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Issue 61, October-December  2014
Prime Number Magazine is a publication of Press 53, PO Box 30314, Winston-Salem, NC 27130
Vinyl: A Triptych
by Pamela Rothbard

Second Place: Flash Nonfiction

The River Mersey is in Northwest England.

pacemaker is an electronic device planted beneath the skin for providing a normal heartbeat by electrical stimulation of the heart muscle; it can make the heart beat even after it has stopped wanting to.

Gerry and the Pacemakers were a British beat band from Liverpool that played alongside the Beatles but by the mid-sixties, their popularity was in rapid decline on both sides of the Atlantic. 

Untreated depression is the number one cause of suicide; shutting the garage door and leaving the car running is one way to commit suicide.

The American divorce rate hit its all-time peak in the 1980’s. This has been attributed to the 80’s value system with “more emphasis on the individual’s emotional fulfillment and gratification.” (Orlando Sentinel, 1987)

Among Billboard’s most popular songs of 1981: The Best of Times, Another One Bites the Dust, This Little Girl, Crying, (Just Like) Starting Over, Keep on Loving You 

Scientists at Yale discovered that listening to repetitive continuous noise--such as music--can hinder a child’s development.

In 1980, when I was in fifth grade, my favorite song was “Ferry Cross the Mersey” by Gerry and the Pacemakers. My much-older brother Jimmy killed himself that year and left: framed ski photos, medals, a cat named Mogul, and his collection of vinyl LPs. I dragged the Beatles, the Carpenters and Gerry and his Pacemakers into my floral-wallpapered room. Jimmy’s records from his youth made more sense to me than Rick Springfield or Blondie. Lift needle, drop, again and again. Life goes on day after day. Hearts torn in every way. My life fell like dominos---Jimmy gone; then Mom left Dad, in effect leaving us; then Mogul died with a gory yowl when Dad started his car. I found Dad matter-of-factly washing black and white fur from his open hood with our garden hose. I spent hours alone in my room crooning in a British accent about a river I’d never heard of. So ferry ‘cross the Mersey. Gerry sang that line with hope in his voice as if it were the answer to every problem. I wanted it to be that simple. Dad and I moved nine times in eight years. We left in a hurry; we left for smaller places; we left our stuff behind--like a trail of breadcrumbs that would lead us back. And here I’ll stay. And here I’ll stay. And here I’ll stay. The final verse was repetitive, certain, emphatic, optimistic. My Gerry and the Pacemakers LP was in a milk crate too heavy to carry so it was left in a townhouse or apartment or garage somewhere in Orlando, Florida in the mid-eighties. Its worn grooves direct the next listener across the Mersey.
Honk before starting your car to scare out cats who may have sought shelter under your car’s hood.

mogul is a small hard mound or bump on a ski slope, from Old Norse mugl: tiny heap.

An iconic Mersey Ferry offers a 50-minute journey exploring the River Mersey’s rich past.

ferry travels back and forth along the same route, over and over.

The vinyl grooves in a record force the needle to travel the same spiral route, over and over. 

Audiophiles often say everything sounds better on vinyl; they cite the ritual of setting the needle on the platter and the click, pop, and scratch as part of the experience. 

Vinyl records were edged out by eight track tapes which were replaced by cassette tapes then CDs then digital files and on and on.

Analog is the sound of our youth. (NPR, February 10, 2012)

In 2013, Gerry and the Pacemakers played their Farewell Tour. 

Pamela Rothbard is a writer and photographer living in Glencoe, Illinois. Most recently, her work has been featured in River Teeth and Creative Nonfiction and has appeared on the "This I Believe" segment of Bob Edwards' national Sunday show on NPR. Her parenting and baking blog, Flour on the Floor, will be featured in this December's issue of Better Homes and Gardens. Her photography has been displayed in Michigan Quarterly Review and is currently cover art for Steam Ticket Journal.