Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Party Like It's Almost 1969

As you prepare for this year's New Year's Eve festivities, here's a little party music for you from 1968, courtesy of the fine folks at WCOL, AM 1230, in Columbus, Ohio.

Someone (whose tapes I bought at least three decades later) made the wonderful choice to record much of that station's year end countdown of the biggest hits of the year. Unfortunately, some of the DJ chatter is cut out, as are all of the commercials. And not all of the songs are represented here (many from lower down on the list are cut). But what's here is great stuff, if you're into top 40 radio recordings.

For example, while the number one song is quite predictable (it was the biggest hit record of the era), several of the top 15 hits of the year came nowhere near that lofty finish on any nationwide charts - for example, who would expect "Dock of the Bay" to be sitting outside of the top ten, pushed out by the likes of "Bottle of Wine" by the Fireballs? And the year end number FIVE hit - well it's a song which only got to number 17 in its regular chart run in Billboard. And in other spots on the chart there are similar regional hits, much bigger here than they were nationally.

Oddly, after playing the number five song, the DJ cuts back to two songs from much lower down in the countdown, which apparently were skipped for some reason. We get to hear those, but sadly, there's not even a moment of song number three, which was skipped entirely, by whoever recorded the countdown, so I guess we'll never know what that song was..

The tape contained the majority of the countdown on the first side of the tape, and that is the first segment here, running about 94 minutes. It ends with the celebration of the new year, 1969, as it arrives, with an idiosyncratic version of Auld Lang Syne (heard during most of the last 90 seconds of segment one) which is worth hearing. The remainder of the countdown (36 minutes) is on side two, and that is the second segment (it starts with a few seconds of a news broadcast, which was then erased).

(Not included is the remainder of side two, which features an aggressively uninspired Tom Jones album, a few tracks from Elvis movies, and some of Glenn Miller's biggest hits, in what sound like hi-fi note-for-note recreations of the originals. Bleah.)

Put on your funny hats and Welcome-1969 glasses, and enjoy the broadcast!

Download: WCOL, AM 1230, Columbus Ohio, Top Hits of 1968 - Part One

Download: WCOL, AM 1230, Columbus Ohio, Top Hits of 1968 - Part Two

UPDATE, 1/7/16: Frequent commenter and general wonderful helper to this site Timmy has shared both a link to some history of WCOL, which you can find here, and also a copy of the station's Top 100 of 1968, in which we can see that the #3 song of the year was "Lady Madonna", which barely made the top four in it's regular Billboard run, nationally, in the early part of that year.

Thanks, Timmy!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Christmas Morning with a Toddler

Here's one that I don't think I need to say much about. Perhaps it won't get as many replays as the files in some of my other posts, but it more than makes up for that in its sweetness and familiarity. Those of you with distant (or recent) memories of Christmases spent with very small children might enjoy this the most.

Quite simply, this features about 25 minutes of a Christmas celebration between a young couple and their toddler, including the opening of gifts, the reactions, the tender words between the couple, and even the thanks given to the tiny little girl upon opening the gifts she "chose" for her parents.

Download: Christmas Morning With a Toddler


P.S. Watch for a very special New Year's Eve related post early next week!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

"Christmas, 1961, At Mom Mom's"

"Record, Daddy, I wanna see what happens..."

Thus begins a lovely little 28 minute tape labeled "Christmas 1961 at Mom Mom's".  I am enchanted by this sort of tape, which capture special moments within families, or friends or neighbors, or all three.

Very shortly into the tape, we are treated to much of the Chubby Checker/Bobby Rydell remake of "Jingle Bell Rock" (which we'll later learn was among one child's favorite records at that moment). But this is an exception: the rest of the tape features music, singing and talking featuring Mom Mom's family.

I will not do a moment by moment summary here, but I will mention a few favorite moments. I adore the little song that a couple of kids sing starting at the 8:30 mark. The communal singing of "Silent Night" at 13:30 is sweet. There is also a boisterous version of "Sweet Sue - Just You" around the 16 minute mark, and a nice rendition or two of a Hebrew song at the 22:00 mark.

