Friday, April 05, 2013

Finding a Dream - The Story of A 1960's Era Console

Trying to stay away from Goodwill is easier said than done. But it's a must. Number one, the prices are double that of garage sales, sometimes more. Number two, I don't need any more stuff! Number three...

...This, the thing that Goodwill wrought.

"Repeat after me," I've been tell myself, "I do not need any more stuff!" I mimic the mantra, put my head down and keep working. Talking myself down from getting in the car and taking a quick trip "just to see what they have" has been working. It can be hard to stay away when it's so close by. Two and four dollars here and there really adds up, and there is no place for such nonsense here, especially when cool stuff can be plucked from the curb for free twice a week, and nearly free at garage sales.

Yet last week, there was a need for a caddy or something to use for the Prescription for Full Recovery gift I was making for my friend, Lynn. It wasn't yet garage/yard sale day and paying retail for something I'm going to paint is out of the question, so what options were left? Goodwill. There was no getting around it. 

"A quick look, that's it", I agreed with myself and headed out.

Did they have the needed caddy? No, of course not, but while there, it seemed of no harm to take just a few steps beyond the housewares to the furniture area "just to see what they might have". A quick look at Goodwill, my eye! Something else that lie there in my sightview stopped me in my tracks. Then my feet couldn't get to it fast enough. 

Here it is where I found it in Goodwill.

What to my wondering eyes did appear, but a console radio/record player, with memories so dear. Just what my heart has desired since back in 1960-whatever when our neighbors got one. We had a record player attached to one ginormous speaker at our house (which in retrospect was also oddly cool) but our friends had a STEREO. An upscale, mod, in-the-moment-console-stereo like they would have on one of those old 60's TV shows or probably in a James Bond movie (Sean Connery era). It was like being in another world in the presence of that thing. Why, oh, why, did my feet have to take me just beyond the housewares?

Now, frankly, this console is not the style I pined for or the look I would ask for if I had been asking, but these do not come along every day. Beggars mustn't be all that picky, but the style led in part to my hesitation.

I prefer a more Danish modern, clean line look. But nevermind. The knobs and shiny metal of the radio and record player wooed me. It kinda reminds me of a cool dashboard on a classic car.

This piece could be reworked. I knew that. I hurried to ask the price and to see if we could test it out. I had to know if it was functional. The record player arm was broken, but maybe the turntable still turned. I didn't want it to transform it into a bar or any of those things. I wanted a stereo, and I really wanted to play my old Christmas albums. And what about the radio? Would it work?

The woman got me an extension cord and as we were getting it set up, out of nowhere two guys sauntered over all interested and excited about it. Instantly the degree to which I had to have this increased exponentially. Maybe Goodwill has people trained to bring about this "must have" desire. You know how it is when someone wants what I want. Suddenly I have to have it. In my mind, it was already mine, and I had to fight the urge to say so, although I didn't even know if this worked and I didn't yet know the price. The guys came over and butt their way in as I was waiting for the woman to go plug her end of the extension cord into the wall, and they messed with it, swinging the record player arm and twirling buttons. 

Who wouldn't want to twirl these buttons?

"Back off!" I yelled (on the inside). I didn't want them ruining my precious new console.

The cord was wrapped around the back right hand leg, and to get to it I had to lean over the console and reach with all I had to untwirl it. My other leg went up in the air a little in order not to have my rear sticking straight up, because it was a nearly upside down reach. One of the guys next to me to the left leaned over and held my leg and said "be careful, you don't want to fall".

As if.

The nerve.

"Get your filthy hand off my leg!" some with more verve might have snapped to a stranger who got a little too touchy.

Not me. I'm a weenie.

However, not only was he threatening my find, now he was holding my leg. Uh, uh, buddy.

Just for that, I was buying it.

So we plugged it in and it lit up. So too my eyes lit up like the younger version of me had at the Sellers house all those years ago.

The radio kicked on to a sixties' song, as if on cue and beat to the tune of the childhood I am so fond of. My heart raced. I was back in the moment and it WAS pretty neat! We tried the turntable and it wanted to move, but was having trouble. Then as it warmed up, it started to turn. Then faster. Unfortunately, it would sort of click every time it went around. The speed was off and something was just not right in there. The "leg toucher" tried to spin it faster and I nearly grabbed his arm like he had grabbed my leg and told him not touch the goods. Restraint is a virtue, but sometimes it would sure come in handy to have a little moxie on hand so I could pass around a few choice words in times of need.

