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About Us Section - About Rick Stout & Related
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About Rick & Related
About Rick Stout

Just for kicks, we "started" this section that was going to be a funny story with pictures. A few images got posted, but no story. We'll finish... sometime...
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I extend my welcome to all of you who are visiting StereoManuals.com. My name is Rick Stout, the owner of Stout and Associates (that's me). Initially, I never intended for this page to be anything other than a mini snapshot of who I am just to be friendly with site visitors. But as I was rewriting some of our website in the summer of 2002, I got carried away a bit with nostalgia and memories from my growing up years.

As I was rewriting this page, I became aware that it would make an interesting site for some folks all by itself. So I decided to let it become much more than originally intended for family, friends, customers and others who might stumble across it via various web searches. There is enough word variety that will show up in search engines so that I expect to hear from a very wide variety of people over the coming years.

 
About Rick & Related - About Rick Stout
Original Short Version (Longer version below)

My parents owned a rural America small town furniture, appliance and electronics store. So as a teenager in the 1960's, I was around and involved with sales and repair of TV, audio and other electronics at the store. We always provided service and repair for whatever we sold so of course we had a service shop. Although I never considered myself an electronics "technician," I did have some hands-on experience.

One of my favorite things as a young man was audio equipment. I always had something that would make some noise but never the kind of stuff I wanted until much later. In the mid-seventies, I acquired a slightly used, Top Of The Line Fisher 500-TX receiver and speakers dating to about 1969 - 1971. This was when the company was still run by the founder, Avery Fisher. They produced great equipment in those days. Many may not think much of the 500-TX in comparison to say, the 500-C, but to me, it was heavenly. That receiver, speakers, and various other things I bought and acquired over the years served me well for a long time. I still own much of it.

But nothing ever satisfied the audio itch I got in 1979. While walking though our relatively new Grand Central Mall in Parkersburg, West Virginia, music was playing that got louder and more powerful sounding as I neared the opposite end of the building. When I arrived at the source, there was a Pioneer double-wide rack display (THE RACK) chock-full of the silver-faced Pioneer Spec System gear. That equipment was so expensive I couldn't afford to look at it, let alone consider buying any. Like many of you with similar experiences, I never gave it a lot of thought over the years. But I never forgot it either.

NOTE: There is much more information about THE RACK in How StereoManuals Started, Part One - Background (link on left).

Beginning early in 2001, I began to purchase a few audio items on eBay... several sets of vintage 70's Sansui speakers and other miscellaneous items. Then I decided to purchase an item or two of that Pioneer Spec System gear I had always loved so much. Well...you know what happened! The audio-itis affliction/addiction fever took over and soon I had overdone it just a bit...ha! Next thing I knew I had somehow thrown all inhabitations to the wind, and decided to just go for it.

So... I did. It took eight months or so to acquire those objects of my old desires. You can view some of the results on our pictures page. Of course I wanted some manuals and documentation for at least some of the units, so I starting buying a few. You can read how that developed into this business in How StereoManuals Started, Part Two - Doing Manuals (link on left).
Longer Version (to be completed.... sometime)

I have many areas of interest that occupy my time. They include family, remodeling our home, rental real estate, property management, church things, and others. Lately it seems this vintage audio literature business has been taking up all my time. We all are so very much looking forward to the total completion of this website and all the other startup activities that have taken so much time our first couple years.

I was born and raised in Harrisville, West Virginia located in Ritchie County. This is near the western border of WV in the Mid-Ohio Valley. It was (still is) a sleepy little town (population 2000) that was and remains a great place to live and raise children. That is if having lots of money and living the fast life is not your major goal in life. My remembrances of growing up there are quite similar to Mayberry of TV's Andy Griffith Show. I know my memories are probably colored but it seems to me that the West-End of town always had enough similar aged kids so that if one wanted to raise an *army*, or have a shootem' up, old wild west war between the cowboys and Indians, or a tackle football game, then one could. That was for when we grew tired of jumping off the top of our swing sets with red capes tied to our necks. We figured that if we tried long enough, the Superman effect would eventually kick in and we would be able to fly.

There were plenty of things to keep me busy as a grade school age kid. There were morning paper routes delivering the Parkersburg News and sometimes evening routes delivering the Parkersburg Sentinel. There were Cub Scout meetings, church activities and 4-H camp. Of course we had way too many... tree, leaves, rocks, insects and wildflower collections for school projects. As there were seven children in our family, my mother became a veritable encyclopedia of collections knowledge. Did you know that catching moths off telephone poles at five in the morning could be *fun*?

"Ridin' bikes" was a big part of our lives. Bicycles were our liberation of sorts. With them, we could disappear from the neighborhood and be out and about town. There wasn't any real disappearing to do though because everybody in town knew me. My bike was a thing of beauty in my mind. It had chrome fenders with mud flaps and little red reflectors on them. There were twin saddle baskets on each side of the rear fender, a front basket attached to the handle bars and colored streamers hanging out the ends of the hand grips.

It had a real seat that you could really sit on. Today, seats are misnamed. They are really torture devices designed to split your body in half if you actually sit on them. I remember well going to Doug Jackson's little Western Auto store on Spring Street where I would lust after various bike accessories, especially generator lights! Now, that was a great invention... free electricity for bicycle lights. All I had to do was never stop peddling. This was total liberation and license to cruise about town after dark. "Mom!, I've got lights!!!"

In the spring there was Old Man Simmon's strawberry fields in Harris Addition. They weren't that large but at the time seemed vast. We made ten cents for picking a quart of berries and of course ate 25% of what we picked, especially the "biguns." There was summertime "puttin' up hay" on Bob Cokeley's Black Angus cattle farm at the edge of town. I think sixty cents an hour was the going rate. But the real thrill was being so hot and grimy that you could hardly stand it.