Oh, and it's not your speakers: around 18:20 there is a weirdly double-recorded section, with both a piano piece and a separate vocal piece having been recorded on the same part of the tape.

(There are a few truly dull moments, too, including some badly played guitar licks which start around the six minute mark and which - at two minutes - go on too long, but even these give a flavor of who these people were and what the gathering was like.)

I hope you enjoy this little slice of Christmas from 54 years ago. Another Christmas recording will follow early next week.

(A final word on the ticking that can be heard through much of this recording: I mentioned a few months ago that my reel to reel machine was sick and in the shop. Well, you see, it was imprinting everything I played with that damn ticking, and this was one of the tapes where I realized that it was happening. The imprinting is permanent. The various loudnesses of the ticking is an indication of how much or how little I've boosted the sound to any given segment of the recording.)

Download: Christmas, 1961, at Mom Mom's

Monday, December 7, 2015

A Group of Loud Girls, circa 1959

Well, I just enjoy this tape. It features a group of young women, around 1959, having some fun.

There's nothing particularly historical here, it's poorly recorded in places(specifically during the loudest section in the middle of the recording), and it mainly captures a few minutes of silliness, but that last quality makes up for any shortcomings for me.

The tape is just under 21 minutes long - there appear to be at least three different recording times involved. The first one would be that someone was recording pop music off of the radio (this, and some of the musical references by the girls, nicely dates this tape to some time around 1959). Most of that radio recording was erased, though, and we hear moments of it in between the early parts of the existing tape.

Then there is the main segment, which grows louder and louder (with those occasional gaps) as the girls involved start feeding off of each other and the energy level rises (as does a deep hum which seems to indicate a microphone level turned up too high. This segment suddenly ends just after the 13 minute mark, and most of the remaining 7 1/2 minutes involve at least some of the same girls (and, I think, one adult woman), without nearly so much franticness as before. It appears that this section was also recorded earlier (like the radio material heard at the start of the tape), and part of it was erased by the loud part.

As to the specific content of what these girls' chose to record, I'll leave that for you to discover. There's no specific high or low point, it just demonstrates the fun that was to be had for these people, being a young teen in the late 1950's.

Oh, and I wonder what Ray's doing right now.

Download: A Group of Loud Girls, circa 1959

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Just a Guy and His Guitar

As I alluded to in my other blog, time for doing non-required things has been very short for the last couple of weeks. I finally made time to put together a very big post at that site, using up any time I might have had here. The next time I aim for a big post, I'll probably try to make it here. But anyway, that's why it's been a bit quiet here.

And.... I hope all of you who are in the part of the world that celebrates Thanksgiving had a very nice one. I am very thankful for the wonderful feedback I've been getting to the posts on this new site so far.

Today, a sweet, simple tape which seems to date to the mid 1960's, featuring just what I said up there, "A Guy and His Guitar" (as well as a brief interruption for a recording of a hit record off the radio). The songs are all country flavored, including a number of 1950's and 1960's hits.

The "guy" in question has fairly rudimentary guitar skills, and plays songs which cover the bare minimum of chords. I don't say that in criticism - I love finding/hearing tapes of people who are giving honest, guileless performances, for their own benefit or those of a few lucky close family and friends. And in addition to that, I'll take every one of these songs and performances over any song/record which has been a "country" hit during the last 30 years. I better not get myself started on that...

I can't find any reference online to songs with the precise lyrics of the first four songs, and for all I know, they may be the singer's original songs.

Following these, we hear just the tail end of the singer's performance of Wynn Stewart's "Wishful Thinking". This is followed by Wynn Stewart's own recording of the same song, which came out in 1959, taped off the radio. The beginning of Connie Smith's "I Can't Remember", from 1965, follows, giving us the earliest possible date for this tape (Although technically, this radio recording seems to have erased some earlier recordings, and none of the other songs our singer performs are from later than 1963, so perhaps that's closer to the date of the "guy and guitar" part of the tape.)

