Mark Hamilton: What is your name?
Beverly Riche Hamilton: Beverly Hamilton. Though I was Beverly Riche when I was born.
MH: And when were you born?
BH: [August 31,] 1925
MH: And where were you born?
BH: Salt Lake City
MH: And is that where you lived as a child?
BH: Um, 'till I was three-and-a-half.
MH: And where did you move when you were three-and-a-half?
BH: Well, my father was transferred to Phoenix, Arizona, and we lived there for seven years.
MH: And then from there, did you move somewhere else?
BH: Yeah, from there he was transferred back to Salt Lake, and we were there eleven months, and then he was transferred to Riverside, California. And then, after four years, he was transferred to Sacramento. And that's where his home office was, so that's where we stayed.
BH: Except we moved out to Carmichael, about ten miles from Sacramento onto a fruit ranch.
MH: What's your earliest memory of media consumption? Like your first experience using radio, or anything like that?
BH: Um, when I lived in Phoenix, I can remember sitting in front of the radio shelling peas for my mother. And that would have been when I was about maybe seven or eight.
MH: OK, did you primarily use the radio for music, or did you use it for news, or programs?
BH: Well, at that time, I think we used it mainly for programs and the news. But we moved to Riverside, and there were newsboys on the streets downtown, and if there was something exciting like another revolution in South America, they'd go through the residential areas yelling "Extra! Extra! Read all about it!" And, uh, if homeowners wanted to do that, they'd go out and buy the paper from them.
MH: What do you remember about how you and your family used the media in your youth? You said that you used the radio primarily for programs and news, but also related, I guess to the newspaper and things like that, how big of media consumers would you say you were?
BH: Uh, I think we were kind of like most people--kind of, uh, minimal. Uh, we would listen and you know, to get excited about those extras, but, uh, I remember when Joe Lewis won the world championship in boxing. We were listening to it on the radio, and then we heard the newsboys coming, you know, later to, you know, “read all about it” that “Lewis knocks out Schmeling” or whatever, you know.
BH: So, uh, and we kids, when we lived in Phoenix, uh, listened to afternoon programs like “Jack Armstrong, the All-American Boy” and “Little Orphan Annie” and I can’t remember what the other ones were. And also, later, when we lived in Riverside, we would listen to Soap Operas on the radio.
MH: OK. And, one of the most popular programs back then was, um “The Lone Ranger”…
BH: Oh yeah! We listened to that!
BH: And uh, and “The Shadow!”
MH: Yeah! “The Shadow knows…” I used to listen to “The Shadow.”
BH: Did ya’? [Laughs]
MH: Yeah. Just recordings of it. Um…
BH: Uh-huh. Oh, we used to listen to “Roy Rogers”, and uh, “Tom Mix.” “Tom Mix” was a Hollywood cowboy. And, uh, it was exciting, and you know, we’d listen to his program, and then I got to see him in a rodeo in Phoenix!
MH: OK, so obviously the radio was a big part of life when you were younger…
MH: …but what do you remember hearing or seeing about a television for the first time?
BH: I didn’t…well, we’d heard from the time I was in Junior High School, we’d heard, um, television was coming, and you know, we were just enthralled to think that we could see pictures, you know? And uh, but I did not see a television until after I came home from my mission, which was at the end of 1949. And I came home in December, and I went to visit my relatives and friends in Riverside, in, uh, late March , and that’s when I saw my first television set.
MH: And it was black and white back then, right?
BH: Oh yes! Of course. Uh-huh.
MH: And when did you or your family first own a television?
BH: I don’t remember when my parents got one…it must have been after I was married, and I was married in June of 1950, and we—my husband and I—we didn’t want one, because we saw what a time-waster it was, you know? And my aunt, they had one in Salt Lake. And so, we resisted getting a television set until when we lived in Connecticut, after, you know, after we had four or five children, maybe six, one of our neighbor couples adopted Steve, my fourth son, as a grandchild—they’d never had children, and they just adored him. And they felt so sorry for him because we didn’t have a TV, that they gave us a used one. And that’s when we got our first television set. And that would have been, uh, oh about, 19…uh…62.
MH: Right, I was going to say, my dad was born in Connecticut, so it must have been…
MH: …around that time, so…
BH: So we had one, then, for a few years, even after we moved to New York State. The one we had died, so we got another used one. But then we decided…actually, our children requested that we not use it because they wanted to do better in school, and so we took a family vote, so only one child voted to keep the TV.
BH: And so, we didn’t throw it out, we just turned it off. And we raised our children mostly without television. And they would come home from neighbors and, uh, you know, our friends where they’d seen TV, and say “Boy, I’m so glad we don’t have TV.” And this was in uh, what? 1960s-70s. And it was mild in those days.
MH: Right. Wow. Um, just a question out of curiosity…um, most generations have some kind of “defining moment,” you know, like a September 11th, or the Kennedy assassination, or things like that. Um, what is a big news event that you remember—or a few—and how did you learn about them? Was it on TV, or was it on a radio…?
