Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Victrola

Pause the play list at the right and listen to this little ditty.  It's one of my favorites!
One of the things we had the opportunity to do this weekend was play with a 1921 (we think) Victor Victrola.  We opened the top, cranked the crank, put a new needle in and set a record to playin'.
Since I've been listening to 1930's and 40's music this past year, I've was excited to see what kinds of records were stored in the bottom shelves of the Victrola.  Would they be Beethoven, or church organ music?  To my surprise there were popular songs that I had heard of!  What fun!
The inside of the Victrola top. 
This is the label inside the top.  The Victor Talking Machine Co. Camden NJ. USA
Here is what Wikipedia has to say about the Victor Talking Machine Co. 

"The Victor Talking Machine Company (19011929) was an American corporation, the leading American producer of phonographs and phonograph records and one of the leading phonograph companies in the world at the time. It was headquartered in Camden, New Jersey."

After some Internet digging, I believe this Victrola was manufactured in late 1921 or soon thereafter.
They could be purchased for 100$ back in the early 1920's, which was quite a bit of money back then!

The first record we played sounded scratchy so we set a new needle into place.  After that, most records we played sounded very good.   
Here are some needles in vintage packaging.  The smaller, cream colored package contains the needles and fits inside the more decorative, orange package. 
The back of the package says "Plays 12 or More Records with high Fidelity".  This made me wonder, if someone were going to spend an evening listening to records, how many times in an evening did they have to change the needle? 
This song made me laugh, but it's just so mean!  And here I though Arthur Godfrey was just a radio announcer! 
This one was still my favorite.
Playing the old Victrola made me aware of how far we've come when it comes to home music entertainment.
I found the picture above at this great website all about music from the 1920s

1930s (photo from flickriver)
1940s record player (photo from Etsy)
1950s portable record player!  I like this one and it's pink!

Then there was magnetic audio tape which was developed and used in Germany first, then brought to the US after WWII.  If you'd like to read more about magnetic tape here is the Wikipedia link.

Then in the 80's we had the "boom box" which played cassette tapes!
The late 80's and 90's brought CDs.  I heard CDs are no longer being made!  I wonder if that is true.
And now we have the ipod, phones and mp3 players.

Now we have ipods and MP3 players, that can hold thousands (like 10,000) songs at once.  All that music at our fingertips!  Are there even that many good songs?
This comedy routine from Tim Hawkins about ipods, cassette tapes and walkmans is pretty funny. Take a look!

It's true I'm not a huge fan of technology.  I'd rather read a real book than use a Kindle, and I'd rather write a story on paper than type it into a word processor.  But I will say that if it hadn't been for technology and my laptop with it's digital copies, downloads and youtube, I would not have all of this old time music and radio at my fingertips.  But because of technology, we can listen to old radio shows such as Fibber McGee and Molly or listen to music from the 40's and learn about the musicians through Wikipedia.  But once in awhile it's still fun to play the old tunes on a REAL Victor Victrola and think back to a time when that was all there was for music on demand.  I can imagine my great grandparents would be astonished if they could see the amount of information and music available to us everyday.  But more on that another day.  So long for now and...

Have a Happy Day!!

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