Television is here to stay, and the nightly crowds in Pittsfield bars with sets installed are the best possible witness to that fact.

Three local cafes report a marked increase in business since television equipment was installed about a month ago. The new trade doesn’t come just from young people and “marginal drinkers,” either.

A spot check at the Hollywood Grill on New West Street last night found about 50 customers with their eyes glued to the screen. Co-manager Louis Sibbio looked over the gate and remarked: “This is a good crowd, but it’s like this most nights. People are dropping in every evening to see the shows. They come from Dalton and other towns as well as Pittsfield. I figure it’ll take about six months before people really know about this set, but I see no reason to complain about conditions as they are now.”

The other two television centers, Tim Ryan’s Place and Mooney’s Cafe, were doing all right too. Both had sizable crowds, with most of the guests intent on the Friday night boxing matches at Madison Square Garden.

There was no complaint from any quarter about the “Television Set.” This is the new group of barflies which has sprung up in New York and other large cities. The “Television Set” is said to be distinguished by an interest in the pictures and a reluctance to plank down coin for food and drink. Each local cafe has its share of this trade, but it is more than compensated for by the increased number of regular patrons. And the cash registers keep ringing so long as the waitresses stay on the ball and don’t let customers forget their more expensive needs.

The Hollywood Grill, the first cafe to install a television set for the public, is also the first with a large “newspaper-size” screen measuring 19 by 25 inches. Actually, this is even larger than The Eagle — or the New York Times, for that matter. The picture is reflected from this screen after being projected from a tube hidden at its base, something like a miniature movie set-up. It is naturally a lot easier to see than the standard, 8x10-inch type of screen. It also costs $2,400, according to Mr. Sibbio, which is more than four times the price of an ordinary home set.

Television was installed at Tim Ryan’s Place and Mooney’s Cafe shortly after the Louis-Walcott fight Dec. 5. Both have 8x10-inch screens, showing clearly visible pictures. It was possible last night, for example, to tell that the two heavyweights in the first bout were inflicting brutal punishment on each other.

Pittsfield’s latest fad is in operation every night at these three places, from about 7 to 11 or 11:30. It’ll get another critical test tomorrow night, when films of the Rose Bowl game will be coming through, about 9:15.

This Story in History is selected from the archives by Jeannie Maschino, The Berkshire Eagle.

Community News Editor / Librarian

Jeannie Maschino is community news editor and librarian for The Berkshire Eagle. She has worked for the newspaper in various capacities since 1982 and joined the newsroom in 1989.