Good morning, troops. It’s Thursday, July 12.
When it comes to music in Peoria, particularly of the recorded variety, few can match devotion like Craig Moore. The septuagenarian rock-music performer might be best known around town as owner of Younger than Yesterday, a Central Peoria store jammed with tens of thousands of albums and ancillary artifacts.
Looking for a copy of “Trout Mask Replica” by Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band? There’s a good chance Moore’s store has it.
Unfortunately for Moore, more than 4,000 of his albums were destroyed recently. To quote a rock duo that fell from grace almost as quickly as it ascended, blame it on the rain. Or the monsoon, more accurately.
“To end up in a situation where I have to Dumpsterize thousands of these records rubs me the wrong way,” Moore said.
Initially, things were going the right way for Moore the weekend of June 30 and July 1. He was undertaking a first for his business — a 99-cent sidewalk sale in front of his store at 2615 N. University St.
The centerpieces were vinyl albums from a 12,000-copy collection Moore purchased over the winter.
“They were all perfect,” Moore said about their condition. “I had to buy them. I couldn’t resist.”
This group of records was a bit different than the usual music Moore prefers.
Some of the selections were bizarre: “Sherlock Holmes” actor Basil Rathbone reciting the poetry of Oscar Wilde, for one. But most of the albums were by 1950s-era pop singers, big-band outfits, crooners and Dixieland performers.
Think Patti Page (“The Singin’ Rage”), Peggy Lee, Glenn Miller and Benny Goodman. The collection also included 790 Bing Crosby albums, according to Moore.
“That’s the most Bing Crosby albums I have seen in my life, and there they all were at once,” he said. “I’m a rock-and-roll guy, but I’m also a Baby Boomer who clearly remembers the time prior to rock and roll. I remember hearing Perry Como and Teresa Brewer and the Andrews Sisters.”
So did a lot of his sidewalk-sale customers, apparently. The store was busy and everybody was having a good time until about midday July 1, when Moore received word about an incoming rain shower.
Moore decided to head to a nearby hardware store to buy plastic sheets to cover the merchandise. But within seconds, sheet-like rain commenced.
“All of a sudden, hurricane,” Moore said. “Everybody’s out there trying desperately to cover stuff up, put lids on boxes, turning tables upside down on top of records. It blew in in a matter of seconds.
“The store was full of people, because everybody ran inside. There was no place to go with all this stuff, and no time, either, because you’re getting drenched. It just came down in a torrent.”
Many albums were waterlogged beyond salvation. Others ended up in boxes in Moore’s van, where they were kept while he waited for his insurance people to determine a next move. By then, mold had taken root.
“Records, water and cardboard is not a good match,” Moore said. “Water damage makes them useless. I’d have to have a football field to lay them out to dry, and the covers would be so warped, nobody would want them, anyway. And once the mold forms, forget about it.
“I was trying to convince myself that it wasn’t that bad, but it was every bit as bad.”
Garbage collectors hauled away the first useless load earlier this week. Insurance probably will allow Moore to come close to breaking even.
But parting with those albums, even if many weren’t in Moore’s musical wheelhouse, appeared to be somewhat heartbreaking.
“I value that kind of stuff,” Moore said. “A Pete Fountain record in perfect shape from 1958? That’s not junk to me. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, isn’t it? I don’t consider anything junk unless it’s beat-up crap.”
The good news: The destroyed merchandise represented only a fraction of Moore’s inventory.
“You don’t have to worry about us running out of records,” Moore said.
The one heard on the way to work probably is among them. One of the more mundane ones, perhaps.