Homemade TV episode 1: Portable Channel Meets Senior Citizens

A 1972 airing of Homemade TV on Channel 21 in Rochester, New York. Produced by Portable Channel. The program features pieces that are primarily centered on the elderly in a senior apartment community. The videomakers also visited a nursing home and documented various senior events that took place around the area.

00:00Copy video clip URL Blue screen.

00:31Copy video clip URL Fade into the intro sequence for the program. Program hosts Steve Manes, Dave Christoff, and Bonnie Kline explain their reasons for putting this program together. Manes states, “For the last year we’ve been using portable television equipment to promote the idea of access to television. We think television could be doing a lot more than it’s been doing and that a lot more people than just television professionals could be making shows that we’d all like to see. So we’ve been teaching people how to make their own tapes.” Christoff then talks about the type of content they have included in the show. We are first introduced to a segment on a 76-year-old woman who is cooking an apple strudel.

02:30Copy video clip URL Dissolve into footage of a woman named Sadie as she prepares an apple strudel for the crew and describes the process as if she were on a cooking show. We watch as she prepares the filling and dough for the dessert. This lasts for several minutes.

05:52Copy video clip URL After baking in the oven, the strudel is hot and ready to serve. Sadie is jubilant over her strudel coming out so well. We then watch footage of a group of women watching her on television. Her daughter talks about her mother’s excitement at being on television.

08:09Copy video clip URL Cut back to the hosts in the studio. Sadie had a cheesecake sent over to the crew the night of the taping. Bonnie Kline then introduces the next tape. She explains that a woman by the name of Miss Cook had invited the videomakers to document a dance outing sponsored by the city of Rochester, New York.

09:27Copy video clip URL Fade into a shot of a cluster of feet gliding across the dance floor. A large group of senior citizens dance with one another as a large band plays for the crowd.

10:59Copy video clip URL Miss Cook talks about her involvement in the senior dance program. She also sings for the camera. “And I make a lot of people happy. And I just feel I’m pleasing God. That was my vow: that I want to please God and make people happy, and I’m a senior citizen too.”

12:17Copy video clip URL Cut to a shot of two attendees who were celebrating their 98th birthdays that day. The large group of people runs through “Happy Birthday” and greets them with warm smiles and hugs on their accomplishment.

13:15Copy video clip URL Back in the studio, Manes introduces a segment from a music therapy class at a nursing home. He explains that it was a difficult process shooting the piece.

13:41Copy video clip URL Manes asks a resident about her age. The woman responds by asking Manes to guess her age. He gives an estimated guess of seventy-five and is quickly told that she is over ninety. The woman talks about her love of singing and how her ability to do so has decreased in old age. “You can’t do anything you want when you get old. You can’t sing like when you’re young.” The videomaker goes on to ask another woman her age. She states that she doesn’t remember.

15:00Copy video clip URL A woman named Elizabeth shares a few words about her age with Manes. She jokes and says that she is sixteen years old. We watch as the woman spends some time with a friend on a couch.

16:15Copy video clip URL A woman with a confused look on her face states that she doesn’t remember ever having a music therapy session. One of her caretakers explains that the therapy sessions take place every Thursday. In a very confused and dispirited tone of voice the woman says, “I don’t know whether I remember or not, because I’m old.” The videomaker then gathers a few shots of the women at the session. Their faces remain deadpan and expressionless. It is a depressing look at the perils of old age.

18:50Copy video clip URL Fade into a shot of the half inch player sitting on the table in front of the hosts in the studio. Manes introduces the next piece. Barbara Kinkade, Director of the Senior Citizen’s Club at the Montgomery Neighborhood Center, had invited the videomakers out to one of the rehearsals of a variety show the group holds every year to raise money for day trips.

19:21Copy video clip URL Fade into footage from the rehearsal. A woman practices her dance routine in front of the group members. A man leads the group in song. The group practices the scenes for several minutes.

20:30Copy video clip URL A ninety-four-year-old woman says that she’d like to dedicate her performance to her fellow senior citizens. The group members sing along with the woman as she performs a song. She receives a nice round of applause afterward.

22:18Copy video clip URL Manes asks a man if he feels different about life due to his old age. The man states that old age keeps one from doing as much as he or she would like. The ninety-four-year-old woman then asks Mennis for his opinion on her singing. She goes on to say, “A person is no older than they think they is.” The group goes on  to give a gift to a woman who had just celebrated her birthday. Another woman talks about what it’s like to be an elderly person. She explains that she had to leave school as a young child and in 1966, she attained an eighth grade diploma. She goes on to say that she has no plans of dying anytime soon. This is then followed by footage of audience members enjoying themselves at the variety show.

26:00Copy video clip URL Cut back to Cline who comments on the proliferation of amateur videomaking. She calls for more involvement of other videomakers who would like to have their pieces aired on the program. The show then closes out with footage of one of the woman performing at the variety show rehearsal.

29:05Copy video clip URL Tape ends.



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