Paul and I perused the channels on my family’s ultra-modern new television set hoping to find a great color show. Zippo. Every progarm was in black and white. I wanted to impress Paul, my new companion, and so far, the Quasar – Motorola’s beautiful twenty-four inch console set – was letting me down.
Things changed at precisely two o’clock.
“Oh, wait, flip back. Flip back,” Paul said.
I cranked the Motorola’s spiffy all-metal dial back one click to the opening credits of a movie.
“It, the Terror From Beyond Space! This could be cool,” I said.
“Look, look how clear the title is,” Paul replied. “You’d never be able to see that on your old Silvertone set.”
So blown away by crisp picture quality, we’d forgotten the fact the movie was in black and white. We didn’t care. The alien creature creating havoc inside the spaceship’s darkly-lit hull devoured our attention. To us, this standard 50’s sci-fi flick was a classic.
Halfway through It, I cried out, “Look at the scales on the monster’s skin!”
“And look! Look! There’s a zipper!”
“On his back …”
“It’s really a rubber suit …”
“It can’t be …”
“It’s a rubber suit!”
“It’s so fake …”
“And look, now he’s picking some guy up …”
“And twirling him around …”
“Like he’s gonna heave him …”
“But it’s so fake …”
“Just showing their shadows …”
“I know …”
“Instead of them …”
“I know …”
“So the zipper doesn’t show …”
“I know …”
“I hate that …”
“I hate that.”
However, It got clobbered in the end. But what a bad finale that was. The monster was our hero. How could the American astronauts, dressed in hokey space suits, zap It before he reached the ship’s cheesy-looking control room to eat everyone in sight? I was so let down.
After Paul went home, sudden pangs of nostalgia came over me for the Silvertone set my family had owned forever. It sat in the corner of the basement now, unplugged, abandoned, collecting dust. The beautiful, ash-colored television had once been the family’s universe, producing a relentless drone close to sixteen hours a day. Occasionally, Dad had spoken over the Silvertone in anger when its fifteen inch screen shrank to eleven by nine after the horizontal and vertical holds got their way with things. With the all-encompassing love for our new Motorola, I knew the Silvertone’s worn-out tubes and technology would be hauled away soon.
Sure enough, a few weeks later, the set was gone. Both the Silvertone and It had been beaten by technology. Just as the creature was left alone to decay on Mars’ barren landscape, I imagined the frightening sight of my cathode comrade dumped in a landfill somewhere, disrespected, with no funeral service conducted or head stone prepared. I’d have appreciated its ashes being put into a nice urn, or a Kool Aid pitcher if we couldn’t afford the urn, or at least sprinkled around the Quasar as a respectful remembrance. I would miss my companion terribly. After all, before Paul, the Silvertone was the best friend I had.
This is an excerpt from my memoir, Maybe Boomer. The post honors the fifty-seventh anniversary of It! The Terror From Beyond Space and its August, 1958 debut. Note: the film takes place in the “far off future” – 1973!