Without further adieu...Let the journey begin!
When I was young girl, my father was stationed in Germany and served in the United States Air Force. It was about 1968, which made me around eight years of age. We loved traveling the country side of this beautiful country and took any opportunity to drive through the countryside in our old station wagon. We became quite notorious for stopping off unfamiliar beaten paths to eat a picnic lunch.
One Sunday afternoon my father pulled over to an open field that lay off the main road. We decided this was a great place to share our picnic lunch. It probably was private property, but somehow we felt no fear. My father, always being the friendly type, could talk himself out of most anything. Being Americans in this foreign land was so exciting! It was a time that will be forever etched in my memory. Germany's air was crisp and clean. The land was filled with flowers and green grass in abundance. It was as if we had stepped off into another place in time and I never wanted to leave.
We had barely took a bite of our egg salad sandwiches when an old farmer walked up to us. We were a little apprehensive, as we were not sure if we were in trouble or broke any laws, but his smile set our minds at ease very quickly. How threatening can a young father, mother, two kids, and a French Poodle be?
The old German farmer began to explain to my father that this was indeed his private property. Well, that was what he appeared to be saying, but his English was not too good and my father’s German was even worse. Somehow, my father and the old farmer realized that no harm had been done and appeared to strike up a new found friendship. My father offered him a root beer and the farmer gladly took the beverage, gulping it down speedily. They were able to communicate by using hand signals and by exploring each other’s facial expressions. A couple hours had passed before we knew it. Moments of befuddlement happened in trying to understand one another but they always ended up with bouts of loud laughter.
The old man persuaded my father to come and look at something that he had in his barn. We all were so excited. It was not long before my father, mother, brother, and I, and the French Poodle followed happily behind the old German farmer.
The old farmer opened the large, wooden barn door and pointed to a bulky looking item in the corner. It was was covered by an old horse blanket. The German farmer happily removed the blanket which displayed an old Victrola to our surprise. Mom and Dad seemed to know what it was but to me and my brother it was an odd piece of furniture. My dad whispered to my mom that perhaps this antiquity had been left over from the war. The Victrola contained markings on it dating back to 1920. It was in perfect condition.
Somehow my father and the old farmer made an agreement in which we bought the Victrola. My dad paid fifty dollars in American currency. With the farmers help, we rolled it out to the car over the rough ground and lifted it into our long station wagon. The old German farmer and my dad shook hands and a sweet kiss was placed upon my mothers hand. The farmer reached over and gave my brother and I a little pat on our heads.
"Auf Wiedersehen," we sang out as we drove away. One of the few phrases my brother and I had learned.
Once we got the Victrola home, my mother place it in a corner of our home where it remained the next three years. I remember many a nights we played the old records and admired this wonderful piece from the past. After three years, our time in Germany was over and we were on our way back to the States. We shipped our Victrola back to the US in 1970 with our other household goods.
I remember always seeing the Victrola in our living room. It sat in the corner for many years, where it could not help but absorb the many conversations and times in our lives. Sadly, after we grew up, my parent’s never played it anymore and to my dismay had mentioned several times that they wanted to downsize so maybe they would sell it.
I just could not imagine not seeing this precious Victrola in my parents home. I wanted this wonderful piece of antiquity so badly. I begged them not to sell it and I would take it off their hands. One day I was pleasantly surprised when my parents brought it to me. I quickly found a nice corner in my home where I could continue to admire it daily. It brought such comfort to me, as it was a part of my past that was so special.
This Victrola is still in my procession, and is in perfect working condition. It graces my living room with its beautiful presence.
The Victrola stands about four and half feet tall. Its cabinet is made of walnut and is without one scratch upon its surface. It has wooden fiber like needles and a soft purple velvety brush, with which to clean the records, which are stored inside. It has a spring motor so that you use a hand crank, to move the turntable. To play the records, one must turn the hand crank, causing the record to spin, and then pull down the lever onto the record. Old classics will bring forth a sound that is earthy, full of history, and uniqueness. If you want the music to play louder, the sound box has doors below the turntable, in which one can open or close to adjust the volume.
I have thought long and hard whether I wanted to share this mysterious story but I shall. Believe it if you will. I am not one to make up stories… Oh, let me rephrase this a bit, I am a writer, and yes, I can make up stories. I cannot say if this is a true story or not, so I will leave it up to your imagination.
Quite recently, I was up late and I could not find anything worth watching on TV. I did not feel like reading a book, and I could feel that my spirit was restless. Nothing seemed to satisfy me. I started walking around the house, looking around for something to do. I happen to look at my Victrola sitting in the corner. I had looked at it many times in the past but tonight it beckoned me. I felt it drawing me closer. I opened the top of this wonderful phonograph and acknowledged everything was in its place.
