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Victrolas, 8-tracks and Cassettes

July 11, 2018

Do you remember the old Victrola record players that took up half of the living rooms back in the day? The bigger the better! I remember when the record was spinning, you had to put your face super close to the record so that you could see exactly where to drop the needle on the record. Your nose was practically touching the edge of the record so that you could see the grooves in the record better. You prayed that your hand wouldn’t shake so that you didn’t scratch the record with the needle because then you’d have to hear a click through your favorite song for the rest of your life. Back then everyone had 10 kids so you didn’t have the luxury of hearing your entire favorite album….you had to drop the needle on your specific favorite song while it was your turn to listen to music. Yep, you didn’t have your own private iPod or earbuds. Your whole family had to listen to your song choice OUT LOUD!  So you had to memorize where on the record your favorite song was and pray that you could drop the needle in the exact spot to catch the beginning of the song and not drop it part way through the song. If you messed up, you had 9 brothers and sisters to heckle you. The cool part about music back then was that the record cover sleeves that you slid the records into for safe keeping were large works of art, unlike the digital downloads nowadays where you don’t even see the album covers. In fact, some people bought the records just to have the album cover for their collection, and a large record collection was a sign of wealth back then. Then they came out with the automatic arm for the record players so that when you clicked a lever, the needle launched itself to the beginning of the album, and we all thought that was the coolest thing ever! No more record scratches! Then the 8-track became popular. You were used to being gentle with records, but the 8-track you couldn’t be gentle with. You had to shove it into the machine so hard that you had to hold the back of the 8-track player so that you didn’t push it off the shelf it was on. Or if you had an 8-track player in your car, you felt cool shoving that tape into the dashboard with conviction. Album covers with 8-tracks were just sticky paper with an image on it…not as cool. Then the cassette tape was introduced where you could finally record your own tape! It didn’t come easy though because sometimes when you ejected the tape it would get stuck in the machine. When you pulled it out, the whole tape pulled out of the cassette and crimped the flimsy film inside. You had to figure out how to gently remove the tape from the machine and then wind the damaged film back into the cassette with your finger or pencil and pray that it would play properly again. We all taped our favorite songs during the top 40 count down with Casey Kasum, but he would start the songs and continue talking! Wrap it up already Casey because now I have to listen to your dramatic story over my favorite song from now on. Zip it! You’d be doing your homework until you heard the beginning of your favorite song, so then you had to run as hard as you could across the room to get to the tape to hit record as fast as your fingers could work. The first cassette tapes required you to write on the tiniest lines on the plastic tape with a marker what songs were on it, so that was barely legible. The newer tapes had a separate sticky paper so that you could write your songs as small as humanly possible with a ball point pen on a flat surface before sticking it to the tape, so we all thought that was a life improving major scientific breakthrough. Kids nowadays have no idea of the struggles we went through to hear music! Do you still have your old records, 8 tracks or cassette tapes?

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