Now, one would think the arm could easily be fixed, but the turntable is another story. It's just mechanical, but heaven knows who fixes those things around here. That's a concern for another day. Whoever can do it will have to make house calls, though, because this thing weighs a ton.

Yeah, that'll cost me.

The woman who got me the cord said she would price the console at $69.00, if SHE was pricing, but she had to ask the guy in charge. I was dejected because that is a boatload of cash to a cheapskate like me, but after all, it is a big, cool console with a radio and turntable inside. She went to find out and came and told me that he said $89.00 because they had just brought it in. Nooooo! Suddenly $69.00 didn't seem so bad. So of course I couldn't decide what to do. I realized I could never decide on my own and went home to mull it over since I didn't have a way to get it home anyway. I'm a notoriously bad decision maker. I hesitate when I should jump and jump when I should hesitate. I had to chance it that the annoying leg toucher/button twirler and his friend didn't have the cash to blow on a relic either.

I still haven't cleaned it. That's a violation of rule number one. Nothing comes in until it's cleaned. 
Looks like I'm breaking rules left and right!

Long story shorter than it could have been (believe me), Lynette came back with me later that afternoon in her SUV to haul it home if I decided to buy it, and she thought it was adorable and said I should have it. I still couldn't decide if I could let go of so much money. We hemmed and hawed and I faltered and cringed and opened and closed the top and dreamed of listening to talk radio on it. Yes, I love talk radio. We have never had a stereo system in this house. We've lived here since 1984. I know, that's a long time without a stereo. I lived. My car has a stereo. Some things are enough. Then again, maybe it's time to change that, I thought. Meanwhile Lynette wandered and found a chair she loved. I stood staring and thinking, torn about paying so much for anything, agonizing over spending money as always. Then two familiar figures came walking down the aisle, headed toward the console.


I couldn't believe it! Leg touching/button twirling guy and his friend were back too! Red Alert! Mayday! Inner panic. I rushed over to tell Lynette that we had to decide quick. We leaned in and non-chalantly whispered our strategy in hushed tones. The leg toucher/button twirler was by the console now! "MY" console. Suddenly everything became clear. The money didn't matter. My console was in jeopardy. So we got the lady to go get the guy in charge so we could ask if $89.00 was the best he could do or something and that way be first in line to buy it by default. I hovered like I owned it so people would be dissuaded from bothering to look or touch or beat me to the cash register.

When the Goodwill man finally came over, we tried to act casual as if we could take it or leave it. We have dramatic skill honed when we were on the church drama team many moons ago. I mumbled about the broken turntable and Lynette picked at some veneer that was cracked for effect and said something disparaging about it. He said he could do $69.00, and I sighed, saying I was hoping for $50.00 since it only partly worked. He shook his head with authority and said he couldn't do that yet because it just came in. We could act, but he had the power. He wasn't budging any further. I couldn't chance it being snapped up before the next week when the price would get marked down, not with Toucher/Twirler coming in and out of the store all the time. We were there with Lynette's SUV, and I could always skip buying groceries this week, right? We have a cabinet full of canned goods, right? The kids won't mind another huge item in the living room, right? The man in charge did go down $20.00, right? What kind of dummy am I? (Hey, don't answer that!)

Finally, I put us all out of my misery and broke down and opened my wallet. I am now the proud owner of a mod, midcentury console record player/radio that resides right inside the front door blocking everything. No, the kids don't understand, don't want to hear talk radio blaring and they don't really like canned goods. Now I will have to move The Beast, which is a midcentury hutch I got from someone's front yard last Summer and painted white.

It's funny because the night before the Goodwill Console sighting, I had been thinking that if I had a console, I could move that hutch out and put the console where the hutch is and put my window mirror back up on the wall. Then the console appeared the next day, waiting for me to make my dreams come true. Casey has been lamenting all the little stuff in the house that makes it feel cluttered, and the hutch shelves with all the little treasures on them seemed to be part of the problem. So maybe with time, this new addition will become well-loved.

