Archive for April 18th, 2012

April 18, 2012
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This week, I had gone over to my grandparents’ with the intention of photographing their old cast iron and tin toys and telling you about their childhood entertainment but as storytelling usually happens, we ended off on a tangent and began talking about night time entertainment.  “Everyone worked during the day,” Pop Pop began, “so at night is when you usually caught up and relaxed in the parlor.”  The above photograph is of my Great-Great Grandfather Cooper’s (his name was Cortez and was Maggie’s husband- the lady who made butter in the mason jar :)) Edison Phonograph with a Morning Glory horn attached to it.  This was around 1910 when Cortez bought this phonograph- also known as a “talking machine.”  The music was on a wax cylinder that was originally made of ceresin and beeswax in the 1880′s.  After you put the selected cylinder on, you cranked the handle and the cylinder would spin around.  You placed the needle on the cylinder as it was spinning and the needle would slide down the cylinder, playing what was ‘recorded’ til it either ran down and then you would crank it up again or until the cylinder’s 2 minute play time was up.  If that was the case, you simply picked up the needle and brought it back to the beginning and heard it all over again.

The cylinders above were standard-sized cylinders, which tended to be about 4 inches long and usually played 2-4 minutes.  A variety of selections were featured on the cylinders, including marches, sentimental ballads, minstrels, hymns and comic skits.  They cost around 60 cents a piece- which you can read on the container in the fine print below.  :)  “If you had neighbors and they had a phonograph, you would loan out your cylinders to switch it up.  We would play them so much, you practically learned all of them by heart.”

Then the family ‘upgraded’ to a phonograph without the cumbersome Morning Glory horn which is shown below……

It is also an Edison Phonograph.  I took the cylinder I used on the first phonograph and tried to see if it would play on this one. It did!! I was so surprised they both still work considering they are 100 years old!  The Pat’d on this machine is 1905.  I chose the song “The Preacher and The Bear” by Arthur Collins.  It was made in 1902! Wanna hear what I heard when I cranked up that old phonograph?  Check out me playing my great-grandfather Fred’s old Edison Phonograph by clicking HERE.  I’ve listed the lyrics, some history of the singer and the style of music in the early 1900′s under the video.  Disclaimer: I am in no way a videographer so I apologize for the quality but thought it’d be cool to show you all.  :)

The following photos are of my grandmother and the Victor Talking Machine.

This machine had records that you listened to instead of cylinders and I’ve recorded her cranking this up and playing it.  You can listen to it by clicking HERE.  “Before these talking machines came about, my grandfather (Pa) would invite people over to the parlor and and his brother, Ernest, would play the fiddle,” Pop Pop explained.  “They’d roll the rug back and if someone had a banjo, they’d bring that too, and they just danced.  That was their entertainment.”

I’ll have to tell you about their first experiences with radios another time.  And I’ll eventually get to those tin toys and paper dolls! :)