of the Phonograph
My name is Fernando
(Andy) Orlando. I was born in Dos Palos, California on December
My parents immigrated
to California from Moliterno, Italy in 1919. My dad hauled gravel
for his first job in California, was able to buy 10 dairy cows
for their small farm and in 1923 purchased, paying cash, 40
acres in Dos Palos. An old house was moved from Dos Palos to
the newly acquired farm and it was in that house that I was
Orlando Family c. 1935 (Andy is lower right with father's
hand on his shoulder)
Our farm got electricity
from PG&E in 1937 and I remember every Sunday morning at
10:00 a.m. my dad would listen to the Johnny Cardellini show
on our cathedral shaped Philco radio. This was an Italian speaking
show that I think was broadcast from San Francisco featuring
journalist Johnny Cardellini who talked about the news and broke
it up with music. My dad didn't speak any English so this was
a show he could understand even though there was alot he didn't
like about Cardellini's views.
The radio show was
followed by our biggest meal of the week. My mother made her
best spaghetti or beef roast for Sunday's noon-time meal that
always included fresh Italian bread. We would go to the Dos
Palos train station every Saturday night to pick up our week's
supply of bread, five loaves of sourdough bread delivered by
train from San Francisco as my dad didn't think store-bought
sliced bread was really bread, saying simply "that's not
We got some supplies
from a man who came by our house about once a month and took
orders for anchovies, cheese and other goods. He was a gruff
Italian who had no time for nonsense and would say "make
up your mind, I got to go." When the placed-order was delivered
we would pick it up at the train station. Other sources of goods
were the Montgomery Ward's catalogue, peaches from Merced and
the fish vendor who brought fresh fish from Monterey to Dos
Palos every Friday. And of course mother had her garden which
provided fresh produce for our table and for canning.
I think I was six
when we got a spring-wound phonograph. It was an open, table
top model in a wooden case with no lid. My dad loved Italian
opera and I can remember him cranking up that phonograph and
listening to his opera records. I remember one particular song
that he played because we saw an opera at the moving pictures
show in Dos Palos and I associate one of his opera records with
a scene in the movie where a platter of spaghetti was carried
out to a table, the platter got knocked over and the spaghetti
My dad mostly listened
to his records on the weekends, particularly on Sunday after
church while mom was fixing Sunday's dinner. I don't remember
any other records being played on our phonograph except Italian
opera. I do remember that when my grandfather died in 1940 and
my mother opened the letter telling of his death (as he lived
in Italy) I heard her scream and we had a week of mourning that
included no radio or phonograph being played.
Since my parents
weren't US citizens when the United States entered World War
II and Italy was an ally of Germany, as Italians they were restricted
to a 25 mile radius from their house and a requirement that
they had to be inside their house by sundown each day. The government
also took away their radio and their single-shot shotgun.
These were fearful
times and the government was much harder on the Japanese residents
in the US than they were on the Italians. So my parents in some
ways were fortunate that they were able to continue to keep
their farm and milk their cows. Nevertheless, the confinement
did present some problems and there was some prejudice even
though I had two older brothers, Joe and Fred, that would serve
overseas during the War.
Joe was a Seabee
in the South Pacific in 1942 and Fred joined the army in 1943,
so that just left me and my twin brother Ace at home. We had
30 dairy cows in production during the War. I started milking
cows when I was nine years old and milked ten cows in the morning
at 5:30 am and ten after school. I had to wear bib-overalls
(which I didn't like) for school and for work because they cost
the same as jeans and according to my dad were a better value
(more denim for the same price).
We raised alfalfa
for the cows and got five or six cuttings during the summertime.
After each cutting we would request irrigation water from the
irrigation district. They would tell you when you could irrigate
and then you would tell them when you were done and they'd charge
you accordingly. Irrigation was done using ditches that had
"checks" and you could do perhaps 4 or 5 checks at
a time. You wanted to stop the water before it got to the end
of the row so timing was important as you didn't want to waste
During the war my
dad went out into the fields after dark to change the irrigation
"checks", lantern in hand. Apparently on one occasion
a neighbor or a "dollar-man" saw him and reported
him for his violation of the sundown curfew. The sheriff came
to our house the next day and my dad received a stern warning.
I'm not sure what would have happened if they would have caught
him outside his house after dark a second time.
When the War ended
we could again have a radio but we didn't get our old one back,
or our shotgun. I don't know what happened to that family phonograph
with its Italian opera records. I'm sure a wind-up phonograph
was eventually considered old and obsolete and thrown out.
When I married Judy
in 1957 we bought a Sears black-and-white television, my first
television, but it didn't have a record player with it. We did
buy a 45 rpm record player a few years later and Judy had quite
a few 45's for that machine.
In 1976 we purchased
a 1975 two-door, brown and tan two-tone Cadillac Coup de Ville
that had an 8-track sound system in it. We really enjoyed the
8-track recordings on car trips as there was no switching of
radio stations or loss of radio signal. Just continuous music
at the push of a button.
and Judy, 1977
and Judy, 2002 with Edison Home Phonograph in background
Since then we have
continued to enjoy recordings on cassette tapes, CDs and iTunes
for Judy's iPod. So although phonographs haven't been a part
of our home for many years, I'm pleased to be a "Friend
of the Phonograph" and fondly remember those childhood
Sundays and my dad listening to his Italian Opera records on
- Called dollar-men because they got paid a dollar per year.
They were the local civil defense group of the time, basically
volunteers who were on the lookout for suspicious people or
activities. They made sure windows were covered at night so
that no lights would provide the enemy with any target, though
I don't think the Japanese were going to invade Dos Palos.
Nevertheless there was very real fears at the time as many
thought an attack of the West Coast was possible. Historically,
the original World War II "dollar-a-year" men were the corporate
executives who quit the private sector to help the government
during World War II.
Memory of Andy Orlando - December 6, 1932 - April 11, 2018
Orlando Photo Album
and Judy's 50th Anniversary Photo Album
note: Andy had the distinction, as a Friend of the Phonograph,
of being born on December 6, the day when fifty-five
years earlier Edison had completed his Phonograph, the first
machine that could record and play back sound.
December 6 the Friend's of the Phonograph annually
celebrate the birthday of the Phonograph. I know Sharon and
Doug will continue to give Andy an extra thought each year
as the candles of the Phonograph's birthday cake are lit.