Episode 273 - Grandson of Mt. Rushmore Chief Carver On Struggle To Get Recognition/ Tom Perry On Stablizing Your Documents And Photos

podcast episode Mar 03, 2019

Host Scott Fisher opens the show with David Allen Lambert, Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. The guys begin Family Histoire News discussing an 81-year-old Irish orphan who has found her mother through DNA… alive… at 103! Hear the details. Then, David and Fisher shake their heads over another incredible DNA story involving two sisters, two DNA tests, and TWO parental secrets revealed! David also has a sad story about a literal family tree… a 400-year-old Bonsai tree that had been in a Japanese family for five generations. Find out what has happened to it. Then, it’s another discovery of another iconic World War II ship. This time, it’s one that made a major impact on the war. Find out what part in history it served. David then shines his Blogger Spotlight on Nancy Low. Check out Nancy’s “Sassy Jane Genealogy Blog” at sassyjanegenealogy.com/blog.

Next, Fisher visits with Lou Del Bianco of Port Chester, New York. Lou’s grandfather, Luigi, was an Italian immigrant who was the Chief Carver of Mount Rushmore for designer Gutzon Borglum. For decades, Luigi’s name was simply acknowledged as one of the carvers and not the one man that gave the faces life. Lou and his uncle fought with authorities for over 30 years to have this historical oversight corrected. Catch this remarkable American story.

Then, Fisher visits with Cathy Furze of Country Bridals in Jaffrey, New Hampshire. Cathy has, for years, been helping brides incorporate family history and ethnicity hints into wedding gowns. Find out how Cathy does it and other such touches she has observed in weddings throughout the years.

Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com then talks with Fisher about the damage you may be doing to documents and photos you’re storing that you’re not quite ready to scan due to financial concerns or lack of time. As Tom points out, ignoring these materials may be the worst thing you could do. Hear Tom’s simple method for you to stabilize these important materials for the time you’re ready to scan and share them.

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

Transcript of Episode 273

Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Segment 1 Episode 273

Fisher: Welcome Genies, it’s America’s Family History Show, Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth on the program where we shake your family tree and watch the nuts fall out. And this episode is brought to you by BYUtv’s Relative Race. It is back on March 10th, 9 o’clock Eastern, 6 o’clock Pacific. It’s going to be another great season of Relative Race. Well, we’ve got guests today and some really good ones too. Lou Del Bianco is going to be on, and Lou has an interesting family story because his grandfather was an Italian immigrant and wound up being like the “main guy” who sculpted the faces on Mount Rushmore. And when Lou and his family learned that at Mount Rushmore there was hardly a mention of their grandfather anywhere, they went to work and dug up all kinds of information about how Borglum, the designer of Mount Rushmore, couldn’t have done anything without Lou’s grandfather. And you’re going to want to hear the whole tale that’s coming up in about ten minutes. Then later in the show we’re going to talk to a woman from New Hampshire, Cathy Furze, talking about tying your family history and ethnicity traditions to your wedding dress and ceremonies. A lot of people are doing this now and she’s all a part of it. Hey, just a reminder by the way, if you haven’t signed up for our “Weekly Genie Newsletter” we would encourage you to do that. I give you a blog each week. We give you links to past shows and present shows and links to stories that you’re really going to connect with as a genealogist. Just sign up at ExtremeGenes.com. Yeah, it’s free. Right now let’s head out to Boston and speak to the very deep voiced David Allen Lambert who is just adoring one of those difficult times. How are you feeling there, bud?

David: I’ve had a different voice for the past three days. [Laughs]

Fisher: Yeah. [Laughs] He is the Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. Dave, I know you saved enough for us so that we can get our Family Histoire News today. Where would you like to begin?

David: Well, I think the greatest story and I doubt that you have also seen it because it’s on Extreme Genes is the one about the 81-year old orphan. She was an orphan back in Ireland, in Dublin, back 81 years ago, and didn’t have any clue to her family. It’s probably the case for many, many orphans that have never reconnected, but would you think that she would reconnect with her mother this year?

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: Yes, her mother is 103-years-old and still able to, well almost, carry on a -conversation. They couldn’t hear each other on the phone, so they’re obviously going to meet.

Fisher: Yeah!

David: She also has two half-brothers that are now in their 70s and she did this with the help of a genealogist and a DNA test.