The rest of the tape features our singer/guitarist again. When Connie Smith's song cuts off after a few seconds, we hear him singing the second half (the first half having been erased) of the Faron Young song "Country Girl", which is from 1959.

Seven songs follow, all but the last are complete. These include the traditional "Columbus Stockade Blues", Marty Robbins' "Cigarettes and Coffee Blues" (from 1963) abd "Poor Man's Riches" (a 1956 hit).

The tape finishes with versions of four huge hits. First up are two Johnny Cash hits, "Folsom Prison Blues" (complete with a bit of a Cash-styled vocal styling) and "Hey Porter". Next is Hank William's "I Can't Help It", and finally, a version of "Singing the Blues", which was first a hit for Marty Robbins in 1956, but is best known today for the pop cover the same year by Guy Mitchell (the latter, for my money, is one of the best records ever made). This performance is definitely based on the Robbins version, and unfortunately, the tape runs out before our mystery singer finishes his performance.

As I said, I love this sort of thing. I hope you do, too!

Download: A Guy with a Guitar - Country Songs

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The Milwaukee 14

First, let me tell everyone that I am aware that there were some sound issues with the previous post - those tracks have been replaced with higher quality sound files.

Also, thanks to those of you who chased down the details of those heard on the tape. First, I was given a link to Jack Sterling's 10th anniversary show, which is here. Second, a few people confirmed that the DJ/singer in the second segment is Bea Wain. Wikipedia states that "Deep Purple" was one of multiple number one hits that she had, but it would be more accurate to say that Larry Clinton had those number one hits, around 15 years before the tape I shared, and Wain was the vocalist on his band's recordings.

Thanks to everyone for reading, letting me know about issues, and commenting and filling in the details.

And now for something completely different:


Here's an interesting little slice of life from a very specific moment in time.

The Milwaukee 14 were a group of people who took part in an act of civil disobedience in the fall of 1968 to protest the Vietnam war. You can read about them here. From that site, here's a brief explanation:

The writer at that site states that the event was "an act of civil disobedience that I took part in back in the summer of 1968 — September 24 — when the Vietnam War was raging. A group of fourteen people broke into nine draft boards that had offices side by side in a Milwaukee office building, put the main files into burlap bags, then burned the papers with homemade napalm in a small park in front of the office building while reading aloud from the Gospel. We awaited arrest, were jailed for a month, freed on bail, then tried the following year, after which we went to prison for more than a year (for most of us it was 13 months)."

What I have here is a radio interview done with one of the fourteen, Michael Cullen. The interview, as you will hear, was done after he had been found guilty, but before he was sentenced, and it is mentioned that by the time the recording would be aired, Cullen would be in jail, as he intended to start serving his sentence immediately.

Beyond saying that I find this a fairly fascinating little conversation (and adding that the tape cuts off in what appears to be just moments before the end of the actual show that was broadcast), this is offered up without comment.

Download: Interview with Michael Cullen

Monday, October 26, 2015

A Few Fun Moments with WCBS, New York, circa 1954

First off, I want to offer up a tremendous THANK YOU to The Wire Magazine, who did a very nice write up of this site, and also made reference to several of my posts from the WFMU blog. It's in issue number 381. They can be found @thewiremagazine on Twitter and on their Facebook page:

And now, back to the countdown:

I have something extra special for today. Contained on a three-fourths-full, 10 inch reel of tape were some marvelous sounds from WCBS in New York - the first segment featuring some behind the scenes work as two of the on-air personnel cut a few very interesting promos, and the second segment featuring some on-air work by a female DJ, the likes of which I've never heard live on the radio in the fifty-plus years that I've been listening.

Some time ago, my beloved reel to reel machine developed an allergy to playing 10 inch reels, and I am very thankful and deeply indebted to long time reader and commenter Timmy for offering to help digitize those things I own which are on these large reels. THANKS!!!

