Sunday, July 29, 2007

Who says there's no Second Childhood?
...oh, wait, maybe I haven't left my first one yet...

Warning: if you have the attention span of a Mayfly (they only live one day, so they can't afford to think too much), this post is not for you. Why? 'Cos it'll take a DAY to read it!

Remember some of the stuff you had when you were a kid? Christmas presents, birthday presents, maybe something you got for graduation, or maybe one of your parents spotted something they'd think you'd like and bought it. And if you get a chance to re-acquire some of that same stuff, it's really special because whatever the item is, it takes you back, way waaaaay back. I think that's especially true of things like radios, record players or books, because those are the type of things that come back to life with a flick of the switch or the turning of a page.

Whilst browsing the vast endless files of Ebay, I had thought about transistor radios I had when I was a kid. Obviously, things are a lot more hi-tech these days, but back in the dark ages of the '60s, I thought transistor radios were endlessly fascinating. They somehow pulled music out of thin air, for me to hear. The only drawback being, if your radio was a battery-only model, and you sneaked your radio into bed to listen quietly while your parents thot you were asleep, perhaps YOU fell asleep, leaving the radio on all night and running down your precious 9-volt battery. And that happened to me, several times. So, all that said, I present my first little "hi-tech for the times" item...and little, indeed it is...the "REALTONE" six-transistor radio, model TR-1645...

This little radio is hand, from wrist to fingertips, is longer than what you see here. I must confess, the radio when I was a kid had a BLUE 'front grill' and a BLACK leather carrying case...but I feel fortunate to have found it. I bought it, stuck a battery inside it, and it leapt to life; a case of "radio resuscitation". When I began the search for this item, I had no idea what the model number was. Yeah, it was one of those five-hour Ebay searches; I'd been scrolling down the vast Ebay database for something like 5 hours when I found this little guy. And, it's the same model as the tiny transistor radio I got for Christmas 1963...

Here's a rear-view of the same radio. See the sticker? I know what "transistors" are, more or less, but I'd never before heard of a "thermistor", and I STILL don't know what that is. And, talk about "hi-tech"! It has an EARPHONE JACK! How wildly innovative, huh? And, the way you got inside the radio to change the battery? Well, you stuck a coin inside a slot at the bottom of the radio, and the back panel separated from the front; you could see the 'guts' of the radio, and at the bottom, a little space for the battery. And once the new battery was in, "CLIP!", you were all set and ready to go. Yep, another all-new battery that lived in fear of prematurely expiring due to the radio being left on all night. Oh, one more thing...back then, FM radio transmitted mainly classical music and spoken-word programs. No popular music at all, on FM back then. And this little artifact only received AM signals.

Next up is an radio that I found while searching for the radio I described above. I had totally forgotten it when I stumbled upon an Ebay page; presto, there it was! I don't know, and can't remember, whatever happened to my little REALTONE radio, but long about 1968, I got a bigger, better, and much more "hi-tech" radio. Well, "hi-tech" for the 60s, anyway. I mean, we're talking about almost 40 years ago...this one could actually receive FM in addition to AM. Although, FM was still in the stone age; no frequency-modulated rock music on that back then. I remember that all I could get on FM back then was country music, religious music, and spoken-word programs, so I didn't listen to that band very much. And I was moving UP in the world...I went from a little budget-priced "Realtone" radio, to one made by GENERAL ELECTRIC...even though, it was a laterally-upward move (if there can be such a thing), since both radios were largely, if not entirely, made in Japan...and, I found a radio virtually (if not totally) identical to the second little radio I had as a kid...

And, like the "Realtone" radio described above, this G.E. model, that I got for Christmas 1967, got a workout. Every night, after school, there I was, listening to all the top hits, and I must say that these two little radios I've written about formed the basis of my musical tastes (and record collecting) from waaaaay back in the times when "Star Trek" was still a cheesy-looking TV show with amateur sets; 'twas also during the time when two of the popular staples on TV were "The Monkees" and "Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In", and you can bet your sweet BIPPY (whatever a 'bippy' is) on that! Verrrrry Interrrrresting. After a few years, this radio, too, fell by the wayside. I have no idea whatever happened to it. But I've got it again...if not the same "it", the same model of "it". Or, "will" have it, as soon as it arrives from my Ebay seller.

