Myself, The Old Man, & Jack the Ripper in sub zero weather. Photo by the Devil Dick.
I am definitely honored to participate in the second Vinyl Day Blog Swarm put on by JB Bartlett. Last year’s was amazingly successful, and even as I’m writing this, I can’t really wait to check out the other entries. I wanted to talk a bit about a guy I buy records from. I call him the Old Man. I’ve been buying records from him for a long time. In fact, the mighty Devil Dick has been buying from him even longer. It took me a while to get in his good graces. It always wasn’t a buddy/ buddy relationship. In the beginning, I was really just fed left overs, and I would walk up to the table to “No Funk and Soul today”. I always was kind of pissed because I was a regular at this specific spot, yet when I went to his table, there would be baseball cards, VCR tapes, or comic books. The only records would be unsleeved commons sitting in an open box. Slowly but surely, he let me into his world. We always made small talk, but when we got to be better friends and confidants, I learned about his marriage and love for everything vinyl. I would make the same journey to see him at day break whether it was 90 degrees out and humid, or 20 degrees and snowing, tables covered with frost, everyone in gloves. Not the Old Man. I’ve never seen him wear a hat, scarf, or gloves. He never wears shorts. He has had a variety of vehicles: vans, small 80’s 4 wheel drive convertibles or Japanese imports with duct tape on the door handles. He was always there before me, even though I got up early as hell. When he didn’t show up early, all the diggers that bought from him would worry, because he was the Old Man. He’d show up though. In the many, many, years I have been digging at this spot, he has always been there from Friday through Sunday. His record knowledge is really extensive, from Rockabilly to Jazz to Soul and Psyche, he has a story about every record he sells to you. He even gives up his favorite records stories from when he was young. There are tales of him playing the same record everyday after school in the nickel juke box that the drug store owner actually gave him the record so he’s never play it again. I’ve seen him have a variety of customers: guys who buy Funk and Soul, cats that just want Doo Wop, picture sleeve fanatics, cheese cake cover obsessives, and the list goes on. After I became a steady customer, I realized he never had the good stuff out, rather packaged up in record cases or paper bags, wrapped neatly for each and every customer. He would always save me what he hand picked, and I’m one of the few he lets listen to records on a portable before I buy. The Old Man can get ornery, but he’s the Old Man, he’s allowed to. In the early days he like to give you the hard sell with “That’s a rare record”, and to this day he still does, even though I buy mostly everything he puts out. The Old Man is a staple at my spot. We’ve become good friends, and he’s definitely given me fatherly advice from time to time, especially the last few times I went to see him. After my purchase, we usually go dig together for a bit and then go our separate ways. I consider him a good friend and more than someone that I have just a business relationship with. He’s one of the good guys: a guy who won’t rip you off, always has top notch records, looks out for you, and most importantly doesn’t mind being called the Old Man.