Episode 258 - Nationally Renowned Storyteller Kim Weitkamp On The Art Of Telling Family Stories

podcast episode Nov 04, 2018

Host Scott Fisher opens the show with David Allen Lambert, Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. The guys open Family Histoire News talking first about genetic genealogist CeCe Moore’s recent appearance on 60 Minutes. Then, speaking of DNA, the guys chat about a woman who recently learned that it wasn’t her father who abandoned her as a child, it was her kidnapper! Then, a Revolutionary War diary, which gives a firsthand account of an important battle, has been found. Hear about the significance of this record. Next, Reclaim the Records is stirring things up again. This non-profit, that often sues record agencies to get copies of public records in order to digitize them and make them available free to the public, is going after another organization. Hear who is in their sites this time and why. David then shines his Blogger Spotlight on Jamie Gates. Her site is applegategenealogy.wordpress.com. Jamie talks about getting your family stories out there in the hopes of finding new cousins.

Then, Fisher spends two segments with Kim Weitkamp. (Go to KimIsFunny.com.) Kim is a nationally renowned storyteller who is a leading player in the national storytelling festival circuit. Fisher was astounded at her “telling” skills while watching her recount how she found her birth family. Kim talks about how she puts her stories together and some techniques for becoming a better storyteller.

Then, speaking of stories, Tom Perry, our Preservation Authority, shares some of his “Stories from the Store.” From behind the counter of his digitization firm, Tom has truly watched some miracles happen. Hear about what he has seen through the decades.

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

Transcript of Episode 258

Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Segment 1 Episode 258

Fisher: And welcome my genies 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. This episode is brought to you by BYUtv’s Relative Race. I’m very excited to introduce you to a guest we’ve never had on the show before, ever! She’s one of America’s great storytellers. In fact, there’s actually a storytelling festival circuit around the country. I first saw her a couple of years ago, and saw her again just a month or two ago at another festival and she is just a master of telling family stories. I’m going to talk to Kim Weitkamp and she’s going to explain some of the techniques to help you become a better family storyteller. I think you’re really going to enjoy this. That’s coming on later in the show. And then Tom Perry with some stories of his own, late in the show, our Preservation Authority of course, talking about “Stories From His Store, Behind the Counter with Tom Perry.” You won’t believe some of the things that have happened there, and things that he’s actually seen and found on some of the film that he’s converted. So, that’s going to be a lot of fun as well. Just a reminder, if you haven’t signed up for our “Weekly Genie Newsletter,” oh you’re missing all kinds of great stories. You’re missing all kinds of great links to interviews and to shows past and present and my weekly blog. So, check it out, it’s absolutely free. And no, we don’t sell your email address, so, get on it. Sign up now at ExtremeGenes.com or on our Facebook page. Right now it is off to Boston where I know this man is just glowing in the light of the Boston Red Sox and all that is going on in the World Series. David Allen Lambert, he’s the Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. How are you sir?

David: Oh, for Red Sox Nation, we’re doing really good!

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: It’s nice to be home for a couple of weeks before I head out to Salt Lake City for doing some research with NEHGS on our tour. I just got back from the British Institute and I tell you it was a wonderful week of twenty classes, intensive on English Genealogy. And I hope to go next year and do Irish or Scottish or Welsh which are the other three components, so, the British Institute for genealogy, well worth doing.

Fisher: There you go, sharpening your axe, which is what genealogists always do.

David: Um hmm. Did you see 60 Minutes on Sunday? I saw your good friend CeCe Moore’s command performance. They’re talking about what went on behind finding that killer in Washington state. That was a great episode.

Fisher: Fantastic! Steve Croft interviewing her and she was showing everybody exactly how she solved this case, and works to solve other cases as well. And she’s got a bunch more in the pipeline. And I’m hoping to have CeCe on the show here real soon so we can get caught up with her because it’s been a few months, so we will do that. All right, on to our Family Histoire News for this week David. Where do we begin?

David: Well, I’ll tell you the story really needs to start with Lisa Jensen who thought she abandoned by her abusive father in 1986 when she was left at five years old, left behind a fake name and a fingerprint. Well, 16 years later the man who abandoned Lisa was actually arrested on charges of killing his own girlfriend. Well, they did a little bit of investigating into the history and began to wonder if Lisa was actually his kid after all. Turns out she’s not. Turns out actually Lisa’s kidnapper was the person who she thought was her father. She was kidnapped as a baby, Fish and DNA has solved this. It’s a bitter-sweet story. Now she knows where she’s from.

Fisher: You know, DNA always with a new twist, right?

David: It really is. It really is. I’ll tell you I love the Revolutionary War, and I was delighted to read this story that is on Extreme Genes on Colonel Edward Wigglesworth’s diary. Now he may not mean a lot to you, but he was the Commander of the Flotilla at the Battle of Valcour Island up in Montpelier, Vermont area during the Revolutionary War. Now this is even more important. That whole flotilla was under the fleet led by General Benedict Arnold.

Fisher: Oh, wow! I love that name, and I’ve always loved that name Wigglesworth. “Oh Wigglesworth, I’m taking the boat across the pond.”

David: [Laughs] Exactly.

Fisher: Wonderful, yes.

David: Exactly. And that ship was actually found. About 20 years ago they found it at the bottom of the lake and they brought it up.

Fisher: Crazy.

David: And this diary that was known to exist in the middle of the 19th century disappeared till the 1930s and then it was given to the Bennington Museum, not catalogued until almost 10 years ago. It just posted online last year and the researcher has found the 34-page diary and has transcribed it and it will be published very shortly in the Journal of the American Revolution.

Fisher: That’s awesome!

David: All right, next I want to talk about Reclaim the Records. As you know they have worked tirelessly to get records released for people from around the country, specifically New York. Well, now you may be aware that New York State Death Index from 1852 to 1956 is behind the paywall of Ancestry.com. However, Reclaim the Records is the one who made the initial lawsuit to get them released to begin with. They were not given first priority. So, our good friend and my fill-in when I wasn’t able to do the show, Brooke Ganz has a lot to talk about in regard to this and there’s a great little story on Extreme Genes. Again, go to ExtremeGenes.com and read more about it.

Fisher: Yeah, this is really interesting because Brooke is going after an agency in New York that handles records. She’s just saying, “Why did you give priority to Ancestry over us?” Because now those records are behind a paywall which she has no problem with. She just wants to access them and get the same treatment for free. And so they’re actually suing this agency and we’ll see what comes of it.

David: Probably we’ll find out that she will succeed once again. She’s a very determined young lady.

Fisher: [Laughs] Yes, relentless.

David: And I’ll benefit as genealogist for sure. My blogger spotlight shines on Jamie Gates. Jamie Gates has a blog called applegategenealogy.wordpress.com where she talks about her family. She started in genealogy only a few years ago, but she’s taken her family stories and put them up for the public to read and enjoy. I mean, you might find distant cousins that way.

Fisher: Absolutely. It’s like planning a flag out there.

David: It really is. Well, that’s about all I have for this week from NEHGS, but exciting news if you’ve ever stayed in the historic hotel. The Historic Hotels of America partnered with NEHGS just recently. And what this collaboration means is that NEHGS members will get discounts at accommodations at participating Historic Hotels of America, and discounted memberships to NEHGS in term for those that stay at Historic Hotels of America. So it’s a great win-win for both. And don’t forget, if you’re not a NEHGS member, you can get $20 off your membership by using the check out code Extreme. Let’s go back to the World Series and see how we make out and we’ll report back next week.

Fisher: All right David, always good to talk to you. And coming up next, I’m going to introduce you to one of America’s master storytellers. There is a storytelling festival circuit out there, and that’s where I discovered her when I was introduced to this just a couple of years ago. And she is just incredible, and she’s going to share with us some of the secrets of telling great family stories. Her name is Kim Weitkamp. You’ll be hearing her coming up next in three minutes when we return on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.

Segment 2 Episode 258

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Kim Weitkamp

Fisher: You know, it’s just a few years back that I was introduced by an old friend to the storytelling festivals of the United States, and she actually took me to one with my wife and we got to see what was going on under these big tents and crowds pouring in for some of these events that have gone on for decades. And we got introduced to the art of “telling,” storytelling and so many of them have got to do with family. And I got to meet one of the masters of one of these festivals just this past summer. Her name is Kim Weitkamp. She is from Ohio, and told an incredible story this one night just weaving from the very emotional to the very funny about meeting her birth family and the circumstances surrounding it, and just had this audience enthralled. And so I thought I’d get Kim on the show and talk about the art of storytelling. I would love to have time for you to tell one, Kim, but you’re very long- form and I get that but welcome to Extreme Genes. It’s nice to have you.

Kim: It’s nice to be here.

Fisher: So, when did you get started in all this, and what got you on the storytelling circuit?

Kim: Well, it was quite the zigzag if you want to put it that way. I know it sounds very cliché, but I have been telling stories since I could talk. And I am not stretching that, and got in trouble for it a lot.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Kim: I would concoct stories and tell the teachers fantastical things and my mother would have to correct me. And then I would come home and tell her crazy stories of things that happened at school and they never happened. I would constantly, my imagination even to this day works in pure overload which can be detrimental. [Laughs]

Fisher: Yeah. [Laughs]

Kim: If you hear a door creak, within five minutes you’ve already witnessed your whole mystery crime of your life ending. So, I have been telling stories since I was a kid and I carried that on through high school, got involved in a lot of journalisms, even debating teams because it’s verbal.

Fisher: Sure. Yeah.

Kim: Anything verbal made me happy, anything with words, anything with writing, and after that I moved into working with youth. And so, for a long time, almost 20 years, I worked with youth and then also at-risk adjudicated youth and I earned the nickname from the kids as The Story Lady, which I thought was kind of funny because they knew they were never going to get a straight answer.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Kim: And I even used applied storytelling with them and used it with great intentional purposes. And after doing that, I was kind of burned out emotionally and there were obviously some politic things that bothered me, and just tired. I decided to take a step back and kind of re-evaluate what I wanted to do next. And I realized that the one thing I couldn’t live without was storytelling. I loved to tell stories. And it just so happens that right before I made that decision, I was at a dinner party in California. I was there for a leadership summit and a woman said, she was talking and I overheard her say storytelling festival. And I thought what? So I excused myself and went over and said, “Look, I wasn’t eavesdropping but I heard two words storytelling festival. So the kids that I work with, jokingly call me the Story Lady. So is this festival for kids?” And she said, “No. It’s in the Bay Area of San Francisco.” I don’t think it’s in action anymore. I think it’s debunked. I could be wrong though. And she said about a thousand adults come and people tell stories, professional Storytellers. And I was like, what? My mind was blown. She asked me where I lived and I told her. She told me about the National Storytelling Festival. She’s like, “That’s the mother ship. Go.” And I did and my life was changed. I can still remember standing on the street with my backpack, and in between tents there’s about six tents, there’s about fifteen hundred in each tent, and I remember standing there thinking, “This is it.”

Fisher: You found it.

Kim: This is the thing. I found it.

Fisher: You found your people, right?

Kim: Um hmm. And I vowed to myself that in two years I’d be on that stage. [Laughs] Ah yes, innocence.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Kim: I mean everyone was like you can’t. You have to do this, this, this, to be on that stage. And I was like, if you tell me I can only do something one way, I will make sure to prove you there’s another way to get me the same thing.

Fisher: Sure.

Kim: And a little bit easier and faster. So I did. I worked my tail off. I mean, like a young group of guys in a van, driving a van, I would tell anywhere for any amount of money to anybody. I worked on my craft and I wrote, and I travelled, and sometimes I worked for gas money, sometimes I would take tickets and tear down chairs if I could open for a certain storyteller. And a lot of festival directors were surprised I was willing to do all of that.

Fisher: You paid your dues. You paid your dues.

Kim: I paid my dues.

Fisher: Yes I did. And this is what people need to understand is the storytelling craft really is a craft. And I know it’s very insulting to some to call these tellers comedians because it is, there are similarities to stand-up but it’s very different from that. It’s long-form, it’s a lot of detail, and I love that fact that you can really take your time with it.

