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Posts Tagged ‘Century Catalog Showroom’

John Lennon Jurgen Vollmer PhotoIt’s John Lennon‘s birthday today and while I was trying to think of one of his solo songs that would I like to feature here, one kept popping up in my mind.  It was Power to the People from 1971.

For me , this song brings back a flurry of personal memories of that time and of certain places.  I remember listening to this song as it came from the little speaker on a small portable radio that was my pride and joy in those days that predated the Walkman, the iPod and the smartphones that were to come.

It was square in shape and had a padded leather case and a leather handle and I had chosen it out of a Century catalog.  Century was regional chain of catalog showrooms, places where you would go in and enter the product number from a catalog and put it in a tray  for a clerk to pick up and send to  the warehouse space at the rear of the showroom.  You would then wait until your chosen product would come up on a small conveyor and would be whisked off by a clerk who would call you to the counter via the PA.  It seems like such a strange and antiquated system now but it was one of those places that you grew up with, so it seemed natural at the time.

So there I was, a twelve year old kid with a little square radio listening to my local AM station– there were no FM stations in our area yet although they would pop up rapidly in the next few years.  There was something about this song for me at that time playing from that radio that imprinted on my memory.  Maybe it was that the idea of the people banding together in order to be heard resonated with those feelings of powerlessness that many twelve year olds have felt through the ages.  Maybe it was an omen of my populist views to come or maybe it just sounded great coming out of that tinny little speaker.

Whatever the case, I still hear that song today in the context of that memory and get the same feeling that I got those forty-some years ago.  Lennon would have been 74 today.  Thanks for the memory, John. PS: the phot at the top is a Jurgen Vollmer photo of Lennon taken during the early Hamburg days. Itwas used on Lennon’s Rock and Roll LP.

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