(image: summer sun)

Old School

Cleaning under the bed...

It was a job that had to be done.

Who knows what kind of mutant creature was growing there, feeding on the potato chip crumbs and run-away Hot Tamales that fall between the mattress and head board. And no doubt there WAS something living under there... at least on the microscopic level. Some creepy-crawly things living under there, in the dark. And, like the legendary New York City sewer alligators, who knows how BIG they might grow if left undisturbed.

I wrestled the bed aside and waded in, broom in hand. What an amazing pile of debris. I did make a few finds. Lots of dusty, dirty socks. So that’s where they all went! And I found a box of Neoral, one of my medications - at about $100 a box. And, as I was sorting through this great heap of stuff that I had just swept across the room - mixed in with the dust bunnies, used tissues, discarded medicine wrappers, and magazine reply cards - were my new glasses. Lenses face down, of course.

I had forgotten about them, mostly because my eyes are so bad, they don’t do me much good. Still, I cringed at the thought that I had just slid them across our bare wood floor. Man! That’s not what I wanted to have happen. But, they cleaned up without a scratch. I guess that extra $20 for the hardened lenses was worth it.

So I spent the afternoon sorting through piles of clutter - and dubbing old LPs onto reel-to-reel tape. Talk about Old School. The kids aren’t even quite sure what those big, black vinyl disks are. And reel-to-reel tape? That’s about one step above carving a copy of the LP into stone, isn’t it? I am sure that’s what they think as they download their MP3 music files onto the computer.

A couple of summers ago, the kids and I wandered over to a garage sale down the street, and there was this Pioneer reel-to-reel tape deck.

$20 bucks!

I couldn’t believe my eyes. My heart started beating fast, I practically draped myself over the thing so no one else would see it. It had to have been worth at least $800 new, I am sure. Not that anyone would really want it. I guess, a thing is only worth what you think it is, and reel-to-reel tape isn’t exactly convenient, especially when you can accomplish the exact same thing with a $100 cassette deck - without the hassle.

But, I love gadgets, so I snapped that baby up.

It holds 10-inch reels, and does a great job of recording - better than my old $1,000 Revox (which is kind of annoying!). So a while back I decided to lug it up from the basement and put it to use.

There is something kind of fun in putting a album on a turntable, with it's direct-drive motor, strobe light, tone arm, cartridge and needle, and then watching those giant reels go 'round. I think it’s because you can SEE the gadgetry. It has the same inexplicable fascination as the game "Mousetrap" - only it makes music!

This newfangled computer stuff isn't near as fun because it is all IC's and chips - and they just sit there. You can't see them work. What fun is that?!

So this summer I have been digging through my old albums; Chicago, Rare Earth, classical recordings I am not sure I had ever listened to in the first place (those would be the ones I got in the mail because I forgot to return the ‘convenient’ reply card from the record club. Got lots of those!). I am having a good time mixing them all together onto tape, an old Fleetwood Mac album, followed by Andres Sogovia, followed by David Sanborn. It’s fun. And it’s about the only thing I can do these days without totally wearing myself out. Of course I’ll probably never actually LISTEN to any of these tapes. It’s too much of a hassle.

But those 10-inch reels look pretty cool turning around.

The kids got home from the pool around 6:00. Come dinner time, nobody really felt like fixing anything. Well, there was no PLACE to fix anything.

So we had ice cream, chips and pop for dinner.

And turned on the Mets/Yankees ball game on ESPN.

Now, THAT'S summer.

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Originally written July, 2000

(Updated 2011)

2000 Paul Dallgas-Frey