Episode 111 - From Orphan To Sibling Reunion! Plus, NY Woman Calls Nathan Hale Kin

podcast episode Nov 02, 2015

This week on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show, you'll meet John Vitale of Buffalo, New York.  Orphaned at ten, he never imagined what DNA would bring him!  Then, Susan Hale talks about what it's like to learn that patriot spy Nathan Hale is on her family tree, as well as several other notable early Americans.  Hear how it has affected her life.

In segment one, Fisher opens the show with David Allen Lambert, Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org.  In "Family Histoire News," David talks about the unlikely reunion of a pair of World War II vets from Utah.  Coincidence?  You decide!  David then talks about French painters who, at the beginning of the last century painted images of what they thought the year 2000 would look like.  (Hint: Some of it wasn't bad at all!)  Then, a few bucks at an antique store scored a man a multi million dollar historic photo.  Who was it of?  You'll have to listen.  Plus David has another Tech Tip of the Week, and another Free Database from NEHGS.

Next, Fisher visits with John Vitale of Buffalo, New York.  John was orphaned at age ten.  Now, decades later, John is no longer alone... or anywhere close to it!  Catch the details of John's journey and meet a special guest John brings to the discussion.

Then (in keeping with this week's New York guest slant), Susan Hale, an artist from near Albany, New York, talks about the impact her ancestors have had on her life and art.  Her family tree includes patriot spy Nathan Hale, and the "Man Without A Country," Edward Everett Hale.  (See her works at SusanBHale.com.)

Then Tom Perry, the Preservation Authority at TMCPlace.com talks about sorting out the "alphabet soup" of technology so you can begin to learn how to preserve and edit materials on your own and save a ton of money.

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

Transcript of Episode 111

Host Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Segment 1 Episode 111

Fisher: Greetings, genies, across the fruited plains! And welcome to 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.  And this week on the show, you know it’s always great to get the stories of research but also the DNA tales because it often involves finding living relatives.  And we have another one of those stories this week, but who knew how many living relatives this person would find as a result. We’re going to talk to John Vitale up in Buffalo, New York.  About his experience and maybe what you could experience or somebody you know who might need DNA to connect with living family, it’s another great story.  Plus later in the show, she’s an artist, she’s a woman who discovered that she’s related to Nathan Hale, “Yes I have but one life to give to my country.” We’ll hear more from Susan Hale from upstate, New York, coming up a little bit later on.  But right now let’s check in with my good friend David Allen Lambert, the Chief Genealogist for the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org in studio with me! To what do I owe the pleasure David?

David: I am so honored to be here, and I don’t have to talk into a telephone.

Fisher: [Laughs] Yes it’s very nice! It’s good to see you.

David: It’s really good to see you too.

Fisher: And you even combed your beard.

David: I did. You know I grew it extra long for the occasion, because I wanted to make sure I had that going on.

Fisher: [Laughs] You know I am absolutely astonished by how much Family Histoire news there is talk about this week.  I mean just a lot of incredible stories, and let’s start with the World War II veteran reunion that happened very serendipitously this past little while.

David: Two Utah gentlemen both 88 years old, Dean Solt from Ogden and Alan Sperry from Provo, were on an honor flight back in September, and they went to Washington D.C.  Since they were from Utah, they put them next to each other in the ceremony. They go to talking and they said they were both in the Philippines, they got to talk a little more, they were there at the same time in December ’44, and then he mentioned his name.  The other person looked quite aghast and said, “You can’t be the same person.”  And Dean Solt reached into his wallet and pulled out a photograph of the two of them from 70 years ago!

Fisher: Oh my gosh!

David: That he had never taken out!

Fisher: He just had that in his wallet the whole time?

David: In his wallet the whole time. Obviously multiple wallets one would guess.

Fisher: Yes. [Laughs]

David: It’s really touching to think that these guys were 18 years old over in the Philippines, lost touch for 70 years, by a chance meeting reunited again, it just warms your heart.

Fisher: That’s a great story.

David: Some of the things that we look at in the future, obviously we had October 21st 2015 the “Back to the Future.”  The French did this back in 1900 with postcard and painted views looking at the year 2000.

Fisher: Wow!

David: Some of them are really interesting... flying machines, and people dropping bombs from flying machines, which World War I would see that.

Fisher: Right.

David: But they had a very interesting one that I think you might like. It shows a man shredding books but connected by wires, headsets that the students are learning.

Fisher: Wow!

David: Is this any different to what we’re doing now when we put audio books out or we digitize things so people can use them through the headsets, or through their computers? So maybe technology wasn’t too far off.

