By MEL RHODES
As anyone who has been in Mineral Wells longer than half an hour likely knows, this is a small town once big in the national imagination, a city once known far and wide. The accidental discovery of mineral water in the late 19th Century put this place on the map and drew thousands of people to bathe and drink their way to health here in the “City Built on Water.”
Now places that become a widespread sensation, a ‘mecca,’ generally produce a variety of products, souvenirs and accessories, some of which survive the heyday to become collectibles, memorabilia. Mineral Wells is no different.
In fact, through the foresight of Boyce Ditto Library, tangible (and audible) pieces of our storied past have been preserved, among them Crazy Water recordings.
Library Manager Palin Bree described them as “black, 16-inch, studio transcription discs, acetate ... recorded to be played [at] 33 1/3 rpm not 78, and 4 inches wider than the commercial records of the time (12 inches).”
“The person who brought these in was moving,” Bree said. “They were cleaning out their house and said ‘I have had these stored in my garage, and I don’t know if they will still play.’”
Apparently, before their extended stay in the garage, the recordings were in the Crazy Hotel, and were found during a clean-up of the historic building.
So Bree and her associates at the library gratefully accepted the discs, pulled up chairs, and plopped the recordings down on the phonograph to listen to our “crazy” yesteryear... right? Not exactly.
“Fortunately, I had someone here who used to work at a radio station,” Bree said, “and they said ‘you know you can’t play those on a regular phonograph, don’t you?’”
Good to know, said Bree.
“A disc you use in a radio station goes one way and then the other,” said Bree. “If it were to be played on a standard machine, it could be marred.”