As long-time readers may have noticed, I’m rather lucky about finding and acquiring interesting things– usually for free, or nearly so. I got an antique record-cutter for $2, found more than my fair share of record players, a 50-disc changer stereo, at least two good acoustic guitars, a violin, and a hand-crank turntable… The only secret I know is to just keep your eyes open, and pointed towards the curbside.
Tonight, my dedicated curb-shopping paid off big time. While asking a local homeowner if he had some rope I could use to tie his discarded dresser to my car trunk, he offhandedly asked me if I was interested in taking a jukebox off his hands– for free!
Being the well-mannered gentleman that I am, I managed to avoid giggling hysterically while jumping and clapping my hands like a Japanese schoolgirl.
Instead, I asked if he was yanking my chain, which he thankfully answered in the negative. Indeed, he was in the possession of an enormous, 100-disc-playing jukebox. It was covered in dust, but he assured me it worked, save an unidentified problem with the disc transport mechanism.
“It’ll come on if you plug it in,” he said, gesturing in the direction of the CD mechanism. “But that thing has a problem getting the disc on there. You could probably get it fixed.”
In my mind, this jukebox could have been full of dead babies, and I’d have still tried to bring it home. After assuring this fellow that I’d be right back after dropping off the dresser at home (which I picked up for a friend who needs one,) I bopped back over to his garage to wrangle this beast on top of my car.
Just so you know, it is ideal to have a pickup truck and three strong friends when moving an enormous jukebox. I don’t recommend standing it on top of your trunk, tied through the rear windows, and riding atop the vehicle while shouting half-panicky driving tips to your wife and trying to “steady” it around a couple miles worth of turns.
In other words, do as I say, not as I do.
Of course, I got it home safely. Getting it off the trunk by myself was a bit of a struggle, as I was not wanting to jeopardize my wife’s previously-shattered ankle in some sort of freak jukebox/dead baby accident. Somehow, I managed to get it down, and into the front porch where we immediately set to cleaning it.
With no dead babies in sight, the cleaning was thankfully limited to cobwebs and dust. I even found a dollar bill left behind in the bill acceptor box!
Plugging the jukebox in yielded a satisfying “thump” of the large woofers, and the bill acceptor rolling. By this time, I was pretty excited, and found a CD to try out in the machine– I figured it had better be something I didn’t mind losing, so I used Mariah Carey, whose “greatest hits” double-set sits in one of my CD storage drawers. I’m pretty sure it’s my wife’s, but she doesn’t listen to Mariah either, so who knows? DJ detritus, I guess.
Anyhow, it played. LOUDLY! I had forgotten that I had no idea how to adjust the volume, so Mariah was treating my neighbors to a late-night concert at top volume, surely frightening pets and small children for many blocks. After a bit of fumbling around the back, I found the volume button, and brought Mariah from “jet-engine” to “running faucet.”
Naturally, I was completely ecstatic by this time. The guy was wrong! The jukebox worked! But then, the transport jammed, and the machine started flashing an error message at me.
All my dreams of owning the coolest jukebox of all-time, ironically brought on by playing Mariah Carey, were beginning to evaporate as I searched “under the hood” for the cause of the problem.
Although the transport was obviously getting the signal to respond, it seemed jammed somehow. Shortly after announcing this amazing insight, my wife found the culprit– a Village People CD was stuck just underneath the transport plate, wedged up and under.
“Just yank that disc out,” she said. “I don’t care if you shatter it, it doesn’t matter.”
After a couple hearty tugs, the Village People were freed to live on my porch until next trash day. A quick re-start of the jukebox confirmed that this was the only problem, outside of dust, and a couple missing caster wheels. Here’s a picture of me, completely cheesed to be the proud owner of a second-hand jukebox:
To make a long story a bit shorter, we invited the jukebox to come live in our kitchen. It has settled in nicely, laying half its weight on a English-to-Romanian dictionary, temporarily replacing the AWOL wheels. The plan is to fill our rescued friend with tunes not ordinarily found in jukeboxes, and have a grand time making artwork for the selection pages.Anyways, I’ve definitely upped the ante for my curb-shopping. I’m pretty sure I won’t be able to top this without finding a big box of money, or a house-trained tapir… but I’m looking!
Here’s a picture of the same model jukebox, in a less-dusty condition. Otherwise, it’s exactly the same: