VCR Day 2021

Today’s post will be a major blast from the past, as if the Instagram post from the other day wasn’t enough of one, haha. But seriously, in the world of offbeat and obscure holidays and observances, today’s VCR Day.

For those of you who find this and weren’t around when videocassette recorders, or VCRs were the hottest thing going, this is what a standalone unit looks like. There were TVs that also had built-in VCRs, and yes, they were a total pain in the ass when they went on the fritz.

Back when I was a kid, it seemed like everybody and their damn dog had a VCR. My earliest memory involving one is nothing but incoherent fragments. All I remember is that a family member and I were at this guy’s apartment, and I remember the light from the TV in the room. I also remember the floor-to-ceiling sized bookshelf in there, and that it was full of videos.

I have no idea who that guy was, what he even looked like, or even where that apartment was.

Going forward, I remembered being at other people’s houses, and how they all had VCRs. That included the kids in the neighborhood we were living in at the time. It wasn’t an upper class neighborhood at all, but they had one, and cable TV.

The summer after 4th grade, we got a new TV, and this one had a built-in VCR. We tried to get one several years before, around the time we moved there. We’d hit up one of those liquidation sales at what was in use as the town’s event center and arena at the time, with some family friends. We were so excited, and I remember how we even picked up a few movies to go with it.

They were Beauty and the Beast, and Aladdin, which had just come out, along with some Disney Sing Along Songs, and some stuff for the grown-ups. No, I’m not talking about the lame crap on Skinemax, I’m talking about a copy of Die Hard and Young Guns. That’s just what I remember off the top of my head, though. There were a few others I’m totally drawing a blank at right now.

We got back home, and I remember my family and the friend unboxing it after they turned the overhead light on. They were fiddling around with the early 1980s color TV set in one of the bedrooms, and I heard some arguing going on while I was playing in the living room. Eventually they left, and I went in to see what was going on.

It turned out that the VCR didn’t work at all, and I remember how we wrote it off as something being wrong with our TV. Where did that leave us? No VCR, but some movies knocking around the house for several years.

The summer after 4th grade, something changed. We got a new TV, but this one had a built-in VCR. We hit up Sears after school on the last week before school got out, and we got it. But something didn’t seem right. We walked out of there empty-handed!

My family had arranged to have it delivered, and the truck came to our house after the last day of school. I was outside playing, and I saw the truck come down the street. I came back, and saw the guy bring something inside, and since our house at the time wasn’t exactly handicapped accessible, another guy had the other end of the box.

I stayed outside, and soon saw them leave with the box and the wrappings. When I went back home, I saw the new TV sitting in the living room.

I’d heard that in order to have a VCR, you had to have cable TV, since you had to have it on channel 3 for it to work. We didn’t have cable TV back then, so I assumed that maybe that was also why the old VCR we got several years before didn’t work either.

My family was already watching one of the cheapie Civil War videos they’d gotten from a Time Life promotional thing going on like forever ago.

News traveled fast around the neighborhood, and when I said yeah, we got a TV with a VCR in it, there was the expected comeback:

“You don’t have cable,” they said.

“You don’t have to have cable to watch videos on this one,” I remember saying, or saying something like it, haha.

Cable TV? Who’s she? Never heard of her.

Anyway, it was all history from there. Whenever there were sales on videos going on, we’d be there. We got some Land Before Time videos, more Disney, and of course some Nickelodeon.

Our collection of videos was peanuts compared to the people at this one house I’d been to. Hell, their kids had a bigger video collection than we had!

I’m dead serious. That kid’s video collection was in their room, and I know for a fact none of them were bought on sale.

But anyway, over the years, our collection grew, and some of what we picked up turned out to suck, or we’d grow bored with them. My family didn’t like the idea of renting, since it required having to go back and additional trips to drop them off.

Then I discovered the hack to end all hacks: a clear piece of tape over that little window thing on the edge works if you’d like to record something you saw on TV.

That’s when I came up with the idea to use the videos we no longer cared about or never liked in the first place to record stuff on TV, and that’s what’s in the pic. I found the box in the basement recently, and I have plans to hunt for a VCR to use with my TV to see if any of them still work.

I used to record old episodes of TV shows on what used to be The WB when it came to our broadcast market in my freshman year of high school. I’m sure there’s at least one or two episodes of WWE Bottom Line somewhere in the mix, and possibly some America’s Most Wanted too.

I don’t even remember all of what’s on those anymore.

That TV eventually bit the dust by the time I got to college, and I was so bummed. We eventually got rid of it after the last move, and boy, it was so sad to see it go.

I pretended to myself that I was holding a Viking funeral for it as I dragged it down the steps of our old house, down the driveway, and to the curb. It was the end of an era for sure.

Over to you, readers. Got any memories with VCRs? Do you still have one, or have plans to hunt for one in the works sometime soon? Drop ’em like they’re hot below, and let’s talk!

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