The Pursuit of Jazz Records in the Fifties

My contemporaries and I at Chiswick County Grammar School for Boys heard our first jazz records in one of a row of four World War Two air raid shelters still on the edge of the school playing field in 1948, when I was fifteen. These large ready-made concrete-lined grottos, ten feet below ground but with a six-feet high mound of earth on top of them were officially out of bounds but readily and secretly available for liberation by anyone with the nous to substitute the heavy government-issue padlock barring entry with a similar one of their own. I was shaken rigid when one of the teachers, by the funny name of Charley Garlic, stopped me in the school corridor and said, pointing to my large suit-case, “Don’t think that we don’t know what you’ve got in that case, Stanners!” However, the powers that be never did find our camp! The shelters of which all had proved their need because we had two bombs on the school buildings and one V1 “Doodle Bug” on the school field, when fortunately the school had been evacuated to High Wycombe. These spacey “hidey hole” shelters were full of rubbish but by sweeping this to one side, the judicious acquisition of six chairs and a couple of ammo boxes and lighting the dank gloom with a candle in a jar, there was soon ample palatable room to house a wind-up gramophone transported in a large suit case (obviously originally mysterious to som
You've read three articles this month! That makes you one of a rare breed, the true jazz fan!

The Syncopated Times is a monthly publication covering traditional jazz, ragtime and swing. Our writers are paid to bring you the best coverage of the scene possible. Advertising will never be enough to keep these stories coming, we need your SUBSCRIPTION. Get unlimited access for as little as $3 a month or $30 a year.

Not ready yet? Register a Free Account to view five articles a month without nags or pop ups.

Already Registered? Log In

If you shouldn't be seeing this because you already logged in try refreshing the page.

David Stanners is a life-long jazz fan living in the UK.

Or look at our Subscription Options.