Back in the days of the hand cranked Victrola these old 78 rpm records brought music to folks with limited access to the larger world. Radio stations broadcast songs of A.P. Carter, Sarah, and Mother Maybell, across the airwaves from Bristol Virginia/Tennessee, into mountain homes with battery powered radios. The records, like the one above, were recorded live and cut onto a metal disc that was then used to press the vinyl records. Classical and Jazz records were a hit as well. I still don’t understand how a scratching needle can make beautiful music!
We have come a long way from 78 rpms of my childhood. Digital sound is amazing as it comes from many devices manufactured today. Interestingly the old 45 rpm and 33 1/3 rpm players are not making a comeback with the younger generation! There is something magical about putting a record on, watching it spin and listening to the music come pouring out! The old ways weren’t so bad after all!
Music coming from a horn
Flappers dance to Swing
Photo from Robert’s Books in Lincoln City, Oregon – Dwight L. Roth
It is hard to imagine a time when we did not have all of the electronic gadgets we have today. When I was young we did not have a TV, so the radio was our only source of broadcast information. We used our imagination to connect the dots when we listened to Lowell Thomas and the news. His broadcasts from all over the world were fascinating to hear. The Lone Ranger and “Hi-O-Silver” came through the speakers and tickled my imagination. Music and religious programming also came across the airwaves.
Today we have information overload. So much so, that many things are only view for a few seconds at most. Music comes through earbuds and blocks out any chance of social interaction. As I watched the Ken Burns special, The History of Country Music, on PBS, it once again took me back to the Radio era, when music came live across the airwaves and was played on vinyl records. I must be really old!!
Coming through ten inch speakers
Photo: Dwight L. Roth
If you enjoy history, check out this blogger’s trip down old Rt. 66!
One of my stories, A Christmas Carol, has been included in the Old Mountain Press’s new anthology of poetry and flash fiction. It is entitled Tis the Season, and is available on Amazon Kindle as seen below. Tom Davis is the editor and has several of his own books on Kindle as well. This is my story.
A Christmas Carol
Dwight L. Roth
Each Christmas, we listened to A Christmas Carol on the big floor model record player that sat between the two windows in the living room. An album of several large vinyl records waited patiently on the shelf for our arrival each year.
My Aunt Janet and Uncle Loren lived in a big two-story brick house on Main Street in Allensville. We stayed with them each Christmas, when we traveled four hours to be with our family.
As we all gathered around the record player, Uncle Loren pulled out the first shiny black record and carefully placed it on the turntable. The scratch of the needle against the vinyl came through the speakers as we waited for the story to start.
It was a magical time… a fantasy world, as I listened to the story unfold. Ebenezer Scrooge, Bob Cratchit, Ghost Marley, and Tiny Tim all came alive in my mind as the ghosts came and went. We sat mesmerized, letting the tale unfold all the way to the final transformation of Scrooge into a generous caring man.
The radiators clanked as the steam passed through. The colored lights in the windows were filled with liquid that bubbled, adding to the hypnotic spell cast by the story. No one said a word until the needle scratched its way into the speaker as the last record ended.
It was a great time to be alive.
Click on the picture or link to it on Amazon search.