August 5, 2014

Ask Bob: A lesson in patience

Dear Bob,

My brother and I always fight about what to watch on TV and who gets to read the TV guide first to see what's on. How can we resolve this?

--Adam in Palm Beach

This is a letter I should have submitted to the television Q&A columnist at The Palm Beach Post back in the 70s or 80s.

This came to mind recently as I was thinking about how in our household we only have one TV (okay, there's a second one, but we never use it), and it's centrally located downstairs in the family room. Watching TV is not a big part of my or my wife's lifestyle, and so we're trying to pass along that same trait to our two young daughters.

Sharing one TV is easy for my kids now. They're six years apart, and the older one is happy to watch the toddler-appropriate shows that our little one enjoys. But sharing a TV or TV guide wasn't so easy for me and my brother.

When I was growing up, for a while our parents had their own TV in their room, and my brother and I got to share the TV that was in the den. We had some battles, verbally and occasionally physically, over who would have control over the TV. My brother was, and still is, three years older. But I don't think that justified giving him first choice of what to watch.

So our parents came up with a TV time share plan. My brother and I would alternate weekly. If it was my week, then I got to choose what we watched. Don't get me wrong, sometimes we wanted to watch the same thing. For example, we never missed an episode of CHiPs or The Dukes of Hazzard.

But during his week, my brother did watch some things that I had to sit there and suffer through. For example, I wasn't a fan of Magnum p.i. or Star Trek, but those were among his favorites.

A few years later, our parents decided that we were old enough and responsible enough to have TVs in our own rooms. So you'd figure the sharing problems would be over, right? Wrong. Every Sunday, our local newspaper, The Palm Beach Post, included it's own version of TV Guide called TV Post.

Once we had our own TVs, we used to fight over control of the TV Post to see what was going to be on. Sounds silly now, but it was devastating if my brother had the TV Post in his room with the door closed when I wanted to see it. And, vice versa. Eventually we attached it each week to the outside door of a closet in the hallway between our rooms so we'd no longer fight over it.

One of the best things about being the first one to read the TV Post that week was getting to read the Ask Bob column. Bob Michals was the newspaper's TV columnist and answered readers' questions "about television past and present." I found a scanned image of the Ask Bob column on Google from Sept. 26, 1987. Here's what bob looked like:


He answered some hard hitting questions that week. Speaking of Magnum, p.i., Nancy Oliver in Lantana asked Bob if the actors in the show were Vietnam veterans like their characters. According to the all-knowing Bob, none of the actors had served in the military.

Apparently many people had been writing to Bob with their theories on how the producers of Mr. Ed got the horse to look like he was talking. Mimi Heberlein from Jupiter supported the peanut butter-on-the-gums thoery. Nancy in West Palm Beach was also pro peanut butter because a Universal Studios tour guide told her so. Bob got pretty fired up about it in that week's column:

Ah, Bob was so wise. The next time my kids are arguing about something, maybe I'll just think, What would Bob say?


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