A Victor Victrola Machine!

17-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Wednesday, August 14, 1912: Ruth and I went up to Oakes’ this evening. We were treated to the pleasure of hearing a Victor Victrola. I enjoyed it very much. It being the first time I had ever heard one play.

Victor Victrola

Source: Wikipedia

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

The Oakes family lived on a farm near the Muffly’s. They had several children who were close in age to Grandma and her sister Ruth.

What a fun evening! I can almost picture 4 or 5 teen-agers and young adults gathered around the Victor Victrola machine listening to very scratchy music—while thinking that it was absolutely the most awesome thing ever.

The first Victor Victrola machine was produced in 1906—so the technology must have spread relatively rapidly if a farm family in rural Pennsylvania owned one by 1912.

According to Wikipedia:

Soon an extensive line of Victrolas was marketed, ranging from small tabletop models selling for $15, through many sizes and designs of cabinets intended to go with the decor of middle-class homes in the $100 to $250 range, up to $600 Chippendale and Queen Anne-style cabinets of fine wood with gold trim designed to look at home in elegant mansions.

Victor Victrola

Source: Wikipedia

One of the things that I’ve really enjoyed about Grandma’s diary is when Grandma mentions the first time she experiences various new technologies.

In May, 1912 Grandma rode in an automobile for the first time.

And, in 1911, Grandma used a telephone for the first time and also rode a ferris wheel for the first time;

22 Responses

  1. I had to smile at your mental picture of them listening to the Victrola. Have you ever heard a new record played on a high quality record player? I really love the full bodied sound of an analog recording.

  2. I used to love listening to my grandmother’s gramophone -similar to the Victrola.

    • I also remember enjoying listening to old records. My maternal grandparents used to have a record player that played cylinder records that my cousins and I used to enjoy.

  3. Neat post! My husband remembers also going to his Grandmother’s and gathering around to listen. Thanks for the memories.

  4. cool – maybe we should write down when we used a computer for the first time, a cell phone and all that other stuff for someone 100 years down the road to enjoy

  5. Hi. My sister and brother-in-law have a Victrola. Not long ago, I begged my brother-in-law to play it. It was truly dreadful. I guess we are spoiled by our modern noise-makers. When you think of the long path to here! Jane

  6. It is just amazing how technology has changed in 100 years. The Victrola then, an iPod now. :)

  7. This post brought back memories of my grandmother telling me of the first time she rode in a car, electric lights (they had gas lights), and many other things we take for granted. I used to think there would be nothing excited invented in our life time and how wrong I was ~ just think of all the technology we have seen…I can feel your grandmothers excitement about hearing the Victrola for the first time.

    • I can remember the feeling that you describe. When I was a young adult I also thought that there was nothing of importance still left to be invented– In hindsight, I don’t know how I ever thought that. I guess it just shows the perspective that age gives us.

  8. I love the sound of music on these players. Takes you immediately back and how beautiful would that big shiney horn be in your parlour? I bet it was the prettiest thing they owned. Rick on Pawn stars bought a tiny mini one once, was probably used for picnic’s…I would have bought it in a heartbeat.

  9. I love how you painted a mental picture of kids gathered around listening to the Victrola. Today’s equivalent? Kind of difficult to gather around to listen to an IPod right? Perhaps the equivalent is gathering around the computer to watch a youtube video. Can you tell I have young adult and teenage kids?

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