Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Kathy's blog post on "The Day the Music Died" got me thinking about "Hi-Fi"

I had an RCA Victor "Combination" with an AM Radio AND a turntable, both in Hi-Fi; it had the "big" adaptor and I could play my 45's (which I still have) automatically (about 5 or 6 was the total amount it could handle at any one time; usually the 6th one would "slip").

It was very similar to this one. Its fate? Ever the woodworker, my Dad took the guts out, cut the speaker part out, and put the top and doors on the legs. Mother then painted and stained it chinese red. It is sitting in my entry hall in Houston right now with a lamp on it.

Now, Granny and Gramp had one of those big Magnavox jobs. I love that stereo (my cousin Jack still has it and it still works). This is an ad for the very one; note the classically understated beehive on the beauty selecting the record...

We went with them to Haverty's on Main Street in downtown Little Rock to buy it; Granny fretted severely over spending so much money but Mantovani and 101 Strings (not to mention the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Lawrence Welk!) just sounded so much better on it that she gave in. It had two small "remote" speakers that could be plugged in, so the sound surrounded you (not to be confused in any way with modern surround sound).

I will say this about the old Magnavox: It had the greatest tonal range (they had a unique sound), the smoothest tuner (I have no idea what the mechanism was, but it glided), and a beautiful cabinet (Mediterranean, of course...).

I was torn when Granny would go to the beauty shop. Many times, I would get to drive her (I was a better driver at 13 than she was at 65), so there was that. On the other hand, if she went by herself, I was guaranteed a couple of hours with the Magnavox, and I could (and did) crank it to the skies with the Beatles, Badfinger, the Stones, and even Elvis. Only got caught once.

Meanwhile, in Gladewater, Texas, my Aunt Virginia had the ULTIMATE combo: the Magnavox stereo WITH BLACK AND WHITE TEE-VEE! And yup, I found a picture of one very similar to it. You could watch TV and the sound would kind of sound like "stereo", almost.

I know CD's and a modern surround system are better, but those huge old boxes made some great sounds.

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