Fisher: It’s a pretty good picture. In fact, we’ll make sure we get that posted on ExtremeGenes.com.  You’ll have to check that out, plus all the other photos we’re talking about.

David: Exactly. There’s some really great stuff, but sometimes there’s not good news in Family Histoire News. The New York Times Archives had a pipe burst.

Fisher: Oh no wait a minute. The archives are in the basement?

David: Uh yeah.

Fisher: Oh! Really?!

David: And water doesn’t work really well with photographs and microfilm, and books.

Fisher: No.

David: Any archival material doesn’t float well. So they have to revisit and figure out what to do with this recently damaged archive.

Fisher: Oh my goodness!

David: It was essentially their photo morgue, so I would imagine whatever they had down there for any number of years, and one would hope that they have a digital copy but who’s to say.

Fisher: Hmm no. The New York Times, that is unbelievable!

David: Speaking of photographs, did you see that story about Billy the Kid, the photograph that was found?

Fisher: No I haven’t heard about this one.

David: Oh my goodness!

Fisher: We’ve had our friend Ron Fox on the show many times, talking about finding rare valuable pictures, but what was this one?

David: Well, this gentleman Henry McCarthy went out and he found a photograph for $2 in a junk shop. This photograph captures Billy the Kid playing crochet.

Fisher: Wow!

David: It could be worth millions.

Fisher: Now wasn’t he killed at like 18 years old or something?

David: He was pretty young when he died.

Fisher: Yeah.

David: I think it was the late 1870s or early 1880s, but this would be an amazing find. And I would imagine they’re matching it up by photo identification, because I saw the picture and it does match one of those young gun slingers from long ago.

Fisher: Facial recognition then.

David: Exactly.

Fisher: Wow! And they’re thinking it could be worth what?

David: Millions.

Fisher: [Laughs] 

David: To the right buyer there is a price for everything.

Fisher: Well that’s right, and you know for the expert who identifies it there go the rewards.

David: And that brings me to my Tech Tip. You know that pile of photographs that you that you have that your ancestor kept and they didn’t put the names on them?

Fisher: Oh.

David: Well you’re in luck if the 19th century photographers hallmark is on there. Putting his name and the address that he operated, there’s a key clue there.  Based upon your research as a genie, go and look at city directories, see where that photographer was residing in New York, or Philadelphia, or Boston, or Iowa.  And try to figure out when he operated that studio, and does it fit into the age of the person in the photograph.  So that’s my Tech Tip, and maybe you’ll find a million dollar photograph or it’s going to be worth a million dollars when you figure out it’s your great, great grandmother.  And that brings me to valuable things that we try to find every week at American Ancestors, and this time we’re putting Finland records of baptism, marriages and burials from the 17th century to the early 20th century.  And again Fish, this is just a wonderful collaboration we have with FamilySearch.org, to bring this great material out to our users from American Ancestors.  All you have to do is become a guest user and it’s there for you. 

Fisher: All right, and they go to AmericanAncestors.org.

David: And they become a guest user for free. And you’re entitled to these and every week we’ll announce a new database that you can try out. It’s a wonderful way to test drive American Ancestors.

Fisher: All right David, great stuff! A lot of great Family Histoire News this week, and thanks for coming in the studio it’s good to see you, buddy.

David: I hope that I can come back and do it again real soon.

Fisher: Okay we’ll see you soon. And coming up next, we’re going to talk to a man from Buffalo, New York, who has been missing family his entire life but he’s found it now.  Oh has he found it! Wait till you hear his story, it’s coming up in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.

Segment 2 Episode 111

Host Scott Fisher with guest John Vitale

Fisher: And we are back! Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, the Radio Roots Sleuth. Always enjoy hearing your stories, your stories of discovery from the distant past or the not so distant past. As is the case with my guest right now from Buffalo, New York, John Vitale is on the line with me. How are you John?

John: I’m doing well, thank you, Scott.

Fisher: Boy, what a journey you have been on. I mean, you were orphaned at ten years old. Tell us a little about that background.

John: Yeah, it is an interesting story. I don’t recall my father. I do remember a little about my mother, and at ten years old she died unfortunately because of cancer.  And we went from – my brother who is a half brother and I-  went to our family in a suburb of Buffalo named Lockport, for a while and because we didn’t have a lot of money. The family tried to put us up for a while, and ultimately ended up having to give us up. We went to an orphanage.  And we went to the orphanage without any knowledge of my father and very little about my mother, with no family contact.

