Many of us may have some recollection of playing a “78” audio record; that is 78 revolutions per minute, as opposed to a “45” or “33.” The 78 conveyed the popular music of the day until the early 1950s when the more durable 45s with better sound quality gained popularity.
It seems the radio program format of the day changed along with the migration to the 45. My father was a radio writer-producer at KDKA when there was an engineer that handled the tech side of things and an on-air personality who needed the back-up of a staff writer. When the station moved to a more “contemporary disk-jockey” format my father went to work on the print side of things. But that’s another story.
Certainly the style of music and musicians that we all heard at certain points in our lives, usually involving school, college or girlfriends and boyfriends are locked in our memories over the years. My100-year-old father-in-law often speaks of his girlfriend (and later his wife) working at a local store then spending her meager earnings on a record that she bought on her way home.
On a recent evening at my father-in-law’s house I noticed a small case among his records that practically shouted “1940s.” I opened the latch, opened the lid and there they were: those hard-earned 78s carried home on a bicycle. We spent the evening playing those war-years songs.
It’s not unusual to hear music from the 1940s in movie soundtracks or on a PBS music memories program. And, of course, there a many collections from different eras that have been re-recorded in various ways. Yet there was something unique about playing those records, even with the pops and hisses of a “78”. They were a time-bridge of sorts because they were THE records that the then young airman and his wife played during WWII. The ones she brought home on a bicycle. The ones that mirrored the uncertainty and the hopes of this young couple in the war years.