My first 45 rpm records

Sunday was National Record Day and I could write many articles concerning record collections. But let’s talk about 45 rpm records. They were my first before albums because they were cheap and I was young…only about 10 to 12. Singles were popular with the young crowd more than albums and rock and roll artists. Along, with my first record player, I also received an off white box with a gold gilded design to fill a decent collection of 45 rpm records. My first ones consisted of Downtown by Petula Clark recorded n 1964,  I Know a Place, also by Petula Clark in 1965, Bend me, Shape me, by American Breed in 1967, Woman, Woman by Gary Puckett and the Union Gap and Spirit in the Sky, by Norman Greenbalm. It was after Norman that I moved on to bands and albums.

The most common form of the vinyl single is the “45” or “7-inch”. According to sources, the names are derived from its play speed, 45 rpm, and the standard diameter, 7 inches. The 7-inch 45 rpm record was released March 31, 1949 by RCA Victor as a smaller, more durable and higher-fidelity replacement for the 78 rpm shellac discs. The first had recordings on both sides but the other side was generally not a popular song by the same artist. Most ran about 2-4 minutes.

History Dumpster offers some interesting information concerning 45 rpms. John Lennon once asked how long he could record his song to George Martin in 1968 and George Martin, after some experimenting, found the answer – 7 minutes, 11 seconds. And thus the playing time of “Hey Jude”.  I guess Bruce Springsteen made one longer. Portable battery operated phonographs were also made for taking your music anywhere. Though you were lost without your record inserts.

These records did last longer than I expected though declined in the 1980’s when cassettes became the rage. Some were still being recorded in 1990. Thursday’s Golden Goodies offers some great vinyl records today that you can order online. Their Internet store has more than 47,000 different vintage 45 rpm & LP records in stock. You can actually get a carrying case for your 45 rpm records and spindle domes to properly center your record on a turntable.

Of course, you can sell your 45 rpms directly on Ebay. There is collection of country (not my favorite) for over fifty dollars. It has been awhile since I have seen my childhood box and records though clearly remember the collection. I know the box is somewhere but while writing this story, I found the exact box online. Back in our day, the variety was not as vast as it is today. And it is only seven dollars.

 

Earth, Wind and Fire: Kennedy Center Honors

Oh, after the love has gone… How could you lead me one…And not let me stay around? Of course, just heard on the radio reminding of my own breakup sadness when this song came out in 1979; After the Love is Gone. But it was September recorded in 1978 that was always my favorite and when played in the early years of its recording, I would ask who sang that song! September reached No. 1 on the US R&B chart, No. 8 on the US Billboard Hot 100, and No. 3 on the UK Singles Chart.

Another legendary music group that combined the elements of jazz with pop and who many have said changed the sound of music, Earth Wind and Fire began in 1969 Chicago. Maurice White who was the founder actually played with the Ramsey Lewis Trio and a session drummer at Chess records, which helped his vision for the new band.  After signing with Columbia Records, the band rose in recognition with songs such as Shining Star in 1975, one of their most inspired songs.

Your a Shining Star…no matter who you are.… Shining Star for you to see what your life can be can a great dance song during club time in the 1980’s when I was a young adult but a great song to play as background music in the classroom. A song that when many students were down…they truly listened, smiled, and shined with accomplishment.Also a song for the my own young children to play and dance in their living room…singing the words directly to each other or their friends, making a new day of love and friendship.

Maurice White passed away in 2016 but still in the heart and soul of all of their music. The three original members – Phillip Bailey, Verdine White and Ralph Johnson — have been together over 40 years. Earth Wind and Fire continues to travel throughout the country with elaborate and dynamic performances.They built their legendary status with numerous albums to this day, garnering 20 Grammy Award nominations (winning six as a group) and a Hall Of Fame Induction along the way.

On Sunday, December 8, 2019 in a star-studded celebration on the Kennedy Center Opera House stage, Earth, Wind and Fire will be honored at the 42nd Annual Kennedy Center Honors. Sally Field, two time Academy Award winner and Linda Ronstadt, with worldwide album sales of more than 50 million, and Michael Tilson Thomas,Music Director of the San Francisco Symphony will also be celebrated that evening.

Old Town then and now

It was approximately 1749 North Wells which is now an apartment building but was a quaint stone building with a court yard built in the early 1930s. And not only home to my Aunt and Uncles apartment but Van Sydow Moving Company, where my uncle was a supervisor.

