The Record Hunter

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.

10 responses to “The Record Hunter

  1. I worked with Jay at the Transit District and have fond memories of him.

  2. I worked at Remarkable for years, and spent all my breaks next door in The Record Hunter — and all my money. Jay turned me on to Jefferson Airplane — I bought countless copies of Surrealistic Pillow and gave them away like a missionary. A note — Jay Flaxman was a kind and giving surrogate Dad to the most emotionally needy young people in town. He always had time for everyone.

  3. Rachael Flaxman

    Thank you Dan for your touching tribute to my Dad. While we are heartbroken by his untimely death, there is great comfort in remembering all of the lives that he touched.

    • Please accept my belated condolences. I was in the army with Jay in Fort Sill, OK. He was one of the nicest persons I have ever met. Going through some old pictures I came across one with Jay, me, and two other friends and decided to Google Jay and found out about his recent death. I would be happy to send you a copy of the picture. Please reply to my message.
      Romeo Chapa

      • Jennifer Flaxman Lividini

        Hi Romeo-
        We, the family, would LOVE to see a photo of my Dad. Thank you so much for your offer to send. We miss him every day and your words were a real comfort. If you have time, you can send snail mail or email to me– thank you!
        Jennifer Flaxman Lividini
        32 Maple Rd
        Briarcliff NY 10510

  4. I’m sorry to hear that, and thanks for the entry. I rode many a Minny Bus with Jay, and he was a good guy. Years later, whenever I saw him, he always remembered me and asked about my family …

  5. Wendy Crowther

    Oh, gosh, I’m so sorry! I happened to be listening to News 12 in the background of my lunch break yesterday when I heard his name mentioned but I didn’t know in what context. I listened to the entire repeat of the show to make sure I had heard the name correctly. Yes, they did say, “Jay Flaxman of Bridgeport,” but I didn’t know that this was OUR Jay Flaxman.

    I remember Jay well from the days when I worked at the Westport YMCA (long ago). He was a member there and never entered or left the Y without a smile. I knew hundreds of members during the thirteen years that I worked for the Y – Jay was one of the special ones whose face and name I’d never forget.

  6. David Flaxman

    Thank you Dan. We had a memorial for my father yesterday and people were touched by your kind words.

  7. I, too, worked at Remarkable in 67. Jay was part of our lives. Record Hunter was a place to hang and share the amazing music of the times. Jay was like a big brother to us. What an amazing man.

  8. I just read the news about Jay. I was thinking the other day about what a mind he had about music; what was recorded by whom and whether it was available- if so, what label. He knew classical music especially well, also blues, folk and jazz and eagerly added mid to late 60’s rock to his vast knowledge.

    Jay would go out of his way for his customers. He would spend more money to get an album quicker if it meant satisfying the customer.

    Jay used to have bridge games at his house on Imperial Avenue with many of the kids that would hang out at the store. Afterwards, the guitars would come out and we would sing along to our favorite songs.

    Thanks, Jay. My sincerest condolences to all his family and friends.