THE FRONT FOYER
Walking within the walls of this house is an overwhelming experience, even for the casual record collector. The reason? It's damn hot. The walls and ceiling's are black and the only ventilation is provided by the 1/4" air holes in the albums.
The records on the walls are incredible. Even the 4 inch paper labels, that Eldridge Johnson started putting on his Victor records in 1900, are intact. This was a collection to die for. Actually, James Holdenfield's grandmother had done just that.
Of the roughly 140 records Elvis pressed on HMV, SUN, RCA and Camden, 106 could be found on this wall. Next to them hung several Bill Haley & The Comets pressings on Decca, MCA and Hallmark. Of these albums, several appeared in the top ten. I asked James if he knew how the top ten started. He said he didn't, nor did he care to know. I told him anyway.
THE TOP TEN
In 1936 the folks at BillBoard compiled the 10 Best Records For Week Ending, by using data provided from the most active record companies. On March 27, 1937, an independent company was commissioned to monitor radio play. From this information BillBoard released, Songs With The Most Radio Plugs. Not a very catchy title, but effective. By March of '38 The Weeks Best Records hit the news stands, these were selected by the editors and reviewers of BillBoard.
1939 saw the first Record Buying Guide. Since then the rating system has been through numerous revisions. Most claim the rating system is fairly accurate, considering this computerized world we live in.
For the time being, I was unsure as to what world I was participating in. This house could certainly cause one to be disoriented.
THE HOUSE LAYOUT
I do not know if it's possible to convey the feeling one gets when they are standing in this house. The house in square footage is not extremely large; it's just about 4800 square feet. There are two levels. The first floor has a large front foyer. To the left of the foyer is a large living area and a 1/2 bath. As one faces the back wall, the kitchen is on the right. Behind the kitchen is a small dining room. Beyond the dining room are a few stairs that lead to the second level.
The second level of this "sound" building is amazing. The edifice itself is suspended on stilts of stacked albums. There are several stacks of records each standing 5'4" from the ground. Concrete blocks serve as the footing for each stilt. I asked Elmer if the records were stacked permanently. He informed me that he and his daughters Angela and Midge, placed the L.P.'s on long 1/4 inch stainless steel pins. The records were then dipped in concrete. Since I had Elmer's attention I asked him why he called his company "& son" if he had only daughters. He informed me that "the way to spell the name was SUN. It's a funny ding, I been working from sun up to sun down five sixths of my life. I figured I best give da ol' sun equal billing."
Next: Room by Room