This wouldn’t be such ashock if it weren’t for the fact that David is a mentally challenged adult. Where onearth did he get that kind of money? He pulled me aside and answered myunspoken question, so excited that his words tumbled pell-mell off his lips,faster and faster until I could barely keep up with his stream ofconsciousness. Eventually I got the gist of his monologue.
When he was a little boy he had made weeklytrips with his mother to a local department store. He was mesmerized by thewindow displays and eagerly stood with his nose pressed against the glass untilhis breath clouded his view. Then came the display which would change his andmany other lives 30 years later. It was a Victor Five Victrola, the kind thatneeded to be wound by hand before placing the needle on the record, the machinewhich bore the symbol of a black and white dog, ear cocked to its side. Notmissing a beat, he expounded on a history lesson about Columbia Records andtheir music machines, information gleaned from his trips to the library. Therewas nothing he didn’t know about that golden age of music.
His mother died, and he eventually was ableto live independently, supervised by an agency. It was through the agency thathe obtained work, cleaning toilets of public facilities five nights a week.Every week he squirreled away his paycheck, never forgetting the Victrola. Hewas on a mission to find and buy a 14)phonograph like the one he had onceadmired through plate glass.
Visibly exhausted from revealing hissecret, David paused long enough to pull out a tattered Polaroid photo from hisback pocket. He lovingly waved it in front of my eyes and proclaimed, “There it is!Victor Five!” He had found the object of his desire exhibited at a museum and hadbeen faithfully visiting it every chance he could get. The colored piece ofpaper was a constant reminder of his goal.
I tucked away his confession into the backof my mind, only to dust it off when I wandered into one of my favorite antiqueshops a few months later. In the back of the shop, tacked in the corner of abulletin board over the owner’s desk, was a Polaroid picture just like the one David had shown me.I hastily inquired as to why it was there and unknowingly opened the door to apersonal witnessing of the triumph of the human spirit.