In record store, stumbling across a precious family history in vinyl

The “it’s a small world” item of the day today comes from the exotic land of Milwaukee, where Steve Cohen stopped at a rummage sale, looking for old records, which he collects and sells.

While leafing through a stack of vinyl — mostly big band music — he found a “living letter,” a recording of greetings that servicemen made, usually to sweethearts and mothers.

This one, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports, was from his uncle to his grandmother:

Steve had stumbled on a long-lost piece of family history. And here’s the good news: Neil Cohen is 86 and very much alive. Steve visits him once a week at the Milwaukee Catholic Home.

“My wheels started turning immediately that this would be a great surprise for him,” Steve said.

He invited me along Friday and introduced me to Neil.

“I’m going to play a record for you,” Steve said as he lugged an ancient phonograph down the Catholic Home hallway to a conference room.

“Stan Kenton?” Neil said, following behind.

“Close,” replied Steve.

Steve had never met his grandmother. She died not long after her son — Steve’s uncle — made the recording.