70's / 60's Memories - Part 1
I spent more than half of the 1970’s as an underage, unemployed citizen. I got my first job (at a record store!) on
For someone who didn’t have regular employment, it seems to me now that I sure got a lot of records, about ’75 or so. I was given a meager allowance, and I could supplement this ‘income’ with doing “extra chores” (i.e. mopping floors or mowing the lawns) – and I could go looking for (used discarded) bottles to trade in to the liquor store – “CA Deposit”!
In 1971 – and my memory is fuzzy here – I think I may have been allowed “a record a week” or something like that. My dad was not adverse (well, he did it, whether or not he was adverse to it) to taking me downtown, so I could look in the handful of “hippie record stores”. I seem to remember looking for as long as I liked, but…knowing my dad, he may have been impatient with me at times (“C’mon, you’ve been in here forever!”) – I simply don’t remember all of the details.
In the 1960’s, the record departments that I remember clearly (before hippie record stores) are places like May Company, Wallach’s Music City, Cal Store, The Treasury, Gemco, White Front, Zody’s…and my mom was who took me those places – likely, she had some other motive of going there (it wasn’t just so I could look at records). If I asked “nicely”, I may have been favored with an LP purchase (I seem to remember getting my “Virgin Fugs” by The Fugs at a Gemco – I am not kidding).
But back to the 70’s – Thrifty Drug Store had a “Bargain Bin” – brand new records with holes punched in the covers, known as “Cut Outs” – as cheap as 59 cents, as high as $1.98. With a wagon full of bottles back to the liquor store, I might have enough money to buy an LP at Thrifty! Reality: two dozen coke bottles only netted you something like 72 cents – which was enough for a 45 at the Singer Seeing Machine Shop!
Did I hoard my elementary school / junior high (middle school) lunch money to buy records? It is possible – especially since discovering that a hardware store near my home (“Dooley’s”) had a record department, with 45’s for a dime (10 cents – “One thin dime, one tenth of a dollar!” to quote The Coasters in “Little Egypt”)! 10 cents could be had easily enough – that was a carton of milk and a bag of peanuts – or a 45 from a hardware store! If I still had any allowance left, or had collected and returned a load of coke bottles – I could’ve gone in there with, 45, 50 cents! Wow!
8-track tapes were “in”, 4 track tapes were “out” – seemed like people weren’t totally embracing cassettes – maybe it was just me. Between me, my brother and my father, we had reel-to-reels decks, a portable cassette and a cassette deck, two or three record players, and an 8-track “recorder” (a Panasonic, as I recall). My point in mentioning this stuff – sometimes, cassettes could be found for 49 cents or 99 cents – but 8-tracks tapes never seemed to hit the ‘bargain bin’. If I got to go to Muntz Stereo, it was nearly all 8-track tapes: “Get that great Muntz sound in your car!” – my mother’s car had an 8-track tape player in it! Was her first 8-track tape “Flowers” by The Rolling Stones?
I couldn’t really nail down the exact time I changed bicycles from a Schwinn Stingray to a 10-speed bike – but having a 10-speed bike meant I could go a little further from my home – in search of inexpensive music.
My sense of direction has always been fairly good – some would say it’s excellent. How hard it is to count the turns, when your mom or dad drives you someplace? From my home, to get to Wallach’s
If I was 12 going on 13 in 1971, I must’ve sounded pretty convincing to the clerks at Wallach’s
Along with comic books and Gibbon’s Stamp Albums – my preferred reading material of the late 60’s and early 70’s were Schwann Record Catalogs and Phonolog New Release Sheets. For those too young to remember, the “Phonolog” was the big yellow (goldenrod?) encyclopedia of music that was on the counter of any “fine record store” – one presumes that it was there so the staff could take customer’s “special orders”?
My first encounter with the Phonolog was likely in 1963 or 1964 – my dad had taped Side 1 of Spike Jones “Dinner Music For Those Who Aren’t Very Hungry” off of the FM radio, and played it for me. I wanted an LP of it, but when we went to Wallach’s – it wasn’t in the Phonolog. What was in the Phonolog was “Thank You, Music Lovers” – a ‘best of’ on RCA with Jack Davis cover art.
I don’t remember how I discovered the EP section in the Wallach’s – was it separate, or merely behind the 45’s? RCA kept many Elvis Presley EP’s in print, well into the 70’s (well, until they had the ubiquitous yellow RCA label!) – and they were a bargain! Something like $1.29 for 4 whole songs! The cheapest I could find 45’s was for 59 cents at the Singer Sewing Machine Shop, but…but…they didn’t have a giant selection, like Wallach’s
My brother had taught me about “British Imports” – records from