Sunday, December 14, 2014

Virginia Stumbough: YWCA "Y-Teens", 6/24/1947

In 1947 my grandmother, Virginia Stumbough, a writer with a degree in journalism, was living in Evanston, Illinois with her husband and children. She wrote this 15-minute infomercial for the Evanston Council of Social Services for broadcast on June 24: “Y-Teens”, advertising the local Sheman Avenue YWCA’s summer day camp aimed at eighth grade girls looking for something to do and a chance to mix with older girls before entering high school in the Fall. The name of the station isn’t written on the label of this Recordio disc, but Kindly Professor Internet suggests it was WEAW-FM 105.1.

Did Mom catch you listening to Perry Como’s “Chi-Baba Chi-Baba” and blurt out the oh-so-inevitable “What’s that racket”? Are you too young to get a driver’s license? Is it still too cold to swim? Never fear! The YWCA’s “Y-Teens” summer program is perfect for the girl with time on her hands this Summer. Tour a candy factory! Tour a harp factory! Eat lunch at Hull House! Shop the Maxwell Street markets! Visit Riverview Park! Do some knitting! And learn to cook fudge without ruining the pan! It’s charming and brutally expositional, presenting a particular challenge for the one of the child actors in this mostly school-age voice cast who slogs through one word-cluster at a time with poignant determination.

NOTE TO WOULD-BE ARCHIVISTS: Records from the DIY era of home recording by definition meet very few of the criteria of professionally-produced discs, such as a generous amount of silent lead-in at the beginning and end of a side. This record has, on either side, no lead-ins whatsoever. There’s the edge of the record, and one nanometer later there’s “Y-Teens”. So that little bit of sound information at the beginning that you usually have no trouble hearing on other records here is hidden so close to the abyss that you’d need superhuman aim to put the needle down at precisely the right time and space. In cases like this, if you have a turntable with reverse drive, one solution is to put the needle down near the beginning, play it in reverse, and let it play until the needle runs off the record; then reverse that audio digitally. If you use this method, BE SURE to carefully hold the height lever in place so that the needle won't land on the slipmat when it runs off the edge of the record. And put another another, bigger record – or a mirror – underneath your record just in case. In completely unrelated news, an Ortofon OM 78 phono cartridge costs about $100. (You bet I screamed. LOUD.)

10" record audio (side 1 + 2 combined)

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