The Wollensak 1580

            Richard Michael Vosburgh's Story



Author: Richard Michael Vosburgh


December 8, 2011

My story is really a very simple one.  As a youngster at the tender age of ten I was looking forward to Christmas, the scent of the tree, the holiday lights, that special music, and, oh yes, those wonderful presents that were mysteriously tucked away - and there was a fresh blanket of white snow on the ground.  We were a poor but very proud family growing up in old Flatbush located in the heart of Brooklyn, New York.  Christmas was the one day of the year that was the most special of all. 

It was just two weeks before the big day and, as usual, I found myself comfortably seated about two feet away from our only twenty inch diagonal black and white television set.  Even as a child I always liked the allure of new gadgets but what I’d seen that night was what dreams are made of.  Never expecting it, and seemingly out of nowhere, I eyed the “Wollensak 1580 Reel-To-Reel” tape recorder for the very first time.  It was love at first sight – it was heaven!!  The sleek lines, the finely appointed cosmetic appearance, what it was capable of doing, made me numb.  I remember telling my mom, the more receptive one of my parents, that I wanted this for Christmas more than anything in the world.  I remember reminding her every single day.  Despite my young selfishness I knew in my heart that we could never, ever, afford something like this.  I knew that this would be something that Santa would leave for a rich child – never for me. 

Christmas Eve came and, as I laid in bed warmed by the covers, my thoughts were warmed by what it would be like to actually have the Wollensak I’d seen on television.  A child who makes a wish most often finds that wishes remain just that, wishes.  Even so, we hold them close to our hearts to comfort ourselves.  Morning came with large flecks of white snow falling from the sky.  Still groggy and half awake I made my way to the myriad of bright lights on our tree.  I recall seeing three or four presents wedged underneath it but one in particular stood out because of its size.  All I thought was “wow!”  I pulled at it, side to side, God it was heavy!  I tried to lift it, no way!!  I anchored myself to it and tore at the brightly colored wrapping and ribbons.  With the final tear, and before my very eyes, my own, brand new, pristine, “Wollensak 1580 Reel-To-Reel” tape recorder!!  The one thing that I will recall for the rest of my life was how I just sat there at the tree clutching that box and crying.  “Wishes can come true” I thought to myself!

In the short period of time that passed since getting my Wollensak 1580 I must have read the manual five times or more.  I wanted to do everything just right!!  As I practically memorized the owner’s manual my gleaming new Wollensak had a very special spot atop my nightstand near the bedroom window.  My very first recording was music to my ears – not just because it ‘was’ music but because I had never heard songs with that sort of warmth, that sort of fullness.  I must have recorded five 7-inch reels of music.

Soon after the holidays passed my family’s apartment had been broken into.  My mom’s most-precious jewelry handed down for decades, my father’s prized watch and military ring, and my “Wollensak” were gone!  Years later I thought back to that day and how much it felt like a sacrilege – that someone could come into a home without regard and take a person’s most precious possessions was unthinkable!!  But it had happened – and we never saw our things again!  I have been searching for another worthy “Wollensak 1580” ever since.

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