Episode 120 - 2015 Listener Story of the Year / Seeking Father's Voice

podcast episode Jan 04, 2016

Fisher opens the show with David Allen Lambert, Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and American Ancestors.org, sharing some of the great discoveries of the past year.  David talks about the 1,000 year old skeleton found in the ball of a downed tree in Ireland, the beginning of the end of Americans being able to read handwriting, and preserving your social media posting history.

Fisher then shares what many listeners consider the listener story of the year from Steve Anderson, a Minnesota native.  One of nine siblings, Steve and a brother decided to do some DNA testing on the family.  And what they learned was far from what they expected! It's worth another listen if you heard it earlier this year.

Fisher then visits with Leann Walker Young, daughter of late Chicago Cubs coach, Verlon "Rube" Walker.  Leann lost him when she was just three years old and has spent years trying to find a sample of his voice.  Hear about Leann's journey and emotional breakthrough.  Her determination will inspire you!

Plus, Preservation Authority Tom Perry talks about what questions to ask local digitizers to know that they are experts you can could on.

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

Transcript of Episode 120

Host Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Segment 1 Episode 120

Fisher: And welcome to Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show!

I am Fisher, the Radio Roots Sleuth, on the program where we shake your family tree and watch the nuts fall out. We’ve got a whole bunch of new radio stations picking up the show this week, so if you are a new listener to the show, welcome!

We are here to inform and inspire and hopefully entertain you as we talk to experts and ordinary people about the fun and challengers of discovering your family history, and preserving it and sharing it, and this week we’ve got some great guests from the past year.

The first coming up in about nine minutes; Steve Anderson, will blow your mind with what DNA testing told him about how he and his eight siblings came into this world. You will be telling friends about this.

Then later, the daughter of a Chicago Cubs Coach talks about her journey to know about her late father. But right now we head off to Syracuse, New York, to talk to our good friend the Chief Genealogist for the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org… David Allen Lambert, what are you doing there buddy?

David: Well, the New York State Family History Conference that’s running through Saturday, and we’re looking forward to meeting a lot of our Extreme Genes and NEHGS friends out here at the conference. So I’m just here working the booth, selling books, shaking hands and meeting people. Hopefully I get some guests for us too… I’ll keep my ears peeled for some good stories.

Fisher: Oh there are always great stories to be found. You know what I’m amazed at is every week I think ‘Okay where are we going to find?”  There’s always another one and it just leaves your jaw hanging. So I’m looking forward to that.

What do you have for us today in our family histoire news, David?

David: Well speaking of things hanging, hanging from a 200 year old toppled tree in the Irish village of Collooney, there was a 1000-year-old skeleton found recently!

Fisher: What?

David: Yeah.

Fisher: Hanging in the tree?

David: Hanging in the roots of the tree.

Fisher: Oh, in the roots.

David: Yup. Basically what happened, the tree toppled and the roots itself, in the ball of the tree, was found the skeleton of a male between about the age of 17 and 25 and they said he died between 1030 and 1200 AD.

Fisher: Wow!

David: But here’s a bigger catch, his body contained injuries inflicted by some sharp blade, so he died by some mysterious means.

Fisher: So we’re not talking war, we’re talking murder here.

David: Perhaps, and then buried hastily in the ground, yeah. So it wasn’t in a church yard or anything like that.  You know if that tree didn’t topple who knows if they even would have thought to dig there to find such remains.

Fisher: Sure. Yeah.

David: So it’s just a fluke, but an interesting one just the same. The other thing I wanted to talk to you about is this interesting happened about three weeks ago. I’m always intrigued when people are having trouble researching their ancestry but this time it was somebody that came in because they couldn’t read handwriting.

Fisher: What?

David: A college student came in, had no idea about cursive hand writing and I’m not talking 17th century early Latin hand writing, I’m talking deed books from the 19th century that were handwritten, and I obviously worked with him and I understand it’s a complete learning curve.  But then the following day another person came in with this same problem. I’ve done some investigating and I think you’ll probably see this as the case, a lot of schools are not teaching handwriting anymore.

Fisher: That’s actually most of the country right now, and it’s going to be a real problem for people who do research in the future there’s no doubt about it.

David: You think of the Rosetta stone, I mean, I would think that until there’s an OCR program that can read handwriting and translate it all over.

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: Everybody’s handwriting is different. I know that mine won’t be an easy translation that’s for sure.

Fisher: Well the good news is a lot of parents are getting very upset with this and a lot of other states now around the country are starting to teach it, if not in English, as actually part of their arts curriculum.

