#518: Read-Along Adventures

Welcome to another week-long series at! We’re doing another week of Getting More Getting More Tale: five brand new instalments from the Getting More Tale series. Hope you enjoy these blasts from the past.

GETTING MORE TALE #518: Read-Along Adventures

When I was a child in the late 1970’s, the average household did not have a VCR.  There was no such thing as video rentals.  Most homes had a record player, but as the 70’s turned into the 80’s, the VHS and Betamax formats battled it out for home domination.  In the Ladano home, we rented a VCR and movies until 1984, when my dad finally bought our first VHS recorder.  It was hi-tech and lasted many years.  All but impossible to program recordings on, but you could do it.  In the meantime, there was a family stereo system, and I also had a heavy duty kid’s mono turntable put out by Fisher-Price.  It was built like a tank and folded up into a case.

Until the VCR became a household staple, kids only had two ways of enjoying a favourite movie:  Going to see it in the theatre, or wait until it was on TV.  Certain movies would return to theatres periodically, such as old Disney classics.  Other movies, such as The Wizard of Oz, were a big family event when they were on TV.  Popcorn and treats!  Yes, the movie would be chopped up with commercials and often edited down*, but we didn’t know any different.  To this day, with certain movies, I can remember where the commercial breaks used to go.**

Yet there was a way to let youngsters enjoy their favourites at home, after a fashion.  Story records had always been around, but when Buena Vista released 7″ story records with a book that kids could follow, they tapped into a void and struck gold.  Star Wars became an obvious winner.   We had the story of Star Wars on a 7″, and we would read along and enjoy the vibrant pictures from the film.  Another I enjoyed was Disney’s The Black Hole.  A narrator would read along with you, and when you heard R2-D2 beep, it was time to turn the page!  These records played at 33 1/3 rpm, to facilitate a longer running time.  There were music cues and sound effects to go with the story, and I’m sure our parents would tell you these records kept us occupied!  Sometimes, original actors even did the voices.  I distinctly remember having the story of E.T., narrated by Drew Barrymore who was also on the cover.  As time went on, these releases began to come out on cassette.  Fisher-Price was there with another heavy duty product, a tape recorder that I used for years to play and record just about everything.  By the time the story of Return of the Jedi came out in 1983, I was on to cassettes.  Thankfully they continued to make story records for kids in my now-older age bracket.

The 80’s wore on and cassettes replaced records all but completely.  Between Star Wars and Jedi, we had graduated to things a little more challenging, such as the full-length movie soundtracks by John Williams.  Without the cheesy narration, we were free to create our own adventures to the classic music.  The old story records got tucked away…but they can still be found.  Last Christmas, my buddy Rob Daniels from Visions in Sound received some old classic Star Trek read-along records.  I have some too, also Christmas gifts, from my sister.  She found four sealed Star Trek story records on 7″ vinyl and had to get them for me.  They include the stories for The Motion Picture, The Wrath of Khan, and two original stories on a different label called Peter Pan records.

I’ve never opened these records, but I know inside I would find some glorious full colour pictures of space-scapes from the big screen, along with a pristine 7″ record.  It’s tempting but they’ve been sealed this long, it would a shame to open them now.


*Not Superman: The Movie!  It had some really cool deleted scenes added to the TV version, to stretch it over two nights!

**I can also hear, clearly in my head, the terrible TV dubbing done for Jackie Gleason’s character in Smokey and the Bandit.  It was not Gleason, and it was obvious every time.  Unintentionally funny!


#399: Record Shopping in the Sticks


#399: Record Shopping in the Sticks

Summers in Kincardine, Ontario in the late 1980s and early 90s were beautiful, but to a teenage me they felt isolated.  No phone at the cottage, no cable TV, and nothing that cityfolk would call a record store.  We did have a few options.  There were places that you could buy music, including one crummy music store that popped up for a brief while.  Summertime is made for music, and one of my favourite childhood experiences was listening to brand new tunes in the summer.

We’d be at the cottage for two weeks straight every August, and I would usually pack my entire my tape collection to come with me (oh how my dad loved that).   Having all my favourite songs with me meant I’d always have music for whatever mood I was in.  Still, nothing could beat the rush of new music!  New didn’t have to mean “new” per se; I was collecting the back catalogues of many metal masters too.  There was always something to buy that would be brand new to me.

In the very early days, you could buy tapes at the local Stedmans store downtown.  Stedmans sold everything from clothes to musical instruments to toys.  Like many of these places, they are now closed.  It was one store to buy new cassettes, and that is where I picked up Priest…Live! back in July of 1987.  The other place to buy tapes at that time was an electronics store called Don’s Hi Fi.  White Lion’s Big Game and W.A.S.P.’s Headless Children came from Don’s Hi Fi during the summer of 1989.  I couldn’t wait until I got home and played them.  We’d rip open the plastic and check out the pictures in the car, waiting to get back and hit play.  The following summer, I bought Jon Bon Jovi’s Blaze of Glory at the same store.  We would also be able to find tapes in the cheapie bin at places like drug stores, and I picked up The Earthquake Album from such a bin.

Around 1988, an actual music store opened up in Kincardine.  It was there that I purchased Painkiller by Judas Priest, and Exposed by Vince Neil.  It was a small store and they didn’t have many catalogue items, but you could pick up new releases there and some key older releases such as greatest hits.

Beyond these few stores, you had to get out of town.  Kincardine is a small place, but Port Elgin to the north offered a few more options.  There was a Radio Shack there with a different selection of tapes.  They also had 7” singles, of which we bought a couple on clearance.

L-R Peter, Bob, Mike. Note Peter wearing deck shoes on a deck.  He always was the best dresser.

L-R Peter, Bob, Mike. Note Peter wearing deck shoes on a deck. He always was the best dresser. Also note my official Starfleet sideburns.  Summer 1992

In the summer of ’92 we made several day trips to Port Elgin.  My sister and I were headed to a “cards & comics” store that we discovered.  One afternoon my sister phoned them up to ask if they had any promotional Star Wars cards?  They did – road trip!  The first of many happy and successful trips to Port Elgin looking for goodies.  (Yes, promo cards are collectible just like some promo CDs.)

On the same trip, we found this grungy record store on the corner of the main drag.  Really scummy, really dirty.  They bought and sold used tapes and records.  My sister brought in a whole bunch of her cassettes for store credit, and walked out with Rod Stewart’s Out of Order and one or two others.  My first purchase there was Black Sabbath’s Live at Last.  I bought my original copy of Helix’s Wild in the Streets on cassette at that store.  The tape glowed in the dark.  I’ve never seen another glow-in-the-dark tape before or since!  I also picked up Kiss’ Creatures of the Night (original cover) on vinyl, as well as Twister Sister’s Come Out and Play.  You might remember that Come Out and Play had that awesome cover with the opening manhole?  That was the reason I bought it.

Those stores in Port Elgin are both gone.  Don’s Hi Fi still exists in Kincardine, but they don’t sell music anymore.  I did buy a pair of earbuds there about five years ago, but things have changed so much.  There’s no such thing as “isolation” anymore, not like it felt back then.  Today I can sit on the front porch of the cottage, streaming live radio from home straight to the laptop.  I used to pack my entire tape collection for the cottage, but now anything I want to listen to, I can search for on Youtube.  It is simply amazing how much has changed in the last two decades, and I am sure that in another 20 years it will be just as startlingly different.

As long as I can still listen to my music there, I’ll be happy!