Memory of and Designed by Bill Clede
“PERCEPTION” – “The Farmington Canal” – 1959
“Perception”, so-named by director Harry Parcell, was a Channel 3
public affairs program, produced in cooperation with the Hartford Board
of Education. In fact, in the ten years or so that I was privileged to
host it, we never once consulted with “the board”, nor did they ever
offer any input. There is a good chance, now that I look back, that
they didn’t even know it was on the air. We created our own content and
the show very often served as a dramatic outlet for our talented staff
as well as others in the community. These were still the early days of
television. Videotape had just been introduced which allowed us to
record the program on a Thursday or Friday evening for playback on
Sunday morning at 9:30.
Joe Lorraine was one of the engineers assigned to the Ampex
video recorder which was the size of a Volkswagen sedan, as I recall..
One night, we taped a drama starring Ronnie Rolly as Thaddeus Lowe, a
reconnaissance balloonist during the Civil War. In one crucial scene.
the floor manager’s arm suddenly thrust out from the left side of the
frame to give a cue to the actors. It was a blemish, to say the least.
Following the taping, I asked Joe if he could remove those few frames
from the tape. After about a half hour, during which he carefully
painted the tape with a magnetic liquid in order to see the pulses, he
made the diagonal cut and spliced the two ends together. The floor
manager’s arm had disappeared and the picture didn’t even jump or roll.
I couldn’t believe it.
Radio producer Paul Gionfriddo wrote several scripts for us.
One day in 1959 he came to me with an idea. “I want to do the story of
the Farmington Canal”, he said. Always grateful for ideas I immediately
Paul and I drove out to Farmington and found a spot where the
banks and the “ditch” could still be discerned. We probably dispatched
Dick Heinz or Bob Dwyer to film it but, after more than 50 years, I
can’t be sure.
Paul then wrote a script which called for “live” actors and
voice-overs to tell the story. I believe Ronnie provided the on-camera
actors while I corralled Bill Hennessey and Bob Ellsworth to do the
A young Trinity college student named Hans Bauer was
recruited to write and perform an original song which told the story of
the canal. Hans appeared on camera as he rolled out verse after verse
while playing his acoustic guitar. He was incredibly talented.
In all probability Harry Parcell directed the show. I seem to
recall that Jack Guckin was still a member of the floor crew at the
We were fortunate to have Bob Arel as our booth announcer I
believe Bob did the opening announcement “live” on Sunday morning
because he also gives the station I.D. before the program begins.
All that remains is the audio portion of the show. The
videotape wasn’t “lost” as such. The two inch tape was simply recycled
to be used over again the following week. Except for expensive (and not
very satisfactory) kinescopes there was no way to make a copy in those
I can’t help but think that we all were in this business at a
very special time. What we attempted to do back then would never even
be considered today. I’m not trying to imply that we produced better
television in those days. In fact, we didn’t. However, I am saying
that, in all probability, we had more fun.
September 17, 2010