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Subject: How to get old-timers to open up?

Written By: 90s Guy on 05/05/18 at 12:26 pm

My grandpa is gonna be 90 next year. He still has all his marbles, not even a hint of senility.

I would like to ideally get at least some of his memories and views on things on tape for posterity. He's a link to a long gone past. I'm 28. When he was 28 the year was 1957. I'd really like to capture what he remembered of his time, the things he loved growing up, and family stories on tape, but I feel like a creep in wanting to do so, I feel like it could be ill-received.

I'd wanna hear stories about his parents, wanna know what his favorite movies and music were growing up, what he thinks of the changes of the last 50+ years, you know, all that kind of stuff. Get his voice talking about it on tape so when he's gone, I can show my kids someday who their great grandfather was, beyond just pictures and home movies. Make him exist as a person for years to come in a sense.

Any tips on how to do this?




Subject: Re: How to get old-timers to open up?

Written By: CatwomanofV on 05/05/18 at 12:55 pm

I think it is a brilliant idea-we did that (sort of) with my grandmother.

The first thing you should do is ASK HIM. He might be open to it. If he is, then make sure you have a list of questions and set up a session.

If he isn't open to it, you could do what we did with my grandmother. I wasn't there but a couple of my sisters were talking to her and one of them had a camera and placed it on the table pointing it at her. She didn't even realize that she was being recorded. (I did that with my sister's aunt-in-law who is in her 90s talking about WWII in Italy when she was kid-and how she & her sister escaped a bomb that was dropped near them. )

Carlos tried to do this with his father (he was at the invasion of Normandy on D-Day). By the time Carlos tried, his dad was already suffering from the beginning stages of Alzheimer's and was VERY paranoid and wouldn't do it. If Carlos thought to do it maybe 5 or 10 years earlier, he probably would have been eager-because at that time, he would tell everyone & anyone his stories.  :D ;D ;D ;D



Cat

Subject: Re: How to get old-timers to open up?

Written By: 90s Guy on 05/05/18 at 1:49 pm


I think it is a brilliant idea-we did that (sort of) with my grandmother.

The first thing you should do is ASK HIM. He might be open to it. If he is, then make sure you have a list of questions and set up a session.

If he isn't open to it, you could do what we did with my grandmother. I wasn't there but a couple of my sisters were talking to her and one of them had a camera and placed it on the table pointing it at her. She didn't even realize that she was being recorded. (I did that with my sister's aunt-in-law who is in her 90s talking about WWII in Italy when she was kid-and how she & her sister escaped a bomb that was dropped near them. )

Carlos tried to do this with his father (he was at the invasion of Normandy on D-Day). By the time Carlos tried, his dad was already suffering from the beginning stages of Alzheimer's and was VERY paranoid and wouldn't do it. If Carlos thought to do it maybe 5 or 10 years earlier, he probably would have been eager-because at that time, he would tell everyone & anyone his stories.  :D ;D ;D ;D



Cat


Thanks.

I knew a few anecdotes, but without tape, they'll be garbled by me with the passage of time, you know? Also, he has a VERY heavy distinct Bensonhurst accent, which is slowly being lost. Hearing him talk about these things with that accent - for my kids and grandkids - it'd be an amazing snapshot.

Like my mother's father. He died in 1975. We have pictures and home movies of him (silent 8mm home movies). I've never heard his voice and never will. I've heard of sayings of his, and I can get a very vague gist of who he was and what he believed in - but until you hear someone's voice, how they spoke (Was their voice deep or high? Did they speak quick or in a measured, slow way?) you don't really get a true picture of who they were as a human being.

I know for example he never hit my mother or sisters outside of tapping them on the ass when they were acting up. I know his best friends in life were a Syrian-American, a Hispanic American, and an African American. One of his sayings was "If I can't eat what I want to eat, what's the point of living?" Another was, "When the man upstairs calls you, you could have the world's best doctor's around you, but when it's your time to go, it's your time to go." I know he was quiet, but liked to joke, and while he was easygoing, he could yell if pushed, loud too. He never physically abused my grandmother although she physically abused him. I know when my aunt (who is a lesbian and was already known as being such) at age 17 wanted to become a Nun, he went ballistic and said no, because she could be doing much more with her mind. He ultimately made a deal with her, telling her if she would work and date boys for a year, she could become a Nun. I know he refused to allow my other aunt to join the Army in the late 1960s as he knew women were mistreated in the Army "they don't respect women there" he told her. I know his nickname was Acey-Deucy, and that he was a bad gambler, but didn't drink or smoke except a cigar when he would play cards with his friends. I know he was a great handy man and practically rebuilt my grandmother's house internally. He also worked as a printer prior to serving in WWII, and then as a postman, a chauffer, and a security guard later. I know he loved wrestling, would have my mother sitting on his lap every Sunday when they watched the Wonderful World of Disney, that he loved cartoons and he also loved watching female Roller Derby and collected roller deby cards. I have some of his cards.

But outside of those ancedotes, I don't know the real man because I've never heard his views from his voice and from his point of view.

So with my one surviving grandpa, I want the man himself on tape.

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