Tell Me a Story – Post Thanksgiving Review

So did you celebrate National Day of Listening last Friday? Here’s how my day went: The 97-year-old woman I wanted to interview has not been feeling well these days, and I am afraid she may leave this world taking untold stories with her; instead I used my new Olympus DS-40 digital voice recorder to interview my 90-plus-year-old neighbors about their early lives. After initial uneasiness over the presence of the little recorder, they settled into good conversation, adding to and correcting each others’ memories as older married couples are prone to do. They were a wealth of information about the old town we live in, taking me back to simpler days of few cars, lots of walking and plenty of green space between houses. They were less forthcoming about their personal experiences, not that they were shy but rather they seemed to have forgotten! What games did they play as children, were there any moments that stood out in their memories, what did they remember about their lives during the Depression…

Perhaps it would help to prepare for an interview by giving out questions ahead of time and to make them very specific. That may seem like homework, but it allows for time to remember. I am suspecting that my mother may be unusual in that her incredible storehouse of childhood memories bubbles easily to the surface. For the rest of us it really takes some introspective thinking to pull out the details. I have concluded that storytelling and lifewriting are good exercises for the brain, and that keeping a journal starting at a young age is a good idea.

By the way, that DS-40 is easy to work, has an easy to read screen (for my older eyes) and produced an outstandingly clear recording, but since I let it run for 2 hours without stopping, the file was too big to fit onto a CD. I downloaded the wmv file to my laptop, transferred to iTunes which converted it to mp3, but it was huge and there seems to be no way to now cut the file in pieces. Fortunately the recorder can play back at slow speed so I hope to easily transcribe the recording with my nimble typing fingers. Live and learn.


About moonbridgebooks

Co-author of Cherry Blossoms in Twilight, a WWII Japan memoir of her mother's childhood; author of Poems That Come to Mind, for caregivers of dementia patients; Co-author/Editor of Battlefield Doc, a medic's memoir of combat duty during the Korean War; life writing enthusiast; loves history and culture (especially Japan), poetry, and cats
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2 Responses to Tell Me a Story – Post Thanksgiving Review

  1. Lisa Balbs says:

    What a wonderful idea! I suspect I know who this was, and I would love to read their stories when you ahve them transcribed (as I’m sure would their family). Have you thought about going back in a few days, after they’ve had time to think, and ask them what else they have remembered?

  2. Linda Austin says:

    Yes! I plan to give them a written copy to peruse and hopefully that will bring out more memories. And I have more questions, too. That’s the best part of writing rather than recording – you can go back and fill in the gaps.

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