Thursday, December 29, 2016

Party Like It's Almost 1968

Just 364 days ago, I wrote a post about, and included the sounds from, a tape recording of the countdown of the hits of the year, for 1968, recorded by someone in Columbus, Ohio, from radio station WCOL, AM 1230, on December 31st, 1968 and into January 1st, 1969. That post can be found here!

Today, here's another tape from that same collection, and again, just in time for you to enjoy while you count down to 2017. In this case, it's the top 50 hits, again from WCOL, as heard on December 31st, 1967 and into January 1st, 1968.

As with the 1968 recording, you will hear some selective editing. This means that unfortunately, much of the DJ chatter and almost all evidence of commercials have been cut out. The person recording the show also had far different tastes than me in at least some areas, as he or she kept some all time lameness-in-song, while fading out/skipping recording some really good stuff. But perhaps he or she already had those songs on another tape. There is also the unfortunately habit of the DJ of playing with a squeaky toy and talking over the songs.

Information about the individual charts from this station (and many other stations) can be found in this marvelous spot. I have copied the year-end survey (for the show you're hearing) below, but you can find virtually every survey from 1967, and many many others, from WCOL, at that site, and that's where some of my information in the paragraphs below comes from.

As with the previously shared tape, there are some interesting differences between this station's local hit ranking and the national charts. The number one song is not a surprise - it was also the number one hit on Billboard's Hot 100 that year. But how did "Hello Goodbye" - a record released in mid-November of that year - make the top 50 for the year, and "Let it Out" by the Hombres, which was a two-week number one hit on the station, earlier that year, miss the countdown entirely.

Otherwise, there aren't as many left-field items on this list as there were on the 1968 list. The standouts for me are the cover version of "King of a Hush" by Gary and the Hornets, which did not chart on Billboard's Hot 100, and the # 11 song, "Thousand Devils" by Fifth Order, a group which never made the Billboard hot 100 at all. (Unfortunately, our taper friend chose to fade and cut the latter song.)

Sit back with family and friends, some New Year's Eve snacks, and whatever you choose to drink, and pretend it's 1967, going on 1968. Save me some Lard and Scrapple from Teeters!

Download: WCOL, Columbus, Ohio: The Top Hits of 1967

Monday, December 19, 2016

Christmas in Northern New England, 1961

Here's a Christmas treat for everyone. This tape, and another one from the same family, came up for sale recently on ebay. Helpfully, there were scans of the back of the tape boxes, so I knew that, if the tapes matched the boxes, there was something pretty special on these reels. I was very happy to win that auction. And the tapes and boxes did match, and they are special.
The other tape (the one I'm not sharing today) is fun, and probably worth sharing here some day. But the one marked "Christmas, 1961", is quite a joy. A mishmash, to be sure, and at a few moments borderline unlistenable, but for most of the tape, including those hard-to-listen-to segments, it's still pure magic. We are dropping in on a family, or perhaps a family and some friends, on a very special day. These are happy, celebratory people, who are enjoying being together and making good use of what was apparently a brand new tape recorder.
I have identified this tape as being from northern New England - I'm guessing Maine, or, possibly, New Hampshire. I'm not that good with accents, but I think I recognize the ones heard here. More to the point, there are more than a half-dozen references to the classic "Bert & I" series of comedy albums. While these did become fairly well known in later years, across the country (I own three or four of them), in 1961, they were definitely a regional phenomenon, and a very small region at that. Anyone who was able to quote "Bert & I" routines in 1961 was from that immediate area - again, most likely Maine. There may be other clues here for you to pick out, as well.
The fact that the family members also trade off telling jokes and stories which they seem to find uproariously funny - but which seem like nearly pointless anecdotes to me - also fits into my understanding of the sense of humor which dominates in that area.
Also heard periodically on this tape are snippets of current and recent hit songs off the radio.
There is also a LOT of music heard here, and in a way, this sort of mystifies me. There is enough amateur-level guitar and piano playing here to indicate that some members of this group knew their way around music. And yet, when most of them sing, they seem nearly tone deaf - the rendition of Jingle Bells is virtually tuneless in places. What's more, how does one learn to play the guitar half-decently, but not know when it is painfully out of tune. And finally, does the Jew's Harp actually qualify as an instrument at all? I've heard it used well, in very limited and well placed arrangements, but here, it dominates a few otherwise pretty sweet homespun amateur musical performances, rendering them into the "unlistenable" moments I mentioned earlier.
I've written a lot here, without actually specifying very much. That was on purpose. I'll let you discover the sweet moments and enthusiastic fun of this tape for yourself.
A note about the order of the sides here. A scan of the tape box is seen, below, indicating what is on each side. I would put money on it that the sides, as listed there, are reversed. The side indicated there as "# 2", is the side that starts with microphone tests and references to the new machine. That side ends with references to a recent hit comedy record by Bill Dana ("The Astronaut - Jose Jimenez"), and more references continue (followed by the record itself) at the start of the side described on the box as "# 1". That side also ends with a goodbye. That seems clear enough to me.  

Monday, December 5, 2016


With the death of Fidel Castro, I thought it would a perfect moment to bring out this tape, which dates to the height of the "Take This Plane to Cuba!" string of hijackings.

It's a recording of an NBC news special, from 8/3/61. On that date, such a hijacking was foiled, as you'll hear in the report. They then cover other recent episodes in this trend. The show is anchored by the legendary Edwin Newman.

Just a neat little piece of history, captured by a dedicated audio collector, and now offered up by another such collector, shared with anyone who'd like to hear it.

