Episode 192 - Perfectly Preserved 19th Century Child Found in Back Yard, Identified and Reburied With Dignity

podcast episode May 21, 2017

Host Scott Fisher opens the show with David Allen Lambert, Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. Fisher begins, revealing David’s growing fan club, from which one member deemed him the “Paul McCartney of genealogy!”  Fisher then delves into the ransomware attacks that are currently sweeping the world and gives advice on how to protect your data. (One item: Get rid of XP!) Then Fisher and David talk about a historic Jewish synagogue in New York that was burned by a teenage arsonist this past week. But it wasn’t always a synagogue. Hear about Fisher’s 19th century family ties to this now lost building. David then talks about a woman who found a 70 year old letter found in a stair in her house, some of the content of that note, and her lengths to find the family it came from. Then, it’s another birthday for America’s oldest living veteran, Richard Overton. You won’t believe how old he is, and to what he attributes his longevity. David’s blogger spotlight this week is on the writer who calls herself “Dear Myrtle.” Go to blog.dearmyrtle.com, home of “Monday’s With Myrt.”

Then, Fisher begins his two part visit with Elissa Davey, founder of “Garden of Innocence,” an organization dedicated to dignified burials for abandoned children. Elissa talks about the event in the 1990s that brought her to the realization that she needed to start a group to help in these situations. Then, last year, came the situation she never dreamed of. A small casket with windows was found buried in a back yard in San Francisco on the former site of a cemetery. The man who made the find peered through the window and saw the perfectly preserved body of a little girl. From there, the journey of the girl, assigned the name “Miranda Eve,” led to Elissa and  Garden of Innocence, who not only went about reburying the girl, but also finding her true identity. Elissa describes all that went into both tasks.

Then, Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com, the Preservation Authority talks Viewmasters, 110 negatives, circular negatives, and other unique 1970s era items. Some were commercial (think Yellowstone tours) but some were used to preserve family images. If you have items such as these and want to scan them yourself, Tom will tell you how it’s done.

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

Transcript of Episode 192

Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Segment 1 Episode 192

Fisher: And welcome to America’s Family History Show, Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here your Radio Roots Sleuth on the program where we shake your family tree and watch the nuts fall out. And this segment is brought to you by MyHeritage.com. Have we got a guest and a story for you today! We’re going to be talking to Elissa Davey a little bit later on from an organization called Garden of Innocence. It’s about dignified burials for abandoned children. And there was a child that was found in San Francisco buried sometime back in the 19th century, perfectly preserved and they were actually able to do something with this child to identify who she was and to get her that proper burial. You’re going to love this story, coming up in about eight minutes or so. Hey, just a reminder by the way. Don’t forget to sign up for our Weekly Genie newsletter. All kinds of great links to great stories there, and of course more how-tos to help you along as you make your journey into genealogy and a column from me each week. Right now let’s head out to Boston and talk to “the Paul McCartney of the genealogy world,” David Allen Lambert the Chief Genealogist for the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. How are you David?

David: How do I reply to that? But, thank you and it’s wowed me! [Laughs]

Fisher: And it’s not from me. It is not from me. That was actually a post on our Facebook page. Somebody posted up there, “David Allen Lambert is a Rock Star,” and then somebody put on, “Agreed. He’s the Paul McCartney of Genealogy,” [laughs] which is strange because your hair is definitely not his.

David: Well, I also don’t have the people to take care of my hair like probably he does. Well, I’m flattered!

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: I’m a big Beatle fan so that’s a good reference.

Fisher: Yes, yeah, I got to actually interview Paul McCartney once. Incredible time and it was a great honor for me, so to work with you is even better.

David: Well, I suppose it’s better than being referred to as the “Keith Richards of the genealogical world.”

