The day my father returned from the department store with our first VCR, I was very excited. I resolved to learn everything about the new magic box.


My first strategy guide

That night after dinner, we settled down to watch The Wonderful World of Disney. A short called "Pluto's Sweater" was on before the movie. I was all set and I started recording. I laughed and laughed as I watched. Don't get me wrong. It is not a good cartoon. It's not fun, it's not funny, and there is a still shot of Minnie Mouse wearing the sweater which is, frankly, kind of disturbing. Laughing, I had a secret agenda, which was to find out: Will the VCR also record sounds in the room?


AHAhahahaaaahahaa..that's so funnny...hahahahaahahahaaaa...NOT

Right after the movie, it was bedtime, so I had to wait through a whole day of school before I could find out. If you've ever experienced agony, I dare you to compare it to this. All day, I schemed to see if turning off the TV while recording would have some different result.


Always there for me

I often recorded The Wonderful World of Disney, although the local affiliate station got the most action on the timer. I didn't bother with their marathons of The Honeymooners or The Twilight Zone, because I watched those as they broadcast. But I recorded movies all the time. All on Super Long Play of course, to get three movies on one tape. I obsessively labeled and sorted the tapes. Short Circuit, Beetlejuice, Revenge of the Nerds, Pee-wee's Big Adventure, Critters, and many others still among my favorites.


The green parts of the tape casing totally blew my mind!

On Thanksgiving, E.T. was on. We watched it and learned during a commercial that tapes of the movie would be available tomorrow at Sears for $7.99. My mother was very excited. At the time, standard retail price for a studio tape was $19.99, so this was some kind of amazing deal. We got up very early so we could get there before they ran out, and—the store was nearly empty. No masses trampling each other for discounted socket wrench sets, shoulder pad blouses, or their very own copy of E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial. Black Friday? Just a nice day off after Thanksgiving.


I knew how to push all her buttons

I look at that picture of our old remote control, and I remember. I really like the button layout, colors, and sizes. It also seems easier to hold than today's "ergonomic" remotes. Maybe that is just because it was my first. Still, it was a cool VCR. It had features that didn't come on later models, at least not the cheap ones. Like the 'Repeat' button, which let you select a beginning point and an end point, and it would play and rewind that section over and over. Or playing in slow motion. In the Simpsons episode "Homer at the Bat," Mr. Burns is knocked down by a baseball. Do you know how many times my brother and I replayed that in slo-mo? Of course not, you weren't there. Neither do I, because it was too many times to count. We just thought it was the most hilarious thing ever.


Well, it still is

In such fashion did some years pass. Recording, labeling, organizing, watching...


After I moved out, the family got a second TV for the attic, and the VCR went up with it, replaced by a newer model in the living room. And my parents were ready to relax the rules (such as "no food upstairs") a little bit. This was great for my brother, who likes to watch TV, eat, listen to music, and read—all at the same time. The attic was very suitable for it, because he could monopolize the place without bothering anybody. And macaroni and cheese was his favorite meal. Add all of these things together...I don't know if he was constantly clumsy, or had just one catastrophic incident, but one day I visited and found the VCR, the remote, the stereo, and other objects in the attic with bits of dried mac & cheese sludge all over them. I wanted to be mad; I think I was just heartbroken.


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