Tuesday, February 17, 2009

WFMW--Record Time

A couple of years ago, we had a flood in our basement. Fortunately, the water was clean, and large plastic toys wipe up pretty easily. But there was one big loss: about 6 liquor boxes full of my parents' records. I don't know when in my life I thought I'd be listening to Last of the Red Hot Cha-Cha's or Liberace's Piano Memories or the original cast recording of Tovarich! But they were so mildewed, there was no hope for them and in to the trash they went.

I also had a ton of my parents' and grandparents' old records in storage. When my parents died, it became horrifyingly apparent that they had each been the repository for all the stuff from all the childless aunts and uncles before them, so my poor husband and I were going through generations and branches of family stuff, not just our own nuclear family's. We're still not done, I'm sorry to say. Even with a mountain of trash in the driveway (and I mean a mountain...the pile was at least 10 feet tall, and took up all three car-spaces horizontally), we just ran out of time to finish culling, so stuff is still in storage, not because I don't want it, but because I don't know what it is.

One reason for this: a lot (ok, maybe just a little if I'm lucky) of this stuff is still useful to someone, somewhere, and I want to figure out who and where. This is bordering on psychotic, really. Normal people would have chucked or recycled or donated long ago.

But the records! My one grandmother had a Victrola. And my grandfather loved Gospel and ragtime (go figure) and had Scott Joplin records from his youth. I hated to just consign them to the dump without someone telling me whether they were worth anything to anyone.

All the record dealers, though, seemed to only want, say, Motown recordings from 1953 to 1959. Or needed me to ship them myself. Or some other problem.

And then...bliss in the paper! There was a picture of some high school kids loading boxes in a van, and it turned out, it was quite a record collection from a local musician. But what caught me most about the caption was that the Bloomington Symphony Orchestra, whose van it was, is not picky about the records it collects. It has a growing archive of recorded music of all formats but primarily LPs. And so, all our records, from Pop-Pop's 78 of How Great Thou Art to my husband's totally awesome late 70s/early 80s Elvis Costello and Talking Heads, headed off to Indiana. ("Indiana needs my records," my husband said, when I asked if he was really ok with sending off decades of coolness cred to Bloomington.)

I'm a little sad, really (and if truth be told, I just typed "lottle" so maybe I'm sadder than I care to admit). But we have nothing decent on which to play these; I can't imagine my kids will care about Tubby the Tuba more on a record than on an iPod, and apparently, Jesus Christ Superstar is still available if I want to hear Judas' Lament ever again. And while I loved the ritual of loading all the 45s with the soundtrack of South Pacific on the turntable, my kids have no interest whatsoever. And frankly, neither do I--or at least not enough.

But I am thrilled to have gotten what I wanted: a home for the records, where someone who knows what they are worth, whether that is "not what it will cost to haul them away" or "more than you ever dreamed." (Note: the over-under for us on this collection is $200. I'm taking the under.)

So...are you sitting on a record collection that you would like to see get a good home? Please contact this nice man, Dave Canfield, and he will tell you the best way to go about it. They do take all kinds of media, including tapes (ah, had we but known) and CDs, and will talk to you about the best way to get them to Bloomington. What's in it for you, besides reclaimed space? A tax deduction. Dave is apparently quite the appraisal expert and will go record by record and see what you donated and send you a form for the IRS at tax time. His email is davecanfield (@) sbcglobal. net (without the spaces obviously) and he is lovely to work with.

I'm just excited that maybe somebody, somewhere, will be excited to hear some of these long-silent sounds again. And that's working for me.

So is Bossy...thanks for the link!

And Shannon, so are you. Thank you for the fun of these past few years and thanks especially for passing on your internet baby so we can keep on playing, learning, and meeting over there!


Domestic Goddess said...

I cannot even begin to tell you how awesome this story is. And very exciting.

Alas, my records and 45s were lost years ago in a ceiling leak. It made me cry. The one thing that survived, my Beatles albums, were given to a friend who actually STILL listens to them on the record player. We saw a record player a few weeks ago at a second-hand shop and my son said, "What IS that THING?" and when I tried to explain it? Blank stares. I nearly collapsed with laughter. And then there was the typewriter...

Memories...like the corner of my mind...

Mom24 said...

What an awesome piece of information. Thank you.

I'm going to be dealing with a similar problem whenever my parents die. They are collectors/hoarders (?) of 'stuff'. Most of it is worthless, but sentimental. It's going to be a nightmare trying to sort it all out, and they know that and feel badly about that, but what's the answer, to get rid of it now? That's seems ridiculous when it's stuff they enjoy.

I tell them to relax and enjoy their things and when the time comes I'll deal with it. That being said, I know it won't be easy though.

brandy101 said...

Oh, I am a record collector and have been pining for a USB turntable to quite awhile.

But most of my vinyl is from indie labels or are rare in some form or another...so they were never re-cataloged into any other format.

Best wishes with your massive cleanup/organizing. I will undertake something similar in a few weeks: clearing clothes out of the attic.

Kathleen said...

That is really cool! I'm glad you found a good place for your treasures. "Stuff disposal" is really hard, particularly when it's something that you know someone, somewhere would really love.