Fisher: Of course. And you know, if you think about that, a 103-years-old, her problem isn’t her mind. Her problem is her hearing. And since this 81-year-old also has hearing issues they’ve got to get together and they’re working on it right now. So, that’s going to be a really exciting time and a great new story when it happens.

David: And you know, a similar one happened to sisters recently. One had investigated their DNA and found out well, they had a half-brother and this half-brother looks just like dad but it’s not a brother they ever knew so, obviously dad had a secret. Well, the other sister [Laughs] she had a DNA test done too, and it turns out they have different dads, but the same mom.

Fisher: Yeah.

David: Mom had a secret.

Fisher: Mom had a secret. So, dad had a secret discovered from the sister testing first and then mom had the secret from the sister testing second. [Laughs] And I guess it’s caused quite a bit of disruption in that family as you can understand. That story was in the Wall Street Journal. And you know, you think about all these different tests and I always maintain when these results come out every story has their nuance. They’re not all the same. They’re not all that similar because everybody’s story is different and boy, this one certainly fits that bill.

David: It really does makes me want to hearken back to want to read Bill Griffeth’s “A Stranger in my Genes” book. It’s the truth. So many families find interesting things when they have a DNA test. I have a story about a different kind of family tree. That’s the type you have on your wall or look on your computer program to see you’re online. This one happens to be a Japanese story. In Kawaguchi, Japan, near Tokyo there is a fifth generation bonsai tree store. In there was a robbery recently and unfortunately seven trees were stolen, including one particular one, and it’s 33 inches tall that happens to be over 400 years old.

Fisher: Ohh!

David: Now these trees are like family to the owners and have been for many generations. And their request is please return our children back to us, and if you are going to keep it, basically please make sure you water it. I guess they’re very fragile, even though it lives so long, a week without water can kill them. Paul G. Allen we’ve talked about last year and of course this gentleman’s efforts to find lost World War II ships, including the USS Indianapolis, it really is heroic. You’re putting closure for many final chapters of the lives of sailors, some of them well into their nineties. They lost crew members and dear friends during World War II. They’ve now located the USS Hornet.

Fisher: You know, that name may not be something that a lot of people today recognize, but the Hornet was the ship that carried Doolittle’s raiders across to Tokyo in 1942, and really shifted the war in the Pacific. So, this is an iconic carrier from World War II. Amazing.

David: It is and 111 out of the 2200 sailors on board did not return after it sank on October 26, 1942. So, this is the first time it’s been seen by Americans since then.

Fisher: Wow.

David: It’s a pretty amazing story. Well, this week’s blogger spotlight is shining on Nancy Rowe. Nancy Rowe has a blog called Sassy Jane Genealogy blog. And this is a family history genealogy blog for American and European genealogy. Find it, SassyJaneGenealogy.com/blog. And she blogs a couple of times a month, but I’m sure you might want to check it out. If you happen to be in Beantown swing by American Ancestors and New England Historic Genealogical Society library in Boston. Come in as a guest or a member and if you’re not a member yet consider using the checkout code “Extreme” and save $20 on AmericanAncestors.org.

Fisher: All right David, great stuff. Thanks so much. I hope you feel better.

David: Thank you.

Fisher: Clear that throat up okay, because I know you’ve got talks to do all over the place.

David: Yeah, heading to RootsTech and other places.

Fisher: All right buddy. You take care. We’ll see you soon. And coming up next we’re going to talk to a man in Port Chester, New York, whose Italian immigrant grandfather was key to putting together Mount Rushmore. You’ve got to hear their family story tying around that. It’s coming up in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s family History Show.

Segment 2 Episode 273

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Louis Del Bianco

Fisher: Back at it! Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth. And you know, once in a while you grasp onto a piece of your family and you want the world to know about it. And you want your people to get the proper credit for what they may have done, or maybe not so much credit for what they shouldn’t have done. Nonetheless, we’ve got a guy like that on the line right now. He’s Lou Del Bianco, and he is in Port Chester, New York, not too far from my old stomping grounds in Connecticut. Lou, nice to have you on the show!

Lou: Thank you Scott. Thanks for having me.

Fisher: You know, your grandfather was quite the guy and I guess you got your name from him, yes?

Lou: I did. I did. He was in Italy when I was born and made a deal with my Mom and Dad to name me Louis. Originally, it was supposed to be Luigi. He was going to give my parents a thousand dollars and my mother said, “Give us five hundred, we’ll call him Louis.” And that’s a fact.

