ENNIS — Doug Madewell, who hails from the community of Crisp (near Bristol), may very well be Ellis County’s first techie – but after 64 years of repairing radios and televisions, he’s hanging ‘em up and closing down Ennis TV Service.
Madewell started out in the back of his parents’ home in a little shop when he was a high schooler,
about 15-16 years old, and later moved into a room in the back of the OK Garage on Kaufman Street, where he continued working on radios.
“That’s when I got in trouble,” Madewell said with a wry grin. “That’s when I met Lorena who lived nearby and, before long, we married – and next February we will celebrate our 68th anniversary.”
But after Doug and Lorena had been married about six months, he departed for a three-year hitch in the Army – and naturally he would spend his days serving his country as a radio operator. He pulled duty on the Luzon Island in the Philippines, seeing action against the Japanese.
When he returned to the states, he was stationed in Camp Hood (now Fort Hood) and took every opportunity to catch a ride to Waco and take the Interurban train for Ennis to be with Lorena.
“I got out of the Army in 1945 and came back to Ennis and opened up a radio repair business on Ennis Avenue and Main,” he recalled, saying a television salesman that was located just around the corner from him lost one of his helpers “and one of the guys from around there came to me and asked me if I wanted to go to work for him.”
Madewell worked with him for about six years, when he and a cohort bought the business out.
“In about 1947-1948, we started selling televisions, and we put one of the very first TVs up in Ennis, selling it to the editor of the Ennis Daily News,” Madewell said. “Back then, everyone only got one channel – Channel 5 in Fort Worth and you had to have a pretty high antenna to be able to pick it up. And that antenna is still standing today.”
Although Madewell had opportunities to buy his own property and buildings, he preferred to rent from others and has located his business “all over town.”
“They asked me to put up my shop in the back of the Western Auto Store and repair televisions, which I did for about two our three years, but that just wasn’t working out, so I moved out and rented a space close to the corner of Ennis Avenue and Northwest Main.”
Through the years, his business has been located on Kaufman Street, Brown Street and he eventually relocated back to where he first started out. His present location that he is in the process of vacating is on the southeast corner of Ennis Avenue and Southeast Main, where he has repaired televisions for the past 20 years.
Asked what the onslaught of the LCD and plasma televisions into the market has meant to TV repairmen, Madewell scratched his head and with a furrowed brow, said, “They really knocked us in the head. Working on plasma TVs is ridiculous. Now I have been able to work on LCD televisions and fix them.”
He is quick to note that the new televisions that have flooded the market are just not standing up like the old school analogue TVs.
“I’ve got an old TV that’s 15 years old and it is still going – and I’ve had a little Magnovox sitting back here in the shop that still plays after 10 years,” he said. “The other day I just gave it away – and I had a bunch of old analogue TVs – all of them worked great. I just sat them out on the sidewalk, put a sign out that said, ‘Free TVs’ and they were gone in just a little while.”
And the veteran television repairman has his own opinion about digital electronics.
“I believe the worst thing our country has ever done is to go digital,” he said. “Anybody with any brains at all knows that the old analogue, with cable or satellite dish, or even a good antenna, will hold up much better than this stuff we have today.”
Asked what retirement holds for him, Madewell laughed.
“Well Lorena already has so many things around the house that she wants me to do,” he said. “I told her that I think I need to go look for another job.”
Madewell loves to spend his spare time working in the yard, but says he doesn’t favor doing work inside the house.
And what about travel?
“Nope – we did all our traveling when the kids were young – and I was young,” he said. “When I was a boy, I had never been out of Texas – we were always too poor. But we decided that we were going to take our boys, James and Jimmy, and we were going to go places.”
The family made at least two road trips to California to visit Disneyland and Hollywood, they’ve traveled to the Rio Grande to pick oranges and have visited several sites in Mexico, Rock City and Nashville, Tenn., Yellowstone National Park, Carlsbad Caverns, Royal Gorge and Colorado Springs.
“I always took a little eight millimeter movie camera with me, and we still have the films,” he said.
Doug and Lorena look back on their years with satisfaction – they have their two sons nearby – James and his family in Fort Worth and Jimmy and family in Dallas.
“I can honestly say I have no regrets – I’ve never really been bad sick – the Lord’s been good to me,” he said. “I’ve never broken any bones although I’ve fallen a few times.”
The Madewells are charter members of Anthony Drive Baptist Church, where they still attend today.
Contact Paul at email@example.com or 469-517-1450.