For the Love of Vinyl: Part One

30 Oct


When I was small I had one of those little record players that fit 45’s. The kind that, if you put a 33 1/3 on it, then it stuck way off the side. The kind that, if your 45 had a big 50-cent-piece hole in the middle, you had to insert a little disc into the hole that made the big hole into a hole small enough to fit on the spindle. That’s what I’m talking about.

I loved that record player. I would sit for hours in my room, playing with Lego or my dollhouse or Barbies, listening to those records. I had at least a dozen “Read Along” 45’s, complete with their accompanying books. “You will know it is time to turn the page when Tinkerbell rings her little bell, like this: ting-a-ling.” Those were awesome.

I also had some older 45’s that had been my sisters’. These were mostly songs but also a few stories: “Scarlet Ribbons” (the Harry Belafonte version, different from my 45, but you get the idea), “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” (yes, that’s spelled correctly!), “Waltzing Matilda” (not the version I have on my 45, but a fun one just the same) by the Cricketone Children’s Chorus and Orchestra (as were many of my records), “Little Toot”, “I’m a Yankee Doodle Dandy”, Prokofiev’s “Peter and the Wolf” narrated by Victor Jory (this excerpt is similar.  There is a link to it from this NPR story.), “Pancho the Circus Donkey”, “Tutu, the Littlest Ballerina”, just to name just a few. I still can hear the last line of the Little Tutu record in my head, “Her name is little Tutu, Tutu, Tutu, Tutu, Tutu, Tutu, Tutu, Tutu, Tutu…” Remember that fun quirk of records? I’m sure it wasn’t my fault that it was scratched. I’m sure I inherited it that way. I honestly am not sure if there’s more to that song or not, I always just took it off then.

One of the 45’s contained the song, “When I Grow Up”. Not until my kids were born and I put it on for them one day did I realize how…shall we say…unbelievable the song is. Very indicative of the age it was made, circa the 1950’s. Allow me to quote it for you in its entirety: The singer, a woman, sings, “When I grow up I’m going to be a fireman and put out all the fires in the town. When I grow up I’m going to be a fireman and keep those buildings from burning down. When I grow up I’m going to be a mailman and deliver all the mail to my friends. When I grow up I’m going to be a mailman, a mailman does a service that never ends. I want to be so many things as quickly as I can but woe is me it’s plain to see it just can’t be ‘cause I’m not a man. When I grow up I’m going to be a mother and try to be a mother just like mine. I’ll have a son just like my baby brother and he can be a fireman, he can be a mailman and that will be just fine.”

Yes. Those are the lyrics. I listened to it three times just now. No, my kids aren’t home to be unduly influenced. When I did put it on for them a few years back, not remembering anything much about it, I said when the song ended, “BUT WE KNOW THAT’S NOT TRUE, DON’T WE? YOU CAN BE THOSE THINGS IF YOU WANT!” They looked at me like I was nuts. “Umm, yeah, Mom. Whatever you say.” I guess I’m proof that the song didn’t ruin me. After all, I went to seminary to be a pastor, which is about the last bastian of male-only dominance out there. (Yes, I got one hate-mail letter while I was there.) But still the thinking behind the song flabbergasts me as a child of the 70’s.

See the lovely insert in the center of “When I Grow Up”? I’m amazed it hasn’t been lost over the years. I’m not even sure what I’d search for it I needed a new one…”That thing that goes in the middle fo old 45’s”, I guess!

Today I still love to pull out my records, though I don’t have the little old 45 player anymore. My kids and I listen to my vinyl stash when we’re in the playroom. The Hobbit and The Rescuers are their favorites. Complete with the background scritches and scratches, the circular rhythm to the slightly-warped vinyl.

And yes, they know what I mean when I randomly sing, “Tutu, Tutu, Tutu, Tutu, Tutu, Tutu, Tutu, Tutu, Tutu….” But, I hasten to assure you, when my girls grow up they’re going to be firewomen if they want to. Or pastors. Just like their mom.

Thursday: Part 2…because I had too much to say for just one post.

PS: This is an amazing version of Peter and the Wolf, if you have time to watch it. It uses Prokofiev’s music that I listened to as a child on my old 45, but not the original storytelling, in fact, there are no words, just the music and sounds. While I loved (and still do) the old version, this is wonderful! Part 1 and Part 2Here’s a tiny taste if this is all you have time for.


