Harry’s new sound sys­tem

The Compass - - EDITORIAL - Harold Wal­ters Harold Wal­ters lives Hap­pily Ever Af­ter in Dunville, in the only Cana­dian prov­ince with its own time zone. How cool is that? Reach him at gh­wal­ters663@gmail.com.

It’s Ground­hog Day. It’s Fe­bru­ary, for frig sake. I prom­ise, this is the last time I’ll men­tion my spin top, which fell among the bro­ken toys of Christ­mas.

Re­ally, it isn’t the spin top I truly want to talk about; only to say that when it crashed into the wall my heart — as well as the spin­ning top, of course — was bro­ken. To mend said man­gled mus­cle, I went in search of a new toy, one that would bring ever­last­ing peace and tran­quil­ity.

First, I must wan­der back fifty-some-odd years to the win­ter…

“Harry, my pa­thetic spouse,” says Dear­est Duck…

Yes, Dear­est Duck, I can’t con­tinue with that Dear­est Dee Dee ap­pel­la­tion, not even for the dear [!] one who brews my her­bal tea and but­ters my break­fast toast.

Any­way, af­ter call­ing me pa­thetic be­cause she fig­ured I was about to re­peat a thrice-told tale, Dear­est Duck has gone her way.

So, in­ter­rup­tion ended, I try again.

The win­ter my fam­ily lived in the woods we had a small ra­dio, a Zenith from Ea­ton’s cat­a­logue, prob’ly.

Pappy tied a wire to the back of my belt and point­ing to­wards the tallest tree in the vicin­ity of our cabin said, “Harry, my son, climb.”

I climbed, way up to the sway­ing top.

Up there, I un­knot­ted the wire from my belt and fas­tened it to the tree­top. On the ground, Pappy reeved his end of the wire through a hole he’d bored in the cabin wall with a brace­and-bit.

We had an aerial wire for our Zenith, a ra­dio with tubes. Yes, tubes. Visit Mr. Google. Evenings, while the ghost of New­found­land’s last wolf howled in the hin­ter­land, all hands lis­tened to the ra­dio. Doc Wil­liams sang “My Old Brown Coat and Me”.

That Zenith was some sound sys­tem, eh b’ys?

“Harry,” says Dear­est Duck, re­turn­ing with steam­ing Ten­sion Tamer but not chastis­ing me — not much.

“My Duck,” say I, “OK, I’ll take a leap in time.”

There came a win­ter when Pappy packed up and shifted our whole tribe to a for­eign prov­ince in the iron ore ranges of north­ern Canada.

One day he came home from the Hud­son’s Bay store — Truly, Hud­son’s Bay! — car­ry­ing an elec­tric record player and a cou­ple of record al­bums: Eddy Arnold singing “The Ten­nessee Stud”; Fer­lin Husky singing “The Wings of a Dove”.

Evenings, while liv­ing wolves howled in the tall tim­ber fring­ing the town, we all lis­tened to Eddy and Fer­lin.

B’ys, that was an­other jim­dandy sound sys­tem.

Time, as it tends to do, mo­seyed on.

Be­lieve this: Once upon a time Dear­est Duck and I smoked like prover­bial win­ter’s tilts, a bad habit Dear­est Duck brought to our mat­ri­mo­nial state from the warrens of Rab­bit Town. “Harry!” Doesn’t mat­ter. When the cost of cig­a­rettes reached the out­ra­geous price of fifty-cents a pack, we quit. For an en­tire year were saved our cig­a­rette money in a cold-pack­ing bot­tle…

… then bought a hi-fi with — get this — de­tach­able speak­ers.

Talk about your sound sys­tems! Hold on, don’t go away. As I started off say­ing, I tossed my spin top’s car­cass into the land­fill and com­menced my quest for a brand new toy — a state-of-the-art Sound Sys­tem.

Dear­est Duck be­side me, I drove to The Capi­tol and parked in the lot of The Great Big Elec­tron­ics Shop. Dear­est Duck re­mained in the car with her knit­ting, while I went in­side and found an avid young sales­man.

An hour later we drove home, the car stogged with boxes.

“Harry,” said Dear­est Duck when she saw more boxes piled in the liv­ing room than had been with the spin top [Ha!] be- neath our Christ­mas tree, “Do you know how to…” “Of course, my Duck,” said I. By sun­set the fol­low­ing day, I knew I didn’t know how. A mare’s nest of wires and cables had me mes­mer­ized. In­struc­tions… well, in­struct­ing me to con­nect HDMI in­puts to cor­re­spond­ing out­puts — or some such — and se­cure USB ends to match­ing USB slots had caused me to pluck the last of my locks from my al­ready nearly de­nuded pate. When I fi­nally nerved my­self to plug the whole as­sem­bly to the wall…

… our en­tire house went dark. “Harry?” “I know,” said I. In the morn­ing I hauled the whole kit and ka­boo­dle back to The Great Big Elec­tron­ics Shop.

Hum­bled, I went home, in­serted a tape into our dusty cas­sette [!] player and — Ten­sion Tamer at hand — lis­tened to John Prine sing “Come Back To Us Bar­bara Lewis.”

Thank you for lis­ten­ing.

By sun­set the fol­low­ing day, I knew I didn’t know how. A mare’s nest of wires and cables had me mes­mer­ized.

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