BH: Well, the biggest one in my lifetime was Pearl Harbor day, December [7th] 1941. And it was a Sunday. And I’m sure that was deliberate by the Japanese, you know, to bomb on Sunday, when people wouldn’t be that concerned about the world…they’d be worshipping instead. And we were at Stake Conference, and it was between sessions of conference they had in the morning and then in the afternoon. So while we were eating our lunch between sessions, uh, someone had their car radio on, I guess, and heard the announcement. And, so, we were really worried about our mother, because she was home with the little children, and we were feeling for her, that she’d be terrified, you know, and she hadn’t had the radio on, fortunately, so she didn’t know ‘till we got home and told her. But that affected our lives forever, I think. An incident like the twin towers has affected people in your generation.
MH: Right. Um, you mentioned that later, people kind of started making the transition from radio to TV, and so…
BH: Uh-huh. It was a gradual thing, as people could afford it, I guess.
MH: Right, and were there any major events like a “pearl harbor” that you ended up finding out on TV instead of radio later in life?
BH: Uh, yeah. The twin towers. Your Aunt Chris called me and said “Are you watching TV?” And I didn’t watch it during the daytime, so I uh…she said “Turn it on!” And that’s when I learned about them.
MH: OK. And we’ve talked a little bit about watching the transition kind of from newspapers and radio to television and now the Internet and things like that. Um, how has media changed in your lifetime?
BH: Well, it’s changed from my being not aware of it as a child, you know, from newspapers to—look, you take computers, you know? Uh, the information you can acquire…like, we had, uh, Encyclopedia Americana, used it extensively. Our kids used it with their schoolwork—now they just go on the Internet. And they probably learn a lot more, a lot faster than we did with encyclopedias. Although I still like the encyclopedias.
BH: Um, the thing that has amazed me is, that my mother who was born in 1903 went from being in an orchestra, in the orchestra pit at silent movies to producing TV programs in the Church in Sacramento.
BH: And so that was a tremendous change in her lifetime, you know. But she didn’t live to see the computers and all they have accomplished, but she did live that spread of years. That was really interesting to me.
MH: Yeah. Um, is there something that you wish—you mentioned that youth today use the Internet instead of encyclopedias and things like that—uh, is there something that you wish the youth of today knew about the media in your lifetime?
BH: Uhhh…it would be nice if they knew what I know, you know, because I’ve lived it. But I don’t think they would comprehend it, uh, because they don’t comprehend other things that have transpired in my lifetime like the Depression, and you know, and the war, I mean—and, and I understand that because, when I was—I was born in ’25…and the [first] world war ended in 1919, and by the time I was old enough to know anything about it, that was ancient history to me. And I find that World War II, while it’s still very fresh in my mind, is ancient history to people today. Young people especially. But even my own children’s generation, it’s ancient history.
MH: Um, do you have any final thoughts, maybe about your media use…um, how it has changed over time?
BH: Well, partly it’s changed because I have more time for it now than when I was raising my family. But, uh, you haven’t mentioned magazines, and they have had an influence too in my life, and in the lives of people in my era, and in your era too, I think. And we have a lot more magazines to choose from, and so I think we have to be careful what we choose. And I’m really grateful for the Church publications, that I’m sure my parents used, but I wasn’t aware of, except for the Children’s Friend.
BH: And so I think we all need to appreciate the generations before us, but I don’t think we can fully understand them, because we didn’t live them.
MH: OK. Um, where do you see the media moving, um, in the future—in the next few years what do you think is the future of the media and our media consumption?
BH: Um, you know what, I haven’t thought of that. Elliott—uh, your Uncle Elliott just showed me just a little tiny instrument that he plugs into his computer, and I don’t know what it is, but it’s amazing. And I think, chips are getting smaller and smaller—I don’t see how they can get much smaller—but uh, my concern is that there’s, uh, too much pornography—there shouldn’t be any. But it’s so easily available on the Internet…and other things that aren’t good for us. So I think we have to—as parents and grandparents—be very, uh, sure that we’re aware of what the children are watching, and put blocks on. And some people will say “Well, they’re gonna’ see it anyway…” Well, what we see today is worse than what was “burlesque” when I was growing up. And we didn’t have to see burlesque to know that it wasn’t good for us to watch, and it wasn’t available to children either…you had to go to a burlesque show to see it.
BH: Uh-huh. Yeah, you had to travel, yeah.
MH: So, kind of a clarifying question, I guess…you mentioned that Elliott plugged something into his computer. Was it a music player?
BH: No…I’ll let him tell you…he’s sitting right here.
Elliott Hamilton: Hi. It’s just a flash drive.
MH: Oh, OK.
EH: Yeah, where, where I have, you know, my files backed up on it that—uh, document files as well as some pictures that I’ve taken, you know, as a wedding photographer.
EH: So I was just talking about a flash drive.
MH: Alright, thanks. I was just trying to clarify for the purposes of this interview.
EH: Yeah, OK…here’s grandma again.
MH: OK, thanks.
BH: You can see, uh, how computer literate I am.
MH: [Laughs] No, that’s fine. Um, do you have any other final thoughts or things that you want to say?
BH: Uhhh…I can’t think of any. I think, uh, the computer is marvelous, uh, I don’t understand it, but I don’t understand electricity either, but I’ve been happy to use it, you know? But I think it has great potential for, you know, things like Elliott’s mentioning. And it amazes me that a TV program can come up on the computer screen, or the pictures like he was telling you that he takes, he can put on that screen, and it’s really amazing to me. And I think it’s a wonderful tool, we just have to, like all tools, use it wisely.