Apr 29, 2007

TV in the "Old Days"

"Death Valley Days" began as a radio program in 1930 and featured stories of the old West. I've looked for reruns of the popular TV series that appeared in the 50s and early 60s, but they never seem to be rebroadcast. Before he became Governor and then President, Ronald Reagan was host of the series and starred in eight episodes. The show is ranked as #3 of the longest running anthology series on TV.

The stories on "Death Valley Days" were all of a historical nature (a "true western adventure") and were sponsored by U.S. Borax (20 Mule Team Boraxo). [The borax mine in Nevada is now owned by Rio Tinto, and the Boraxo soap name is owned by Dial.

One program featured Ronald Reagan who played a Protestant minister who was asked by a widow to discipline her son. The minister hesitated, but finally agreed after the widow insisted that the 13-year old boy needed to be whipped for being very bad. After the boy had been beaten with the minister's belt, he cried and asked the minister "Who beats you when you're bad?" I've always remembered Reagan's slow and sorrowful answer, "When I'm bad, I beat myself."

I highly encourage readers to view an example "Death Valley Days" TV program by clicking on the sidebar, "Episode Webcasts". The half-hour free episode "Fifty Years a Mystery" gives a flavor of the many good TV programs we kids saw over 50 years ago.

In particular, look at the Boraxo commercials with Rosemary DeCamp and ask yourself if you would mind looking at this type of commercials again. Also note the number of commercial minutes in the program. You will ask yourself how our public airways became so fouled and with much, much longer commercials. You may want to point this out to the Federal Communications Commission which is supposed to protect the interests of American citizens--not the TV owners!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Very interesting post. I've
never been to Nevada, but I've
been to 20 Mule Team Road just
outside of Boron, California
in the Mojave Desert a number of
times, and I can say that I know
some of the earliest California
families to inhabit the
Fresno/Bakersfield area.

So, I have a keen sense of the
Zeitgeist of the older days in
the Western United States, and
there is a profound culture
there that has been all but
obliterated by the sick, bizarre,
TV-culture of our times.

As I get older, I see all of this
as extremely important -- our
traditional Catholicism, our
culture, our family values. All
of it is of a piece: If your
family is prayerful, the Old Mass
will seem much more acceptable,
even to the youngest children;
and the culture will ultimately
benefit from families like yours.

One thing I'd like to point out
at this time, however, is that
there is really no reason why
the times and culture of days
past should completely disappear.
What I have in mind to keep it
from doing so is this: A sort of
EWTN for trads -- solid traditional
Catholic Masses and prayers, along
with the Reagan-esque (and earlier)
sort of fair that will keep
traditional families interested.
Also, much more modern TV series
could also be incorporated, with
newer movies and sitcoms to keep
everyone interested. As much as
I love Old California, I know that
the times one lives in will always
change. I'm not against the times
of today, but I am against the
sickness of it that has crept
into our daily lives. Also, the
sort of historical documentaries
of local churches that one sees on
other blogs could be made much
more interesting if done on video.
Everyone knows that video is one
of the most powerful forms of
communication that exist; and to
use it in almost ANY form would
benefit traditional Catholicism

So, there it is: I'd love to see
a trad-TV-network get started, and
available at least on the Internet
if not on cable television. It
will take a lot of time, effort,
and money, but if we can make it
happen the world will certainly
benefit. If anyone is interested,
please post here and we'll get
in touch with one another.