Going Underground for Auld Lang Syne

Our Christmas tree lit up the living room and outside I could see snow falling gently past the streetlight.  I felt myself getting into the Christmas mood.  I thought about some of the funny Christmas songs I have on 45 rpm records.  I looked them up on the MySpace music site, but I was surprised (no, shocked!) to find they lack “Happy Hippy Santa Claus” or even “Have a Gluey Christmas”.

…I’m gonna spread some glue
’round the Christmas tree
So Santa Claus can stick around all year.
I’m gonna spread it on the floor,
the windows and the door.
I’m gonna catch him like a fly,
so I can have him for Easter and the Fourth of July…

So, in the spirit of the season, I thought I would find my records down in the basement and rip them to MP3 to share with everyone who can only listen to Mannheim Steamroller’s Deck the Halls just… so… many… times.

We have a running gag in our household.  If something goes missing, we say it must be in a box in the basement.  It seems like I’ve had most of my life packed up in boxes in one basement or another; I’m used to it.  My boxes tend to be all white, sitting on the shelves and marked with the date packed and their basic contents.  I remembered the box marked RECORDS – FRAGILE had been on the same shelves as the Christmas boxes, parallel to the furnace, next to one of the steel poles holding up the house.  Well, wouldn’t you know it, the box wasn’t there.  I rummaged through my open records, sitting alphabetized in the wire mesh shelves by the stairway, but those were my albums primarily.  My singles were all packed away with my 78’s… somewhere.

I did a quick survey and didn’t see any boxes obviously marked RECORDS- FRAGILE.  Most of my boxes are marked.  However, sometimes I get in a hurry and throw a bunch of stuff together that shouldn’t be.  Sometimes when I put a box away I put the wrong top on it.  Sometimes I’m just lazy or sometimes I forget to mark them.  Don’t tell Meka; she thinks I have a system.  It’s only the fear I know exactly what is in each box that prevents her from going down there with a bunch of stickers for the Salvation Army come donation time.

There were boxes here and there that I wasn’t completely sure what was in them.  Several were marked MUSIC.  I located my aircheck tapes from my days on radio.  I can’t be much more specific; they were all either marked AIRCHECK or – slightly more helpfully – RADIO AIRCHECK.  I found my old Beatles cassettes from the late 1970’s, all marked the property of Bobby Francis in my best cursive.  I found my boom box by the Atari 2600 and put on my copy of the Beatles Yesterday (and Today).  It was good box-checking music.

I found my canvas bag that held my video camera (not camcorder).  I used that through high school and most of college.  The last major thing I did with it was shoot video on our vacation in South Dakota.  I opened up the pocket on the front of the bag and there was my souvenir rock from Mount Rushmore.  I had picked it up from the edge of the rubble left from when they blasted away the mountain to make the presidential faces.  Shortly after that, I found out I wasn’t supposed to be up that high on the mountain (and – most likely – wasn’t supposed to have taken the rock) courtesy of a pair of park rangers.

In another box I found my stereo viewer.  I had bought a doohickey for my SLR back in the 1990’s that would take two pictures on the same frame of film.  When the pictures were developed, you could stick them in the viewer and see the scene in three-dimensions.  The viewer was in its original box along with half a dozen shots I had taken the one time I had tried it.  I always liked my View Master as a kid; the way it was just like being at Marineland or in a cartoon with Donald Duck.  There was our old townhouse in Hanover Park, my first new car all clean and new, a picture of our old dog Katrina looking long-suffering towards the camera and a couple of shots of Meka and me shortly before Daniel was born.

“What are you doing down there?” called Meka from the top of the stairs.  I looked at my watch and realized I’d been looking through the boxes for a couple of hours.  I sheepishly came upstairs to bed.  I never did find my 45’s, but I did find a copy of Happy Hippy Santa Claus online (you’re welcome) and I had a lot of fun, just poking around the past for a bit on a cold winter night.


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