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