David: And that’s the best way to do it. I mean if you’re going to get it somehow, I guess it’s a lesser vision of calligraphy.

Fisher: That’s exactly right, yeah.

David: This has to be it. Well you know I’m out here in New York, but if anybody is out near Boston on October 3rd Saturday at the Sheraton Boston Hotel, we’re having a family history day out here, and that’s a full day of lectures and events and people can go to AmericanAncestors.org and find out, so maybe some of our listeners that are tuning in have some free time on October 3rd come on down.

Here’s my Tech Tip; this is kind of fun. I think we’ve talked about Facebook and how wonderful it is to network with people and capture family stories. There’s a place called ‘MySocialBook.com’ on the internet and for around $20 it will capture/ publish for you, your entire year on Facebook or multiple years if you wish, of course the price goes up, and what it does is it captures all your newsfeeds, all your photographs, everything you’ve shared, obviously it doesn’t show the videos.

But it’s a great way of preserving your social media history and I’ve often thought Facebook is a great tool but how do we preserve it for future generations. So this is a nice little Tech Tip.

I haven’t created a social book yet but probably will sometime by the end of the year and I’ll report back, so no immediate news one way or the other but it’s going to be an interesting program.

Fisher: But isn’t it great that you actually will be able to preserve this stuff that is right now pretty temporary.

David: Exactly. Exactly it’s sort of taking a year in review of your own life and recording it. Jumping out to NEHGS databases for our guest users, we’re going far afield and teaming up with The Family History Library, FamilySearch, and we have posted Norway baptisms, marriages and burials from the 17th century right down to the 1920’s.

Fisher: Nice!

David: And this is amazing! This has over 7.6 million baptisms, 3.8 million marriages and 740 thousand burials. Spanning the 17th to 20th centuries, it’s amazing.

Fisher: And all available to you in your home for the next week through NEHGS.

David: Right, just sign up as a guest user.

Fisher: And one other thing we’ve got to mention here David, we are working right now and this is so much fun, save the date September 13th to 18th 2016 leaving from Boston on a Royal Caribbean Cruise!

David: Exactly! The first of many I hope.

Fisher: Yeah I hope so! It’s our Fall Foliage, Extreme Genes Cruise. David Allen Lambert from the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org and myself Fisher will be doing lectures on the cruise. We’re going to give people a chance to actually take a tour of the Freedom Trail in Boston and NEHGS before the cruise. We go up to Maine and Nova Scotia; it’s going to be so much fun. We’re going to have more of it of course on our Facebook page and on our ExtremeGenes.com website, so check it out and if you want to be a part of it, we’re going to have all the details ready for you in about another week. So this is going to be great stuff for next year, make plans to be part of it!

David: Excellent. It’s a year away!

Fisher: All right David. Thanks so much. Have a great conference in Syracuse New York, and we’ll talk to you again next week.

David: Talk to you then!

Fisher: Up next, a DNA story you’ll be telling to everyone you know. On Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.

Segment 2 Episode 120

Host Scott Fisher with guest Steve Anderson

Fisher: Welcome back to America’s Family History Show, Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com

It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth, and once in a great while you run across a story that just leaves your jaw on the floor. I think this is one of those stories and I’m not going to give you any hint about it other than to introduce Steve Anderson, who I spoke to about it over the weekend.

Hi Steve, how are you?

Steve: Hey, I’m doing great. How you’re doing Scott?

Fisher: I’m doing great. Steve is a Minnesota boy who ran across some interesting history in his family some time back, let’s just go back to the beginning Steve, and tell about how this all came about.

Steve: All right. About 45 years ago my older brother was in an accident; he was crushed, needed some intense medical care, and needed lots of bloody transfusions. So the call went out asking for blood from family members. My dad came to donate and when he donated the doctor said “Well, sir… um, we appreciate your donation but we cannot use your blood for your son because it doesn’t match.”

Fisher: Ooh.

Steve: So you know all these years that whole issue came into question. ‘Okay, if you don’t belong to him, who is your dad?’  Fast forward about 25 years and my older sister got into a big fight with my dad and bounced over to my mom and just said “You know, I just wish he wasn’t my dad.” So my mom said “Well, you know, I’ve got something to tell you. He really isn’t.”

Fisher: Oh boy.

Steve: You know that kind of created some issue. So through the years we kind of knew that there were a couple of the nine kids in our family that were not kids of my father that raised us. My younger brother and I have always talked about let’s get some DNA testing and find out who is and isn’t.

