Memories of the Phonograph and Other Stories


My name is Axel Boilesen.

I was born on a farm near Cotesfield, Nebraska on April 18, 1923.

Axel age 4 (center of picture) with brother Lester on left and Floyd on right and his two sisters, Lois and Fern (circa 1927).


When I was a growing up we had an Edison Amberola, which I think was a Model 30, that was tucked away in a bedroom closet. I never saw it in the parlor as we had a radio and if there was going to be any entertainment, it usually came from the radio. But I do remember my older sisters getting the Edison out from time to time and dancing around the bedroom.


The Jolly Coppersmith was a song I can still hear playing. We didn't listen to it very often but the Edison always worked very well.

My grandmother also had a phonograph in their home, a large upright disc model which might have been a Brunswick. I still fondly remember her sitting in her rocking chair with me on her lap listening to the phonograph together.


1922 Christmas Ad


When World War II began there were paper drives and scrap iron drives and other activities to support the war effort. My Dad had alot of scrap iron and machinery parts around the farm and he was very willing and proud to donate all that he could.

Included in those war-time donations was our Edison Amberola. It was said that donating phonographs would help entertain the troops and I think my Dad believed that our Amberola would make it to some USO or army camp site. Perhaps he remembered scenes or stories from World War I and support efforts for entertaining the troops with phonograph music.


1919 postcard showing US Army personnel listening to a disc playing "Victrola"


Looking back, it seems unlikely our Amberola ever played music for any soldier in the 1940's. By 1942 Edison Blue Amberol cylinder records, the record format used by an Amberola, hadn't been manufactured by anyone in over 14 years so the music selection of an Amberola would have been very limited and dated.

But if our Edison did survive the army's scrap pile I'm sure it's still hammering out those "la la la's" of the Jolly Coppersmith.


Amberola record from 1918

Listen to the "The Jolly Coppersmith" or "Kreuzfidele Kupferschmied" played by Edison Military Band (1)


German postcard titled Liebesgaben (alms) - Children participating in a World War I war-time drive to support their troops (including the donation of a gramophone).



The Phonograph Goes to War

Reported in Scientific American, this Week in World War I: November 6, 1915

A recruiting station in Britain uses a phonograph to help drum up business in 1915.

Credit: Scientific American, November 6, 1915




This poster was displayed in a Department store in 1918 to support World War I American troops by bringing in unused records. (2)



Bring One Old Phonograph Record and 5 Cents for Kiddie Matinee Admission

The El Reno Daily Tribune, June 16, 1942, El Reno, OK



U.S. Troops listening to phonograph record during World War II

NARA (National Archives and Records Administration), Photographs and Graphic Works, College Park, MD, 44-PA-1377


See War, Vinyl and Print: Music for the Troops during World War II August 10, 2015 by Mary Macklem for an article about how the Army Special Services initiated “V-Discs” (the V stood for “victory”) to boost troop morale in 1943. Courtesy of National Endowment for the Humanities.

Also see Annegret Fauser’s book, Sounds of War, which "reveals the forgotten history of how the armed forces supported music and music-making for strategic purposes..." (3)


World War II U.S. Army Special Services Phonograph Player


Inside Lid of Special Services Phonograph - View full Operating Instructions



Memories of the Phonograph Main Menu


Other Axel Boilesen Stories


Axel's Parents


Axel's Grandparents


Axel's Siblings - The Chris Boilesen Family Album


Axel's Tribute to his parents - A Christmas Eve memory


Growing Up - What did we do for entertainment?


Growing Up - Education


Growing Up - Religion


High School Sneak Day (Class of 1941)


Measure Twice, Cut Once


My Dad the Inventor


My Danish Heritage


A Brief History of Cotesfield


Axel's account of his military experience in World War II - Axel Boilesen: 37-485-424


1841 Lake Street - The University Years


Axel's Grove 1976


2013 New Year's Resolution


Next Time


Memorial Service and Family Tribute to Axel - March 25, 2013


Committal Service and Sharing Memories - May 25, 2013 Cotesfield Cemetery


Axel - A Personal Tribute by Doug Keister - March 25, 2013


Axel, the Dougs, and the Glass Negatives - The Lincoln Journal - August 5, 2013


Axel and Betty - Christmas Traditions


June 5 - 1849 Danish Holiday - The signing of the Danish constitution in 1849. Each year Axel and Betty Boilesen celebrated this holiday and remembered their Howard County Nebraska roots which included picnics, ballgames and dances in Dannevirke Nebraska.


Betty Barr Boilesen Stories


CITY-TV Interview with Axel Boilesen March 2008 - Axel talks about the Legacy Phonograph Collection (16 minutes)



Axel Boilesen, a Friend of the Phonograph, celebrating his 87th Birthday.


Axel in the Legacy Radio Room - Photo by Doug Keister


Axel in the Legacy Phonograph Room - Photo by Doug Keister














Axel 1948 reading and listening to the phonograph



2011 at the Legacy



Memories of the Phonograph Main Menu