Runnin’ the TV Line

By Pam Brennan

In my distant memory I can remember my pepaw telling one of my uncles to “go run the TV line.” My mom told me that her brother, Bud, used to have to “run the line” as well. Here is what that means.

Back in the 50’s and 60’s and even the early 70’s the only way to get television in the mountains of rural West Virginia was to run your own TV line from the TV to the top of the mountain behind your house. At the top of the mountain each family would have their own antenna. This responsibility usually fell to the oldest boy in the house.

These mountains are well known for being very steep and rugged and climbing to the top is never an easy task. It didn’t take much for the wind to knock a branch into TV line or a small animal to wreak havoc on it. No matter what the weather when the tv went out the boy would have to go out and run the line and fix the problem at whatever point on the mountain it had to be, otherwise the family would be without TV.

Sometimes on a windy day the boys would spend the day running the hills and fixing the line. What a way to build up stamina. No wonder kids weren’t fat back then!

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7 Responses to Runnin’ the TV Line

  1. KENNY JOHNSON says:

    MANY TV LINES RUN CLOSE TO EACH OTHER AND IF SOMEONE KNEW YOU HAD BETTER RECEPTION THEY RUN THEIR LINE OVER TOP OF YOURS TO GET A BETTER SIGNAL. ALSO REMEMBER DAD AND ANYONE ELSE HE COULD GET TO HELP TURN THE ANTENNA WHILE SOMEONE IN THE HOUSE WATCHED THE TV SO THEY COULD GET THE ANTENNA IN THE RIGHT POSITION FOR BETTER RECEPTION.

  2. stella wilburn says:

    my mom said my dad jim wilburn ran a lot of tv antenna’s in the ethal area a long time ago

  3. larry Hite says:

    i remember when i was around 7 or 8 my dad used to run the line, i do remember the little white spacers that they put in between the wires so that the wires wouldnt touch each other, i lived in wilson camp , my dad was a coal miner and the mines didnt have any work so we moved in june of 1959. we lived on the top road at wilson camp. some of the people i remember are the kitchens the halls, i remember a pretty little red headed girl named joyce ingram she always visted the slacks they were my friends

  4. Frank Adams says:

    I think my family had the second or third TV set in Logan County. There was one at the Smoke House and the Logan County Armory. We had a 12 inch Black and White RCA table model that was metal and must have weighed 100 lbs. To get a signal we ran two wires separated by a plastic chicken bone to a tower on top of the mountain across the river from Stratton St. We had two booster boxes mounted on trees on the mountain also. No antenna rotor but manually we would rotate the antenna and communicate with Army surplus walkie talkies. The picture usually was snowey. We thought it was great at the time. How times have changed.

  5. Frank Thompson says:

    When I was about six, we had a big snow and my Dad had to climb up the mountain to check the line. Because of the deep snow, I was told that I could not go with him. However, a few minutes after he left I hurriedly slipped on my shoes not bothering to put on any socks or to lace up my shoes and followed him. My shoes immediately filled with snow and my feet started hurting because they were so cold. When we reached the top, he saw me. I don’t remember his reaction but he had to carry me back down the mountain. What I remember most was how much my feet hurt when my parents put them in a tub of warm water.

    • Michael (Mickey) Hayner says:

      We lived in some cinderblock houses close to Chapmanville Elementary in the 50’s. We had 3 families on our tv line which crossed the Guyandotte River and to the top of the mountain(hill?) where Rt 119 runs now. Was called the airport road back then. Had to run the line several times a year. Used a john boat to cross the river. First tv got great picture from WSAZ. And became a Reds, and Cleveland Browns fan. Yep – still.

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