Color in Shades of Grey

Cropped screenshot of Loretta Young from the t...

When I was a little girl, we had a great big piece of furniture that sat in the center of one wall with the davenport, rocking chair, and Dad’s big recliner facing it: the black and white TV set. I had nothing but B&W TV until I was grown and had children, it was probably somewhere around the time I needed to replace mine and B&Ws were no longer made.

My sister, Deanna could see in color on our TV screen.

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“I wonder why Loretta Young is wearing a red hat with that outfit.” she said. I looked up from my We Were there on the Santa Fe Trail and squinted at the shades-of-grey picture.

“How do you know that’s red?” I asked her.

“It’s gotta be red. See, her coat is Navy Blue.” she rolled her eyes at me like she had the patience of Job. Loretta Young’s coat looked black to me, I went back to my book. Well, I had to admit, I could see a lot of color in my book, and that was all black and white, too, so maybe Deanna had the same skill, only with the TV.

When color TV first came out, the NBC peacock was at full-screen size and a deep bass voice declared: Brought to you in Living Color, and the peacock’s tail rippled in a wave of different shades of grey, still the show was in black and white. I suppose this got a lot of people buying color TV sets, but not my Mom and Dad, they had better things to spend money on, like good shoes for everybody.

Dad’s friend-from-work invited the whole family over to watch Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color in Living Color; then I got to see what the NBC’s peacock’s tail looked like. Deanna said she couldn’t  see any difference; that’s when I knew for sure that she could see shows on our B&W TV in color; she had some kind of super power that I only had when I was reading a book. I could see a whole rainbow on that color TV set, it was neat-o, keen-o. Continue reading