Special to The Sun
There’s something I’d like to say about jukeboxes and newspaper readers. But first, I need to admit to an eccentricity. I love Thanksgiving. I mean I really love Thanksgiving. I love the fact that Americans take this day to reflect on their unbelievable blessings. In my opinion, the mind of man is too small to grasp the enormity of the happy circumstances that fall together to bring us life at this prosperous time in this great country. Never before in the history of mankind’s tortured struggle to better himself have any people been graced with the opportunities we enjoy. Never before have so many been freed from the crushing burdens of hunger. No previous generation has enjoyed the material plenty that the average American citizen enjoys every day.
The pharaohs of Egypt, the Kings of Persia and the emperors of Rome would be amazed that even our children have access to such unbelievably miraculous devices as — televisions. Potentates of the past would marvel that we have the power to speak with loved ones a thousand miles away — in the blink of an eye. We can travel hundreds of miles in short hours and do so in a private carriage that is fully climate controlled. Powerful rulers of the past may boast about the swiftness of their favored steed. The speed of that horse couldn’t compare to the speed of the average car on our freeways.
We can enjoy the performances of musical artists from all over the world whenever we desire. What’s more, we can experience the gifts of these great talents at our whim even though they are long dead. What ruler of the past had powers comparable to the wonders we have at our disposal. And what ruler of the past could carry a thousand volume library in his pocket?
I could go on, but you get the picture. Yes, I love Thanksgiving but I love it every day of the year. I am very mindful of the relationship between the words “thank,” and “think.” They spring from the same ancient route. Originally, the act of thinking could not be separated from the attitude of thankfulness. They were the same. If you have the power to think, you had no choice but to be thankful.
In our time, modern science tells us that those who cultivate an attitude of thankfulness enjoy a happier life, and they sleep better too. Shared thankfulness is a wonderful occasion for family and friends to come together and celebrate their blessings. But daily private expressions of Thanksgiving are blessings in themselves and bring us closer to the state that might be called “the good life.”
Now, about the jukebox. This year I’m particularly thankful for that invention. The first commercial jukebox was placed in the Palais Royale Saloon in San Francisco on Nov. 23, 1889. The device had a slot that accommodated a nickel (worth $1.08 in today’s cash). There were listening tubes that allowed the saloon’s patrons to enjoy music privately though someone still had to work the crank to spin the turntable. Up to that point, the most common way the public could enjoy prerecorded music was via the cumbersome and difficult to update “player piano.”
Once the jukebox hit the market, the demand for “records” was inevitable. Patrons who couldn’t afford “gramophones” or who couldn’t keep up with expanding record libraries could still sample the latest music by finding an establishment that sported the venerable jukebox.
In a very real sense, the introduction of the jukebox fueled the growth of the record industry which ultimately led to the invention of the iPod, the modern technical device for which I am most thankful this year. Contained in this tiny engine, the size of a deck of cards, I have collected more than 16,000 performances by artists from around the world performing in every age since the invention of recording devices. There’s simply no way to calculate the musical pleasures I enjoy every day as a result of this tiny descendant of the legendary jukebox. So, special thanks this year to the Palais Royale Saloon.
And finally, I am particularly thankful for people who read newspapers. I can write a complete column on the tremendous benefits newspapers have brought to the political and cultural lives of Americans. But, for now, I want to express my appreciation to those of you who read papers and especially to those of you who read this column. I just wanted to take this opportunity to say “thank you” and let you know that on this Thanksgiving I am thankful for — you guys. I’m Hink and I’ll see ya.
MIKE HINKLE is a retired Edmond attorney.