Fisher: That sounds tough.

John: It was difficult. So I grew up, my brother and I, grew up for about fifty years or so not knowing our family.

Fisher: Boy...

John: And then, through a moment of serendipity, it turned out that a friend of ours was able to put the clues together on Thanksgiving Day and recognized that he knew who our family was.

Fisher: Really? Now what did he do?

John: He was a counselor. A family counselor that helped me, and what turned out to be my first cousin through independent sessions, that he had worked with her, and she and I on, and ultimately he was able to put together the dots and was able to tell us who our family was.

Fisher: Oh wow.

John: And I remember the call that I got because I spoke with, what I now know as my first cousin, but I had forgotten much about her.  That was my way of dealing with the death of my mother and lack of family, etc. I blocked out a lot of memories.

Fisher: Yes.

John: And I remember a story that she told me that only she and I were in the room. And when she told me that story, I had chills going up and down my spine.   

Fisher: Because you were already familiar with the tale?

John: Yes, that’s right.

Fisher: Wow... and only you and your mom were in on that. So first of all, how long ago was this that you discovered your cousin and you put this part together?

John: Yeah, that was about five years ago.

Fisher: Okay.

John: We made this acquaintance again with our family and since then we’ve been doing a series of discovery events, if you will, and found that we had in fact, cousins here in the western New York area, but also out in San Francisco, out in Phoenix, out in Oregon.  And then we had a couple of reunions here in town, where we had a chance for everybody to meet us and us to meet the family.

Fisher: That had to be quite an experience for somebody who had had no family for so long.

John: Exactly. Right. My wife has six brothers and sisters and we always refer to her as having a large family. Well, I have surpassed that many times over. [Laughs]

Fisher: [Laughs] Now, you did this all with paper trails?

John: We did, yes. And to some extent, as we made contact with other cousins, they had information that led to other information.

Fisher: Right. That’s the way it always is. That’s why it’s so important to network within families to do this stuff.  

John: We had a wonderful experience. Just around us, Scott, we were able to determine my grandfather’s and grandmother’s hometown in Sicily.  My wife Bonny and I took a trip there last year this time, in fact, last year, and had a chance to visit about sixty cousins.  About forty of those in Sicily and about twenty of those in Molise. It was a wonderful experience.

Fisher: Wow! So you’ve really been on the trail here for the last few years. Have you gotten into the DNA thing yet?

John: Well, in fact, I’m glad you asked that. Because I wondered, having found so much on my mother’s side, I wondered about my father.  I had absolutely no information about my father, and I did do DNA testing. And much to my surprise, I came up with a granddaughter.  And it was a granddaughter that was born when I was twelve years old.

Fisher: Wow!

John: She wasn’t a granddaughter, it turns out she was a half-sister and she’s here today.

Fisher: She’s here right now? Who have you got there? 

John: [Laughs] I have Rhonda here.

Fisher: Rhonda!

Rhonda: Hi!

Fisher: [Laughs] Out of the blue.

Rhonda: Out of the blue.

Fisher: And you’re the grandchild that he had when he was twelve. Fantastic!

Rhonda: [Laughs] At twelve. How can you have a grandchild? [Laughs]

Fisher: That is unbelievable. So you got in touch with Rhonda, John, and Rhonda what was that call like?

Rhonda: Well, it was an email that I didn’t actually believe. Because he said he lived in this town that I live in, which is a suburb of Buffalo, very, very small town.

Fisher: Okay.

Ronda: I get this email that said, “Hi, I think I’m your –“ I think it said in my email, whatever. I didn’t have a connection exactly.

Fisher: Okay.

Ronda: And I went to the website and I didn’t see him listed on there. So I didn’t believe him. I thought he was some kind of crazy stalker guy [laughs].

Fisher: [Laughs]

Ronda: So I called 23andMe. I called them up and said there was this guy that apparently lives around the block from me, and I’m not seeing him on here. Why am I not seeing him on here?  They told me that it doesn’t update right away. But they sent me to where the genotype connections are, where you can see how much of certain types are completely matched or half matched whatever.

Fisher: Right.

Ronda: And he pointed me through it. He said, “This guy is your half-brother”. And I’m like “Guess I should respond to him”.

Fisher: [Laughs] You might want to get to know him.

Ronda: Yeah! Yeah.

Fisher: Wow! So this was when?

John: This was back in, well actually, May.

Rhonda: May.

John: The first note we saw was in May of this year.

