Put a Nickel in the Jukebox Baby

Everyday Life, Jukebox, Memories
Celebrating National Jukebox Day today.

Today’s National Jukebox Day so I figured I’d reiterate a little history of the one that we have serving court in the sitting room across from the fireplace and add some things from last time out.

It’s not one of the super expensive famous Wurlitzer’s but it gets the job done. This particular model is from a company called Rowe/AMi and it dates to 1982. (Hey, around the same time I was playing basketball with my friend from the previous entry! Man, life is weird.) We actually found this one on Craigslist (this was during a period when I was searching for random things for a man cave – it’s also how we obtained a Foosball table, air hockey table, and an authentic full size Ms. Pacman arcade machine – each one with stories for another day, especially the foosball with the kid having the climb the walls to a window to get back inside his building). I’m not sure now what made us decide to get a jukebox in the first place, perhaps just really feeling nostalgic at the time. Anyways, this guy Dave in Braintree wanted to part with it, so we got it. We were able to haggle him down a little bit from the price he originally wanted. I think he said it was from his mom’s house or something when he was growing up but since was sitting in the garage for a while taking up space. That’s the thing about these machines – they’re actually pretty large. In getting it home we actually had to get movers to move it because it weighs so much – all that mechanical workings are pretty heavy – also due to the nature of the innards they had to be very careful not to jostle it too much because it could get cranky. One thing out of place by just a smidge and it gets messed up. It came with the records as well but I think we replaced most of the selections he had in there, as they weren’t to our particular tastes. I think LD needs to take a picture of herself dancing in front of the machine while wearing a poodle skirt someday.

It only holds 200 45 RPM LPs. Part of what we like to do is search bargain bins or antique stores once in a while to pick up some. It’s a crap shoot on the quality because a scratched record can ruin the experience, but overall we’ve been pretty lucky, and they’re actually pretty cheap. There’s a antique place in New Hampshire down the road from where we’ve done baby goat yoga that has never let us down in selection or quality. You can also buy some online from some reputable retailers. And yes, an iPod or your cellphone can hold and stream thousands of songs but we like the nostalgia of actually having a real jukebox. It’s always fun having friends over that can dance along it front of it with us, hopefully we can do that again once the pandemic is over. Most of our selections are from the 80s, but we also have 70s and older stuff. LD has a whole collection of records from her mom and dad when they were younger and those are great, and in great condition too. Every so often, in a need of change, I’ll swap out some records and their labels with new songs and get those into the rotation. We finally created a database in Google Docs to keep track of what we have in there, what’s in storage, and their condition, so that when we go browsing again someday we’ll know what we have and what to look for.

It has an electronic selector – you just type the number that corresponds to the number on the song you want to play (I created all the labels myself – there’s an awesome free website where you type in your stuff and customize the look and then you can print them out, cut them to size, and insert them). There’s a mini-computer in this one that supposedly keeps track of what songs were played the most, etc. but I could never figure out how it actually works – I need to look into that a little bit more. Speaking of, when I have the top open, it’s kind of cool to actually see the robot arm select the record you’ve chosen, grab it, and place it on the turntable. Then the needle comes over and places itself on the disc, and the tunes start flowing from the speakers, which are VERY LOUD if turned all the way up. It’s currently set to free play but the coin mech is all there and can be set to accept coins for play, it defaults to 25 cents per song.

Hopefully, it will never need service, because most of folks who actually know how to repair these things are in their late 80s or no longer working!

You might be wondering about the décor around the machine. The large hanging 45 over the machine on the wall was a pick from someplace in Maine on the way back from a trip I believe. An antique dealer dealing in kitsch and stuff. He didn’t really want to part with it but he eventually gave it up. The round mat in front of the machine is a personalized gift I got for LD and me. The label has our nicknames on it with the heading “Making music since 2008”, the year we met.

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