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Opinion >  Column

Doug Clark: Jukebox doctor’s deft touch lets me go for a spin again

Doug Clark

There are more NASA-trained astronauts running around than people with Don Foedisch’s skills.

I have no data to support this view other than my own anecdotal experience. But hey, you try to find someone to repair a 60-year-old jukebox and I’ll wager you’ll come to the same conclusion.

One of the hazards of owning a vintage jukebox is, well, these outmoded tube-powered beasts tend to go south every now and then.

(ATTENTION: For you few kids who still read, a jukebox is what we used for an iPod Touch back in ’50s and ’60s, only they were lot harder to carry around.)

I got my jukebox 20-some years ago. I was driving down Sprague one night and saw this wondrous machine glowing through the window of Benny’s Antiques & Collectables.

I slammed the brakes. I pulled over. The store was closed so I just stood for about a half-hour with my nose pressed against the glass, admiring the greens and yellows and reds.

It was love at first light.

Sold some stuff. Dug into savings. A week later it was mine, a 1955 Seeburg JL100.

The problem was where to put this imposing 300-pound beast with tall, curved glass. Hadn’t really thought out the “location” part of the equation.

So on delivery day I moved my lovely wife Sherry’s hope chest from its place in our foyer and replaced it with, well, you know what.

Sherry came home an hour later. Times like these will tell you whether you’ve married the right woman.

She looked at the jukebox that was now standing in full view, right inside our glass front door.

“That’s interesting” is all she said, flashing me a smile.

And there the jukebox has remained, becoming an eccentric centerpiece for our family.

When my daughter, Emily, turned 16, I loaded it with every relevant rock ’n’ roll 45-record I could find.

We played them all on her birthday.

“Happy Birthday Sweet Sixteen,” “Sweet Little Sixteen,” “You’re Sixteen,” “Sixteen Candles,” “Only Sixteen”

After Thanksgiving, I’d load the jukebox with Christmas 45s and we’d rock away the holidays.

When my son’s band got a record deal, Ben had the label make some 45s of their single just so dad could put one in the family jukebox.

But time takes its toll on all things, including Seeburg Selectomatics.

Last year the jukebox began making strange chugging noises and refused to select records.

I turned it off and launched a search for someone local who could bring our jukebox back to life. Trust me when I say these people don’t run in herds.

After many false leads, an acquaintance came up with a name that I remembered from a jukebox house call two decades ago.

“Is he still around?” I asked.

He is. And on Thursday afternoon, 87-year-old Foedisch showed up with a box of tools and a noggin filled with jukebox know-how.

He oiled parts. He replaced tubes. He let me hold the flashlight.

“I’m like your monkey-boy apprentice,” I told him.

“Don’t give yourself too much credit,” Foedisch advised.

Then came that magic moment. The needle brushed against a spinning disc and …

“Well, that’ll be the day, when you say goodbye,” sang Buddy Holly.

Foedisch told me he earned a college degree in business management but found his true calling in 1962. That’s the year he started repairing jukeboxes and vending machines for a downtown firm.

Ever since he was a kid, Foedisch loved taking things apart and putting them back together.

Foedisch especially loves the way these old music makers were built to withstand the abuse that came from being used night after night in a crowded bar or a bowling alley.

Or being played for 20-some years inside the Clark homestead.

Thank you, Don, for keeping the vinyl spinning and the music alive.

JUNGLE UPDATE!!! Last Sunday I gave you the lowdown on Matt and Ali Stevens, the Spokane man and wife who were part of “Men Women Wild,” a new six-part reality series on the Discovery Channel.

The show features three couples who are put into separate hostile locations where each pair tries to survive for three weeks.

Well, I watched the premiere episode. I wanted to see how Matt and Ali, who were placed into the wilds of a southern Mexican jungle, would represent the Lilac City.

And …

They crapped out during the first episode!

Excuse me. I think the term is actually “tapped out.”

Either way, Matt and Ali are out and being replaced by another couple.

Talk about a bummer.

I never saw this coming. Matt, after all, is a survival instructor at Fairchild Air Force Base.

He looked like he could have made it the full three weeks. Well, once he got over his initial puking fits, that is.

But the ordeal proved too much for Ali, who suffered from sleep deprivation, bug bites and homesickness.

Matt told me he wanted to stick it out, but had to “take a step back to do what is right” for his family.

The parents of three are cheesed, however, at the way the Discovery Channel edited the four or five days they managed to spend in the jungle. According to Matt, “Men Women Wild” didn’t show all the positive things they did, like making fire and catching fish and …

Oh, who cares? This show is dead to me.

Doug Clark is a columnist for The Spokesman-Review. He can be reached at (509) 459-5432 or by email at dougc@spokesman.com.

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