Download: NBC News Special On Hijackings, 1961

Thursday, November 24, 2016

A 1965 Thanksgiving Day Tribute to Kaolin!

So, where have I been - I won't duplicate the post, but I did write a bit about my last few weeks at my other blog, within this post. As I said there, I hope to be back on a regular schedule (which, for this site, is about every two weeks), starting immediately.

Today, I have a tape I find to be barely steps away from being totally bizarre, but then again, maybe you had to be there. You see, a significant amount of the wheels of industry and gears of income in central Georgia, at least at a point some 50 years ago, seems to have been all wrapped up in the clay known as Kaolinite, better known as Kaolin. Its uses have run from making glossy magazine pages shiny to being the key (original) ingredient in Kaopectate, and many other uses in between.

So important was it to the region, that for at least two years, radio station WCRY in Macon broadcast tributes lasting over an hour, about, and in honor of, Kaolin. My best guess is that the money brought in by Kaolin played a significant role in the life of this station, hence the "tribute". Without that supposition, as I said, this program strikes me is fairly odd, to say the least.

For this year's Thanksgiving, here is the first of the two shows titled "A Tribute to Kaolin", from 1965. If you're really clambering for the 1966 version, maybe I can share it with you next Thanksgiving.

Download: WCRY, Macon, Georgia: A Tribute to Kaolin, 1965

On this Thanksgiving, I offer up my thanks to everyone who reads this site, with a special thanks to those who chime in with comments. I really appreciate it.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Raw Tapes from a "Man On The Street" Type TV Show

Well, it's been a busy few weeks, with a couple more to come in advance of a big event I'm part of. And that's meant less posting here. It will pick up after the middle of the month, and I have a lot more to share.
For today, here's an interesting reel, one which captures the raw tapes for a show - I believe a local PBS show from the Maryland area - called "People In Process". I can find no references to this show, but admittedly haven't looked that hard.
The investigation here (such as it is) is into how people in a small town view life in a small town. That they chose the city of Annapolis, Maryland, which is the capital of the state, strikes me as weird, especially given that the town had 30,000 residents in the late '60's and early '70's, which is when I'm guessing this is from. Perhaps it's because I was raised in a town of 4000 people, but 30,000 people isn't a "small town" to me.
The questions the interviewer chooses to ask, particularly the different things he asks different people, are quite interesting, and deserve their own sociological study. There's also the woman who doesn't want to be on camera. And there's the way he tries so hard to feed several interviewees questions, asking them to answer in complete sentences, even telling them how to start the sentences, and the way that NONE of them seem to understand what he wants them to do. Beyond that, to my ears, he just isn't much of an interviewer, and that's being generous.
The entire tape runs about 56 minutes.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Greetings to a Soldier in Korea

Here's a tape which is a lot of fun, as well as touching at times, and just generally a snapshot of its time and place.

It seems to be a group of family and friends sending good wishes to a man (named John)who is stationed in Korea. As there's no date anywhere on the box or within the contents of the recording, it's not clear if this is during the "police action", or after it, but it does sound like the revelers had expected their friend John to be home by the date of this recording, and that this hadn't happened.

Reading between the lines, it seems at least possible that some of those involved thought John would be present at this gathering, and when John couldn't be there, they made a tape for him instead, even though it also sounds like he was still due back in a matter of days - at one point it sounds like he's only coming back on a brief leave.

The tape is boisterous at times - particularly the first several minutes, during which some reveling adults interact while, I'm guessing, enjoying some adult beverages. That's fun, but the most interesting part for me comes when some children start to talk to John at about 16:30, starting (briefly) with a very excited small child, and then an older child who talks for a few minutes.

After too few minutes of that, a more sedate adult follows with more narration about life and times. If the earlier speakers were a bit too sloshy, this guy is so dry as to appear to be reading his report, something he acknowledges and tries to correct at one point. Then there's about five sweet minutes of talk before and after a meal, with the kids chiming in here and there. I love the one kid trying to mimic everything that is said.

A couple of more serious (and older sounding) relatives follow - this section of the tape is marred by some damaged tape and a section which seems to have been edited out, via a splice (perhaps more damaged tape). And then, just as yet another person is coming in to speak, the tape runs out (although again, it's certainly possible that there was originally more tape here.

Please enjoy this little moment in time.

Download: Family and Friends: A Tape for a Soldier in Korea

Monday, September 26, 2016

At the Circus with Some Nutty Ad-Men

So I opened up the above tape box, and started listening to its contents. And at first, I thought I genuinely had a tape of various companies' attempts to provide an ad for something called "Circus Nuts", as each ad starts with the name of an advertising company. In other words, a series of potential ads for the manufacturer to review and choose from. But that didn't make sense, since the name of the company providing the ads - Donahue and Coe, Inc. - was right on the box.

I'm probably just slow, but it took me until the fourth ad, purported to be from "The British Ad Agency 'Stiff, Upper & Lip'", before it dawned on me that these tracks - including the introductions - were the commercials that ran on the air, and that each "company" named was somehow indicative of the contents of the ad. Ho ho.

There are three minute-long ads and nine 30-second-long ads. A few are fairly funny, all of them are typical of the era (and happily nostalgic for me today, for that reason), and the whole thing is an enjoyable listen.

Here's the entire, eight minute long tape:

Download: Donahue & Coe, Inc. - Twelve Circus Nuts Ads

Monday, August 29, 2016

",,,They've Been Practicing For Over a Month Now..."

