When I was a child, my parents drove our family of five to Cape Cod for a vacation.
They were likely hopeful that we would be easily entertained; that they would enjoy soaking up the sun; and that early bedtimes would ensue for all.
Alas, the weather was not on their side.
Thick fog rolled in. Torrential rains pelted. Fog horns moaned, and the nearby lighthouse beamed its warning into the mist.
Stuck inside a small hotel room, with three kids under 6 and nothing to do, my parents turned to music.
Perhaps they had brought the small, tan, suitcase-style record player with them, or maybe they went out and bought one. I remember the soundtracks, the small yellow and red children’s 45’s, punctuated by what may have been my parents’ only option: a recording of Tea for Two.
Every generation has its soundtrack, and in keeping with my parents’ tastes, I grew up to the tunes of Benny Goodman and Cole Porter, to the stride piano of Fats Waller, and Louis Armstrong’s jazz trumpet.
For my 13th birthday, I received my own personal portable stereo. It was a fantastic set-up with detached speakers that rotated on hinges to orient the sound toward the listeners—or could be lifted off to separate the sound and get the perfect two channel dimensional listening experience.
My music collection began with Cream, Sonny and Cher, and Jimi Hendrix, and expanded over the years into the hundreds of vinyl records I treasure today. They have sat idle through all the recording advances of my lifetime, supplanted by CDs and streaming— but pandemic restrictions piqued my interest in listening to them anew.
A fancy turntable arrived the other day, so advanced, it can probably make me a cocktail as well as play those tunes.
The vacation we cannot take will be the one I imagine: Down memory lane with these recordings.
One vinyl record at a time. (C)