Adrian's Music Center was the hippest place in town back in "The Day"
Have you ever noticed how even just a few notes of a familiar song can conjure the most powerful memories?
I was driving on North Main Street the other day with the windows rolled down when a wonderful re-make of Seals & Crofts classic “Summer Breeze” came on the radio.
This particular version was recorded by Styx guitarist Tommy Shaw and Night Ranger's Jack Blades.
Purely as a reflex, I turned the volume up and joined right in.
My car was just passing by the Triangle Park and I couldn't help but laugh as three kids playing Wiffle Ball turned to gape at me.
They were obviously amused by the grey-haired old dude in the rumpled Mets hat warbling away at the top of his lungs.
My journey north on 191 continued up Fair Avenue, past the borough pool and out toward the dam.
Eventually, the song ended and “Beast of Burden” by the Rolling Stones came on. As much as I like that song, too, I had to turn it down because “Summer Breeze” had triggered a flood of long-forgotten memories.
It was such a pleasantly intense experience that I had to pull over and write some of them down...
The first album I ever owned was Carole King's “Tapestry.” My mom gave it to me as a Christmas present one year.
The first album I ever bought with my own money was Cheap Trick's “Live at Budokan.”
While I never had much musical talent, that never stopped me from spending my allowance on records. I still have many of those albums … from Simon & Garfunkel to Van Morrison, Billy Joel to Neil Young.
There were two stereos at 1837 Parkway Drive back in those days. One was my Dad's … a big old piece of furniture that dominated the downstairs hallway.
The other was mine … a cheapo plastic contraption I still refer to as a “Kenner Close & Play.”
It got a ton of use during my adolescence and early teen years, so much so that I had to tape pennies on the arm to weigh it down and prevent the needle from skipping.
Without question, my favorite band of all time is Queen. I loved Freddie Mercury's big voice and even bigger personality.
From the first time I heard “Bohemian Rhapsody,” I was hooked. I gobbled up every Queen LP and single I could find.
Which brings us to the focal point of this week's column...
Right at Home
After spending about half an hour scribbling down memories while parked above the dam, I jumped on Facebook and posted a simple query.
“Anybody out there remember Adrian's Music Center in Honesdale?”
I posted it on my own profile and on Wayne County: Things That Aren't There Anymore. The response was overwhelming and immediate.
Dozens of folks chimed in. Not surprisingly, there were nearly as many comments about the store as its beloved owners, Adrian & Esther Harrington.
Sue Tully Apgar recalls buying 45s at Adrian's. She specifically remembers that the first single she ever purchased with her own money was “Hang on Sloopy” by The McCoys.
In addition to his famous selection of 45s, Adrian was known for his patience in giving lessons to aspiring young musicians.
Karen Rice and Linus Myers each shared a touching anecdote.
“When I was in fifth grade I wanted to join a band,” Karen wrote.
“One day while we were going to Sullum's, I noticed a small used guitar for sale in Adrian's window. My mom agreed not only to buy it, but she let me take lessons.
“Adrian was a very kind and patient teacher.
Linus had a similar experience, but with a much more … shall we say ... 'unorthodox' instrument.
“I dragged a Lawrence Welk-sized accordion from 14th Street to Adrian's for two years,” he wrote. I don't like accordions to this day, but Adrian taught me how to read music.
“He and Esther were extremely kind and patient.”
These memories echo my own experiences, both as a rock & roll addicted teen and as a wannabe Miles Davis trumpeter.
Adrian's patience for the likes of me was legendary.
One entire wall of the store was made up of the current Hot 100 singles. You could actually play them on a turntable, listen through the headphones and decide whether or not you wanted to buy.
I specifically remember agonizing over “Runaway,” Bon Jovi's first hit single.
This was a scene that played itself out dozens of times each day.
To his undying credit, Adrian would just sit there behind the counter with a bemused smile on his face, waiting for us to make up our minds.
On the Airwaves
Brian Wilken and George Schmitt are two names synonymous with Wayne County radio.
Brian and I have been friends since we were children. He worked at WDNH when we were still in school, then returned for a prolonged stint after graduating college.
He's done everything from advertising to news to live sports broadcasts and he was quick to chime in when I asked about Adrian's Music Center.
“Adrian's was the best!” Brian exclaimed.
“All of my LPs are from there. Rainbow, Men at Work, J Geils Band, Springsteen, Survivor … I could go on and on. It was a great store. He and his wife were lovely people.”
George Schmitt remains a force on the local airwaves. He's better known to loyal listeners as “Classic George,” one of the most popular deejays in the Bold Gold Media stable.
We've been friends for many years, playing against one another in the Pocono Senior Baseball League and doing a live weekly radio show during football season “Pigskin Pick 'Em.”
George has fond memories of Adrian's, too.
“Adrian was a great guy,” he said. “The store sold records, tapes, instruments and accessories. He taught guitar and drum and maybe some others.
“Adrian became involved with David Bromberg and became a mentor to him. David actually spoke at Adrian's service when he passed in 2010.
“Adrian was a talented musician. He played for years at local restaurants and for special occasions.”
Adrian's Music Center opened on February 25, 1960. It's first location was at 557 Main Street.
Two years later, Adrian and Esther moved to the location we all remember: 546 Main Street. There they remained for decades, helping an entire generation of music lovers find its voice.
The store may be gone, but it will never be forgotten. Adrian, Esther and their children will forever remain a vibrant part of Honesdale's small town history.