Monday, September 27, 2010

Rockin' It Old School

I wanted to show off the newest addition to our home.....a 1949/50 Philco radio with turntable!

It was my parents and I grew up with it in the house.  Here's me standing beside it when I was 15 months old in 1974, lol!

It traveled with us through several moves, but in more recent years it sat in my parents basement, collecting dust and cobwebs and was in bad need of repair.

Thankfully, one of my dad's friends and fellow musicians also repairs stuff like this on the side, and so the wonderful Verle Straatman got the radio and turntable back in working order.  Afterwards, my dad graciously offered to let us have it, rather than take it back to his home.  So now it sits, looking right at home beside our old upright piano.

Here is the turn table, opened by pulling down the front panel:

Unfortunately, it's only AM radio, and will only play 78 rpm records and 45's (not the more "modern" vinyl) so its use will be limited, but that's OK.  I found an oldies station yesterday that plays a mix of 40's, 50's and 60's music which is great (most oldies stations around here consider 80's and 90's "oldies"....blegh) and I have a stack of old 78 and 45 records from my dad's collection....including some homemade ones that he recorded himself.

This is one of the homemade ones.  As you can see, it's pretty beat up and the shellac is starting to flake off the sides of the metal disc.  But, scratchy though it is, I can still hear (kinda) what's recorded on it.

Here's a closeup of the label, it says "Me singing, about 1946 or 47."  That would put my dad at 15 or 16 years old.  It was a thrill to hear him so young, still finding his voice.  If I had lots of spare money I could purchase the equipment and software necessary to transfer it all to a digital format and share it with the world.....but alas, I don't have lots of spare money (though if you wish to donate to the cause, I'm all for that!) so you'll have to take my word for it that it was Damn Cool.

I'd almost rather have this than an iPod!


  1. Way cool! And I'm not saying how old I was in '74.

  2. I am so jealous. :) Love the woodwork in your house. Love the turntable and radio combo. (We had one similar when I was little, but as things go it disappeared.) The piano bench is bringing on the envy, too. (The piano I have; just no bench.)

    I'm with James - I'm not saying how old I was in '74.

  3. How awesome!! Even more cool that it's been in your family for so long! I'd love to have one of these for my rumpus room! Very nice!!

  4.! My mom bought a 'hi-fi' cabinet when she graduated HS in '57... she still has it, uses it as furniture, but I an wanting to 'refurbish' the puppy sooner or later... no radio on it, tho...kinda weird. I might just sneak a Bose system in behind it and nobody would know... well, probably could tell a SLIGHT improvement in sound quality...but that kinda takes the fun out of it tho... the original unit would need to SOUND like it did in the 50's...
    Can you get parts for these? I know you have to order stuff for a 'modern' turntable... I knew I was finally out of the 'media loop' when I went into a Radio Shack, heck, about 15 years ago now (oy) and asked if they had a belt for a turntable - and the dude said, " mean like in your microwave?" :-[

    Awesome about your Dad's records, too!!! They have some 'transfer' turntables you hook up to your computer now and they do the trick... about 75-100 clams, but if ya have a lot of records to convert, it's worth it, ESPECIALLY for ones like THAT... I'd probably transfer to CD or a thumb drive or whatever and stash it in a safe deposit box somewhere...

    Great post, Gingerella!!! and BTW, I am typing right next to the 'Heartbeat' pic of Ginger on the diving board or forgive me if I miss a few words here and there.. :-P


  5. James: Aw c'mon, tell, tell! ;)

    Packrat: I was after my dad for years to get the radio fixed, it's too cool a piece of history to sit rotting in a basement. The piano, too, was something I grew up with, only it sat languishing in the garage for a couple of decades. He wanted to get rid of it several times but I begged him not to, for I knew I wanted it when I finally had a house of my own (versus a tiny apartment). It's a Chickering from 1911 and REALLY beat up on the outside, but it still plays well enough. One of these days I'll buckle down and reteach myself everything I learned in piano lessons when I was a kid, lol.

  6. Darrin: I'm not sure when they got it, but it came with a house they were renting at one point before I was born, and the landlord/owner said they could keep it if they wanted it when they moved. Even if it didn't work I'd still want it as a cool looking piece of furniture!

    Huey: I'm sure there's probably places online that have parts for these old machines, or ebay, but where they are I have no idea. Good luck on that!

    Too funny about the Radio Shack'd think the chil'runs would still know what a turntable is from their hippity hop DJ rap stuff, lol!

  7. My grandparents have the SAME EXACT ONE in their basement (maybe it's a Nebraska thing...LOL!). I remember playing old records on it when I was a kid. I think there was a Three Stooges one, too (why I remember that one in particular, I don't know).

    Enjoy your treasure!

  8. That is so cool that you had someone repair it and it's all in great running order now and pride of place!!

  9. This is much more divine than an i-pod, wretched beast. And, in 50 years, this will still be wonderful and working,what will an i-pod be doing in even 10 years? Congratulations.

  10. Good morning, Betsy. So glad you found me through MY blog (! I'm now following you - I like your blog:) And I LOVE your profile - SERIOUSLY, I think we may be long-lost sisters; we're SO ALIKE! Hope you have a wonderful day, Cindy.

  11. What a wonderful treasure! I love the pic of you beside it when you were small, sooo cute! :)


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