Fisher: Now how were you guys dealing with all this? I mean mom tells the sister that dad isn’t your father. You’re finding out that he doesn’t match from blood. You skip ahead 20 years; there are a lot of families that don’t last 20 years after news like that. I mean how did you all cope with this?

Steve: You know…. I don’t know, we just did and not only that, we really get along. We really after all these years we’re a very close family. We keep in touch with each other on a weekly basis. We come back for reunions and I love them. I don’t know how we did it but we did it.

Fisher: So let’s get back to this now, your brother was thinking ‘we’ve got to do some DNA we’ve got to find out something here.’

Steve: Yeah, so he has a friend and his friend owns a lab, a DNA lab that does paternity testing throughout the world. It’s in Southern California, and he talked to him about this and he say “Hey, if you just get some DNA, you need to get some from your dad, you need to get some from your mom and then one of your kids need to provide some DNA.”  You know, I had the means to do it so I said “All right, I’ll pay for it and then that’ll create the base and then either the kids, and the family who want to can pay to have their own DNA tested again to this standard that we created with mom and dad.”

Fisher: Wow!

Steve: Well, when my dad died, my brother said “Okay, this is our last chance” because dad is in the viewing room of the funeral home!

Fisher: Oh no! [Laughs]

Steve: I went to the other corner of the room and created a distraction and my brother reaches in and pulls out a hand full of hair.

Fisher: From your father’s corpse?

Steve: Yeah!

Fisher: Ohh.

Steve: So everything went fine after that.

Fisher: Now to do that by the way, I understand you need roots to get any DNA out of hair, there’s none in the follicle itself but it’s in the roots.

Steve: Right and we checked that to make sure that we had it.

Fisher: Okay. [Laughs]

Steve: And then with my mom, you know, my niece was doing some kind of research at school and so we just asked mom if we could get a cheek swab so that we could help this niece to get some data and she was fine with that.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Steve: So we got it from dad, we got it from mom and then I provided the cheek swab, and I knew my younger brother and I were dad’s sons because we look like him, our mannerisms are like him.

Fisher: Sure. So you were going to check out just fine.

Steve: Right, and I was fine with that.  We get the results back and Tom’s friend says “You know Mr. Anderson; got your results back and you do not belong to your father.”

Fisher: Ooh.

Steve: Yeah, ‘Ooh’ is right. Then my brother was so shocked by this he said “Hey, I’m going to get tested.” So we ended up testing him and he doesn’t belong to my father.

Fisher: Okay.

Steve: So then I talk to my sister, I’m very, very close to her and I need somebody to vent with. Eventually she says “Okay, I’m getting tested.” So she gets tested and she doesn’t belong to him.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Steve: And I thought ‘Okay, we’ve got a faulty match here.

Fisher: [Laughs] This can’t be.

Steve: Well, we found dad’s razor and it had plenty of hair in it and our friend in California, said “Listen, give me that, there’s skin sample flakes in there and I’ll use that.” He did the test again, ran it again and the results were all the same.

Fisher: Ohh.

Steve: So she called another sister and says “I can’t believe that, this is impossible, I’m going to get tested.” And she’s not dad’s. Long story short, nine children eight different fathers, Tom and I found out that we were from the same father. So I confront my mother and say ‘Hey.’

Fisher: Now how old is she at this point when you confronted her?

Steve: This was 3 year ago, so she was 90 years old.

Fisher: Wow!

Steve: Yeah and her mind is very sharp so I said, ‘Mom, listen, we’ve had some DNA testing done and we found some surprises here.’

Fisher: [Laughs]

Steve: And you know, she denied it at first but the next day called and said “Steve, come on over we need to talk.” We talked and she gave me the names of all the fathers.

Fisher: For each of the children, each of the nine?

Steve: Yeah. And then Tom and I did one more test and found out that we are actually from the same father. But none of us 9 children were from the father that raised us.

Fisher: So, nine kids, eight fathers, one marriage, but none of the kids from the father in the marriage?

Steve: Correct, and you know my dad never ever said a thing about this to us kids. And I remember once getting mad at mom for something as a kid.  I don’t know and dad just turned to me and he said, “Steve, you don’t ever talk to your mother like that. You show respect to your mother.”

Fisher: Now, he obviously knew right? Was this an arrangement, because perhaps he couldn’t have children?

