I first stepped into Val’s Halla Records when I was 11 years old, about a year after moving to the village with my family. I had noticed tiny Oak Park record store ― then on South Blvd facing the Oak Park Avenue “el” stop ― while riding my 5-speed Huffy bike around the still-new neighborhood.
For more than 40 years, Val Camilletti welcomed kids and adults to her store. Sadly, that came to and end when she died early Tuesday morning at the age of 78. According to one of her closest friends, Val died in hospice, two years after being diagnosed with breast cancer.
We all have our own memories of Val and her store.
I’ll never forget that big booming voice… or her hair (an afro, really). But there’s also our friendship that grew over the years with conversations about everything from music to what my three sons were up to. She always asked about them. Our last conversation took place when I stopped by the store about a month ago ― we talked about my plans to move to farm in Iowa.
I made it a point to stop by whenever I was in Oak Park ― I loved talking to Val. When it came to Val, there was never such thing as a quick chat. That was fine with me. I’ll miss those conversations.
Shane Blakely, Val’s right hand man for 17 years, joins the Morning Shift to share his memories and stories of the late record store owner.
GUEST: Shane Blakely, manager of Val’s Halla Records