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MEANDERINGS: CRANKING OUT MEMORIES

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Seven or eight years ago, when Veloy and I were at the height of our "obsession with antiques" period, we came across a 1924 phonograph in the garage of an elderly lady in Fillmore. It had hardly been used over the years and still had with it a sales brochure and a full supply of needles. Since we already had a huge supply of 78 rpm records, some of them still in the original packing boxes, we couldn't pass it up.

Built by the Brenard Manufacturing Co. in Iowa City, Iowa, the "Golden-Throated" Claxtonola, according to the sales brochure, is a marvel of 20th century engineering and design:"The instrument is yet to be built which will reproduce sound with absolute and invariable accuracy. Yet in the Golden-Throated Claxtonola had been created an instrument which very closely reaches the ideal."

So what is so special about the Claxtonola's golden throat?

As the booklet explains, it is a patented feature: "Lining the wood throat with genuine gold leaf fills the pores and prevents tone-destroying absorption of moisture and assures a symphonic tone chamber unsurpassed . . . (and) entirely new in the phonographic world."

So much for CDs.

In a stirring testimonial, a Claxtonola dealer from Florida comments that ". . . a man told me yesterday that I represented the only phonograph made that would carry without a break the voice of Caruso in `Trovatore.' "

A man from Washington writes: "Heretofore, I have always been disgusted with such instruments on account of the scratching, etc., but the pure tone of the Golden-Throated Claxtonola has won me over."

Last night Rayola and Frank and Ron and JoAnn were up from Hurricane. They came out to our place with Mom and Dad, and as we were meandering through the studio, they saw the Claxtonola. Immediately, my folks began to reminisce about the gramophones of their childhood.

They began perusing through records: "Sally of My Dreams," "Some Sweet Someone," "Digga Digga Do," "Jungle Blues," "I Wanna Be Loved By You" and "Honolulu Sweetheart of Mine."

When Mom came across "I Love You Truly," she said with a sigh, "Oh, play this one."

So I cranked up the machine, and when the turntable got up to speed, dropped the needle in the groove.

Static-laden music began to fill the room. A far-off look came on Mom's face and she got a little emotional. Taking a tissue from her purse and wiping her eye, she described a memory that had suddenly overwhelmed her:

"Dad," she said, "used to have Uncle Healy come out to the farm to help with the corn and get in the hay. At noon, they'd stop work and come into the house and Mother would have a nice dinner fixed for them. After dinner, before going back to work, they would go in the front room and rest a little while and sit and play the phonograph."

As Mom talked, the ancient phonograph rasped on, its tone enriching the space around us, giving back to my mother a memory of time and place, and for the rest of us creating a new and vibrant image of Grandpa that otherwise might never have been reflected.

Three cheers for the Golden-Throated Claxtonola.