this is the very first time the Chicago CWRT meeting had ever been recorded. E. B. Long (Bruce Catton's fact-man) brought a reel-to-reel tape recorder to this meeting, turned it on and various members have been recording ever since. The quality of this recording suffers, due in part to the manner in which it was stored over the years and the quality of magnetic tape available to consumers in 1951. After E. B. Long passed away, his wife Barbara turned over all the reel-to-reel tapes of the CWRT meetings to the Chicago Public Library's Special Collection Division. There they sat for many years in an archival box undisturbed. In 1986, I visited the Special Collections and asked if I could listen to some of these tapes. The curator gave me a strange look, she said, we don't have a tape player. I went to Ralph Newman and asked if I could sign the tapes out and transfer them to audio cassette. After signing my life away, they released the tapes with a solemn promise that they would be replaced by audio cassettes. Dick McAdoo had an old reel-to-reel recorder from his days in Korea. Using his Webcor along with patch plugs to a cassette recorder, the slow process of audio transfer began in real-time. The emulsion on the aging tape was so dried out, it literally flaked off the acetate base onto the table. It got so bad, I placed a newspaper on the table to keep the mess contained. When you listen to some of these early talks, it sounds choppy in spots - that's the original tape flaking away from its base. Also, I doubt any of the members had any expertise in proper recording, mic placement, etc. I surmise they set the mic down, turned on the recorder, and called anyone and everyone who had something to say up to the mic. A portion of this recording has an echo sound - perhaps someone flipped a setting on the recorder - it does come back, however. Knowing all this, this is still a gem of a recording since it is the first of many recordings.
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