Steve: After we heard about the other two siblings, at first many years ago. The joke in the family was ‘Wouldn’t it be funny if we found out dad was sterile?’ Well, I don’t think it’s a joke anymore. I think it’s pretty much what we concluded.

Fisher: Right.

Steve: Because I mean they stayed together. They were married for 25 years and eventually did get a divorce but not because of this, because of something else.

Fisher: Wow.

Steve: But you don’t stay together for 25 years and not have children.

Fisher: So you think there was an arrangement?

Steve: I don’t know. If I had to conclude something I would say there was some kind of an arrangement. What was interesting was my younger brother Tom, was back only about seven or eight years ago in our home town. There was a fair there and my dad came up to him with an older gentleman and he said, “Tom, there’s somebody here I’d like you to meet.” And he introduced them and then he walked away and Tom thought, “That was so weird.”

Until we realized now that was our father that he had just been introduced to.

Fisher: Wow!

Steve: So dad obviously knew enough to tell this guy, “Hey, you want to see one of your sons?” and brought him to introduce him to him.

Fisher: All right, so here’s the question Steve, and I think the point of all this that’s very important to people listening right now is, I’m sure there are a lot of other folks out there dealing with family secrets. Let’s talk about how you all have dealt with it, and everybody knows at this point, yes?

Steve: No. there’s one still alive that does not know about it and we cannot let this individual know until our mother is gone and the wife of her [birth] father is still alive so we cannot do that.

Fisher: Ohh, okay. So complications right? ‘Do no harm, do no pain’ first, right?

Steve: Given who she is we know she will then go and confront the wife or somebody or our mother and it just wouldn’t be good.

Fisher: Okay. So how has this affected all your relationships, with mom particularly?

Steve: Yeah. You know with nine of us, there’s one who won’t see her anymore. There’s one who just says, “I’m done with her.” With me, it took me about three months. There was an enormous sense of betrayal up front. I finally was able to put it aside. This was about three and a half years ago.  I still call my mother every Sunday night; others have handled it very well. Others you know just think this is a fascinating story. We laugh about it and when we get together it’s a great source of entertainment. But a couple of them are really struggling with it and one in particular really won’t have anything to do with her now. So we have varying degrees all the way from, “No. I’m not your son anymore.” To “Mom, we all make mistakes.”

Fisher: Umm.

Steve: Not quite like this, but we all do!

Fisher: [Laughs] So, has anyone reached out to half siblings from some of the other fathers?

Steve: No. we’ve consciously made it a point to really not do any of this until a few more people have passed on. We just need to make sure all of the spouses of the men are gone and even then I think we want to be extremely careful who we reach out to.

Fisher: That’s right.

Steve: Because some would be able to handle it well and some won’t. I know that one of the things for me that’s been a real blessing growing up is I’ve always seen on my father’s side, the father that raised us, which by the way as far as I’m concerned, he is my father and his posterity is my posterity.

Fisher: Right.

Steve: And he will always be and I’ve talked to my siblings and they all agree completely that dad especially now seeing what he has done in raising us and never, never betraying that secret, has just raised him as far as respect. But we grew up seeing his siblings dying of cancer and his parents both died of stomach cancer, and his grandfather died of stomach cancer and when I hit 50 the doctor every year ordered a colonoscopy.

Fisher: Right.

Steve: When I found out about this, it was the first thing to go!

Fisher: [Laughs]

Steve: I talked to him and said, “Hey, can we go to the five year checkup and he was fine with that.

Fisher: Steve, unbelievable story and I can’t thank you enough for sharing it with us and I think it’s a benefit to a lot of people who might be dealing with secrets like this, perhaps to learn from how you people have done so, and God bless and good luck!

Steve: Great. Thank you I enjoyed it!

Fisher: It’s a story that’s not over yet.

Steve: Oh, not by any means. Not by any means.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Steve: Thank you, Scott.

Fisher: And coming up next in five minutes we’ll talk to a woman from Charlotte, North Carolina, the daughter of a Chicago Cubs coach. She lost him at 3 years old and we’ll talk to her about the journey to know her late father better. It’s a revealing story on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.

Segment 3 Episode 120

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 wasn’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, uh, “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 lead. If someone emails me and tells me to do a library research, I would 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 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 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: So that was recorded and my mom found it on cassette. The pastor who is in his 80’s 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.  Here’s 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 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 cry 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 am just 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 the 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 your 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, if you’re looking to have your old home movies or videos digitized. What’s the best way to know if you’re local digitizer is the real deal?

It’s a great listener question, and of course Tom Perry our Preservation Authority will have the answer in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History show.

