FROM THE EDITOR'S DESK: The circle comes around
Life, as they say, goes around in circles. I recently experienced something of that sort, and boy did it bring back some really good memories.
Let me start at the beginning of this particular circle.
The very first “big ticket” item I ever saved money for and bought on my own after I first went to work at the News Tribune, fresh out of college, was a rack stereo system.
You remember those big old things: A stereo system made up of three or four separate large components, all housed in a big old wooden cabinet with a glass door on the front.
Mine was a JVC and had an equalizer, which included the AM-FM radio, a double cassette tape deck, a turntable for the 200 or so albums I still had, and something that was relatively new at that time - an eight-disk CD player.
I still remember the day I walked into the Sound Gallery in Piedmont (“the” place to go for stereo equipment at that time), with my hard-earned cash in hand and told them exactly what I wanted.
The stereo wasn’t cheap, especially with the addition of the “new” CD player and the turntable, which was optional because vinyl was already being phased out at that time.
I picked out two very large speakers to go with it, and went home to anxiously await delivery.
Thankfully, they set the system up when they brought it, because years later, when I got married and tore the system down so I could move it to my new home, I found out just how complicated and confusing all those wires could be!
But man, did I enjoy that system and did I play the heck out of my music, which at that time included a mixture of vinyl, tape and plastic.
I kept that system for a long time even after I was married. But just like vinyl records, we eventually began to “phase out” the system. First, the bottom of the cabinet sustained damage when our house was flooded in 1995. So we got rid of the cabinet and stacked the components on the shelves of our entertainment center. Luckily the speakers had been off the floor and were still good.
Then the tape deck spun its last tape - or more accurately, ATE it’s last tape, and then the CD player began to get tempermental.
And eventually, my big, beautiful stereo system was replaced by a little boom box-size stereo that took up much less space, only played three CDs and picked up a few radio stations.
Now I know those of you who are reading this and are under the age of, say, 30, are thinking to yourself: “No one buys or listens to CDs anymore.” And I’m also guessing you possibly have never even seen or heard a cassette tape.
Everybody downloads their music these days. And yes, I do listen to Pandora at work and occasionally Spotify at home. But I also listen to the much-preferred LOCAL radio stations in my car and when I’m out in the backyard!
But it’s still not the same as having that CD, cassette, or vinyl record in your possession.
For one thing, I have no liner notes to read any more!
And so, two weeks ago, when I was unexpectedly presented with the opportunity to obtain a second-hand rack stereo system in almost mint condition, I jumped at the chance.
This one - obviously a higher-end piece compared to mine, has the equalizer, radio, double cassette deck and a 101-disk CD player.
One hundred and one!
Again, luckily, since it had previously belonged to someone, it was already put together and I didn’t have to worry about hooking anything up except for the speakers.
Once they were up and running, I tested out the CD player and tuned in the radio - both of which worked great.
But what about the cassette deck? It occurred to me that I had gotten rid of all my cassettes years ago.
Except for one.
I rummaged around in my desk drawer where I had seen it last, and found it - a homemade tape that I had recorded when I was a kid.
One side was a “play” that my best friend and I recorded - based on a supposedly true story we both had read involving a day in the 1700s when darkness fell over the land at mid-day, probably due to smoke from forrest fires but believed by many to be the advent of Judgement Day.
It was called “New England’s Darkest Day,” and Debbie and I did all the voices and sound effects … making things up as we went.
The other side of the tape was basically me driving my parents crazy on the Christmas Day that I had received my first tape recorder as a gift. I guess even back then I had news gathering in my blood because much of the tape is me “interviewing” my parents with such blazing questions as “Did you have a nice Christmas???” and “What was your favorite part???”
That was the side of the tape that cued up when I put the old cassette in my deck to try it the other day.
Suddenly, 34 years after she passed away, I heard my mother’s voice again.
I called for Richard to come listen, and he was able to hear her voice for the very first time, as she had already been gone four years when he and I met.
It was a feeling I cannot find the words to describe.
But it was definitely the instance of a circle begun long ago that had come around the full 360 degrees.
And it was a moment that I will cherish as that circle continues for as many more years as the Good Lord allows.