Fisher: May of this year. So you guys are just getting to know each other now. And you obviously are very close because you’re in the same room [laughs]

John: [Laughs]

Rhonda: Yeah. Yeah.

Fisher: That is unbelievable. So this is on your father’s side, John and Rhonda?

John: Yeah, that’s correct.

Rhonda: Yes.

Fisher: Okay. And so, you got to find out then John, from Rhonda, about your dad?

John: Yes. That’s exactly right and also learned that we have nine other half brothers and sisters that I did not know about!

Fisher: Whoa!

John: And some limited information right now.

Fisher: Now did you know about them, Rhonda?

Rhonda: Ah! It is such a complicated, diverse story that goes back, I don’t even know where to start with.

Fisher: Are they full siblings to you, or half?

Ronda: Turns out that I have at least six full blooded siblings, who would be John’s half- siblings. But I also have some additional half- siblings that are not related to John.

Fisher: Okay.

Rhonda: All together, I have twelve.

Fisher: Wow! Well, that’s what DNA does!

Rhonda: I was adopted when I was an infant, and was raised as an only child. Now I have at least twelve siblings.

Fisher: How has that been for you? Have you gotten together with all of them yet?

Rhonda: Not all of them because not all of them want to communicate with us. I’ve reached out to two sisters that were adopted into the same family and I know that they are my full-blooded sisters, John’s half-sisters. But they have not responded to me.

Fisher: That’s too bad. But you’ve probably made some good contacts otherwise, out of such a large pool.

Rhonda: We have. [Laughs] Yes we have.

Fisher: So have you had reunions with them as well?

Rhonda:  Oh yeah. Let me see how many people? About thirty, forty people here in Buffalo in August, and one group comes from Texas, somebody coming in from California and there are actually, there’s another half-sister that lives here in Buffalo.  John and I both have sisters from the father’s side. One came in from New York City. She’s a full-blooded sister of mine, a half of John.  So yeah, this has been a really interesting journey.

Fisher: Yeah, it really is when you get into this, and I would imagine you probably found some cousins as well?

Ronda: The 23andMe lists 923 cousins of mine.

Fisher: [Laughs]

John: [Laughs]

Fisher: Now wait a minute, 923, but I mean how many close ones, first, second?

Ronda: Well, there are not a lot of first cousins, but there are a lot of third or more distant.

Fisher: Right, third or more, which is typical of the DNA test. That’s amazing.

John: I have to tell you Scott, that I’m overwhelmed just with brothers and sisters at the moment [Laughs].

Fisher: How has it changed your life, John?  

John: Oh it’s been a wonderful experience, both the reunions on the part of my mother’s side of the family as well as on my father’s side. It’s been nothing but pure joy. Meeting many people that I know now that I’m related to, and I lament a little bit that I didn’t have the opportunity to grow up with them, but I’m thrilled to continue to live with them now from this point forward.

Fisher: Oh, I bet. How often do you two get together?

John: You know we probably are talking once a week and face to face maybe one a month I think.

Fisher: Oh, that’s awesome!

John: We’re planning a family Skype call, which would be brothers, sisters, as well as first cousins, coming up soon. We’re going to use Skype as a way to do that.

Fisher: Well, that’s a great way to go. I do that with my own grandkids all the time. And you ought to get them out to a Bills game or something.

Rhonda: Oh, we wouldn’t want to kill them.

Fisher: [Laughs]

John: [Laughs] Right now the Bills and the Sabres, the two teams in town are both on a losing streak.

Fisher: Oh. Maybe not! Maybe you don’t want to do that at all.

Rhonda: [Laughs]

Fisher: So what’s been the downside of this? Has there been any real disappointment with it?

Rhonda: Only to me that I’ve identified these two sisters by name and address and everything, and I reached out to them and they don’t want to know. I don’t know.

Fisher: Have they not responded, Rhonda, or did they just tell you they’re not interested in knowing you?

Rhonda: They haven’t responded.  I made contact through... I actually wrote them a letter. I found their addresses, last Christmas and I sent them letters, which were not returned back to me so I know that they were delivered. They never responded to that, and then through Facebook my daughter connected with one of these women’s stepdaughter, who’s very excited and wants to connect us and said she’d try. I guess she was having dinner with her stepmom that day, and I never heard back from her.

Fisher: Well, maybe it’s kind of like your initial response was to John. It’s like “Who is this person?”

Rhonda: Yeah. But it didn’t take me that long to connect though with John.

Fisher: Yeah [Laughs] Well, it sounds like you’re pretty good friends.

