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Record Player courtesy of Annette Johnson

record player

“I have kept very few objects from my childhood, but I remember clearly receiving the Decca record player as a gift on my sixth birthday from my parents.”

Annette grew up in the San Joaquin Valley, the oldest of six children. Her parents were immigrants from the Netherlands.

My father was a dairyman until I was 13 years old, and then farmed almond orchards and grape vineyards. All of us helped out on the family farm.

Holidays weren’t extravagant, and would include just a few gifts – if they were lucky, the bounty included something they really wanted. Annette still recalls her excitement the day she opened a gift and found her first record player, on display here.

I remember the day like it was yesterday. Girlfriends from school were over to the house for an afternoon of birthday cake and fun. The record player was a gift, along with a single 45 record of ‘Georgie Girl’ by The Seekers.

The gift was perfect, and it was complementary to not only her own love of music, but also that of her father.

For me, it represents my lifelong interest in music. My father also loved music, listened to opera, and sang in the church choir into his 80s. We were both singers.

Annette describes her childhood as full of music.

It makes me a bit nostalgic for childhood days that were mostly carefree and filled with music – but from sources kids today cant understand – the AM radio in the barn where I would roller skate, hand‐ held transistor radios with a single ear‐piece, and 45 records I bought in the bin at the grocery store. The records are long gone now, but from conversations with my mother, we played them over and over again. It began my love of pop music.

Annette’s love of music continued into adulthood.

Even after high school, I continued to sing in community choirs and at 27 I bought my own piano and took lessons. As a child I wanted to play the piano, but my parents couldn’t afford one. At 33, I began playing and singing in a rock cover band, and at age 42 I learned to play bass guitar. Now when I am playing songs by the Beatles, I can’t help but think of those first 45 records that I played on this record player. That memory is always there.

The significance of her childhood record player was recently driven home while cleaning out the garage.

I suggested throwing it away, but my husband and kids said “NO!” So did my mom. When I think about it, it is a connection to a happy me in my life, the start of a lifelong relationship with music, and a loving reminder of how my parents wanted us to be happy. I don’t think I will ever be able to throw it away.


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