I was only about five when he passed away in 1960 and my Aunt moved to an apartment in the suburbs. But I remember the great windows of their large apartment that looked out over the exquisite tree-lined Wells street. I remember the enchanting courtyard where I would chase fairies and the first remote control that changed the channels on their console television.

I remember my Aunt hating God when my Uncle died. She met a new man a few years later just as special but we returned to Wells street many times to talk about her memories of Old Town as well as create new memories for me.

Many have commented that rents had plummeted in the 1960’s and Old Town was the most populated hippy neighborhood in the Midwest. It was the 1960’s that I remember bits and pieces of the Old Town Art Fair which I have enjoyed over the years. On an average, over 200 artists still display their creative work in June every year.

And after the fair or just spending a weekend in Old Town,  it was the Pickle Barrel restaurant that opened in 1960 on Wells that I went to several times where I remember being greeted with a barrel of kosher dill pickles and popcorn  for snacking. The walls displayed a variety of antiques and tables/chairs did not match.

The first Crate and Barrel store opened on Wells street in 1962 filled with European pottery and glass in. And another all time favorite for me was the original Pipers Alley, a cobblestone passageway that housed several eclectic shops and theater at 1608 Wells street.  The alley lent itself to original Victorian architecture.  A huge Tiffany lamp fixture hung over the the trip down the alley that included an old fashioned candy store,  poster shops, a candle shop, and even a pizza place.

During the 1960s and 1970s, Old Town became the center of Chicago folk music which was experiencing a revival at the time.

In 1957, the Old Town School of Folk Music opened at 333 West North Avenue and stayed at that address until 1968, when the school moved to 909 West Armitage Avenue. It has retained the name, although it is no longer located within Old Town. Singer-songwriters such as Bob Gibson, Steve Goodman, Bonnie Koloc, and John Prine played at several clubs on Wells Street, such as The Earl of Old Town.

According to Wikipedia, The Old Town School of Folk Music was closely associated with these artists and clubs. One large and successful folk club was Mother Blues, which featured nationally known artists and groups such as Jose Feliciano, Odetta, Oscar Brown Jr., Josh White, and Chad Mitchell. It also presented comedian George Carlin, Sergio Mendez, Brazil ’66, and The Jefferson Airplane.

In later years and today, I still walk the streets of Old Town enjoying the great shopping and entertainment such as Second City, The Chicago History Museum and O’Briens restaurant.

 

Lost in love

Lost in the past websites not only bring back detailed memories of events and places but can make you quite the historian. No, Kresge’s didn’t close that year, but Zayres did. Scary that many don’t know the real statistics.

And as I scroll with a midlife friend born the same year, we scream out the name of the person, place or thing with recognized excitement; we sing the phone number or song that was repeatedly drilled from one ad to the next in out childhood….will probably still remember to sing during our future days of dementia.  We stop for a moment at the photo of W.T Grants, a United States chain of low priced mass merchandise which briefly gives me the chills as I recount my missing child experience when I was only four or five.

I slowly turned and Mom wasn’t there. I just walked down the same aisle and I would be sure to see her and no Mom. So I turned down the next aisle, a little bit more quickly, a little more panicked…no Mom. The next aisle looked exactly the same as the last, cloth, linen that appeared colorless through my unmanageable tears….no Mom. Finally, someone grabbed my hand,

No, we will find her…. a saleslady had said. How did she know?

I was only sobbing a little by this point and the kind lady walked me to the service deck and I had to crane my neck to face the women behind it who asked me my name. I admitted no shame and spoke it clearly. It was strange to hear my name announced on the loud speaker. It was strange to hear my last name pronounced correctly. That was always an exception to the rule. But she found me…did not leave me stranded.

So we continue on our journey down memory lane, buying our first records at Rose, ski jackets at Robert Hall, Buster Brown Shoes and helped collect our S & H green stamps to buy a phonograph. Strange, how we all went to the same places for the same stuff at the same time.

Finally, the dining experience begins with chuckles of neighborhoods Chicken Unlimited, Aunt Jemina’s kitchen, Howard Johnson’s breakfasts, Cals Roast Beef and of Uncles Als barbeque, hotdogs, polish sausage. It seems like there is an Uncles Al’s for everyone’s eating pleasure across the county.

But when we begin to visit the photos of the more elite restaurants of our time, our moods become more contemplative of our own unique dates, desires. and turning points. It was the Chez Paree my friend celebrated prom.

