Califone & Vinyl

When I was a young teen, maybe 12-13 years old I didn’t know who the Beatles were. This was the early 90s. They weren’t played on any radio station and my parents didn’t listen to anything but classical music. I was allowed to use my Dad’s very expensive record player to listen to the classical records on and always had a good time using it. But at the time bands were not putting anything out on vinyl and hadn’t for years so all I had ever heard was classics on record. I remember so well visiting a friends’ house for the first time whose parents were hippies. I was fascinated by this gorgeous Victorian house they lived in, draped with bohemian fabrics, smelling of incense, dark furniture glowing in the corners, bookshelves reaching to the tall, tall ceilings. They had an enclosed front porch and there they kept the records. I was asked if I liked the Beatles- who? I said. I had no clue. A record was put on and that day I fell in love with music.

Afterwards, I actively searched for Beatles records and I found so many. I happily listened to them all day, every day, adding when I could to my collection, even taping a record of the white album that my cousins owned so I could listen to it when I got home. (We did this a lot back then- taped things off of the radio, off of the record player, even off of other tapes. Mix tapes were passed back and forth and from boyfriend to girlfriend. It was a great analog time to be alive.) CDs were very expensive so they were a luxury. Vinyl was so uncool, unwanted, and cheap people were practically giving it away!

When I became a teacher one of my favorite things to do was to find the surplus pile in my buildings in the summer and get all the goodies from it. This is how I found my first Califone record player. Califone made some lovely portable record players in the 70s and 80s. Mostly, they were used in schools. I always rescued any that I found in the surplus, especially as I knew surplus usually ended up in the garbage.

The record players were often not working, but they were pretty easy to fix- you pop off the spring ring holding the plate (turntable) onto the spindle, then clean everything really well. These record players work by an arm that pushed against the inside of the plate and has a roller on it. It turns the turntable/plate without using a belt, which is how most turntables work. I’m not sure why they were designed this way, but they seem to be indestructable! (It might had had to do with portability.) However, sometimes the inside of the plate gets dirty and sticky and the roller gets gummed up and things don’t work. This is where the cleaning helps. Once cleaned a new needle can be bought and used (if needed) and viola! The players usually run like new!

Repairing salvaged record players to pass on to the next generation!

I enjoy keeping things out of the dump and love hearing my Beatles records on these players. They aren’t amazing in sound but they sure are fun! I also love finding teachers who share my same love and passing these record players on.

My family and I all have Spotify, the newest way to have music, and I still have tons of music on itunes, the newest way before that, but I feel that these new ways are too easy. It doesn’t seem to carry the same weight of importance to cue up my Spotify playlist than it does to choose a record and put it on. I don’t enjoy it as much. I have many fond memories of sitting on our front porch listening to the Beatles on a record player, or being in the library or studio and playing records.

There was a beautiful record cabinet left behind by previous owners of our house. We love using it!
My records in heavy rotation- I listen to these all the time. Top row from left: Beatles The White Album, American Graffiti soundtrack, Who’s Greatest Hits. Bottom row from left: Beatles Red and Blue albums, Animal House soundtrack, and Led Zepplin IV.

Califone record players also play smaller records such as singles. This is perfect for school as many books came on 45s from Scholastic and their media company Weston Woods.

Favorite records from Scholastic

The little carrying case below I bought in an antique store. It was labeled as a sewing box, but I knew what it was- a case for carrying record singles! Can you imagine being a teen girl in the 60s and taking this, filled with your favorite singles to a slumber party! We had a classic 1966 Pontiac Bonneville for a very long time and you could get a record player for it! You could listen to your favorite records while parked on lover’s lane and while waiting for the movie to start at the drive-in!

I store all my singles in here 🙂

Well, there you go. I hope you enjoyed this!

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