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Folkston's First Color TV

When Dick Mays of Folkston and most of his friends were in their early thirties, he and several of them were associate members of the Waycross Junior Chamber of Commerce. He enjoyed being with his new friends from Ware County but didn’t attend many of their meetings.

However, when he heard the JCs were having a district meeting on Jekyll Island one weekend, he made a special effort to attend. He, along with a station-wagon full of young men from Folkston, spent the weekend with the rest of the JCs from across the district.

One of the JCs projects during the year was selling chances on a brand-new color television set. They had sold hundreds of chances for one dollar each and planned to draw the lucky name out while they were at the Jekyll Island meeting. In fact, the large beautiful piece of furniture which encased the television tube was sitting center-stage along with a much smaller cardboard box which held the names of those who had purchased chances throughout the past year. The money made on this  would be the funds they would use for their various projects during the coming year.

Everyone there had purchased one or more tickets and anticipated that they would be the lucky ones. After all, a COLOR television set was an expensive, new invention, and mighty few families were lucky enough to afford to buy one.  In fact, there was only one color set in Folkston at that time and it was in Pack Stokes’ living room on Kingsland Drive.

Dick and his Folkston friends were immediately asked to buy tickets when they arrived at the meeting. So they each gave the JC member in charge of sales a dollar bill and signed their names on their tickets. He took their tickets and dropped them in the cardboard box. The box was not shaken up to distribute the tickets before the lucky one was pulled out.

The last item on the program of the district meeting was the drawing of the ticket for the color television set. The lucky ticket was taken from the box and it had the name of Richard Mays on it.

This was an exciting time for the Charlton County men. Their first problem was how they were going to get the television to Folkston. They managed to wedge it in the back of the station-wagon and their next problem was packing the men in, along with their suitcases. About an hour later the excited guys were back in Folkston trying to get the tv in Dick Mays’ front door.

It was put in a corner of the living room so that everyone could watch at the same time. They plugged the cord in the wall and suddenly beautifully colored scenes were shown on the set. It was the first colored TV set any of them had ever seen. After they had watched it for a while they left to go home, promising to come back.

The Mays family enjoyed the expensive set, knowing it would have been a while before they had been able to purchase one. Friends dropped by the Mays home in the evenings to watch their favorite program in color. Dinah Shore had a musical show each week for about an hour and sang several songs, changing her gorgeous dresses for each selection. Several times the phone rang, and without saying who they were, the caller would ask ”What color dress is Dinah Shore wearing?” and “What color was the one she had on just before this one?”

The color sets were so expensive that it was several years before most families could afford to buy one.

This television set got the most use at the end of the summer when baseball World Series games were played in the afternoons. Friends asked Dick if they could come watch the games in living color. For several years, until the price of color sets were more reasonable, the Mays’ living room was full of men enjoying the games, especially the bright green baseball diamond and field.

The whole house smelled like cigars for days afterwards.


Lois B. Mays

July 2012

from DeBrahm's Report
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