The sign said Princeton Record Exchange, with an arrow pointing down a small side street. My 20 year old son, Josh, raised his eyebrows and said, “Hey Mom, what’s a record exchange? Like a used CD store?” He had a glimmer in his eyes.
We were in Princeton that day because Josh’s younger brother was competing in the National History Day contest where middle-schoolers create historical displays, documentaries, and do performances related to world history. Jake had spent months preparing a display about the Irish Potato Famine and we were there to see how he stacked up to the competition. I was excited to see the presentations of the young people and also to peruse more of the history education that Princeton has to offer.
The middle-schoolers were poised, enthusiastic and informative, the pre-Revolutionary architecture on campus was amazing, and the stage where Einstein had given his first Princeton lecture made me want to…… well, ……it made me want to lay down right on that stage and absorb some Einstein vibes. Not in a creepy way, of course, but in a “History is all around me” kind of way!
And now we were en route to a special history exhibit on the earliest American settlements. Colonists and Native Americans….early attempts at creating government in a wilderness…. boy, I was psyched! And today Josh had agreed to spend the day not only supporting his brother, but indulging my history bug, too!
And then, unexpectantly, there was the music shop sign. When Josh’s eyes lit up, I knew my history-rich agenda was in danger. And when we walked into the store (just for a short stop), I knew it was completely undone!
The Princeton Record Exchange was huge. And Josh’s face took on the expression that I imagine I have whenever I enter the Village Thrift or the Cherry Hill Goodwill! …. And who could blame him?
The Princeton Record Exchange is to a music lover as a town wide yard sale is to a bargain hunter or a repurposing fashion designer. (Notice my SAT style analogy?…..Cause we were at Princeton….and I wanna show some smarts!) I knew immediately that we were not going to learn a thing about the Jamestown Settlement that day! Damn!
But how could I deny him? I understand that feeling. A really good Thrift Shop makes me smile often as I wander the aisles, reaching out to gingerly touch items that I might want. And stumbling upon that perfect find gives me such joy. And here was Josh, experiencing that same feeling. How could I possible pull him away? He had indulged me so far on my history day, so I decided to indulge him, even if it meant us missing the real story of John Smith, Pocohantas and maybe even Grandmother Willow.
So National History Day turned out great. Jake and the Potato Famine didn’t win a prize, but he was well spoken, gained confidence, and had fun with his friends. I got a good satisfying dose of history and so did the boys (although they were a bit of a captive audience). And Josh got four CDs for eight dollars! And we discovered the MARVELOUS Princeton Record Exchange. We will be visiting there again. This super shop had music from every genre and was totally worth a scheduling change!
Plus, as the icing on the cake of a super family day, I got a great CD of live performances from They Might Be Giants and we listened to it happily on the long ride home! Yes, I do realize that we could have listened to history related books-on-tapes instead and that would have made the day of history education complete. But singing along at the top of our lungs to to Particle Man and Birdhouse in Your Soul is way more fun! Thank you Princeton Record Exchange!!