Monday, July 25, 2016

'Special Request Card'

I've run across things like this before.  Found this one at Goodwill Addison.  I find it so interesting not just to see the history of a piece of vinyl in my hands but the peoples name's and addresses...thinking about them and knowing what their taste is in music and wondering what became of them.

This is a generic 'special order' card which is in this case being used by the US Navy.  The little horses and covered wagon in the lower right is an interesting logo, I did some research but couldn't come up with anything.  The Naval base in New London is actually a submarine base which is pretty intense.  Looks like Lt. Howland lived only about 10 miles away from there.

The choice in albums is interesting, most people wouldn't take the chance on the LP and would just grab the single.  So I commend Lt. Howland for not being a periphery listener, and someone willing to dive into a full album.  Also worthy of note that he special ordered this album three years after it came out.  Maybe he had a copy back in 1966 and lost it and wanted another.

$4.98 seems pretty expensive for a new LP - looks like that is about $32 in today's money! Especially considering that the heartless bastards actually stapled the card right through the whole jacket! Lucky they didn't tag the vinyl! I hope Lt. Howland enjoyed the record and I'd like to thank him for his service.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Rummage Sale, Elmhurst

As there was no garage on site, and the goods were displayed in the church, I think this is better defined as a 'rummage sale'.  So I headed down to rummage around a bit.

Had a hell of a time finding the place (no pun intended), the address is actually 130, not 30.  They had the standard junk and amongst, my jackpot of crusty old vinyl.

Only an idiot would bike 6.6 miles to look at about 10 records in a church, but I have always been a man obsessed.  At least it was a nice day for a ride.

Goodwill, Geneseo IL


Last time I was in town, I wasted some time trying to find a Goodwill round these parts. Turns out it was just a 'donation center' which may be just the box.  We did find it this time, and I think it may be brand new and did not even exist last year.

Besides the comedy gem seen below, there was nothing else.  Still worth a stop.  Swung through Antique Asylum and C&S afterwards and had fun browsing their wares but did not come away with anything there either.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Mired in Morris

Did a run through Morris on my way out west and hit up the old haunts.  St. Vincent continues to get worse in the vinyl department, the one remaining crate is even more in the back of the store, over by the bathrooms now.  It held nothing but junk, save for an ED&JFC album you don't see too often.

We got out of there and headed over to Goodwill and as predicted, the bin was packed with junk.  I didn't care, and just kind of relaxed and looked at the books while my girlfriend continued checking out the housewares and clothes.  Then near the books, I noticed another stack of vinyl on the ground.  This is a good 10' away from the actual record bin and I almost missed it!

you can see the actual record bin in the distance
I guess I was due after my polka near-miss recently in Algonquin.  As I mentioned after that visit, I do my best to limit my polka collection.  And Jimmy Sturr is totally off my radar but this release seemed odd.  It was a double album for starters, and there was a date - 1978.  This is long before he won any Grammys.  And best of all, it has what I call a 'toilet paper jacket', this is the super cheap card stock that feels like its been water damaged even when it hasn't, I have some European records that use this.  All of this led me to believe that this is one of his first releases.  No doubt still with a very small value, but a large value to me to know I have one of the first.  It is on a no-name 'record label' and the center labels are red on one record and blue on the other - very cool.  Unfortunately I gave it a listen the other day and its pretty corny, many of the songs have a bunch of women singing and it sounds like music for a cartoon as a result.  The instrumentals however are nice and I'm still glad I grabbed it.

45 Crate

I have experimented with my Kreg jig on and off and demonstrated its use at a talk I gave regarding crate construction a while back.  The simple 12" box I built (without lid) I gave away/sold at that event and I've been aching to put something else together.

We visit my girlfriend's mom a few times a year at least which consists of me vegetating on the couch and watching TV, running the grill and drinking beer.  I have no doubt that she does in fact not mind this oafish behavior and enjoys our visits but I always feel like a freeloader.  So as she is a big music fan I thought it would be nice to get her a portable record player and a bunch of vinyl as a surprise gift because I know she would flip out.  But of course there is no way I can gift someone anymore than a single record without building them a box.  So I began to engineer a box in my mind which would use hardware (something I've never done before) and had a full opening and closing mechanism.  I decided to do a 7" bin and see how many 45s I could round up for a nice start to a collection.

