Before magnetic recording tape

I’m not sure I’ve shared this photo of my old man. I’m blessed with a lot of great pics. It’s clear from this one how much he enjoys what he’s doing. Note the disc on the turntable in the foreground: just one track cut into the center of the disc. Probably a commercial. You can see more of these to the right of the control board. This is before magnetic tape and they “cut” these discs in the adjacent studio. If you fucked up while cutting, you put a piece of cellophane tape over that track and cut another one. I can’t even imagine trying find and cue these while doing a live shift. But the alternative was reading everything live. That would get old fast, for the announcer and the listener. Must have been an exciting time.

Joseph Mays (circa 1955)

Joseph Merrel Mase; Born 1863, Ithaca, NY; Died: 9/12/1959 (96 years). Only Joseph and one of his brothers chose the Mays spelling. And of Joseph and Nancy’s children, only Vernon and one of his brothers chose to revert to Mase. John Mays (standing) with sister Reva (top, left) and cousins.

John Mays

This photo was in an album my mother put together so I can assume this is a member of the family. Based on stamp on reverse, the photo was processed (and shot?) in Brookfield, Missouri, where my father grew up. He was born January 21, 1926 (in Elmira, New York) so he appears to be two or three years old in this photo. Let’s go with three.

The Great Depression started in 1929 (and lasted until 1939) and I recall my mother mentioning that my father’s family had a very tough time during those years. Like lots of folks. I don’t recall my father ever talking about growing up during the Depression. Nor my mom, except to say her family had it a bit easier because they lived on a farm and could grow most of their own food.

Their generation lived through The Great Depression and World War II. Chapters in a history book for me but day-to-day life for them. Seeing photos from that time makes it a bit more real.

John and Evelyn (March, 1946)

I’ve read that memories are not retrieved or recalled but recreated. Sort of recompiled, changing slightly each time. Is a photo a memory? Only if I took the photo, was there to experience the moment captured. Is a photo history? Arguably more accurate than the one my brain creates.

I’m not headed anywhere with this, just rambling. These two photos are of my mother and father (and an unidentified friend). Probably taken sometime in 1946. My father was discharged from the Navy on March 9, 1946. He married my mother on March 23, 1946. So, as mom often claimed, they knew each other for two weeks before taking the plunge. This suggests the photos below were taken in March of 1946.

I can never know the people in these photos. What that time was like for them. This is as close as I will ever come. One instant in time (two in this case). Where were they? How long had they known each other. When/where/how did they meet? Who took the photos and why? Then again, maybe it’s better not to know. We can create our own histories, which we do in any event.

For me There is powerful magic in old photos. Even if I don’t know the people.

Early Elvis contract


In 1955 Elvis Presley appeared at a little honky tonk called the B & B Club, in Gobler, MO. Not far from my hometown of Kennett, MO. More information here, including an audio clip with my father who was working at the local radio station. The contract above is between Elvis and Jimmy Haggett, who also worked at KBOA and booked entertainers on the side. If you look closely you’ll see Elvis was to receive 75% of the gate to be paid “after dance.”

Some KBOA colleagues

Below are a few of the people I worked with at KBOA (Kennett, MO) in the 70’s. Not sure when or why these photos were taken and they’re obviously no professional pics but I share them here, for the record. Top row: Ted Guffy, Keith Parker, John Mays. Middle row: Charlie Isbell, Charlie Austin, Larry Anthony. Bottom row: Bob Conner. More on KBOA at