Kim: Yeah. And you know what, there’s a big difference. My friend Andy Offutt Irwin, he says the difference between comedy and what we do as humorous/storytellers is that you fall in love with our people, our characters.

Fisher: Yes.

Kim: Sometimes they die. And sometimes things don’t end well. But you know, in my pieces, and I am long-form, but I have 20 minutes pieces, you know. But I purposely use the funny very intentional and it’s so much thinking fun.

Fisher: [Laughs] Well, it is the love you get. First of all, you’re just one of the most talented people I’ve ever seen under these stages.

Kim: Okay. That’s sweet. [Laughs]

Fisher: And what you describing started from the beginning, starting from the beginning, you’ve always had that gift. There is a gift. There is talent involved. But what I want to do is spend part of this segment with you and the next one in talking about how other people can develop some of these skills, what it takes, because I think people going to reunions and having the ability to share stories about grandma and grandpa has got to be one of the great gifts that you can share with descendants.

Kim: Right. You know, if they’re really serious about carrying these stories on, to take a little time and plant home these skills is valuable because the younger generation needs their attention held. And we also have to remember that just because I’m a mom and I’m a grandmother, and even though I know all those my stories of my parents and grandparents, just because they’re swirling around my head and once in a while we’ve dropped a line or two does not mean that your children and grandchildren know them. And I think sometimes if people would sit down with their children and grandchildren and start asking them they would be shocked at what they don’t know, something as very basic as do you know how grandma and grandpa met?

Fisher: Yeah.   

Kim: And I’m working on a book that is actually going to have a plethora of interesting ideas as well as insight as to how to make the passing on of the genealogy, the stories of the genealogy to future generations, how to do it in a way that is fun and inclusive of all family members getting involved. And I’m really excited about that. It’s in the works and I love this kind of stuff.

Fisher: As you analyze your ability to put a story together, because obviously you create a lot of material. Not every story goes linearly and it works out in such a way that things come back around and for you to understand the significance of what just happened, that kind of thing. How do you analyze a story and tie those threads that keep coming back around that make them so interesting?

Kim: [Laughs] Well…

Fisher: It’s a complex question.

Kim: That’s a three hour workshop, Scott!

Fisher: Yeah. [Laughs]

Kim: Okay. Let’s take it down to the extreme basics. You have to have the people, which obviously in genealogy we do, if that’s what we want to focus on right now. We’re not talking fiction. And then there’s the place, and so you research that, the bones, you know, it’s the accounting. I call it the accounting of genealogy. You’ve got the people, the places, the dates, but it’s the problems and the progress that make a story interesting.

Fisher: Okay.

Kim: That’s the part that makes it really good. Yesterday I had the luxury, and when I say luxury, it was more than an honor, it was a luxury to present to the BYU Law students. And afterwards we had a lunch between the professors and the people that arranged it. The conversation just was fabulous talking about the things we found out about our families while doing our genealogy. And there’s no lack of interesting stories and problems and progresses and victories we achieve on which to build a great story around the accounting part of genealogy. So, obviously you have the people, you have the place, you have the problem, you have the progress. And so, whenever you take a certain portion of history out of the family, whittle that down to one unique person, if possible, and try and build around that. And do your research as far as the type of dress, what were they eating in that region during that time.

Fisher: Right.

Kim: If you really want to turn it into a story in something that your family repeats over and over, those little details added to the arc of the story and then the people, and the place and the time can really flesh it out. I’ll tell you who a real master of that is, there’s a gentleman named Clive Romney. He’s so good at sharing stories of his ancestors and even of ancestors within different counties and adding a real period feel to the story. And putting in information that may not be in genealogy records, but is common knowledge of that time, so it settles in that place really solid. And those are just some simple things to do.

Fisher: Sure. Well, I think a lot of really good genealogists understand creating a time line around your ancestor, not only of their dates, their birth, marriage, death and places, but also what’s going on historically within their region, their area, within the country, maybe even within the world, because a lot of those things really inform what happened to that person throughout the course of their life.