I'm actually thinking of chopping off the top of the white hutch right about the spot where it starts to show in this picture, and keeping the little bottom cabinet part. I never liked the top and I need that cabinet for all the junk now stored in it. Unfortunately I won't really have room for the cabinet with the new console in the house, but we'll worry about that another day.

Meanwhile, we tried to take the turntable off to inspect the problem when we got home, but it didn't come off when we undid the screws. We may need to take the back off. The radio works, but who knows how long the speaker will hold up. I don't think it's actually got two speakers. I can only see one through the holes in the back. It doesn't say it's a stereo. In lieu of that, it says "Vibrasonic System" and "High Fidelity". Sold.

There are also little bulbs all lit up inside that you can see through the holes in the back. Who knows how long they'll hold out.

Okay, So It's Not Perfect

It also hums even when you turn it from the radio to one of the other settings. We can't find an actual on/off switch. I have to unplug it for the humming to stop. But I am not deterred. Details, just details. I will not let its imperfections derail my enjoyment of this uber cool retro console. It just needs one of those step-on outlet activators like I got for my Christmas tree lights to turn it off and on We could also rig it to play an ipod. I've seen it done online. Next up is the decision about painting it. The color of the wood has that shiny fake veneer look to it. The brown scratchy speaker fabric could use a change as well. We had a couch like that when I was little. Sure, it was a curvy couch, which I'm also dying to find, but that kind of fabric has always seemed a little creepy.

Lynette suggested putting new fabric there and I think a change of hardware might be fun, maybe just some paint for it. So to paint the wood or not, and if so, what color? Then we have to find fabric and work some magic. "We", I say. I'm hoping for Lynette's expertise to come into play.

So basically it was love at first sight, but I just want to change the whole thing. Heh, heh. Sounds like some relationships I know.

It may be a while before you see any sort of transformation, but I just had to show you the newest addition to our house. Now, when do you suppose might I stumble upon a curvy couch?

Can you imagine me sitting on a curvy aqua sofa (maybe with a round ottoman) with my console stereo playing in the background? I can.

It could happen. Don't doubt me.

Hope you'll stop over and visit these sweet link parties this week:

Thursday Favorite ThingsFunky Junk's Saturday Nite Special

Furniture Feature FridaysFrench Country CottagePhotobucketLavender Garden Cottage

 Adorned From Above

mop it up mondays Ivy and Elephants


  1. What a fun post to read and a cool find! I'll be waiting to see that tranformation!

  2. Wow, what a catch! You got an amazing deal even though they wouldn't come down more. My parents had one almost exactly like it and I can hear it now. Great story Liz.

  3. Oh no you didn't!!! When I was married to my late husband (who I married at age 17), we "won" a stereo console. There was this one little catch. We had to buy 52 albums (1 per week). We fell for it and paid 13.95 a month on this shiny sleek looking stereo which was our largest possession. He was still in the Army, I had married and left home WAAAAAY too young, and we were CRAZY. Anywho, I gave it and all the albums to a guy who helped us move into this home in 2000. The radio still worked, but had a shortage, and if the button wasn't exactly right it had horrible static. Your post reminded me of how proud we were of that stereo, our first piece of furniture!!! Lord have mercy! I hadn't thought of that in years! Loved reading your adventures with the stereo. You are so funny. Can't wait to see how you transform this baby! Happy junkin'.

  4. never fail to crack me up! I enjoyed every word of that post and it gave me a chuckle...:) Your "new" treasure is awesome! I think it would look great painted, but I am thinking too that just changing out the fabric would brighten it up! The wood looks really good in the pictures. I can't wait to see what you do with it! Thanks for making me laugh and have a blessed weekend!

    Life On Willie Mae Lane

  5. I went through the same thing a few years back. I was unsure about the $60 price tag on the console. I went back two weeks later and it was actually still there. My husband stuffed it in our mid sized car and shook his head at the price. I love it though. We are fixing the speakers and the record player. I have seen rougher consoles for the same or more money. I am glad to know I am not the only one thinking back on their childhood at buying a console. Congratulations.

  6. I cannot believe that you of all people bought the stereo console! For genuinely real money. My grandparents had one and they constantly played Frank Sinatra on theirs. As I look at your photos "Fly Me To The Moon" plays in my head. Next you will need vintage cocktail mixers to go on the top!

