The Quiche Moraine Blog has been a success in a number of ways. We have a community, though it is small. We have a voice, though it is subtle. And, we have simply done a good deal of pretty good writing on it. And now, as we approach our 2,000th comment, I thought it would be appropriate to
drag out highlight a handful of my own contributions to that blog that I particularly enjoyed writing, or for some reason or another, look back on fondly. I thought about reposting them on QM, but we’ve never done that before and I’m not sure we should. So instead, I’ve decided to pick out a half dozen or so of my favorites and post the openings here and if you want, you can follow up.
Music and Me: The Early Years
I am the least musical person I’ve ever met who is still alive. Of course, most nonmusical people don’t go around talking about it, so I probably actually know more tone deaf, talentless people than that. It is strange, though. I should be musical. My mother sang semiprofessionally, doing radio in the pre-WWII days before they had things on tape (commercials and stuff). My oldest sister is known as Lightning Fingers Liz, owing to her prowess with the mandolin. My brother had a rock band from something like 1968 through 1990-something and is quite talented with the lead guitar. My other sister takes the cake, though. She has a couple of PhD’s in music or related topics, is an accomplished composer, and has learned–to at least a reasonable level of competence–one instrument in each known and extant class of musical instrument. (This required her to learn the bagpipes and the didgeridoo, because they are almost exclusive in their own classes.)
My father’s musical ability was nonexistent. When he would get a little drunk, he’d listen to his My Fair Lady album over and over. The other day we went to see My Fair Lady performed at the high school. I was afraid I was going to have a problem with that, but it was okay. No cold sweats, no feelings of doom, nothing. But I digress.
I was born into a home that had no TV or stereo. There was a period of time when there was a TV in my grandmother’s home, which luckily for me was the apartment upstairs. Then we got one downstairs eventually. But still, I’m digressing. That had nothing to do with music. I know that I was born into a home without a stereo because I remember quite well when we got the stereo. It was a big deal. There was a stereo cabinet, which was manufactured without any holes in it for wires to go. So a hole had to be cut in it.
There were to be two input devices, one a turntable and the other a tape recorder. Since this was the days before “aux,” there needed to be a pair of switches. It had to be a pair of switches and not just one, because they were mono switches, so there needed to be two of them. We’re talkin’ stereo here. These switches were mounted inside the stereo cabinet. The tape recorder was reel to reel. We also had a wire recorder, but there was no music for that, so we didn’t hook it up. (And when I say “we,” I mean my brother.) The speakers were twenty-something inches high and maybe 15 wide and very thin for speakers, and they were positioned at either end of the Eero Saarinen-style couch.
The rug in the living room had squares as part of its pattern, 11 inches on a side. So we used the squares to locate the center between the speakers. We put a chair there, and we would take turns sitting in the chair and listening to the sound effects record.
A train coming from one side to another. A pin dropping on one side then the other. A voice coming right from the middle even though there was not a speaker right there. The voice was saying “Hey, there’s no speaker right here, but you hear my voice like there is a speaker there. Isn’t stereo amazing!” Stuff like that.
We had a total of about fifteen albums. One was a Vaughn Meter album. One was the aforementioned sound effects album. Then there was Tubby the Tuba and Mary Poppins. Those were mine. Then there was Bolero, which fascinated me because there was a semi-naked lady on the front, facing away, and I could tell but not prove she was not wearing underwear. I had no idea at the time why I found that interesting. Then there was Al Hirt and there was Daktari. I loved the front of the Daktari album. Does anyone remember that? We had an album of JFK speeches.
I cannot place the arrival of the stereo in relation to the acquisition of the JFK speech album in relation to the assassination of JFK….