Fisher: [Laughs] Well, it’s a little different way of doing things here in the United States than Italy right?

Lou: [Laughs] I was his first grandson and his namesake, really important to him. And I have such great memories as a little boy, feeling that connection and that bond. When I was in second grade he had already passed on and I found a pamphlet about Mount Rushmore. Not knowing what it was I asked my mom. She told me what my grandfather did. I was a very shy kid, but this gave me such a confidence that I wanted everybody to know about my grandpa. So, I remember going to my class and saying, “I want to tell you about my grandpa.”

Fisher: That’s amazing. Now, he was a sculptor at Mount Rushmore. Is that right?

Lou: He was the chief carver on Mount Rushmore which meant his job was in the refinement of expression in the four faces, the finishing of the faces, the carving yes, but the refinement. So, when you see these faces the humanity in those four faces and how life-like they are, that is from the hands of my grandfather.

Fisher: That’s amazing. You know, I was just there last year. I had never been to Mount Rushmore, and my wife Julie and I just decided we’re going to take a road trip for our vacation last year and we went there. And it’s just astonishing because they also had to work the faces around the way the light would hit them.

Lou: Yep.

Fisher: That in itself is an art. And so he worked with Borglum obviously who was the man who was kind of behind what the design was supposed to look like. So, your grandfather Luigi essentially brought to life what Borglum envisioned.

Lou: Yes, there were roughly four hundred people who worked on the mountain at different times.  A lot of them were unemployed coal miners who had lost their jobs during the Depression and were brought on by Borglum, trained by Borglum and my grandfather. But, it was somebody of my grandfather’s ability that Borglum needed to translate his ideas with that chiaroscuro, that play of light shadow that you just referenced. And that’s a big reason why Borglum picked that mountain was because of the strong eastern exposure of the sun hitting those faces. And so it was my grandfather that perfected the shafts that were coming out of the pupils where the light would hit it and cast shadows that created a different emotion. Yeah, my grandfather had a very close relationship with Borglum. He was basically his right hand man.

Fisher: Sure, of course. Did you ever get to speak with him at all about this?

Lou: No, I was six years old when he passed away and he never spoke about Rushmore to his own children, my father, my uncle and my aunt.

Fisher: Why?

Lou: I don’t know. I don’t know. I have asked my uncle about it. He said, “You know, papa was very proud.” And he said, “I was a young guy and I wasn’t thinking of Mount Rushmore.” That was a regret of my uncle that he never talked to his father about Rushmore. And he got really interested in the ‘80s about his dad and wanted to know more about his contribution and this book, “The Carving of Mount Rushmore,” came out, by Rex Alan Smith. And when it didn’t mention my grandfather at all, my uncle was incensed and he said you know, this is like talking about the New York Yankees and not mentioning Joe Dimaggio!

Fisher: [Laughs] Yeah, right.

Lou: His anger brought me back to my connection to my grandfather and so we decided that we would go to Washington to research the Borglum papers because Borglum was the genius and the innovator behind Mount Rushmore. Without him there would have been no Mount Rushmore.

Fisher: That’s right.

Lou: If we could find testimonials from him about my grandfather, we would have some proof about his contribution. And my uncle found just amazing documents from where my grandfather is cited by Borglum as being better than any three men he could find in America for this kind of work, and that he was the only intelligent, efficient stone carver who understood the language of the sculptor. This is how much Borglum relied on my grandfather. And my grandfather trained a lot of these unemployed miners and they should be given credit. It was amazing what they were able to do because they could only go so far. Once you got to a certain point you needed trained hands to refine these faces. And that’s what Luigi was able to do.

Fisher: That’s an incredible story. And it must be amazing for you to actually hold these original documents relating to this incredible national monument put together by Borglum and your grandfather and many others who are unknown as far as history is concerned, and to just hold that and go “Wow!”  This is just a piece of it. You must have felt something at that moment.

Lou: I did. And I really feel that my grandfather was a very worthy representative of all of these unknown anonymous artists who worked for great artists and didn’t have the ability to put their signature on anything.

Fisher: I think this is actually common in a lot of different fields. And I look at my own history and you know, my father was not a composer so much but he did the orchestrations for the composers. And then I had a great, great uncle whose boss owned a theater in New York on Broadway and the idea came to the owner of creating what they call an elevator stage where you could change basically the sets on the stage by raising it and lowering it and thereby cutting down time in between scenes. And so, this great, great uncle of mine was the one who actually brought that to life.

