GO ON THIS SITE! Go. If you are anywhere near my age, which is 106, give or take a week or so, you will love this.
If you were ever an introverted little kid who lived for stories, if you were ever a kid who incessantly played cheesy but beloved 78 r.p.m. records on an old Seabreeze, you will love this site because they are all there. Travels of Babar, Slow Joe, Build me a House, Pan the Piper, and (perhaps most astonishingly) Dick Whittington and his Cat, in which he calls the cat "Ripple-dee-dee": surely I had imagined that, and so many other things.
But no, here it all is. Not only that, this site is clear and pristine and EASY to navigate, unlike the atrocity of Stephen Fry's blog which seems designed to make me feel like a technical dinosaur and a clumsy, out-of-touch loser (not to mention old). There's nothing more unfriendly than a bunch of kids standing in front of someone in the playground speaking a secret language. It's puerile, guys.
But I digress. For years now I've been trying to track down Children's Record Guild recordings, which made up maybe 75% of the records I had as a kid. These were record-of-the-month-club things that covered standard fairy tales as well as oddball music, as in Pedro in Brazil:
"What's the difference between a donkey
And a man who sings too long?
The donkey is born braying,
But the man has to learn his song."
At the time these were seen as "quality" recordings, the stories serving as a delivery device for great indigestible wads of culture (i.e. Sleeping Beauty had the Tchaikovsky ballet score moaning away in the background). But what had happened to them? Did they still exist in a dusty, scratchy heap in someone's basement? Could I get them on eBay?
The only sites I found offered the original 78 r.p.m. records for $50 and up, with maybe a CD copy on the side. I sometimes heard snippets, but only enough to make me depressed. I decided I was chasing yet another chimera (like getting published again? Sorry, I got another rejection today.)
But soft! What's this? I stumbled on this site today the way I stumble on all the better sites I've found. The deal is this: they present one "new" (meaning old) record per week. This goes back to 2005, so there are quite a few of them in the archives.
The titles are listed down the left side of the screen in chronological order. Click on a familiar title - and I found lots of them (for example, Jimmy Stewart narrating Winnie the Pooh and the Heffalump) - and the cover will come up on the right hand side, nice and bright and big, taking up half the screen. Click under that, and a nanosecond later, you are hearing for the first time in 50 years:
"I am an Elephant Actor."
Greek Chorus: "This Elephant Actor is going to make believe he is the Brave King Babar."
"I am an Elephant Actress."
GC: "This Elephant Actress is going to make believe she is the beautiful Queen Celeste."
And what is more, it is all free, free, FREE, as it used to say in the ads at the back of the Jimmy Olsen Annual. One of the few really generous things I've seen on the net. There's nothing like it. Go.