1950s 78 rpm 8" Spoken Word

A very merry Christmas and a whacko dinner

It is 1952, getting towards Christmas. You live on a homestead, in rural Australia, and one of your family is away. Young Pauline has followed in the path of many Australians and sailed for England. The tyranny of distance is alive and well in this period. Television broadcasting won’t begin for years yet. Long distance telephone calls – for those who have telephones and many don’t – are awful: the sound garbled and the cost, in three minute blocks, ridiculous. So you won’t be hearing Pauline’s voice this Christmas.

B 201701 labelBut wait! What is this in the mail? It’s a gramophone record, an acetate – it has the familiar HMV label, but there is a message from Pauline, hand-written. Quick, everyone! Gather round the gramophone. Pauline sent this – what on earth can it be?

I am indebted to Bart Ziino, a friend and fellow record tragic for sharing this disc. Bart is an historian, and observed:

That really is a document of its time.  I wonder how far in advance she prepared it?  Enough time to go by ship, or sent by air?  I wonder what she was doing in London? My mum used to say ‘whacko’ as a good thing too. I wonder who else thought gladioli were the best flowers …

There is a rich human story behind every minute of recorded sound.

  • Artist: Pauline [surname unknown]
  • A Side: “Merry Christmas, love Pauline, xxx”
  • Format: 8”, 78 rpm, acetate, mono
  • Label: His Master’s Voice
  • Made in: England
  • Catalogue: Special recording
  • Year: 1952

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5 replies on “A very merry Christmas and a whacko dinner”

There is a whole lost world in that minute and a half. I wonder if Pauline is still around somewhere, and whatever happened to Denny and Gerald? That was wonderful, gave me a lump in my throat.

Liked by 1 person

She sounds lonely! It would be nice to get the full story…

The word “wacko” also crops up as late as 1974, in Monty Python & The Holy Grail. Towards the end, when the Gorge of Eternal Peril is explained, brave Sir Robin (Eric Idle) gives an unenthusiastic “Oh wacko!”. I always thought it was off the cuff, but clearly not!!

Perhaps the American “wacky” somehow took over “wacko” and replaced its meaning – but I’m just guessing!

Liked by 1 person

Eric Idle had hung around the likes of Germaine Greer in the 1960s, which may be a link…

The phrase “wack-o-the-diddle-o!” came to mind the other day – essentially meaningless, but it has a sort of sarcastic positivity which may or may not have anything to do with “wacko” and/or its demise…

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