Kim: It can also explain things that you find that you’re shocked at, or surprised or don’t understand.

Fisher: Right. Boy, there’s so much to that.

Kim: Yes, and it can bring clarity which then allows you to lay out the story with more intention and more understanding and focus.

Fisher: I’m talking to Kim Weitkamp. She’s a storyteller with the storytelling festivals throughout the country. And Kim, when we come back I want to get an idea of how much exaggeration you allow yourself when it comes to telling family stories and why, when we return, coming up in five minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s family History Show.

Segment 3 Episode 258

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Kim Weitkamp

Fisher: Hey, we’re back at it! It’s Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth and I’m talking to nationally renowned storyteller Kim Weitkamp. This summer Kim just had her audience in the palm of her hand. She’s having them laugh at one point and literally in tears at another time. Talking about her family as she was growing up and also discovering her birth family. And Kim, as you go through your stories and I know this is the case quite often where you know, you need to exaggerate for the purpose of certain types of stories. But when you tell a real family history story, how much do you make up? How much do you enhance it?

Kim: Well, if it’s a family history story or a story that’s really important to the family history that you’re trying to preserve, you know it’s important for me to make the distinction that I am an entertainer, people pay a price. They come in and sit down and expect to be entertained. Whereas, somebody that is studying genealogy and wants to make their stories attractive to their family it’s really two different things and yet there’s a common place where we all should try and make a good story better.

Fisher: Right.

Kim: And so in that vein, I just want to say that when it’s really important things I don’t embellish greatly. I may add details or historical facts that I found out that kind of fill out the story and I kind of view it as a tree you know, the roots are the unshakable thing. The roots are names, dates, times, occupations, addresses, children, children’s names and so forth.

Fisher: Yeah. Sure.

Kim:  And then it comes up and branches out and those branches are the stories and the history that’s been told to this point that has somewhat maybe twisted.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Kim: We know that all history handed down through the ages is edited.

Fisher: Sure.

Kim: Depending on what’s happening. What’s kosher, whatever.

Fisher: And who won the war, right?

Kim: [Laughs] Exactly.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Kim: You know it’s amazing if you look at a textbook from now compared to a textbook in the ‘60s it’s shocking some of the changes that are made.

Fisher: Yes.

Kim: History is literally being rewritten. I don’t at all approve of that but a twisted branch coming out of those roots, well, that can just be because Uncle Hal is dead but Aunt Louise was living and she told the story to make herself look better.

Fisher: Sure.

Kim: That’s just human nature.

Fisher: Yeah.

Kim: Or her children heard it and they passed it on. So, when I say “the branches” that’s what I mean. Those twisted things that that twist a part of history that’s just a natural evolution of the history as it’s handed down.

Fisher: So, these parts of the stories then I think as we’ve all seen somewhat like a game of telephone, right?

Kim: [Laughs] Yes. That’s a very good analogy. So, the roots are unshakable and unchangeable because of the bones, the accounting of the story. Then you have the branches which have been passed down and then what you’ve gathered yourself but as you build your story and you want to build on the history that you know and the unshakable roots of what you found. Adding in the leaves and the fruit, and the flowers on the tree is what makes people stop. I have never once during leaf season heard anybody say, “Oh my goodness! Pull over I have to take a picture because the branch on that tree is stunning.”

Fisher: Right.

Kim: It’s always the leaves. It’s always the beauty of the leaves and the fruit of the flower and those are the little titbits you add and embellish. Those are the things you can kind of tuck and weave into your story that make people stop and want to listen. That make people stop and want to say, “Hey, while we’re here at dinner, tell that story again about your great grandfather and what he did when he worked in the mines.” I’m just pulling it.

Fisher: Sure.