Fisher: [Laughs] Absolutely. Hey, before we get going here, we’ve got to talk about this Ransomware attack David because it’s happening as we all know, all over the world, attacking mostly businesses. But, as it spreads out we are all in danger with this thing. Here are a few ways that you can protect yourself and your information. I mean, it kills me to think of any genie losing their life’s work if they haven’t taken some of these steps. So the first step anybody recommends as an expert is back up your files regularly. That’s why we have the cloud. That’s why we have all kinds of back up hard drives, because a ransomware attack holds your stuff hostage until you pay. They actually encrypt it. And when you pay then hopefully they will un-encrypt it. The second thing is pay attention to links and emails from strangers. Never, ever open them. If you don’t recognize it forget it. It’s better to miss something that’s good than to open something that’s bad. You will hate yourself the next day. Immediately install software updates when you get them and keep any virus updates current. Very important! And don’t forget to upgrade your Windows version. If you have XP, that is a prime target for hackers because Microsoft has not supported that in two years, I think it’s been now. So make sure you get rid of XP and keep your stuff safe. We would hate to see any of you lose your data from your research. It would be devastating, wouldn’t it?

David: Exactly, and I think Tom would probably echo the same sentiment. Back up, back up, print out, print out, not sure, sure way of having another way of getting your data if you do in fact lose it.

Fisher: Absolutely. All right, let’s get on with our Family Histoire News. What do we have today David?

David: Well, some sad news from New York City. I don’t know if you saw the news about that historic synagogue built in 1850.

Fisher: 1850... yes and it burned this past week. And here’s the thing about that. It wasn’t a synagogue when it was originally built. That was the Norfolk Street Baptist Church at 60 Norfolk Street. It was my family’s Baptist church at that time.

David: Oh gosh, I’m so sorry. That’s a loss of a historical site for your family.

Fisher: Yeah, for the family and it’s directly across the street from where my grandfather was born at 55 Norfolk Street. So it was just a real shocker to see this thing burn to the ground the other night. I’m sure for Jewish people who have a history at that place, it’s devastating. And it goes back such a long way, there are lots of people who are affected by it.

David: And unfortunately when we lose historic buildings like that then you know there is just the site.

Fisher: Right.

David: I mean, now your grandfather’s house, is that still standing?

Fisher: No, that’s gone too.

David: Yeah, that unfortunately happens and I heard there was a teenager and there was an act of arson, so that’s a shame. On a happier note, sometimes what was lost can be found again. And Melissa Fahey out in Westfield, New Jersey was working on her house, and in a gap in the stairs she found a note postmarked from May of 1945 written by a woman named Virginia to her husband, Rolf Christoffersen, who was a sailor in the Norwegian Navy back in the time. And she wrote, “I love you Rolf as I love the warm sun.” So Fahey decided to try to track down the Christoffersen family and ended up finding Virginia and Rolf’s son in California. And now they have these letters. Well, wonderful thing to think that it slipped between the stair and someone had enough thought to return it to the right family.

Fisher: Isn’t that incredible? And Rolf is in his 90s now and his family read it to him which obviously pleased him. What an incredible find.

David: It really is. One man’s junk is another man’s treasure.

Fisher: There you go.

David: Remember when we talked about Richard Overton the oldest veteran. I knew obviously at 110 you’re always waiting to announce the obvious news. The obvious news here is he just turned 111!

Fisher: [Laughs] Isn’t that incredible? And he says the reason he lives so long is because of cigars and whiskey.

David: Oh, there you go. And they named a street for him, Richard Overton Avenue now in Austin, Texas. So Happy Birthday, Mr Overton, one of America’s finest veterans from World War II, and the oldest in America. This week’s blogger spotlight highlights Blog.Dearmyrtle.com. Check out “Mondays with Myrt” on her website where you can have a Google hangout and discuss topics of genealogy with her, so not just a blogger, but a place that you can go and discuss everything that’s going on in the field. As you know, NEHGS offers so much to genealogists through our American Ancestors website. And for those of you that aren’t members, you might want to take advantage between now and May 23rd our special on Pennsylvania Genealogy including resources for genealogists, a genealogical guide for research in Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvanian Genealogical Magazine, which is available as one of the databases on our website.

Fisher: All right, very good, David. Thanks for joining us. We’ll talk to you again next week.

David: All right take care, Fish.

Fisher: And coming up next, we’re going to talk to Elissa Davey. She is the founder of Garden of Innocence for dignified burials for abandoned children. And wait till you hear the stories she’s got to tell. It started with the recovery of a casket in somebody’s backyard. It’s a story you’re going to want to hear in three minutes on Extreme Genes America’s Family History Show.

Segment 2 Episode 192

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Elissa Davey

Fisher: You know, interesting things happen in the pursuit of the dead and family history. Hi, it’s Fisher, its Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. And one of the people whose life has taken a completely different direction than she ever expected, is Elissa Davey from Vista, California, the San Diego area. And she’s on the line with me right now. Hi Elissa, How are you?

Elissa: I’m doing great. How are you today?

Fisher: Great. Welcome to Extreme Genes, very excited to have you on the show. Elissa has started an amazing organization that is doing things for children who died and were not buried. Is that correct?

Elissa: Yes.

Fisher: And it’s called “Garden of Innocence.” Tell us about your organization, Elissa.

Elissa: Garden of Innocence I started in 1998 when I’d read about an article in the newspaper about a baby that was found in the trash in Buena Vista, and everybody reads those articles and think, “Oh my gosh! Who could do something like that?” And then your day starts and you’re off running your own errands and doing things and you just kind of put it aside. Well, for some particular reason I couldn’t put this one aside. And finally a month later I called the county coroner and I asked him for my own piece of mind, “Whatever happened to that baby?” And he said, “He’s still here and if nobody claims him he’ll go into an unmarked grave out at Mount Hope.” And so I asked him, “Well, how do you claim a baby that’s not yours?” And he said, “Show me you have a dignified place to put him.” So, I went to work, met some people, gathered a group to help and we build Garden of Innocence starting in San Diego. I got so many letters from all over the United States, all over England, and Canada, wanting to know, “How do I start a Garden in my area?” So I launched Garden of Innocence National and with that I got twelve Gardens in California now and trying to branch out to different states. Our goal is to have a Garden in every state because our covenant is no child should leave this earth without somebody who cared. And we’ve just buried our 370th baby.

Fisher: And how many states are you in now?

Elissa: Well, we’re in California but we have a sister site in St. Louis, Missouri.

Fisher: Incredible. And recently, your organization came in to play with an amazing discovery in the San Francisco area. A family is taking an old home built in the 1930s, they want to expand it, and they start digging in the back yard. Pick it up from there Elissa.

Elissa: The contractor was digging a new plumbing line and following the old one and his shovel hit an unusual object and he brought it up and it ended up being a very unusual casket called a Barston Metallic Burial Case. They were made between 1858 and 1880. And the contractor had little caps where windows would be and he took the caps off and looked inside and it was the body of a small child.

Fisher: And perfectly preserved. 

Elissa: Yes. And that’s one of the selling points of the Barston Metallic Burial Casket was that it would keep your loved one preserved for a very long time. And she’s been there for a 140 years. She still has her blond hair, her eyelashes, her fingernails, she had flowers in her hair, long white dress and she looks like she was just put there by her mother yesterday.

Fisher: That is incredible. And so now you’ve got the problem of who is this child? You want to identify it obviously, and you want to do what you do with Garden of Innocence, give it a decent burial by someone who cares. First of all, let’s just go back to the house here. Why do you think that coffin was in this back yard?

Elissa: Back in the 1890s, the city of San Francisco decided that the dead were taking up the land for the living so they removed five large cemeteries from the city of San Francisco and moved all the bodies down to Colma, which is a city that they built. They actually built this city to bury people in. It was called “The City of the Dead” back then. No people lived in Colma at the time, it was just dead people. So, problem was those five cemeteries had over three hundred thousand bodies in them. So they moved three hundred thousand bodies down to Colma but they missed quite a few when they dug up the old cemeteries. And so, a number of bodies have been found over the years, in fact hundreds of them. And this little girl just got missed. She got left behind.

Fisher: Wow! And so we’re talking somewhere... because of the coffin you can tell that she lived and died somewhere between the late 1850s and about 1880.

Elissa: Well, I knew that the cemetery opened in 1865.

Fisher: Okay.

Elissa: So I thought okay, well, I know she was buried, I figured somewhere between 1870 and 1890. So I figured right in there must be her timeframe. And then by looking at her teeth, I’m not a dentist but I thought well, my little grandchildren you know, they look like that too so she must be somewhere between two and four years old, somewhere in there. The problem was when the homeowner’s contractor called her she didn’t know what to do. What do you do when you have a body in your yard?

Fisher: Sure.

Elissa: Gosh, I don’t know what to do.

Fisher: What a shocking thing, and I would imagine it would be kind of disturbing to the family.