Rhonda: Yes, we are. It’s been great.

John: We are, absolutely.

Fisher: Well, that’s exciting stuff you guys. Congratulations on the find. Another great victory, what’s the next phase for you guys?  You’re doing a lot of work? Are you writing a book about the family? Are you putting together all the trees? What’s happening?

John: Well, we’ve already put together the trees, and there were three of them right now just to contain the family that we know of at the moment.  And yes, we are in fact writing a book. Because I think it’s a compelling story on both the mother’s side, the father’s side, Rhonda and one of her half-sisters coming in from Germany. Yeah, there’s many, many twists and turns.

Fisher: Isn’t that fun. And you know, you can self publish now, so it makes it really easy to do even if you just making the book for your own family.

John: Exactly. And that would be the intent.

Fisher: Well, John and Rhonda, thank you so much for coming on the show and sharing your story. And congratulations and best of luck!

John: Thank you Scott.

Ronda: Thank you.

Fisher: Hey, have you ever wondered how the discovery of family history can influence and inspire people in their lives?  Well, you’ve got to hear the story of Susan Hale, coming up next from upstate, New York, in five minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.

Segment 3 Episode 111

Host Scott Fisher with guest Susan Hale

Fisher: And welcome back to Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com.  I am Fisher, the Radio Roots Sleuth. And it is fascinating to me the way family history can influence a person's life and the direction they take and how they feel about who they are their self identity.  I think this is certainly the case with my next guest, Susan Hale. She's an artist from near Albany, New York. Hi, Susan, welcome to the show!

Susan: Hello. How are you doing?

Fisher: Doing great! I heard about your research and how you kind of got into finding out about your ancestry.  And the name "Hale" is kind of a big one in this country. Edward Everett Hale is your direct ancestor, is that right, from Boston?

Susan: Yes. He's my great, great grandfather.

Fisher: What was some of his story for people unfamiliar with it?

Susan: Basically he was this minister in Boston, first stretch of Boston for like thirty years. After being a minister in Boston, he was the Chaplin of the U.S. Senate. One person asked him, "Dr. Hale, do you pray for the Senators?" And he goes, "No. I look at the Senators and I pray for the country." And I always said that was pretty funny!  I didn't really know a whole lot about him, but just by doing this show in Boston, it made me want to find out more about him.  So just recently I found out that he was an abolitionist and that he did quite a bit in helping the Afro-Americans get back on their feet, getting educated.  He was very concerned and believed that everybody should have the same education. So he did quite a bit for them.

Fisher: You learned about that, when?

Susan: Well, let's see, my uncle from Main. He had written a booklet for our family with everyone's names on it.  And so, we've had this book in our family for a long time. And I just saw all the names.

Fisher: So it's something that kind of stuck in your mind from way back when?

Susan: Yeah. Growing up in school you learned about Nathan Hale. And I always knew that was my great, great uncle.  And so, I guess I sort of grew up knowing for a long time.

Fisher: That you had a special family root in this country.

Susan: Well, I was very proud of them. [Laughs]

Fisher: Well, I bet you were. Who wouldn't be? Now, let's talk about Nathan Hale for just a moment.  Of course everybody knows him as the spy that was caught in New York.

Sent by Washington to find out what was happening in Manhattan after the British had taken over during the Revolution.  He was caught. He was hung. And his last words, "I only regret that I have but one life to give to my country." And there's a statue to him, I'm sure in many places actually. When did you find out about that and how has that influenced your life?

Susan: About ten years ago. I was listening to this Green Day song on YouTube called "When September Ends" and it's basically about a guy who goes to war. He signs up to fight. And it was like right after 9/11. And so, this was very much in American’s minds about like fighting for our country. And the video "When September Ends" was very moving to me. And it made me feel, like, maybe that's how it was for Nathan Hale.

Fisher: Yes. Well he was a young man. He was what, only twenty one years old? Something like that?

Susan: Yeah. And that's exactly, the video portrays, a young fellow. And his girlfriend, how it affected her, and how you lose people that go to serve our country. And I guess I just felt very strongly about that

Fisher: And it suddenly touched your heart a bit more. Nathan became a little more real to you, yes? 

Susan: Yeah. And so, then after I had this vision of how, you know it might have been for him. Then I started wanting to read more books about him.  And so I got several books from eBay, a collection of about twenty of them. And at night I can sort of see how it might been for him. And so I wrote it down in a screenplay format.

Fisher: Now have you actually gone out trying to market the screenplay?

