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Happy Halloween: 1958

October 1958, somewhere in Pennsylvania. Big brother is ready for a night of trick-or-treating. Rob from the rich, and share with your understudy! Our fourth selection from a batch of Kodachrome slides found on eBay. View full size.

October 1958, somewhere in Pennsylvania. Big brother is ready for a night of trick-or-treating. Rob from the rich, and share with your understudy! Our fourth selection from a batch of Kodachrome slides found on eBay. View full size.

On Shorpy:
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Re: Wracking

The prime stuff in the loot bag were chocolate bars, smaller than the full-size bars that cost a dime and still smaller than the nickel versions, but larger than the mini-bars of today. Many Hallowe’en kisses, which was taffy of an indeterminate brown/gray color, and which seemed lame at the time but are for me, now, at the top of the nostalgia list. There were hard candies, too, either individually wrapped or a mini LifeSavers tube, far too many suckers, caramels, definitely Tootsie Pops and Tootsie Rolls, small bags of assorted squishy things or jelly beans, then loose stuff like apples or peanuts in the shell, thrown in by the handful. I don’t think there were mini bags of chips back then in the sixties. As for the apples, I didn’t eat them like treats because they weren’t treats, they were food, so I gave them straight to my mom who used them for lunches or desserts.

Re: Kid Picture! -> Happy's Story

While it's not 100% the same, and it definitely came later, I still have a picture frame (rounded, not squared, insets, the difference) just like that one in my office at home.

Of course, the office used to be my bedroom, when I moved into the house at 2 years old in 1968, before moving into the larger, side bedroom when my sister got married in 1978, before moving out back in 1992; I've just moved back into the home after inheriting it in 2016 with my parents passing.

The picture has NEVER had a child in it, instead, taken in said 1968, it has the picture of a dog, blown up from an old photograph taken at Christmas 1968. Said dog, "Happy," was a good girl, as little as I can remember of her from life, who somehow, even though she was probably only three or at most four at the time (she was a street rescue in 1963), knew my mom was pregnant with me prior to her giving birth and was my mom's constant companion during her (tough) pregnancy (my mom ended up with a classic Near Death Experience which I've only just talked with my wife of 27 years about last week at the end, to explain how tough it was). Happy was, by all reports, devoted to me.

In August, 1970, while walking through the under construction neighborhood around the corner from our home, I was walking/toddling in the road, while my parents and older sister walked in the grass. Happy was concerned, and kept trying to grab me and pull me onto the grass. A car came around the corner, driven by a newly licensed teenager arguing with a friend at too high a speed, not seeing the child in the road. Happy switched to pushing instead of pulling and pushed me out of the path of the car. My father carried her dying body back to our house; she died on the way home, only a block away, and we ended up burying her in the back yard. My father disliked being on that road for the rest of his life, and would go the long way if possible to avoid it when we had to go into that area.

My father loved dogs, but the only portrait he ever had of a dog of his was Happy (he did, admittedly, have lots of just photographs of other dogs), which had pride of place on his dresser from 1970 until 2016, when I inherited it. I have been told by a few so-called psychics who don't know this story that I have a guardian angel, always with me, a small-medium black and white dog (yes, a good description of Happy). Over the years, I've only met one dog, no matter how vicious or "Guard Dog"ish, who didn't warm up to me within minutes of meeting me (the one exception was psychotic, and ended up needing to be put down, and even that dog was generally friendlier with me even than his owner, and no, it was a Cocker Spaniel), and I thank her for that. She'll have pride of place in my home for as long as I live, just as she did in my fathers, still in that frame.


Dave, how do you know everything?

[Deitization. - Dave]

Wracking my brain

KathyRo, I came along a few years after this photo, but I don't really remember any fun size candy bars, and folks I knew were definitely not springing for full size candy bars. We generally got several pieces of small, individually wrapped candy. The ones I remember were hard candy, Smarties, Dum Dum and Tootsie Pops, Tootsie Rolls, and the dreaded Peanut Butter Kisses. If folks had a good year, you would get a box of Good N Plenty, Milk Duds or Boston Baked Beans. Finally, you might get a homemade treat like cookies, which were good, or popcorn balls, which always seemed to me to be made from leftovers from last month's movie nights. This is what I remember in my town - other areas might be different.