Elissa: Yes. She wasn’t that upset about it because she knew the story on the land the house was built on.

Fisher: Um hmm.

Elissa: So, she called the county coroner. The coroner came out and he looked in the windows and said, “Yeah I would say it’s a body of a child.” So he called back to the office and his superior told him to open the casket, and that was the beginning of a long process of change for this little girl. So, they opened the casket and they said, “You know, we consider her a properly interred body and you can leave her under your house or you can bury her yourself down in Colma. And the homeowners go, “Wait a minute, this isn’t my child. The shifting of the body should be your job to take care of.”

Fisher: Um hmm.

Elissa: And they just said, “Well, we wash our hands. We’re not touching it because she’s properly interred.” And they left.

Fisher: Wow! [Laughs] Wow. Well, as a homeowner that would be a big wow for me, what do I do now? What did she do, the homeowner?

Elissa: Well, she’s actually living in Utah while her house is being renovated. So she’s not even home. So the contractor built a box to put the casket in because up till now the body was totally perfect. But now that the coroner opened it and exposed her to the elements, the contractor was having issues. So they put her in the corner until they could figure out what to do. The homeowners called down to Colma to find out you know, what are the costs to bury a person? And the price was getting close to $7000.

Fisher: Whoa!

Elissa: And the homeowner said, “Wait a minute, I don’t have $7000.” And the coroner had also referred her to a company called Architect, and they said that they would come and remove the body for $3000 dollars but they want an open check because every time they do anything to her, like they’re going to examine her, they’re going to do testing on how she died, so it could come to twenty, to forty thousand dollars by the time they’re done testing this body.

Fisher: Oh my gosh, wow!

Elissa: And she went, “Wait a minute, I have two daughters I have to put through college, I can’t afford this.”

Fisher: Sure.

Elissa: So, the child actually laid in the back yard for ten days waiting for somehow for somebody to figure out what to do in San Francisco. And I happened to have a Garden of Innocence at the San Francisco columbarium.

Fisher: Okay.

Elissa: So, the county public administrator, Michelle Lewis, she called me and she said, “You know Lissa, I was just getting ready to call legal to find out what can we do because we’ve exhausted everything to help this homeowner.” And then she says, “And then I thought of you! “ She says, “Can you help me with this case? Can you help this homeowner?” I say, “Well, what’s the problem?” And she told me about the little girl and right away I said absolutely we’ll help. And so, I didn’t realize what I had gotten myself into because I now have a body that has no name and you can’t bury a body without a death certificate.

Fisher: Really?

Elissa: So now I need a permit and I can’t get a permit from nobody.

Fisher: Sure.

Elissa: So because the homeowner was gone and the house was empty, I thought, “I’ve got to get her out of that backyard today.” So my general manager for Garden of Innocence, Enrique Reade, he owns a mortuary in Fresno and I called him and he says, “Oh my gosh, what have you gotten us into now?” [Laughs]

Fisher: [Laughs]

Elissa: And I told him and I said, “I need you to come get her today. I don’t want her left there overnight because if this gets out to the news and people find out about it, somebody’s going to break into that house and steal that casket.

Fisher: Ugh, wouldn’t that be awful.

Elissa: That would be awful. So, Enrique had one of his guys that got off work at you know 7 o clock, rented a special truck, he drove over to San Francisco and got there at midnight. I checked him into a hotel and then he got up first thing in the morning and was at the site at 8 o’clock in the morning and picked up Miranda.

Fisher: Now wait a minute, Miranda, where’s that come from?

Elissa: Well, every baby that comes to the Garden of Innocence we give them a name instead of a ward number or “Baby Doe.”

Fisher: Okay.

Elissa: So, every child, every human being deserves a name. That’s a dignity everyone deserves.

Fisher: That’s right.

Elissa: Not just a tag. And Michelle Lewis, the public administrator, she asked me, “Do I name her? Can I name her?” And I went, “Absolutely.” So she named her “Eve” and then I got to thinking about it while I was talking to the homeowner and I said, “You know what, the public administrator wants to name her Eve, but, she’s been under your house your whole life and she’s been with you your whole life, and I think you should be the people to name her.” So she said, “Well, I’m going to ask my daughters.” And so she asked her daughters, “If you had a pretty little friend, what would you like to name her?” And they piped up immediately with “Miranda.” So she became Miranda Eve.

