Episode 31 - It’s the OSCARS! Could you be related to a movie star?

podcast episode Mar 03, 2014

On this weeks show Fisher talks about how someone’s ancestor just made one couple’s lives… by leaving them $10,000,000 in gold. Of course, he didn’t know he was doing it at the time. Plus, it was a 200 year old Dutch family Bible that somehow was “misplaced…” around 1910! Hear how it got back into the proper hands.

Rhonda McClure, researcher of the stars from the New England Historical and Genealogical Society talks about some of her interesting discoveries involving movie stars and the somewhat arduous process of finding out if you’re related to one. (Hey, they can’t put you in their will if you can’t prove you’re related!) Rhonda also talks about the NEHGS “Great Migration” project. If you even suspect you have New England blood, you’ll want to know about this.

Tom Perry, our Preservation Authority, answers a unique question from a listener about QR codes in TATTOOS? You’ll find his answer fascinating! (As well as his ideas for other QR uses.) Tom also tells you why your old taped videos need immediate attention. For all your preservation needs, visit Tom at TMCPlace.com

Transcript of Episode 31

Host: Scott Fisher 

Segment 1 Episode 31

Fisher: Welcome back genies! It is another edition of Extreme Genes Family History Radio and ExtremeGenes.com. Fisher here your intensely focussed Radio Roots Sleuth and we have a fun show lined up for you this week. With the Oscars happening we have a very Hollywood flavor happening here. Rhonda McClure from the New England Historical and Genealogical Society will be joining us. She’s a professional researcher and speaker and has researched many Hollywood Stars as well as other notables and will be here to tell you what it takes to find what star of the screen is your relative? I mean, wouldn’t that be cool, fly out to Hollywood and knock on some star’s door and say, “Hey it’s me, your long lost cousin!” Then when you’re arrested for trespassing you whip out the proof. Anyway, early New England had a lot of settlers whose descendents today include people like Clint Eastwood, Richard Gere, Matt Damon, Bing Crosby and Robert Redford. Rhonda will also fill you in on a fantastic project called The Great Migration. Now, if you have New England ancestry or even think you do you’ll want to know about this. Rhonda joins us in about eleven minutes. Also later on, tales from the trail at RootsTech and I love this. Tom Perry our Preservation Authority from TMCPlace.com will be here to answer a very unique question. Can one of those QR codes he’s been talking about the last few weeks for sharing family history work in a tattoo? I cannot wait to hear what Tom has to say. Email Tom with your preservation questions at [email protected]. 

Here are a couple of comments on last week’s show.                                                          Fisher’s stand segment on travelling to where your ancestors lived has already put us in travel planning mode. We keep hearing great stories from people who do this and his tale finally put us into gear. We’ve never been to South Dakota before but it looks like we will be there in July. Cary in Tennessee.                                                                                                                        Have a great time Cary. My wife and I were on an ancestral trip years ago when we wound up accidentally blocking a car in a rural cemetery in Indiana. It turned out that the passenger in that car was a 98 year old distant cousin who my wife’s uncle recognized from when he was a boy in the 1930s and ‘40s.  Well the car was then being driven by the woman’s daughter who was then seventy five. [Laughs] So you can imagine how shocked when this near centenarian was able by memory to give my wife her maternal grandmother’s line back to the mid-1700s. She’d personally known my wife’s third great grandparents as a little girl in the late 1800s. She invited us to her home where she still lived alone, and loaned us 19th and early 20th century family pictures to make copies of. You never know what’s going to happen when you go to these places. Francine in Michigan writes, “I want AJ Jacobs to tie me into his lines so I can attend that world’s largest reunion next year in New York. It’s the first reunion I’ve heard of that I felt would be fun to attend. Sister Sledge? Is he kidding?” Well you know Francine, the thing about AJ Jacobs I think he meant everything he said. And that included that you don’t have to find the tied to be part of the party. We may have to do a show from that reunion next June. We’ll check in with AJ from time to time to see how plans are coming along and to keep you up to date. 

It is time once again for the latest Family Histoire News from the pages of ExtremeGenes.com. Imagine walking through your lovely rural property in North Central California then seeing the lip of an old rusty can sticking out of the dirt in the shade of a tree. The couple that owns the land had walked their same trail for years and had never noticed it. The unidentified woman reached down while her husband told her she shouldn’t mess with an old rusty can. Well, it turned out there wasn’t one, there were actually six and they were all filled with 19th century gold coins, mostly in uncirculated condition. The find was made last year and they’re still trying to lay low. The stash covered about a fifty year period after the 1890s. They could tell because the coins were in rough chronological order starting with the first can which covered the 1840s and 1850s. Then once full, whoever left them went on to the next can and then the next. In all, 1 427 gold coins were found, face value $28 000, but the overall value according to the expert who has been entrusted with them is around ten million dollars. He says a few of them may be worth up to a million dollars each. I mean, it’s a crazy story! He says the couple’s staying anonymous because they don’t want people to look at them differently. They’re happy with their lives and they don’t want people with metal detectors to swoop down onto their property and start their own Gold Rush. They’re planning to keep a few of the coins for souvenirs and auction the rest, and then from the proceeds they’ll pay off some bills and make some contributions to charity. Of course from the family history side of things, wouldn’t you want to know who it was who left these things behind? Maybe the couple doesn’t out of fear some unknown descendents will come calling and say, “Hey, it belongs to my family!” Well I doubt it would be hard to figure out who had access to that land for most of the last half of the 19th century.

You know, when I was about 10 years old growing up in Connecticut a friend of mine found a pouch of old Indian Head Pennies in the backyard of his 1860s era house. He thought he was rich! Why don’t these things happen to me? Anyway, find the link to the story now at ExtremeGenes.com. See pictures of the rusty old cans and those gorgeous gold coins as they were found. Next, it was found in a flea market in Virginia Beach. The man wanted $1 000 for it, but then $250 and finally he traded it to a woman who was willing to exchange work for the 200 year old Sprik Family Bible from Holland that she desperately wanted to get back into the hands of a Sprik family descendent, not that she knew any of them. Her name is Kerry Moulton. She’s an avid genie and she spotted the bible in a rummage bin. Well, after the intense but successful negotiation Kerry carefully studied the bible and learned that it had belonged to a Dutchman named Hendriks Albert Sprik. Well from there she went to the resources of Ancestry.com to begin the process of tracking down a descendent of the man who might appreciate having such a rare artefact. After some effort Kerry found Sprik’s great, great granddaughter Kathy Clark in Lexington, Kentucky. Well she contacted Kathy who was very much aware of her Sprik family story and who couldn’t believe the gift she was about to receive. The bible had left the family around 1910 when the last family member known to have it, died. Hendriks Sprik was born in Holland in 1808. He came to America with his wife in 1874 but she died six weeks before the landing in the New World. Kathy tears up as she imagines her ancestors clutching the bible as his wife’s body was buried at sea. The bible’s written in Dutch with the names of all the family members and birth dates handwritten in the front pages. It’s in perfect condition and the only thing she’s more grateful for than the bible is Kerry Moulton, a stranger who spotted a treasure that she knew rightfully belonged in the hands of someone else, [Laughs] someone she didn’t even know yet and wouldn’t let it go. We’ve got the link on ExtremeGenes.com and the bible pictures are awesome to see. Check them out. You know, we’ve talked a lot about the fun of meeting people at the Roots Tech Conference in Salt Lake City last month. And I thought we’d share with you some of the family stories we heard along the way. And I was amazed at how many scoundrel stories there were to be found. First up, here’s Mark Donnelly from Chula Vista, California.

