As Norm Wilkins mentions in his article “Reminiscence” in this month’s Safe Money News™ (“Reminiscence” SMN, November/December 2015):
“It’s often fun to reminiscence about days gone by – particularly when you are remembering events that took place when growing up or during your early days of adulthood. It is not easy to weed out and cull happenings, especially when a number of years have passed. I had a professor in college who referred to those times as ‘deep well experiences.’”
The problem is that quite often, when we track down that old box of photos or find an old VHS or audiotape, much to our horror we discover that the materials have deteriorated due to poor storage, moisture or heat damage, or just the natural decay that happens over time. Sadly, many of these one-of-a-kind memories are lost forever!
That’s the primary reason I began transferring these materials for friends and family members over twenty years ago. Since that time, I have received thousands of video tapes, old 8 mm and 16 mm home movie films, audio cassettes and reels, photographs and slides, and even rare audio transcriptions from folks all over the world! I really enjoy doing the work even though I usually know nothing about the people involved. The “deep well” experiences are truly priceless and often quite moving. Here is an example.
Several years ago, around the holiday season, a woman and her husband came to my recording studio with a small audio transcription – the kind of record that was recorded on an early dictation machine – a one-of-a-kind recording; no other copy existed. The woman told me that she had found the disk in her recently-departed mother’s belongings and wasn’t sure what it was.
The record was in very poor condition – scratched and “yellowed” from age – and it came in a self-mailer. The postmark on the mailer read, “May, 1944.” The return address in the upper left hand corner of the envelope included the Pepsi Cola and American Red Cross logos. What I was about to “reclaim” was a recording done by the American Red Cross on the battlefields in Europe during World War II. Pepsi Cola had paid for recording engineers to interview soldiers in the field for their families back home to listen to.
The husband and wife sat behind me in my studio control room while I worked for about twenty minutes trying to eliminate all of the noise and scratchiness on the record. I wore headphones during this process. When I had recovered the voices on the record, I turned on my studio speakers and played the three- to four-minute “restored” recording for the woman. It was still a little noisy, but we could hear the voices very well. The recording began with an announcer (probably the recording engineer) introducing the soldier. Then, the soldier began to speak, addressing his loved ones at home, talking about his day, the weather, how bad the food was, and the battles he had fought in Belgium.
I turned my head slightly to see the reaction from the couple sitting behind me. Tears were running down the woman’s face. She said, “That’s my dad!” I replied something innocuous, like, “Oh, that’s wonderful.”
She interrupted me. “No, you don’t understand. I was born in September 1944.” (Remember the post mark was May 1944). She paused for a moment. I didn’t see the importance of her statement. And then she continued.
You see, my father was killed in action in July 1944 … this is the first time I’ve ever heard his voice!” At that time, the woman was in her late 60s and she was listening to her father’s voice for the very first time!
I sat there, speechless. It was a moment I will never forget. And I have had so many of those kinds of moments with people who have sent or brought me their family heirlooms to save and restore. Old home movies and video tapes that they can no longer watch are now preserved on digital formats they can play on their TVs and share with friends and family. Photos and slides that we can capture and restore, digitally, to use in tributes to family members who have recently died, for newlyweds, recent graduates, anniversaries, retirement parties, and so forth.
If you have old tapes, photos, slides, and even movie film, please contact me and I’ll explain the simple process of transferring these precious family heirlooms for you. Be sure to mention The Ohlson Group when you call or write and you’ll enjoy their “Preferred Customer Discount!”
Feel free to email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org or call me, Al Stone, at 317.288.9495.