Anyway, on the trip one question was asked about five things that make us happy. One of my five things was playing a record on my record player. Joe gave it to me last Christmas, and it's one of my favorite things. He found it on Craigslist, and since then I have had it looked over and repaired by a man with 25+ years of experience restoring phonographs. He did a wonderful job, and now I get to enjoy my player without worrying about hurting it.
This record player is a Columbia Viva-Tonal Grafonola 113a, manufactured in England in 1928. It has mahogany wood on the inside, and weighs enough to throw out your back (I've heard it called a "hernia-inducing weight" on a blog somewhere).
They're not terribly common, and it's difficult to find a lot of information about it beyond the basics because they were made a year before 1929, aka the Great Depression, and not very many of them were sold. But I did find one really nice concise blog entry here, with some great pictures to boot.
When Joe gave it to me, he also gave me a stack of records. CLARIFICATION: This record player does not play vinyl records. Vinyl records came about later. This player plays 78rpm records, otherwise known as Shellac records, with only one song on each side. They are harder and more fragile than vinyl records and are usually 10" wide, though some are 12". They are not as easy to find as vinyl records, but I've found some great ones here and there and been given some, as well.
Below, if you're interested in a trip back in time, is a video of my playing one of my favorite songs. For some reason, the video enhances the needle-noise. It's not as scratchy sounding in person, but you'll just have to take my word on that.
Here is the record by Dorothy Shay, the Park Avenue Hillbilly:
Without further Ado, Ladies and Gentlemen I present...
My Record Player.