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November 1958 Popular Electronics[Table of Contents] People old and young enjoy waxing nostalgic about and learning some of the history of early electronics. Popular Electronics was published from October 1954 through April 1985. All copyrights are hereby acknowledged. See all articles from Popular Electronics.
"A record 'Moocher' is one of the lowest forms of human life. He has no particular habitat but can be found wherever there is a record owner." Anyone who grew up in the record player era, or for that matter the 8-track tape or cassette tape era has known (or has been) such a moocher. This is the person who was always asking to borrow your music media either for listening to on his personal equipment or for copying onto his own tape (cassette or reel-to-reel). He rarely ever bought any of his own music, but was more than happy to generously re-lend his copies to fellow Moochers, and of course he never had anything you might want. The modern-day equivalent is the person who is always bugging you to let him/her copy your music file that you either paid for as a download or purchased in CD format. The same Moocher was probably always bumming cigarettes off you, but never had one of his own to give to you.
See all articles from Popular Electronics.
By Norman Van Tubergen
A record "moocher" is one of the lowest forms of human life. He has no particular habitat but can be found wherever there is a record owner. His only identifying characteristics are: (1) he has a pleasant, disarming personality, and (2) he always owns a tape recorder.
Having been the victim of a record moocher, I submit the following case histories as a warning to audiophiles around the nation.
" ... he was small, polite ..."
Case History #1. I was sitting serenely in my bachelor apartment watching the turntable spin and listening to Music to Make Home Blood-Transfusions By as done in the inimitable style of "Leucemia O'Shanughnessy and his Anemic Eight," when a strange sound came through the din. It was the doorbell.
As I crossed the room, I silently prayed that it was not my upstairs neighbor again since he is bigger than I am. I was in luck. It was a small, polite-appearing little man.
"Allow me to introduce myself. I am Anthony Barrington Wellingsworth III, your new downstairs neighbor," he said.
"Anthony Barrington Wellingsworth III?" I asked, in awestruck disbelief as I stopped myself from collapsing from lack of breath. He looked harmless enough so I invited him in.
"Er, I see you have a hi-fi system," he said, cautiously feeling me out.
"Yeah! Great hobby," I replied, turning the volume down to a level which wouldn't vibrate the pictures off the wall.
"I'm kind of interested in hi-fi, myself. I have a tape recorder and was thinking of putting one of those fancy amplifiers, a turntable, and some speakers in my new apartment."
If only I had recognized the danger signal - he had a tape recorder. But no. "How about my helping you," I eagerly offered, thinking that this might grow into a healthy audiophile friendship. I may as well have said: "Lead me to the slaughter."
"That would be quite neighborly of you," he said, and I went to the kitchen to get something to drink. Since I'm a bachelor, you can be sure it was something slightly more intoxicating than milk.
We sat up 'til 2 o'clock making plans for his rig. If only I had known what all this was building up to.
I was put in charge of purchasing, so the next day I found myself in the local hi-fi shop reading to Mr. Heminger a long list of components (including such things as a Glokendeek Model X-5933 triple hodge-podge amplifier with genuine silver filigree knobs with pearl inlay and built-in electric plate). Mr. Heminger kept a "have-you-stripped-your-gears" stare glued to me since he knew I already had a rig with which I was perfectly satisfied.
He finally broke down and said: "Ah ... is everything all right ... I mean, you haven't been thrown out of your apartment or anything, have you?"
I didn't feel like explaining, so I said: "No, I just thought I'd put hi-fi in my mailbox." This confused him more than ever, but I figured that he led about as normal a life as anyone in his business could so I just left him guessing.
Well, to make a long story short (and to save me the misery of thinking about the gruesome details again), we got the outfit set up and all was fine.
All was fine until one fateful evening that is. Mr. W. "dropped in for a minute.
Then came the bombshell! ...
" ... long list of components ... "
"By the way, may I borrow some of your records to put on tape? That equipment just about busted me so I can't afford to buy any records of my own right now."
Like the sucker that I am, I said, "Sure. Go ahead and pick out what you want."
As the pile grew, I began to realize that I had created a Frankenstein that I couldn't stop.
When the stack reached about two feet, I went to the kitchen, fried a chicken, ate it, and did the dishes. I returned to find the pile reaching the five-foot mark and my cabinet bare except for one old 78 of "Caveman" Johnson singing I Could Have Danced All Night But You Kept Stepping on My Corns which I didn't know I had.
Mr. W. picked up the stack and headed for the door.
"Ah, do you think you can carryall those at one time?" I inquired with some irony.
"Oh, sure," he replied, confidently.
Suddenly I realized a danger and shouted: "Look out for the ... " I was interrupted by a sound comparable only with that of a herd of wild elephants running amuck in a glass factory, " ... throw rug," I finished, meekly.
Mr. W. pulled himself up through the two feet of black chips. "Heh, heh. Well, I guess now we know why it's called a throw rug, don't we, friend," he said, making a feeble and rather unsuccessful attempt at levity.
"Just one of those things, pal."
"I'm sure you're insured, buddy."
"Er ... I'll see you around, chum," he said as he fumbled at the doorknob.
As I broke into tears, I heard him galloping away down the hall. I swept the black chip remains into a big box and prepared them for burial.
Next day, I went down to Wellingsworth's apartment to find that he had packed up bag, baggage, and hi-fi, and left - probably for greener pastures (or, more appropriately, looking for bigger record owners).
Case History 2. Case history #2 hasn't occurred yet because I won't let it. I installed a tape recorder in the space previously occupied by my records and have become a member of Record Moochers Anonymous. If you can't lick 'em, why not join 'em?
Where do I start? Capitol? ... Decca? ... RCA?
Posted June 12, 2014