Every year as a family we typically adopt a family. This year’s finances have been pretty tight, so we aren’t sure if we can swing it. Instead of giving up totally on the idea of helping someone in need, we’ve offered some help to a family friend. Still, it didn’t quite feel comparable to what we’ve been able to do in the past. Watching the news coverage of hurricane Sandy wrenched my heart. Until this past weekend I’d never been to New York City, so I only knew what it was like from stories, movies and tv. The scenes from Sandy coverage of the flooding just took my breath away. How do you watch an immense tunnel fill with water? How do you watch you car float away into a river? How do you see your warehouse full of records all but washed away?

When I read that Brooklyn based Norton Records lost their Red Hook warehouse, I immediately began to form a plan. The Millionaire has been traveling to the Philadelphia area for his work with a client over the Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend for the past several years. We’ve been fortunate enough that the small bonus he receives to travel over the holiday covers the expense of taking the rest of the family along. We had tossed the idea of a side trip to NYC the last 2 years, and this year decided to go come hell or high water. Then, I happened to see a call for volunteers from Billy Miller, one of the owners of Norton Records, and the details of my plan fell into place.

Anyone who knows anything about me and the Millionaire knows that we love music. We met via the Goner Records message board, no less. Our love of music has translated into a love of sharing that music, and the accompanying love of vinyl with the Millioniare’s kids. We have made a point to expose them to the music we love, the records we love and the artists we love. When possible, the kids go to shows and meet our friends and favorite bands. When I proposed helping Norton out during our side trip, the Millionaire didn’t even bat an eye. The plan was complete!

Sunday afternoon after a day of walking the streets of Manhattan, craning our necks to see the tallest buildings we’ve ever seen and grabbing a hot dog from a street vendor, we set off for Brooklyn. We fortified ourselves with what each member of the family unanimously agreed was the best pizza any of us has ever tasted: Brooklyn’s Grimaldi’s Pizza. With bellies full of pizza and excitement, we took off for Brooklyn Bowl, the bowling alley that donated the space for the wash-a-thon.

Billy and Miriam couldn’t have been more gracious and patient as they showed us what needed to be done. Rows of tables were set up with record washers provided by Discwasher of Pittsburgh, cleaning solution and rolls and rolls of paper towels. And records. Oh, the records. Stacked in tilted, soggy piles, some over waist high. One entire table was dedicated to tearing off the flood-soaked sleeves, while the rest of the tables were reserved for cleaning and drying and a final staging area full of fans to dry the labels. It made my heart hurt to see all those records, and know it was a matter of time before some were too far gone to save. Needless to say, we worked feverishly to clean and dry as many records as we could, knowing we only had a few hours before we had to leave the city.

I am so very proud of my chicken babies for their uncomplaining hard work. They could plainly see all around them the variety of folks that came out to help. Not only that, with the great DJs from WFMU that donated their time, the kids had an experience of listening to a great assortment of tunes that had us clapping, swaying and shaking right along. One of my most valuable life lessons has been the opportunity to learn how to have fun while I work. This weekend, my chicken babies had that opportunity as well. In the end the Millionaire family cleaned and dried 8 stacks of records. Each stack, a different run of a single title. Some were bigger than others, but we cleaned our hearts out. Our small reward was the visible gratitude from two of our record lovin idols, Billy Miller and Miriam Linna. That’s the best souvenir I can imagine.