Favorite Things at The Presby Museum – Jim Link talks about the Victrola

Jim Link
Klickitat County Historical Society
Favorite Things at The Presby Museum in Goldendale, WA.
Recorded on Dec. 8, 2015
by CJ Eberhart for KVGD-LP, Goldendale Community Radio 100.1FM.

Cory: This is Cory with Goldendale Community Radio at the Presby Museum speaking to Jim Link about the old Victrola.

Jim: Yeah, there was one in the schoolhouse that I went to that was just like this one room school over here, and the teacher let me play with it and so I got to know how to run it and so we’ll talk more about it later I suppose.

Cory: Okay, sounds good.

I just spoke to you a minute or two ago about the Victrola and you said that that was one of your favorite things at The Presby. This is Jim Link.

Jim: We had first through fourth grade kids come in during the summer for a program to show them how things used to operate back in the day. We dug out the old Victrola that we have here and we discovered that it still played and there were some records that we put on it. One of them was Turkey in the Straw. So we set it up on the porch and all the kids really marveled that this instrument could play a tune without being plugged in anywhere. We still have that here at The Presby. That’s kind of one of the things that I enjoy to see if these old record players around here work. We’ve got several of them. That’s what makes my day when I’m able to do that.

Cory: I just talked to Bonnie and she said that there were about six of those Victrolas that were donated after the museum first opened.

Jim: Right, and I’ve gone through several of them and they still play, most of them. Some of them are missing parts. It’s interesting to go back in time and visit those past things.

Cory: She pointed out the Edison Victrola in the parlor, I believe.

Jim: The one that we played for the kids. It’s this old one over here.

Cory: So we’re back in the parlor at The Presby. Setting on the table right behind the window is a little Victrola with a big…what do you call this? The speaker?

Jim: The horn. The old timers will remember that little dog sitting in front of a big horn on a Victrola when they advertised these things. I think the caption was “His master’s voice.” I don’t know how many will remember that. I think we can play this thing.

…Turkey in the Straw…

Cory: (Laughing) And it started to kind of slow down there at the start. What did you do?

Jim: I had to crank it up. You have to wind them up. They’ve got a big spring  inside of them. So when it wasn’t going up to speed, I had to wind up the spring. Here’s that picture that I was talking about with that caption, “His master’s voice”–a dog looking into the horn. Apparently that was the same company that made the record players as made the records. One of the problems with these old record players when I was a kid was that after they were played awhile the needle would wear and the music would be all fuzzy. So then you had to put in a new needle. Usually there was a little container on the record player somewhere with a bunch of new needles. All the needles in that one that I remember when I was in school, all the needles were wore out. But I could put them in there and I could turn them so that the sharp edge would follow the record and it would play pretty good for awhile until that needle wore out. Of course, later models, the ones we probably had 40 years ago they had jewel needles on them so they didn’t wear out.

Cory: That tune I believe I recognized as Turkey in the Straw.

Jim: That was Turkey in the Straw, and that’s the one we played for the kids when they were here.

Cory: Well, thank you very much.

Jim: You’re very welcome.

Cory: Jim Link’s favorite thing is a Victrola player at The Presby.


Antique Phonograph Music Program [Various Artists] is licensed under a Public Domain / Sound Recording Common Law Protection License. Victor Record’s Turkey in the Straw – Arthur Collin’s Chicken Reel & Frank Haffort’s The Mocking Bird