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45 rpm“Pick out any one you want,” my father said, gesturing toward a wall in Tower of Records.   Lined up in horizontal and vertical rows on the wall, like good little musical soliders, were several 45 r.p.m. records on display, covering all genres.

I was surprised at his offer.  During my 12 years on the planet, it had not escaped my attention that my father was very frugal with the family budget.  I was also aware, however, of his love of music.  (He even enjoyed a brief career as a disc jockey in the early 1950’s.)  Earlier that week, he bought a Hi-Fi stereo, and I realized that he wanted me to share the joy of his new toy.  So, I made my selection and he made his, and on the way home he animately discussed how the records would sound. 

After walking in the door and showing Mom his purchases, he put the yellow adapter disc into my new record, and dropped it onto the turntable.

Smiling, he turned to me and said, “Okay, here you go!”

His happy countenance quickly segued into horror as Steppenwolf’s ”Born To Be Wild” blared out his new stereo speakers.  Jaw dropping, he turned and stared at me.  I could almost hear his unspoken, stunned thought, “What happened to Woody Woodpecker?!”

This memory floats up as I see vinyls making a comeback.  Other flashbacks:

  • My first record player was portable.  The turntable was metal and its surface was fuzzy.  I have no idea why.  It played at three speeds:  33 1/3, 45 and 78 r.p.m.’s.  (I believe the Hi-Fi had an additional 16 r.p.m. option.)
  • Dust would collect in the grooves of the record and, as a result, build up on the needle, so it needed to be blown off periodically.  There was a retail item that was supposed to clean the record, but it was much easier just to blow the dust off the needle.
  • If there was a skip on the record, a gentle touch on the arm would keep it moving on.
  • Taping music meant holding a tape recorder up to the speakers.
    On the back of a cereal box was a red record you could cut out and play on your phonograph.  I specifically remember “Sugar Sugar” by The Archies.  I still can’t believe it actually played.

The problem with records is they get scratched, melt if exposed too long to the sun, and become warped if laid flat too long.  I’ve been helping my aunt and uncle convert their old 45’s and 33 1/3 records to digital, and have come across all of these scenarios.  The sometimes scratchy background is fine, though.  Gives them a kind of funky, stepping-back-into-time sound. 

What memories do you have regarding records?

You Are A Classic

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julie-jan-2-yearsThat I couldn’t get away with much, because she had already done it.

Laugh much.

Sew my own clothes when on a tight budget.

Be adventurous.

Don’t let the sales clerk sell you something you don’t need.

Attend all family events.

Washing the dishes includes wiping down the sinks and countertops.

Love unconditionally.

Too much sun causes melanoma.

What did you learn from your mother?

You Are A Classic

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