28 Responses to “For the Love of Vinyl: Part One”

  1. Minnesota Prairie Roots October 30, 2012 at 10:03 am #

    You are making me want to dig out the vinyls, find a record player and relive my teen years. David Cassidy and the Partridge Family. Chicago and Bread and The Eagles and The Carpenters. Sorry, no storybooks for me or lyrics about women growing up to be, um, mothers.

    • Gretchen O'Donnell October 30, 2012 at 10:21 am #

      LOL! Yes, dig them out! It’s a fun trip down that proverbial lane. I think that the albums I bought as a teen were mostly cassetts. Which are garbage now. I’d have been better off with the records.

  2. Jenny October 30, 2012 at 1:12 pm #

    I watched the Peter and the Wolf video. There’s also a 1 video version without the two breaks in it. Very well done. I love the music. Interesting era they placed it in.

    You didn’t mention Mom and Dad’s old 45’s. I remember singing along to “Unchained Melody”! Now whenever I hear that song I think of our room with the swing in it and that little record player!

    • Gretchen O'Donnell October 30, 2012 at 1:37 pm #

      Ha ha! Wait until Thursday! Yeah, the video is neat, isn’t it? I’m glad you watched it!

  3. Hotly Spiced October 30, 2012 at 2:25 pm #

    I loved those old record players too but I didn’t have a record of a woman telling me I couldn’t be a fireman or a postie! They should bring back this ‘toy’ retro style. I’m sure the kids of today would find it a huge novelty xx

  4. rutheh October 30, 2012 at 4:02 pm #

    I loved my record player too but that song was absolutely unreal! Wow what a find. And now it seems the so many in our country long for this past, this time, when these lyrics are just fine with them. Going back to what? Frightening

    • Gretchen O'Donnell October 30, 2012 at 7:26 pm #

      There are good and bad things to be found in every age, I suppose. I sure like the dresses of the 50’s…though I’m not sure I want to wear them every day! But no, we can’t go back. Maybe a little more of the morality of then…though, to be sure, things were happening then, just not reported, and that’s not good either! I guess I’lll stick with where we are today!

  5. treadlemusic October 30, 2012 at 7:24 pm #

    My “45” experience goes back a bit/lot further to……well, just take my word for it!! LOL! Had a ’66 Chev Chevelle that had a record player in it…..yes, a 45 record player! It was upside down under the dash and dropped the records (towards the top of the spindle) and the arm would swing out and play (what would ordinarily be the underside of the record!!!). Hard to explain! Great post. Will watch the video tomorrow…..Prokofiev “Peter and the Wolf” is some of my fave music!!!

    • Gretchen O'Donnell October 30, 2012 at 8:59 pm #

      I can’t imagine such a thing in a car!!! That’s awesome. I bet my husband knows about them, though. He knows stuff like that about cars. I just drive them.

      The video is fun – esp. with the music!

      • treadlemusic October 31, 2012 at 4:52 pm #

        Will catch that video soon…quilts await……..

  6. Jenna April 1, 2013 at 4:36 pm #

    I loved that song ‘When i grow up’
    My mom had that 45, and a portable turn table, i loved all her 45’s Nancy Sinatra, strawberry short cake, babes in toy land, three little kittens, Mr. potato head, pacman, that song Black is Black. and lots others. i still have all of them, and they are all still in great condition. i ❤ vinyl

    • Gretchen O'Donnell April 1, 2013 at 4:48 pm #

      Great memories! I wish I still had all my “read-along” 45’s – the kind with books that came with – those were so great. I’d love to have my little old player still, too!

  7. kate carlisle January 3, 2014 at 6:45 pm #

    … dad now in his late eighties, was reminiscing about the When I grow up and Little Tutu tune. Does anyone know the full lyrics to the Tutu tune – I would love to send it through to him – really make him smile….Ah, such funny times, we have come such a long way since the 60’s and yet…..

    • Gretchen O'Donnell January 6, 2014 at 4:02 pm #

      Have you googled it? I have it on my old 45, but I don’t have time to write down all the lyrics for awhile but I might be able to in a few weeks if you really want me to!

