Return of eight-track memories

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Sitting in the basement of my mother’s house – somewhere between the boat that has never seen the water and the large silver cup she was awarded when she graduated from college, the same cup that’s now used to hold car keys – is an old stereo.

It’s a large piece of furniture, about 5 feet long and almost 3 feet tall. It’s made of a material designed to look like wood and the front speakers are covered in some sort of brown fabric material. It’s a relic from the 1970s, an old anniversary gift from my dad.

I vaguely remember the day it arrived, but the memories of listening to it are vivid. It was the first stereo we owned that had a radio, a record player and the most modern thing possible at the time – an eight-track player. My brother and I quickly joined a record club and the eight tracks started arriving.

We had Abba and Elton John. My mother ordered Neal Sadaka and Statler Brothers eight tracks. My dad didn’t order any eight tracks – he just listened to Bear Bryant coach the Crimson Tide through the stereo’s carpet-covered speakers.

Soon, we ordered records, too. We had the Osmonds (my choice) and KC and the Sunshine Band (my brother’s selection) and Elvis and Tony Orlando and Dawn (my parent’s choices).

The stereo was part of our family for a long time, though its features soon faded from favor. Eight tracks didn’t remain popular long and the old radio, complete with the dial that made finding an actual station a hit and miss proposition, was soon replaced with a more user-friendly model.

We still used the record player, though in time it, too, was replaced as we opted for portable tape players. The portable players allowed us to take our music into our rooms, sparing my parents from Donny Osmond’s &uot;Puppy Love&uot; and us from the Statler Brother’s &uot;Class of ’57.&uot;

The stereo didn’t move, though. It became a piece of furniture, complete with a flower arrangement on the top. During the holidays, my mother put a red and green plaid runner along the top and it held the old Bible with the brightly colored picture of baby Jesus and Mary and the three plaster statues of the Wisemen.

Years later, my mother moved the stereo into the basement, where it sits today. I don’t know why she holds onto it, other than it’s still in good shape and serves as a perfectly suitable table in the garage.

Inside it are the old eight tracks and records, some still in the original plastic wrapping. Abba and Neal Sedaka, the Statler Brothers and the Osmonds, KC and the Sunshine Band and Elvis.

They are all there together – safely tucked inside the brown wooden-like panels and behind those carpet-covered speakers.

Leada DeVaney is the publisher of the Hartselle Enquirer and the Madison County Record. She is the former managing editor of the Shelby County Reporter