After 50 years, I finally got my single records

By John Toth / Editor and Publisher

In 1968, I saw a TV commercial for 50 Top 40 singles for only $7.99. “Super Stars, Super Hits,” screamed the letters across the little black and white screen.

I ordered it right away. Fifty single records would be great to have, I thought. Back in those days, the records contained the music, but the record player was part of the message. It was fun to take one record off the turntable and put another on. It was 1968. We didn’t even have cassette tapes back then.

I had one of those portable record players with a built-in AM radio. It was my prized possession. I even took it to school with me once, and other kids brought their records to play at lunch time.

A few weeks later, my order arrived. To my disappointment, it contained two long-playing albums, not the 50 singles. All the singles were contained on the two records.

I thought it was a bit of false advertising. After all, the single records in the television ad were flying everywhere on the screen.

I still have those albums. After all these decades of being played on countess turntables, they still sound great. Neil Diamond, The Doors, The 4 Seasons and Aretha Franklin still belt out their songs like it was 1968 or earlier.

But I was looking forward to singles, not two albums. So be it, until now.

I was browsing eBay for some old records when I came across sellers who offered boxes of singles for a pretty good price, so I started looking around.

Fifty singles (45s) for $17.99, free shipping, said the description. That’s not bad, I thought. I got 50 for $7.99 in 1968. The price went up $10 in 50 years. That’s reasonable.

These were used records that had been played in jukeboxes back in the days when they were still playing records instead of just reading digital signals. The seller offered a grabbag and did not have individual titles or artists.

So, there could be some duds in the batch, but if they were in jukeboxes before being stored, they had to be mostly made up of popular music, I figured. Jukeboxes were not making money on no-name artists. They played hits.

I know that because I wasted way too many dimes in one at the pizzeria a block from my school during lunch at age 12. The school let us leave campus for lunch, and we often did. Many of us piled into the pizzeria, ate pizza and listened to the jukebox. The pizza was 25 cents per slice. But I think the owner made more money on us feeding the jukebox than on the pizza.

What the heck. I decided to take a chance after carefully reading the description to make sure that I was going to get 50 single records, not a two-album set.

I put my order in, and a couple of days later the package showed up at my door.

It contained 50 single records, all hits, only a few duds, and most of them in very good condition.
It took 50 years, but I finally got my singles - and played a few of them before placing one of the Super Stars, Super Hits albums on the turntable.

What can I say? It was more fun to play around with the singles when I was 12.