Saturday, February 27, 2016

My BFF

 During my formative years, I spent a lot of time living with my paternal grandparents. Everyone knows how great it was as a kid to visit grandparents. Trust me, it is just as great to live with them.
 When I was about 9 years old, I was living with them for a couple years in Saco, Maine. I recollect that I only had two friends my age in the neighborhood, Derrick and 'Chip' (short for Charles). The majority of the time, I was by myself, quite contented to play with my toys, putter in the basement (I still do), or watch TV. However, there was one activity I enjoyed and that was to sit on the floor in front of the big RCA Victor radio/phonograph console and listen to my grandparents small record collection of 45's and LP's (remember that term for Long Play?). I would play them over and over again until I knew the songs by heart. I didn't care what kind of music it was, even Christmas, like Dennis Day singing O Holy Night or Patti Page singing How Much Is That Doggie In The Window? I think my favorite record was an LP called Remember How Great? It was a promotional record of old songs that Lucky Strike cigarettes put into Super Markets to promote their product. Since my grandfather's career was a meat manager in these markets, he would often bring things home. I remember him bringing home cases of sample size jars of Tang breakfast drink. Anyway, there were a lot of great songs on this album (which I still have!). My favorite was The Wayward Wind by Gogi Grant. I would listen to it over and over again.
 When I was 13, I was living with them, again, in Kennebunk, Maine. My old friend, the RCA, was still with us and I would still listen to it. By now, however, I started to expand my musical horizons and started my own record collection starting with singles like Time Won't Let Me by the Outsiders and Red Rubber Ball by Cyrkle.
 Eventually, I betrayed my friendship with the old RCA and built a record player of my own and had it in my room. It was crude but did the job. I built the amplifier from a schematic I found in my high school science book. I turned an old cabinet into a speaker baffle, filling it with a bunch of old speakers I had. For a turntable, I actually sprung for a new Garrard turntable. The system was monophonic, not stereophonic, but it was a start. First albums I owned were The Beatles: Revolver and Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.
 The last time I saw the old RCA was several years later in the attic of my aunt and uncle's home in Salem, Mass. That was a long time ago and now I imagine it is dust. Do you think it ever forgave me?





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