I still remember afternoons spent in our finished basement when I was a kid, listening to albums on our old RCA console. My dad had rigged speakers into the drop-tiled ceiling when he refinished the basement, so we could lounge around in the space normally reserved for adult parties – complete with the orange Formica/fake wood paneling wet bar, harvest gold carpet tiles, and the obligatory coffee table made from an old city limits sign.
(My sibs and I used to raid the basement the morning after particularly rambunctious parties, sampling the last of the grasshoppers left in dirty glasses while scarfing down scraps of cheese balls and other dips long since gone crusty. Ah, 70’s entertaining, complete with creme de cacao…but I digress.)
We’d dip into records ranging from soundtracks to movies like West Side Story and Godspell to the later-day bubble gum and/or treacly collection (think Barry Manilow and The Partridge Family) sent by my uncle, a marketing guy for Bell Records. Yes, he’s responsible for my decades-later fascination with David Cassidy.
My mom also had a collection of old 78’s, handed down from her grandmother. We could only use these under supervision – but to be honest, we weren’t really interested in most of the records she wanted us to listen to. Fibber McGee and Molly? Uh…not our cup of tea. But she persisted, especially when it came to the collection of children’s music (it was probably her blocking strategy when the bubble gum threatened to pop her last nerve – a strategy I’ve similarly employed, of course…)
So we also listened to Rusty in Orchestraville. Tubby the Tuba. And other classics from the 40’s and 50’s.
Alas, the 78’s have been stashed away for 25+ years now when the old console player died. And I’ve thought about trying to find a way to play the records or transfer the music, especially to foster Drama Mama‘s education – but kept coming up empty. But all is not lost, thanks to the wonders of digital music and Kiddie Records Weekly:
For the entire 2005 year, Basic Hip Digital Oddio will be featuring weekly stories and songs from the golden age of children’s records, a period which ran from the mid 1940s into the early 1950s. This era produced a wealth of classics, headed by Capitol’s Record-Readers and the RCA Victor Little Nipper series. Each one of these recordings has been carefully transferred from the original 78s (plus a few 45s) and encoded to MP3 format for you to download and enjoy.
So I’ve downloaded Rusty in Orchestraville. Already have the calendar marked for Tubby the Tuba.
Now, to deal with the sudden cravings for grasshoppers and that cream cheese – cocktail sauce – canned crab dip (on a Ritz cracker, no less)…