Monday, August 25, 2014

Vacation Visit To The Record Store

One of the things to remember about going on a family vacation is that most of the activities will be for the family to do together instead of what only one person wants to do. Please note that you should never force your family to do things that are only your interest because they’ll be bored and if they’re bored they will complain and if they complain that will ruin the good time you are trying to have. You see where I’m going with this, it’s just not worth the hassle of arguing about things when you should be enjoying what you’re doing. For instance, I knew that when we took a day trip to New York City on our recent vacation that unless there just happened to be a music store right across the street from someplace that my wife wanted to go, then it wouldn’t be happening for me. One thing you need to know about me is that I can spend hours in a music or book store drifting from spot to spot as I painstakingly go through the racks and stacks looking for that one gem that will make my face light up.

While I knew that I wouldn’t be having that experience (someday, someday) in NYC, that knowledge was softened somewhat when I found two shops in Easton, Pa where we were visiting along with a trip to a flea market. On our second day In Easton I spotted Sackers located at 60 Center Square which is a strange address since Sackers is right by the traffic circle. It’s a comic book/music/pawn/collectibles store contained in a very large space. Unfortunately there is a ton of stuff there and most of it is piled over and the owner even admitted that he didn’t know for sure everything that he had. The comics were the main draw for me here as the records were pretty standard fair. It was just a lot of music that was popular years ago but not much that was rare or unusual, stuff that could be found pretty much anywhere. Still, I had a good time walking around looking at things.

Later, I found out that roughly one block away there was an actual record store called Used Grooves at 401 Northampton St. Unfortunately, it was closed by the time I was able to walk by. Still, just being armed with the knowledge that it was there was enough to have me salivating at the bit for a chance to go in and peruse their stock. As luck would have it, or more accurately not have it, I wasn’t able to visit it for at least five days due to other plans. There just never seemed to be a time for me to get away on my own so that I could satisfy my own selfish desires. That sounds kind of lewd, doesn’t it? With some patience sprinkled with some artfully crafted hints to my wife like “I really want to go to that record store” eventually my time came. The skies opened and my prayers were heard as we had a break in our schedule, an open day to relax and my wife and mother-in-law dropped me off, probably so they wouldn’t be forced to listen to me whine about it anymore.

The only caveat however was that my son wanted to go with me. If you want to spend time without looking at a clock I would advise you not to bring a seven year old along for the ride. Their attention span is short at best however I couldn’t deny him. He just loves tagging along with his old man, hanging out and eventually I think these kinds of events will help open him up to more in life and he’ll become a well developed young man. So there we were, we walked in and I was greeted by row after row of vinyl records. I didn’t know where to begin so I just drifted over to the rock-various artists section and slowly flipped through what was available. Pretty fast I found two compilations, one featuring American punk and rock bands and the other U.K. bands. It was all music right up my alley and I gleefully clutched them to my chest.

Right about this time the questions started. Not the “Can I help you with anything” but the “When are we leaving” kind of questions. The (not-so) little guy had exhausted his patience already and wanted to move on to greener pastures. I however did not share that opinion and was far from ready. I knew then that I wouldn't be able to spend the amount of time that I wanted and that a deal needed to be brokered so that I could stall him just a little longer. With promises from me that we were only going to stay “just a little longer” he seemed to accept his fate, temporarily at least. As I moved towards the front of the store I saw a rather small section that said Punk/Hardcore and knew that I'd found my spot. Quickly I started flipping through the bin as I looked at vinyl with some band names that I knew (alright not a lot) and even more that I didn't know. This is far from a setback however, it's just what I like, the chance to find some new to me music. It's even better if they are local to regional bands that never released a great deal of albums. There's a different kind of joy when you unearth some really cool music that for whatever reason never made it big.

After I made my way completely through the bin I had more albums than I knew my wife would be cool with me bringing home. With virtually no previous knowledge about these bands I had to make some hard decisions and fast. Besides, my son was starting to grumble again. That's when the saleslady came to my aid. She showed my son that there were records for children right below the bin that I was looking in. It only took a few seconds for him to locate a Batman book and record set that cost more (a paltry $10) than any one record that I was looking at. As he excitedly looked up at me (something that will only happen for a few more years, the kid is huge I tell you) and asked if he could have it there was only one answer I could give. Of course he could have it. What kind of selfish jerk would I be if I denied him while I was indulging myself? Besides, I want to bring him up right, with a love of the vinyl. Now we just need to work on his patience. Yeah I know that only helps me also get to spend time on the things that I like but hey, at least it's something we can enjoy together and that's always a fathers job. Bring them up right and they'll remember days like this forever.

By the way, we also went to a flea market in nearby Quakerstown where I was able to find and buy the only punk record there. Not only that but I also haggled down the price an extra dollar. How's that for patience and persistence? If only I had more money to spend, I'd end up broke.

Written and Published by Don Leach. May not be used without permission from the author.

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