In 1982, when I was three years old, my aunt gave me my very own record player (a de-JAY Playmates model SP-12 childrens phonograph to be precise) as a Christmas gift. From the beginning, the pictures of those little clown kids featured on the inside and outside of the lid were just a little scary to me for some reason. So when Honey Comb cereal gave away free baseball team stickers in their cereal boxes, I collected as many as I could get my hands on and stuck them all over the inside of the lid of my record player. My dad, who was a real stickler for keeping things looking nice, was pretty ticked when he saw that I had done that. Of course, being a little kid, I could not have cared less. My life went on, baseball stickers and all.
Do not get me wrong. Despite those creepy little clowns, I really enjoyed my record player. Thanks mostly to Child World, my favorite toy store at the time, I soon had a somewhat small but nonetheless entertaining collection of records to play on my little turntable. The majority of my collection was records put out by Peter Pan Records which included story discs like Tubby the Tuba
and Hansel and Gretel
as well as song discs like my favorites In a Little Red Schoolhouse
and Im a Little Teapot
. I also had several Sesame Street records including Grover Sings
and a great disc with two rock-and-roll songs called One Way
and The Opposite Song
. I also had four book-and-record sets put out by Kid Stuff: Strawberry Shortcakes Adventures in Strawberryland
, Raggedy Anns Birthday Party
, Berenstein Bears: How to Get Along in School
, and Sesame Street Presents The Little Red Hen
. Except for The Little Red Hen
, all of the sets came with books featuring black and white illustrations that you could color in yourself. My most prized record was an autographed single from New Jersey native Uncle Floyd dating back to 1979 (the year I was born) featuring two funny, silly songs called The Snap Song
and This Is Just Ridiculous
. I would listen to all of these records for hours on end, day after day, memorizing every word to the stories. It is no wonder I was reading independently by the age of four! I had a knack for memorizing not only the words, but also the sound and cadence of the characters voices as well. So when I would read the stories aloud on my own, I could replicate the exact way it was spoken on the recording. I know, I was so weird. Still am, as a matter of fact.
Of course, while I did not have too many records to speak of, something that I was wild about collecting were PVC miniatures. These small figurines, which could be bought (again, at Child World) for about $3.00 a piece, came on cardboard cards and depicted characters from some of the most popular television shows of the 1980s. The largest set in my collection of miniatures were of Strawberry Shortcake characters, each one with its own unique scent, which got kind of intoxicating at times! My second largest set of miniatures was of the Smurfs. I also had several Monchhichis; a handful of Care Bears and Cabbage Patch Kids; Alvin, Theodore, Brittany and Uncle Harry from Alvin and the Chipmunks; Dottie Dog, Montgomery Moose and Lolly Squirrel from The Get Along Gang; three variations of ET the Extra-Terrestrial; Snoopys girlfriend Belle from Peanuts; Barkerville from the Pound Puppies; Casey from The Snorks; and Little Miss Sunshine from the Little Miss books. I kept my miniatures collection in a shoebox in my closet along with my other toys which included my record player and my records.
Now, I cannot pinpoint exactly, but at some point it came to be that whenever I would get bored of playing my records, I would drag out my shoebox of miniatures and arrange several of them on the turntable of my record player. Then I would turn the record player back on and just watch the miniatures spin. And spin. And spin until they fell right off the turntable! For some strange reason, this was just the funniest thing to me! Some of the miniatures, like Funshine Bear and a ballerina Cabbage Patch Kid, were difficult to stand in an upright position anyway, so as soon as the turntable began to spin they would be the first ones to fall. But I would just stand them back up again (often while the turntable was still spinning, which was half the fun) and see how long it took for them to fall back down again. It was great, totally cheap entertainment.
So whatever happened to these gems of some of my earliest childhood memories? Well, twenty eight years later, I still have both my record player and nearly every one of my miniatures. Despite a finicky volume knob, the record player is still fully functional, which comes in handy since I have begun collecting LPs of much more grown up musicians like Stevie Nicks, Fleetwood Mac, and the Mamas and the Papas. My miniatures, on the other hand, have not fared as well against the effects of time. My Strawberry Shortcake pieces are still scented, but because my entire collection was stored together (first in the shoebox, then later in a large Ziploc bag) even the once non scented pieces are now scented as well. Plus, every single one of them is covered in some kind of sticky substance, which I learned can be removed with a vinegar solution. No thanks! I would rather have sticky, strawberry scented Pound Puppies and sticky, lime scented Care Bears than a bag full of clean miniatures that smell like salad dressing! Ew!