Monday, May 24, 2010

Gramophone Man David Row - Collection (Pt II)

AMi Continental 2 Jukebox (1962)

As my friend Billy and I approach the entrance of David Row's cute and neat cottage (a converted terrace house) at Teachers' Estate, we notice on the left wall of the living room, shelvings up to the ceiling. They are filled with variations in model, size and colour of vintage gramophones and what looked like old but larger sized 78rpm records.

On the floor, to complement his array on the shelves, stands a large Victoria Cabinet Gramophone. As we sit on the lounge chairs on the right wing of the living room and sip our tea, David, who has retired since 1988 explains that when he started his collection that year he had about 20 gramophones; today he has more than 100.

 "And that's not all," he remarks with glee, "I have more than 2,000 records that includes a wax cylinder recording of Stanley Kirby's Tipperary (1914), and a copy of Meet Me Tonight In Dreamland."

It is a larger and thicker than usual Pathe record that can only be played from the centre outwards on the rare Pathe gramophone. And as David explains, he demonstrates, "Only two people in Singapore have this machine, which has the stylus moving from the inner grooves of the record to the outer grooves. Watch!"

The collection of 78rpm records also includes, Momo Latiff's, Bunga Sakura and Zainal Alam's Rose Rose I Love You. There's also Bonnie Lou's, Seven Lonely Days, Danny Thomas', Aint We Got Fun, Guy Mitchell's, My Truly, Truly Fair, Gene Kelly's Singing In The Rain and Dean Martin's That's Amore. And these titles are a mere fraction of what's in his cabinet.
A Record Collection
As we view his gramophone collection in greater detail, David explains that while others buy originals and pay a fortune, he usually gets his from Sungei Road and antique dealers and restores them in his workshop behind the house. Taking us to the kitchen, David shows us a large colourful jukebox standing beside the refrigerator.
Victoria Cabinet Gramophone.
"And this..." he says proudly, "is a fully restored AMi Continental 2 Jukebox made in 1962. I bought it from a friend for about $2,000 in 1989." And as I hummed Elvis Presley's Mean Woman Blues in my head, remembering the juke box in the coffee house fight scene in Loving You, David's Continental roars, "I got a woman mean as she can be..." The jukebox is playing the 45 RCA single. At nearly half a century old, it is still rockin' and rollin' without a flaw.

"Your wife cannot be that mean," I remark, "allowing you to put your collection around the house." David agrees and chips in, "Because everything works in this place." Then he leads us to his workroom next to the jukebox.

From the ceiling to the floor, his little workshop has nearly four walls of tools, gadgets and spare parts. It was mind-boggling to see the amount of tiny screws, nuts and bolts that he has, all contained and organised in boxes and shelved so neatly in his room. You must visit this place to believe how this man's mind works.

I thanked David as my friend and I made our way to the front porch. I realised that I should spend more time with an interesting hobby like his...

"You know... I help at the hospice too..." volunteered David, "and that's another way of using your hands."

"Would you like to discuss it?" I asked.

"Another time, Andy. Not today."

Image from Google.


Teoh said...

More than 100 gramophones and 2,000 records! The place is a treasure cove!

I wish that I were there too, Andy

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

If you come by to Singapore this year BC, I will take you to David's home for a visit. You can view his collection too as he has C&W records too.

Roger said...

What a unique collection! Truly a labour of love. I'm in awe.

Roger said...

What a unique collection! Truly a labour of love. I'm in awe.

Roger said...

What a unique collection! Truly a labour of love. I'm in awe.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Thank you Roger. Your enthusiasm is appreciated by David for sure.

Anonymous said...

Marvelous! I look forward to reading more about David's impressive collection.


ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

It's not only the collection but the fact that this near octogenarian has been able to maintain each device in good working order. Like he said, "Everything works."