Re: Table saw for beginner?
I got to "learn" on a Powermatic 66 cabinet saw. I think not having to worry about basic quality-safety issues while getting my bearings was invaluable.
Whatever you do, don't get the cheapest or smallest saw you can buy. they are usually unsafe crap. The last thing I would want to do would be to assign a new helper to a small saw without supervision. The bigger and more stable the saw is, the safer the experience will be.
Don't have your first project involve ripping 2" thick green oak, either. Start with small tasks with straight-grained, clear 1" pine, work up to harder projects.
A good used craftsman belt-driven contractor's saw can usually be found on CL for under $150, it's money well-spent. Everything on it (except the p ower switch) is serviceable.
Remove not the ancient landmark, which your fathers have set.