Segment 4 Episode 120

Host Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry

Fisher: And we are back once again on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show

I am Fisher, the Radio Roots Sleuth with Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com. He's our Preservation Authority. He answers your questions about what you do to make sure you don't lose your precious audio, your video, your photographs, your home movies.

There's so much going on and so much to talk about, and Tom, this is a really interesting question that we got from Jack Smith. He's in Indianapolis, Indiana, and he's saying,

"I'm going to be going to a local outlet soon to get my materials transferred, my old home videos." He said, "What questions should I ask to know that these people are going to do this right?"

Tom: That's a wonderful question! Because there's so many people out there, whether you're buying a diamond ring or having your video tapes transferred, “How do I know that this guy's legit? Because I know nothing about the industry, so I don't know what to look for”.

One of the things you want to talk to the people about is, what kind of equipment that they use. You don't need brand names. It's just, "How do you transfer my video tape to a DVD or BlueRay or to a hard drive? Do I need to bring in my camcorder? Do I just bring in my tapes? If I have the old VHS-Cs, do I need an adaptor? What do I need to do?"

If you're going to a reputable place, you won't need your camera; you won't need your adaptor. They will have all that kind of equipment and one thing you want to remember…

Fisher: Even the old ones?

Tom: Oh, absolutely! Oh, absolutely! Anybody that's worth their weight in salt has to be able to already have VHS-C transfer machines. If they don't have them, it’s like, what are they doing? Do they not do enough? Do they know what they're doing? I'd be very, very skeptical about anybody that says, "Oh, no, you need to bring in your camera."

The only situation that differs is, sometimes the camera gets shaken and it records a little bit off track, and it will play in your camera fine, however, it won't play even on our equipment, which we have the best equipment you can buy, because our stuff is set to a certain standard, so you might get wavy lines and things like this.

But in the situation where it was recorded on a bad camera, then you would want to bring in your camera and tie it into our system.

Fisher: And how would you know that your camera's bad or the video's bad?

Tom: Well, generally you probably would not know if you don't have a way to play it. So, what I would do is, when you take your tape in, if it comes back looking funky or something, then you're going to call them and say, "Hey, why does my tape look like this? It plays in my camcorder." And they say, "Well, I don't know."

Well, you probably shouldn't have gone to that place, because what we generally like to do is, if we see that situation, we can generally tell and we will call you and say, "Do you still have your camcorder? Have you had it repaired since?

 Because if you've had your camcorder repaired since you recorded your tape offline, it's not going to do any good, because now your camera is back to what it should have been. So that's the best thing. Find out what you need to bring in and what they have.

And another thing which, I take a lot of heat on this, but this is my opinion, the best way to transfer analog to digital is through a machine that's made specifically to transfer VHS-C, VHS, High 88 to a DVD or Blue ray or hard drive.

You can buy these absolute kick butt Apples and even some PCs that are amazing on what they do. And so, people get these little squawk boxes, they pay less than a hundred dollars for.

Fisher: Oh.

Tom: And they plug their camcorder into it, and then plug that into a computer. A computer is not a device to turn analog into digital. So, you have this thousand dollar Apple computer that's just absolutely incredible, and then you have this stupid little piece of hundred dollar equipment.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Tom: That's in the middle of it, and you're not going to get good transfers. You need to find a person that has equipment that's specialized to transfer different media to hard drive in real time, BluRay, and hard drive, whatever you're going to do, because if you don't, you're going to get all kinds of problems.

In audio it’s not so much, because the bandwidth of audio is so much smaller. When you get into video, you're doing tons of stuff, terabytes, and gigabytes of stuff.

And so, when you're transferring, if there's the littlest glitch, if the computer just pauses for a fraction of a second, you might not notice until you looking at your DVD, you see these little artifacts that flash and stop and freeze, and it will drive you nuts, because it’s visual and most people are visual people.

So, that's why you want to stay away from the computer if you can. So, I would really stay away from people that are transfering through their computer vs. having the hardware.

Right after the break, I'll give you some more questions that you can ask your dealer where you want to get your memories preserved.

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

Segment 5 Episode 120

Host Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry

Fisher: We are back, final segment of Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.

I am Fisher, the Radio Roots Sleuth, with Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com and we’re talking about this great question, about how do you know that someone is going to do a great job transferring your old family videos because there are so many different types of old videos, as we’ve talked about Tom, so what questions to ask and you’ve given some great answers on that already.  What else should they be concerned with?