Susan: No. [Laughs] But it's funny, when I was at the event last week in Boston at the New England Historic Genealogical Society, at a dinner there they were celebrating Nathaniel Philbrick’s work. And his latest book that he's written was "In the Heart of The Sea". And Ron Howard is making a movie of his book right now.

Fisher: Yes.

Susan: So afterwards I spoke with him and I said, "How did you get your book to him?" And he goes, "Well you know, it’s a long process." and I guess probably his agent submitted it to them.

Fisher: Sure.

Susan: So I mean, I hope maybe someday, somebody will take a look at my screenplay.

Fisher: Now you have an artist in your background as well I understand.

Susan: Yes. When I was at the National Arts Club in New York City, I was standing in the middle of this room and all these like old paintings were all around the walls and everything.

And there was just like this one painting, like just like drew me to it. And I just thought, "What a beautiful painting!" and I really want to know out of all of them, I want to know who had done that painting. So I walked over towards it. As I got closer, I saw on the brass plaque "Philip Leslie Hale". I had seen his name in our family booklet. And I just thought, "Oh wow!" and I was just like, the style of painting was much like mine! Like very impressionistic.  What's really weird is that I'd never seen any of his work in my life. I didn't know anything about him. It was a very moving experience. And I wanted to find out more about him.  So I found out that he was friends with Monet and painted with him in Giverny. And so this was a really exciting experience for me.

Fisher: Well, as an artist, that had to be that you would actually connect with your relative like that.  Now he was a brother to one of your ancestors I assume, but still I mean the fact that he paints the same way you do.  You can kind of see that family connection right there in just the way he did his art.

Susan: Right. That's true.

Fisher: So have you found that these discoveries, Nathan Hale and his life and Edward Everett Hale.  And now this Philip Hale the artist, how long has this been going on now, your research, and how has this affected what you actually do in your creations?

Susan: I guess it just inspires me to keep going. And I really love doing art shows and concerts. I've always known that's what I want to do and I've been doing it for many years. And it's just like what I like to do, to have an art show at the Metropolitan Museum.  Another uncle, Robert Beverly Hale was curator there for thirty years for the American wing of paintings. And so it just, you know, I want to meet the bar of the level where they were.  And so this past show in Boston was very exciting to me to reconnect with where the family came from.

Fisher: It sounds to me like your family was kind of disconnected from all this amazing history until only fairly recent times when you kind of rediscovered it. Is that true?

Susan: Yeah. It's kind of interesting. My great, great grandfather Edward Everett Hale, Senior, then his son Edward, Junior was born in Boston.  And he came to New York in 1895. And he was the English professor at Union College in Schenectady, New York, which is where my grandfather grew up, on the campus there in Schenectady.  My grandfather wanted to go out west and get a farm. So he got a farm in Wyoming, and that's where my father grew up during the Depression.  Then when my dad was eighteen, he wanted to come back east to go to school at Union. He rode his motorcycle across the country to go to school there.  And that's where he met my mother, and so raised five kids. And he never was very interested in all this family stuff, you know. He couldn't care less you know. [Laughs]

Fisher: So you kind of felt isolated then. You didn't really know any of the extended history or maybe even many other relatives?

Susan: Exactly. I felt it was disconnected. And I have always wanted to reconnect. And I feel through many years I am getting reconnected with my family.

Fisher: Well it sound like family history has really impacted you in a major way.

Susan: I'm very proud of them! [Laughs]

Fisher: Well, Susan Hale, thank you so much for coming on and sharing your history. It sounds like this has really had an impact on you. And good luck with your art!

Susan: My website.

Fisher: Yes, let's talk about that. I wanted to send people there. It’s SusanBHale.com, and you can see her amazing artwork.

Susan: Thank you.

Fisher: All right. Thanks Susan for coming on. And on the way next, our good friend Tom Perry, the Preservation Authority from TMCPlace.com returns.  He's going to actually forgo some of his own business to teach you how to preserve some of your own audio at home.  A little “alphabet soup” lesson coming up for you in five minutes on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show.

Segment 4 Episode 111

Host Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry

Fisher: Oh are we really going there?

Tom: We are really going there.

Fisher: Alphabet soup. Hey it’s Fisher here, and we are back... Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show with Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com.  He is our Preservation Authority, and you’re right. I mean it’s time for a little “edumacation!”

Tom: [Laughs] Exactly.

Fisher: About this whole alphabet soup thing, and this is important stuff because if you’re looking for a lot of do it yourself projects involving digital items, well this is where we’ve got to start.  And certainly all the things you were telling me off air, I don’t have any about half those things Tom, so educate me.

