Uniformed Police Officer Record Dealers
In the 1960s, Long Beach was the home of Humphrey’s, Morey’s and other assorted downtown Long Beach record shops. Generally, the goof stuff wasn’t there.
An early recipient of my college day funds (at a quarter a pop) was a Long Beach cop named W.W. Braden, who dealt out of print 45s to local teenagers out of his kitchen on 28th St. near Clark Ave. Bill found out about Braden and told me, so every Saturday morning, Bill and I and a few other teens would arrive at his house and plow through boxes of 45s he’d sell for 25 cents apiece. I got some great records this way.
Bill Soon found “Count Every Star” by the Ravens and I found “Eternally” by the Swallows on blue vinyl. I wanted Big Jay McNeeley on Federal, but Braden never had one. I still have mine; Bill Soon sold his.
Bill Braden loved country music, so he kept these for himself, which was fine with us R&B and early rock and roll fans.
Many were the times I’d be visiting junk shops on Anaheim St. and environs and spot Braden’s black and white cop car near the back door, where, as Bill and I liked to joke, he’d be giving the clerks at song and dance about donating these records to “crippled orphan” homes in the area and he’d be walking out in full uniform, boxes on records tucked under each arm.
A retired Long Beach cop whom I met much later on well remembered Braden, whom they gave the nickname “the sheriff,” because he reminded them of how law was enforced before modern policing methods – and when I say modern, I mean 1960s modern.
Braden was last seen tending to a 45s shop at Stearns and Lakewood Blvd, after having divorced his wife and moving on. I hear he died, but my collecting bug was just getting started.