It is with a heavy heart that I bring these sad tidings. A constant fixture and background player in every respect here at West End Divers has passed, and we must bid adieu to our beloved Stereo.
Lately he had been suffering a decline in fidelity, yet as family members we chose to ignore these small failings as we would anyone starting to show the burden of the years, like a shop owner. Fate cannot be denied, the Swan Song was played, and even though heroic efforts involving much speaker wire, electrical tape, and test probing were hastily implemented, our friend lapsed into silence January 27, 2016.
It has been often said that if he could talk, it would be a long, long scream, and these words bring us comfort. We met for the first time in 2007 upon moving to West End and taking over the dive shop business from previous owners. The stereo was tucked on a dingy shelf in what is now the gear room, but at the time was the entire shop. Our new (to us) stereo with his quasi bar-graph VU meters flickering in the gloom was pumping out an alternative/punk mix enjoyed by the staff recovering in the hammock chairs from the night before. These were simpler times.
During our first staff meeting the subject of what needed to be upgraded in the shop was put on the table. The inherited manager at the time was pretty adamant that a new and perhaps more powerful stereo would do wonders for the business as the current one wasn't behaving up to par. Closer inspection revealed that some of the old power and virility actually remained and that during a lively drinking-type gathering our stereo's left and right companions ended up with their diaphragms ruptured. No longer welcome at the temple, they were set upon the street and disappeared into history. New unspoiled speakers were obtained, and the crisis was averted.
For eight years our stereo sat in his revered spot in the corner pumping out tunes in the background, and after hours; at disco volumes (alcohol seems to have a detrimental effect on auditory abilities). It must be said that his longevity was due in part to versatility. Born to bridge the gap between two music recording formats, not to mention the ability to receive signals of amplitude and frequency modulation, he boasted two decks suitable for playback and recording on an analog magnetic tape format from the past called "cassettes". (People are still alive who remember this music storage system, and you may gain an understanding by talking to an ancient family member or John in the repair department.) Added to his arsenal of playback features was also a CD deck, as our friend helped blaze the path towards a digital future. Lastly he sported a set of RCA wire ports (see John again) through which we were able to patch in satellite radio offering everything from "All Elvis All the Time" to Rob Zombie's "Doom Tunes".
It seemed the party would never end! The tunes continued to pour out in almost every format, and when those little quirks started to show, like the random opening and closing of tape decks, it was all just part of the fun. But it was the beginning of the end, which we have already covered.
When a loved one passes it leaves a vacuum, an empty space that can be cherished and reserved, but not forever, time marches on, and with eyes to the future we started to scam on filling the void.
Roatan is not really fertile ground when it comes to stereophonic high fidelity, so the search was directed elsewhere. Realizing friend of the shop, and part-time-extended-training DMT Ruth Jellicoe was soon arriving from the frozen wastes of Canada; we opened lines of communication to see if she could transport an amplifier to relieve us of this infernal silence. With a go-ahead we proceeded to try to get something suitable shipped to her in time, but as these things always seem to go, the clock had us beat.
Unselfishly (but perhaps with thoughts of future status awards), and going above and beyond the inherited cultural instincts of her gender, Ruth martyred herself to brave the Canadian highway system, and spend five hours (like 3, US) in a frenzied retail shopping search for the component to our sound system (such selfless dedication!). After much frantic texting, and an actual phone call to the land of apologies, a deal was struck, and in a mere week we were installing our new Teac AI-101 DA USB DAC Stereo Integrated Amplifier with Bluetooth and optional Telefunkin U-47!
It's small, powerful, and has amazing sound quality.
And we are back to being disgusted by each other’s musical tastes.