Street Violinist

Shot this today in my favorite street-shooting location—the Charlottesville Downtown Mall—a restored historic district and pedestrian mall. This gentleman was playing some beautiful music by classical composers I didn’t recognize. I shot the usual frontal angles—the face in serene concentration as the musician creates the music. Then it occurred to me to shoot through the drug store widow from behind—something that I’m sure has been done before but I haven’t done it.

The store is called Timberlake Drug Store and it’s an old-fashioned drug store with a turn of the last century soda fountain in the back—I’ve posted at least one image from that back room and it got a large number of views though not as many promotions as you’d think with that many views.

When I was a kid growing up in upstate New York State  in the ‘50s there was a drug store that sticks in my memory.

It was called “Carl’s Drugs” and it was about a 45 minute hike from my house. I know that because I walked there many times for a particular reason.

That was back in the days of grainy black & white TV with the cantankerous TV antenna on the roof. The technology was based around the vacuum tube—something I suspect most reading this commentary would not be familiar with. Vacuum tubes preceded the transistor (probably most have heard of that).

And back in those days virtually every drug store and hardware store had what’s known as a “tube-tester.” These were large testing meters mounted on a floor cabinet about the size and configuration of a foot-locker standing on end.

The deal was if you were having trouble with your TV or radio it was almost always a bad tube.  So you turned the set around, removed the back panel and pulled the tubes out of the chassis. You then brought them to (in my case) Carl’s Drug Store and tested them to find out which was burnt out so you could buy new ones.

Like most kids in those days my (and my siblings) lives revolved around TV—especially after school shows like “Howdy-Doody” and Saturday morning TV like Captain Midnight, The Lone Ranger and Rin-Tin-Tin.

My brother was always the technician in the family—he has an amazing natural aptitude for all things mechanical, electrical and electronic as well as all of the building trades. Even though in 1955 he was only 8 all he needed was to see a neighbor pull, test and replace tubes one time and he started doing it whenever we had problems (which was often—vacuum tubes burned out pretty quickly depending on how much time the TV/radio was played.) I in turn learned how to do it from him.

Transistor radios, small enough to be held in one hand—were introduced in 1954 and cost about $50.00—about $370.00 (US dollars) in today’s money. My sister scrimped and saved and bought one. I don’t know about my brother but I was jealous.

I probably havn’t changed a tube since the late ‘50s but I do remember the number of one tube that always seemed to need replacing—the 5U3V4. I hav’nt the slightest idea what it did. I Googled it once a few months back—nothing came up.

I guess those days really are long gone.

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