played at Community Park between the Knox-Lincoln league All Stars and a team from Augusta, called the Millionaires, which was made up of college baseball players from Maine. It was quite a thrill at that time to watch baseball at night. They had portable poles with lights attached on them. Some high fly balls were lost in the darkness because the poles were limited in height.


The major league baseball games were available on radio. The only time you would see a picture of a major league game was during the World Series when you went to a movie and watched the highlights during a news feature.


As kids, we played games in the evenings, such as kick the can or hide a seek. We had to be home before nine to wash up, listen to a radio serial program like the Inner Sanctum, The Shadow, Lum and Abner, Jack Benny, or some other popular radio programs at that time. Then a snack and off to bed to say our prayers and finally to sleep.


"Gosh Gramps," TJ said. "You had a lots of things to do during the summer."


I said: "Yes all of that and I still had time to work part-time in our family store, Economy's Fruit and deliver newspapers in the mornings."


TJ reached for the TV remote control, turned on the set and started to watch the preview movie guide. He selected a movie, "Wild Wild West" and we both started to watch it. The next I knew, Grammy came into the room with a bowl of popcorn. As I munched away, my thoughts went back 50 or more years ago, sitting at the Strand or Park theater, watching a movie with a box of popcorn. I was still thinking about telling TJ of my boyhood years in Rockland and how much fun summer was then.


The only problem it had to come to an end so school could start in the fall.








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