Fisher: Miranda Eve. All right, we’re going to take a break and when we return we’re going to find out more from Elissa Davey about Garden of Innocence and what happened with Miranda Eve, who was she, how did they find out, you’ll hear the of the story in five minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show. 

Segment 3 Episode 192

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Elissa Davey

Fisher: And we are back Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com! It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth. This segment is brought to you by LegacyTree.com. And I’m talking right now to Elissa Davey. She is the founder of Garden of Innocence that helps bury unknown children, and we’ve got quite a case that we’ve been talking about here over the last segment. Talking about a little girl whose coffin was found in the back yard of a house in San Francisco that dates back somewhere into the late 19th century and the body is perfectly preserved. And the homeowner of course couldn’t afford to bury it and didn’t know what to do and so you Elissa, stepped forward and last we left it you were reaching out to your helpers there in the San Francisco area and they’re kind of like, “Uh oh, what have you gotten us into?”

Elissa: [Laughs] Yes. Enrique Reade, he’s from Fresno. He’s my General Manager for Garden of Innocence. He had one of his drivers come over and pick her up and take her back to Fresno to put her in storage until we could figure out what to do. So, while she was there the news broke that there was a body found in a house, and the house was inundated with reporters driving by taking pictures, coming out in front.

Fisher: Sure.

Elissa: I’m so grateful I removed her immediately. They wanted to come to Fresno. They wanted to take pictures of her, and we just locked her up because I didn’t want to see her pictures flashed all over the internet, because she was placed in that position lovingly by her family.

Fisher: Sure.

Elissa: And we needed to keep her protected just the way her family protected her. So, Enrique and I just kept her safe away from prying eyes so that she would be just kept quiet.

Fisher: Right.

Elissa: We ended up laying Miranda Eve to rest on June 4th, 2016, but then the quest started. It actually started the day I found her, it was, who is she? How do we find out who she is?

Fisher: Right, exactly. Now you had the old maps of the cemetery. What was the name of the cemetery, by the way?

Elissa: It was called Odd Fellows Cemetery and the map we had was from 1870.

Fisher: Right, and so were you actually able to put the house where it would have been in the cemetery?

Elissa: Yes. The genealogists in Billings, Montana and Seattle, Washington and a gentleman that was an urban specialist in mapping, and between the three of us, them, myself and Tom Carey at the San Francisco History Library, we were able to tweak the map through coordinates of where Miranda was found and coordinates of where the house was and the cemetery was, to find the exact location in that cemetery where Miranda was found.

Fisher: Okay. So, with that then I would assume you were able to go into the records of the cemetery which must still exist, yes?

Elissa: We did find records online of one mortuary in San Francisco from that time. And that time there were probably ten or twelve, but we found one. And so my job was to search all the burial records in that mortuary record, while the other guys were working on the mapping.

Fisher: Right.

Elissa: And, twenty nice thousand, nice hundred and eighty second record, I found Edith Howard Cooke.

Fisher: Edith Howard Cooke. Now how did you know that might be the person?

Elissa: I wasn’t sure, but in the burial records she was two years, ten months and fifteen days old. I know that checked. She was in a Barston casket. That checked. She died of the exact same disease that Miranda died of, which was marasmus.

Fisher: Now how did you know that?

Elissa: While we were doing our searching, Enrique had pulled hair so that he could send it to a volunteer Jelmer Eerkens at University of California Davis, who’s the professor of anthropology. He was one of the first ones to write to me to volunteer his services to try and do DNA testing on her.

Fisher: Okay, and through the testing you were able to determine the cause of death.

Elissa: Yes. We knew exactly what season she died in and what she ate just by her DNA. We knew quite a lot about her, and the disease that she died from.

Fisher: And so, this entry in the burial records from the funeral home matched exactly what you knew about her.

Elissa: Yes. And she was actually the fifth one that I sent to the genealogists. So once I found her, then I sent her name and all her information to the two genealogists in Montana and Seattle. Then Dave went to work to locate records amongst the cemetery records to see where she was buried.

Fisher: Right.

Elissa: While Bob went to work tracing her family tree to try and bring it forward to find a living descendant.

Fisher: For a match?

