I am a random audiophile and search out obscure recordings of the past. When I have time, I will post random sounds from the past here. Stay tuned…

Warning: Some of the recordings I may post might be offensive. They are provided here as historical artifacts and are not reflective of my own thoughts and beliefs. Many of the recordings I have collected are one-offs by everyday people and are here to add to the historical record. I do not own the rights to these recordings.

The Sensational Gospel Tones of Grand Rapids, Michigan

This is an 8 track I picked up at the American Volunteers thrift store in South Lansing. This group still performs. I have not been able to find another copy of this anywhere else. Enjoy!

Interview of Tony Zeefe, Grand Rapids, Michigan

This is a recording I found at a thrift store in Grand Rapids, Michigan. It is from a radio broadcast in Grand Rapids during the second world war.

I start with this recording to illustrate the need for digitizing and organizing data as soon as possible. This record is made of glass and the peaks begin delaminating over time. I recorded this disc right away. However, it was simply saved on the hard drive of a laptop in a random folder. Unfortunately, that HDD drive pooped on me right in the middle of writing my master’s thesis. I was able to retrieve my thesis, but the data files for the recordings were lost. The peaks at the end of the recording literally spiraled off like Christmas ribbon the first time I recorded it. You will hear the losses at the end of the record where, if I remember right, there was an advertisement for a car dealer in Grand Rapids. Doh! I learned two things here. 1. SDD drives are a requirement for me and 2. organize data and back it up.

Detroit Jazz Alive: Bobby Battle Ensemble

This is a recording I found in the bins at the local salvage Goodwill. It is from a radio broadcast in Detroit during the 1990s. The Detroit Sound Conservancy has more recordings from this great show here. Bobby Battle returned to Detroit in the 1990s and was a regular at many jazz clubs. This is an awesome show, but the sound quality is not the greatest.

Dick Reynold’s Used Cars Radio Show, Grand Rapids MI, late 1940s?

Here is another record found at a thrift store in Grand Rapids. It is a radio music show probably from the late 1940s which was sponsored by Dick Reynold’s Used Cars on South Division. The ad for Dick Reynold’s, “who sells used cars to fortunate people,” is after the 3 minute-song which I have not identified. My guess is Midnight in Moscow, but I am not sure. What do you think? The second song which I cut out is “Siam” by Spike Jones.

“Sound Off” possibly by Willie Duckworth

This recruitment advertisement was also on the record. It is a rendition of the “Sound Off” cadence written by Willie Duckworth during the second world war. From this recording, I am guessing this record is from around 1946, right after the war.

Come Boldly On, Comrades–Russian Folk Song Chorus–directed by A. Svechnikov

This record was given to me by Steve Otto and Jennifer Otto. They found it at a flea market in Paris. It is most likely from 1950.

Revolutionary Funeral March–USSR Radio Chorus–conducted by I. Kuvykin

13th Annual Picnic Grand Rapids Railway Company: 1916

13th Annual Picnic Grand Rapids Railway Employees and Their Families, Wednesday, August 23rd, 1916 at President and General Manager Benj. S. Hanchett’s Home, “Lakewood–Fisk Lake”

This is a video housed in the Grand Rapids Public Library Special Collections. I edited it for a conference paper on recreation in the Teens in Grand Rapids. This video is an interesting snapshot into society and culture of this time and place, particularly in its depiction of gender, race, and class around entertainment, food, and other topics. The movie in its entirety can be found here. The men’s smoking contest is among the many things you will find. Since this is “listening to the past,” a recording of Jack Tar March by the Sousa Band (10/21/1909, Victor Records, Matrix 1615) is used as a soundtrack, recorded open-air out of a Victrola horn.

Video location: Grand Rapids Public Library Special Collections 175-2-28, box UT2 (Thanks to the staff at GRPL Special Collections for allowing me to copy this off the VHS master)

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