I had a shipping crate made of 3/4" boards, really sturdy nice stuff.  Ironically I originally intended to reuse the crate to ship something back out in but I realized it was badly damaged and wouldn't work out.  While the Kreg can indeed work with as thin as 1/2" stock, everything has to be perfect to get a solid connection between boards.  I should know - I tried and did a crappy job and threw the project in the trash.  It was a learning experience in terms of what stock works and doesn't, and using the jig in general.  So this 3/4" was perfect.  It wasn't plywood, it was solid boards.  Really nice stuff which wouldn't even need much sanding.

Putting together the intial 'walls' of the box was the easy part - I had already done this on the 12' box I did a while back and referenced above.  The lid would take some thinking.  I eventually figured out something that would work but I had a problem.  Like the 12" bin, I did diagonal cuts on the sides so flipping through the vinyl is easier and you don't have to jam your fingers inside the box.  It also looks nice I think.  But when I got my lid put together I was displeased with the look of the gaps that the lid made.  I knew that the triangles I could try to fabricate would be tough to get a good fit and even then fastening them would be very tough.  But after cutting a few and sanding the hell out of them to fit, I was able (with much difficulty) to use nails to hold them in.

Another problem was that I did not have any more pieces of material which were wide enough and long enough to serve as the top of the bin.  So I have the two piece top you see here.  This makes the function of the hinges a bit easier to incorporate as well but it does create a difficult void at the back of the box where you cannot reach inside to get your vinyl.  The best you can do is to tilt the whole box forward so they fall towards you.  A little embarrassing but I used what I had and again, I learned.

The last problem was that I did not make the width quite as wide as I would have liked.  I have made this mistake before.  It isn't a math error, I just did not account for the added width that plastic sleeves add.  The records themselves fit fine, even with generic paper sleeves or picture sleeves they are OK.  I don't think my girlfriend's mom gives a rip about plastic sleeves and would probably scoff at them anyway, but I need to take measurements before or just give a full extra 1" beyond what I think is necessary, this has come up too many times before.  When will I learn???

Like the 12" crate, again I used stain.  First of all, I have tons left.  Second of all, stain is much easier to work with than paint - and I LOVE the look.  I think I could have hidden some of the pocket holes inside the box (not all) but I think it looks kind of cool.  One of my favorite features is on the back of the box, there is some kind of international marking that says 'HT" with some symbols.  This illustrates that the box is heat treated so it can be used for international shipment (heat treated wood won't have bugs living in it, or something like that).  Paint would have covered it, the stain only highlighted it.  I love it.


I went through my 7" records and pulled out a load of duplicate Tom Jones and Engelbert 45s, I think 11 in all.  Including some pictures sleeves for both singers! Then I went on discogs (with my girlfriend's advisement on her mother's taste in music) and found a seller with a couple thousand 45s for sale and we bought 8 for about $20.  All are Very Good or Very Good +, so that is definitely a good price.  The Herman's Hermits is a picture sleeve as well.  My girlfriend also went though her own collection and donated a handful - some of which were actually her mom's from long ago that she inherited when her mom no longer had a record player! I believe that is called 'Full Circle', folks.  So I think we have about 20 in there in all.


We got the player earlier in the week after doing some research on Amazon.  This one had over 2000 reviews and was only about $50.  The sound isn't amazing but who cares? My girlfriend had it delivered to her house (she has Amazon Prime) and when she brought it inside her cat, Tom, decided he may want to keep it for himself.

Well we got it over to her mom's and unpacked it.  I wasn't present for the initial play (I had run to the store) but my girlfriend was prudent enough to think to take a video of it.  The magic is below.  Enjoy.

(for some reason blogger doesn't host videos too well - if it won't play you can also see it here)

Monday, July 4, 2016

So long, Andy's

It is truly helpless to know that what was probably my favorite thrift store of all time is no more.  Fantastic Andy's of Kewanee Illinois closed sometime in early 2016.  I first visited Kewanee (and Andy's) in the late fall of 2014.  I went back a few times in 2015 but only blogged once almost exactly one year ago when I picked up some more platters.

I think I last was in there around Thanksgiving of last year.  I wish I could go back and savor that visit a bit longer or say thanks for Andy.  The thing that made this store great was 'the junk factor'.  I have no problem with antique malls and I've been in some high end thrift stores but of course you have to be very careful in places like that and the malls even have protocols to follow.  Again, I enjoy those experiences very much.  Then you have Goodwill - I estimate that I have documented visits to at least 35 of them all around the nation.  But they are often so 'middle of the road' that there is nothing to do there.  It isn't quite antiseptic, but where's the junk? 