I could not have come across this tape at a better time, and I had to race to share it with the little corner of the world which comes here to listen to my collection of ephemera. This ties in perfectly with the recent release of the wonderful film "Florence Foster Jenkins", and with the publication of a book by the same title, by my friend, and fellow blogger, Darryl Bullock.

For what fell into my lap last week (or, more specifically, my speakers), but a spectacularly incompetent performance by a pair of otherwise unknown young men, laughably bad and comically sincere. 

This came about a quarter of the way through an otherwise tedious and nearly unlistenable 90 minute tape of a Pentecostal style church event, date and location unknown. The tape starts with the singing of several hymns, interspersed by prayers and community announcements. After the segment I'm featuring was a lengthy sermon, based on a specific text of scripture, and then, an even lengthier revival speech, by a man who, based on his accent, was clearly Australian - his speech leads to music while people come up to the front of the church to be received and to accept Jesus as their personal savior. 

Ah, but in between the final of the initial hymns and that lengthy sermon, comes this moment of magic, when, as you'll hear, a member of the congregation introduces two young men from the congregation, who have been practicing their song "for over a month now". Clearly, "over a year now" would not have helped, either. I don't know if it would have been appropriate in that setting for people to applaud, but no one does, and only a meek "thank you, fellas" follows the atrocious performance. Perhaps the man who introduced them no longer felt it was the "very special treat" he indicted it would be. 

In the spirit of Florence Foster Jenkins, please enjoy Zac and Arthur, with their rendition of "I'll Tell the World That I'm a Christian": 


Tuesday, August 16, 2016

A Hodgepodge - Three Short, Unrelated Tapes

I'm doing a bit of cleaning out of my "not yet shared" folder today, and offering up three relatively brief tracks, each from a separate tape, and not related to each other in any way I can think of (not from the same family, same genre, similar content), except that each is a home recording.

First up, a tape I've titled "11 Minutes of Chords and Talk, Two Minutes of Singing". I just got a kick of this tape, because these young people are clearly having fun, and interacting happily, and yet the point of recording seems to have been to record a performance - and yet, most of the tape is preparing in different ways for that performance - deciding what to sing, working out the chords, playing bits and pieces, etc. (in addition to multiple people asking "are you recording", or something similar, and a comment that "we've been here two days without getting organized..."), with the actual performance coming during the last 15% of the recording - little more than two minutes of a 13 minute tape.

I enjoy the fact that they mention, or sing lines from, at least four songs (by my count), but then end up doing a number not mentioned until moments before it is performed (and a half-assed performance it is, indeed). Musicians might enjoy one person telling another to play his guitar in "F Flat....or E!" Just a few moments in the lives of a small group of friends. A minor pleasure for sure, but I love stuff like this.

Download: Unknown - 11 Minutes of Chords and Talk, Two Minutes of Singing

A tape I can best describe as "reprehensible" follows, one I've labeled "Badgering a Toddler", although "Dad's a Jamoke" would have worked, too. Please forgive me for the loud noise at the beginning - I should have lowered the volume or edited this out, and didn't....

Not much description needed here - an adult man repeatedly tries to get a child to talk into the microphone, becoming fairly abusive in tone at times. Both the sound of the child, and a brief reference to his age, make it clear that this is a toddler, and the man berates him for having nothing to say, and for not following his instructions. For nearly ten minutes. Obnoxious and exceptionally irritating.

Download: Unknown - Badgering a Toddler

Finally, something that's getting to be an old standby of this site already, an audio letter. In this case, a stultifying set of conversations from a man (unnamed) and a woman (Jean) to some recipients named Dorothy and Bea. This tape features weirdly echoing sound for the first two-thirds of its 14 minute length.

And the tape seemingly starts up in the middle of a conversation, making me think maybe the tape is on side two as it starts - there are clearly references to things that have already been discussed, and we jump right into some exceptionally dull talk about research and theoretical issues. However, there is nothing on the flip side of this tape, so... either the flip side was erased, or there was another tape, or, this is all there was. I dunno.

After the man speaks, Jean comes in, and her discussion is nearly as mind-numbing, as she talks about teaching a chemistry course for "girls who are not going on to college" - it's a science course, but sounds more like a home-ec course. She finishes the tape by talking about some day to day events in her life (including her teaching experiences) and responses to things said/asked by the recipient of this tape.

Download: Unknown - Audio Letter

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Greetings from Germany, 1960

I love the audio letters that come across. They always reflect the time and place in which they were recorded, and since new ones simply aren't made anymore, they always capture a very different era in communication.

Here's twenty minutes of tape from a German friend (Roland? - he says his name at about 19:05) to a friend in America (Larry , in Maine), recorded in the year I was born, 1960, specifically, October 14th of that year. It starts and ends with some German music, but aside from those three minutes, the rest of the tape is the sender's message.

This is a lovely little recording, the charms of which I'll leave you to discover. Hearing the speaker's voice, I was reminded of an older German neighbor, who lived a half block away from us, and whose lawn I cut every summer, during my late teens. The speaker struggles with English syntax here and there, but has no problem expressing himself in what is clearly a second language.

Whatever he was saying at the end of side one (just past the ten minute point) is lost, due to the end of the being mangled over the years. The rest of the tape is pretty much pristine.


Download: Unknown - Audio Letter from Stuttgart, 1960

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Earl Nightingale Sells A Load of BS to Salesmen and their Wives

Here's a fascinating, if also obnoxious and at times cretinous, recording, featuring the once well-known radio personality, writer and motivational speaker, Earl Nightingale.