Kim: So, those are the things to add that are lovely. So for instance, I’m going to give an example. I have a story called, “The sixteen dollar and ten cents suit.” It is a true story but part of it happened in a different time but it kind of comes full circle in another time. So, I pushed those two things together. They are historically accurate and the timeline does not matter. It’s about a suit and it’s to teach a lesson to my grandchildren, plus it’s on an album. My grandfather, he worked in the coal cars and he would take picks. He did this extra in the holiday season. He would use a long pole and a pick to take the ice out of the bottom so that the trap door could open to dump the coal. Well, that’s great, right? But I went and did research, I found out about what train went through where he lived. I found out exactly how he would do that. I found out they actually have pouches of calcium that they would spray and I added that to the story.

Fisher: Right.

Kim: Because historically it’s correct. It’s the embellishment that does not shake or twist the branches or try and dig up roots but it adds to make people lean in.

Fisher: So, when you talk about embellishment then you’re not talking about making things up. What you’re doing is you’re adding things that were part of their lives and at the time that makes them a little more human.

Kim: Exactly! Now, let it be clear, if you pay me the right amount of money, I will make things up.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Kim: [Laughs]

Fisher: Yes! I think we all will.

Kim: Yes! And I’m known for tall tales. I have a tall tale about my Uncle Norm and a flying sled. I’d say a third of it is true but people know straight out by the time we get to the end this is an absolute tall tale.

Fisher: Sure.

Kim: I would never make up a supposed fact to stick in the story to make it better when it’s about my family. When it’s something that’s going to be passed down as history and building upon the genealogy I would not do that.

Fisher: So, in essence you’re just talking more about the way it’s told and I know you’ve mentioned to me before about how you would sometimes build up to a line, like the story with your father and the relative who owed him a little money.

Kim: Yes. So, what I did was to build up to that I just talk about all of my research. The hours at the computer, the amount of time printing things out, following leads that I found, chasing dead ends, and I just build it up to the crowd. Then I take it and I’m proud and I lay it before my mom and dad and I lay it all out, the whole thing and I give them an accordion file and documents, and I’m just waiting because I know I’m going to be the favorite child for months. And I’m waiting to see what they say and my dad is studying it, and studying it, and studying it, and he stops and points and says, “That guy right there... he still owes me money!”

Fisher: [Laughs]

Kim: So, it just makes a great joke. It’s a great line.

Fisher: Yeah.

Kim: Now, did he say that? Yes. Did he say it that way? No. Does it sound like my dad? Absolutely! Did he think that was a great joke? A hundred percent.

Fisher: Sure.

Kim: So, I kind of took it and I honed it.

Fisher: Well, your anticipation of the love and admiration for all your effort is exactly what you must have felt.

Kim: [Laughs] Exactly.

Fisher: I do and it doesn’t always go well at the Thanksgiving dinner table. You know, it’s like, “Oh good. Fish has another story for us!” [Laughs]

Kim: [Laughs]

Fisher: So, as you go through these things you really have to make some editorial decisions don’t you?

Kim: Yes, especially because the stories that I tell are going to be heard by tens of thousands of people a year. They’re going to be put onto a CD which is basically a solid archive and it’s going to be listened to by my great, great grandchildren.

Fisher: Yeah that’s right.

Kim: And so there’s a heavy weight there and people who have given up their time and they’ve traveled and paid a ticket want to enjoy themselves. So, I really have to....

Fisher: You’ve really got to come through, don’t you girl?!

Kim: I’ve got to come through. It’s a little stressful but it’s a blast!

Fisher: [Laughs] She’s Kim Weitkamp. She’s a nationally renowned storyteller. You can see her on the Storytelling Festival Circuit every year. Where you’re going to be any time soon, Kim? So that people can see you.

Kim: So, right now I’m in Utah but I’m leaving soon and I’m headed to Texas. I’ll be in Texas for the George West Festival. Then I go on tour for the holidays. And then next year starts a whole new time but you can check all that out on my calendar on my website.

Fisher: All right, and the website is Kimisfunny.com, and that’s because Weitkamp is really hard to spell.

Kim: [Laughs]

Fisher: That is, Kimisfunny.com. You can get her CDs there as well. Kim thanks so much for your time. I’m looking forward to seeing you again next year and let’s talk again some time.

Kim: Well, thanks for having me.