The first part of the tape features the hosts of the two morning shows, Jack Sterling and Martha Wright, promoting each others' shows together, in several takes of a variety of playful interactions. You can read about Jack Sterling here. The back scratching one seems destined to make it into more than a few people's "sound-files-to-play-with" file, including mine. A great little segment.

Download: Jack Sterling and Martha Wright - WCBS Promos

When this is over, we're then treated to nearly 15 minutes of on-air work from someone named Bea Wayne (or maybe it's Bea Wain). As I mentioned, this is quite different from any radio show I've ever heard. Ms. Wayne does the Tintex singing commercial live, has piano accompaniment for her song intros and outros, and does a complete, live performance of "Deep Purple", in between playing the various hits of the day (including the marvelous "Skokiaan", although not in either of my favorite versions), hits which most definitely date this recording to 1954. There's also a neat Nescafe commercial!

Download: Bea Wayne - WCBS Aircheck

Thursday, October 15, 2015

It's 1983: Stereo Review Previews CD's... and More

At the end of a reel of rather nondescript radio announcer/commercial voices demo, I found a series of five short programs called "Radio Magazine", promoting Stereo Review Magazine.

What interested me about these programs is that the first few of the 90 second features are all about the coming world of the Compact Disc, which was so new at this point (sounds like it must have been June of 1983 - promoting the July issue of the magazine), that few outside of Japan would have seen or heard one.

Editor William Livingston, who tells us, in a marvelously ridiculous, pompous voice, just how wonderful the CD is. I heartily disagree with his finding that they are superior to records. They certainly weren't in the early days, and improvements since then haven't convinced me.

The first two segments are about the sound of CD's, while the subsequent three cover the equipment you might use - what you already own that you can still use with CD's, what portable units are available (and which are worth buying), and the type of speakers you might want.

Download: William Livingston - Previewing the Compact Disc Revolution

Monday, October 5, 2015

An Evening of Music with the Muir Family

Today, an example of the sort of tape I just live to discover. On both sides of this five inch reel of tape, members of a family named Muir (and a few kids from other families - perhaps relatives or friends) display their musical abilities, whether developing (in terms of the kids' instrumental abilities) or well-honed (as in some lovely harmony singing).
Those who like highly produced or even auto-tuned music, as well as those who don't want to hear down-home Christian songs may not dig this too much, but if you're a fan of home-made, heartfelt music, this is for you.
We start slow, with a piano piece by one of the kids, and a trumpet piece by another one, followed by a very short guitar/vocal performance of "Surfin' U.S.A."
Download: 1.) Piano Piece
Then, for me, the magic starts, as the pianist, guitarist and trumpeter team up on a short version of an old-timey song. This is ragged as all git-out, but it's honest and sweet and homey and makes me feel overwhelmingly nostalgic and very close to teary.
The guitarist of the house now entertains with a country song which is unfamiliar to me, with simple strumming and a wonderful, aching vocal. I wish there was more of this material, actually.
Then most of the family gets together, and I find the resulting sounds to be just wonderful. The vocals and harmonies are just a bit ragged, but that makes the whole enterprise that much more real. They team up for three traditional religious songs (the third of which is missing the opening lines).
Next, a brief moment with the baby of the family, just three years old, and not actually quite ready for her close-up, as she's not able to carry a tune just yet.
For whatever reason, there follows an even briefer moment of conversation about how some recent repairs have left someone's car worse off than it was before.
Next up, two more religious numbers, first, a duet, and then a trio, neither one of which strikes me as being as wonderful as the three earlier ones. The second one has a small section which was erased by someone laughing.
The end of the tape is taken up by a couple of jokes, and here they are:
Download: 13.) Jokes
Here is the back of the tape box. The way the tape played for me, out the box, had the second listed side here first, so that it how I digitized it. No telling which side was originally first - even the writing on the box simply says "one side" and "other side".
Thanks to the Muir Family. This is magical.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

A Sales Pitch About WLTD's Weird Program Schedule

<First, thanks to everyone who chimed in regarding last week's (edited) post. I appreciated the conversation. I do understand the points of those of you arguing for keeping things historically accurate, and will make future decisions on a case-by-case basis. That said, I am also struggling with some professional reasons why it might not be the best idea for me to share such recordings unedited.>

And now....

