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My TV Hobby

photos and story by George Mock

George’s unusual photographic hobby started by “accident”

Images George photographed in 1951 from his 17” Coronet tv. l-r: Jack Benny & Bob Crosby; Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin; Jerry Lester; Jerry Lester with his sidekick Dagmarr

Late Winter, 1950: my wife Isabel slips on ice and breaks her ankle in three places. That fall was to doom her to over six months of immobility.

Isabel required an operation involving a 3” pin to keep everything together. Every two weeks her cast was changed with huge cutters.

Isabel still smiling after breaking her ankle in three places.

Due to the severity of the break, Isabel could not have a walking cast. To keep her from going bonkers we decided to buy our first TV – a 17” Coronet built on Walker Road in Windsor. It was black and white, of course. This huge, heavy, ugly box took up the best part of the only table we had, but it did break up the monotony for Isabel.

In 1951 I joined the Photographic Guild of Detroit. A couple of my friends and I would make the monthly trip on the tunnel bus to Detroit city hall, then walk across downtown to the hotel where the meetings were held. (Can’t imagine doing that now.) I submitted black and white photos, enlarged to 16” x 20”, to the three-judge panel of the beginner’s group. If my photo received enough votes it was awarded one point. I had ten photos accepted which earned me the B pin, and I then moved on to the advanced (A) group.

I was always looking for the “right picture.” Since the overcast skies of winter do not provide incentive to get out there in the cold. I needed an exercise to stay inside. Why not take pictures off the TV?

The first good camera I owned was a Rollei twin lens reflex, which took 2” x 2” negatives and was mounted on a tripod. It was the best for all around photography. Isabel’s only complaint was that the camera, tripod and me were always blocking her view of the television!

None of my fellow photographers had attempted this before. (The fact that not everyone had a television back then might have had something to do with that.) I learned by trial and error that the shutter speed had to be 1/30th of a second due to the lines that make up the picture on the screen. I tried to get a reasonable F-stop to keep the depth of field in lines. Focusing was done manually.

Jerry Lester (one of the first stars with a variety program) and his buxom blonde sidekick, Dagmarr, were a weekly favourite. Of course, Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis kept us all laughing for many years. Another very popular show was “What’s My Line” with Dorothy Kilgaleen, Bennet Surf, Arlene Francis, Hal Bloc and – everybody’s favourites – Jack Benny and Bob Crosby.

Before “Hockey Night in Canada” we were able to get Detroit Red Wing hockey games, I believe through WWJ-TV, Channel 4, with the venerable Bud Lynch doing the announcing.

George’s picture of a game between Detroit and Montreal with Terry Sawchuck in goal and big #9 Gordie Howe. Face off probably Syd Abel for Detroit, Gerry McNeil in goal. Notice no face masks.

And who could forget “Friday Night Fights”? I think our wives went bananas over this weekly ritual and the “man thing” that come hell or high water, we had to watch them. Today I can’t stand watching fights.

The icing on the cake for my efforts was being able to get a close up of Princess Elizabeth on her October 1951 visit to Windsor.

Occasionally, I still take a picture off the tube, but it is in colour and taken with a digital camera. In the old days I would go to the basement with a finished roll of film and spend an hour setting up before I could develop the pictures. Now, thanks to the wonder of computers, I scan most of my pictures right away and burn them on CD’s for our children as keepsakes. This is a great means of protection if anything happens to the original albums, too.

George Mock is the webmaster for both the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) Chapter 185 and the Sun Parlor Radio Control Flyers. Both are non profit organizations that deal with airplanes and photography for full size and models.

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