RECORD CRACK: One of my favorite childhood record stores

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Doing some looking around with Google maps, I can’t believe I found this building. Is it still up? My Omama (grandma) lived in Wahiawa (on the Hawaiian island of O’ahu) for years, and near the house she used to live in was a small plaza where there was a supermarket. There were also a number of food places. However, there was one store I fell in love with at the age of 6 or 7, and it was not a toy store. The shack that you see here used to be the only record store in Wahiawa, what served as the music spot for Wahiawa’s military community. In other words, this was “the black record store”. Now, my parents loved soul, funk, and jazz, and would get them at record stores “in town”, which meant within Honolulu. Going to Wahiawa meant “driving out to the country’, which meant driving 20 to 25 minutes “out of town”, on an island where “out of town” meant “wooo, far, yeah?” Anyway, as I look at Google maps, they definitely developed the area and section of Wahiawa where my Omama lived. It was a literal old multi-plex house, and it was in the middle of a field surrounded by heaps of red dirt. But we thought nothing of it, at least I didn’t as a 6 year old, we just knew Omama lived out in Wahiawa and that was that, no big deal. If she wanted to get something at the market or store, we would walk up the street and head to that plaza where Foodland was (and still remains). In truth, we had taken one of the backroads, as it was easier and faster than to walk on the main street, which was California Avenue. One day, we decided to make a left down California Avenue and there was a record store. I had never seen it before, didn’t know existed, but we went in. If there was a 6-year old equivalent of a shit eating grin, I had it. Again, I was a young fan and admirer of soul, funk, and jazz, which came from my parents and two of my aunties (my mom’s sisters). On top of that, it was my Omama, my Austrian Omama mind you, who introduced me to two comedy albums that I fell in love with immediately because she allowed me to hear these records with dirty words. They were Redd Foxx’s Dirty Redd and Richard Pryor’s Bicentennial N****r. I knew of Foxx from SANFORD & SON, but he was talking nasty. I had seen Pryor in a few movies on HBO, but those movies were tame compared to what he talked about on record. My Omama only had a small stash of records. I clearly remember her having two or three red label ffrr/London Records that were classical, and I know one was a Christmas record because it was the same record The Beatles used at the end of their 1969 Christmas flexi, the one with “The First Noel”. Back to the store. I enter this store, and it was filled with records by people I had no idea who it was. Rows of jazz, rows of funk, rows of soul, and a meaty section for comedy. On top of that, the music inside was loud, and while I don’t remember what stereo it was, I just thought “yeah, this is the life I want when I grow up”. Plus, the store also sold a lot of extras that I had never seen at any of the record stores in town, along with music I had never seen anywhere else. I think I was so in shock with the kind of records they had in there, I didn’t bother to see who worked there. If I could blink and turn 10 years older at that point, I would have been an employee. It was a bit like a kid going into the Willy Wonka store and seeing every kind of chocolate bar you could want, but in this case these treats were at 33 or 45rpm. Department stores may have had the goods, but this was like going into a back room where all the good thing you’re not supposed to have? You could get it. I only went into this store twice, and on my second and last visit, I was able to beg my mom to buy me the second album by Brass Construction, which I believe my Omama had from one of her friends/neighbors. At 6, I already wanted my own copy, so I could go home and listen to “Ha Cha Cha” and “Sambo”. I did, and I still remember opening the cover, taking out the inner sleeve, seeing the band in the recording studio and thinking “that’s the life I want”.

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