The hard work and the refreshing cold well water was an experience all it's own. But the best part of it was the big meals Helen put on for us. There was tons of just plain good food and super iced tea. Always the hit with me was Helen's Strawberry Pie. I have no idea how she made it, but it remains in my memory the finest I ever had. I seem to recall crashing several of daughter Laura Ann's girl's sleepovers till Helen would ask if I was ever going to go home.

Across "the alley" we had the Deem's kids as neighbors. The father, Frank, was in the oil and gas business as his father Dick was. Frank was elected to the WV House of Delegates and later to the WV State Senate. That seemed mysterious to me at the time. I just remember thinking he was famous. The son Mike, was about my age and one of my best friends as a kid. Mike had some sisters that were nice to look at too! Frank became the owner of the Dick Deem farm at the end of town on High Street.

That is where the vacant *haunted house* was. We used to use the upper floor of a barn to play basketball. It was a great place to hang out. One had to learn to shoot over or under the big timbers that supported the roof... just a little idiosyncrasy of playing "indoor ball." Frank decided to turn the farm into a golf course and told us golf was more fun than basketball.... so the barn came down and the North Bend Golf Club was born. That eventually led to another frequent summer time activity. Often when we had been away from home too long and regardless of what we had actually been doing, a convenient answer to our mother was that we had been "huntin' golf balls."

Across the front street of our house lived the Bill and Ruby Robinson's. They had a house full of boys that contributed to the neighborhood shenanigans. Bill started the successful Robinson Motors Chevrolet and Oldsmobile dealership in Harrisville and in the mid 60's moved to Wheeling, WV where he owned and operated a much more successful Oldsmobile and Cadillac dealership. This was the same Bill Robinson whom I remember my dad talking about one time in the early 60's. He said something to the effect... "I must be stupid! I just can't believe I agreed to pay that Bill Robinson $3400 dollars for a new car!" Ruby, being a dutiful neighbor lady and surrogate parent for all loose neighbor kids, climbed up our tree and brought one of my younger brothers down to spank his behind for some infraction. His remark later, "I didn't know women could climb trees!"

At various angles from our home lived other next-door neighbors like the Mitchell's, the Keidaisch's, the Wells family. When we weren't fighting, we were great friends and when we weren't great friends, we were fighting. George Keidaisch was memorable for making pronouncements of fact when we were in times of war. One such pronouncement was, "It is illegal for you to look through the air over our property because we own it... and if you don't stop, I'm gonna call the police and have you arrested."

Another family that we hung out with was the Ralph Foster family. Ralph lived down the country road which was becoming the road to the newest park in West Virginia - North Bend State Park. He had a family of 14 - 17 kids or something like that. Ralph had kids that were classmates to about every person who ever attended Harrisville High School. His farm was a great getaway place for us as preteens. We could eat Post Toasties cornflakes straight from the box and ride horses bareback through the fields.

My dad (Bob Stout) and my maternal grandfather (Glenn McFadden) had been Electrolux vacuum cleaner salesmen after WWII. My dad talks of selling them to country folks who occasionally made some classic statements like, "I'm sure glad to get this. It will come in handy when we get electricity someday." In 1949, my parents and grandparents started the Ritchie Furniture & Appliance Company in Harrisville. They did well and built a nice business for a small town.

They sold furniture, appliances, TV's, stereos, radios, paint, carpet, wallpaper, kitchen cabinets, sewing machines, gas heaters and about anything else involving a home. "The store" was just a part of our lives. I thought everyone had a cash register that dispensed money for emergencies. I mean important situations like going to Ed Heaton's Model Theatre to watch a movie after I had spent my last dime on new special frosted bulbs imported from France for the generator light.

In post WWII rural Ritchie County, if we sold a clothes washer (that was better than a wringer washer), we often had to install the plumbing also. If we sold a television, we frequently had to install an antenna system. In those pre-cable days, we could usually get them from one to three fuzzy broadcast stations and they were happy. The store sold the first color TV's in our area. We sold RCA, Philco and other brands but were primarily a RCA dealer. When color televisions came along, a favorite selling tool was bragging about how wonderful the Sunday night NBC program "Bonanza" was. Ben Cartright and the boys helped us move a lot of color TV's.

We also sold "record players" as we called them. Later we simply called them "stereos." The store did not sell component audio gear like Fisher or H.H. Scott. Heck, in the late 50s and early 60s, I had never even heard of stuff like that. We sold "furniture audio" and as long as they played a record half decent, the major buying decision was based on whether to get the Early American maple set or some other finish. Being a fairly large seller of Sprague and Carleton hard rock maple furniture, we sold a lot of Maple finish stereos.

As I recall, my first real work as a part of the store was probably when I was about 13-14 years old. My dad and Frank Amick (one of his long-term employees) and I spent the better part of a day carrying bags of Sacrete (dry mix concrete), spools of wire, pipes, clamps, antenna, and all the other "fixin's" up a mini-mountain outside of Cairo, WV to install an antenna system for Dr. Martha Coyner. She had bought a new color TV (I told you about the extra work involved in selling TV's).

Afterwards I was sitting on my bed one evening and received my first and unexpected "paycheck." It was delivered by my dad very dramatically... one at a time, flipping fifty cent pieces from behind his back onto my bed. When delivering the pay was done, I think there were about $10.00 worth of silver coins laying on my bed. I remember thinking.... Alright!!! I could get into this.

8-11-2002 - THIS LONG VERSION WILL BE CONTINUED AS SOON AS I FIND SOME MORE REFLECTION AND NOSTALGIA TIME.
 
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