This is the story of my life so far: 67 years and counting.
Prequel: A Brief History of my Family in France
No TV at Home
Our father, Paul, thought that watching television was a bad way to waste your time, even though in the fifties there were no commercials on television. So, we never had a TV set in Rambouillet or Saint-Ouen.
In France, after World War II, TV and radio were government monopolies. There was only one TV channel, without any commercials for brand names until 1968. The second channel, "la deuxième chaîne", started only in 1964. And the original channel was of course named "la première chaîne".
I discovered TV when I was 6 years old in Rambouillet. A neighboring family had a TV set and we were going to watch the children programs on Sunday afternoon.
Then, I believed that TV was something continuous: when you switched of the TV set and you switched it on again later, the program would continue as if you there had been no interruption.
In Saint-Ouen, we had to go to our friends' house to watch TV. I remember that at some point we were watching every week an episode of the 1957 series Zorro.
There was no TV at the abbey either.
After my parents left Saint-Ouen in 1984 and moved to an apartment in Boissy-Saint-Léger, they decided to buy a TV. The reason was that my father wanted to be able to watch operas on LaserDiscs.
In France, there is a tax, paid annually, by any household that owned a TV and was able to receive broadcast channels. In order to not pay this tax ("la redevance audiovisuelle"), the tuner was removed from the TV they bought.
No Radio Either
We had no radio either in Rambouillet, in Saint-Ouen or at the Abbey.
My father thought that there was too much useless talk on the radio. He would have been interested in a radio if he would be able to find a program that would play only classical music.
When my parents moved to Boissy-Saint-Léger, there was such a radio called Radio Classique. You could subscribe to their schedule and know two weeks in advance what would be broadcast.
So, Paul bought a portable radio, and listened to Radio Classique.
When I was 15 years old, one of the sister of my father was staying with us part time in Saint-Ouen. She was sleeping in the bedroom next door to my own. She had a radio, that I could hear in the evening when she was there.
On the nights when I knew she would not be there, I secretly borrowed her radio and listened to it at very low volume in my bed under the sheets. It was thrilling to listen to this radio, specially because I was doing it secretly!
Continue to Part 20
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