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I Like Shostakovich: 1955

I Like Shostakovich: 1955

Proof positive that my brother and I both fell victim to a similar strange mania at the age of 18. Here, in 1955, a senior in high school and fooling around with his newly-acquired Lordox 35mm camera, he snapped this Kodachrome self-portrait at his desk in our bedroom. Nine years later when I was 18, I shot my records, including the same Shostakovich album, spread out in our living room, as seen here. By that time, "I Like Jazz," a Columbia Records sampler, was no longer around. Posted with my brother's kind acquiescence. View full size.

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Transliteration and things

Thanks a lot for your reply, Dave. I had never seen that transliteration before, but having done some digging I see that it was not uncommon back in the 1940s. I guess this was around the same time that Vladimir Nabokov's name was often spelled Nabokoff. Interesting how these things become standardised with time.

Anyway, I really love this picture. Both the pose and the room say so much about the sitter's personality. He looks like he would be a very interesting person to know.

(And yes, I realise now that I can read the record label's name if I enlarge the picture. D'oh!)


Which record company was it that misspelled Shostakovich's name on the label? I can't recognize the logo from here.

[There really is no one correct spelling for words written in a different alphabet. For Shostakovich it depends on what system you're using to transliterate the Cyrillic alphabet into the Roman alphabet. - Dave]


Yep, it is a Speedball lettering kit, and on the shelf above it is a bottle of Sheaffer's Skrip "writing fluid," or ink to you. There were always several of those around, as my brother went through various colors with his fountain and ball point pens over time. That's helped me in dating many of the the slides from this era; the mounts weren't dated by the processor and he didn't always write the dates on them, but sorting them by the color of what notes he did make helps get them associated chronologically. You'd use India Ink with the Speedball set, of course. You ever try to get India ink out of a carpet?

Letter Men

Is that a Speedball lettering kit in the lower left-hand corner? You guys certainly had a wide range of interests!

Alternate Title

"I Like Ig."


Possibly military surplus; he got them from a high school friend. I remember them, and they were definitely not hi- or any other kind of fi. Probably intended for radio communications work. He used them merely as a prop for the photo. You gotta agree, they certainly heighten the geekiness, hmm?

I loved that wallpaper with the airplanes. Almost literally the last thing I'd see at night and the first in the morning. Dates from a c.1946 remodel job.

Jazz Liker

I, too, have a copy of "I Like Jazz" in its original sleeve. It belonged to my mother, and now lives in my own collection of vinyl.


What an incredible peek into the life of a teenager in the middle '50s. The "THIMK" sign, the sliderule, the compass, the nautical themed lampshade and bedspread, aeronautical wallpaper, the atypical (for a teenager) taste in music. Pretty cool.


Military surplus?


"Thimk" was the Mad magazine version of the IBM "think" motto.

Bill Gates, the Prequel

Did the Termite Brothers grow up to be engineers?

Ceiling Chart

It's a periodic table, with various insets, including a map of the US that presumably indicates the distribution of various elements.

Another great shot

You (and delworthio) should get your own blog.

Aviation Wallpaper

I couldn't help but notice the aviation themed wallpaper with what appears to be a Lockheed P-38 Lightning fighter aircraft in the background. I have a vague memory of a similar patterned wallpaper in either my brother's or my bedroom, albeit patterned with commercial airliners of the era.

I Like "I Like Jazz"

I still have the "I Like Jazz" LP in its original sleeve, but it's somewhat the worse for wear.

Slide Rule

Can't help but notice the Post deci-trig sliderule on the desk. Looks like a wiring chart on the ceiling to the right. Appears to me the lad's a right and truly nerd! Welcome!


I somehow wonder what that THIMK note could mean on the red board behind your brother. Is it like a note to oneself?

[I'd guess it's a spoof on the "THINK" placards that were popular at the time. Which was Thomas Watson's motto first at NCR and later at IBM. - Dave]

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