1948 was an interesting year for the introduction of technology, as well as world events. A company called Porsche was founded, Velcro and transistor radios were introduced, apartheid began in South Africa, NASCAR held its first race for modified stock cars at Daytona Beach and Israel was declared as an independent state.
In 1948 fashion became more daring with the bikini slowing gaining in popularity, and in Europe the Cold War took a new turn when the Soviet Union blockaded West Berlin in Germany in June and the US countered with an 11-month airlift of food and supplies. And in the US, while we never had one in our home until 1959 or 1960, televisions began to appear in more and more homes.
Gandhi was murdered in India, movie tickets were 60 cents, Polaroid introduced the Land Camera, North Korea was founded, Czechoslovakia became Communist and instances of polio increased around the world.
And then, long before iTunes, iPods, iPads, Twitter or Facebook, came the 78 record; they were called 78s as they rotated 78 times per minute. They preceded the 45 and 33 rpm records, but have become fairly collectible, particularly with songs from the ‘50s.
So my friend Chuck and I grew up together; my dad was a farmer, his a small town lawyer who did everyone’s taxes but also had an interest in our weekly newspaper, The Walnut Grove Tribune. Our families visited somewhat frequently and Chuck’s dad always seemed to have the most up-to-date stuff. I can remember his many cameras and a telescope or two for stargazing — very unusual for our town.
So it came as some shock and surprise that Chuck contacted my sister just this month to report finding a most unusual stack of 78 records in the attic. One of which he reported was dated December 1948 and contained the voices of my dad, my sister and me. Chuck converted it to a format, which he could send, did so, and I listened to my dad talking to us at ages 2 and 4. He sounded strangely like my own son.
The technology used to record the voices on a 78 long-playing record in 1948? I have no idea. Can anyone help?
Lee Baxter is a former commanding general of Fort Sill.