Don, the Motorola TV Repair Man

by Anthony Buccino

From Greetings from Belleville, New Jersey, Collected writings  

It was always a hoot when Don the TV repair man
came around to fix our Motorola. You could keep your RCA
with that little dog, he only sold Motorola brand TVs and stereos.

He drove a red Ford panel truck that he likely bought new in 1955 or so. In the 1960s it didn't seem so old, but by the 1990s when he was still tooling down the street, it tended to stand out against the minivans and SUVs. It was eventually sold to a fellow in England, probably for more than Don the TV man paid for it in the mid-50s. But it's early in the story and I digress.

C&D repair truck, operated by Don the Motorola TV repairmanDon the TV man was huge, stocky and huge, especially since I knew him from the time I could walk and he was already grown up. His arms were ham hocks and his fists as big as boxing gloves, and yet he handled the screwdrivers and the glass tubes without popping them like a child's floating bubble.

His hair, jet-black and slicked back, fit snugly under his beanie-like cap. He always had a cigar that he chewed but didn’t smoke inside the house. And for all his bulk and talk, he was the nicest guy you could ever pick to be on your side.

He'd open up his heavy toolbox and trays upon trays of boxes of parts and test tubes in cardboard boxes shifted before him. They all said "Make In USA".

Removing the long, tiny Phillips-head screws, Don the TV man would remove the vented cardboard backing and set it down, then fiddle with one hand in the back where glass tubes either lit up or didn't light up, wherein the problem might lie, and in his other hand, extended to the front of the set, he held a small vanity mirror to watch the screen.

When I was older, sometimes he let me hold his flashlight as he jiggled tubes, pulling some out and switching some, or turned a knob to see "what it looks like now."

Just when you thought he had the problem licked and we could go back to watching our regularly scheduled program, Don the TV man would day, "time for a break."

Dad would leave the room, apparently in mid story, and reappear with glasses and a bottle of Scotch. Before putting the bottle or the glasses down on the table, Dad would point out the pencil mark and date on the side of the bottle from the last time Don the TV man visited.

Don the TV man would fill the shot glass and continue with his story. He knew everything and if the job was big enough, he'd tell you everything about everybody.

He knew which politicians were crooked and all the places the mob took over, and could tell you how this guy was hooked up with that guy and how they got away with every thing they did.

But Don the TV man was a working stiff. He knew he'd have to work forever because all the crooks and politicians were going to steal the Social Security and leave the honest hard-working people with nothing.

We were always happy to get Don the TV man to fix our TV. He worked in the days before everyone had answering machines.Greetings From Belleville, New Jersey - collected writings by Anthony Buccino

In fact, he never answered his phone. Lucky for us we knew where on Gless Avenue he stored his wooden extension ladders for antenna work. We'd keep an eye out for him coming or going with the ladders.

Otherwise, we'd call on one of his brothers to tell Don the TV man we needed him to come by because our Motorola was acting up again.

Then, late one evening after pining for days about the rolling picture or the ghosts on Channel 2, about when we'd all but forgotten, Don the TV man would call to make sure we were home.

In those days our family never went to a store to buy a TV or hi-fi stereo, we got them from, yeah, you guessed it, Don the TV man.

And all those TVs, those beautiful, expensive black and white TVs all came in beautiful, real wood cabinet that then became the most stylish, up-to-date article of furniture in the house.

Don the TV man sold us the best stuff. My sister's hi-fidelity stereo record player from the 1960s is still spinning vinyl today.

Long after Don the TV man semi-retired, I'd still have him take a look at one of my newer sets before tossing it. He was the last resort after we tired of slapping the side of the set to get it to go back to normal. Some times we'd get a few more years out of it. Or he'd tell us it was shot.

Those times I'd bring it to his house and we'd sit around chewing the fat over a few cold ones. Then it would be the same when I came back to pick up the set. Over a few beers he'd tell me how he had to run around for the part they don't make anymore and how much it cost him – he couldn't believe the prices. It was always good to catch up on who the crooks were and how the country was doing.

The Ciccolini who sells me my TVs these days is pleasant enough, but it's just the brilliant picture, the tech sheet, cable, remote, the delivery schedule, and the credit card. There's no tubes, no glasses, no bottle of Scotch, and I never get to hold the flashlight anymore.

From Greetings from Belleville, New Jersey, Collected writings  by Anthony Buccino

Don the TV Man .... in Old Belleville first published on Belleville-Nutley Patch, June 27, 2011


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Greetings from Belleville, New Jersey, Collected writings by Anthony Buccino

New Jersey author Anthony Buccino published more than fifteen books including four essay collections, three military history books and seven full-length poetry collections.  He has been called ' “New Jersey’s ‘Garrison Keillor” or something to that effect.’

His stories of the 1960s earned a SPJ-NJ Excellence in Journalism award. His transit blog on earned a SPJ-NJ Excellence in Journalism award.

His poem At The Vet has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize.

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Buccino books:

Rambling Round - Inside and Outside at the Same Time

 A Father's Place - An Eclectic Collection

Sister Dressed Me Funny

Greetings From Belleville, New Jersey

This Seat Taken? Notes of a Hapless Commuter

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