This tape is a professional recording, banded with leader between the tracks and recorded at 15 inches per second (one of two speeds usually found on professionally made tapes). Based on his text, it's clear that these two tracks were used as the two sides of a record.

In this case, that record was one which was to be distributed to salesmen working for the Liberty Investors Life Insurance brand - with a focus on those were fairly new to the company - with the b-side of the record directed at the wives of those salesmen.

I've heard quite a few of Nightingale's records, and I'll say that his worldview, opinion of what is important and general outlook were very different than mine are. But then, the idea of wanting or needing to listen to a motivational speaker - let alone being one - is about as far outside of my wheelhouse as one can get.

This record, being quite a bit shorter (two six minute blasts) and much more focused (on a specific job) than his other recordings, rises to a level on the bullshit meter many notches higher than that found in his typical speeches.

I mean, seriously, did he just say that the life insurance man might be the most important person who will ever walk into another person's place of business?. Is it possible he actually expressed the view that being a life insurance salesman is a calling "second in service only to the ministry"? Really?

But no matter, he quickly moves on to what really matters, and which is the focus of the remaining four minutes: How Much Money You Can Make. Whoopee.

I dunno - maybe some of you really dig this stuff, even in a non-ironic way. For me, this is one key example of what was so very wrong about the 1950's American mindset.

Download: Earl Nightingale - Message to Liberty Investors Life Salesmen

Thank you, Johnson.

Here is the message to the wives. Please note that, after saying on the first side that her salesman is doing a job "second in service" only those in the clergy (many of whom, of course, don't marry), he spews forth the wisdom that a man is not complete without a wife. Literally: "A man without a woman to love is not a complete man", he tells us. Make up your mind, dude.

The remainder of the message to the little women is the familiar claptrap that was peddled everywhere in those days - be the little woman, let your man decide what's best, smile at him, and for God's sake don't give him chores to do! There is a lot more I could say - I really can't stand many things this recording stands for - but I'll stop now.

Download: Earl Nightingale - Message to Wives of Liberty Investors Life Salesmen

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

The Big Midwestern Hayride! PLUS, A Special Request

Here's a wonderful recording made in the early days of home-use reel to reel recording, taped directly off someone's TV some time during .

The show in question is something called "The Big Midwestern Hayride", which you can read about in a few different sites, and see short clips of on Youtube. This sounds like a pretty wonderful slice of down-home entertainment from a time and place very different from today.

But this is an entire half-hour episode, featuring a remarkable number of groups and performances for a 30 minute show. I don't recognize any of these artists' names, but perhaps someone more familiar with the country, square dance and related sounds of the era might know some of them.

It's unclear to me when exactly this would have been recorded. The show ran on both ABC and NBC at various points during the '50's, but the show which comes on afterwards (heard for about two minutes) is "Topper", which ran on CBS. So I'm guessing the airing of "Topper" was a rerun, showing on another network, at some point after its 1953-55 run. But who can be sure.

Oh, and one more thing - fans of Negativland - and in my view, everyone should be a fan of Negativland - are sure to get a kick out of the sponsor of "The Big Midwestern Hayride".

Download: Various Artists - The Big Midwestern Hayride

Okay, now here's the bonus (sic). After I posted a single excerpt from a tape of a somewhat tone-deaf  someone singing along with a country song (at the bottom of this post from one month ago), I had a request to provide the entire tape.

So... here it is! I hope you enjoy it a LOT more than I do!

Download: Unknown - Singing Along with the Country Hits

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Just a Group of Guys Seeing the Old Year Out in 1958

Here's something pretty special, I think.

What we have here are a group of young men - four or five of them, I think, joking around, singing, telling stories and generally just watching the last few minutes of the year tick away, in 1958.

The tape is just over 30 minutes long. I initially had derisively considered titling this post with a phrase having to do with "a bunch of jamokes", but quickly decided that that was complete unfair. I think, instead, that this tape just reflects a different, more innocent time (for lack of a better word). I don't know at what point a New Year's Eve tape would have ceased even the possibility of sounding like this, but I doubt anything found from even the late '60's or early '70's would have the feel of this tape. It's very much of a particular time period in America. Or so it seems to me.

After some introductory comments - the names of the participants are mentioned, but are both slurred and, in some cases, covered up by other noises - there is some fairly awful piano and harmonica playing. If you want to skip this fairly painful bit of noise, it ends at about 4:20, although if you do that, you'll miss some Lawrence Welk references and fart jokes (which I supposed are not mutually exclusive).

The flounder around for a bit, before one guy does his Ed Sullivan impression, another guy talks repeatedly way too loudly into the microphone, and they stumble into a version of a Christmas Carol. Several references to then-current commercials and other cultural touchstones of the moment also float by.

Then, at the nine minute mark, we get to the meat of the tape - a bunch of stories, both true-life and, mostly, fairy tales. One guy starts by telling a story that happened at a drive-in theatre, followed by another car story.

Then we get a lengthy rendition of "Little Red Riding Hood". There's not really much of a payoff - although the storyteller clearly thinks he's on a roll, repeatedly telling his peers to shut up. But what he lacks in originality, he more than makes up for with enthusiasm.

Then the whole group gets into the act, doing a group performance of "Little Red Riding Hood", interrupted many times by product slogans, other asides and general silliness. For my money, this is the best section of the tape.

