Once upon a time there was a round plastic thing with a hole in the middle of it called a record.
There were LP records that were bigger and played longer (long playing), playing several songs on each side. There were small records, too, called 45s that played one song on each side. And, yes, you had to manually lift them off the record player and flip them to hear each side.
There were these things called pianos that you didn't plug in. And there was a thing called sheet music that you played on the piano while people sang along. There was no such thing as Karaoke.
But you knew that, right?
What you may not know is that many years ago, Jack's Music Shoppe used to be Anderson's Music — records, instruments and all. The Anderson of Anderson's Music was Jack's dad.
I forget his first name, but I remember him always wearing a suit and a kind smile as I walked, grasping my mom's hand, into a split-level gleaming hardwood-floored cavern of (what looked to me like) sheet music and instrument heaven.
She had worked there in the late 1950s and early- to mid-1960s. She loved music, her job, her boss and his family. Her name was Sally.
She used to talk about how when the stars came to what was then the Garden State Arts Center, Mr. Anderson would host parties and everyone at the store would have a chance to mix and mingle with them. It was a very magical time for her.
In addition to working in a music haven and meeting celebs she admired, Sally had accumulated a massive collection of classic records, spending her paycheck on one a week. She continued to work there part-time until my sister and I were just about ready to go to school.
But she never really quit Anderson's or what it brought to her life.
Anderson's Music, in fact, had become a big part of all of our lives. Music, period, was a big part of our lives and we were grateful for that.
So we kept the tradition going, Mom in the store or not ... and so did the Andersons.
I remember when Jack seemed to suddenly grow up and start working and taking over what had become Jack's. There was many a Saturday jaunt with my Dad to the store for my token Beatles 45 of the week when I was good. Jack would let me listen to record after record to see which one I liked in all of my cultural esteem at age 10.
Sometimes he would speed it up or slow it down to make me laugh. And as cool as he was, with his ponytail, surrounded by dayglow posters and other very cool stuff, not to mention miles and miles of albums, he was very patient about my annoying indecision. I was Sally's kid, so it was OK — well, until my dad urged me to hurry the hell up, because he couldn't take much more of my lollygagging.
A 45 and a poster later, we were outta there and I was thrilled. I graduated to collecting David Cassidy posters from the back room of the store. But, fortunately I have a case full of better taste memories with the 45s.
Jack's has been in several Broad Street locations over the years. But, at that time, it was across the street in, I'm pretty sure, the building that is now the new Char. Or maybe more toward Front Street?
Ironically, as I remember it, though, Jack's is now in one of the first spots Anderson's Music was in, if not the first. Take a look at the above photos and tell us if it's the same building. If not, which is it?
Also, be sure to tell us your fondest memories of Anderson's and Jack's over the years. What was Jack's dad's first name and which one is he in the photo? And, Jack, do you remember Sally?