Monday, November 19, 2012

Shopping for Vinyl at Joe’s Garage.

Joe's garage wasn't as nice as this one!
By Gerry Wendel, Groovy Reflections Founder and Team Member

If you’re thinking that this post is about a Frank Zappa song, well, it’s not.

It’s about a man who lived in a small town that years later I would also be living in. His name is Joe. When I met him he was retired. Don't recall his age but it was likely around 70. He was a reformed alcoholic who had no qualms telling me that Lou’s Bar was his former watering hole. I’ve never been in Lou’s Bar but we all know of those establishments where a chosen few were permanent fixtures on the stools, providing the main source of income for the proprietor. "Luckily", Lou's Bar was in easy walking distance of Joe’s home.

However, this isn’t about Joe’s past fondness for spirits. It’s about his establishment simply known as Hillsdale Record Treasures. It wasn’t even a legal business but the town didn’t seem to mind. The “store” was a early 1900's one car concrete block constructed garage crammed with records. Some were alphabetized and at table height while "just-in" platters were ready to browse through in boxes on the floor. 

The knees of my jeans wore out from all the floor crawling I had to do to satisfy my vinyl cravings. The denim also served as a cleaning device of sorts since the dust was practically up to my ankles. The floor I knelt on consisted of dried out rotting wood sporting threadbare rugs to cover the decay. 

More than three people in the small space proved challenging. I always went alone to Joe's and sometimes there would be a nerdy guy there with a serious look on his face. I never saw the same nerdy guy twice. And other females…fuggetaboutit! A GIRL collecting records was not the norm!

Joe was always perched on a bar stool next to the record player. There were always a few ashes on it, flicked there by the always present round of cigarettes he would consume. I’ve never been a smoker and found the smell of cigarettes offensive but for the good cause of record collecting I’d put up with it.

Joe and I had some great conversations. While Joe wasn’t a record collector himself (he was seeking money to live on) he did have a familiarity with much of the inventory. He was easy to talk to, possessed an upbeat, pleasant attitude, and wore the thickest coke bottle glasses I’d ever seen that rivaled the pair I shed at age 18 when graduating to contact lenses.

My biggest miss happened when a nerdy shopper pulled an album by The Knickerbockers out of a "just in" box. Joe had it marked it $4. Sold to the guy in with the sweater vest! It irks me to this day, however, I scored so many great 45s and LPs at Joe's Garage so who am I to complain? 

When I look through my 45s nowadays, I still see shades of Joe; he would write the artist and title on the sleeve (not the picture sleeves!) and the price too. Most 45s were $1; a tidy sum for a used three minute platter in the late 70’s / early 80’s before CDs became the new format.

I don’t remember why I stopped going to Joe’s Garage. Perhaps it was because of a new beau who wasn't a vinyl junkie or some personal struggles going on in my life. And eventually I moved away from the area. I've never stopped collecting records though the hunting and gathering slows to a trickle from time to time. And, yes, I did embrace CDs around 1987 despite balking at the cost compared to buying a new LP. 

Joe, I thank you for entertaining this young gal during those “in between boyfriend” periods. I thank you for providing a place to go on Friday nights where I could have a good time scoring treasures and conversing about a subject I love. You were truly a friend.

Friday, November 2, 2012

They’re Everywhere!

By Paul Dugan, Groovy Reflections Team Member

Peanut M&M’s are my favorite candy and when my daughter was really little, she had a quarter and wanted to buy Daddy something for Christmas “with her own money”. She bought a bag of Peanut M&M’s. 

I was properly touched and I guess she remembered it because the following year, sure enough, another bag of peanut M&M’s was under the tree. And so the tradition continued.

Then, when she was older and earning money at a part-time job, the package under the tree was much larger. When I opened this one there was a large yellow M&M dude sitting in a recliner! Open the chair in the back and press the recline lever and the sweet treats were magically dispensed! I had received my first M&M collectible.

The following year, another dispenser: This time Red & Yellow at a 3-D movie with a bowl of popcorn between them, where the candies were dispensed. The collection began to grow. More Christmas’s and more dispensers; now I too was on the hunt for dispensers I didn’t have.

Somewhere along the way the collection expanded, although dispensers were and still are the focal point of my collection; I branched into other M&M collectibles, radios, telephones, electric lights, and a cuckoo clock were a few of the electronic collectibles that were added. I also added cookie jars; pose able figurines, and stuffed characters and an M&M Monopoly game.

Every year the collection continues to grow and I continue to add shelves in my computer room to accommodate more and more of my ever evolving group of colorful characters.

What’s really neat is seeing the looks of wonder and amazement when my grandchildren visit; they stare up at the shelves that go nearly to the ceiling, all filled with Red, Yellow, Blue, Green, Orange, Brown and soon Purple figures all engaged in various activities. They are playing all sorts of sports, driving different vehicles, and participating in a multitude of activities to keep a young minds imagination in awe for hours on end.

Some of the collectibles talk when a certain button is pushed; for example, Blue says “Hey, Who turned out the light” on a desk lamp. This always cracks the little ones up.  They laugh with glee from the comic things Yellow says as he hangs upside down as the pendulum on a cuckoo clock and boy do they just love the things Red says when he come out of the alarm clock to wake you up! Actually, this is so darned annoying I can’t imagine using it to wake up; but the young ones really get a kick out of it.

Of course the little ones never leave Papa’s House without having sampled a few candy coated chocolate treats!

I’m really glad they enjoy it because someday it will all be theirs to pass down to their children and grandchildren; and all this happiness because one little girl wanted to buy Daddy a Christmas present!

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