The junk factor has to be just right - there needs to be enough entertaining stuff in there to smile at and think 'who is going to buy that??'.  And most of all, there needs to be enough stuff in there that you DO want - and Andy's almost always fufilled that.  And when they didn't, well the place was entertaining enough just to roam around in.  He had scraps of paper everywhere with little notes: some described items, some were almost private messages that seemed to be just for you!

And of course you had Andy himself behind the register.  I never said anything to him I don't think, except 'thank you' and things like that.  But if there was ever a person that really had a castle - and he was surely the king - it was him.

504 N. East Street was the landmark of an empire.  Too many times we'd stop in then I'd run across the street to grab some beers for later that night.  I feel kind of bad that I took his picture without permission but now that the place is closed, and I'll surely never cross paths with him again, you better believe I am glad to took them.  I don't know how long the place was open but I know that it's gone now.

I just got back hours ago from yet another weekend out west.  I was there earlier this month and saw the place was shut down and you could see inside it was all demolished.  Even the sign out front was swinging by a single hinge, sad and dilapidated. I wonder what became of the alien on the roof? I hope Andy took him home - I'll bet he did.  

Some animals had attempted to scorn the awesome legacy (and they failed) by tossing a brick or something through the side window.  This weekend I rode by bike over there after dark and parked out back.  When there was no traffic on East Street (and of course, I saw a cop as I waited), I darted inside to have a look around.  After I crunched through the broken glass and crawled over the wreckage, I took a couple pics.  Below is my evidence.

Fantastic Andy's is gone.  Long live Fantastic Andy's.  And godspeed to Andy himself, where ever he may be.

Looking south on East Street, broken glass (not my doing) on the right.
Behind the counter.  To the left, a back room that I never really noticed before.  This must have been Andy's office.  To the right is the counter, where the register sat and the double doors at the end of the frame led to the second building where more treasures awaited you.

The door on the right was the front door.  The second door I believe was unused and was blocked by the record rack.  Oddest of all is the 'play' stuck to the shelf there.  It was pitch black in there - I could only aim my phone and snap pics with the flash and move on, I was probably in there for 3-4 minutes max.  I did not notice that until I was out of there and reviewing the footage.  It is still very eerie and looks very surreal.  

Goodwill, Algonquin IL

Back up in Cary, I made yet another stop to search for vinyl.  Previous journeys to Cary brought me to Barrington and Crystal Lake.  This time, I decided to check out a thrift store.  Initially I went over to Barrington Resale, no vinyl there.  I called in advance and got no answer, but when I got inside I found the propietor behind the desk on his PC with phone presumably within reach.  He only had some expensive looking furniture and ironically a bunch of Victrolas.  I also called Cat's Resale in Algonquin.  They told me they did not 'have any vinyl.....right now' so I'll be sure to check again when I return.

This is a newer looking store, pretty clean inside.  They had just a tiny amount of vinyl, way up on a top shelf.  I did find an array of Lil' Wally albums and while I do try to limit my polka collection to Chicago artists, I had to hold back on the Jay Jay stuff because there is just so much out there.  I hoped it would lead me to some Eddie B. but no luck.  Then at the back of the first stack I found a Cheap Trick album in mint condition.  I don't care for them but I was ready to throw down a buck for it based on the historical and local importance alone.  Stuff like this can always be cashed in for store credit at any legit record store because the demand for releases like this is high.  So I grabbed it and moved on.

I was about to give up and I turned the corner to check out the books.  Then I noticed another stack!

Then they just kept rolling.  First I spotted a Heart record, again in really clean condition.  Soon after that was a Cat Stevens record but the bottom seam was blown out and there was no inner sleeve.  Last up was a nice copy of an LP by the Association.  The Heart record I would purchase for the same reason the Cheap Trick vinyl interested me but the second two I'd actually be interested in.  That being said, I already have the Association's greatest hits so this would be of little use to me.  Plus, there was a price tag on it for $5.  I don't know that it is worth anymore than the standard dollar, and I don't remember a Goodwill individually pricing albums in my previous journeys.  Like I said, the Cat Stevens I wouldn't mind having in my archive but not in that condition.

In the end, I just put them all back! If anything, I have some teeny tiny little regrets about letting the Cheap Trick album go by but I think it will make someone far happier than I.