Dad had always loved classical music and had quite the collection of 78rpm records.
When we first moved into our house, the record player was an old HMV model with a wind up motor. It worked quite well as long as it was kept wound up otherwise everything would slow down …….. including the music being played!
It was built into a cabinet similar to the one in the photo, and the cupboard beneath was totally filled with Dad’s records! I had a lot of pleasure out of it. I used to watch with fascination as the four chrome balls spun around (the motor “flywheel”). It was also fun to put little railway people on the turntable and give them a bit of excitement by spinning them at 78 rpm and watching them go flying off across the room! I also remember deliberately letting the motor run down so the music would slow down, and then wind it up again so the music went back the normal speed of playing.
This was also my introduction to Classical music although it did not get off to a very auspicious start. Playing a symphony which was recorded on 6 records was not very convenient in that you were always getting up to change records or turn them over. I cannot recall how often we had to change the copper needle which “played” the record, but it was very often. Perhaps after every 4 or 5 records?
It did not last for very long as someone broke the motor spring. I was blamed although I have no recollection of doing it. I think I may have been a convenient scape goat as the situation gave Dad all the necessary arguments to convince Mum that they should get a new electric record player! This was placed on top of the old one so Dad could still use the cabinet for record storage.
Playing records was now much easier however, long pieces of classical music were still a problem. Those records were numbered such that they could be stacked but, to Dad, stacking would ruin the playing surface when they dropped onto each other for playing. This practice was therefore forbidden.
When vinyl LP’s (33-1/3rpm) were introduced, which allowed a symphony to be recorded on a single record, Dad clearly had a goal of slowly replacing all his old “78’s”. He had a problem however. I don’t fully understand how our family finances worked, but do know that Dad gave Mum a weekly allowance to cover her areas of responsibility. In contrast however, she seemed to have the final word on purchases (note my theory about the “broken” record player).
There were many occasions when Dad would come home really happy; take out a new record and play it. Mum would typically come in and say “What’s that piece of music? I haven’t heard that before.” Dad’s response was a standard “Oh…… that was bought some time ago. I just haven’t played it for awhile” (winking at us kids). I don’t think that she ever realized just how frequently new LP’s were being brought into the house!
Note: Both photographs courtesy of Google