Lou: Really?

Fisher: So I think it’s a very common thing. There’s always somebody who doesn’t get a lot of credit but they really were the ones who were the pragmatic ones in the team. So, tell us now, there was no recognition of him there at Mount Rushmore, and what did you guys do to get that?

Lou: Well, basically I made a pilgrimage to Mount Rushmore. This was in 1988. I asked them how was Luigi Del Bianco being acknowledged. He was in fact the chief carver. They showed me a plaque of all 400 people who worked on the mountain, from laborers, to drillers, to secretaries, to the guy who put the soul into the faces.

Fisher: I saw that, yes.

Lou: And they basically acknowledged the core workers as a group. And Mount Rushmore has embraced that narrative, that workers under Borglum’s tutelage brought these faces to life. And I said to them, “This is not the whole story. These men definitely deserve credit for the work that they did, but you need to know that the refinement of the faces was done by my grandfather.” And once my uncle and I gathered up these 75 documents with all this irrefutable evidence about how Borglum said there’s only really one trained carver on the work and that’s Del Bianco. We shared the papers with Mount Rushmore and they just kept saying, “Your grandfather was a worker and we only acknowledge the workers on Rushmore as a group. The only person we single out is Gutzon Borglum and his son Lincoln.” And they stuck to that narrative. And what I started to learn, my uncle and I started to learn, was that they didn’t think my grandfather wasn’t important enough to be given credit, they thought he was too important.   

Fisher: Oh!

Lou: He was a threat to their narrative.

Fisher: Right, interesting.

Lou: They had literally created that museum just for the core workers as a group. And the Del Bianco family comes along and says, “Well, you’re not telling the whole story. There’s a special story here about Borglum’s assistant and his true right-hand man and that’s Luigi Del Bianco. So, they basically did what most bureaucracies do. They try to exasperate the pursuant, which is myself and my uncle, hoping that we’ll get tired of pursuing them and go away. We didn’t. We didn’t go away.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Lou: Finally, I was able to get the ear of Cam Sholly, who was the director of all of the national parks for the Midwest region of the country. And he realized that there was something going on here that had to be resolved. He said, “That’s enough of this.” He said, “We’ve got to get to the bottom of this.” He offered to send two historians to my house and they went through the papers with a fine-toothed comb and unanimously recommended recognition.

Fisher: Wow!

Lou: And that plaque has finally been unveiled at Mount Rushmore at the Visitors Center so that everyone who goes there knows that, yes, a group of untrained minors miraculously helped bring this mountain to life, but they were led by Borglum’s assistant, the chief carver, my grandpa.

Fisher: That is incredible. And for you to go after it for so long and not get frustrated to say we’re not going away. And so, when did the recognition finally come?

Lou: Well, before I get into that though, [Laughs] I had many, many moments of frustration. I gave up many times. I’m not going to lie. But I always went back to it. And every time I went back to it I went back with fresh ears and fresh eyes. That kind of made the difference. In terms of the actual ceremony, that happened on September 16th, 2017, not that long ago.

Fisher: No. Just about a year and a half.

Lou: Just about a year and a half. And one of the things that the historians urged me to do was to write a book about it. They said, “You need to tell your grandfather’s unique story from a genealogical perspective, from a perspective of legacy on American story.” And he said, “You’ve got to use these documents to tell this story and you’ve got to detail the ridiculous odyssey that you went on to get him recognized.” So, I have a book published called “Out of Rushmore’s Shadow: The Luigi Del Bianco Story.” And it’s a very personal book about my grandfather’s immigrants story, his time at Rushmore, and the challenges that he faced, and also the 25 years that it took.

Fisher: What an odyssey that was.

Lou: It’s available of Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Fisher: Of course. That’s fantastic. How many pages?

Lou: It’s about 358 pages and it’s not a dry academic tree by any stretch of the imagination. I’m a professional storyteller so while you’re reading it you’ll feel like I’m sitting right next to you because I want to tell you about my grandpa. It’s filled with photos and documents never seen before about the carving of Rushmore. A lot of these are from my grandfather’s personal collections. He was a camera freak so he took a lot of photos.

Fisher: Wow! So you’ve got stuff in there nobody else has ever seen.

Lou: Photos of him carving the eyes of Jefferson, repairing the lip of Jefferson, lots of great stuff.

