Shortly after my mother died in late 2004, my sister gave my wife four cassette tapes to have copies made. My wife made two copies of each tape. My sister kept the originals, our family kept one set of the copies, and the third set went to my uncle (my mother’s brother). The tapes are each 60 minutes long, 30 minutes per side. On the tapes, my mother talks about her life and shares older family stories that she heard growing up.
I put off listening to these tapes for over six years. It was something I could always put off. I was confident the tapes would be there when I needed to hear them.
Well, the time has come. I put the first tape in the cassette player, get comfortable on the couch, and listen. I hear my mother’s actual voice for the first time in years, sounding weak and shaky from Parkinson’s disease.
“I am June Virginia Price. My father and mother met in
. I was born in Culpepper, Virginia on January 25, 1929. My father was from Patchogue, New York . He had gone to Deep River, Connecticut and needed money to go back for the second year…” Brown University
Over the next two weeks, this blog will address the subject of oral histories – how my sister went about preserving my mother’s memories onto tape and how we now have a responsibility to ensure that this part of our family collection remains accessible. I’ll be talking with my sister as well as with experts on oral history recording and audio preservation.
We are so fortunate to have these tapes.
© 2010 Lee Price