Saturday, May 22, 2010

Recorded Sound

We were the first on our block to have a wire recorder when I was a kid.  Now that I think of it, we were the only ones I ever knew who had a wire recorder.  I would say the machine was as big as a console radio, but that presupposes that anyone remembers that radios once were big pieces of furniture with dials and tubes that lit up; big enough for the family could sit around to hear Amos and Andy, Inner Sanctum, The Adventures of Sky King.  The only thing I remember my mother actually recording was her brother Harry, who used to get tipsy every holiday, loudly singing off-key Christmas carols and then urging my cousins, Linda and Pauline, to, "Aww, come on, honey, play just one more song," on their accordions.  (Who brings an accordion to Christmas dinner?)  The wire recorder, I fear, has gone the way of the dinosaur. 

How times have changed.  I was discussing short-term memory loss with my friend Linda, stating that I had really good ideas for the blog while down in the barn, but the train of thought often left the station without me by the time I got around to writing it down.  In the mail the other day I discovered that Linda had sent me a tiny digital recorder, about half the size of my cell phone, so I could make notes while in the barn and therefore produce real literary gems.  The accompanying card had a quotation by Malcolm Cowley worth repeating, "They tell me that you'll lose your mind when you grow older.  What they don't tell you is that you won't miss it very much."  At any rate, I tucked this tiny machine into the pocket of my bibbies and went down to do chores yesterday, hoping to catch a stray ray of brilliance for posterity.  Thinking I'd best try it out, even though not yet hit by inspiration, I turned it on, sat it on my lap, and nattered away while tending to the girls.  And then I hit replay.  The overriding sound was something loud, rhythmic and repetitive, like waves hitting the shore.  When I realized I had carefully recorded the sound of milk hitting the bucket, any thoughts I might have had for the journal were blown away on gales of laughter.


Kathryn said...

Sitting right beside my 87 year old dad as I read this, gives me an advantage. "Dad, have you ever heard of a 'wire recorder?'" "Sure...we either had one or I sold them (at the appliance store in San Marino.)" And that led me to a fascinating history lesson (via Google) about the dinosaur. The first recording device I remember was the Wollensak reel to reel tape recorder that my friend's family from up the street got in the mid-50's. They had more money than we did, and this toy was fascinating. Couldn't tuck THAT thing in the pocket of your bibbies!!! Loved your punch line, by the way!!

Kathryn said...

Oops - he won't be 87 until August - guess I am so proud of his longevity that I gave him some extra!