Elissa: Yes, and we used FamilySearch right there in Salt Lake City because they were the only ones that had those Ingray Holston burial records on file.

Fisher: Ha, amazing! So as a result of that now the genealogist goes out and basically you’re doing the DNA to confirm what the paper tells you. You’d found four other candidates prior, and you want to make sure you’ve got the right one. And what a great tool we have today, right, in DNA? So you obviously had to get the hair from the roots because that’s where the DNA lives. But there’s not much at that point, right?

Elissa: No, there’s not much. Hair samples have to be cleaned and sequenced, and they went through a lot of work on that. And then at the University of California Davis, has got Ed Green who’s a biochemist in DNA testing at the University of California, Santa Cruz. So all the hair samples were sent down there to him who then put them through the testing, it’s all molecular.

Fisher: Sure.

Elissa: The way they were talking I had no clue. I just had to sign my name off because I’m going, “I don’t know what you’re doing.”  But between them they were able to narrow it down.

Fisher: Was your genealogist then able to find a descendant from that family to try to do a match?

Elissa: He found a great grand nephew whose name is Peter Cook. He lives up in San Rafael. He’s 82 years old. When Jelmer called him to tell him we were working on this case, he was so excited because he had never known anything about his father’s side of the family. And because we had been searching her DNA we were able to present him with his whole family tree.

Fisher: Wow [Laughs] unbelievable!

Elissa: He said, “I’m tickled pink.” So yeah, in fact I went up to meet him last week. So it was pretty cool.

Fisher: I’ll bet.

Elissa: He was so excited you know that he was the one that we were able to match with Miranda and prove that Miranda was actually Edith Howard Cooke.

Fisher: Edith Howard Cooke. When was she born?

Elissa: She was born on November 28th, 1873 and passed away October 13th, 1876.

Fisher: That is unbelievable and perfectly preserved in a back yard in San Francisco. Now she’s properly buried. She has a name. Is there a stone that’s going to go up for her with her name on it?

Elissa: Well Miranda had a stone because we put just Miranda Eve on it. The child loved around the world, because we got letters from all over the world. But they won’t let us write on the back of the stone which is what I wanted to do is turn it around, and they said, “It’s a 120 years old, you can’t.” So I had to order a whole new stone and it’s going to have her picture on it because she only had a tiny bit of mold on her jaw line and a little bit on her mouth. We had all of that removed and her mouth closed, otherwise the picture that people see is actually Miranda, or Edith. I had a hard time calling her Edith because I called her Miranda for years.

Fisher: [Laughs] Well, you are one of God’s chosen, Elissa. Doing the things that you’re doing, and if people want to reach out to Garden of Innocence, where can they find you?

Elissa: We have a website, GardenofInnocence.org, and Miranda’s whole story is on there, plus all about the Garden too. You know, everyone deserves a happy family and there are times when it just doesn’t happen that way and Garden of Innocence will take care and step in to do what the family didn’t do. And lay them to rest with the dignity and the love that they deserve. And it’s really important to us to continue this mission. Hopefully our goal is to have a Garden in every state, and to keep growing so that there’ll be a spot there if anybody is ever needing a place to rest for these abandoned children, we’ll be there for them.

Fisher: She’s Elissa Davey. She’s the founder of Garden of Innocence. Thank you so much for sharing your time with us Elissa, and the story, amazing, absolutely astonishing thing! And I wish you the best.

Elissa: Well, thank you for having me today, I appreciate it.

Fisher: And coming up next, we’ll talk to Tom Perry about preservation and taking your old View Master photographs and digitizing them. That’s in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.

Segment 4 Episode 192

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry

Fisher: And welcome back, its America's Family History Show, Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. I am Fisher, your Radio Roots Sleuth. And this segment is brought to you by Roots Magic. Tom Perry is here from TMCPlace.com, he is our Preservation Authority. And we talk preservation every week Tom, good to see you again.

Tom: Good to be here.

Fisher: You know, I'm excited about this topic that you've told me about off air, this whole thing about View Masters. And I think for anybody who's over the age of, what, fifty? They would remember View Masters.

Tom: Yep.

Fisher: And for those who aren't, basically it is a little round circle filled with photographs, very tiny ones, and you used to take this circles, it was about, six inches across?

Tom: Yeah, about.