The story ends suddenly, and incompletely, and now it's 11:45 PM - an updated version of Hansel and Gretel - involving a Corvette and marijuana - is attempted, but the overlap with the original story is minimal, and what's more, the tape is running out. An end to the story is quickly constructed.

We never reach 1959, but we do hear the very end of what these young man had been erasing, which plays on the very last few feet of tape - it's "Alvin's Harmonica" by David Seville and the Chipmunk. (Interestingly, it appears that this record came out in the last days of 1958, so whenever it was recorded, it must have been brand new.)


Download: A Group of Friends - December 31, 1958

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

"How About My Manufacturers Hanover Master Charge?"

Ah, what absolute tedium there is in shooting a movie or a TV show. I can't say I gave this a lot of thought for most of my life, actually. But that was before I delved into a stack of tapes I bought several years ago, most of which featured source tapes for a variety of TV and movie recordings, many of which involved the CBS TV network. I've shared a few of these before, including a sound effects reel and a Howard K. Smith interview.

Those, at least, had some sort of indication of what they were, and the sounds on those tapes were continually interesting throughout.

This tape, however, sort of amazes me. Those involved are clearly filming a TV show or movie (my guess is the former), but I can't believe the amount of sheer repetition the performers are made to go through here. Much of the tape is made up of multiple takes of an excited couple trying to get a marriage license, a scene which seemingly ends with the prospective groom running away. This is performed over and over and over again, with minimal differences between the takes - I can't believe that one of, say, the first ten attempts weren't good enough. We then move onto another scene which is repeated excessively, before returning to retakes of moments from within the first scene.

That scene does not appear to have been more than 40 seconds long, and I can't fathom how long it took to make a 30 minute show, let alone a 90 minute movie, if they spent that much time (including whatever time was not recorded, between takes) on a single conversation. Wow.

Maybe some sleuth out there can figure out what movie/show this recording was for, and perhaps we can all enjoy seeing the final cut of this masterwork.

Download: Unknown - Repeatedly Filming a Few Scenes

Now, if THAT wasn't enough torture, here is a glimpse into a very different life indeed. Here are my thoughts: if you're feeling inspired to record your phonograph record of Johnny Cash and June Carter singing "Jackson", while you are singing along with the record - DON'T. And if don't know all the words that well - REALLY, DON'T. And if you can't sing - SERIOUSLY, DON'T.

I have no idea what the purpose of this recording would have been. This is an excerpt from a much longer tape - the person involved recorded himself singing extremely badly along with about a half hour of country hits. Was he going to enjoy this later? Send it to someone as torture?

If you want to hear the entire tape, let me know, and I'll post it, otherwise, just enjoy this lovely sample.

Download: Unknown - Singing Along with "Jackson"

Thursday, May 12, 2016


With the Chicago Cubs currently leading all of baseball, posting the best record seen by any team in 32 years, and the best Cubs start in 109 years, what better time for a bit of radio and baseball history, involving the Cubs.

Today's tape was generously donated to this site by my best pal Stu Shea, who has written several books, including several on baseball and music, among other things, and who also often offers up comments on this site and my other blog. THANK YOU, STU!!!

Here's what Stu has to say about this tape:

This is a recording of the Chicago Cubs and Los Angeles Dodgers on WGN radio, Chicago, from April 22, 1958. This is the first season that the Dodgers were in LA after having moved from Brooklyn.

Included is a pregame interview between Cubs broadcaster Lou Boudreau and Dodgers shortstop Pee Wee Reese--then 39 and in his last year as an active player--and some of the game's action.

There are not many tapes in existence of Jack Quinlan, the Cubs' play-by-play radio announcer, from his time in Chicago. He was a very highly regarded baseball voice who died in a car accident during 1965 spring training. He was just 38.

Bob now writing again, with a couple of things to add. This was the very first time the Cubs or their announcers were seeing the L.A. Coliseum as it was in those days reconfigured for baseball. It was, as I've read, perhaps the least appropriate venue for major league baseball in history, and much of the discussion in these segments concerns the various aspects of the park.

I've divided the tape into the pregame interview and lead-up to the game, followed by the play-by-play of the first inning (which is all that's on the tape of the actual game). Also worth noting is the lack of a commercial break at either the half-inning point or after the first inning, and, in a bit of sad irony, Quinlan makes note of a noted basketball coach who had died that day in a car crash, just as Quinlan himself would, seven years later.

Download: Lou Boudreau and Jack Quinlan - Pregame Show with Pee Wee Reese and Comments Before the Game


Download: Jack Quinlan and Lou Boudreau - Cubs Vs. Dodgers, First Inning

As the tape spooled down to its last few minutes, whoever recorded the Cubs broadcast switched over to a faintly received St. Louis station, and captured just a few minutes of a Cardinals broadcast, featuring two already well-known men, both of whom would become even more famous broadcasters in the coming years, Harry Carey and Joe Garagiola. And even here, the oddities about baseball at the L.A. Coliseum end up being discussed! Here is that brief segment:

Download: Harry Carey and Joe Garagiola - Cardinals Broadcast:

And in case you've never seen one, here is a picture of the L.A. Coliseum, as it was configured for baseball:

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Spending an Hour in 1952

From a lovely and ancient little five inch reel in a Scotch Recording Tape box comes a series of wondrous school and home recordings from 1952, lasting in total just over an hour.

There are definitely some little gems buried in the various recordings here - I always wonder about the people on tapes of this vintage - are they still alive? Where are they now? Wouldn't they love to hear these tapes? How did this tape end up being given away?

