2003   JUNE 19   #170

Elaine Mikalson and Leroy Erwin - The Baby Babble Record & RRR Sound

My mother's Aunt Florence was my grandmother's sister. She lived on the West Coast, and she and her family were a big part of my mother's life, before I was born, but I never knew her. Florence wrote solo vocal pieces, some of which I grew up hearing my mother sing (my mother, who studied and performed as an operatic soprano, has worked as a singer for most of her life).

But the biggest mark Aunt Florence left on my life was as the composer of the music on a strange and fascinating album of 78's that my sister, my brother and I grew up knowing as completely as we knew our parents' Tom Lehrer albums (to make a comparison which I doubt has been made before).

The "Bye Bye Baby Talk" album consisted of four or five 78's. It was developed by Dr. Elaine Mikalson, a Ph.D. who apparently was also from the West coast. The overall purpose of this educational product was first, to encourage certain, particularly helpful sounds (in terms of forming words), in the babbling of babies and toddlers, and second, to help these children, as they grew a bit older, to avoid the most common speech impediments - inability to say the R sound, the S sound, the L sound and the TH sound.

The first record, which addresses the first of these two purposes, is called "The Baby Babble record", and the A-Side of it is heard here (the B-side of this record is an explanation of the records' use, to parents). The four difficult sounds are presented via short stories, each of which take up both sides of one of the 78's. The SSS sound is about a snake, and the LLL sound is about a girl named Lolly Loo. I'm actually assuming that there were four of these "letter sound" 78's and that one of ours must have broken years ago: Although I've never heard a "TH" record, I can tell that there was one, because each sound shows up here and there within the other records, and there is a character that says "TH... TH.... TH....", on the SSS record.

This file contains, after "The Baby Babble Record", both parts of the "RRR" record from "Bye Bye Baby Talk". I find these records wonderful, ridiculous and tremendously bizarre, all at the same time. I've especially enjoyed trying to follow the logic of the phone call between Elaine and the Clown at the beginning of "The Baby Babble Record".

We obviously obtained a copy of these records because of my mother being a relative of a participant. I have no idea if this project ever made it past the demonstration stage. Perhaps it was a big seller, out west, and/or elsewhere. Perhaps the one my family owns is the only copy that's left. My guess is that the answer is closer to the latter.

- Bob Purse

TT-7:48 / 7.1MB / 128kbps 44.1khz
from an album of 78rpm records called "Bye Bye Baby Talk"