Friday, September 30, 2016

My Italian Parent's German Stereo: More Memories than Music

My parents vintage Emud Radio Phono Console Model 932,
made in 1962 from the German manufacturer.
With the passing of my father earlier this year, my family has been going through his possessions, many of which are loaded with sentimental value. One item in particular that I wish I could find a good home for is my parent's Vintage Emud Radio Stereo Model 932.

Known affectionately as "the black stereo" or "your father's stereo," the Emud has been a family fixture since before I was born. I did a little research on Emud while preparing it for it's eBay auction. 

Manufactured in 1963, my parents bought the "Emud Model 932" in J.C. Penney where it was distributed from Delmonico International. Emud (Ernst Mästling Ulm) is a German brand renowned for manufacturing inexpensive radios. They established the company in 1911, began radio production 1923. They were one of the oldest radio manufacturers in Germany. After rebuilding the ruins of their factory after WW2, the company built and made almost everything under it's own roof. They began to export 25% of their business to other countries, and in later years put too much emphasis on their export to the US. The company closed in 1972, largely due to their unwillingness to partner with other manufacturers. (source:

Monarch Turntable or "Record Changer UA12" as it's called in the owner's manual.
The turntable inside the cabinet is a Monarch Record Changer UA12 manufactured by Birmingham Sound, England, and I believe the only part that is not made in Germany. It still plays with beautiful sound.

If I had the room and lived in a house like normal people, I would most likely keep this gem for sentimental value. Typically I am not so sentimental, but some things are hard to part with, especially when they remind me of dear departed family. 

The Emud console has a life of it's own.
The Short Wave feature worked at one time, although I don't know if it still operates. I used to picture scenarios of WW2 Allied intelligence on the other side, broadcasting code messages in different languages from all over the world. Identifying each language was a mind-bender for me. The world sounded bigger than any map could explain to a young kid whose world was GI Joe's and Baseball. 

One of the first memories I have of this bright and shiny piece of standout furniture, is the white buttons  on the console. Five or six buttons, I think, which made a strikingly loud "Cha-Ching!" each time I pressed them. I recall enough to know that before I could talk the sound and mechanics of pressing these buttons fascinated me. Pressing one at at time wasn't enough. I had to press two or three at once and see what would happen. Needless to say, I was admonished for breaking the function of these, and my father sternly reminded me as I grew older that I need to not "play with the buttons, you will break them again. To fix them is expensive."

Mom with my Dad in the early days.
Wow. I am surprised that a few years later he let me play my Beatles catalogue on it when he wasn't home. I had my appendix removed around my 11th birthday, and the first activity I performed when returning from a week in the hospital was to play on the Emud the five Beatles Albums I received as birthday gifts.

That's the first time I heard Sgt. Pepper, Magical Mystery Tour, the Yellow Submarine soundtrack, and boy was I mystified. I could relate to the Mystery Tour with gems like "Hello Goodbye" and "Penny Lane," but "Within You Without You" and the "Sgt. Pepper" intro were not what I expected from my favorite Liverpudlians. 

Tosca to Sgt. Pepper: My first listen was on the Emud
Perhaps the most personal memory for me was sitting in front of the stereo with my dad, lights turned low, listening to broadcasts from the Metropolitan Opera and the Italian Soccer games from Europe. The hush that came over me was one that speaks of the intimacy a father and son may experience when fishing on lake together for the first time. The Master explains, while the student, with empty cup, listens. That's what it was like for me, as my dad would translate the legendary Puccini opera's and lyrics into English. My knowledge of opera, minimal as it is, stems from those sessions. In addition, listening to the Italian soccer scores taught me to count from 1 to 10 in Italian. 

The canvas covered speakers still emit a deep, rich sound.
I'm not sure if I will gain anything monetarily from selling this stereo. Just researching the history of Emud has taken me back to a happy time in my life. Any chance that I can share that sense of wonder, fascination, and closeness with my own kids in my own way - or for that matter, share that feeling with anyone who relishes new discoveries as a child does - is a gain that money cannot buy.

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