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Agent45

Ancient Digger's Guide, Chap. 4

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This was mailed to me by a friend in California this morning. Oh, how I wish I had thought to do this firstl.....

That covers the subject of field dress. Now for the approach.

It goes like this: you step up to the door, browse around disinterestedly at the records tossed into the stall flanking the storefront. Usually this doesn't fool anyone at all, but it's a necessary opening move. This is known as reconnoitering, or diversionary tactics. After about half an hour of this, you sidle up to the gentleman who seems to be in charge. He is probably a front for his brother-in-law, who does the really big business in the back room, but you have to talk politely just the same.

"Say mac," you whisper, "do you have any old records in here?"

"Naw," the gentleman will say, "we ain't got any old records."

"None at all?"

"Well, we got some classic stuff. Some Beatles. Very valuable items, y'know."

"I was looking for soul and funk records, you know, the seven-inch kind."

"Well, there was some in the cellar last week. I think Joe threw them out."

This is no time to appear eager.

"Well, maybe I'd better run along."

"No, stick around. Maybe I could see about them records in the cellar. Was it like OKehs you was wanting?"

This is the enemy's first fatal blundering. He has been trapped into blurting out that he has heard of a record label. He probably sells on Ebay and keeps Manship on his hip all the time. At this instant, even the momentary flicker of an eyelash should be avoided.

"Yes, I just wanted some old dance tunes. Popular melodies and stuff like that."

"We'll, we'll see. Harry!"

Harry comes out from behind the armoire where he's been waiting his cue. Harry is a neighborhood moppet who works for ice cream money and records. All the best items from the pile in the cellar are already tucked away in his collection.

"Harry, you go see if Joe will let us have the key to the cellar."

Harry goes off, and you are subjected to a final round of questioning.

"You want to buy 'em all, young man? I can sell 'em to you cheap."

"Well, I'd like to see them first."

"Only lookin' for certain ones, eh?"

"Not that, I just want to see them first, that's all."

Finally, you are escorted down creaky steps into a dark room whose walls are lined with records. A single overheard bulb hangs from a cord in the center of a very low room. Every table in the place is cluttered.

If you've passed the last barrier on your collecting expedition, and the shopman decides to be lenient, he'll say, "Well, make yourself at home. I'll be seeing you."

I forgot to mention that your expedition should have set forth at dawn. If you are properly provided with food supplies, a portable communications device, and and several discographies, you may be out of the cellar in no time at all. Some collectors take along electric razors on their expeditions, too. However, some prefer to grow beards and impress their friends on return.

- mildly adapted from Fred Ramsey's "Discollecting Expedition" Record Changer, v.5, no.4 (June 1946).

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