WLTD was a station located in central Evanston, IL, during the 1970's. The station existed before that point under other call letters, and still exists, but again, has had different call letters for many, many years now. It's biggest claim to fame, after the fact, is that it was the original station to host the now-legendary show "Those Were the Days", featuring Chuck Schaden and hour after hour of Old Time Radio. This is one the programs which kicked off the nostalgia craze for OTR.

I believe that when it was WLTD, it was one of those stations which sells off time for programming to anyone who wanted to air a show which fit in with the stations larger goals, but I could be wrong.

If I'm right, however, that would go a long way to explaining the near-schizophrenic programming described in this promo reel for advertisers - they go from light classic music right into discussions of abortion and suicide! They clearly want the buyers to know that they have an older, upscale listening audience, but aside from certain elements of the programming that clearly would appeal to parts of that older audience, I'm not sure who would be sticking around for all of the haphazard changes of format which seem to have gone on every day.

And all this is in addition to the idea that, by the early '70's, anyone would have been looking for a "Fine Arts" station, with a frequent focus on Classical Music, on an AM station. That seems unlikely. Oh, and that unctuous salesman announcing the sales pitch is about as big a turn off as I can imagine. Ecch. I do, however, love the descriptions he gives of the opulent lifestyles of the listeners your products will reach - it's well over the line into self-parody. And the way he sells the idea that most news of the day is aggressively unimportant. Classic. Oh, and who is this fabulous composer Bokohrock that he mentions?

Download: WLTD Promo Reel

Monday, September 14, 2015

A Few Minutes of Songs and Jokes with Randy, Bobby and their Family


First, the bad news. My tape recorder has a minor problem, but one which I cannot correct myself, and one which renders it useless. I will be at the mercy of whatever time table my trusted neighborhood electronics shop uses to get it fixed. I hope to fill that time with whatever pieces of tape I've digitized for my own entertainment (or future use), but if it takes longer than expected, posts here may slow down a bit. Let's hope not.

And now, on with the countdown:


Today's feature is a (mostly) charming little visit with what sounds to me like a southern family, from (I'm guessing) circa the mid-'60's, given the multiple references to the Batman TV series that shone so brightly and fizzled out so quickly.

Only two children are identified by name, Bobby and Randy. There's a third child present.

The first minute or so features a few adults chatting about bullfrogs and illness, among other things - this isn't terribly interesting, but I thought I'd include for the sake of completeness. It only lasts 75 seconds.

At 1:20 the real show begins. Randy sings a rather tuneless song which seems to consist of the same phrase over and over again, then sings "Santy Claus" an equal number of times. Bobby is a bit older, and sings a Halloween song, followed by what he terms "Batman Jokes", but which largely seem to be simple facts about their lives. Then there is a bit of acting out of a Batman episode.

The adults don't want to talk, so Bobby continues his Batman episode, which includes some very minor crime reports (a few torn up books??), plus, a fantastic Joker impression.

A weird bit, sounding like nothing so much as off-kilter coffee club poetry and guitar, follows. It's only 30 seconds, but boy, is it odd.

Next is a brief hymn by the third child, who knows a few actual Batman jokes, and Bobby gives the answers. The second one is aggressively juvenile but made me laugh out loud.

This same child sings two songs I'm sure we'll all agree share many qualities, "Cottonfields" and "Hanky Panky", again helpfully dating this tape to 1966-67. Bobby tries to get an old children's rhyme in before the tape runs out, but only part it gets recorded, and the tape ends.

<Note: up there I included a modifier, and said the tape was "mostly" charming. I want to acknowledge that I've edited out about 45 seconds of racist material - a song and a joke - because I don't want to be guilty of spreading that sort of thing out into the ether. I recognize that there is another argument to  be made for sharing the tape completely, in admitting the attitudes of the place and the time. I'd be interested in hearing what readers/listeners think about this.>

Download: A Family At Home

Thursday, September 3, 2015

A Few Hundred Barbershop Quartet Enthusiasts Walk Into an Auditorium...

