Some of us, ahem, are old enough to recall just how important the radio and the latest pop hits were to American social and cultural life.
Before there were a mind-boggling 750+ channels on cable or satellite TV or Sirius Radio or whatever else is out there, there was the humble family radio, spinning discs on the steror, or hanging out with a portable transistor and trying to tune the dial.
Everyone looked forward to the weekly Top Ten Countdown, or Billboard Magazine’s Hit Parade! If you named a song or a show or a movie EVERYONE knew what you were talking about. We were united by pop culture rather than segmented by it like we are today into our own distinct demographic groups or discrete interests that perhaps no one else even knows about.
Uh oh, now I sound like, “In my day…”
Gather ‘Round the Stereo
But seriously, in addition to the unifying effect of pop culture, there was also that distinctive lazy and unhurried warmth of the radio, or the process of getting a record ready for the hi-fi stereo (cleaning the album, setting up the needle, etc.), and the added pop and crackle of vinyl records playing, or of tuning in to just the right frequency.
I really do sound nostalgic — but I think in a good way!
I know in a good way because at my shop we play a great radio station (online these days of course) called KCEA.org and everyone who comes in — EVERYONE — loves it. It’s Big Band hits and music of the 20s, 30s, and 40s (along with some radio dramas and comedies, old ads, and outtakes) and it’s just the best music to get you in that vintage and antique shopping mood.
And since vinyl records and smaller record labels are coming back so much, and folks who tinker know how to bring back old audio equipment (or keep the shell and change the innards) I recently went on a binge buying spree of all kinds of vintage and antique stereos, radios, speakers — hey, I even have a Victrola-like player with a great big amplifying funnel speaker. And get this, I scored a vintage dictaphone that’s so cool, well, it’s the cat’s pajamas!
You can spy all this great stuff in the front window of the shop, meaning whether we’re open or not.
For some audiophiles and collectors, this is absolutely a must-do destination shopping trip. You’re sure to find something— or drool over something you’d love to have.
For others, whether it’s that nostalgic feeling or a love of the look of these radio and stereo designs, it’s fun just to browse these babies and check them out. That you get to do it while listening to my crooners on the shop radio is just icing on the cake.
Hope to see you bebopping by sometime soon!
— Ellen Boden, Proprietress, Staunton Antiques Center