The Nostalgia of KARM

Ronnie Mincey

Mincey’s Musings
Year One, Week Forty-Four

My wife has taken on a new interest—she is taking art classes from Betty Bullen, a fellow graduate in the Horace Maynard High School Class of 1968, I believe.

Of course, the interests of a spouse often have effects on the other marriage partner. On more than one Sunday after church and between Baptist meals, I have driven my wife to Jerry’s Art-O-Rama just off Kingston Pike to purchase supplies. On the first visit, I went inside the art store with her, but found practically nothing to interest me.

On the next visit, however, I parked a little farther down from the front of Jerry’s and found a very neat place, an antique store called Nostalgia. I went inside and found much to my liking.

One of the things I discovered was a most friendly resident cat. I was roaming throughout the store when I looked down to see him napping on a chair. Honestly, I could have sat on him if I had been looking for a place to read a book.

Nostalgia had several books, though none of them were economically priced. It must be remembered, however, that my idea of economically priced books comes from KARM.

The most expensive book at KARM, my usual place of acquisition of new volumes, is $1.99, five for a dollar each. Even so, the KARM pricing reflects a recent price increase from fifty cents per paperback and $0.99 cents per hardback, and I was outraged at that! So, you can imagine that I did not purchase any books at Nostalgia, since some I had bought at KARM for $0.99 were priced in the teens of dollars at Nostalgia.

Records at KARM are still $0.99 per record, a price that I fear will also soon increase. It seems I visit the KARM in Halls at least once monthly with the wife, who needs to buy new (to her, at least) items from KARM just about as bad as I need to buy a new (to me) book or record. The Halls KARM is our favorite. We occasionally visit the East Towne Centre store, though not as often. I have found neither the record nor book selection to be as good as Halls, though I have seen much worse. I also like the Powell location, though we do not often visit there.

It seems to me that the 33 1/3 record collection at KARM reflects the taste of the latest elderly person who passed away as the remains of the estate passed to KARM. There are times the selections are heavy in organ instrumentals, Lawrence Welk, movie soundtracks, country, big band, or love songs. There always seems to be Christmas albums on hand, whatever the season (just like the Hallmark channel with movies, seemingly). But the one constant that remains is gospel.

And therein lies my fascination with the KARM record selections. I grew up listening to 33 1/3 recordings of The Chuck Wagon Gang, The Inspirations, The McKameys, Tennessee Ernie Ford (The Ol’ Pea Picker himself), and so many great gospel quartets and hymnists from the previous two to three generations.

Tennessee Ernie Ford and George Beverly Shea are in particular two of the best baritone hymn singers who recorded in the twentieth century. I remember listening to the Tennessee Ernie Ford show in the 1970s which almost weekly featured The Chuck Wagon Gang. I used to listen to the Billy Graham Crusades until George “Bev” Shea finished singing. My mother bought me my first recording of George Beverly Shea on a church trip to King’s Island. After that she ordered me some cassettes of his from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.

And now it is a mission of mine to acquire as many Chuck Wagon Gang, Inspirations, McKameys, Tennessee Ernie Ford and George Beverly Shea recordings as I can find. I have been known to pay up to $40.00 on amazon.com to retrieve a recording from the lost years of my childhood, only to find them later, in the same or better condition, at KARM for $0.99!

And here Nostalgia did not fail me, either. I noticed on my first trip that the entire back left section is devoted to 33 1/3 recordings, many of them jazz. On my third trip, I discovered the cat I met on my first visit has a much larger brother that likes to conceal himself more from customers. The cats are named Felix and Oscar, and both are very friendly, though one can tell they do not like their Sunday afternoon naps to be interrupted; however, they take it very good naturedly, for cats.

But not only did I meet the second cat on my third visit, I found two crates of gospel records. I could not help myself from purchasing one Tennessee Ernie Ford and some George Beverly Shea albums. One of them was manufactured in 1968—when I got it home, I found that it was in the original shrink wrap plastic! It touched me to know that I was the first person to open that record, just like it had been in safe keeping for me for fifty years. For such a treasure, it was very reasonably priced, and when I got to the register, I discovered it was on sale for fifty percent off!!! O, Joy! Rapture! This wonderful relic cost me less than five dollars!!!

And it was worth every cent. Surely a man must be doing something right to meet two fine cats and get a piece of history seemingly preserved just for him for half a century!
Perhaps by next week life will have sprung another small surprise my way that I can share with you. Until then, I leave with you my favorite saying from email from the past week:

Optimism is going after Moby Dick in a rowboat.
Fearlessness is taking the tartar sauce with you!

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