Hi, everyone,

First, I want to mention a couple of notes I got that the sound files for download on earlier posts weren't working. This is correct - they weren't. This problem seems to have now been solved, as they were working for download five minutes ago.

About the name of this post: here's a short bit of tape (four minutes) that I just LOVE.

This segment came in the middle of a fairly lengthy tape of a barbershop quartet contest. The tape quality was awful - it was recorded at the low-fi speed of 1 7/8 AND the tape was literally coming apart, flaking away in places. I had one shot to copy it, and I kept the part that I found worth keeping, before throwing what was left of the tape away.

For in the middle of the program, while setting up for another act, someone on stage had a bright idea (maybe this is common at these contests, I don't know): we have several hundred fans of Barbershop Quartet singing in our audience. It's a good bet most of them know how to sing in Barbershop style. Lets have EVERYONE sing a few Barbershop standards, since they'll all know at least one of the four parts.

The results are just lovely, even given the cruddy quality of the sound. First, there are two goes at "Let Me Call You Sweetheart", and then a stab at "I Want a Girl Just Like the Girl That Married Dear Old Dad".

This is truly one of the "little" treasures of my collection.

Download: Barbershop Audience Sings Together

(And that's a group that did it's share of Barbershop Quartet singing - The Mellomen, with Thurl Ravenscroft on the right.)

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

A Shortwave Broadcast Direct from Australia - August, 1974

After I wrote that the baseball broadcast I shared last week sounded as if it was recorded over shortwave, I got to thinking about a set of multiple recordings that I have of Australian Shortwave programming.

Here's an example, featuring two 15 minute programs recorded in early August of 1974.

First up is a brief "magazine" style show, in which we are told about:

A man known only as "Arthur" who went around writing "Eternity on various pavements
A man who thinks the earth is going to run out of resources relatively soon, due to overpopulation
Robert Slatzer, who claimed to have been married to Marilyn Monroe for four days, and his expose book on her death, which he identified as a murder (followed by a short clip of Monroe singing)
A new method to quit smoking
A man who wants to build a giant statue that no one else is interested in

All in less than 15 minutes!

Then, it's MUSIC TIME, and a very friendly and knowledgeable folk singer named Dennis Gibbons sings us three traditional Australian folk songs, complete with detailed back stories (the back story for the third one is considerably longer than the song!). The songs are:

Lime Juice Tub
Ben Hall
The Overlanders

Enjoy this 41 year old trip through Australia!

Download: Shortwave From Australia, 1974

Sunday, August 16, 2015

The Chicago Cubs Are On the Air - Circa 1953 or 1954

Time is very short this week, but I really want to make a go at getting something worthwhile up here nearly every week. The trade-off will be a much shorter bit of commentary, which I'm sure will break your hearts.

So... .in honor of my beloved Chicago Cubs, who have the best record in baseball over the past few weeks, here is a 33 minute slice of Cubs play-by-play from Mutual's "Game of the Day". The recording quality is awful - it sounds like a short wave broadcast - but I just love this sort of thing, regardless of

Based on the players heard in this game, it appears that this is from either very late 1953 or some time in 1954. Be sure to listen for the announcer commenting calling the other team The Boston Braves, before giving the score, moments later, at the end of an inning, and correctly calling them The Milwaukee Braves, a move that took place before the 1953 season.

At the very end of this tape is a 30 second excerpt from a boxing broadcast, then an even shorter (seven seconds) excerpt from a Dodgers game.

UPDATE: Thanks to a commenter (view the comments, below), it looks like this is the first game of a doubleheader on May 23, 1954. Many thanks for this information!

Download: Circa 1953-54 Chicago Cubs Game

Monday, August 10, 2015

"Isn't it Wonderful the Things They Invent Nowadays!"

