Luke Cartoon for May 4, 2022

There’s a celebration day for just about anything you can think of, and some are even considered national days to recognize and enjoy it.

One that caught my eye recently was National Record Store Day, which was observed on April 24, though likely only observed by the few that even knew it was a thing.

Did I celebrate by running out and buying a stack of new albums? Are you crazy?! Have you seen what they’re going for these days, brand new? Don’t let $25 surprise you, for real.

My own version of celebrating is just to enjoy the records I have. Y’all know what a pack rat I am, and yes, I’ve held onto every record I’ve ever bought, plus have stacks of them left to me by my dad when he passed away.

I remember shopping for them locally at Ye Old Record Shoppe that was located where Gator Guns is now, and my late great old buddy Johnny Martin worked there.

Another place to find them was in the parking lot behind where Koch’s Annex used to be, in the back of the pink building downtown. The tiny building is still there, and we called it Miss Gussie’s, as she sat behind a little table in there and sold us LPs and 45 RPM records.

But the treasure trove where you could really rack up on albums was through the mail, by joining Columbia Records. Hey, they offered a dozen albums of my choice for a single penny, and do you think I was gonna turn that down?!

Of course I had to buy a few more at regular price for the next few years, but I was good with that. I’d fulfill my obligation, then join again. And again. And again. And I even got extra free albums when I suckered (I mean, talked) my friends into joining.

I know I’m not the only one guilty of that, so don’t be judging me, y’all.

I stay behind in the times, so I am thoroughly excited to see a new generation suddenly discovering vinyl. No longer slaves to the perfect sounds of digital blue tooth stuff, they’re broadening their horizons by falling in love with the pops and scratches they hear as the archaic old needle finds its way from the outer edge of the record to the label, one beautiful rotation at a time.

There may be hope for this generation after all!

We loved albums because that’s all we had, until eight-track and cassette tapes came along. Some albums even came with cool posters that we teens adorned our bedroom walls with. Let’s see somebody download one of those out of thin air.

I’d fall asleep every night with a stack of LPs on my turntable, and it’d turn itself off when it finished with the last one.

We’d carry them to parties to share and carefully handle them by the edges so we didn’t incur scratches. And even if we did, we didn’t mind the sound it made. Remember taping a penny or a nickel to the top of the head shell (which housed the needle) at the end of the tone arm to keep it from skipping across the record sometimes?

Yeah, I know, that sounds primitive. But it was all part of what was actually state of the art at that time.

In those days (or nights) you’d call the local radio station and request a special song to be dedicated to you and your sweetie and get all twitterpated when it came on.

Something got lost along the way when radio stations turned to pre-programmed and automated — a valuable piece of Americana, I’d say.

My only gig as a deejay who spun records was in the recreation department of our local state hospital, where three nights a week I fired up the double turntable and colored stage lights onstage in the gym for the patients to dance.

My inspiration came from Dr. Johnny Fever and Venus Flytrap, two deejays from the TV show “WKRP in Cincinnati” that was still being aired back then.

Great role models? Maybe not, but it was fun while it lasted.

For the record (literally) I will always treasure my albums. Each one holds special songs that in turn holds special memories of amazing, simpler times.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to drop a stack of wax on the ol’ hi-fi, and take a long, slow trip back down memory lane...


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