Hammer recalls TV sign offs
Monday, January 13, 2014 9:00 PM
I like the people I work with. Actually, we've had some really great folks since we started back in 2004. But in our 10th year, I can't imagine a better group from top to bottom than the folks we have now. You've heard the saying about who'd you like to have with you in a foxhole? Well, this is the group I'd choose.
Two cents, which is about how much Timmons said his columns are worth, appears periodically on Tuesdays in The Paper. Timmons is the publisher of The Paper and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
That said . . . it's still kind of nice on Saturday mornings. The place is quiet. I can turn on some music at my desk and even play it a little loudly. Little Jimmy Gilmer and the Fireballs, Smokey Robinson, Otis Redding, Traffic . . . my musical tastes vary and on Saturdays, heck, I can even sing along. The office is quiet, dark and deserted - much like my singing voice.
Last week, I was right in the middle of "there's a crazy little shack beyond the tracks . . . " when doggone if John Hammer didn't scare the living bejezus out of me.
If you've never met Hammer, he as big as a grizzly, has a voice that James Earl Jones would envy, a face lined with life and a common sense the older generation was blessed with. How he gets around that quietly is beyond me.
"John, how do you get up here when-"
"Timmons, do you remember sign-offs?"
"You mean from TV?" I asked, still trying to make sure the heart was working. "Sure. When I was a kid it was a big deal to stay up late enough to see the station sign off."
Boy that brought me back to the days of four stations on the TV. Our rabbit ears on top the console had aluminum foil crinkled around the ends to help with the reception. The only remote control my dad had was me.
"We need sign offs again," Hammer said.
"Well, John, I doubt that's going to happen. First off, there are hundreds and hundreds of channels now and pretty much all of them are 24-7. Even the Indianapolis stations are-"
I swear, Hammer's stare could stop an 18-wheeler on Interstate 74.
"Timmons, when the station signed off you went to bed. If you did stay up you either had silence or the radio."
I remembered. Sometimes I would listen to the Ft. Wayne Komets on WOWO, the Pacers on WIRE or music on WLS in Chicago. Once in a while we could pick up KDKA out of Pittsburgh or KMOX out of St. Louis.
"So you want staticy radio?"
There was the stare again.
"No, Timmons, you moron. I want down time. I want a lot of people to have down time. There's no such thing anymore. My grown children, my grandchildren, everyone is "up" all the time. The young people text and tweet and facebook and whatever they call it. We're missing something important."
I wasn't sure I understood.
"When it was 2 a.m. and there wasn't a sound in the house, you dealt with life," Hammer explained. "Sometimes you worried, but then you sort of knew that nothing was as bad as it seemed at 2 in the morning. Sometimes you just enjoyed the quiet. Might have a talk with the Man upstairs. It was different things to different folks, Timmons. But it was a time when you had to face the one person you always need to face at some point, yourself."
Hammer looked at me.
"Timmons, we get so caught up in everyone and everything that we sort of lose perspective. That TV signing off gave us some down time that helped put things back."
In my head I could see the flag waving on the screen and hear the last note of the National Anthem right before it all went to static. Never thought I'd miss that.