While I was at Mom and Dad's last weekend, I slipped up to the attic. Christmas decorations lay on a makeshift plywood floor, along with boxes of childhood momentos. The dusty smell of wood, antiques and memories filled the small, triangular room, and the single 75 watt bulb lit the path to the particular box I had in mind. The records.
No CD, cassette or IPOD can hold a candle to the complete absorption of needle on vinyl. If you are of this generation, you can remember well the sound when it first made contact; the initial pause that flowed into a burst of song or gentle beginning to a favorite story. I will never forget lying on the floor, completely mesmerized, truly listening. For a record, you see, was interactive. It required your full attention; first as its audience, then as a participant in its continuation. It was a two-sided tale of Peter Pan swooping down upon Wendy, the mellow sounds of Richard Chamberlain, the blast from Herb Albert's Brass, and Snow White's sweet voice from the wishing well.
The album covers were a glimpse of what lay inside and the imagination was a powerful and vivid thing. Once in awhile the jacket would open up to reveal drawings or pictures that accompanied the tales. My favorite were the gifts from Walt Disney. Each cover was draped in a brilliant colored curtain; the cinema boxed up and brought home to our living room. An oval window edged in silver - the Magic Mirror - gave us a view into the enchantment of technicolor. Inside were pages filled with lovely illustrations that led us through Disney's journey and though no characters moved before us in 3D images, they marched across slick white pages and danced in our minds.
It is a time of innocence forever lost in today's technology and that saddens me somewhat. The antique of today was once a marvelous window that opened my world to enchantment and wonder. It was a time in my life when everything was possible. Good ruled over evil. Friends never left your side. There was beauty around every corner, a valuable lesson to be learned and at the end, a handsome prince awaited (even if you were foolish or slept for a hundred years).
I remember records. And sitting up in that attic, I realized how lucky I had been to be part of an era when things were simpler, and everyone lived "happily ever after."