Segment 4 Episode 258

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry

Fisher: Welcome back, its America's Family History Show, Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth. And it’s time to talk preservation with Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com, he is our Preservation Authority. We were talking a lot off air here recently and I thought, you know, it would really be fun to share with you some of the stories from the store. You know, Tom has been doing this digitization and helping people preserve their materials for decades on end. And so, I asked him, "Well, what are the stories from the store?" What's happening “behind the counter with Tom Perry?” And Tom, some of these stories you've come up with are absolutely incredible.

Tom: Oh, it’s amazing. For instance, we were playing some of the old Candy Bomber’s home movies that he made.

Fisher: Now let's talk about who that is. Now that's Colonel Gale Halvorsen, we actually had him on the show. And he's the guy that dropped little parachutes with candy bars to those people trapped in Berlin right after World War II. He's still around. He's 98 years old. And you did his digitization of his home movies from that era, right?

Tom: Right. Oh man, it’s probably been about 20 years ago. He brought in his old films that were just home movies and we transferred them for him. And it’s just so cool to see these kids up against the fence, him handing gum to them, building the little parachutes and all these kinds of things. And we were playing the DVD in the store, this was actually back before BluRay was even big. And we had a guy that was just captivated by it, so we say, "Oh yeah, this is the Candy Bomber's home movies that he shot while he was over there." And he was just really enthralled in it and said, "That's my grandfather."

Fisher: [Laughs]

Tom: And I go, "Who's your grandfather?" and he pointed to one of the guys that was in there building the little parachutes to go on the candies, and it was just absolutely incredible. He had never ever seen this before. So he was totally dumbfounded that his grandfather was actually in the same squadron and he thought this was just totally so cool that he actually saw this video.

Fisher: [Laughs] Isn't that amazing! That's fun stuff. And then you had this thing about the aunt in the park story, and this blew my mind.

Tom: Oh, this was absolutely crazy! We had a gentleman in the store and he picked up his home movies that was from his mother, and Diane was helping him and he gave his name, etc., and this other lady that was in the store dropping off some film said, "Are you related to so and so?" And he goes, "Well, yeah, that's my mother." And she goes, "Well, my mother was so and so." And he goes, "Yeah, I’ve heard my mother mention her name." And then she said, "They were best friends back in the day in high school," and says that they remember being in the 24th of July parade. And he goes, "Well, yeah, that's what I just had transferred, it was the footage that we had of that." And she goes, "You're kidding me!! That's what I just brought in too! Can I get a copy of yours?" And he says, "Can I have a copy of yours?"

Fisher: [Laughs]

Tom: So they just happened to be in the store at the same time. It is such a small world.

Fisher: With the same footage basically from two different cameras, from how far back, mid '60s I think you were saying?

Tom: Right. I believe it was like '62 or '63, the mid '60s that they were in this big parade and they were both in it as high school and younger kids. And they had several years on this footage, and now they were going to be able to share it with each other.

Fisher: That's amazing. And both moms were in it. I mean, that's insane!

Tom: Oh, exactly. You know, it’s such a small world. This is why I really recommend people when they get their films transferred, they put at least snippets of it up on like Facebook or online some place, on YouTube, because you ever know who's going to watch your videos and think, "Hey, yeah, I was in this parade, this year, yada, yada, yada." watch the whole thing. And maybe they were in the background or maybe you just happened to shoot their float going by and they have no video of it. So it’s so neat to be able have this kind of stuff to share it with people around the globe.

Fisher: You know, you remind me of a story of a neighbor who told me about her dad playing on a college football team and that he was in a big ballgame back in 1939 just before the war broke out and before he went off to serve in the war. And I went onto YouTube and I found footage of that football game and we found pictures of her dad playing. And of course she had his number, so she knew exactly who he was. And it wasn't a lot of footage, but it was sure enough to make her happy. Tom, let's tell some more of these from the store when we return in just a few minutes, because I know you're loaded up with them are you not?

Tom: Oh yeah, we have tons of them.

