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


  1. Those last few minutes are just priceless. Atrocious delivery. Awful timing. Inability to read their lines. Under-rehearsed. Plain bad. Shabbily written to begin with.Derivative and unoriginal. It's all there... that's what makes it so magic. Wondrous find my friend. Thank you! It made my day!

    1. Thanks! Glad you liked it - I agree that ending is the best part!

    2. I think the delivery is incredible. I think they're purposefully reading it that way. The WOWs and stilted rhyme about what a green means... hilarious. "Oh hell, I'm disqualified!"


  2. Like an audio time capsule. Wow!

    I usually just shake my head in amazement (in a good way) after reading some of your posts and listening to the samples. Some of the sounds you come up with never cease to surprise me and often make me smile.

    Thanks again, Bob!