Harry’s new sound system
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.