CURRENT ORAL HISTORIES
Sometimes some of my better ideas come to me quite by accident.
Case in point would be one evening as my husband and I were driving and started discussing family history stories and how we still wonder this or that about certain older relatives.
The thought came to me that I have one older relative that although nobody would suspect him of being a great orator, I personally could listen to him speak about the older passed on relatives, quite literally all day long. He himself blows off my opinion that he is a great storyteller. The term story used as in anecdotes, not in falsehoolds.
This led me to thinking that although I had heard many of the stories numerous times, there were some I just simply couldn't make stick in my head and I was constantly asking him about "just one more time".
I wondered why, if I could take a tape recorder when speaking to someone I was meeting just once about family history;
Why not just take a tape recorder when visiting closer relations, such as my great uncle or my husband's grandparents ?
Even though it is not a pleasant thought by either my husband or myself, common sense tells us that everyone in the world is mortal and will one day no longer be around. As I quite frequently speak to my great uncle on the phone for 2-3 hours at a time on sometimes 30 or more different topics, I know that when this is no longer possible it will create a tremendous void in my life.
So I have decided that in addition to taking photographs of persons like him and my husband's grandparents, that occassionally when time permits I am going to take a tape recorder and just "let it run" during a visit or two in order to preserve their stories and voices.
Some of the stories are not always genealogically valuable perhaps to someone else, but to me they are interesting. As when we are traveling to various cemeteries in the area he grew up in he relates this or that fact about a school or a family who lived in the area. Or sometimes things he and his brothers did as children. At the time I am concentrating mainly on the cemeteries and the facts found there that I don't always recall all of the stories later on in the day after returning home.
So, I think that the tape recorder may help me preserve those stories in some way for my later hearing.
I had accidentally done this before without realizing when I went with my great uncle and his brother (my other great uncle)on another cemetery tour. As I was videotaping a few of the stones, they were discussing some items in the family history such as: "where mom was born" or "the year that Napoleon met his Waterloo" (in reference to when one of our ancestors had died).
Their conversations obviously wasn't the reason that I was videotaping and I didn't realize I had it on there until viewing the tape much later at home.
One of those great uncles had since passed on, but I now still have that videotape with his voice on it as if he were still here. It is priceless to me.
When doing this however, I think that a more realistic portrayal will be found if you can find such a way to make you both forget that any recording is going on.
This may turn out to be not one of the greatest tips I have, but I think in years to come it will be something I value having.
I, for one, can think of several relatives who have already passed on that I would love to hear the sound of their voice
Just one more time....