What’s an LP and why should we clean it?

When I was in high school in the 1970s, the newest music technology was an LP, short for long-playing record. It was a big improvement on the 45 rpm (revolutions per minute) record that only played for a few minutes and then had to be replaced with another record if you wanted to listen to more music. Or you could use a record scratching device that allowed you to pile a stack a pile of records on a pole, allowing them to drop one by one to be played when the arm swung over with a needle to play the grooves in the record.

Sound like greek? That’s because today, most of us use DVDs or MP3s or some other kind of electronic music storage and playing.

But back in the day, the newest kind of record was the LP. And since people handled those records, as my brother would tell me, “You’re going to get oil and grease from your fingers on the record. Handle it from the edge!” And that oil from my fingers, my older brother explained, fouled the grooves that recorded the music, degrading the sound over time. Well, sometimes I listened to my brother and sometimes I didn’t, and it seems that a lot of other people had the same problem.That’s why Bruce Maier invented Discwasher to clean the LPs. And if you do a search on the term, apparently some people think the product was the best ever. The company was sold over and over, and some LP gurus say the new product isn’t good for the LPs, but that’s not the point here.

The point is all this arcane information might be gone if it were not for the house at 2000 S. Country Club Drive, where Maier lived from 1975 to 1984.

That’s right. Historic homes can help us tell the story of our history by keeping those names and the stories of those people alive. Today, that house is owned by Russell and Mary Still, a former Missouri representative. While looking solid as the rock it is built from, the 1910 house actually once stood across the road until 1924, when its builder, Berry McAlester, moved it so he could build an even finer house on that spot. Does the name McAlester sound familiar to University of Missouri alumni? It should. Berry’s father, A.W. McAlester is sometimes called the father of the MU’s School of Medicine. He was the dean of the School from 1883-1909. There’s a building named after McAlester and that is keeping his name alive, the same way the house at 2000 S. Country Club Drive is keeping the name of Berry McAlester and Bruce Maier and the Discwasher alive.

This history was highlighted in this article, “Delightful Contrasts,” I wrote in 2010 for Columbia Home magazine. In the article, Mary Still notes the house is keeping up with the times, but retains the elegance of its past.

Are there any other houses in Columbia that you know of that hold that kind of history, the kind that could be so easily lost as we move from LP to MP3? I’d love to hear the stories you know about the houses of Columbia, Missouri.

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