Nostalgia

By John Toth

I It doesn’t take much to get me started on nostalgia.

I was playing some 45 RPM records from the 1960s in my office. The record player is new, but the records are originals. My son came in and started asking how it works. Then he pushed down on the stylus.

Ouch! Go ahead, son, scratch my 50-year-old record.

I explained how the needle rides inside the grooves that are cut into the record, picks up the vibrations, which are then amplified. I explained it again to my daughter a short time later.

They seemed fascinated, then went back to their modern, digital world.

I like watching the record as it spins. I grew up with records, tapes, VW buses and other things that were new and common when I was a kid, and now they are old, rare and often too expensive.

I wouldn’t mind getting a reel-to-reel stereo tape deck in mint condition, with albums on tape of my favorite 1960s music. It would be a thrill just to thread the tape through the machine and watch the reels turn as Frank Sinatra’s velvet voice comes through the speakers.

What an atmosphere that would create. I might even make myself a dry martini with an olive.

A friend posted a photo of an 8-track tape layer in her old, convertible car. Now, I am jealous.

Another Facebook friend saw a recent column about my old minivan and sent me a photo of a 47-year-old Chevrolet pickup truck that her family is still using. I am jealous again, because I’d like to get my hands on one of those.

What I also wouldn’t mind having is an old VW bus from the 1960s or ‘70s, but after checking the Internet, that’s going to have to wait a little … probably a lot. The prices are just a bit higher than what I had in mind. Maybe even more than a bit. In other words, there is no way I’d pay it.

They are not really buses and are smaller than today’s minivans, but that’s what we called them.
I had a chance in the mid-1990s to buy two VW buses. I test drove both, and then let myself get talked out of buying either. Back in those days, they were affordable, but there were other factors involved, like mortgage and family.

At the end, it doesn’t matter if another VW bus deal ever comes my way. I have plenty of other ways to reminisce. The item is not as important as the personal memories it has generated. VW buses are not even very safe (however, if I got one I would not crash it).

We didn’t know that back in the 1960s. I was driven around in them as a kid during the summer in two different countries. And, I almost crashed one when I was trying out for a job while in high school in New York. I didn’t get the job.

I listened to cassette tapes and records growing up, and I still have a bunch of them. But, compared to today’s sound quality, they are pure awful.

Let’s be realistic. If I really want to listen to quality music, I’ll just plug in my earbuds and play it on my cellphone.