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Thread: Help with mystery record

  1. #1
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    Laedria's Avatar
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    Help with mystery record

    Ok, long story short...when my dad died, in his dresser, under paper lining the drawer, I found a 78 vinyl. It has a blank label on both sides. I put it aside, knowing no one with a record player or needle at the time. My life story is a bit bizarre, as in I'm adopted, and I thought maybe it was some kind of recorded message, so I hung onto it, hoping at some point it would answer some questions.

    Forward to today, 23 years later, I'm at a friend's in Texas, who has a working record player that handles 78s. We listened to both sides, and it is some kind of comedy routine, like a guy with a southerny twang telling a story. One side is a story about a court case in Pike County, KY, because a hillbilly got het up on shine and peed in a church. The other side, which is more scratched and damaged and therefore harder to make out, is a longer story about a woman who was sad, and goes to a show, and sees Simon LeGree chasing a young girl around, and throughout this entire story the narrator is sobbing.

    I'm tryuing to figure out who or what this is. Best I could find was a Vaudeville guy named Cal Stewart who did a character named Uncle Josh, who sounds sort of like the guy on the record. He did recordings mainly around 1901-1913. There were extensive listings of his works but I found nothing fitting the stories above. I have no idea how to search further, since I just don't have enough to go on. I tried to clean the record but it's so scratched and beat up it's very crackly sounding.

    I am curious as to why my dad had it under the lining of his dresser drawer. There's some language in the stories (mainly "son of a bitch") so maybe he was hiding it from my mother...but I was wondering if any of you clever wizzies might know of a better way to search it, or know who I can go to with it, or have some other ideas. Thanks!

  2. #2

    Re: Help with mystery record

    I know a guy. Forwarding this to him. He might know it.

  3. #3
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    Re: Help with mystery record

    On a whim I gave it a shot and jumped down the rabbit hole of obscure internet searching. Ended up listening to some real old recordings of American folk stories, and poured over all the listings of the recorded work of that Cal Stewart. Nothing concrete came up when I looked through some of two other clues you gave, even though Simon LeGree apparently showed up in a Mighty Mouse episode once :-)

    Long story short - I am none the wiser to helping you out with the mystery record.

  4. #4
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    Re: Help with mystery record

    Thank you for trying. I still have the record. I'm kind of torn...I'm tempted to just throw it out, the quality is so bad, and I'm not sure it can be cleaned any better...even if I give it to a professional I doubt there's much more to be done. I'm not 100% sure it's Cal Stewart, but the recordings I listened to of "Uncle Josh Weatherby" sounded a lot like him. Another part of me wants to hang onto it until I get more solid answers, or find a place to get them, even if the record turns out to be worthless because of the quality.

  5. #5

    Re: Help with mystery record

    I'm thinking antiques road show if ever you get a chance, at this point.

    No dude from my guy.

  6. #6
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    Re: Help with mystery record

    Quote Originally Posted by Tinthalas Tigris View Post
    I'm thinking antiques road show if ever you get a chance, at this point.

    No dude from my guy.
    Thanks for trying.

  7. #7
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    Re: Help with mystery record

    Quote Originally Posted by Laedria View Post
    Thank you for trying. I still have the record. I'm kind of torn...I'm tempted to just throw it out, the quality is so bad, and I'm not sure it can be cleaned any better...even if I give it to a professional I doubt there's much more to be done. I'm not 100% sure it's Cal Stewart, but the recordings I listened to of "Uncle Josh Weatherby" sounded a lot like him. Another part of me wants to hang onto it until I get more solid answers, or find a place to get them, even if the record turns out to be worthless because of the quality.
    Whatever you do, DO NOT THROW IT OUT.

    The technology exists these days to image records and re-press them with much of the physical damage removed, although I haven't heard much about it for a few years so it may not be as expensive as it once was.
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  8. #8
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    Re: Help with mystery record

    Can you get some direct quotes from any of the skits? And Merrick might have a better way of getting data off the record for you. They can scan the surface of the record with a laser and use software to recreate a .wav of it.
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  9. #9
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    Re: Help with mystery record

    I don't think I remember the quotes, and I'm not in Texas anymore where my friend had the working phonograph. I just remember the one with the hillbilly getting drunk on moonshine and "seeing a light" and peeing on it to put it out, and it was actually inside a church (the skit was the hillbilly's trial) used "sumbitch" a lot (we figured maybe that was why it was under the lining in my dad's dresser...my mom didn't like the language?). And the flip side, which was much shorter, where the woman was sad, had sobbing throughout the whole narrative, where she went to a show to cheer up and it was about Simon LeGree.

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    Re: Help with mystery record

    I saw this a couple weeks ago and couldn't remember why "78 record" was something I wanted to remember:

    https://archive.org/details/georgeblood It's a website with thousands of archived 78 recordings.

    With some poking at the search parameters for 1901-1913, Cal Stewart came up (as did Uncle Josh).

    When I realized more were available for Cal Stewart, I expanded the search: https://archive.org/details/georgeblood?and[]=mediatype%3A%22audio%22&and[]=creator%3A%22cal+stewart%22&and[]=creator%3A%22cal+stewart+%28uncle+josh%29%22&and[]=year%3A%221926%22&and[]=year%3A%221920%22&and[]=year%3A%221919%22&and[]=year%3A%221915%22&and[]=year%3A%221909%22&and[]=year%3A%221908%22&and[]=year%3A%221907%22&and[]=year%3A%221906%22&and[]=year%3A%221905%22&and[]=year%3A%221904%22&and[]=year%3A%221903%22&and[]=year%3A%22-1%22

    You can listen to parts or all of some of them.

    Unfortunately, I didn't see any that had a title of the Hillbilly's Trial.
    Last edited by Mileron; April 27th, 2018 at 05:24 AM.

  11. #11
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    Re: Help with mystery record

    Quote Originally Posted by Mileron View Post
    I saw this a couple weeks ago and couldn't remember why "78 record" was something I wanted to remember:

    https://archive.org/details/georgeblood It's a website with thousands of archived 78 recordings.

    With some poking at the search parameters for 1901-1913, Cal Stewart came up (as did Uncle Josh).

    When I realized more were available for Cal Stewart, I expanded the search: https://archive.org/details/georgeblood?and[]=mediatype%3A%22audio%22&and[]=creator%3A%22cal+stewart%22&and[]=creator%3A%22cal+stewart+%28uncle+josh%29%22&and[]=year%3A%221926%22&and[]=year%3A%221920%22&and[]=year%3A%221919%22&and[]=year%3A%221915%22&and[]=year%3A%221909%22&and[]=year%3A%221908%22&and[]=year%3A%221907%22&and[]=year%3A%221906%22&and[]=year%3A%221905%22&and[]=year%3A%221904%22&and[]=year%3A%221903%22&and[]=year%3A%22-1%22

    You can listen to parts or all of some of them.

    Unfortunately, I didn't see any that had a title of the Hillbilly's Trial.
    I'll look into them when I get home. The record had a label on it that was blank. Not just faded writing, but completely blank, so I have no idea what the name of either skit was. Thanks!

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