As anyone who’s read the “Santa Cruz Vinyl: Cutting A Groove” chapter of Going Coastal knows, I can’t resist anything related to records or the gadgets upon which they’re played. So, last weekend I braved the Peninsula heat to check out In The Groove: A History of Record Players at the Museum of American Heritage in downtown Palo Alto. While most of the exhibition leans toward the antique end of the spectrum, there were also some very cool-looking ’80s-era miniature record players from Japan (not to mention a couple of Fisher-Price setups that recalled my youth). I was fascinated by the wax Edison cylinders, and the fact that the blue versions held double the amount of grooves (allowing a full four minutes of listening). I also learned that colored vinyl records existed to tempt collectors as early as 1908, though red was the only tint available. The hands-on aspect was pretty fun, too. I couldn’t resist playing “Whip Crack Away” (the opening jam from my mom’s favorite comfort movie, Calamity Jane) on the jukebox, or a 45 of “You’re The One That I Want” on one of the phonographs. It’s well worth a visit! The museum grounds are beautiful, and be sure to befriend James and take his tour of the former press shop in the back. In The Groove runs through August 19th. The Museum of American Heritage is open Friday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 351 Homer Avenue in Palo Alto. Phone (650) 321-1004 or visit for more details.

ETA: Turns out the Calamity Jane theme’s proper title is “The Deadwood Stage (Whip-Crack-Away).” Shades of You Am I’s “Rumble,” methinks…


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