Fisher: He’s Lou Del Bianco. And Lou, thanks so much for coming on and sharing this story. I think it’s really inspiring that you have such a love for your grandfather who you only knew for a few years and were able to do this to honor him. How do you think he’d react to this by the way?

Lou: I’d like to think that he’d be proud of me. I felt he was proud of me when I was a little boy and like I said, the first person I remember hugging me and this is kind of like my way of hugging him back. Luigimountrushmore.com is the website if you want to find out more about the book and the story.

Fisher: Thanks so much for coming on Lou great talking to you.

Lou: Oh, thank you Scott.

Fisher: And coming up next, it seems that more and more people at their weddings are trying to add a little family history touch, something from their background, from their cultural background. We’re going to talk to a woman who helps make that possible, coming up next on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.   

Segment 3 Episode 273

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Cathy Furze

Fisher: And welcome back! It is America’s Family History Show Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth and recently, I was out searching for new stories to share with you on ExtremeGenes.com, and came across a newspaper up in New Hampshire, a little place called Sentinel Source. It’s from Keene, New Hampshire and they talked about additional heritage touches to your wedding and how many people now are starting to use their cultural backgrounds, long standing tradition, to add some new aspects to their weddings. And one of the people who’s involved in helping people in that area is my next guest. She is Cathy Furze. She is with a place called Country Bridals. Hi Cathy, thanks for coming on!

Cathy: Good morning.

Fisher: So, tell me now, you’ve done this for some time. When did this really start becoming kind of a regular thing when it comes to weddings?

Cathy: I think it’s been going off and on actually through the years. Young women want to bring something maybe from their mom’s gown, where their gowns aren’t quite in style so to speak for today.

Fisher: Right, sure.

Cathy: But yet, they’d like to bring something from their gowns, their veils, other little touches, into their wedding just to incorporate moms and grandmothers.

Fisher: Well, you know I would imagine it would be difficult to actually fit into mom’s or grandma’s dresses. I mean, everybody is a different size. So, I would imagine it’s fairly rare to actually wear the original, right, without any alterations? So, what kind of things do they take off of these dresses to incorporate into their own?

Cathy: I take pieces of lace or trim work.

Fisher: Okay.

Cathy: And either add those pieces to the bride’s choice of dress or to her veil. I’ve taken the trim off of mothers bridal gowns, the lace trim and added it to the base of a long standing raw edged veil.

Fisher: Okay.

Cathy: So that it just brings a piece of mom into the attire.

Fisher: Sure, especially when they’ve passed I would imagine that’s really meaningful for somebody. Do you ever use anything from a male relative who’s passed?

Cathy: Yes, I have.

Fisher: Ha.

Cathy: We had a bride come in with a shirt that was her dad’s and we cut a piece out on the inside of it. It was one of his favorite flannel farming shirts. We made a heart and put it inside her dress over her heart.

Fisher: Oh, how beautiful.

Cathy: And we had another young woman also bring in her brother’s shirt and we did the same thing with that making a heart and putting it inside the dress.

Fisher: So, this is more of a heritage thing when it comes to those people. What about from foreign countries and other parts of the world, have you incorporated a lot of things that way?

Cathy: We worked with a bride who was from Rwanda. She had many different cultural aspects in her entire ceremony. We provided a lot of the American heritage. The white gown, tuxedoes, bride’s maids dresses.

Fisher: Um hmm.

Cathy: But what they did is they brought many changes. They had three or four days of ceremony.

Fisher: Oh wow. [Laughs] That’s a lot.

Cathy: Yes it was very interesting.

Fisher: Yeah, I bet.

Cathy: Each day had a different type of celebration and different costumes as they called them that they wore.

Fisher: Wow.

Cathy: The bride’s maids and the groomsmen all learned these different cultural dances.

Fisher: This sounds like you had like four weddings in one there if you’re providing all the costumes.

Cathy: We didn’t provide the actual ones that they got from Rwanda. We provided the white gown and the history.

Fisher: The Americanized side.

Cathy: The Americanized sides, yes.

Fisher: Sure. What other countries have you dealt with?

Cathy: We’ve had a couple of Chinese and Japanese brides and I believe there was one out of the Philippines. We have one right now out of France but the Asian women bring the red dress and the white dress. So, they have you know a couple of changes depending on their histories.

Fisher: Well, it sounds like it’s quite a fascinating thing when you have to deal with that. Do you find there are any things that you deal with that are kind of sensitive to families’ pasts?