First, I want to let everyone know that the files in last week's posting, which were initially unplayable and could not be downloaded, have now been completely fixed.

Second, regarding that same post, I want to thank those who chimed in to identify a young Barry Manilow singing the Stridex jingle, and also who suggested the companies behind these jingles. That information is all in the comments, and I will add it to the actual post soon. Have a look!

Today's item comes from a paper-backed reel of tape. I've written about these before, and it's always a fascination to me to find one of these, because, as likely as not, it will contain something recorded at the dawn of home recording on reel to reel tape. Paper-backing was quickly phased out in favor of more sturdy backings (paper tapes will literally just tear in half). I've written about them here, in a post which also features some photos of the tapes in my basement. I'm sure it makes me sound more than a little crazy, but my heart starts beating faster when I spy a tape I know may be (or is) a paper backed reel - maybe an ancient scotch brand box, featuring one of their earliest designs - say, one that looks like this:

And the tape above did not disappoint. I've identified this as the 1950's, but depending on when the tape was bought, it could even be the very late 1940's, and I doubt it's much after 1952.

The 24 minute segment below contains the total recordings made on this tape. And those contents are varied. It starts off with a family discussing some recent activities and events, and very soon, the method by which the reel to reel machine works is explained to an older sounding woman, who's response could be the motto of this site: ""Isn't it wonderful the things they invent nowadays!"

There follows (at about 2:45) a brief skit with a child about going to the zoo, and then there is a very brief (failed) attempt to record a phone call.

The longest segment follows (starting at 4:35), in which a man repeatedly interviews a little girl (very likely his daughter), on a variety of subjects important to her life - a show she was in, making dresses, etc. He mentions the Broadview Theater in Cleveland at one point, giving us a location, if not a date (I've found that this theater no longer exists, but that's about it).

At the 16 minute mark, there is a skit about buying a dishwasher, and then a very difficult to understand (for me, anyway) interview with a little boy about his train set. There is a brief, badly played and out of tune piano solo at 20:50.

And then, the encore, perhaps making it all worthwhile, at 21:45, a couple re-enact an old, off color, double entendre bit about playing golf, seemingly straight off of one of those barely labeled party records you would have had to buy from under the counter. The reading of this skit, particularly by the male participant, borders on atrocious.

Here you go - enjoy this tape from perhaps as long as 65 years ago:

Download: From a Paper Reel: Early Recordings - Family Talk, Interviews with Children, Skits and Piano

Monday, August 3, 2015

McDonald's, State Farm, Stridex, Rodney Allen Rippy and More - A Dozen Ads from 1973!

ANNOUNCEMENT - 8/4/15 - the problems with the files on this post have been fixed. Please let me know if you have any further problems with any of these 12 files.

Howdy, everyone,

Thanks for the great response to this new site - glad to know so many of you came over from WFMU to have a look.

And as promised, I plan to offer up what readers/listeners ask for, if I have it. The very first request was for more ads, and I dug out a tape featuring a dozen ads which I'm fairly certain are from 1973, based on the presence of a Rodney Allen Rippy ad for Jack in the Box and an ad for something called "Help Fruit Drink". This tape came housed in a nondescript white box, so instead of reproducing that, here's a picture of Rodney Allen Rippy:

There is no indication on the box of who was behind these ads, but this was clearly a demonstration tape - the ads nearly run non-stop, one into the other, with no splicing or editing. These are all complete ads, except for # 9, which is a music bed without voice-over. Here, without further ado, are the twelve commercials:

Download: 1.) McDonald's

Download: 2.) State Farm

Download: 3.) Mutual of Omaha

Download: 4.) Jack in the Box

Download: 5.) HFC

Download: 6.) Franco American

Download: 7.) Pennington's Bread

Download: 8.) Boone's Farm Strawberry Hill Wine

Download: 9.) Music Bed

Download: 10.) Help Fruit Drink

Download: 11.) McDonalds II

Download: 12.) Stridex

Sunday, July 26, 2015

A Gaggle of Giggling Twelve Year Olds

To start the sharing from my reel-to-reel collection on this site, here is the post I intended to simply be my next post at WFMU's Beware of the Blog. However, when I learned that the WFMU blog was to be closed to new posts (effective July 30th), I offered up a taste of some rare Dora Hall material instead, and decided to make this wonderful tape my first post here.