Tom: Okay you know it’s really crazy, and pull out some paper and a pen or pencil, if you’re driving just ignore this segment till you get home and download it off iTunes or something.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Tom: Because there’s a lot of stuff in here and we’re starting to get a lot more emails from people who really want to do this stuff themselves and that’s what it’s all about.   If everybody came to us to have us do all their transfers, we physically couldn’t do it, it’s impossible. So I’m happy that more people are taking it on, their own responsibility, doing their own things, teaching other people how to do things.  Just make sure that the people you’re talking to are giving you the right education, that the people that are teaching you what you’re trying to learn really know their stuff.  Because there’s a lot of people unfortunately out there that are trying to do their best, I don’t think they have any bad intentions, but they don’t know what they’re talking about.  They cause you problems just like in the old days when people would develop film they wouldn’t do Kodak because they could get it done at the corner grocery store cheaper, not realizing that Kodak says, “Hey, after you process so many feet of film you need to throw away your chemicals and start over.”  Where “Ma and Pa” are sitting there and going, “Hey, this film still looks fine. We can go through fifty percent more and save ourselves some money.”  However, twenty years down the road your film fades and the color goes away.

Fisher: Ah, that’s miserable. All right, where do we start?

Tom: Okay let’s start with QuickTime, QuickTime was actually developed by Sony and Apple, and it’s a great program. It’s the most universal you have.

Fisher: Yes.

Tom: QuickTime, you can use it on your iPhones, you can use it on a lot of Androids, you can use it on computers, and you can use it on just about anything.  The really easy way is to put a good size, good quality video without hogging down your internet line. So QuickTime is probably the best way to go. If you’re ever going to do something, you don’t know what to put it in, go to QuickTime because most sources you upload to, YouTube, all these kind of places will take QuickTime as well as other places.  A lot of people that are PC users don’t really understand QuickTime because QuickTime originally was only available from Apple, but it’s totally available for anybody that has a PC as well. And another thing tied to QuickTime that is important is iTunes. People hear iTunes and think, “Oh that’s Apple I can’t do iTunes on my PC.”  Totally incorrect.  iTunes is a 100% compatible with PCs and it’s a great program. We have people all the time that come to us and say, “Hey, I’ve got these CDs, I need to put them in MP3s so I can send them off to different people, and I want to pay you to do it.”  Well I’m happy to take your money, however this is something that is so easy to do at home even if you have virtually zero computer skills. This is something you can figure out.  All you need to do is pop your CD into your computer, make sure you already downloaded iTunes, and iTunes will usually come up and say, “Hey what do you want me to do with this CD?”  And say, “I want to import it iTunes.” It’s totally free, no charge. You’ll import everything as MP3, so now you have a great MP3 that you can either email to people, you can put on your website, or any place you want to do it.  It’s easy to access, anybody can play an MP3. Now we have people that are just the opposite. If you have some MP3s that somebody in your family has sent you, you know of Aunt Margret’s funeral or different things like this.  And you want to be able to put these in a normal to play in your CD player or in your car if you’re going on a long trip and you want to listen to some old family histories.  They’re only available to you on MP3s, you go to one of the dropdown menus on iTunes, after you’ve loaded all these into iTunes, and there’s a thing that says, “Create CD.”

 And so that will go and turn into what we call an “AIFF” file, which will make it a playable CD which should play in your car for a long road trip. That’s a great way to not only preserve your family history but let all the family know about it.  Instead of playing you know Disney movies in your car or whatever DVDs play some old funerals, play different things just to get to know people.

Fisher: Because funerals excite everybody. [Laughs]

Tom: They do. [Laughs] You know that’s funny that you mention that. We do a lot of funeral transfers especially from old reel to reels, and some of them are actually hilarious.  It’s based on your culture, some people have a party when there’s a funeral, like a wake, other people it’s just a sad time. But the good thing about it is you learn about them.  Even people in your own family that you grew up knowing, maybe even your grandmother, you listen to her funeral and you’re going, “Wow, I didn’t know that about grandma. I didn’t know she did that when was little.”  It’s really, really awesome. In the next segment we’ll go into a little more detail on some of the other alphabet soup acronyms.

Fisher: All right, coming up next in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show. 

Segment 5 Episode 111

Host Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry

Fisher: We are back, final segment of Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show. Fisher here, with Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com, our Preservation Authority, talking alphabet soup today because there’s a lot of stuff you can actually do at home for preservation.  So you don’t have to pay Tom or anybody else to do it for you. And so Tom, you’ve been filling us in a little on a little bit of stuff to start with. We didn’t get very far but you’ve got a lot more.

