About Rick & Related - About Rick Stout
|Original Short Version (Longer
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
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).
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
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
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
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.