Done in reel time
Sunday January 29th 2012, 12:13 am
Filed under: Family,History

I almost could have sworn that was Richard’s dad in the other room: the voice. The cadences.  The chuckles. The song of it.

The words themselves were completely lost to me at that distance, though they did seem more garbled than my hearing might account for and I wondered if the speaker had had a small stroke I didn’t know about.

Was that his grandfather on the reel-to-reel, I asked? I actually would have guessed his father if it hadn’t been for the distortion; it sounded that much like his dad.

No–it was Richard’s great grandfather, recorded in 1957 or ’58 by his grandfather, who also recorded his mother-in-law during a trip back to where he grew up; her voice was next.

I tried to grok how a man whose father had been preached to by Joseph Smith in 1834, a man who had lived his life on a farm in Idaho, could sound so much across the years like how his grandson, who grew up surrounded by all that is official Washington DC, does now in 2012. That easy-going easily-laughing voice. Twins.

The generations are closer together than we know.

8 Comments so far
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Very neat. What fun to connect voices and people and… Wow. Talk about history!

Comment by Channon 01.29.12 @ 5:01 am

I made a quilt for my father where I gathered all of his relatives signatures, embroidered them, and pieced the quilt together. Unfortunately, he passed away before it was quilted but he did see and hold the top. The picture that went out in the bereavement cards was a picture of him holding the quilt top.

Every time I called a different cousin (36 of us and I’m the down tail end), or a cousin once removed or even a second cousin (yeah, I know the difference – now! After THAT project) I had to steel myself if I knew I was calling a male. All the older cousins or relatives sounded JUST like my daddy. It jerked my heart each and every time. It got so when they called me back after the funeral they would say “Afton? It’s not Junior (my dad’s name), it’s ………..” because I would suck my breath in hard. They all sounded like my sweet father from the middle of Montana, no matter where they had grown up.

Comment by afton 01.29.12 @ 8:29 am

Jan and I are identical twins that grew apart somewhat physically (excellent NPR discussion on how that is possible here:

but we have always sounded incredibly alike. When I’d call her dorm room in college, her roommates would freak a bit at first, telling her “you’re on the phone for you”, and even now after 53 years, when I hear myself on tape I always think, wow, that sounds like Jan!

I love hearing the voices passed down through generations. It’s a lovely thought to get to hear someone you loved who has gone on once again.

Comment by twinsetellen 01.29.12 @ 8:46 am

heh, yeah — my mother, my sister, my daughter, myself — hard to tell us apart, especially on the phone, and especially certain words — got to love those family ties!

Comment by Bev 01.29.12 @ 9:36 am

We have some cds Oscar’s mom made up from tapes his dad inscribed. Verling died when Oscar was 12, so these are most precious.

Comment by Diana Troldahl 01.29.12 @ 12:57 pm

“I tried to grok…” Grok? A word I don’t know.

I had had some reel to reel voices of my family, but Heaven knows what happened to them. There was one time at home I was sitting on the floor in the living room. My recorder was behind me, and the mike was partially hidden in my hand. There was some conversation going on, and unknown to the family, I was recording. Finally, someone noticed. “Are you recording us?” Yup! Well let’s hear it. So I played it. I had trouble recognizing my own voice, but my mother cracked us up. “Who is that lady with the funny accent?” she wanted to know. “Mom, that’s you!” She refused to believe it.

Comment by Don Meyer 01.29.12 @ 3:23 pm

My Dad could never tell me apart from my Mom when he called home. He would say her name or mine as a question. (-:

I found draft records for my great grandfather. Turns out we have the same hair and eye color (and build). Both my parents had dark hair and brown eyes … I don’t.

Comment by Anne 01.29.12 @ 10:11 pm

There is something about voices that’s a lot like scents and (for me at least) handwritten letters and notes – all have the ability to lasso our emotional centers and evoke memories so powerfully.

The scientist in me can’t help but wonder if we become so finely attuned to our loved ones voices and take and then pass on vocal characteristics much like songbirds do, but we’re just so caught up in our stories that we can’t hear it. Little stories like this shed light, I think. 🙂

Comment by Molly 01.29.12 @ 10:24 pm

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