First up is a program from a sixth grade class, presenting what they've learned about China. The program lasts just over a half hour. It sounds like it was going to continue with some music, but whoever was recording it didn't care to capture that part of the program:

Download: 1952 Tape - Sixth Grade Class Presentation on China

Next up, we've returned home with whoever it is that owned the tape recorder, and, as the mother from the family indicates, it's time for Wayne's 14th Birthday Spaghetti Luncheon (that phrase sounds like a song title by an alternative band to me). This segment runs just under 25 minutes.

Download: 1952 Tape - Wayne's 14th Birthday Spaghetti Luncheon

Those youngsters, including Wayne, would be at or around 78 years old nowadays. Happy Birthday, fellas!

Finally, there is another tape recording made around the table. It's certainly possible that this is a continuation of the above, but there seem to be some other people present now, so I'm guessing it was made some time later, even if just later that day. This segment continues until the tape runs out, and is just under ten minutes in length.

Download: 1952 Tape - More Chat Around the Table

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

A More Civil Time and Place

Are you tired of the tone of this year's presidential campaign? Perhaps tired of the tone of politics in general these days? Do you wish for a more civil level of discourse? Well, here are a couple of examples - well, the second one is more odd than anything else - but I've found an example of some of these things, not in some dusty textbook, or secretly taking place in the backrooms of 1970's Washington, but in a time and place perhaps even more chaotic and frequently uncivil as our own - the mid-1960's - and in a place far from the power brokers of the day - Nebraska.

What I'm sharing today is a recording of two local civics programs, produced by a TV station in Lincoln, apparently in 1964 (based on the reference to a recently passed Civil Rights Act and the reference to Monday, July 6th).

The first of these two 15 minute shows has already been on for a minute or two when the recording begins, but the other show is heard in its entirety.

The first show is "Statehouse Report", which is, as the title indicates, about what was going on at the time in State Government, featuring the "Director of State Operations", George Morris. Given the limited services that state governments generally seem to want to fund these days, it's remarkable to hear the litany of services, facilities and other things that the state of Nebraska was providing for its citizens in 1964, and the importance that Mr. Morris attaches to these various things. I can just imagine what a program such as this, featuring an official in the administration of today's seemingly delusional Illinois Governor, might sound like, and it bares no resemblance to what you'll hear here. 

Download: KOLN TV, Lincoln, Nebraska - Statehouse Report

After a few commercials and such, it's time for the national version of the same type of show, "Capitol Report", featuring Senator Carl Curtis. Curtis was a Republican, apparently of a sort we've not seen in very many years, as he spends a bit of his report reviewing the importance of the (very) recently passed Civil Rights Act of 1964. It's not clear to me whether Curtis voted for this bill, but if not, he doesn't dismiss or disparage it, quite unlike what would happen today. The rest of the show has very little to do with the Capitol, or anything else of real significance.

Because he then introduces Mrs. Haysbrook of West Point, Nebraska, head of a woman's club, and the wife of a state senator. Their conversation, which takes up the vast majority of this show, is far less than scintillating - I certainly wouldn't want to return to the days when the media covered how society women ran and belonged to women's club in order to have something meaningful to do (Mrs. Haysbrook thinks she'll have a role in WORLD PEACE, from crying out loud).

But it is interesting to think that, in my lifetime, a U.S. Senator hosted a show of this type, and interviewed a local community member in this way, let alone that he would discuss, without partisan politics or rancor, the most recent (and very controversial) Congressional vote.

Download: KOLN TV, Lincoln, Nebraska - Capitol Report

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Some Early '70's Jesus Music and Talk from the Kids!

Here's an appropriate reel of tape for this Easter afternoon. What I have hear is a tape containing two productions by the youth of some church, or summer church camp or youth retreat (or the like), from the early '70's. 

These are energetic, earnest performances, amateur from start to finish but endearing in their own ways. I particularly enjoying the energetic, at times haphazard drumming and the unsure quality of many of the lead vocals. 

The two shows were performed almost exactly one year apart, as shows by the dates on the tape box, below, and as recorded, they run virtually the same length, just under 43 minutes for each show. 

Based on what the man introducing the second of these shows ("God Said Yes") explains, it would seem the adults (within whatever this setting was) chose the music and dialogue for the first of these performances, "God is Real" (and however many preceded this one, in previous years), while the young people - for the first time - made all of the writing and selecting choices for "God Said Yes". I don't perceive a huge difference between the messages or the way they are delivered, but perhaps you'll hear something I've missed. 

The first show starts mid-song on the tape, while the second starts with the aforementioned announcement. 

If you meant to get to church this Easter, and didn't quite make it, maybe this will make up for what you missed. If that's not your thing, you might enjoy this anyway, as a recording which captures a moment in time in America - the early '70's - the only point in our history, I think, when such a church group project of this type would have sounded exactly like these young people sound, on this tape. 



Sunday, March 13, 2016

"Show Uncle Jack Your Shoes..."

To start, a few responses to comments....

First, thanks to everyone who has been reading and listening - I appreciate your eyes and ears on what I'm sharing here more than I can say. And second, thanks to those who have offered up comments, whether occasionally (or once) or many times.

To those of you who've commented on either the idea of figuring out where these people are, or who they were, or those who just ruminate about the lives they were living, and those they lived in the ensuing years. One comment said:

With these recordings, they're not unlike strangers you meet when traveling. Once you move on, those people are in your rearview mirror, quickly disappearing from view. Then, sometime you think about them but there's no way to find out "whatever happened to...", how they're doing, etc.

