3:47 pm, July 03, armed with nothing but the ambition of getting out of the house, we took off on a Saturday drive, with no destination in mind. We end up in the town square of Pleasant Hill, MO. It is a quaint little township scattered with locally owned small businesses, crafters, antiquaries, gift shops, and eateries.
We wandered in and out of several antique stores amusing ourselves with various oddities, vintage junk, and treasure. Each store was clustered to the max, front to back, floor to ceiling with items to scavenge.
One of the said shops we visited was Brown’s Antique Vintage and Variety- and that’s when I first saw Victor, sitting full display on the front counter, a 1914 Victor Talking Machine. Right away my curiosity began firing on all cylinders.
Noting my intrigue, the shop clerk promptly stepped out from around the cash register and began cranking the side handle of the wooden box. Then, carefully she lifted and centered the needle directly upon the beginning point of the 1904 record. I almost held my breath anticipating the sound to emerge. There-it-was, a serenade-ious moment!
As the wooden needle danced and threaded through the grooves of the timeworn album what surfaced was a mesmerizing sound, a mixture of music, scratches, and crackles. A certain nostalgic joy pressed into the air. Unexpectedly, a sudden giggle slipped out of me, a giggle reminiscent of childhood days. Like, when a fluke of spontaneous delight would transpire. Too wonderful hold in!
This 1914 Victor Talking Machine was magical and whimsical. I was smitten! Suddenly, I wished I knew its entire history and backstories of all who turned the hand crank.
I would have most certainly taken Victor home with me that every day, but, disappointingly, the talking machine was priced at a rather spendy price. It seemed like a nonsensical purchase, especially for the asking amount.
As weeks went by I thought of Victor often, and when I did the same happiness and whimsy would bestow over me.
7 weeks later, as chance would have it, I visited a dear friend who happens to live in Pleasant Hill. During our visit, we decide to jump in her car and make a quick jot downtown PH.
We visited a cutesy coffee shop and frequented a few antique shops. Yep, you guessed it, one of these shops was Brown’s Vintage and Variety.
As soon as I pull open the glass door of the storefront a bell rang out with a single ding dong. “patron entrancing.” I don’t know why, but that ding made me smile. My eyes scan the store, poised on the glass top of the front counter, yep! Victor was still here. A ting of glee swirled inside me. On this visit though, I mostly ignore Victor, only allowing side-eyed glances in his direction. The reason being, I knew I wasn’t taking Victor home.
Do you remember childhood aspirations when you can’t stop dreaming of a particular item or toy? I couldn’t stop thinking about Victor. Random times throughout the week, the sound of his fanciful crackle would sprinkle through my thoughts, and, I would wonder, “Victor, are you still there?”
Desire and wonder being as such, finally, after much internal struggle and dialogue with myself, I made the decision, on Tuesday, August 24th, after my 1/2 day clinic I will make the trek back to PH, a 35-minute drive from work, and, hopefully, I would bring Victor home.
Yep, I had considered the cost, frivolous, I know. Yet 49 years of concrete logic was now flying out the window. Whimsy doesn’t care about rationality. Besides, my 50th birthday was 2 short weeks away. A commemorative gift to mark the occasion?
Day of, trying to tac down the weightiness of my excitement, I park my boat of a car directly in front of Brown’s Vintage and Variety. “Today is the day, Victor,”
I pull the metal handle of the storefront entrance door anticipating the single “ding” of the doorbell to shout out, but nothing. THE DOOR, LOCKED! Wait, what? I pressed my hands against the glass and squint my eyes to peer in, dark with no movement. The shop is a fortress. “Oh shoot!” A current of disappointment passed through me, I had picked the sole day of the week that Brown’s Vintage and Variety were closed. In my enthusiasm, I failed to check a schedule. Checking the signpost on the door, I realize now I would have to wait until Saturday. 4 days away!
It was an exhausting week in the refractive clinic that week, and not because I was waiting for Saturday to arrive (Victor was the bright anticipation of my week), it seemed this week, I was meeting my monthly quota of challenging (grace builder) patients all in one single weekly swoop. Some weeks just flow like that.
Finally, Saturday arrived…
Pins and needles, would Victor even still be there? Oh, sure, I could’ve called Brown’s in advance, but that would empty the mission of its mystery. Graciously, Luke and Sav afforded to take the adventure with me. We would meet up on Armour Blvd (where they abode) and, then, we set off on the mission. Three happy amigos on a Victor exposition.
To end this VERY long long story, Victor was still there, sitting proudly on the showcase counter. Luke coming proved a valuable asset, as he wagered a better deal.
And, so, there you have it, the story of Victor, the 1914 talking machine. I can’t help but wonder, since 1914, the many homes this particular phonograph has passed through, and, I ponder the stories of all those who cracked the hand crank. Did their heart skip a beat of glass when they placed the needle?