My Mom and the 1970 Tape Recorder

by Barrett

This is my mother and baby Barrett in 1963. A little less than seven years after this photo was taken, my mother would confront a parenting choice that would change my life forever…

This is my mother and baby Barrett in 1963. A little less than seven years after this photo was taken, my mother would confront a parenting choice that would change my life forever…

Ten years ago yesterday, my mom passed. She was eighty years old. A whole decade has already gone by? I can hardly believe it.

I think about her a lot…

You know… it was because of my mother that I developed my interest in video production and technology. Well, I might have still gotten there on my own…

And today as a parent, I see so clearly how individual moments between parents and their children can have significant impact.

I’d like to share a particular moment from 1970, when boy Barrett had his little heart set on getting a Sound Design audio cassette tape recorder for his birthday…

Must-Have Birthday Gift
I was just wrapping up a multi-month marketing campaign at home for this must-have toy. I talked about it all of the time. But I didn’t know if I was making any headway.

I had expressed a variety of plans for what ‘sounds’ I would be capturing with its little microphone. Plus I wanted to launch my very own audio documentary series. Topics would range from ‘what’s for dinner’ to exclusive interviews with my parents.

It was an ambitious plan… and admittedly a big ask on my part to begin with.
(This tech from the ‘70’s was not considered a ‘toy.’)

My father proclaimed his strong doubts, predicting the tape recorder would end up back in its box, abandoned in the back of my closet within a week. He would not be convinced.

I felt desperate.

But my mom read her parenting tea leaves differently.
All along she was leaning my way. But there was a problem…

PLAN B
Since she was a stay-at-home parent, my mom ran our home’s finances from a weekly budget that my father funded. And there wasn’t any extra money there to handle random electronics purchases. And my father wasn’t going to pony up extra bucks for this. So she had to get creative…

At the time, supermarkets ran marketing campaigns that gave customers prizes for their patronage. The more you shopped, the more stickers you got. And the more stickers you accumulated, the bigger the prize you could ultimately receive.

My mom did a lot of food shopping…
It took her months, but when my mom cashed out can you guess what item she chose…?

Yup.
In what ended up as a unilateral parenting decision, she got me my cassette tape recorder.
It was a liberating moment. I think for both of us…

My new prized possession was a total home run. I began creating my audio ‘projects’ with gusto and imagination. And for years, that tape recorder was never far from my sight.

Looking back now, it was one of the most influential gifts I ever received…

If for some reason, you wanted to change the path of my entire life, all you’d have to do is jump into your time machine, go back to February 1970, and make sure I never received that tape recorder.

Hold onto Your Memories
Can you distill an entire childhood into one story? Of course not. But as I think back, it’s certainly a great memory to hold onto.

Was my mother at home with tech? Not really. That was always my father’s domain.

But she was certainly at home with my tech…
(I can only imagine what ‘fun’ comments she would have to offer me about my blog!)

I miss you, Mom.

Love you.

Advertisements