of growing up and the phonograph
By Andy Orlando,
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 born.
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
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 bread!"
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 went flying.
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
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
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 water.
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 his phonograph.
- 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
Memory of Andy Orlando - December 6, 1932 - April 11, 2018
Orlando Photo Album
and Judy's 50th Anniversary Photo Album
and Judy - November 7, 1957 - Often with Dance
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.
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.