B/W vs Color

My grandfather refused to give up the first TV he purchased in about 1955, maybe 1956. It was a black and white, only thing he could get then. When color came out, he saw no reason to have one. I don't believe he was being cheap, contrary to what my mother thought. He finally ended up with a color TV when my mother bought one, set it up, and took his black and white away. My grandmother loved the new color set, so my grandfather lost out.

And I think I have a lot of my grandfather in me. No, I don't have a black and white TV, but, I much prefer the old black and white photos on this website than any of the original color ones. I will admit, though, that this one has to be one the best black and white color combos on the site:


There's a running joke about how many of this era RCA sets have the D broken off the Deluxe script, possibly snagged by dust rags. It's so common that there were reproduction scripts made. This photo proves it started very early on.

VIPs didn't wait for warm up.

Waiting for the old tube type TVs to warm up was a problem of the hoi polloi.

Presidents of the U.S. had better things to do than to wait for the many White House TVs to stabilize as they flitted around the various work areas (Richard Milhous Nixon was particularly irked by this) so their TVs were rewired so the tube filaments/heaters were on a separate circuit that was on all the time and was only shut off if a set wasn't expected to be used for an extended period.

When they entered a room and powered on a TV (usually with the switch at the lower end of the volume control knob rotation range), it sprang to (stable) life almost instantly as it merely had to turn on the B+, grid and flyback etc. voltages.

Maybe not so surprisingly, it was found that this didn't particularly cause the tubes to burn out that much more quickly as it eliminated many of the on-off thermal shocks that were the bane of tube filament life, which was in turn responsible for most sudden tube failures.

Solid state electronics brought instant TV warm up to the masses, but things seem to be regressing as we now have to wait for interconnected everythings to boot up and connect to the mothership.

This photo reminds me

that I closed on the house in which I live now on October 31, aka Halloween. No ghosts or goblins to speak of ... because they told me to keep my mouth shut.

Kid picture!

Is it just me, or did every American have a picture of their kids in that exact same frame? We had one of me holding the cat named Nameless. I was 8 in 1958.

Sorry, we had a 190inch Zenith (or was it Admiral?) in a black metal case with the speaker and controls on the side ... sitting on a wrought iron swivel stand. In the den downstairs, not the living room. I wasn't going to mention the TV, too late now.

Is little sister dressed as a clown,

or a loaf of Wonder Bread?

Is it just me?

So I'm the only one interested in the costumes and not the TV set? LOL.

Robin Hood is store bought but the clown looks like it could be homemade. I'd love to know what sewing machine was used and if it was a hand-me-down from Big Brother. Was the material purchased only for this costume or did Mom have a matching apron?

A picture says a thousand words but I'd like a few more in this case!

And speaking of explanations, can anybody describe the candy that went into that bag? Was anything individually wrapped back then? Could you get "fun size"?

Warming up the TV

My 30-something children don't know whether to believe me when I tell them that TVs of the era needed a few minutes to "warm up" before the picture appeared and came into focus. Also, they seem skeptical when I tell them that TV stations played the National Anthem and signed off for the night around midnight. And that if you turned on the TV early the next morning, you were likely to see nothing but a test pattern, which usually included a Native American in a headdress.

Those hidden control knobs

If I'm not mistaken, that center panel below the screen opened (downward, I believe) to reveal all those little knobs we kids were not supposed to touch like the vertical, horizontal, contrast,and brightness. Without rabbit ears they probably had a 75 ohm lead up to the roof antenna. Eventually Dad would get real sophisticated and install a "tenna rotor" device that would rotate the roof antenna with just a twist of the dial that sat on top of the TV!


Nixibunny. My very first thought was the smell that the television would emit. Your description is perfect. I might also add the sounds it would make as it warmed up as well.