  8. kim April 2, 2014 at 11:21 am #

    I too ad the records, when I grow up I want to be a fireman and My name is little Tu Tu, Tu Tu, Tu Tu, my name is litle Tu Tu and that is all there is to that

  9. Michael in Spokane May 6, 2015 at 12:48 am #

    Oh. My. GOD! I’m 53 years old. I had that “When I Grow Up ” record, and today, for some reason, it popped into my head and became an earworm. Just now I googled the lyrics and found this blog! I would kill to have that record again…just for the sexist hilarity of it! BTW, I’m a gay man who actually wanted to be a mailman, or a fireman, or a policeman, but became a hortisexual (plant geek)

    • Gretchen O'Donnell May 6, 2015 at 9:21 am #

      “Hortisexual”! There’s a word I’d never heard before! Thanks so much for your comments! I’m so glad that you found my blog. You have actually inspired me because I recently re-looked at this post thinking about reusing it in a different context and I removed the bit about this song but now I think I need to put it back in! And yes, the sexist hilarity – we just have to laugh at it, don’t we, because getting angry won’t change a thing about the song and thankfully the world is much better – though not perfect – about this topic now! THANK YOU again for your comments! Have a great day!

      • Dawn August 2, 2015 at 3:42 pm #

        I searched the Fireman lyrics too which brought me here…. I never realised how sexist they were …. how odd! I still wish I had that record though and even after searching on YouTube I cant find it anywhere so a huge thank you!

        • Gretchen O'Donnell September 3, 2015 at 6:58 am #

          I’m so glad to have been able to help! And yes, it is odd – but I guess it’s just a picture of how things were then?

  10. Deirdre McHugh October 2, 2015 at 11:29 pm #

    This is really strange, but I also just googled the lyrics of “When I grow up” and see that you wrote this article a few years ago but people are searching as well. I half sung the words to my daughter years ago to demonstrate how much the world and music has changed and she never forgot it. She just asked me about it again and I typed in those lyrics and lo and behold you remembered them all! I had your same 45 record player, and quite a few of the records you list. Even Peter and the Wolf. There must have been a big sale one year at Christmas. But my favorite was ‘When I Grow Up”. I can remember singing it all the time with my friend. It had a happy catchy tune and neither one of us thought about sexism. I do remember my mother saying “You know you can also be a fire lady, and police lady, and mail lady, and still have a son.” Thank you for posting!!!

    • Gretchen O'Donnell October 19, 2015 at 10:23 am #

      Awesome! I laughed out loud at the idea of the Christmas sale! I’m so glad you found my post! I don’t remember thinking about the lyrics too hard when I was a kid and I went on to seminary – where women are still struggling to fit in – so I guess that I wasn’t too badly affected by the message of the song! Thank you so much for your comments – it’s fun to indulge in nostalgia from time to time, isn’t it?!

  11. joani mitchell April 15, 2016 at 5:09 pm #

    I was walking around the house today and the “When I Grow Up” song popped into my head. I betcha it’s been nearly 50 years since I’ve heard that song on my little vinyl 45 record. I googled the lyric and found you here.
    Funny story: I remembered all the lyrics except the bit about being the mother. Somehow, in my young mind, I pictured it being sung by a young boy who wanted to be a man so he could do all those things!
    I wonder, if you could, please tell us any further info: like who wrote it, who sang it, which label is it under – any credits on the label? Alas, my old 45s went out the door many years ago. Any information would be very much appreciated!!
    And thank you for being here!!

    • Gretchen O'Donnell April 17, 2016 at 3:59 pm #

      I wish I could but I know nothing other than that my old 45 says “Sung by Marge Cameron” and beneath the title it says in parenthesis (Freeman-Applebaum) – it’s a “Cricket” record. I don’t know if that will help at all! Beyond that I’d be googling just like you. Sorry that’s not much help! I’m glad that you found my blog though and I hope that this is some help!

  12. quirkywritingcorner October 3, 2016 at 3:28 pm #

    Reblogged this on quirkywritingcorner.

  13. maddalena1957 November 15, 2018 at 1:14 am #

    I had many of those record, too–and still do. Thanks for a fun trip to my (politically incorrect) childhood! That’s the end of the story, except, He married Little Tu Tu, Tu Tu, Tu Tu…

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