When my parents first retired to Florida (that’s what retirees did in those days), long-distance phone connections were too expensive for idle chit-chat, so we kept in touch mostly by exchanging 3-inch reels of tape by mail. The tapes were long enough that we never filled up one.
When my mother died, I found about six tapes in the back of a drawer that still had both of their voices. They must have been extra tapes I had returned and were waiting to be re-recorded. I copied them onto my computer and I can bring them up anytime with just a few clicks. I cannot recall my parents’ voices from memory, but their recorded voices are instantly recognizable and heartwarming to hear. The recordings are treasured possessions, and I have them stored on Dropbox (the cloud) where they are safe, even if my computer fails or my house burns down.
Now, anyone with a smartphone or a tablet (and who doesn’t?) can do the same much easier with a free app called StoryCorps that will do the recording and store it in the Library of Congress where you, your grandchildren, or anyone who is interested, can listen.
You don’t have a smartphone or a tablet? Maybe it is time you got one. My Nexus 7 tablet only cost a little over $200, and can also show photos, find where you are on a map, email (read and write), give the weather, even phone, all with only a WiFi connection widely available in many businesses for free. Plus, learning to use it will exercise your brain.
The app is designed for teenagers to record their grandparents voices (even giving cartoon instructions), but the grandparents can just as easily record themselves or their grandchildren. You can also use it to temporarily record spoken driving directions or a recipe. You don’t have to send everything to the Library of Congress.
National Public Radio broadcasts selections from the Library of Congress recordings on Friday afternoons. Or, better yet, you can go to their website anytime and listen to what you want, at http://www.npr.org/series/4516989/storycorps/
I admit I have not recorded anything of myself, but I should. I have felt this blog is enough, but hearing an actual voice of a loved one, either a child now grown up or a deceased grandparent, is an emotional connection. It is a gift I can easily make and one that will eventually be fully appreciated, although probably not now. I should especially record my Japanese-American wife’s childhood memories of her WWII Internment in Arizona. See posting “Japanese-Americans: Sonoko’s Story,” 10/9/2010.
(WordPress does not allow attachments of video or sound recordings here on their free site.)