Historical Treasure: Columbia Records 25-year commemorative album shares employees' stories

SubmittedCollection of memories: The 25th Anniversary album for Columbia Records was produced in 1978. 

It is so much fun trying to find something really interesting to research and write about for our Historical Treasure articles. When I was asked to see what I could find out about Columbia Records and this old vinyl album, I couldn’t wait to get started. Even more so, for the chance to listen to it on a record player.

This week’s Historical Treasure is a 33 1/3 long playing record. A special project created by the officers of Columbia Records to commemorate 25 years of making records in Terre Haute. The name of the album is “The Terre Sound, 25 Years of Making Music.” The cover shows a large record with small insets of Columbia Records’ many employees. People recorded have shared their stories for posterity. I had fun listening to it. It was heartwarming, and those of us listening, sang along with many of the song excerpts.

Before each employee spoke, an excerpt from a song played. It started with “Memories” fading into the first speaker. A man who was among the first crews to work in the new business. He commented on how spooky it was in that warehouse built on farm ground.

With the song, “This Old House,” a lady spoke about the friends she made and how everyone got along. Several people talked about wearing comfortable blue jeans at work and others talked about carry-in dinners the night shift shared.

Following a playing of “Greenfields,” people talked about how excited they were to get a great job out of high school. After “Back Home Again In Indiana,” a man told about making special shaped records for different jukeboxes. He said it was such a good feeling to go on vacation and see the machines and know that the records were made in Terre Haute.

The entire album is a collection of sentimental memories. I’ll stop with two that touched me most. One was a woman who talked about how women were well treated and that many took the job to help financially support a family and ended up stayed on until they retired. The second was a man of my same age. He had to leave his position at Columbia Records to serve in Vietnam. When he returned and was rehired, he was surprised about how much had changed. There was a new department using computers. He said he was lucky enough to be trained on working with the computers and enjoyed his new role.

On the Vigo County History Center’s third floor, you’ll find the Share Your Story Exhibit. That gives people who have lived in the Wabash Valley a chance to share their story as a part of a permanent collection of oral history. Unfortunately these days recordings are transferred to a digital file or Flash Drive instead of vinyl.

The History Center is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Visit https://www.vchsmuseum.org/ or call 812-235-9717 for information on admission tickets, upcoming events, and how to become a member.

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