Sunday, October 30, 2011

Lightening the Load, Indeed (and, the Ghost with the Most)

My friend Kathy Beaumont’s most recent blog post was about lightening the load---going through and getting rid of stuff.  The rule should be:  if you haven’t used it for a year, it needs to go.

I’ve been in “get rid of it” mode for a while now, and after Kathy’s post I kind of sat up and looked around me.

It’s going to take me YEARS to go through this stuff.  I’m sentimental to the max, and if I find one of Grannie’s* gum wrappers (she liked Juicy Fruit), I’m loathe to toss it.

In some cases, though, I’m glad I hung onto some things that theoretically I should have tossed or given away years ago.


In 1968, I went with my Dad to help my grandparents purchase a stereo.  The old Philco radio had bitten the dust; in any event, 78 rpm records were “out” and while Granny still wanted to be able to listen to Nelson Eddy and his Orchestra’s rendition of “The Old Rugged Cross”, she also wanted to hear the contemporary sounds of that Mantovani fellow,

not to mention the mellifluous tones of 101 Strings.

So, we hopped into the 65 Olds and went to Haverty’s in downtown Little Rock.  At that time, Main Street, though fading, was still Main Street and Haverty’s had this huge store.  They had their stereo equipment on the 4th floor, and up we trekked; after some debate, Granny* and Gramp made their selection.

It was a Magnavox Astro-Sonic (everything in the 60’s was just so much more cool and groovy if you put “Astro” in the title; in Magnavox’s case, it was their trade name for “Solid State”—no tubes, all transistors) in a beautiful pecan cabinet (vaguely “Mediterranean”, another hot styling trend of the time).

It had an actual subwoofer, two 12” front speakers, two 3” tweeters, and two 12” side speakers, and it could crank the music.  The controls—I don’t know how they and Marantz (a higher-end brand) did it, but the controls just glided.  Ball bearings?  They were incredibly smooth and rich feeling. 

I’d wait till everybody was out of the house, then put my records on and blast away with it.  With pier-and beam foundation and wood floors, the underside of the house made a perfect reverb chamber.  I always got caught, because the pictures would all go crooked on the walls and I’d always miss one or two; I could rattle the dishes in the kitchen cabinets.  And, periodically, I’d forget to turn the volume back down and Granny would get a jolt when she went to play a record.

I loved the sound it made.

Sadly, after Granny and Gramp died, the Magnavox went to a different part of the family and I lost track of it.  After all these years, and with a large vinyl collection collecting dust on the shelf in Malvern (my turntable died years ago), and boxed since the move to Houston 4 years ago, the records were on the “endangered species” hit list.  (“Be ruthless with discards.”)


I was sitting here the other day, posting away on one of my Bulletin boards.  One of the younger posters asked about various music delivery devices and some of us older ones were talking about things like cassettes (eeww) and 8-track (surprisingly, I like them better than cassettes) then about vinyl records (33 1/3, 45, and the older 78’s).  Many of the younger posters have never seen or heard a record! 

I was looking online (you can find anything on the interwebs) and thought, “I’ll see if there’s a picture of that Magnavox somewhere.  I seem to remember it being featured in one of their ads. 

And…I found a photo.  A “live” listing on ebay.  The exact set, IDENTICAL to my grandparents’, apparently flawless, with the original paper on the turntable, owner’s manuals, etc. Owner is throwing in her Dad's vinyl and 8 tracks (!), many of which are still shrinkwrapped.

I couldn’t resist.

So, the weekend before Thanksgiving, I’m driving to Louisville, Kentucky to pick up my beautiful 1968 Magnavox “Astro-Sonic” console stereo, albums, and 8 tracks. 

Here it is, in all its Mediterranean Pecan glory:


(and ya know what else?  It doesn’t have all those exposed wires and crap we’ve just gotten used to with all the component sets we’ve had for decades now.  This stuff was classy).

The other rule (besides “if you haven’t used it in a year…”) is: if something “big” comes in, something else must go OUT in order to make room.  I’ve got it figured out.

Now all I have to do is figure out which of the boxes in the storage bedroom actually contain the albums.  Gee, I haven’t heard the White Album or Abbey Road or Steppenwolf or Led Zeppelin or Iron Butterfly or Peter Frampton or the Byrds or Chicago on ALBUMS in at least 20 years.  Yes, I own much of that music on itunes.  (Some of it, notably Abbey Road, I bought in album, then 8-track, then cassette, then CD, and now it resides in itunes).  Still—the sound on the vinyl, blasting out of those Magnavox speakers---

I can’t wait!  Here Comes the Sun (do do do do ) Here Comes the Sun and I say, “It’s all right!”


Paul Eells, a gentleman it was my great pleasure and privilege to know, was the announcer for Vanderbilt and a fixture on Nashville television—until he accepted a similar position at KATV Channel 7 in Little Rock.  He loved the Razorbacks, was the Voice of the Razorbacks, and I belt out his “TOUCHDOWN, ARKANSAS!  OH, MY!” every time they score.

Paul died tragically in an automobile accident on the way from Fayetteville back to Little Rock.  A few weeks later, Houston Nutt took the Hogs to play Vandy in Nashville, right around Halloween.  The score was close and Vandy was driving.  They had to attempt a last-second field goal for the win.  It looked perfect—till a gust of wind hit the ball and blew it wide.  Hogs win.

It was said that the Ghost of Paul blew on the ball and caused it to sail wide.

Yesterday, a day most celebrated as Halloween (I don’t like changing the holidays to fit the weekends, but oh well…), once again, Vandy was driving the field to win the game and had to attempt a field goal---which sailed right, in almost exactly the same spot. 

Paul Eells,  the Ghost with the Most!


*Both my grandmothers were “Grannee”.  Grandmother Jones was “Granny”, while Grandmother Forthmon was “Grannie”.  Grannie lived with us; I spent the summers with Granny and Gramp in Malvern, with Grannie nearby at Aunt Paulie’s.


  1. Put on In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida and crank that baby up! That will make the floor boards vibrate!

  2. Enjoy your blog immensely!