Thousands Of Sinatra And Other WWII Vinyl Records Discovered At Army Base

Unrest, Conflicts and WarRadio IndustryRadioRenovationEntertainmentHealthWorld War II (1939-1945)

Thousands of pieces of history was discovered at the 'Old Madigan Hospital' complex during renovation efforts at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington.

Officials say more than 8,000 vinyl records were found hidden between a narrow 16-inch wall space. The vinyl recordings were dated from 1942 to 1960. 

They contained popular music and programming recorded by the Armed Forces Radio Service and the War Department. 

JBLM Cultural Resources Manager Dale Sadler says, "They're obviously in great shape.  We were lucky they stayed in a heated building you didn't have the hot, cold warping, water damage, mold, very clean, their all in sleeves with a very complete card catalog."

The records were provided to military radio stations to inform and entertain service members around the world.  It played on the Madigan Hospital radio station (KMAH) for patients at the hospital. 

The World War II-era music contained classics from Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Eddie Arnold, and Rosemary Clooney.  Jazz great Louis Armstrong tunes received considerable air time, and in 1952 he made a personal visit to the KMAH studios.

The recordings were re-discovered by an employee of Advanced Technology Construction (ATC), who cut into a gym wall to install new wiring. 

In the narrow wall space, he found 30 large boxes containing the records.

Even after 70 years finding these records may have been the easy part. Finding a way to play them is more difficult.

After a lot of online searching we found Precision Audio Restoration in Shoreline.

Owner Joe Roeder knows just about all there is to know about every recording medium.

Roeder says, "These are transcription records, 33 or 78 rpm. Oh this is commercially made.  You can fit a lot of material on a 16 inch record."

With the lift of a finger and drop of a needle we listened to a recording of Gene Autry that was first heard seven decades ago.

Dale Sadler says, "Someone must have really loved these records, treasured them enough even though the radio station was going away, you don't have a player anymore who knows what they thought when they put it away."

And in doing so preserved them for future generations to enjoy. 

JBLM is contacting the United States Library Of Congress for advice about what to do with the records.

Anyone who needs the services of Precisions Audio Restoration can reach them at www.precision-ar.com

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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