Tom: Oh yeah there’s tons of stuff. We’ll fill this segment and probably in the next week also. So we kind of talked a little bit about QuickTime, which is a great video way to store. We talked a little bit about MP3s, explaining MP3s and AIFFs to you. MP3s are a digital format that’s more for like use on your iPhone, your iPods, and emailing.  AIFF is more of a CD that you’ll be playing in your car or your CD player for those that still have CD players. Now one thing that’s interesting, let me just throw it in right here, which a lot of people don’t understand.  In most DVD and BluRay players you can play a CD in them.

Fisher: Right.

Tom: People say, “Oh, I’ve got this CD, I don’t have a CD player.” Well pop in your DVD player or your BluRay player. Of course the TV is going to be blank or be either black or blue depending on how you have a screensaver.

Fisher: Sure.

Tom: However you can listen to your CDs that way, and it’s usually a great way to listen to them because most people with the big TVs have great sound systems.

Fisher: Sure it could be right through the house.

Tom: Oh absolutely. One thing people have said to us is, “Hey, I got this old CD that I had transferred from a reel to reel and I put it in my DVD player and audio only comes out of one channel.”  That’s because back in the day it was mono. You could choose between mono and stereo, where now a day’s everything is stereo, super stereo, Dolby, all this kind of stuff.

Fisher: Or two-track mono.

Tom: Oh yeah. Oh absolutely. And if that really bothers you, you can usually run down to radio shack or any kind of electronic store and get what’s called a “Y connector.”  And what you would do is take your RCA cable which you’d plug into the bottom part of the Y, which now gives you two cables pulling out. You put one in the right and one in the left.  So it’s basically just splitting the signal. So you’re still hearing the exact same thing but it’s in the left speaker and the right speaker. So it doesn’t kind of throw you off.

Fisher: What a nice cheap solution that is!

Tom: Exactly. It’s just like when the batteries die in my left hearing aid, everything’s on the right side. [Laughs]

Fisher: Yes, that’s a problem.

Tom: Yeah, that can be a problem. So that’s one way you can get away from that.  So now the next letter in the alphabet soup which a lot of people get confused with is, “What’s the difference between an MP3 and an MP4?” An MP3 as we’ve discussed is audio, MP4 is video. So what an MP3 is to audio, MP4 is to video. Now that doesn’t mean it’s only video, it also carries the audio as well. So an MP4 is a nice compression format that really, really makes things really tiny. So when you’re wanting to send a video of somebody, put it on YouTube, or send it to a relative. It’s a good way to send it because it’s so small but yet the quality is really, really good. In fact, several years ago they were talking about not making movie DVDs anymore if everything was going to be on USB drive. So you plug your USB drive into your TV and a lot of the ne TVs do have USB drives. So if you have MP4s most of the new wide screen televisions will have a USB port, you can plug that right in and you can play it right from your USB drive, which is incredible video and amazing sound.

Fisher: Wow.

Tom: So that’s a real good way to do it. People that are trying to transfer their own videos, it’s about different kind of boxes. They do the transfers and they say, “Hey, I’ve got this real high end BluRay that I want to transfer to something else. And the HDMI only has an out port, why doesn’t it have an in port?”  Well the problem with that is it’s all copyright issues. They’re trying to keep all of us honest, so what they’ve done is, they’ve built things into it where you can’t actually use an HDMI ‘out’ into a recorder ‘in.’  Because you could take any DVD and make a copy of it and it would be pure and beautiful.  So basically what we’re going to do next week is talk a little bit more about this alphabet soup, get into some more different kinds of connections on the back of TVs, your VCRs and find out why X and Y sometimes don’t work together.

Fisher: Well, and hopefully we’ll save you a little money in the process. So you can do these things on your own.

Tom: Exactly. You can do it yourself and save some money.

Fisher: All right, great stuff Tom, we’ll see you again next week.

Tom: We’ll be here.

Fisher: Hey that wraps up our show for this week. Thanks once again to John Vitale and his half-sister Rhonda who only just met a few months ago to do DNA testing. In fact, they’ve got a lot more siblings they’ve come across as a result of that.  And to Susan Hale talking about her amazing ancestry and how it’s affected her life, including her great, great, great, great, great uncle Nathan Hale. Catch the podcast if you missed it!  Talk to you next week, and remember as far as everyone knows, we’re a nice normal family! 

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