WARREN - It was 1951, and Bozo the Clown was making kids laugh, while Jack Benny and George Burns were doing likewise for adults.
Money was flowing into Warren from its booming steel and auto industries. Workers could afford the latest and greatest products for their growing families.
Four Calugar brothers saw a promising future in a new technology - television. They opened Central TV Sales and Service at 1022 E. Market St., launching a thriving business that last July celebrated its 60th anniversary.
Tribune Chronicle / Larry Ringler
Central TV owner George Calugar Jr., left, and head technician Gary Day show one of their flat-screen televisions at the Warren store. The store is marking its 60th anniversary.
George Calugar Sr. and his brothers, John, Nick and Chuck, opened the business to install TV antennas, current owner George Calugar Jr. recalled.
Having the owner of a TV store in the family had its advantages.
"I remember watching 'The Flintstones' and Walt Disney in living color," Calugar said.
Chuck later moved to California and Nick to Florida, leaving John and George to run the business. Bob Cook, who was Calugar Sr.'s nephew, joined the business, then Calugar Jr. in 1973. Cook retired in 1999.
The technology and location of the business have shifted during those six decades. Sleek flat TV screens hanging from the walls have replaced wooden consoles at its building at 913 E. Market St., not far from its original location where Cornicelli Cleaner is now.
Calugar Jr. installs satellite TV systems as well as Internet hookups - items few people could have dreamed of when television was a luxury to most Americans.
He said service remains the key part of his business, especially with fierce competition from "big box" stores that sell electronics at deep discounts.
"The backbone of the business is still personal service," he said.
Satellite dishes remain popular, although like everything else the product has undergone major changes. Calugar said he can remember early satellite dishes that were 10 feet in diameter; they're now about 18 inches.
The latest thing is the "smart television" - a TV that is hooked into the Internet, allowing users to surf the Web on a high-definition, big-screen TV.
"We do customer wiring for smart TVs. That's becoming the hot thing," he said.
The store has four workers, including Calugar and head technician Gary Day. The Calugar connection with Central TV, however, may not last another generation since Calugar's three children no longer live in the area.
"After getting good educations in Warren, they became engineers and pursued other jobs around the country," he said.