The Wonder of Wurlitzer

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Jiving with the juke box . . . .

This old Wurlitzer juke box was a standout in a tour of the Pioneer Museum in Douglas, Wyoming recently.  It brought back some memories of an old Wurlitzer that stood in my grandfather’s general store in Kaycee.  The juke box I recall had curved glass neon-filled tubes that changed rainbow colors as the 78 rpm records spun out country tunes from the stars of the 1950’s (Hank Williams, Ernest Tubbs, Homer and Jethro, Jim Reeves, Eddy Arnold, Chet Atkins, Patsy Cline, Carter Family and Tennessee Ernie Ford, to name a few).

It took a nickel in those days to buy a song.  I begged for quarters to pick five tunes, and some evenings after closing, my grandfather would take out a huge ring of keys that he kept in his pocket, open the door and push a little lever that allowed us to select a few with no coins.  One of my favorites was Old Kawliga, a sad tale about a cigar store wooden Indian.  I still know most of the words!

I don’t know what happened to the old Wurlitzer, which was sold along with the general store when my grandfather retired in the 1960’s.  But I have my memories of being a little kid with face pressed to the glass, watching the records spin and being enchanted by the changing colors and sound of music.

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