A few months ago my Nana moved out of her house, where my mum and her siblings grew up, and into a residential home. Nana’s children and their families then had to clear the entire house of possessions, large and small, valuable and disposable, so that it could be put on the market. Thankfully the house was quite small, and mostly full of the stuff that peoples’ homes are full of, but then there were some hidden treasures. Among them was a nearly-antique gramophone and a collection of records. They had belonged to my great-grandmother, who was musically gifted, and then to her son, my Pop.
Although I’d spent a lot of time at that house growing up, I didn’t have any recollection of the gramophone. It had been sitting behind Nana’s couch at the back of the living-room for years and, although I must have seen it there, I never realised what it was. I wish I had now, because I could have asked Pop about it. Mum told me that he used to play his favourite records and dance with her when she was a child. Pop passed away when I was seven but he was an important part of my life, and so the gramophone became important to me as well.
Initially my uncle took the gramophone, along with all the records. A few weeks later, when Nana’s place was virtually cleared out, he decided that he didn’t want it after all. So it ended up at our house where we manoeuvred it, with some difficulty, into the corner of the living room. After all those years behind the sofa it looked right at home in our timber-floored house, and the fabric panels in the doors even matched the rug. Mum thought the gramophone might still work, although it hadn’t been played in years. It was a busy time though so we didn’t get around to trying it.
That was a few months ago; this afternoon my mum decided that today was the day. It just so happened that I was busy writing – on Pop’s old walnut writing-box. This was another treasure that had been unearthed from its hiding place at Nana’s. Like the gramophone, I had no memory of it, but nobody else seemed to want it either. I brought it home, repaired some minor damages, and it now takes pride of place on my windowsill. Admittedly I don’t use it very much, being more accustomed to a computer keyboard, but just then it was at hand to make a note of some idea. So I was scrawling away when I heard a rummaging noise from downstairs, followed by the sound of a crank. I was still sitting there, writing-box open on my knee, when I heard the unmistakable sound of a gramophone record coming to life. It was beautiful.
Although it was bought as the cheapest model at the time, my great-grandmother’s gramophone has now passed down three generations. It’s amazing to think that the CD & cassette player I had when I was little has long since bitten the dust, but this simple, hand-powered machine has outlasted two of my family-members. It’s an heirloom that we’re lucky to have, and I hope that it will still play in the lifetime of my own children. This gramophone, the records and the writing-box, and many other precious things besides, will come with me wherever I end up going. I’ll never need to know their market value to know that they’re worth keeping.
P.S. I have tried to insert a recording of the gramophone actually playing but have not yet been successful. Stay tuned.