Yesterday’s Fools

I remember earlier this summer, when I started digitizing Jeff’s tapes. It seemed such a huge project. I had trouble with my equipment and ended up stopping. Then I bought a new cheaper, and actually better rig, started over again.

The pile of tapes was a snapshot of our history. I have listened to these tapes over and over again as I grew from a school kid, to a man with kids old enough to have been us back when we started these tapes. I was as excited to get them digitized for me as I was for getting a copy to Jeff. I think along the way a couple of my tapes were copies of his that I really loved and one I made was called “The Best Of Jeff Byers” where I compiled some of my favorite moments of Jeff’s tapes over the years. What a riot. Jeff’s tapes kept me going, with a familiar and friendly voice over the years, on days when I needed a friend’s voice, or a laugh. It’s odd to talk to a tape recorder, recount the days, weeks, months events and then mail it away. A very disconnected form of communication, but one that made for us a permanent ever-present connection. I love each and every one of them. There were only 2 disasters over the years. Tape # 13 – Gibber broke shortly after I got it. I only have the case now. R.I.P.

Also missing is Tape # 51 – The End. This one is on me. I lost it somewhere over the years. Only the case is left. Ugh.

At one point I noticed that the complete pile of tapes was growing bigger than the tapes left to be digitized pile. I was winning!

Then it was down to the last handful. The end was tantalizingly close!

Then the very last one, one I had set aside because it was stuck. It wouldn’t play, rewind or fast forward. Unfortunately the tape was not one with screws, so it would have to be broken into and hand rewound and transferred to another tape body for digitizing.

It was Tape # 39 – Here We Are

That’s us on the cover. We shot these pictures in a photo booth in a K-Mart in Ann Arbor, Michigan were we met in Junior High and became fast friends.

The tape is what we used to call, even at our less than discerning age, a cheap tape. It was made in Mexico, sold through Woolworth and probably came in a cellophane pack of 3 with no outer case. Audition brand?

It did the trick back in the day when we were poor. Unfortunately, it didn’t fare well years later. I had to break it gingerly open like a brain surgeon and keep the tape from falling out, then spool like a 1/4 of it up, then transfer to a TDK tape body and rewind/fast forward a few times to make sure it was all flush. Then I took it to my rig. It worked!

It ran to the end, auto-reversed, and ran the other way, Audacity making blue waves as Jeff’s voice ran through the wires.


Then it was complete! I had done it. Woo hoo! Then one photo session to record the pictures of all of them, burn the MP3’s of all 79 tapes onto 2 DVD’s and package up and send. The culmination of 4+ months of digitizing work and many many years of making tapes packed into one box. Sent! I sprang for delivery confirmation.

They are on their way Jeff. Thank you for sending them all over the years. They have meant the world to me, and digitizing them was a labour of love.

I can’t wait until next December so we can get some more pictures together.

Until then, we always have these.


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