RICHMOND, Va. -- In his darkened, cluttered basement Steve Koslowski finds sheer bliss with a beat.
Koslowski immerses himself in song.
“Most days I am down here for five, six seven hours,” said Koslowski. “You name it. It runs the entire gambit.”
From the Bee Gees and Bach to Chopin and Shaft.
“I can go back and listen to Isaac Hayes if I want to,” he added.
The 67-year-old collects vinyl. Lots of vinyl.
“Forty-five’s in here I probably have close to 2,000. Thirty-three’s, I probably have three to five thousand here,” said Koslowski.
He collects boxes of records at auctions and yard sales.
“This is the hunt. This is the stuff that I love,” said Koslowski. “I haven’t gone through half of these boxes.”
Discovering musical mysteries is like striking gold for the New York native.
In the quiet of upstairs Carol, Koslowski’s patient wife, grins and bares it.
“It keeps him busy,” said Carol. “I’ve given up. It is about the safest hobby you could have.”
Koslowski’s obsession goes far beyond phonograph fun. Life has dealt Steve several sour notes.
“When I was overseas I lost five years of music,” he recalled.
For half a century hidden demons have haunted the Vietnam veteran. The former U.S. Marine witnessed horrors he cannot forget.
“Eighteen of us went in country North Vietnam 30 miles west of Hanoi. Four of us came out,” he said.
The experience in his late teens scarred him on the outside and in. Koslowski showed reporter Greg McQuade the scars of three bullet holes he says were from the enemy in Vietnam.
“I have bullet holes here. Here and here. They went in there. Came out there. Bounced off,” said Koslowski.
PTSD led to a string of unsuccessful jobs driving trucks and a failed first marriage. He was at the end of his rope. But rediscovering music is slowly pulling Koslowski out of his dark place.
“Nobody has touched that vinyl for 40, 50, 60 years. You heard the sound quality and tone quality and everything else,” said Koslowski.
His self-prescribed music therapy is easing his burden.
“To see the joy and love and excitement in something so simple as music is so satisfying,” said his wife Carol. “It makes me very happy to see that. He deserves it.”
“It is a stress reliever. It helps relieve the pain that I have,” said Koslowski.
These days Steve is sharing his love of music on tour. It’s a painful journey for the veteran. His destination? The same hallowed venue. Every month or so Koslowski performs at the Virginia War Memorial.
The proud Marine sings the same song to the same 12,000 names engraved on the walls of the War Memorial. He truly believes they’re listening.
Steve Koslowski said his brothers and sisters in arms who never came home deserve a song to finally soothe their soul too.
Koslowski says, “I gave some. They gave all. The little that I can give back and sing and share my music is the least that I can do.”
If you know of someone with an interesting story to tell email Greg McQuade at firstname.lastname@example.org.