These recordings mirror life itself, don't they?

Yes, I get that completely - it's one of the main things that draws me to these tapes. And if you've read my postings for a longer time, you'll know that I've actually been lucky enough to hear from family members of a few of those whose sounds I've posted here and elsewhere, over the years.

Thanks also for the multiple comments regarding the little montage of sounds that I posted late last month (including the identity of one of the songs heard therein, and the interesting point that a Theramin is heard, briefly, in one of the segments). I heard from several people who have done similar things, in various ways (as I have myself), although I still don't know that I've heard of anyone splicing things together in quite the way they were on that tape.

And I appreciated all the nice words about the tape I posted featuring me and my brother at ages 6 and 12.

Finally, thanks to the poster who let me know that the second set of Vivian Cherry tracks had become corrupted somehow. This has been fixed.

On to this week's offering!

Today's brief tape may not sound like much to some listeners - I'll leave that to you to decide - but it is a greatly loved little 113 seconds and a few of my closest friends, and a key tape in my development as a collector of other people's sounds and memories.

This tape came from the ALS Mammoth Music Mart sale, which I've written about several times, and it was a tape found most likely the first batch at the first of those yearly sales that I went to. And as a result, this little moment in time, recorded very likely in the 1960's, was among the first - if not the first - tapes I found of its sort, and definitely the first to make me want to hear more of this sort of thing. The fact that it was clearly recorded in Winnetka, IL, a town less than a mile from where I grew up, probably helped, too. Plus - and maybe this is the reason it made such an impression on me - there are a remarkable number of enjoyable little moments for such a short tape. Regardless of the reasons, this is one of the tapes that pushed me into the collector that I am today.

What we hear: Uncle Jack has brought his tape recorder over to the home of a family member. A child named Gail, being apparently the oldest child present, is encouraged to talk. After not wanting to, at first, she then lists several of her friends, and mentions her school - Crow Island Elementary (see below). There is a toddler present, Brian, and he begins nibbling on part of the tape recorder, until told not to. The family then comments on the Brian's behavior and looks, before trying to get him to say a few of the words he knows.

That's it. Except it isn't. For me, my family and friends, several phrases here have become the sort of obscure references that we all have within our family and friendship circles.

Some of the things I love here:
 - Gail: "It's beautiful... and I love it"

 - Uncle Jack worrying about Brian shorting out the transistor

 - The way Gail says "He goes... and he bites it"

 - Gail's mother's description of her son Brian- leading me to the essential question "Can an overbite be 'nifty'"

 - The same woman's wordless vocalizing, immediately thereafter, demonstrating that nifty overbite for those assembled (these last three are in very quick succession).

 - The failed attempts to get Brian to say his new words, including Gail's excited encouragement: "SHOES!!! SHOES!!!"

This is one that I treasure above all but perhaps a dozen others. If it doesn't live up to the billing for you, well then, please allow me the indulgence.

Download: Uncle Jack's Family - A Few Moments with Uncle Jack's Family

Incidentally, not only is Crow Island School in the heart of Winnetka, IL, perhaps three miles from the home where I grew up, in nearby Northfield, but I actually attended a summer school enrichment program there, in the summer between second and third grade - I could very well have been in the school at the same time as this girl named Gail. I was very enamored of their unusual, elaborate and large playground. I didn't know it at the time, but it turns out that in that playground, at the time, sat the very first Jungle Gym ever made, a fact which is mentioned in that Wikipedia article I linked at the start of this paragraph.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Triple Play Tuesday! Australian Mailbag, Terrible Acting and a Bizarre Little Reel

It's been a busy February, and I haven't been able to get here as often as I'd like. To make up for that, I have three unrelated bits of tape today. (Oh, and I know this is going up on a Wednesday - but I wrote it on Tuesday then couldn't get it to post for the rest of the day. The title doesn't really work with "Wednesday".)

First up is a second sampling of the many tapes I came across somewhere which feature short wave recordings from Australia. Based on a couple of things heard here, particularly a reference to recently born Australian Quintuplets (the ones being mentioned were born on 12/31/67), this tape seems to date from early 1968.

The first section, a local news roundup, is not that interesting to me, but I've kept because I thought maybe others would be more interested. But that second section, for me, is GOLD. It starts at just past the 16 minute mark and lasts 15 minutes. It is called "Listeners Mailbag", and the concept of the show could not be more simple: The host reads cards and letters from listeners in America, complete with their names and addresses. Often, these are little more than reports of how well the Australian Shortwave station was coming in, perhaps a question or two, or descriptions of things or activities from the writer's hometown.

I find this a charming concept and effort, the likes of which have been completely lost in our modern world.

Download: Radio Australia - Australian News and Mailbag from America, 1968

Next, a very short segment from an ancient and clunky TV private eye show, called Martin Kane. I bought a tape some time ago which contained recordings off the air of a dozen episodes of this show, which starred multiple men in the title role over its entire run. An interesting feature of this show was that it used the setting of a local tobacco shop, right within the plot of its episodes, to further the plot and sell the sponsor's product at the same time. Every episode featured two scenes in the tobacco shop, with extensive descriptions of the various products from the sponsoring tobacco company.

On one of these episodes, someone had the wise idea to include a local sports star, a Yankees pitcher who happened to have thrown an excellent game a few days earlier. Tom Morgan may have been a good enough pitcher, but at remembering and delivering lines... well, I'm going to bet this was his only live acting appearance. It is fairly amazingly awful.

