The First TV Set In Success Park

More Childhood Memories of Bridgeport, Connecticut

Provided by John Babina
(Edison 1955, Hall 1956, Notre Dame 1961; and Success Park)

        My father worked at the GE plant on Boston Avenue and Bond Street in the radio and TV department. As a result, he was able to obtain an early development model (HM226-7A) television console with AM/FM radio in 1943. The console was huge by today’s standards for the size of the viewing screen. The noted GE TV model came with 6”, 9” and 12” viewing areas and we were lucky to have obtained the “big” screen model.  [Limited commercial TV broadcasting actually began from New York City in July of 1941.]

        We moved to Success Park in July of 1944 and he set up the TV console in the living room (View), using a makeshift outdoor antenna made out of wood supports. Here are Ada and John Babina and the new TV set in 1944 (View). Soon there were complaints about the unsightly appearance of the antenna and a petition was circulated to that affect. In the interim, he had to use an indoor curtain rod in a closet near the upstairs window. A compromise was struck on the antenna placement and my father would put up the outdoor antenna during the evening hours and take it down during the day. I have a picture of myself with the antenna lying on the ground in the back yard circa 1946 (View).

        In addition, my parents would open up the house for major telecasts, which were typically heavyweight championship boxing matches. The first telecast heavyweight championship fight was between Joe Lewis and Billy Conn on June 19, 1946. Every conceivable chair and floor space was taken up with neighbors. To accommodate the large crowd, my father reflected the image out the window with two big mirrors and there were an uncounted number of people standing on the front lawn.

        The Howdy Doody show began telecasts on December 27 of 1947. Soon, our apartment would have a floor filled with Success Park kids watching the 5PM telecasts. We had our own local “Peanut Gallery”!

        As an interesting side note, there was an experimental 250 foot UHF TV* tower placed on Success Hill in the Remington Woods in November of 1949. The red light at the top of the tower was controlled by a timer and it would come on precisely at 5pm. Since the red light was visible from the Success ball field, the kids started using it as a cue for the start of Howdy Doody and they would pour into our living room.

        In the early 50s, TV sets would proliferate throughout Success Park and the antenna issue became moot, as each apartment building was festooned with antennas. [There is picture of the Success Park TV antennas “in full bloom” in the THEN picture of Ed Zapatka, located in the East Siders site Member Listing]

        TV killed the movie theater business and the Highway Theatre would be the last movie theater built (1952) in Connecticut for a decade.

*(This was the first UHF TV station in the U.S. and it was installed by RCA and NBC. [Call sign: KC2XAK, on 530 megacycles] The experimental station rebroadcast WNBT-TV channel 4 out of New York for approximately 2 years. WNBT-TV was the early call sign for WNBC-TV.)

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