Gathered Together: Great Grandpa Ray’s Old Stereo 2020

The stereo from The Ranch.

Grandpa Ray and Grandma Mildred Watrous lived in Bicknell, Utah for the last years of their lives. The place where they lived was lovingly called “The Ranch” and our children have many memories of the sights, smells and sounds associated with it.

One of the things they remember most fondly is the sound of the music which came from the stereo which was always playing something. Often very loudly. The music was usually Jim Reeves, Burl Ives or Sons of the Pioneers. 

When Grandma Mildred died, the stereo and its accompanying records were given to our son Daniel. The stereo also had an 8-track player and some tapes. It has been under our basement stairs for as long as Grandma has been gone and each time he comes to visit, he and his brother Tim get it out and talk to their children about the days of stereos, records and other obsolete electronic things.  Until this year, no one cared very much about what they had to say but that changed when Dan’s teen-aged daughters heard it and saw the record collection.

This year they dragged it up the basement stairs and into our family room. They also carried up the record collection which was housed in two very large plastic containers which included a few from their grandparents’ collection and lots and lots of records from my personal collection such as Peter, Paul and Mary, Gordon Lightfoot, Bob Dylan, Kris Kristofferson, Joan Baez, John Denver, The Brothers Four, The Kingston Trio, Willie Nelson and Burl Ives. Oh. lots of Beatles, Jefferson Airplane and Grateful Dead. 

The teen-aged cousins were they who were most interested in the sound of the scratchy records and put one on whenever they passed by.  They tried to get their Dad to strap the stereo to the top of their van and drive it home to Texas. (They had driven from Houston rather than fly because of Corona)

He told them all about the “tubes” inside that could not be replaced if they were broken but DID take home most of the records and said he would buy a modern-day record player for them for the spacious family room that they were all looking forward to in the new house which they would be moving into by the end of the month.

I told them how loaded the thrift stores were with old records and they were already talking about what they were going to try to find when they got home.

When our gathering was over, Daniel and Timothy carried the old stereo back downstairs and there it is and there it will be until who-knows-when.

Above is one of the favorites from The Ranch.

Here is one of my oldest and most favorite records.

I think I have all of them.

I still love their songs and voices. So many of their songs were written by John Denver whose many 33 RPM records are also in the collection.

The stereo has the ability to play 45 RPM records, too. Grandchildren couldn’t believe that people would buy records for a dollar with only one song on each side. Neither could they believe that you had to call in to radio stations to be able to listen to a song you liked.

Young people find the things the previous generation did to be incomprehensible, especially when it comes to technology. 

That is what made the experience with the stereo memorable for the grandchildren.

Timothy and Daniel. You are really, good DADS !

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