  7. what a great story! Really enjoyed reading about your find & adventure

  8. Funnily enough, when I went to the local charity shop yesterday with a car load of stuff to donate, (I was rather pleased with myself) I spotted one of these in the back. It's so beautiful, but we are meant to be having a clear-out, not collecting more. Nevertheless, I left them with my number and instructions to phone me when it's been tested and ready...just hope the price is right! Would love to play the ol'record collection!

  9. If it ever comes to a timely end and no longer works at all they make lovely liquor cabinets....
    It makes me crazy when I don't buy something and then it is gone when I go back.

  10. Hee hee... take THAT Toucher/Twirler!! Enjoy your new friend... looking forward to seeing what you two characters come up with for a re-do! xo

  11. What a great find! We had one of those, oh the good times we had singing along to the songs of the day! I love your vision for re-purposing it, I can see it and it's fabulous! You are still queen of the deal!

  12. So I take it the leg toucher wasn't handsome?


  13. Oh my goodness! that was hilarious!
    I love this stereo find and the whole story... Strange Leg Touchers beware.. a woman on a mission to have a fabulously cool stereo...Just might unleash her wrath's yours now.


  14. You must be a mind reader, this is the same internal dialog I have with myself about once a week only your's is definitely more funny. This post was a pleasure to read.

  15. This is a perfect piece for a home of a blogger with a blog named "Quriky Vistas." I can't wait to see what you do with it, Liz.

  16. I'm so glad you bought it! I was on the edge of my seat as I read, sweating, crying, "Get it, get it, GET IT!!" When I was 16, I cranked up the volume on my parents' similar console stereo when they went out at night, until the windows shook. (I might have sneaked one or two of my dad's Kent cigarettes, too.) Oh, the memories. Maybe you can remove the turn table and replace it with a new one? Hilarious story, Liz. It looks great!

  17. I couldn't wait to visit and see what you had found. It's fabulous...sure takes me down memory lane! I like it just the way it is...but you'll have fun with it! Throw back the rug and get ready to do the twist! heehee!

  18. What I wonderful find. My parents had one, I would love to find one to play my collection of records on. Can't wait to see the transformation. Thanks for sharing!

  19. Gasp. It's like Mad Men is waiting to happen in your living room. Every detail is yummy and the story that goes with it - well it grabbed me by the, um, leg.

  20. That was a lot of fun to read. We had a couple of these when I was young. In fact my mom still has a hexagon shaped one that my daughter put a note on saying she wants some day! The stereo/turntable can be removed and serviced if you have to. The turntable probably needs cleaning from underneath and it will probably sail along nicely again. (My husband is a audioophile- I'm well trained) Since it's solid wood I can tell it was a high quality item in it's day! Enjoy!

  21. Seriously great story! We used o have a similar one, but it had the fishbowl like round TV in the center.. Plus an 8 track player.. It was HOT! My mom didn't sell it until the mid 90's I think... She was moving... It still worked and was one of my favorite pieces of furniture! I hope your kids will remember your as fondly as I remember mine :) - Susan

  22. That is so groovy! I love how they used to make stereos and tv's like they were pieces of furniture. Much prettier than an IPOD dock.

  23. Hi there,
    I can do you one better (or rather two better). One better: All we had "stereo-wise" up until I left home to go to college at 18 (1972) was a record player. No outside speaker; could stack up to 5 albums at one time; had to play singles with the plastic disks in the middle. So HaH!
    Two better: I bought a house a few years ago and the old owners had left some things in the house. One was a beautiful consol stereo somewhat traditional looking in immaculate shape. So there! Ha! Buuuuut, the radio doesn't work and the turn-table does turn and the arm does move over but there is no needle in the arm and someone (how dare they!) removed the entire 8-track player. I would like to hook up my own stereo somehow, though. We have a stereo shop here in town so thought I might check there.
    The shiny lights at the back, those are tubes like in the old TVs. When one went wonky just the tube had to be replaced. I read an article in a blog that you have to be careful with the tubes even though the power may be off they can still hold a charge. Ouch!!
    Can't wait to see what you do with yours - paint, colour, etc..
    Take care and enjoy your new toy,
    P.S. Your posts make me laugh out loud so will be signing up to follow via email.


Thanks for coming by. I hope you'll say hello and let me know your thoughts. I'd love to hear from you! Unfortunately spammers have been at an all time high, so I will no longer be able to accept anonymous comments.