There was a time when audio was served on a black, vinyl platter. No shiny compact discs, no iDevices and definitively no Cloud.
It was far from high fidelity, but the occasional cracks and repeating loops added to the experience of listening to vinyl records. My first encounter with this technology was at my grandma's house where I would listen to children’s stories over and over again. Today, we would call them audio books, but back then, they were simply records.
I have recently come across a box full of old Swiss records at a second hand store. Many of my favorite stories from the 1980's were among them. Which of these do you remember?
Ali Baba und die 40 Räuber
This is a classic story of thiefdom, gold treasures and a man who discovers a secret door. In my recollection, "Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves" from the "1001 Nights" story collection used to make me cringe: The moment when Ali Baba first spots the 40 thieves and climbs up a tree is quite a cliffhanger... I used to listen to this version narrated by the late Trudi Gerster, one of Switzerland's best known storytellers for children.
Did you know that this story is the origin of the magical phrase "Open Sesame"?
How to catch a thief? Fill a box with sand, write GOLD INSIDE in big letters on it and drill a hole in the bottom. Then wait until the thief hauls it away, leaving a trace of sand behind...
I remember being fascinated by this story from 1962, and I can still recall some of the images that would flash my mind as I was listening to this vinyl. Here's the Swiss German version on YouTube...
Titles like "The sorcerer's cave in the witch forest" or "The mystery about the singing icicle" had me hooked. Kasperli is a sort of Swiss German speaking court jester who rights the wrongs in this world.
Narrated in a high pitch voice by the late Jörg Schneider, I think these records used to drive our parents crazy. We not only listened to the adventures on vinyl and cassette tapes, though.
Once in a while, we would go to see a real Kasperlitheater puppet performance. All the kids were seated, and in the front of the room, a puppet play would be performed. When Kasperli was in danger but did not see the bad guy coming, we would scream our little hearts out: "Achtung! Behind you!"
If you have some spare time on your hands, click your way through the vast YouTube archive of Kasperlitheater stories...
These stories from the 1960’s were just as fascinating to my ears twenty years later. The Winnetou vinyl records would allow me to travel to the Wild West and be a part of Old Shatterhand’s adventures.
Winnetou and Shatterhand were sort of bro’s, a duo to reckon with. Most tales were told from the perspective of Shatterhand, the legendary hero who had saved Winnetou from the stake. Those who love nostalgia as much as I do will be delighted to know that YouTube has some Winnetou clips: