Episode 107 - Daughter of Late Chicago Cubs Coach Seeks Her Father's Stories & Voice

podcast episode Oct 05, 2015

Leigh Ann Walker Young, daughter of the late Chicago Cubs coach, Verlon "Rube" Walker, lost her dad when she was three years old, in 1971.  Three years ago, she recognized the hole his absence left in her life and decided to reach out to her father's former associates, looking for stories and just maybe... the sound of his voice.  Leigh Ann shares her journey this week on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show!

Fisher and David Allen Lambert, Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and American Ancestors.org, cover several "Family Histoire" news stories that people are talking about this week.  They include one woman's efforts to locate and then wear a wedding dress that has been used in family weddings since 1895. Listen to the show to hear just how many relatives have worn that dress!  Then, it's an update on the progress being made on the remains of a woman believed to be the model for DaVinci's "Mona Lisa."  Next, could your fingerprints reveal something about your ancestry?  Scientists are beginning to answer that question, as well as how they might predict your future health.  David's got another "Tech Tip," and NEHGS free database for the week.

In the second segment Fisher, an avid, lifetime baseball fan, visits with the daughter of late Chicago Cubs coach, Verlon "Rube" Walker, Leigh Ann Walker Young.  Leigh Ann made a decision three years ago that it was time she got to know her father, and what a journey that desire has taken her on!  It's an inspiring conversation.

Fisher continues his visit with Leigh Ann Walker Young in the next segment, and plays the only known recording of the voice of Leigh Ann's late father, Rube Walker.  Get the story behind how she found it after three years of well publicized searching!

Then, Tom Perry, the Preservation Authority talks about taking your old, faded, and cracked pictures, digitally restoring them, and making them into a brand new photo album.  You won't be able to resist this idea!

That's all this week on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show!

Transcript of Episode 107

Host Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Segment 1 Episode 107

Fisher: And welcome back to another scintillating addition of Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.  I am Fisher, your Radio Roots Sleuth, on the program where we shake your family tree and watch the nuts fall out.  Well, another great guest coming up today that I’m very excited about. In fact, in two parts because this is a person whose been making a lot of noise with her journey of late. Her name is Leigh Ann Walker Young, she lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, and she is the daughter of the late coach of the Chicago Cubs, Verlon “Rube” Walker. And he passed away in 1971 when Leigh Ann was only 3 years old. And three years ago she got the itch, she had to know more about her dad, she had to find his voice. And so it has taken her on a three year journey that has gotten her into the broadcast booth with the Cubs, talked to some of the old players from the 1960s, and has given her the opportunity to be on ESPN with Keith Olbermann talking about her search. And she’s had some great successes and you’re going to want to hear this story. It’s coming up in just a little bit. But right now let’s head out to Boston and our good friend the Chief Genealogist with the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org, David Allen Lambert.

Fisher: Hello David.

David: Hello Fish, greetings from Beantown!

Fisher: Boy, there’s a lot of news going on today in our Family Histoire News, starting out with this thing about the bridal gown. Did you hear about this?

David: I did. This girl named Abigail Kingston… talk about a family that never threw anything away.

Fisher: Right. [Laughs]

David: And I’ll tell you, the ironic thing about wearing a bridal gown that’s been passed down for that long, that they’re the same size and didn’t need to be altered that much, is pretty amazing.

Fisher: 120 years old. This thing was first worn by Mary Lowery Warren on December 11th 1895, and ten brides on Abigail’s mother’s side have worn it. Now she wants it.

David: Exactly. Well I mean it’s amazing to think that over 200 hours were spent restoring it. But I’m sure it’s probably going to be wonderful. The big day is coming up this month on the 17th of October, so the 11th person to wear it!

Fisher: Yeah exactly. And then it makes you wonder how many more centuries this can go on. [Laughs]

David: I would think that it’s probably endless. I think since they’ve started this tradition why not try it for another 100 years?! Apparently it’s so fragile though, she’s not wearing it for the ceremony, but afterwards at the cocktail reception.

Fisher: Interesting. Well we wish her the best of luck. Then there’s the story about the Mona Lisa.

David: Okay well the Mona Lisa as we know is an iconic figure in world history. She sat for Leonardo DaVinci and it’s probably one of the most well recognized paintings in the world.  But who was she? Well, Lisa Gherardini is thought to be the lady who sat for the painting by DaVinci. We know that in the 16th century she later went to live at the convent of Saint Ursula which is in Florence. And back in July they did some archaeology work there. They found a batch of skeletons and some bone fragments, and it leans to the possibility that they found her.

Fisher: Wow!

David: The great thing about technology now, Fish, the world we live in is allowing us to look at ancient remains. And you know, obviously, we found that kind in the car park.

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: The King of England, you know, found under a parking lot.

Fisher: Yes.

David: So the thing in technology is trying to be applied. They’re having some trouble with the remaining bone fragments to determine a connection. However, they’re not giving up.  They’re hoping that as technology progresses in the field of DNA analysis that they’ll be able to inclusively say one way or the other that they found the real Mona Lisa.

Fisher: Isn’t that something?

David: Excellent stuff.

Fisher: That’s going to be one of those ongoing stories just like King Richard the III.

David: Exactly. Listen, the next time you pick up a glass and you leave your fingerprints on it, I want you to know that it is now a family history artefact.

Fisher: Really?

David: Yeah! Did you hear about the article in the Newsweek?

Fisher: Oh, the Newsweek thing. Yes this is incredible! If you haven’t read it, we’ve got it posted on our site ExtremeGenes.com.

David: It is amazing. Basically what they did is they took a sampling of over 243 individuals. 61 African-American males and females, and 61 Europeans, and they did a comparison.

Now, there’s no significant difference between a male and a female on the fingerprints that they looked at. But between the Europeans and the Africans there are significant differences. The time in which fingerprints are formed is between the 6th and 7th week of gestation in the womb.

Fisher: Right.   

David: So this is almost another way of looking genetically at our past. Anthropologists are already looking at the uses of this for looking at global patterns of where people come from for identity. I mean we already use fingerprints for crime solving. Now maybe it’s for genealogy.

Fisher: Wow.

David: More and more people need to be involved in this somewhere. So they’re going to need a larger scope of the population to do that. So, less painful than getting a DNA sample, just put your fingerprint down!

Fisher: Wouldn’t that be something?

David: And there’ll need to be a place where you can send your fingerprints in other than the FBI. [Laughs]

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: To get it analyzed.

Fisher: Yes, something else for us to worry about getting out to the wrong hands, right?

David: Exactly.  

Fisher: Oh, and by the way, did you see this David, at the end of that article it talks about the fact that they may be able to use fingerprints to determine your risks for certain diseases as well? In fact, they’ve determined that Alzheimer patients have a different fingerprint than those who are at low risk for Alzheimer’s.

David: I saw that. And there are also ones that indicate for breast cancer, which is rather an interesting thing to think that something as simple as the analysis of your fingerprint might unlock potential clues to your future health.

Fisher: Wow, unbelievable stuff! All right, what else have you got?

David: What else I have for you is our Tech Tip is going to be one of two.

Fisher: All right.

David: I attended the “Guild of One-Name Studies” who were in Boston at NEHGS last week, and they talked to me about a piece of software called “TNG” which stands for the “The Next Generation” of genealogy site building. It’s a commercial piece of software that allows you to go in and build your own family tree website. You can take that, you can post the information right on a webpage and all the data is there.  It has a lot of capabilities. So I’m going to get a copy of that, look at it this weekend, and report back next week when we tune in.

Fisher: I like that! Sounds like a great thing. Imagine being able to host your own site, great stuff.

David: I think it is. The other thing that’s exciting is, October is Family History Month and at NEHGS we have exciting things like the guest user database which I’ll reveal in just a second for this week. However, if you’re in Boston, we are open for free on Wednesdays in October. So come on in, we’re open from 9 AM to 9 PM on the 7th, the 14th, 21st and the 28th.  And the free database for our guest users which are part of the promotion go to AmericanAncestors.org to find out more about our Swedish baptisms, marriages and burials from the 17th century right through to 1920, this is in partnership with FamilySearch.org.

Fisher: Yeah this is great stuff by the way for anybody with Scandinavian ancestry.

David: Absolutely. Swedish research is always a little more tricky to do because of the patronymics but it’s definitely worth the challenge.

Fisher: Yup.

David: So I want to say from Boston to the listeners out there, become an Extreme Genes genie and I’ll catch you next week with some more news right here from Beantown.

Fisher: All right. Thanks so much David! And coming up next in three minutes, we’re going to talk to Leigh Ann Walker Young. She is the daughter of the late Chicago Cubs coach Rube Walker. She’s been on a search to hear his voice among other things, wait till you hear her story, coming up next on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.

Segment 2 Episode 107

Host Scott Fisher with guest Leigh Ann Walker Young

Fisher: And welcome back to Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth, and many years ago, back in my youth as a Mets fan in the New York area, I had the occasion to actually hang out with the New York Mets when they won the 1969 World Series on the set of the Ed Sullivan Show where my dad worked.  And I got to get the autographs of all the guys connected with the team. One of those guys was named Rube Walker, and he was the Mets coach. And he had a brother on the Chicago Cubs at the time who the Mets had actually beaten out to win the division, and his name was also “Rube” Walker, Verlon “Rube” Walker. And I remember sadly, back in 1971 when the Mets’ Rube Walker had to go back to Chicago for the funeral of his brother.  And at the time, Verlon had a little three year old girl named Leigh Ann, and Leigh Ann is on the phone with me right now.  Hi Leigh Ann! Welcome to Extreme Genes, nice to have you on!

Leigh Ann: Thank you so much for having me.

Fisher: You have such a great story about family history. And I think you have that hole that so many people experience when they lose somebody young. You were only three years old, so you have virtually no memories of your dad, I would assume?

Leigh Ann: No memories of him. And when people talk about it, it’s a loss. And for me, I like to talk about it as a void, really a lack, because I didn’t know him so I didn’t miss him.

Fisher: Yes, that makes a lot of sense. But you were missing things, the role that he would have played in your life had he lived. And certainly you’ve heard all about him all throughout your life, not only because of his role in your family, but the fact that he was a beloved figure in Chicago.

Leigh Ann: Yes. And it’s interesting because I didn’t grow up hearing stories from family members about my dad, but I really kind of just didn’t talk about it.  It was almost as if I wanted to pretend like it was okay and that there was this void in my life and I pretended like it wasn’t there. And for me, I think there’s real power in figuring out where you came from, which is I’m sure what your listeners do a lot of.

Fisher: Yes.

Leigh Ann: So I took on this soul mission. I started calling it a quest. And now I’ve kind of turned it into a soul mission because I had a hole in my soul the size of my dad, and I really wanted to get to know him. So that’s how it started. I just decided I was going to really delve into his life and get to know him, more than just the surface of the pictures that I had seen, and the stories that I had been told by my family members. I really wanted to go out into the world and learn about him. And I was just blessed that he did have this public life with the Chicago Cubs.

Fisher: Absolutely. It’s a lot more than a lot of people have, because obviously he generated news stories and lots of photographs, had associations with many interesting people, and baseball Hall of Famers which had to be very interesting to you, as you came to understand the significance of that. I was reading about your quest, and you really took this public. I mean it wound up on ESPN that you were trying to find out more about your dad. And in particular to find some audio of him because you have no recollection of his voice.

Leigh Ann: Yes. I had really laid out all the pictures and all the stories and made a timeline. And it kind of hit me that I’d never heard his voice. I had just never heard the sound of my father’s voice. And that became kind of an archetypal quest, that fatherly wisdom. I’m sure if you close your eyes now, you can hear your father, saying something to you, in his voice. Just something, whether he’s giving you wisdom or advice or calling you to tasks or whatever, and I didn’t have that. So that was the search I began. And I thought I’ll call the Cubs, and they’ll send me a video tape or an audio tape of him doing some radio show, and it’ll be over. And that didn’t happen. I called WGN. WGN had nothing. And so I kind of had to start on this whole journey of looking for a needle in a haystack through collectors and broadcasters, and nothing turned up for almost two years.

Fisher: Now when did you start this?

Leigh Ann: I started it in 2012. That’s when I reached out to the Chicago Cubs organization. And about six months later at Hughes, it was WGN, the Cubs play-by-play announcer got in touch with me and said that he would help me. And he put me in touch with some collectors in the area thinking that they may know someone who may have a dusty old box of audio, and that’s how I would find my tapes. So I just began calling people, which is completely out of my realm. I just don’t do that. I just don’t call people randomly asking for help.

Fisher: Not in your comfort zone.

Leigh Ann: It’s totally out of my comfort zone. And so this is a stretch for me, and really just part of the journey. It was part of my journey of healing. So it took me out of my comfort zone to ask people for help and by doing that, by being vulnerable, I’ve been rewarded. From just the healing, and it has come from that. And the people that have come forward and helped me, it’s been amazing.

Fisher: What did you learn from the people you spoke to? Obviously a lot of senior members of the Cubs family who remembered him well, I’m sure you gathered some stories that just blew your mind.

 Leigh Ann: Yes, great stories about his wit, and his heart, and his sense of humor, which really was striking and amazing, and his kindness. People would remember little kind things that he did for them and how he helped the younger players and mentored them. So I really got to layer, I talk about layering flesh onto bone. I really got to get to know a man by the way he treated people.  Things that he said, things that he did, things that he ate, things that he liked to do. That I didn’t really know about, from these other people, and his interactions. It brought a man, it brought him to me, a man that I could actually get to know, and then miss. Now I know what I’ve missed. And I’ve created this father that I can kind of hold in my heart and carry with me. It’s been just a beautiful and amazing story, a gift that I’ve given myself through the help of so many people.

Fisher: Isn’t it interesting how much information is really out there if you really take the journey?

Leigh Ann: It’s true. There’s so much information, so many people willing to help. And even when you feel like this is a lost cause, or this is so old, or these people are not going to remember me, or remember my family member, you’re just like putting yourself out there.  You get so much in return. And the main thing that keeps coming back to me in the seam of all this is that, people remember the kindness that you show them. That’s really all that endures. Once everything is gone, once the things are gone away, everything fades except for the kind memories. And that’s your legacy. And it’s just been a really beautiful way for me to honor my father and bring him to me, into my life.

Fisher: That’s kind of the Maya Angelou quote, right? About people may not remembering what you said, but they do remember how they made you feel.

Leigh Ann: Exactly! And that has been – I have seen that, I have heard that. One man, Blake Cullen, he was the traveling secretary for the Chicago Cubs. I was told I needed to talk to him, over and over again. And I finally found someone who could give me his number. And I found him and I got him on the phone. And he told me that as a young traveling secretary he had all these books, and he had this typewriter, and he had all this stuff that he had to carry around. He didn’t have an assistant back in the ‘60s. And so, he was getting on the plane and my father came up behind him and just took his big typewriter thing from him, and didn’t say a word and just put it in his own overhead. My father did. And he carried that thing with him on every travel trip that Blake was with him. So Blake remembers my dad as being helpful. Just because he saw a person in need. He saw that Blake was in over his head, he was young, and he wanted to make a good impression. And my dad, on away games, about the seventh innings, sent the bat-boy out to get that typewriter and bring it back down to my dad in the dugout so that he could carry it on to the airplane for Blake. And he just did that. Just the kindness, and Blake all these years, forty years later, remembers that.

Fisher: Well, who wouldn’t? Imagine a man of your father’s stature on the team, taking care of a younger guy’s equipment at that time. So, this was the course over a couple of years you started collecting these stories. I’m assuming you’ve written them down and are starting some kind of collection with that?

Leigh Ann: Yes. I’ve written them down and I’m in the process of writing a book about what I’ve learned about my dad, and about my journey. It’s kind of a book in two parts. I’ve got great collections of stories. Mainly that just tells me little bits and pieces about his personality. And then, something really miraculous started to happen, once I began talking to these men, from baseball’s golden age, they would ask me, “Well, who have you spoken to?” “Who have you talked to?” And then I would tell them who I’d spoken with and tell them about that person, they’re living in Florida, and so I became kind of a conduit or connection for these people that had lost touch with one another. I felt like I was being used in a beautiful way as well, to connect these men together again, too. So it’s just been really interesting.  I’ve gotten a lot from it. Everybody has. Just from me taking the chance to step out there and find something I want. It’s come to me in waves and it’s been such a beautiful journey.

Fisher: But the stories themselves really weren’t enough. I mean, you had more that you were looking for. You wanted to hear the voice, three years later the opportunity came along. We’re going to talk about that when we return with Leigh Ann Walker Young, from Charlotte, North Carolina, coming up next on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.

Segment 3 Episode 107

Host Scott Fisher with guest Leann Walker Young

Fisher: And we are back! Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, talking with Leann Walker Young, from Charlotte, North Carolina. She is the daughter of Verlon “Rube” Walker, the former coach of the Chicago Cubs, who passed away in 1971 when Leann was only 3 years old. Just a few years ago, 2012, she decided “It’s time I got to know who my dad was.” And she began a search gathering stories as we heard in the previous segment but also looking to find the voice of her dad. And, Leann, was it frustrating to you or were the stories fulfilling enough as you went along but you still enjoyed the journey?

Leann: I really did enjoy the journey. I tried to talk about it as putting a canoe in the river and just letting the current take me.  I didn’t really morose about it. I didn’t try to manipulate it. I allowed it to come to me and that has taught me a lot in life, the lesson of just things move really much more smoothly when I get out of the way. All I did was just be willing and the journey built on itself. One person would give me, “You need to call this person, here’s their phone number. They knew your dad.”

Fisher: Right.

Leann: And so I would do that. I made the commitment early on, I would follow any leads. If someone emails me and tells me to do a library research, I go there. So I did all of that. I did the footwork and it became really exhilarating and it energized me once I got started and it’s very exciting. It really gets to the heart of the matter. You doing your personal journey and the mission of your soul and really finding out where you came from and the people that loved you and brought you into the world. It’s so important and empowering in a lot of ways.

Fisher: Yeah, well I think so, and I think the fact is you get to know your father like you’ve never known him before and suddenly he is a figure in your life more than just a shadow.

Leann: Yes, and he had many layers. I wanted to know all of him. I didn’t want to know just what they wanted to tell me as someone who had died. I wanted to know it all. I thought, if he had a temper, I want to know it. If he cursed somebody out if he was mad, I wanted to know all of those things. So I brought of all that to me and the last piece of the puzzle was the voice.

Fisher: Yes.

Leann: I kept looking for that. I was very hopeful all along. I really thought that I would eventually find something, but I had no idea that I would find it in my own home town. I really had no idea.

Fisher: Isn’t that something? Well let’s talk about that a little bit. Now you started the search for the audio, obviously you were finding the stories as a result of that but the ultimate goal was to hear his voice, and I would imagine still is, that you’d like to find more of him speaking. And I can’t imagine that you’re not going to have that opportunity at some point with the effort you’re putting out.  But you got coverage on ESPN and I’m just thinking, “This can’t be, how can a man as public as your father not have something out there for this woman to hear?”

Leann: It’s true and I’ve got a whole group of men, I think by nature are hunter gatherers.

Fisher: Yes!

Leann: So, where I don’t like to look on eBay, I have a whole gang, a gaggle, a team of men…

Fisher: [Laughs]

Leann: …who follow my blog and they search eBay and they’ll go to radio shows and all this stuff and collectors’ organizations and they will look for me.  I have eyes and ears out there so that’s miraculous and amazing and the Keith Olbermann thing was just a watershed moment for me because it did really put my story out there and much more came to me as a result. I do believe there’s still something else out there but the fact that it was the tapes that my mother had put away and forgotten about in her own garage and was recorded in my own home town when my father asked Bobby Richardson, the Yankee second baseman, to come and speak at a church.  My father’s faith was important to him and so was Bobby Richardson’s and still is and he wanted him to come and I guess do a testimony of his faith at the church. So that was recorded because of the Yankee that was coming to town.

Fisher: Sure.

Leann: And that was recorded and my mom found it on cassette. The pastor who is in his 80s now gave it to my mother years and years ago, and we found it on cassette and she had it put on DVD for me or CD so that it would be more preserved.

Fisher: What a gift. I’ve heard it on YouTube. You had it there. It’s got a lot of noise in it and a lot of buzz but your dad’s voice cuts through well even though it’s kind of soft. So I’ve kind of enhanced it a little bit here so everybody can hear what you found. It’s only about a minute long.  Your dad introducing Bobby Richardson at a church in Lenoir, North Carolina, back in 1969:

We’re very fortunate to have with us this morning Bobby Richardson, a great second baseman for the New York, Yankees for many years. I told Bobby that this was great Yankee territory so he can feel at home. And also I’d like to introduce his daughter Christie, sitting down here in our church place. Could you stand up, please? Bobby was a great baseball player and this is Yankee territory. I guess I could be here all day trying to tell all the great days he had on the baseball field and most of you Yankee fans would already know about it.  So, I will not try to attempt to tell all the accomplishments that he did on the field. But Bobby has also had many great days off the field. Bobby was a great leader on and off the field. He was very active in youth groups, religious groups, and in my lifetime, I guess Bobby was the most respected player in baseball.

Fisher: Wow! What does that make you feel like when you hear that?

Leann: Really, the first couple of times I heard it, I was completely blown away. I still get a little teary eyed when I hear it because I still want more. I want to hear him talk to me. That’s kind of where it goes. That’s where it goes in my mind.  I’m so grateful that I have that sound of his mountain accent, and he was made fun of so much for that accent, and being such a southern boy and simple man. It just really takes me right to, you know, the heart of what I really want, which is him.

Fisher: I’ll bet, and you’ve probably played it a million times since you found it.

Leann: Yes I have.

Fisher: And I’m sure to some extent it does speak to you.

Leann: It does. I really just am mesmerized by it actually. I always thought his voice would be more gravelly and low. I guess because he was an athlete.

Fisher: [Laughs] Sure.

Leann: But the more I listen to it, it’s gentle and sweet and it matches who I’ve been told he was, and I’m glad I didn’t find the voice first off because I wouldn’t have gone on that beautiful, beautiful journey to search for it and the journey really was the treasure. It was what I needed to do to heal my soul.

Fisher: And then from this you went on to Chicago, and actually visited the hospital wing that is named after your dad. Now what was his illness?

Leann: He died of leukemia, and upon his death the Cubs donated money to Northwestern Hospital and they started a wing in the hospital called the “Verlon Rube Walker, Leukemia Center.”  And it’s now called “The Blood Center, The Rube Walker Blood Center,” because they do more than just leukemia. They really focus on these blood diseases where they have these beautiful, incredible machines that can circulate the good, healthy platelets and all that stuff and separate it all out, and you can use your own stem cells to heal your body. It’s amazing work.

Fisher: Isn’t that great?

Leann: Yeah.

Fisher: And to think that forty some odd years after his passing, your dad’s name is on that wing and is being remembered as people go through that life saving treatment.

Leann: Yes. That simple boy that left high school, didn’t graduate high school because he wanted to go play major league baseball, has this legacy of this medical facility named after him, and he would probably laugh about that.  And he would be so blessed to know that people get healing under his name. It’s something that maybe his death went to a good cause.  He would love that.

Fisher: Well it’s been an amazing journey for you, Leann. And I so appreciate you taking the time to come on the show and talk to us about it, and to see that you’ve had such great success and fulfillment in what you’ve been doing.

Leann: Yes. I’m honored you asked me and I loved it. This is my favorite subject to talk about. I love it. I encourage anyone to take this journey of their own. It’s a beautiful way to honor your loved ones that have passed and heal yourself.

Fisher: That’s a great way to put it. Perfect! Leann Walker Young, from Charlotte, North Carolina, thank you so much for coming on!

Leann: Thank you!

Fisher: And coming up next, Tom Perry, our Preservation Authority, talking about taking your faded, cracked and chipped old photographs, restoring them and making new albums with them to share forever. That’s in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.

Segment 4 Episode 107

Host Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry

Fisher: It is preservation time at Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show. Fisher here, the Radio Roots Sleuth with Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com, he is our Preservation Authority.  Hi Tom, good to see you!

Tom: Helloo. It's super awesome to be here.

Fisher: And we've been getting a lot of questions about organizing photographs lately. And it’s interesting because this is kind of like a moving target right now, isn't it?

Tom: Oh it is! Absolutely! In fact, I just returned from a genealogy convention the other day and that's what was on everybody's mind. Most of the classes there were tailored towards that. They were just packed, standing room only.

Fisher: And everybody's ready to try to figure out, "Okay, How do we save these pictures?" I think the things that I think about most are some of my mom's old photo albums from the seventies, the sticky ones.

Tom: Ah, the wax ones.

Fisher: Yeah. And then you had the photographs in them that were horrible in themselves because they had that texture. That rough…

Tom: I think they called it "satin finish".

Fisher: Something like that. I had a picture of me with Mickey Mantle that was in that finish. And it was so awful to try to digitize that and blow that up because all the little bumps made it look kind of weird. And nonetheless, the fact is you had bad pictures, you had bad albums to stick them in, and now those pictures are fading and they have the bad surface. So where do you start trying to restore these things and make a nice album?

Tom: You know that's a really good question that you brought up, a lot of points we can talk about. And I've had people who have the same problem. They scan those old photos that we call the "satin finish" and the light would reflect off all the little divots and you'd see it looks like snow. You think it's a bad scan and you scan it again, "So, what's wrong with my scanner?"

Fisher: Right.

Tom: Nothing wrong with your scanner. Stupid satin photo, just so it won't hold fingerprints is why they made it.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Tom: So a lot of times what you can do, you can turn down, I hate to say this, but turn down the dpi on your scanner. Because what happens like on our scanner, we have such a high dpi on it, it gets every little crack and crevice. If there's a little teeny piece of dandruff on it, it's going to look like it was there.

Fisher: And so what dpi would you set it to do you think? I normally do about 1200 for pictures.

Tom: Oh exactly! And that's what you want to do. And of the little teeny ones, sometimes you're doing 3600.

Fisher: Right.

Tom: But of the ones that are, I think they used to be about 4x4 which were the satin finish ones. And what you have to do is just experiment, because different scanners scan different ways. The LED ones scan different than the ones that have the little cathode type tube in them that reflects off the picture. So try different things. Keep your scanning as high as you can. And the thing you can do also is scan them at a high dpi, then go into Photoshop, and sometimes with some softening filters, you can kind of make it go away or sometimes you can go in and, say, bring down the luminosity. And the picture will still look okay, but it kind of zeroes out all the whites.

Fisher: Oh that's good!

Tom: And that can help it quite a bit, too. But the best thing to do is always scan it at full dpi and make sure you keep a copy of that even though it looks really crappy to you. And then go down and find one that looks good. You can begin to immediately share, because one day you're going to want to go back and work on those and make those better. And whether its tomorrow or five years or ten years from now, at least you've got it at a high dpi before it starts to fade and then you're going to have to do more work in Photoshop.

Fisher: And that's the important part, making sure the pictures look good before you go about trying to save them or put them in albums or preserve them, right?

Tom: Exactly! And Kodak scanners, the one that's the auto feed, they probably do the best job of any ones that I've seen of the satin finish type photos. The same thing with our flatbed, we have problems. And a lot of times, our Kodak multifeed which we use takes away a lot of those problems, it's just the light that it uses is different. And so the way it's reflecting is different, but the pictures look dynamite. So that's an option. And we've talked about how you can run them out of a place called "Easy Photo Scan" in Florida.

Fisher: Right.

Tom: They can send it to you for your family reunion. And the auto feed one is awesome. It's the best one I've seen to work with the satin finish photos.

Fisher: So that's step one, making sure that all the pictures look great before you start to create a digital photo album.

Tom: Exactly, and one thing too that I want to mention right now so I don't forget it… I mention it in almost every show and it's scared me to death. We had somebody come into the genealogy convention or the family history convention, "Hey, I just scanned 1300 photos and I have them all right here on my flash drive." And I go, "Where else are they?”  “Nowhere" And I went white! She thought I was going to pass out.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Tom: So you know, let's, on the next segment, kind of finish this up and then we'll go on to some more new announcements.

Fisher: All right, we'll get to that in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show.

Segment 5 Episode 107

Host Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry

Fisher: And we are back for our final segment of Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show. Fisher here, the Radio Roots Sleuth, that’s Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com.

Tom: Hello.

Fisher: And when we last left our hero, we were talking about some woman who came to a family history conference and showed you her thumb drive with 1500 photographs on it that she didn't have stored anywhere else and you practically collapsed.

Tom: Oh I did. I mean went white. She looked at me and I think she's ready to dial 911.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Tom: I know we have new listeners every week as we pick up new stations across the country and they haven't had the time to go back and download the app so they can listen to the old shows.  And I say so many times, "Do not do that!" You know, a lot of people make mistakes. It's just they didn't know any better. So people don't know the difference between a solid state hard drive, a normal hard drive, or USB. USB's the reason that they're so inexpensive, the USB thumb drives. It's because they use the cheapest stuff they can get. Chips, everything in them are just really, really inexpensive. They were never made to be an end storage device. They're a transfer device. If you're at a family reunion they're a great thing to put all your stuff on. It's quick and easy. Faster than burning a disk, but as soon as you get home, put those on your hard drive, put them on the cloud, burn a disk, distribute the disks across the country so you're covered. How many times have you lost your keys?

Fisher: Yeah, right. [Laughs]

Tom: How many times have you misplaced your keys? I've heard stories about people who had a thumb drive in their pocket and that they were at somebody's house, and they had this big, huge entertainment center. They were leaning up against one of the big speakers, these are like six foot theater speakers, erased their drive!

Fisher: Wow!

Tom: The giant magnet in it.

Fisher: You're kidding me!

Tom: Yeah. I mean you could take your keys and if you set them on a big magnet not thinking, there's a possibility, depending on the architecture of the USB drive, you could lose everything.

Fisher: That's right.

Tom: Don't store stuff on those! They're great things. I have one in my pocket, I use it all the time, but I always store it on other places.

Fisher: All right. Now we've got these pictures straightened out as we talked about in the last segment. We have them properly preserved on a couple of clouds and disks and they're distributed all over the country and your hard drive. Now we're talking about creating new albums with the preserved pictures. How do we do this?

Tom: My favorite software out there is from "Heritage Collector." So go to HeritageCollector.com. Marlo, who we have had as a guest, this guy is a genius.

Fisher: Yes he is!

Tom: He's just amazing!

Fisher: [Laughs] We call him “Madman Marlo” because he's always inventing new stuff and its incredible stuff.

Tom: He has things right now where you can print calendars right from his software. If you have old people that are in your ancestry, on their birthday you can have this little QR code on their birthday. The kids think it’s so much fun. They shoot the QR code. It can be a slideshow of great, great grandfather being an outlaw in jails or chasing trains or gardening of fishing, all these different things. And this is so neat for the kids. They understand their ancestors, plus grandma and grandpa can have a deal on their birthday that when they scan it, they're singing to you "Happy Birthday."

Fisher: Exactly. There's so much stuff that you can do with QR codes and this new technology. And he does have outstanding software. What else can people do? Obviously Shutterfly is a great place to go.

Tom: Shutterfly is a good place. Heritage Makers is a great place. Now one thing you want to be very, very careful with and I tell all my customers this, "No matter who you use, make sure you read the fine print." Half of the time when I sign up for software, oh yeah, agree, agree, agree, agree. I never read it. Make sure you read all the information, because there are people out there that it says right in their fine print, they don't have exclusivity to your photos. However, they do have a right to sell your photos to clipart places. And it's happened. We had the story about somebody who walked into an IKEA, saw their neighbor, thought, "Oh, I didn't know my neighbors did modeling." Called them. Found out that there were some pictures they uploaded to one of these sites and they sold it to a clipart company!

Fisher: [Laughs] Oh man, unbelievable! All right, good advice, thanks so much Tom. We'll see you again next week. And if you have a question for Tom Perry about preservation, send your email to [email protected]. That wraps it up for this week. And thanks once again to Leigh Ann Walker Young from Charlotte, North Carolina for coming on and sharing her amazing journey in search of knowledge of her father. And ultimately resulting in finding a voice recording! Unbelievable stuff! If you missed the segments, listen to the podcast, they'll be out this week on iTunes and ExtremeGenes.com and iHeart radio. Talk to you next week. And remember, as far as everyone knows, we're a nice, normal family!

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