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Today is September 16, 2021

Mississippi Seen

For the record

By Walt Grayson

For the record

Little Big Store in the old Raymond Depot has record collectors from all over dropping by.

Well, another stack of old records followed me home recently. Several stacks actually. Some 1960s through 1980s rock-n-roll LPs from a reader in Indianola who was shutting down housekeeping to move to a senior living facility. Another stack came from a shelf-full of 78rpm records from the niece of a viewer in Jackson. I did a story with the aunt several years ago about her experiences at the Mississippi State Fair when she was a child. During our conversation, the topic of records came up. Before she passed away, she told her niece I should have her 78s. Besides, nobody else wanted them.

My wife, Miz Jo, told me if I brought home any more records she was going to leave me. I told her I was sure gonna miss her. To which I QUICKLY added, “It was a joke! It was a JOKE!” It’s not like I haven’t brought home more records since then, but I quit telling her about it.

My fondness for old records isn’t because I love music so much as it is a memory from my childhood of our family’s console radio. It had a record player in it, and evidently, listening to the records was one of my favorite things to do. Before I could read, I could tell what the song was by the design and color of the label.

I figure lots of hobbies have roots back to early childhood. At the Eudora Welty House in Jackson, I noticed books everywhere. When she wrote about becoming a writer, she said that she loved books. Not even so much to read them. She just loved the look of them. She wrote of her early experiences of having been read to and then having her own library card and checking out books on her own. Her stash of books reminded me of my stash of records — way too many to be practical but they sure make a statement.

Mississippi is a state associated with musicians as much as we are with writers. So “shrines” to either should be expected here. The Mississippi Music Museum in Hazelhurst is one of them. The Robert Johnson Museum in nearby Crystal Springs is another. The fact that there are more Grammy-winning artists from Mississippi than any other state factored into locating the first satellite Grammy Museum in the Mississippi Delta in Cleveland. And on and on — from Elvis Presley’s birthplace in Tupelo to the Jimmie Rodgers Museum in Meridian.

But the one place that puts my puny pile of records into perspective is the Little Big Store in Raymond. It isn’t a museum but a used record store. They have one of the biggest collections of records in the nation. Room after room of the old Raymond depot is stacked with shelves and piles of vinyl. I’m not allowed to go there.

Just for the record — be careful what you introduce your kids to early on. It may stick with them for the rest of their lives.

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