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

Segment 5 Episode 258

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry

Fisher: Hey, we're back at it, its America's Family History Show, Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth, talking preservation with Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com. If you're looking to get your stuff digitized for the holidays, hey, the deadlines are coming up pretty fast. You might want to check out his website and see what you can do. And we're talking stories from Tom's store, behind the counter with Tom Perry. And Tom, your stories so far are just amazing. Things that have happened in the store relating to this preservation stuff. Have you had celebrities come in and have you do their work?

Tom: Oh absolutely. We had Treat Williams come in. He was in our Salt Lake City store that's been open since, I think about 2002, and he was shooting a television series called Everwood. And it was based in Colorado, but it was actually shot in Utah. And so, one of his assistants brought in his video8 movies, and it was really, really cool, because I loved the show and I'd been a fan of the show and a fan of his as well. And so, when I was transferring his home movies, it was almost kind of weird, because I was transferring his home movies to see him with his family, beautiful family in Disneyland and Knott’s Berry Farm, because I knew his TV family so well, because I was such a fan of the show. And I'm sitting there watching him and it’s almost like, "There's something wrong about this. He has this beautiful family on TV and this incredible family here." And it’s like, "He's living two lives!"

Fisher: [Laughs]

Tom: One of them is just television and the other one was the real one. And it was just kind of eerie watching the two together. So I asked his assistant when she came in to pick up the film what he was really like, and she said, "He's just like he is on the show. He's just such a nice, sweet, wonderful person to work with." And she loved working with him. And it was really, really neat to see him away from the camera that he was the same, sweet lovable father that anybody would want.

Fisher: Yeah. Even though he was cheating and had two different families! Man, what kind of actor does that?

Tom: Exactly.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Tom: He was paid very well for the one family and took that money and supported the other family. [Laughs]

Fisher: Yeah, right.

Tom: Then another really funny story that happened is, I was in the store on a Saturday, I think it was the last Saturday before Christmas. We had family that was in from Vernal, Utah that was picking up their film, which is, you know, like a couple of hours away, so they were in Salt Lake for the final Saturday before Christmas for all their shopping. And then we had another family that was from Wyoming that was also in Salt Lake City picking up their film. And the one person was standing with the register talking to us and this other one had just come into the store and kind of looked at her and then let out this scream! And it just like scared me to death! Everybody turned around and looked at her, then the other woman looked at this woman and she screamed! [Laughs]

Fisher: Wow!

Tom: And they just ran together and they hugged and they cried and the husbands are sitting there looking at each other and going, "What just happened?"

Fisher: Right. [Laughs]

Tom: These two women had been best friends since elementary, junior high, high school. They were the absolute best of friends they could be. They got married, moved away, lost track of each other, lost contact. And so, after 20 years, they now had high school children as well and they hadn't seen each other. They hung out in the store for probably at least another half hour, 45 minutes after we were finished with them just sharing memories, sharing stories, talking about what they were doing. But it was so cool that it’s such a small world that this family clear from Vernal, Utah, one from Wyoming happened to meet in Salt Lake City the last Saturday before Christmas, were both in our Salt Lake shop at the exact same time.

Fisher: That's crazy. You think about the odds against that. Well, that was orchestrated, right? I mean, it had to be. But who knew that you were actually holding reunions in your store. That's nuts.

Tom: And the family reunions were totally free. No charge!

Fisher: [Laughs] You made nothing off of it! Thanks so much, Tom. We'll talk to you again next week. Thanks for those stories from the store, good stuff.

Tom: My pleasure.

Fisher: Hey, that is a wrap for this week's show. Hope you enjoyed it. Thanks so much to our guest, Kim Weitkamp, the nationally renowned storyteller, for sharing some of her tips on how to improve your story telling skills, especially when it comes to family history. If you missed any of it, of course catch the podcast, it’s on iTunes, iHeart Radio and ExtremeGenes.com. You can also follow the transcript through ExtremeGenes.com if you want to pick out some of the key moments in the show. Don't forget to sign up for our Weekly Genie Newsletter, absolutely free. You can do it through ExtremeGenes.com or through our Facebook page. Hey, we'll talk to you again next week. Thanks for joining us. And remember, as far as everyone knows, we're a nice, normal family!

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