Cathy: Those don’t usually end up coming up unless there’s a real issue with it.

Fisher: Sure.

Cathy: A lot of those you know they really keep more private.

Fisher: I see. So, it wouldn’t be anything that would affect your work.

Cathy: No.

Fisher: How about the Scottish folks, have you ever made somebody a kilt?

Cathy: I have not made somebody a kilt.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Cathy: But we have suggested there’s a location in Keene, that they can create all the different tartans for different wedding parties.

Fisher: So, you’ve got assets right around you.

Cathy: Oh yes.

Fisher: So, what is the oldest dress that you’ve ever actually dealt with that maybe you’ve renovated a little bit and the bride actually wore it as it was with some alterations for her, the oldest one?

Cathy: I want to say it was probably from the ‘50s.

Fisher: Sixty year old dress. Nothing from the 19th century?

Cathy: No.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Cathy: No, I’ve just taken one and removed the sleeves and the collar and turned it into a strapless dress for the young bride.

Fisher: So, it became a multi generational dress, amazing.

Cathy: Yeah.

Fisher: And what about the oldest thing that you’ve actually removed from a dress? You know, you mentioned all these different pieces from grandma’s dress or whatever. How far back do some of those pieces go?

Cathy: I have to say that’s a tough question only because I don’t think I’ve ever asked them, other than the fact that I know that it’s their grandmother’s or their great grandmothers.

Fisher: Yeah. [Laughs]

Cathy: I’ve never really thought to ask how old it was.

Fisher: What do you do when something is a little bit yellowed?

Cathy: We have cleaners near us that specialize with restoration of different things.

Fisher: Um hmm.

Cathy: And often times we may take it to them and have them take a look at it. Other times, it’s used just that way because possibly the bride has chosen an ivory dress. So, even though the lace may have yellowed a little bit it still kinds of blends right in.

Fisher: Oh I see. Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. So, do the guests enjoy weddings more when they have this kind of cultural slant to them, in your experience?

Cathy: Sure! Because that’s the couple sharing a little bit more of themselves with their guests.

Fisher: What about the food? Do you deal with that much or what have you seen as far as some kind of cultural slant with the food?

Cathy: I haven’t dealt a lot in the food because I’m very much in the attire.

Fisher: Um hmm.

Cathy: We’ve heard lots of different things in regards to Mexican taco bars. They bring the different cultural foods into their reception. But no, we personally haven’t had any opportunity to work with helping anybody decide on their food.

Fisher: When you mention bringing something say, from an old bridal gown or the dress that great grandmother wore, have you ever had anything other than cloth that you’ve dealt with? Maybe some item or some little badge, or pin that somebody had from the past?

Cathy: Yes broaches.

Fisher: Really?

Cathy: Their grandmother’s broach and tack it and sew it onto the dress or add it even to their bouquet. You know, attach ribbons to it so that they can carry it in their bridal bouquet.

Fisher: They just keep it within there. So, it’s kind of like a secret thing that they carry with them.

Cathy: Yes that they know that they’ve got it there.

Fisher: That they know they have it there, a little piece of grandma, or great grandma, or even their parents, right?

Cathy: Yes.

Fisher: What was the most unusual item that you’ve ever dealt with that way?

Cathy: I have to say my brides have all been really... [Laughs]

Fisher: [Laughs] Pretty straight forward, huh?

Cathy: Yeah, because I can’t think of anything that struck me as strange to do.

Fisher: Any buttons or anything?

Cathy: If they want it we try to do it.

Fisher: Yeah, you try to do it of course you do.

Cathy: We’ve made little pockets inside dresses so that they can put some things in them, you know? They tell us how big of a pocket they want and you just sew the little pocket in and they can keep something up underneath their dress.

Fisher: Boy, there’s a lot of secrets going on at these weddings I’m thinking Cathy. [Laughs]

Cathy: Oh yeah.

Fisher: How long have you been doing this?

Cathy: I bought my shop in 2002.

Fisher: Okay, so you’ve been at it for a long time. Is this like a family thing for you?

Cathy: In a way, yes it is. I’ve got my daughter working here and two granddaughters.

Fisher: Oh how fun! That’s fantastic. So, you’re creating a real heritage business for them.

Cathy: Yes sir.

Fisher: Well that’s exciting. Well, she is Cathy Furze. She’s with Country Bridals in Jaffrey, New Hampshire. She’s adding all kinds of cultural and family history touches to brides dresses and I assume you help the grooms once a while, yes?

