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Doris Brollier (Greenacre) in buggy with goat
Doris Brollier (Greenacre) in buggy with goat

"Mother, What Did you Do Before you Had Television?"

Reminiscence of Doris Greenacre
Charlene Tresner, Interviewer, 1976

Mrs. Greenacre's answer to the above question was that there was always a lot to do, and people made their own entertainment with concerts, plays, church activities, dances and buggy rides.

A special memory was created when her family got their first radio in 1923. It was a "crystal set", handmade by an uncle who was mechanically inclined.

Not many people in town had a radio, so the neighbors would come over for a chance to listen to the amazing new device. In 1976 when Mrs. Greenacre shared her memories, she still had the little "call book," in which the family had recorded the programs and stations they had received. Although everyone would sit near the radio, to actually hear something one had to listen through a head-set, so listening in a group involved passing the headset around. Some of the headsets could be divided so two people could listen at once.

"You just can hardly imagine this when you sit and watch television!" Mrs. Greenacre recalled there were times when nearby stations were silent, and her father would attempt to receive broadcasts from Europe. "I can remember when my dad got Glasgow, Scotland, and he was so excited he could hardly contain himself. He passed the headset around and we could hardly believe he had done it!"

Years later, she could still remember the thrill of that first radio as well as the other marvels of technology when they were new to her. Her husband worked at the Lowell Observatory in Arizona, where he helped map the moon at the time when the thought of astronauts walking on it was only a dream. She marveled that in her own lifetime it became a common thing for telephone calls to be made using satellites. "It's almost unbelievable the progress in our lifetime."

(The Greenacre's interview is nearly 100 pages long and contains many details about the Greenacre, Brollier and Watrous families and life in Fort Collins in the early 1900s. Find the complete interview in the Archive's oral history collection.)
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