«Television was a completely new thing for all of us! Images and sounds were real, it was incredible! We used to watch it in our master’s house. When we finished to work, he allowed us to watch it for a hour or we watched it in our parish. We were at least thirty persons, I remember it as it happened yesterday!»
This is the voice of my grandma, during our skype conversation. She’s italian, like me, and we talked a lot about her memories of television. She’s a beautiful 74 years old woman, incredibly strong and dynamic. She was 15 when cable TV started broadcasting in Italy but she watched it for the first time when she was 19 and she worked in a farm.
Just a few persons had a TV in that period, because they were too expensive. Thus, people used to watch it in parishes or public clubs which owned one and it was a good occasion to meet persons, make friends and maybe find a soul mate! That is what exactly happened to my grandma!
«I met your granddad in the parish for the first time. It was winter, perhaps February, in 1961. We were watching “Non è mai troppo tardi” [transl. “It’s never too late”], that was a pedagogic show presented by Alberto Manzi, who was an important intellectual. The aim of the show was teaching to the audience how to read and write, it was very helpful!».
The Italy of 1950s and 1960s was characterized by a very huge percentage of illiteracy, because school was still not compulsory and children were forced to work to earn money for the family.
My grandma has 2 brothers and 2 sisters, her father died during the Great War and her mother worked a lot to ensure education to her children, but unfortunatly she did not earn enough money. For this reason my grandma started to work when she was 9.
«Alberto Manzi gave us the possibility to rescue from illiteracy». My grandma told me with a very enthusiastic voice.
In that period television was completely owned by RAI, a public monopoly which lasted until 1982, when a private broadcaster appeared, Silvio Berlusconi’s MEDIASET. Nowadays italian television keeps on being owned by both Rai and Mediaset.
«That night I met your granddad for the first time. We were sitting together and he asked me some questions. Then, he accompanied me home and we started to date almost everyday. We went to the parish and then he accompanied me home. After three years we got married and we bought our own television!».
My grandma was so happy to share her memories with me and really excited to talk to me on Skype, I think it was her first time using a computer to talk to someone, amazing!
My grandma and granddad’s first television was a Sanyo and it was a black-and-white Tv (color tv arrived just in 1977). They placed it in their living room and they bought a very cosy sofa to watch it together in the night.
«I’ve never felt guilty of watching Tv with your granddad. He was happy to watch it with me, even if he had always the remote control». A laugh. Then I asked her when she got the remote control for the first time and she answered me when my mum was born, because the only way to feed my mum was let her watch advertisements!
«She loved advertisements, so I used to turn on the Tv looking for them. Then I sat on the sofa with your mum in my arms and I feeded her». Another laugh, this time louder.
Actually, when I was a child, I had the same problem of my mum: I ate just watching advertisments, that’s incredible!
By the way, I really loved talking to my grandma about her memories of television, which surprised me a lot. I’ve always had a Tv in my house and I’ve never gone to parish or public clubs to watch it. I should start, maybe I would meet my soul mate as well!