For me, instead of prom, I chose a Jethro Tull concert instead but, yes I do remember the formal restaurants.  It was at Dunlap’s restaurant opened in 1935 that my fathers handwork in glass was displayed behind the bar and only polished until the restaurants closing in the early part of the millennium. A tear descended, while envisioning elegant ladies and their partners, sitting at the bar, my own Mom and Dad gazing with satisfaction in the smoked glass mirror beyond.

We began to crawl through the pictures to maintain our emotional composure. and suddenly, The Deacons Bench was discovered, boosting eighteenth century decor with hurricane lamps on the tables, scattered benches with embroidered seats and crisp red and white checked table clothes, My first visit when I was 10 with my Mom and best friend for lunch, mesmerized at being able to truly step back in time, my second visit for lunch with my Mom when I was twenty one; her sternly lecturing me about my after hours social life even though we lived apart.

Was I really too frivolous in those days?

Though a great work ethic, my free time had its moments of carelessness. Savings in the bank, a fleeting thought. Maybe, I should have been planning for the retirement that I don’t have now.  Finally, the Green Shingle restaurant that had somehow captured the most love in the early 60’s. It was my first date with my Dad in my best dress, shoes and gloves. It was my first steak sandwich medium rare but would not be last. It was my second date with my college professor who helped to celebrate my birthday with fellow students after my Dad passed away. A college professor who passed away from cancer a few years ago. And finally, a date with my first boyfriend as we first held hands at the candle lit table.; killed in a car accident shortly after.

Until today, I never realized that we had all shared the same place. A Dad, a lifelong mentor and my first love in a building who enclosed the magic of it all.  Though the restaurant is part of that which is lost.  Love never is. Though life moves on to another dimension, the surrounding spirit remains as long as I do.

The friend I sit and laugh with today; another love of a new day.  How wonderful it is to be reminded. How wonderful it is to be loved.

Favorite vintage Chicago land records and shops

My first experience flipping through 45’s was traumatic. After getting my first portable record player, my Mom took me shopping and said I could buy 4 45’s and she didn’t want to spend a whole lot of time in the record store. So not really sure where my head was at and feeling overwhelmed because you could spend a whole day in a record shop, I picked Woman, Woman by Gary Puckett and The Union Gap even though I loved the melody but have you got cheating on your mind for girl in junior high was not really what I was thinking about.

My second choice was Spirit in The Sky by Norman Greenbaum…the newest in psychedelic rock. Bend me Shape me by The American Breed  about all women having the power to turn on the light… pretty narcissistic for a young girl and then of all things, My Baby Does the Hanky Panky by Tommy James and the Shondells. And no, I did none of those things.

After graduating to albums , Three Dog Night, One , Carol Kings Tapestry, Led Zeppelin III, and Deju Vu by Crosby Stills Nash and Young and 64 of the Greatest Motown Hits (4 albums) i Band on the Run by Paul McCartney and Wings, All Things Must Pass by George Harrison , Chicago VI and Billy Joels The Stranger.

Still playing some of them today on my daughter ‘s turntable who is 27 and loves records including the creative past of rock and roll. Now called by many as the vinyl comeback with new record shops are opening throughout the area.

However, the following describes some of the best gone, but not forgotten, record shops Chicago land had to offer in the past.

Rose Records/Tower records: Two stories located on Wabash Ave and some remember that you had to get a sles slip from one of the association before you pay for your records? They were arranged by label and catalog number and they had catalogs to check what you were looking for.

The Flip side Record  chain had twelve stores in the Chicago area (1971-1991). The Flip Side sold an array of records and tapes, music-related merchandise, electronics and a full line of clothing and shoes.

Sam Goody was a music and entertainment retaile in the United States and United Kingdom, operated by The Musicland Group inc. It was purchased by Best Buy in 2000, sold to Sun Capital in 2003, and filed for bankruptcy in 2006 closing most of its stores.

Hegewich Records in Calumet City was one of my personal favorites. Hegewisch Records started in 1965 in the Hegewisch section of Chicago as a novelty store selling sundries as well as records and music.The record and music operation moved to its Calumet City location at 522 Torrence Ave. in 1974

Camelot Music, for me, was a place to buy written music for piano but many did by records and was one of the largest music retailers in the United States

Still celebrating over 45 years in Oak Park this month, My daughter and I now record shop at Vall Hallas which began her store in 1972 and almost closed due to lost sales but was saved through community and customer fundraising efforts.

Picture courtesy Internet FM