Back in the late '60s, my best friend got a TAPE RECORDER! And I thot, how could record YOUR OWN SOUND in it...And I just HAD to have one! You know how it is when you're a kid, you just WAAANT something SOOOOO BAD! And the tape-recorder bug bit me, right where it hurts; what can I say? Ironically, one of the top TV shows at the time was "Mission Impossible", and it turns out the tape recorder I eventually got was the SAME model as the one used in the original "Mission: Impossible" TV series...

At the beginning of each "Mission: Impossible" episode, the "CRAIG" model 212 Reel-To-Reel Tape Recorder (pictured above) was activated by Peter Graves, the actor who played Jim Phelps. The tape would start out by saying, "Good morning, Mr. Phelps; your mission, should you decide to accept it...", then instructions for the mission were relayed, and then the tape would "self-destruct in 5 seconds", as the last few inches of tape slipped past the playing heads and wound its way around the takeup reel. With this recorder, I recorded, you guessed it, the top-40 programs I recorded from my GE radio. I used the little "Craig" microphone. I had no idea how to patch-in directly, although it might have been possible back in those prehistoric times.

Sadly, the little recorder died; dirt got into the "T" control (you can see the record-play-forward control; it forms a "T" pattern), and the "automatic level control" screwed up, and either the machine would record at virtually silent levels, or play back at immense, bone-crushing volume. A case of "recorder dysentery" and it was gently put to sleep forever and ever. Actually, it disappeared, in the same way the two radios I described; under murky and mysterious circumstances that I can't for the life of me remember. So where does all this old stuff go? I can imagine there are countless attics all over this great nation, that are full of all this old, cool stuff. Although, with Ebay hovering overhead, perhaps those attics aren't quite as full anymore. Truly, one man's junk is another man's acquisition-from-the-not-too-distant-past.

You might remember, at the top of this post, that I mentioned BOOKS. My Dad and I had difficulties, but he was a very smart, well-read individual who could do anything, build anything and fix anything. And I guess he wanted me to be well-read, too. And today, I love non-fiction; I read newspapers as much as I can; and there's no magazine in a doctor's waiting room that's too dull for me (although I stay away from "Sunset" magazine, and I wouldn't wanna be caught dead reading a "Ladies' Home Journal")...heck, I'm sad that the "WEEKLY WORLD NEWS" is about to fold; I never read an issue, but when I saw a copy at a supermarket checkstand, the headlines always provided me with a good laugh...oops, I'm straying here...

Perhaps my penchant for nonfiction literature has a lot to do with a set of books I got when I was a 9-year-old kid. There were 16 volumes in this set...and it was one of those deals where, when you shopped at Safeway, you could pick up one volume per week at a special I received the first three volumes, which I found fascinating, and after that...nothing. And then, all of a sudden, Dad brought home the other 13 volumes and I had a TON of stuff to read! Dear readers, may I present "The Golden Treasury of Knowledge":

There were literally dozens of different topics covered in these volumes; they weren't alphabetically-oriented like encyclopedias; in one volume, for example, you might read about Marco Polo, and after that, might come an article on the then-fledgling space program, then perhaps you'd read about the formation of the continents, followed by a short biography of Socrates. I have always loved reference books; heck, I used to read the PHONE BOOK at breakfast, something my always-logical-Dad thought was just totally and abjectedly crazy. That's me, I guess. Anyway, I found volumes 1-14 of these "knowledge books" from an Ebay seller who sold 'em CHEAP, and the other two volumes came from two other sellers who priced 'em at around five bucks each. The books are copyright 1961...and my, how things have changed since them. But, it's cool to have 'em anyway.

Speaking of 'copyright'...Beatles' songs might just become part of the "Public Domain" soon. England's copyright law allows for a 50-year period after a song's creation...50 years ago was 1957...and "I Saw Her Standing There" and "Ask Me Why", two of the fabs' earliest originals, were written in 1962. And in 5 more years, Beatles' songs will be in the same league as the songs in the old average dusty Church hymnal. And I think I got a couple more gray hairs after I realized that.


Blogger ستاره said...

Dear Madam/Sir,
I am lokking for the tape recorder which u put its picture in ur site, to buy.would u please tell if I can buy it or not?Or it is just an picture?

2:34 AM  
Blogger ستاره said...

by the way my email address is:

2:35 AM  
Blogger Idaho Escapee said...

I bought this recorder on Ebay and I'm sure you'll find another one listed there...just keep looking. Not interested in selling; I had one of these little machines when I was a kid; I wanted to recapture old memories.

4:52 AM  

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