June, 2013

This page is written monthly
by Harumi Okochi.
Sometimes Harumi's friends join.
We'd be happy if you look at
previous issues.


Uncle's gramophone

Here is an old gramophone. This is 80 years old.
A hand-winding, wooden, box type gramophone, earliest in Japan after Japan imported foreign ones.

This month, I would like to tell you a story about our uncle and his gramophone.

Kaichi Okochi was born in a small village near Karatsu in 1907.
His father was a farmer, and was not rich. But Kaichi liked to study more than anything, so his father sent him to school. (Middle school, it was called at that time, and the boys between 12 and 17 went there.) The school in Karatsu was quite far, but Kaichi walked to and from school everyday, reading an English dictionary, memorizing the words.
The school master recommended Kaichi to go to university, and Kaichi entered a famous university in Hiroshima. After graduating, he became a highschool teacher. He started his career at Miyazaki Prefecture, and at this time, he bought a gramophone, which must have been very very expensive for a young teacher.
After he married Tsurue Okochi, who was my husband's aunt, Kaichi kept buying good classic records, and his wife willingly helped him managing the household.
Maybe after using this gramophone for 40 years or so, this machine went out of order. Kaichi was so sorry not to be able to hear this any more.
But he did not throw this away, because this was his youth itself.
He retired at the age of 60, and he and his wife lived in Karatsu. Their three children, two daughters and one son, had grown up, and quiet days passed without much hardship.
But Tsurue got sick, and died before Kaichi.
Kaichi lived alone for a while, and when he got weak, he went in a home, and at 89 he passed away.
His daughters Keiko and Kohko gave this gramophone to my husband, hoping someday we might be able to find some person to repair this machine.
My husband I had to wait for 17 years to meet a person who could repair this.
Mr. Hideki Umeda, who repairs old gramophones in Tokyo, appeared to us. And in March, 2013, our gramophone started to sing again.
Old SP classic records, we have many. Uncle Kaichi's records, my father's, and my husband's friend Mr. Hiraoka's father's. Coincidentally, these three people were born and died at almost same time. These three were all very intelligent, quiet, and loved books and music. They knew each other, and respected mutually.
When the gramophone was repaired, I held a very small record concert. The music was great. I knew that Uncle Kaichi, my Dad, and Mr.Hiraoka all joined in this concert wearing a happy smile on their young, handsom faces of 80 years ago.

Next time, I will study about the records, prepare enough and do a big concert.

The soft, deep sound from an old wooden gramophone will soothe a modern heart which is tired and unhappy because of the noise of this age.
Thank you for your meeting our old gramophone and three young souls.

I hope you will visit us again next month.

 Mail to Harumi Okochi