Cathy: Oh yes but they are not as in tune to it as the girls are.

Fisher: Well, the women call the shots, right?

Cathy: Yes. [Laughs]

Fisher: I mean, there’s no denying that. [Laughs] Hey, thank you so much for your time, enjoyed it.

Cathy: You’re welcome.

Fisher: And we look forward to seeing some of your work online.

Cathy: Thank you.

Fisher: Tom Perry talks preservation next on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.

Segment 4 Episode 273

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry

Fisher: All right, back at it! It’s Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth with Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com, he is our Preservation Authority. And Tom, this is the time of year where the weather is beginning to change and it’s going to get hot in the attic after having been really cold in the attic. And if you've got stuff in the attic, this can be very bad. What can people do?

Tom: Oh absolutely. What you want to do is be able to take your stuff that’s stored bad and store it better, so if you can't get to it all right now, at least you’re going to be able to put it in a better situation when you have the resources and time to do it, you'll have a better product to be able to transfer.

Fisher: Boy that's true! I mean, you could do scans of family Bible pages or old photographs or whatever, but if you don't have the time right now or maybe even not the money to have it taken care of, especially in the case of, say, video transfers, this is really important that you get everything stabilized.

Tom: In fact, you might have inherited a lot of things, like maybe your mother and father passed away or an uncle and somebody's given you the stuff, because you're the historian in the family. You need to be able to stabilize these, so when you get around to it, they're in a better situation.

Fisher: And you've got to think of bugs, too, right? There are bugs, sometimes there're mice, I mean, this is kind of gross stuff to talk about, but that's the reality of what your treasures might be in if they're up in an attic or even in the wrong closet.

Tom: You can have rats, you can have roaches. You can have all kinds of things that just love to munch on paper. And there's nothing worse than having this beautiful photo and a rat has decided to use it as his bathroom, and that's going to cause all kinds of problems later on.

Fisher: So Tom, I'm thinking then, you're right. I mean, there could be all this vermin up there. Does it make sense to wear some kind of facemask and gloves when you're handling these things?

Tom: Absolutely. I would always use cotton gloves and I would always use a mask you can pick up at the local hardware store, which they use for painting. They're just a paper mask, or even a hospital type mask if you have some of those handy, because you don't want to be breathing this is at all and you don't want to be exhaling humidity onto your products either.

Fisher: Okay, so where do we start?

Tom: The first thing you want to do is, get it out of a bad situation. If you have it in a place that's fluctuating from hot to cold, hot to cold, whether it’s an attic, whether it’s a closet where you have a heating duct that's right above it, anything that's going to be too close to that heating duct, it’s going to take the brunt of the punishment. So you need to get it away from that. You need to be able to store it better. So what I want to do is, get it out of that bad environment and then set up some boxes, and you have box one, two, three, four, five, depending on how bad your stuff is, and then you can go through and put them in those. For example, you have this big box, separate all your photos, your slides, your negatives, home movie films, 8mm, 16mm, first separate all those. So then you can go to something like the box that has books, your family bibles, special papers, you want to take these things and put them in a box where they're going to be a little bit cleaner. Like get a squirrel tail brush or get some air. And make sure if you use air, I recommend a compressor. Don't get that canned air, because if you shake it, it becomes humid and it can cause all kinds of problems with turning into mud and stuff from your dust.

Fisher: Ooh! I wouldn't have thought of that, but that's true.

Tom: You can get a compressor pretty inexpensively at like a hardware store. And just make sure it has different adjustments, so you can make it blow soft, you can make it blow a little bit harder, because you don't want to blow a hole through this Bible because the pages have got kind of brittle in time. If they don't have that available, get like a nylon stocking and put it around the end and tie it with some string, and then that will kind of reduce it, too. Or kind of hold it on an angle, like you can ricochet it from a board onto the page to get rid of the dust.

Fisher: Wow!

Tom: Then you can move it into a stage two box.

Fisher: And what is that?

Tom: Okay, that's a little bit cleaner. Like when you're doing your wash for instance, it goes through and puts all your water in, then it goes through and put the detergent in, then it does the next step, the next step, your softening, and then you dry it. You want to do the same thing with your special things. Take them and clean them for one step, put them in the next box, put them in the next box. So you want to kind of go through steps depending on how bad it is. So basically you want to take these things and put them in a group, like if you've had rat droppings, those are going to be really, really bad.