And this is indeed a wonderful tape. It dates to April 10th, 1959 (this is mentioned near the end of the recording), and features a 25 minute slice of a slumber party, during which the father of the girl hosting the party interviews the girls, orders them dinner and tries to get them to make jokes. There is something truly wonderful and exhilarating about the energy and exuberance captured here.

At the start of the recording, the girls identify themselves as all belonging to something called "The Golden Keys", although this is never explained. The host girl's father then begins interviewing each of the girls, all but one of which is 12 years old, and all of which are attending one of the local Catholic Schools (and will be for High School, as well). At one point, the man recording tapes himself making a jokey call to a local pizza place and orders mostaccioli for the girls (and do I possibly hear him call one of the people at the restaurant "dad"? - he is certainly very familiar with the folks at this establishment). This evening meal is ordered without meat sauce, but with a follow-up order of sausage pizza to be delivered at midnight. It is, of course, a Friday, and no one in this house would have eaten meat on a Friday. But as soon as midnight hits....

The adult in the room is relentless in requesting jokes or funny stories from the girls, who absolutely refuse to take part, until he offers a prize (which is never awarded). The moment he says that, the girls all get very excited, and talk over each other to tell jokes - there are four of them, and they certainly do reflect a simpler, more innocent era. Two of the jokes involve Catholic themes and the other two involve wordplay about butts.

There are so many little moments here to treasure, like the moment when the interviewer makes a joke about the fact that one of the girls' last names is "Beer". The girl in question laughs infectiously throughout her little interview, and then when he makes the joke, there's a moment of silence, and then another girl offers an embarrassed laugh. That's perhaps my favorite moment but the tape is loaded with little gems like that.

The tape ends with the interviewer wondering about their future, and hoping to play this tape back for the girls as they approach the end of High School in five years. How very different life must have been for these girls in the Spring of 1964, from what it was in the Spring of 1959.

This is the sort of tape I dream about finding - home recording, a single moment in time, life happening the way it does, all of that and so much more. I think maybe I like this so much because this was the sort of dad I was when my girls were this age, and I've continued to interact with their friends, as they've grown up and changed, on a very relaxed, peer level.

Perhaps someone out there can put together the names of the schools and figure out where this tape was made. I'd be interested in that, although I don't know that I have the time to actually make that effort.

Download: A Gaggle of Giggling Twelve Year Olds

or Play:  

Incidentally, this recording comes from a family which owned a bird which liked to make a lot of noise. For the rest of this tape - 20 minutes before this segment and another 15 minutes after it - they recorded the bird going through all of its noises, all the things it knew how to say, and ringing its bell. This is beyond tedious. For those who are interested in what I'm talking about, here is the five minutes which directly follows the slumber party, heard without edit of any sort. Enjoy!

Download:  Noisy Birdy

or Play:  

UPDATE - 7/28/15: Two commenters have left information indicating beyond a doubt that this family, and the girls who were friends of the host, were living at the very southern edge of Chicago, most likely in or near the Roseland area. The details of their findings are in the comments. THANKS!!

Saturday, July 25, 2015


Hello, dear readers!

Today I start a new project. For the last several years, at WFMU's Beware of the Blog, I have been sharing treasures from my basement collection in a series I've called "Exploring my Reel-to-Reel Catacombs". My WFMU posts (reel-to-reel and otherwise) can be found here.

I hope for this site to capture exactly the same sort of material that the Catacombs series has featured, while expanding this a bit to include some of the more esoteric items that I've chosen to overlook in the past. Please stop by often - I hope to post at least once a week - and let me know what you think: what you'd like to hear more of, things you don't see/hear here that you think I might have, and just to let me know that you'd like the site to continue.