Tom: You know, I would ask the people, how long they’ve been in this business, how long they’ve been in this industry? Maybe they’ve only been transferring tapes for five years but yet maybe they’ve been videographer for twenty years.

Fisher: Sure.

Tom: So they’ve got the experience. There are people out there, and I’m not exaggerating, we hear horror stories about this all the time. They go to a place like ‘Goodwill’ buy some old VCR’s, buy some old camcorders, hook them up and say “Hey!..” You know, they hang the shingle that says “Hey, I can transfer your audio, video and film.”  They know nothing about cleaning the machines; they know nothing about getting mould spores from one person's tape, transferring to everybody else's tape. You've got to be careful. You want to ask a question? Ask them, "How do you upkeep your equipment? What's your experience on that? What do you use?"

Fisher: I want to go back to the mould spores there, because you've mentioned this before.

Tom: Oh yeah.

Fisher: Is this still pretty common and where?

Tom: Oh, it is! Especially places that are high humidity, like Florida.

Fisher: Alabama.

Tom: Exactly!

Fisher: Yeah, okay.

Tom: Not so much in Arizona, because it’s so dry. And people that have moved around, these tapes may have been in boxes for ten, fifteen, twenty years, and there could be rodent damage, there could be all kinds of stuff.

And, I don't mean to be gross, but you don't want to be running a tape with rodent pee through your VCR and then put somebody else's nice, clean tape in there and do the same thing. It’s nasty.

I mean, we know this stuff. If we see something, we know about it. And I've had situations where something snuck in that we didn't catch, we didn't see the mould spores or whatever.

There's no white dots, but when we started running it we knew exactly what was going on and so, we threw the VCR away. We just didn't use it anymore.

Fisher: Really!?

Tom: Oh yeah! Because when they get really, really bad, there's no way you're going to be able to clean them. We clean all of ours by hand. They make good quality tapes cleaners, but they're kind of hard to find nowadays, but you can get them to run through your machine.

We don't do that. We take our machines apart; we clean all the rubber parts, all the metal parts with 90% isopropyl alcohol. We use the right kind of tip cleaners and things like that.

 We're always cleaning our machines, because we don't want somebody else's tapes, even though they think. "Oh, it’s on DVD now. I don't care."

Well, you don't know. Something down the road could happen to your DVD and you go, "Boy! I'm glad I still have that tape. I can retransfer it again."

We've had people that have taken tapes into the big box stores that they get the DVD back and they look at it and say, "This isn't good." And they ask the big box store, we won't mention names, "Oh, no, we did the best we can. We're professional at this."

They bring the same tape in to us, we run it and they go, "Oh, now this is how it plays on our VCR!"

You know, we guarantee our work. If something's wrong with the tape, we'll do the very best we can. A lot of the big box stores won't be able to do that, and that's a good thing too.

If you ever take your tape into a place to get it transferred, and they say there's always things wrong with your tape, yada, yada, yada. You can play it or you're pretty sure there's not a problem, send it to us. Let us try it.

We get tapes all the time that are rejected from the big box stores, but these guys are an assembly line. All they're doing is going, 'Oh, this tape is not working. Let's pull it out, let's pull it out!'

Fisher: Sure.

Tom: And we can transfer it.

Fisher: And you've got a lot of young kids often working in these stores. They're not specialists in this material.

Tom: Exactly! It's a 9 to 5 job for them, if even that, or it's a summer job. But we take the time to go through the whole tape, find out if we can transfer it and we do, and it makes me wonder, how many other tapes out there, that these big box stores reject that people throw away that we could have transferred for them?

Fisher: So, bottom line is, Tom, you've got to make sure you're working with reputable, experienced people, right?

Tom: Exactly! If they don't answer your questions, then go to someplace else. Check with your local guys, if you don't feel comfortable with them, write us at [email protected] and I'll try to help you.

If you can't get anybody in your area, send them to one of our stores. We're more than happy to help you.

Fisher: All right. We'll see you again next week.

Tom: Sounds good. See you then, bud.

Fisher: That is it for this week. And thanks once again to Steve Anderson, for sharing with us the wild tale of what DNA testing told him about his family, including his eight siblings He has dealt with the shock well. Also to Leann Walker Young, for telling us about her journey to learn more about the father she lost when she was just three years old, a coach for the Chicago Cubs.  Join us on Facebook this week and at ExtremeGenes.com. Talk to you again next week, and remember, as far as everyone knows, we're a nice, normal family!

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