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HAGEN: March Madness memories in black and white

An old rule of journalism is to avoid those "back-in-my-day" analogies. For instance, we typically don't start writing a story with something like, "Back when gas was 75 cents a gallon and a loaf of bread was 40 cents ... ." Instead, we start the...

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An old rule of journalism is to avoid those "back-in-my-day" analogies.

For instance, we typically don't start writing a story with something like, "Back when gas was 75 cents a gallon and a loaf of bread was 40 cents ... ." Instead, we start the story with something more interesting that will draw the reader in. We all know gas and groceries were significantly cheaper four decades ago.

Plus, I'm only 32 years old. Am I really fit to be writing a historical analogy and saying "back in my day ..." already?

Probably not. But every year when the NCAA basketball tournament begins as it did on Thursday, I think back to when I was a little kid.

I'm not exactly sure what year it was, but I spent a week or so with my grandparents camping somewhere in Minnesota. Real specific, huh?

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Well, the point of this story revolves around a portable television my grandma used while traveling so she could keep up with her daytime soap opera shows. It was either "The Young and the Restless" or "Days of our Lives."

That black-and-white TV had a screen that was about 5 inches from corner to corner. It had a number of round dials on one side that changed the channel, similar to an old radio tuner. Of course, it also had a radio function as well.

When I saw that TV I was infatuated. We could actually be driving along the highway while watching TV? Unbelievable.

It had bunny-ear antennas that clearly picked up ABC and CBS, but wrapping some tinfoil around the pieces and messing with the angle helped pick up FOX once in awhile.

So sometime after that camping trip, my grandma gave me this TV. I think as technology advanced, she upgraded. Good news for me.

It went in my room next to my bed, and I recall watching the news most nights. Perhaps that may have influenced me later in life, but who knows?

I remember one night, crawling into bed and clicking the TV on. When you hit the on/off button, it made a noise like a small puff of air exploding, and as the screen appeared - tiny basketball players were running up and down the court. It was March Madness time.

Sure, my family had other TVs to watch the games on. But it was a little more special to watch it on this one because it was mine. I could crawl into bed, flip on CBS and enjoy the late West Coast games well beyond my bedtime.

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I had that TV for a long time, and I think it's still in my parents' house somewhere. Clearly, like the low prices of gas and groceries, TVs have evolved tremendously over time.

Today, we can watch the NCAA basketball tournament on our phones or tablets in color anywhere that gets service. We have big-screen TVs that are 50, 60 and 70 inches.

I'm not saying anything you don't already know. But I always think of that little black-and-white portable TV when March Madness rolls around.

Back in my day, it was pretty awesome.

Related Topics: BASKETBALLHISTORY
Opinion by Luke Hagen
Luke Hagen was promoted to editor of the Mitchell Republic in 2014. He has worked for the newspaper since 2008 and has covered sports, outdoors, education, features and breaking news. He can be reached at lhagen@mitchellrepublic.com.
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