1950's TV Memories

First we were told we had to sit at least five feet away from the screen or we would contract radiation sickness. There were pieces of filmy plastic one could purchase in transparent colors like green and yellow to instantly turn a black and white into a color TV (whatever color the plastic was). There was often nothing on in small towns in the hills that could receive only one or two channels, except a test pattern, but we would watch it anyway. At some time during the life of everyone's TV, there would be a failure of the "vertical/horizontal" knob which would cause the picture to continuously flip and STILL we would watch it. I remember my amazement of seeing the coronation of Queen Elizabeth taking place in Great Britain, in my own home in a small town in Ct. That was truly a miracle to me. Needless to say, I now find Skype absolute magic. We can only speculate at what is coming next.

I can smell that TV from here

There were nearly 20 tubes in that thing, warming up the room and lending a faint smell of roasting dust and melting wax capacitors.

Our kids will never know the joy of watching the picture dwindle to a shrinking white rectangle, then a little bright white spot in the middle of the screen when the set was turned off.

Winky Dink

The comments about the safety cover remind me of the vinyl screen you got so you could draw on the screen while watching Winky Dink. I think it was so you could draw paths to help him escape from some plot or another.

The TV

Forget the creepy John Wayne Gacy meets Wonderbread and store bought Robin Hood costumes. Yuck. That TV is the star of this scene. I can see it is RCA Victor at the top. I think it is black and white because the color sets of that era had a round sided picture tube. Only the b&w sets had a more squared green shape. I can see somebody has been going overboard on the Lemon Pledge. This family loved that set.

I also can't read the script strip at the bottom of the speaker. It might be a remote control or other advertising slogan, not the model name.

[It's the "eluxe" part of "Deluxe," the "D" having broken off. - tterrace]

Technical Aspects Aside

That RCA simply cries out for a pair of rabbit ears.

The family's pride and joy on display

The family is obviously proud of their kids, but they are also showing off their new 21" color TV. In 1958, color TV was still quite a rarity in the home, since RCA introduced their first color set, the 15" CT100, in 1954.

[That's not a color TV. - Dave]

[RCA used a similar cabinet for black-and-white sets and the one in our photo most closely resembles the 1956 Glenwood 21 Deluxe in several details. Also, the screen mask isn't quite the same shape as those used for the round color tubes. - tterrace]

Safety glass

The glass screen cover wasn't an option or a glare shield, though many of them were tinted to increase the contrast.

It was there to protect the unbonded picture tube from being hit and imploding, thereby causing serious injury.

It's Its other function was to contain the flying glass should the tube implode for some other reason.

Pretty much every set from 1946 till 1960 or so had a safety glass.

Sets starting in the early 60's either had the safety glass bonded directly to the face of the CRT or they were banded to contain the glass in the event of implosion, after that the extra glass in front of the screen was not needed.

My User Name will explain why I know this stuff.

[The outer flat panel, made of safety glass, was designed to reduce glare and ambient reflections. Hence names like "Glare-Guard." (And something that implodes doesn't pose much of a risk to anyone unless they're inside the picture tube.) - Dave]

Safety panel on TV

I notice that the parents of Robin Hood and Wonder Bread opted for the transparent safety panel in front of the picture tube of the TV. When my older brother and I, as young adults, removed the defunct TV component from our parents’ massive wooden hi-fi cabinetry (to create extra storage space), we took the TV - with safety screen attached – to a local dumpster so we could toss it from a high place and watch it explode. Far from breaking, the TV hit the bottom of the dumpster and bounced back up about five feet. Like much else back then, those things were tough.

[That "safety panel" is a glare shield. - Dave]

Place Your Bets

Guess how long after exiting the house before Mom or Dad was carrying Robin's: bow, treat bag, younger brother.


When those kind of legs started showing up I thought they made otherwise nice furniture look chintzy.

Costumes by Irwin Mainway no doubt.

We all wore them back then, and most of us survived.

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