Sometimes, Bigger is Better

It was 1984 and my teenage angst was in full-gear. I needed, desperately needed, a boom box. The bigger the better.

My younger sister, always advanced for her age, had the same wish, so we temporarily set aside our differences and, like all enterprising kids, joined forces for the betterment of all--namely the two of us.

We pestered, we whined, we pleaded, we tried to be good, and at some point we struck gold. Eventually, our dad came home with two boom boxes. One was a big, gaudy, silver contraption stamped prominently with the Sony logo. And, by big, I mean, it was gargantuan. The other, was small, sleek and black with greenish pinstripes. Neatly positioned near the center dial was an attractive script logo that said simply, Aiwa.

Dad put both boom boxes on the kitchen table, pointed to me and said, “You’re the older. You choose.”

It didn’t take me long. I paused for an instant at the Aiwa model, and in the recesses of my soul felt an affinity for the clean design, but when I looked at the Sony, all I could see was myself walking into school with that big, honking, gaudy, silver box on my shoulder, and I knew that was the one for me. I was going to be the envy of my classmates.

I thanked Dad (at least I hope I thanked him), snickered at my sister for getting stuck with the small box, and rushed off to my room to see how loud that thing was.

It was only later, unfortunately much later, that I noticed some important differences between her boom box and mine. One, the dials on her system actually worked. Two, when she put a tape in the box, the music sounded wonderful. And three, my boom box was so big it wouldn’t fit on my bookshelf or desk without much rearranging. (I spent the first part of every evening moving it off my desk so I could have room to do my homework.)

But the final straw was when I took it to school to show it off. There’s no easy way to say it, so I’ll just come out with it. I chickened out.

For some reason, when I finally got the boom box to school, its overwhelming gaudiness shocked me, and I was actually embarrassed to own it. In a flash of school-age brilliance, I secreted it away in my locker, never to be seen by my friends. What a mess.

That lesson was front and center in my mind as the staff put together the issue you now hold in your hands. It is, by far, our biggest issue of the year (as it is every year), but instead of gleefully stuffing everything we could into its pages until it looked and felt like a bulky Hefty bag stretched to the seams, we carefully sifted, edited, and designed each article and section to be entertaining, informative and, most of all, easy to use.

In these pages, you’ll find a valuable resource of vendors (also available online), organized alphabetically by company name and product category, great articles covering aquatics, parks, playgrounds, sports turf, facilities and trails, as well as editorials from our popular department writers that attempt to provide insight into the times in which we live.

All in all, I’m happy to report that I’m pleased with the result. I hope you are too.

One word of caution though: this may be a three-cups-of-coffee read--so use the big coffee maker, not the single-cup model.

Till next month …

Rodney J. Auth