If you grew up in the 1960s, the soundtrack of your life was vinyl.
And if you grew up in Westport in the 1960s, chances are you heard that soundtrack at the Record Hunter.
The Record Hunter held 2 distinctions that are rare these days: It was a record store, and it was a small, independently owned business on Main Street.
What remains today is the left section of Talbots. The right side was the Remarkable Book Shop — a perfect complement to the Record Hunter. Both were cozy, warm places where the product was less important than the customer. Both were run by people who loved what they did, and did what they loved.
The Record Hunter was Jay Flaxman’s baby. He didn’t just sell albums and 45s. He sold you on the music, and the musicians.
Jay was the man who introduced me to Richie Havens, Phil Ochs and Joan Baez. He was the man who let my friends and me hang out for hours on Saturday mornings, listening to music he thought — no, he knew — we’d like.
Jay was the man.
Jay Flaxman died Monday. He was 80 years old.
The Record Hunter comprised only part of his life. Even in a hip town like Westport, it was hard to make a living selling folk and classical music. After it closed, he went to work for the Westport Transit District. I was in college then — no Minnybuses for me — but I heard that in his new job, helping youngsters navigate the streets of Westport, he had as great an influence as he had on me and my musical tastes.
Vinyl is gone. So is the Record Hunter, and now Jay Flaxman. But Richie Havens, Phil Ochs and Joan Baez are on my iPod. I can’t imagine a life without them.
Thanks, Jay, for those formative Saturday mornings so long ago — and for your long-enduring gift of music to me.