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Awful VegetablesFull recording:
I found this recording recently in my grandmother’s attic. I can dimly recall the children’s voices at the beginning – from the time when my father used our then-new Wollensak reel-to-reel tape desk to record my sister and me talking about vegetables. It was just something we did for fun, playing with the new gadget. Afterwards, I guess the tape got stuck in the box with my grandmother’s old zither, which is where I found it. I do have a vivid memory of that old instrument with its black lacquered body and gold and green floral flourishes around the edges. When I found the zither again, still in that old black cardboard box reinforced with decaying masking tape, the magnetic tape was in there along with a copy of my favorite photo of my grandmother as a child dressed as an Indian at a violin recital. There was also a few sheets of music to slip under the strings (a sort of follow-the-bouncing-ball version of sheet music), a yellowed newspaper advertisement for Columbia Zither Music published by Saenger & Co., the tuning key, and the self-instruction booklet. I don’t know how many of the sounds here came to be on the tape. Perhaps the tape has become a sort of pentimento with various generations of half-erased recordings blending together; ‘printing-through’ is the technical term. Or, perhaps something more has happened because these things were put in prolonged physical proximity and catalyzed by memories of my childhood.
[The sample of Sophie Tucker’s “That Loving Rag” has been provided by the Cylinder Preservation and Digitization Project, Department of Special Collections, Donald C. Davidson Library, University of California, Santa Barbara.]