Download: Tom Morgan on "Martin Kane, Private Eye"

Finally, a completely inexplicable little three inch reel of tape. Someone went to the trouble to splice together short excerpts from what sounds like at least ten, perhaps 15 different tapes into a quick hodgepodge of sound. Many of the segments are less than 10 seconds long. Among other things, you'll hear someone playing an organ, several short excerpts of music of several styles from the 1930's to the 1940's, a jazz announcer from Chicago's WBBM, people at home talking into the microphone, and, in the longest segment by far (about 75 seconds),  a bit of a court proceedings involving J. Edgar Hoover!

I doubt that many people will give this a second listen, but it's certainly a weird little experience, and I'd love to know what purpose it served.

Download: Bizarre Small Reel of Tape with Many Edits

Friday, February 5, 2016

It's 1952: Bob Bowfinger Leaves for the Army

Anytime I have the chance to buy a reel to reel tape with paper backing (as opposed to the various plastic backings which have been around since at least the early 1950's), I jump at the chance, and I am usually quick to see if the tape contains what such a backing suggests - a tape recorded during the dawn of the reel-to-reel era, more or less from just after World War II through the point that paper reels were phased out, in the early '50's. Presumably, this was due to the fact that they tore so easily, and perhaps because there tends to be white noise behind recordings made on paper reels. Why this is, I don't know. My guess is that people chose the winning format with their wallets, and that paper backing went away.

Anyway, that excitement was present with today's 3 inch reel of paper-backed reel, which contains a friend (and his mother) bidding farewell to one of their own, a fellow named Bob Bowfinger, on May 6th, 1952, as he prepares to leave for the army.

The tape is six minutes long, and simply captures a few moments in time. Bob's lost his voice a bit, but is able to talk about a movie they've just been to see, and chats with his friend's mother for a moment.

The last third of the tape contains someone singing "I'll Take You Home Again, Kathleen", for a small audience, followed by someone reciting a prayer. Whether or not this was recorded at the same gathering as the Bowfinger segment, or is in any way connected to it, I have no idea.

Please enjoy this tape, sounding remarkably fine for having been recorded nearly 64 years ago.

Download: 5/6/52: Bob Bowfinger Leaves for the Army

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Vivian Cherry - Singer/Songwriter

If you search for the name Vivian Cherry, you get a lot of hits. If you eliminate those connected to a photographer by that name, you still get a lot of hits. Literally: she has been in hit movies (Everyone Says I Love You), sung on popular commercials (Have a Coke and a Smile) and on a variety of records, particularly jazz albums.

What she hasn't had - as far as I can tell - is much success as a solo singer under her own name, or with her own material. But within my catacombs I came across two five inch reels containing a total of eleven songs which she sings, and, according to one of the boxes, wrote.

These are not particularly in a style that I appreciate much, but it's an interesting listen, she clearly has an abundance of talent, and there's no reason except for luck and the right people behind her that would have kept Vivian Cherry from being as successful as any number of singers who did make it to the charts in the '70's and '80's (my guess is that these are from the '70's, although the studio identified on the boxes was open until 1985).

Here are the two reels, heard without edit as they played on my machine. I have not edited the individual songs, the titles of which can be seen above and below.

Download: Vivian Cherry: One Set of Songs

Download: Vivian Cherry: Another Set of Songs

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Billy and Bobby Meet Stereo Recording


Before I get to this week's recording, I wanted to say thanks to two frequent posters.

First, thanks to Timmy, who not only sends frequent comments my way, but who also sent me more information about station WCOL, whose top hits of 1968 I shared last week. These included a link to a bit of station history, AND a copy of the actual top hits of 1968 handout sheet. Both can now be found in the updated post from last week, here.

Second to recent frequent poster Muff, who has left wonderful comments on several of my recent posts. I really appreciate the feedback and the good words. That goes for everyone, of course, and keep them coming, but this person has commented on just about everything I've uploaded over the past six weeks or more!

And now, on with the countdown:


I thought I'd do something special for the first posting of the year. Well, I'll let you decide how special it is, but it's special to me.

This is a recording of my brother Bill and me, very shortly after our family got our first stereo tape recorder, an event which took place in the early fall of 1966. As children, Bill and I shared a room, and we were unusually close (I think) for brothers who were (almost exactly) six years apart, and we made hours and hours of tapes together, among many other games and other fun.

In this recording, he is twelve and I am six, we're each going to have our own recording channel - probably for the first time trying out the stereo effects - and we're going to sing a few little songs for posterity.

The first one takes some explaining. It's actually the song "I Ain't Down Yet", which is from a  Broadway show, but we didn't know that - we knew it as "Bup Bup Bup Bup", because the version we learned was from a record produced as a tie-in to a local Chicago children's show of the early '60's, "Here's Geraldine". On that record, no words are sung, instead, "Bup" and "Bah" are the primary sounds used, until the last verse, which is performed on kazoos. If you want to hear what we're trying to recreate, you can here it here. Basically, we do the second and last verses from that record, here. I think the fact that I could sing as part of a duet using counterpoint, at barely six years old, is fairly impressive.

The rest of the tape is more self-explanatory. After a few minutes of weirdness, we take a brief tour of two Beatles' hits from 1965, with Bill singing funny, trying to make me laugh, for much of that segment. Then the tape ends with "I've Been Working on the Railroad", featuring a few side from Bill about my singing. A brief ending song follows, and the tape is done.

I hope you find this to be enjoyable few minutes of tape.

Download: Bill and Bobby - A Few Songs in 1966