November 1958 Popular Electronics
Wax nostalgic about and learn from the history of early electronics. See articles
published October 1954 - April 1985. All copyrights are hereby acknowledged.
"A record 'Moocher'
is one of the lowest forms of human life. He has no particular habitat but can be
found wherever there is a record owner." So says Norman Van Tubergen in this 1958
Popular Electronics magazine article. Anyone who grew up in the record
player era, or for that matter the 8-track tape or cassette tape era has known (or
has been) such a moocher. This is the person who was always asking to borrow your
music media either for listening to on his personal equipment or for copying onto
his own tape (cassette or reel-to-reel). He rarely ever bought any of his own music,
but was more than happy to generously re-lend his copies to fellow Moochers, and
of course he never had anything you might want. The modern-day equivalent is the
person who is always bugging you to let him/her copy your music file that you either
paid for as a download or purchased in CD/DVD format. The same Moocher was probably
always bumming cigarettes off you, but never had one of his own to give to you.
Victimized by a Record Moocher
By Norman Van Tubergen
A record "moocher" is one of the lowest forms
of human life. He has no particular habitat but can be found wherever there is a
record owner. His only identifying characteristics are: (1) he has a pleasant, disarming
personality, and (2) he always owns a tape recorder.
Having been the victim of a record moocher, I submit the following case histories
as a warning to audiophiles around the nation.
" ... he was small, polite ..."
Case History #1. I was sitting serenely in my bachelor apartment watching the
turntable spin and listening to Music to Make Home Blood-Transfusions By as done
in the inimitable style of "Leucemia O'Shanughnessy and his Anemic Eight," when
a strange sound came through the din. It was the doorbell.
As I crossed the room, I silently prayed that it was not my upstairs neighbor
again since he is bigger than I am. I was in luck. It was a small, polite-appearing
"Allow me to introduce myself. I am Anthony
Barrington Wellingsworth III, your new downstairs neighbor," he said.
"Anthony Barrington Wellingsworth III?" I asked, in awestruck disbelief as I
stopped myself from collapsing from lack of breath. He looked harmless enough so
I invited him in.
"Er, I see you have a hi-fi system," he said, cautiously feeling me out.
"Yeah! Great hobby," I replied, turning the volume down to a level which wouldn't
vibrate the pictures off the wall.
"I'm kind of interested in hi-fi, myself. I have a tape recorder and was thinking
of putting one of those fancy amplifiers, a turntable, and some speakers in my new
If only I had recognized the danger signal - he had a tape recorder. But no.
"How about my helping you," I eagerly offered, thinking that this might grow into
a healthy audiophile friendship. I may as well have said: "Lead me to the slaughter."
"That would be quite neighborly of you," he said, and I went to the kitchen to
get something to drink. Since I'm a bachelor, you can be sure it was something slightly
more intoxicating than milk.
We sat up 'til 2 o'clock making plans for his rig. If only I had known what all
this was building up to.
I was put in charge of purchasing, so the next day I found myself in the local
hi-fi shop reading to Mr. Heminger a long list of components (including such things
as a Glokendeek Model X-5933 triple hodge-podge amplifier with genuine silver filigree
knobs with pearl inlay and built-in electric plate). Mr. Heminger kept a "have-you-stripped-your-gears"
stare glued to me since he knew I already had a rig with which I was perfectly satisfied.
He finally broke down and said: "Ah ... is everything
all right ... I mean, you haven't been thrown out of your apartment or anything,
I didn't feel like explaining, so I said: "No, I just thought I'd put hi-fi in
my mailbox." This confused him more than ever, but I figured that he led about as
normal a life as anyone in his business could so I just left him guessing.
Well, to make a long story short (and to save me the misery of thinking about
the gruesome details again), we got the outfit set up and all was fine.
All was fine until one fateful evening that is. Mr. W. "dropped in for a minute.
Then came the bombshell! ...
" ... long list of components ... "
"By the way, may I borrow some of your records to put on tape? That equipment
just about busted me so I can't afford to buy any records of my own right now."
Like the sucker that I am, I said, "Sure. Go ahead and pick out what you want."
As the pile grew, I began to realize that I had created a Frankenstein that I
When the stack reached about two feet, I went to the kitchen, fried a chicken,
ate it, and did the dishes. I returned to find the pile reaching the five-foot mark
and my cabinet bare except for one old 78 of "Caveman" Johnson singing I Could Have
Danced All Night But You Kept Stepping on My Corns which I didn't know I had.
Mr. W. picked up the stack and headed for the door.
"Ah, do you think you can carryall those at one time?" I inquired with some irony.
"Oh, sure," he replied, confidently.
Suddenly I realized a danger and shouted: "Look out for the ... " I was interrupted
by a sound comparable only with that of a herd of wild elephants running amuck in
a glass factory, " ... throw rug," I finished, meekly.
Mr. W. pulled himself up through the two feet
of black chips. "Heh, heh. Well, I guess now we know why it's called a throw rug,
don't we, friend," he said, making a feeble and rather unsuccessful attempt at levity.
"Just one of those things, pal."
"I'm sure you're insured, buddy."
"Er ... I'll see you around, chum," he said as he fumbled at the doorknob.
As I broke into tears, I heard him galloping away down the hall. I swept the
black chip remains into a big box and prepared them for burial.
Next day, I went down to Wellingsworth's apartment to find that he had packed
up bag, baggage, and hi-fi, and left - probably for greener pastures (or, more appropriately,
looking for bigger record owners).
Case History 2. Case history #2 hasn't occurred yet because I won't let it. I
installed a tape recorder in the space previously occupied by my records and have
become a member of Record Moochers Anonymous. If you can't lick 'em, why not join
Where do I start? Capitol? ... Decca? ... RCA?
Posted November 12, 2021
(updated from original post on 6/12/2014)