Monday, July 16, 2018

Chapter 3. The Gods Have Smiled On Me

Originally written May 3, 2016

The site that once was
Peaches Records & Tapes
One of the first places I ever went to buy records (I’m old, we didn’t have CDs) with my family was a record store called Peaches Records and Tapes. The location closest to my house was in a shopping center with two separate buildings. There was a shopping strip with a couple restaurants (one of those will feature prominently in this memoir later on), a drug store, and a place that I would later learn was a convenience store (It was called Treasure Island, or Isle, I can’t remember now). The other building on the lot had a dance club, some other businesses that I can’t remember, and Peaches.

Peaches was the main business and took up the most room. The building used to be a department store. It had a large rectangular tower with the bright and colorful Peaches Records sign on both of the wide sides. It stood towering over the area like a beacon on the hill or the Tower of Sauron. Below the main sign was a light up signboard that advertised upcoming albums, concerts, and events. Running along the lower facade were outdoor posters of the month’s top albums. The only one I remember clearly was Abacab by Genesis.

It was the biggest record store in the area and upon walking in, the racks and racks of records stretched as far as the eye could see. It wouldn’t be until many years later that I would find out that Peaches was a nationwide chain, but I recall the workers there knowing the customers, if not by name, by musical taste. They were willing to order any hard-to-find item and take the time to look for whatever the customer was looking for. I really wouldn’t appreciate this until many years later when only the electronics stores were selling large volumes of music.

Most of my music was purchased there early on. This was before CDs and digital downloads, when the most durable medium for music was the vinyl album. This was before I discovered the mail-order services that sold eight, eleven, or twenty albums for a penny. This was my musical Mecca, but there was one item that could not be purchased anywhere except for Peaches. Maybe there were cheap, off-brand replicas sold elsewhere, but none of them compared. I am, of course, talking about…the record crate.

A simple wooden crate, about twelve inches across and deep, and two feet long, the Peaches crate was more than just a storage box for albums, it was a rite of passage. My mom would eventually end up with six crates full before she finally allowed my brother and I to pillage and plunder her collection. I had a tiny record collection made up primarily of Kiss albums, but it was growing by the week. I was being exposed to more and more music and I wanted a place that would be strictly for all of the new albums I would be getting (especially when I discovered the aforementioned mail-order services). This crate was my birthright and I wanted to earn mine.

I know, hyperbole much? But at this time, I felt that record crate meant that I truly appreciated music and that simple wooden structure was the symbol of that commitment. When that day finally arrived and my dad assembled it for me and put it in my room, I placed all of my albums into it, except for the children’s albums. Those stayed on the bookshelf since I did not see them as worthy to sit in the same area with Kiss and Cheap Trick (more on that later).

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