There was still a record on the turntable that I had left many years ago, as it had been that long since I had opened it up. I began to crank the machinery. The record began to spin and I placed the lever down on to the record. The music began to play, “Everybody Wants my Baby." As I listened to the words to the song, something strange began to happen to me. I began to feel a little dizzy. It was almost a floating feeling. I was lightheaded, and somewhat woozy.
I found myself standing in the middle of this large room. Mirrored balls hung from the ceiling. I could see small tables covered in red and gold cloths, with small lamps on each table. Candles were lit everywhere. I could hear music playing all around me. The music had a ragtime, jazz feel to it. People were dancing to the Charleston. I thought that I had somehow wandered into a sound stage for a movie with everybody acting as 1920’s characters. The costumes were so believable. The dresses were sparkly, and quite beautiful.
Suddenly I turned towards a large gilt mirror on the wall, one of a series of heavy gilt mirrors. I could see myself in the reflection of the glass. I began to observe myself from head to toe. I no longer was wearing my t-shirt and jeans but I was now wearing a gold glittery dress. It was sleeveless and had many layers that shimmied with each movement I made. The dress came to my knees. It was rather sexy if I say so myself. I took notice of myself and I was wearing a hat; a small hat. I never wear hats. I always think I look silly in hats. My face was covered thickly in heavy makeup. My face was so white, pale in comparison to what I was used to. My lips were painted in Cupid’s bow and my cheeks were almost as red as my lips. My eyes stood out, as they had dark liner that outlined my top and bottom lids. The small hat had white beads with gold glitter encircling the beads and a rather large gold and white feather sticking out from it. My hair was ever so tidy in little waves that were neatly framed around my face. I was wearing many strands of pearls that hung very long. My high heels were glittered with gold specks and the strap wrapped around my ankles. Long white gloves ran up my arms, with a large diamond ring, which set upon my left hand.
I stood there in disbelief, and wondered where I was! You would think I would have been slightly frightened but I was not. If I was in a dream, it was the most vivid dream I had ever had.
Suddenly, a man approached me in a suave manner. He wore a wide brimmed hat, drawn down in a rakish angle over his beautiful face, casting a mysterious shadow. He removed his hat so gallantly. He was fabulously handsome with his coal black hair slicked back. He was wearing a black suit, snow-white shirt with a line of brilliant cut diamonds down the front, which had heavy diamond cuff links that held his cuffs, though which his tantalizingly beautiful but strong wrists looked as if they were made for luxury. His nails were perfectly manicured, which made me wonder if they had ever done an honest day of work. I could not help but notice he was wearing shiny black and white correspondent shoes. This man could be my dream or my worst nightmare.
He bent down and gently took my hand and kissed it.
“Let me introduce myself, I am George Clooney, and I am so happy to meet your acquaintance."
I almost laughed aloud. Who kisses hands so gallantly anymore and where have I heard that name before? I mean really, this is very strange. He asked me my name. I thought I can play this game too so I replied in a low sultry voice, "my name is Raquel.
“What a lovely name," he said, "do you carry a last name?"
I blushed slightly, and tried to keep a straight face. It was my dream so I would have fun and respond accordingly.
"Yes sir I do! My name is Raquel Welch."
His stare was intense and almost too much. This was my fantasy, dream, or mystical experience; I was going to have some fun. George asked if I would like to dance but I declined quickly. The last dance I had attended was in my high school days and I am sure this group of flappers’ was not dancing to Chicago or the Eagles.
He looked rather perplexed that I turned him down and it occurred to me that I might have offended him. He was persistent and asked if I would like to join him in the back sitting room. That seemed a little risky for just meeting him but I looked towards the room from which he was pointing and it appeared harmless.
Other couples were sitting very properly on lounges, drinking cocktails, and appeared to be having innocent conversations. I agreed and his grin turned into a big smile with teeth. They actually did that “sparkle” thing that you see in toothpaste commercials! We then made our way towards the sitting room. At this moment in time, I never felt so regal.
"I shall put a phonograph record on for my Raquel. Do you have any thoughts or wishes what your lovely ears would like to hear?"
I almost replied with...Hey some Jim Croce would be nice, but I did not! I told him his choice would do my ears just fine. He picked a song called, ‘Everybody Loves my Baby.’
"Everybody loves my baby, But my baby don't love nobody but me, nobody… but me. Everybody wants my baby, But my baby don't want nobody but me that’s plain to see.”
As the music began to play, I began to feel the same woozy feeling come over me and my head started spinning. I could hear the music fade in the distance. The next thing I knew, I was standing in front of the old Victrola. I realized I was back in my own living room. I looked down at the record that was sitting on the turntable. It was none other than, “Everybody Loves My Baby” by Aileen Stanley!
My gut reaction was to play it once again, but I did not think I wanted to revisit this experience any time soon. I mean what would George think of Raquel leaving him sitting in the parlor all alone.
Stay tuned for Chapter Two!