Helen Mader recalled her time as a missionary in China with Madam Chiang Kai Shek. Pastor Ernie Brazil talked about calming young people during the racial unrest in Tacoma during the summer of 1967. Musician Art Mineo shared stories of entertainers he worked with during the 1940s. R. Franklin Thompson talked about funding the sidewalks at the University of Puget Sound. There are millions of stories waiting to be shared and handed down from generation to generation, but first they need to be recorded.
Did you ever look at old photos and wish those moments in time could talk? It’s almost too late to learn from our friends and relatives who lived through the great depression or saved the world on the shores of Normandy. Please, take the time and save our history and your family stories.
I waited too long to record my mother on video, but I did I record my father before he passed away. I didn’t know that twice he stood on the deck of an oil tanker during the war in the Pacific and watched torpedoes racing for the hull of his ship. I didn’t know how the pangs of hunger forced him to eat stale bread in a glass of milk before he went to school from a room he rented from an aunt so he could attend high school after delivering papers and sweeping out a barber shop. Divorce, hunger and the lack of jobs force people to make strange decisions . . . just to be able to live from day to day.
Recording life stories provides humor as well as heartbreak, however. Just as more and more people are testing their DNA and searching for ancestors, we sometimes miss the opportunity to understand the little twists of life and the results of chosen pathways of close relatives. We should care not just about where we came from, but how we got where we are and those that led the way.
Think of the Korean War, Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Think of triumphs and defeats, births and deaths, and reunions. What can be shared and saved? Imagine just getting your aunts together and letting them tell tales about each other. Priceless. Look for family secrets. They meant so much once upon a time and yet closer to the end of life, they seem useless and even harmful. We should let them out of the closet.
One friend’s mother refused to be recorded, but from the request he was able to look through old photographs and albums. He discovered that his mother had been engaged before marrying his father. The man abused her and my friend said, “That could have been my father. And I had never heard a word about that before.” The past is interesting and quickly disappearing. With a little planning, almost anyone can record family stories, or hire someone to have it professionally recorded, edited, and uploaded or copied. You’ll love the outcome.