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Yellow Submarine

October 2, 2013


Maybe it was because he never owned anything new and seldom received gifts, but Ricky Delgado had a keen sense alerting him to new acquisitions on Briarwood Drive. It was 1966 and Dad, David and I had just returned from White Front, the new pre-Walmart, everything-under-one-roof store that had recently opened a half mile from our house. I’d saved my lawn mowing money to purchase The Beatles’ new album Revolver (a whopping $3.99) and hadn’t even had time to play it or remove it from its jacket when Ricky knocked on our door.


“Where’d you go?” he asked, his antennae tweaked. “Get something new?”


Like me, Ricky earned money doing chores around the neighborhood but whatever money he earned he handed over to his mom to help compensate for a father who squandered every dime on booze. I usually resisted waving my good fortune in his face but I was thrilled to own Revolver and couldn’t wait to hear my favorite song, Yellow Submarine. I felt cool just owning it, and the idea of living in a submarine like Captain Nemo made me lightheaded.


“We went to White Front and I bought a copy of Revolver. Wanna come inside and listen to it?” I asked.


“White Front? They sell crap. The record will probably skip.”


I ignored the sour grapes as we made our way to my bedroom and the portable record player I’d inherited when my parents bought the Curtis Mathes stereo console in the living room. Ricky handed me his pocket knife and, with the skill of a surgeon, I sliced through the cellophane seal, removed the sweet-smelling vinyl record and sniffed it before placing it on the record player. Several songs moved me deeply but I carefully placed the needle on Yellow Submarine and leaned back to listen as Ringo sang:


In the town where I was born,

Lived a man who sailed to sea,

And he told us of his life,

In the land of submarines,


So we sailed on to the sun,

Till we found the sea of green,

And we lived beneath the waves,

In our yellow submarine,


(Trumpets play, followed by an unpleasant and unexpected scratchy sound)

We all live in a yellow subbbbb-zzz-mar—

Y-zzz-ow subm—, yellow sub-zzz—


From then on the record skipped horribly.


Ricky tried his best not to look smug as I lifted the needle and repositioned it after checking it for lint or dust. Hopefully, that was the source of the problem. No such luck; the recording continued to skip. “What are you going to do?” Ricky asked.


“What can I do?” I exclaimed, thinking of all the lawns I’d need to mow to purchase another copy.


“You can take it back and demand a record that doesn’t skip,” Ricky said. “C’mon, I’ll go with you. We can get there on our bikes.”


“Promise you won’t steal anything?”


“Yeah, I promise.”


I’d yet to catch Ricky breaking a promise so I believed him. I’ll leave it for you to decide if he kept his promise.



The conclusion on Friday.


Those original YS albums are worth considerably more than $3.99. I hope you still have yours!
By: Shelly on October 2, 2013
I love that recording -- one of my favourites. I hope he didn't!
By: The Broad on October 2, 2013
I just heard a song from that album this morning. I'm going to assume he came out of the store looking like the Michelin Man from all the stuff crammed into his pockets.
By: PT Dilloway on October 2, 2013
Love the Beatles. When I was young I borrowed the White Album from my sister till she demanded it back.
By: David Walston on October 2, 2013
Dang, Ricky was clairvoyant!
By: Scott Cody Park on October 2, 2013
Ricky had/has a 6th sense. I wonder if he parlayed his talents into something useful later in life.
By: Daniel LaFrance on October 2, 2013
Oh you and your cliffhangers.
By: Michael Offutt on October 2, 2013
as I read the words to the song I could hear the Beatles in my head....I loved their music and still do! Looking forward to Fridays finale- but when will we learn about Ricky when he grew up? I have a soft spot for him since he didn't have the Dad you did.
By: Kathe W. on October 2, 2013
In about '72 my father bought me the Blue and the Red albums and also Sgt Pepper. It was the coolest thing he ever did for me. Little did he know I'd ruin my claim to cool when I bought my first album in '75 -- The Captain and Tenille. lol
By: Lexa Cain on October 2, 2013
Damn--another two parter. I'm 79--I may not last until the conclusion!!
By: fishducky on October 2, 2013
That third verse made me laugh out loud!
By: Fran on October 2, 2013
i still have Meet The Beatles. One of my stupid sisters must have taken it to a party because she wrote her name on the cover. Otherwise, it's perfect. Love, Janie
By: Janie Junebug on October 2, 2013
You were a trusting little guy weren't you. The fact you actually had to have the conversation "don't steal anything" pretty much indicates the likelihood of it happening. Still, just from all your posts, I feel bad for poor Ricky to have had a lousy dad with a drinking problem. I loved that song in it's time as well. I didn't remember the album being Revolver. You have a much better memory.
By: Cheryl P. on October 2, 2013
Tape a few pennies on the needle are and-BINGO!-skipping problem solved.
By: Al Penwasser on October 2, 2013
i hope they took it back and exchanged it. as for ricky, i can relate to being very poor, helping my mom as best as i could. my dad drank away any money he brought in, too.
By: TexWisGirl on October 2, 2013
You had me at The Beatles... ;)
By: Rita McGregor on October 2, 2013
Sounds like the submarine sank. I'd loved to watch a record player again, just to see the needle hitting the record. That would be glorious. Wish I'd saved the few records I owned.
By: Robyn Engel on October 2, 2013 I've got the song playing in my head! :-)
By: Pixel Peeper on October 2, 2013
I am shocked . . . are you saying they had bootleg copies of albums back then?
By: tom sightings on October 2, 2013
I suppose that album would have made a skipper out of Curtis Mathes.
By: Val on October 2, 2013
Now that's a trip down memory lane. And those old record players where you had to put the needle on the record to play it. Now, did you get a refund? Or a new album?
By: Rum Punch Drunk on October 2, 2013
And now THAT will be repeating in my head for a while!
By: Mitchell is Moving on October 3, 2013
A great post, Stephen! I love your Ricky Delgado stories. I was so pleased too that you included the words to Yellow Submarine, it's one of my favourites.
By: Sharon Bradshaw on October 3, 2013
This brought back some fine music memories but then it brought me the sad realization that I'm starting to get old! lol. My favorite store back in the day was Woolworth's 5and10 cent store! You could buy everything and even have lunch at the counter! Can't wait to read more. P.S. I will certainly post the story of how I got to be named Bouncin Barb soon. You will be moderately entertained to say the last! lol
By: Bouncin Barb on October 3, 2013
You've sent me on a sentimental trip down memory lane (or should that be Penny Lane?) Vinyl records, teenage parties in the early 1970s, and imbibing large quantities of alcohol for the first time. Wonderful!
By: Bryan Jones on October 3, 2013
How disappointing, know the feeling though. Looking forward to what I hope is a happy outcome.
By: John on October 4, 2013
Every time that happened to me, it meant the stylus needed replacing. Anyway, the conclusion should be interesting.
By: mimi on October 4, 2013
here's hoping the ending is just as good as the Beatles :)
By: Anne on October 4, 2013

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