State-of-the-art ’55 machine still rocks out

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Today’s hi-tech gadget is tomorrow’s museum curiosity, and right now Marco Islander Barry Howe is sitting on a humdinger from 1955.

Actually, it’s a Seeburg 100-J juke box (note to the current Entitlement Generation: it’s a kind of physical forerunner of Spotify streaming), and after more than six decades of “wandering” all over the country the machine is now up for sale.

”We all get around to down-sizing eventually,” says Howe’s wife Sandy by way of explanation.

The model is the same as the one featured in the sit-com “Happy Days” starring the Fonz.

The box was built in Chicago where the Seeburg company is located. It was shipped to California, but there is not much documentation of how many “bobby-soxers” enjoyed dancing to its many tunes for more than 30 years, Howe says.

“Fast forward to 1988 when Barry (a local commercial photographer) sold a 40” x 60” photograph of Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles to a wholesale seafood importer with offices on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood,” Howe says.

The juke box was in his office - and the photograph of the stadium was so spectacular that Barry took it to the Dodger’s administrative offices where Peter O’Malley, the owner of the Dodgers, ordered three of them.

“Thus began Barry’s 15 year association with the team, taking photographs of special events in Los Angeles and spring training in Vero Beach, Florida,” Howe says.

“But back to the juke box in the wholesale seafood importer’s office. The owner, Bob, wanted to sell it, and Barry gave him a deposit on it. Before Barry could get back to him, the company was sold and the new owner did not want the juke box. He said: ‘Take it away, you can have it,’ so Barry did.”

A moving company delivered it to his then home in Laguna Hills, California, where it played the original songs for parties and neighborhood kids.

In 2001, the juke box was wrapped with other furniture and belongings and shipped to a storage center in Sarasota, where it stayed for a few months while the Howe couple moved from Key Biscayne to Marco Island.

The juke box was then delivered to Marco, but it was not playing so well after all the moves. So it was again shipped, this time to Ohio Seeburg Repair in Cumberland, Ohio. The owner, Mike Fulper, has the only Seeburg repair facility in the country. He restored it and shipped it back to Marco in April of 2008.

“After 61 years of moving and shaking, the juke box still plays 100 45 rpm records loud and clear,” Howe says. “Now Barry is ready to sell the juke box, because we all get around to down-sizing eventually. If anyone is interested contact Barry at 919-2360 or barryhowephotography@comcast.net.

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