Fisher: And you'd stick it in this view thing and you'd click this thing on the side and you would look inside and you could see the pictures.

Tom: Right.

Fisher: And they were a lot of fun. And people are still bringing these into you, because I guess folks used to make these and put their own family pictures in there.

Tom: Yeah. A lot of times you would buy them, like you'd buy, they had the GAF, different kinds of brands that you would purchase. They would have like little, short stories in them. A lot of people made their own, you know. You take your pictures, you send it off and then the disk comes back.

Fisher: Yeah, I had one that was a tour of Yellowstone or something.

Tom: Exactly. And so, people will say, "Hey, I've got these and I want to preserve them. What do I do with these?" Well, these kind of goes in the same categories if you have the old 110 negatives.

Fisher: Yes.

Tom: Which are those little, teeny ones about the size of your little fingernail.

Fisher: Sure.

Tom: They're really small and hard to deal with.

Fisher: From the 70s.

Tom: Exactly. And then, you have those really nasty ones were the film disks. It’s just a round piece of negative that are probably about two, maybe three inches round and they have pictures all the way them.

Fisher: Ha! I don't recall ever having seen one of those.

Tom: Oh yeah, they are crazy. One of the biggest problems with those is, they have the little gear in the middle of them so they won't lay flat on your scanner. And there's nobody that I know of in the country that actually takes those and scans them besides ourselves. If any of our listeners know of someplace that does that, a professional place or even somebody that does it for others, let us know, because we've taught our listeners to cut out the hub. So there's a lot of things you can do with these, but the biggest thing you want to remember is, it’s going to take some work.

Fisher: Sure.

Tom: And if you are a do it yourselfer, you know, knock yourself out. If you want us to help you with part of it or any of your local places that have good quality scanning machines. And again, if you don't have a good quality scanning machine, you're scared to send it off, there's always places in your neighborhood that make billboards and make big, huge signs, so they're got like a kick butt scanner, so to speak.

Fisher: Sure.

Tom: And the thing is, even if they charge you twenty bucks to scan one negative, if you've only got one, it’s no big deal, or if you have several, they can scan them all at the same time, give you the file, then you go into Photoshop and you can go and segregate them into separate things.

Fisher: Right.

Tom: And the easiest thing you want to do is, after you have the scan itself, make sure you make a copy on your hard drive, so you've got it on your hard drive, your cloud and then whatever device you originally had it on. And then you just take it, put it into Photoshop and then it’s very easy for those that aren't familiar with Photoshop and can't draw a straight line with a ruler.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Tom: There's a little tool in there that's a line, they call it "magnetic". Photoshop's so smart, it kind of figures out, "Okay, this is the edge of the negative." which is pretty simple. So you click it on one corner, you go to the next corner and click it, you go to the next corner and click, click, click, and then when you get to the fourth corner, it will copy that whole square that you've made, then you take that out and do a save as and call it negative 1 or whatever name.

Fisher: Nice.

Tom: And so, then you just keep doing that through all of them. And then you can go in and rotate them, do all different kinds of things like this. There's all kinds of tools. And the thing that we posted on the Extreme Genes website, on our website, on our Twitter page is going viral. People love watching to see how people use these different tools. And it’s not really that hard. And you were talking off air, you only use a couple of tools in the whole scam.

Fisher: Yeah. I use two tools generally with Photoshop Elements. So it’s the cheaper version. I use the healing tool and I use the cloning tool. And those two things alone plus a little adjustment in lighting and color tone, like four things basically on the entire program. And you can do some phenomenal work in restoring photographs.

Tom: And a lot of people, they get too overwhelmed. And so, after the break, what we're going to do is talk a little bit about if this is your first time doing anything like this, it’s not really that hard, jump in and have a good time.

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

Segment 5 Episode 192

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry

Fisher: We are back! It is our final segment of Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth and Tom Perry, our Preservation Authority from TMCPlace.com. And we're talking about the preservation of photos that are kept in little circles called View Masters.

Tom: [Laughs]

Fisher: Boy, talk about going back! I hadn’t even thought about those things in probably decades, Tom. And you've got the 110 negatives. And what was this other one you were just talking about at the end?