Fisher: Ohh!

Tom: And then in the next segment, let's talk about the next step.

Fisher: Okay, there has to be another one after that. Thanks Tom. We'll be back at it in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show.

Segment 5 Episode 273

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry

Fisher: All right, we're back for our final segment this week of Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth and it’s Tom Perry on the line from TMCPlace.com, our Preservation Authority. And we've been having a very disgusting conversation about rats and bugs and all this stuff getting into your documents and into your old photographs that might be stored in the attic and cleaning them in one box and moving them to the other. So I think we got up to box two at the end of the last segment, Tom. And what do you do in box two?

Tom: Okay, box two you basically separated all your photos and documents that have like rat droppings and urine, you want to keep those in that box. Then as you get to the next box, they're going to be a little bit cleaner, then the next box, next box. And you might go through a big stack that's maybe a foot tall or a great, big storage box in the middle, everything looks pristine and fine, because it’s kind of been insulated from the humidity changes and temperature changes, then those go in the last box. And then remember, once you put them in the boxes, if you can't get to them immediately to start your transfers, you want to make sure you put them in a big plastic bag, like some giant Ziploc bags. If you have one of those food sealers, use something like that, because if you've gone through all these steps, you don't want to go through them in two or three years down the road when, "Hey, I now have time to preserve this stuff." and it’s just gone bad, because you didn't take the next step. So make sure you seal them. And one thing that works really, really well is to get an upright freezer. You can find used one on the internet. You might be able to find them in your local paper. They're not that expensive. If you go to your local appliance store, if they're damaged and they have marks on them, that's great. And these things do several things, they keep all the different vermin out, they keep the temperature a lot more stable inside. And if you have items that have really been damaged from water, you can put the in there and actually freeze them to stop it from going any farther. It’s kind of a stop gap thing. You want to do this if there's no other way to get around it. But if you can have one of these in your basement, the humidity and everything inside is going to stay consistent, so you don't have to worry so much about the temperature changes. But also like I say, if you can't get a new one, you have to get an old one that doesn't even work. At least it’s going to work for you keeping the vermin out and the dust out, so it will be ready for you when you can take the time and restore it properly.

Fisher: So Tom, what happens now if I've come to you and I said, all right, I've cleaned these the best I can and I want you now to do some scanning or digitizing in the case of film or videos or something like this. How do you deal with things that aren't 100% clean?

Tom: It depends on the product. We get a lot of things out of Florida and places in the deep South where they have mold. And we get videotapes that you can actually see the white mold on them. And those are really, really bad and those are one of the things you want to freeze and stop this deterioration as best you can. Then what we do is, we find an old used VCR and run them through these and then tie it into our system to burn you a new DVD. And then when we're done with your group, we throw it away, because we don't want to put mold on somebody else's things.

Fisher: Wow!

Tom: So be very careful!

Fisher: So you go out and actually buy one of these things?

Tom: Oh yeah, we go to like Goodwill and find an old VCR if we can and run them through those or the people have one. But we careful at home, if you want to view your tapes before you send them to us, if they have mold on them, make sure you view your moldy ones last, because otherwise you're going to spread the mold to the other ones and then it'll just grow and develop more. And then, throw it away when you're done with it, or if you're going to send us your tapes, send us your VCR too, because then we can run them on your machine and when we're all done, clean the heads, do whatever we need to between the different transfers, then when we're completed, throw it away and just send you your DVDs back.

Fisher: Unbelievable. All right, a lot to think about there, Tom. Thank so much. And you have a great week. We'll talk to you again soon.

Tom: My pleasure.

Fisher: Hey, we have covered it all this week, right, from Mount Rushmore to mold. I mean, how many shows can say that. If you missed any of it, make sure you catch the podcast, it’s easy to find, it’s on iHeart Radio, it’s on TuneIn Radio, iTunes, ExtremeGenes.com, it’s all over the place, so please, tell you friends about it as well. And if you haven't done so yet, sign up for our Weekly Genie Newsletter. We give you a blog each week, links to past shows, links to current shows and to stories that you as a genealogist will especially appreciate. Thanks for joining us. We will talk to you again next week. And remember, as far as everyone knows, we're a nice, normal family!

Subscribe now to find out why hundreds of thousands of family researchers listen to Extreme Genes every week!

Email me new episodes