Tom: They're little disks. They're about like the size, about two to three inches across, and it’s just a giant piece of negative. And then they just have all the pictures around them for when you put it in your little flat camera. And it just would go and, you know, shoot these different pictures on it. They had, I think about twelve to fourteen prints on them.

Fisher: Never saw one of those, ever.

Tom: Oh.

Fisher: They must have been common though.

Tom: Yeah, they, it’s just when the economy kind of tanked years ago, it was a way for Kodak to change the price, instead of having 35mm film, which was so expensive, they made this little disk, which was a 4x4 piece of film with all these pictures, so people thought it was great. Same thing with 110s, they were so nice and small. They were about four times the size of an old 8mm reel of home movies, so you can see how small they are, which is great for a 3x5 print, but you want to make an 8x10 or something, you're kind of really pushing the envelope. Remember don't get overwhelmed by this stuff. If you do a save as, you're never going to ruin your own thing. And you'll just find out how easy this stuff is. It’s not rocket science, it’s really isn't.

Fisher: No, that's true.

Tom: If I can do it, anybody can do it.

Fisher: I'll agree with that.

Tom: [Laughs]

Fisher: [Laughs]

Tom: It’s really pretty simple when you go in and actually trace each one of the negatives and do a “save as.” Then what you want to do is, you want to put them each in their own file. Now a lot of times, this is getting more heady, but if you're just starting out, what you want to do is, when you take these different pictures, go into your Photoshop preferences and set it up so it shows a grid, like piece of graph paper.

Fisher: Okay.

Tom: Because then it’s going to show you exactly where these little pictures line up, and so then just rotate it till its right along one of the graphs, then you know you have it nice and straight.

Fisher: Right. Okay.

Tom: And if for some reason you scanned it backwards, no big deal, because you can always flip and rotate them also, because the negatives are going to be the same no matter which way you scan it.

Fisher: Sure.

Tom: Words will be backwards, the clothes line in the wrong side of the back yard.

Fisher: Right. [Laughs]

Tom: And all you have to do is flip them. And once you do that, you can go get in there, make them bigger. And once you've got all these things done, then it’s easy to take a thumb drive and go to your local photo shop and make prints off of them if you don't want to print them at home, which a lot of people are doing that.

Fisher: Sure.

Tom: And there's a lot of places online, if you have tons of these, then you send them all your files, three days later, the pictures show up. And they're really pretty inexpensive, because they're just a big factory that does them. But always remember, read the fine print to make sure that you still own all your negatives and they don't have any right to be able to use it or any of that kind of stuff. So it’s really not that hard of a thing to do. And we were talking about the St. George Expo that we're doing in September. We'll be there showing people how to do a lot of these kinds of things. Because remember, you know, it’s not rocket science. Start out small, play with a couple of tools, like you mentioned, you use two.

Fisher: Just two.

Tom: Tools in Photoshop. And that makes it real simple. And as far as shipping, some people just don't want to do it and they're scared of shipping, just remember one thing too, in all the years we've been around since 1973, none of our customers have ever lost anything shipping to us, we've never lost anything going back and forth. And the funny thing is, I looked at some statistics and it’s actually safer in a UPS truck than it is in your home when you look at how many home fires and floods and mudslides there are versus how many UPS or FedEx trucks burn or get in a crash or something.

Fisher: Right or something's lost. That's an interesting stat. [Laughs] And it makes sense.

Tom: And it’s important. And the thing is, like I say, just start out small, learn the basic things, see what you need to do, and if you have questions, you can always write to me at [email protected] or you can tweet me @AskTomP, and I'm more than happy to help you, send you in the direction, help you with software, whatever. We're here to help you in any way we can.

Fisher: All right. Thanks so much, Tom. We’ll see you again next week.

Tom: We'll be here.

Fisher: That is a wrap on this week's show. This segment has been brought to you by 23AndMe.com DNA. Thanks once again to Elissa Davey from Garden of Innocence for coming on and talking about the remarkable recovery of the perfectly preserved body of a little girl who died in the 1870s and how they were able to identify her and give her a proper burial. Hey, if you missed any of it, catch the podcast on iTunes, iHeart Radio and ExtremeGenes.com. And don't forget to sign up for our free Weekly Genie newsletter at ExtremeGenes.com. Talk to you next week. And remember, as far as everyone knows, we're a nice, normal family!

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