Mark: I would say that the most unbelievable story was the one where my grandfather on my mom’s line and the one who had his partner in crime sent to jail and tried to take him out then he had tried to get the jailer taken out. But that one was kind of weird, although I did find an ancestor recently who, I don’t know maybe it’s something about my family history,  who robbed the neighbor’s house then burnt it down. So there was a lot of court records that were generated by this. And I was kind of able to see the intimate details of what happened and just trying to figure out why they did something like that. The other thing that was interesting is kind of the turmoil that it sent that family into in the generations down line of the things that happened from that point. So it was kind of like, you know, literally a shock wave, and it was at least three or four generations before it kind of mellowed out it seems like. 

Fisher: [Laughs] Yeah! Consequences, thank you Mark, and also with a great story, Nikki Smith from Spanish Fork, Utah. 

Nikki: My great, great grandmother is named Charity Williams Henderson Christ and when they were trying to get her Civil War pension for a widow’s pension after her husband Adam passed away, the stack is like four inches high of the records. Because she left her first husband because he was an alcoholic and she never actually quite divorced him. He showed up in court twice and she never did so a year later when she married my ancestor she wasn’t divorced. [Laughs] And so they took quite a long time to figure out that she was actually a common-law wife. And it just made it really interesting to see that comments that she would make in the pension. “Well, you can’t blame me for leaving him. He loved whiskey a lot more than he loved me.” [Laughs] And things like that.

Fisher: [Laughs] I love that. I don’t know, there’s something about scoundrels that I just really like. They’re intriguing individuals aren’t they? Thanks to Nikki. Thanks to Mark for some great stories there. And coming up later in the show, Tom Perry talks tattoos and QR codes. And with the Oscars getting all the buzz, are you related to a Hollywood star? There are ways to find out. Rhonda McClure of the New England Historical and Genealogical Society will tell you who she has researched and how you can tie in. She’s coming up next on Extreme Genes Family History radio and ExtremeGenes.com.

Segment 2 Episode 31

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Rhonda McClure

Fisher: Welcome back to Extreme Genes, Family History Radio ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here with professional researcher from the New England Historical and Genealogical Society Rhonda McClure. How are you Rhonda?

Rhonda: I’m fine. How are you doing?

Fisher: Awesome, and welcome to the show. Glad to have you here because we’ve got the Oscars, the Academy Awards going on as Bugs Bunny used to always say [Laughs] this weekend and you’re kind of a big expert in tracking down the ancestry of many of the stars. You know, we really have what, two big bastions of ancestry in this country. One is in New England and the other is in Virginia. And your accent is kind of in the New England area. How did you get started in doing this, tracing the ancestry of the stars?

Rhonda: Well actually, I was subcontracted by A&E Network a number of years back and would do trees that coincided with biography episodes. 

Fisher: Oh, okay. And so who are some of the people you did the trees on?

Rhonda: Oh, I did on Tom Hanks, Tom Cruise, Sigourney Weaver, you name it. I probably did Johnny Depp, all sorts of different ones.

Fisher: [Laughs] And did you find that like we see with the presidents of the United States that many of these people actually tie in together?

Rhonda: We did find some of that because in addition doing the trees for the episodes I had a column in their magazine before it was a new incantation and it was about how people related to each other. And we did find that a number of people could be related especially if they went back to some of the early colonists. 

Fisher: Sure. Now who did you find might be related?

Rhonda: Well, we know for sure that Richard Gere and Halle Berry are related. 

Fisher: Now, did you find yourself being related to some of the people you were researching?

Rhonda: Not as many as I would have liked. In fact even the presidents, I don’t have very many of them. [Laughs]

Fisher: That’s kind of surprising though if you go back that that far.

Rhonda: Um hmm.

Fisher: I think I’ve got ten of them. 

Rhonda: Yeah, I’ve got like four. [Laughs]

Fisher: Four, okay.

Rhonda: Yeah. 

Fisher: Bizarre. Okay.

Rhonda: And they’re not even the big important ones. [Laughs]

Fisher: [Laughs] Well rarely are they. I think everybody in this country now is related to the Bushes. 

Rhonda: I think so.

Fisher: Because George senior not only comes out of New England but he also comes out of Virginia. So he kind of covers them both. I read somewhere once that he’s related to like one third of the nation. 

Rhonda: I would agree with that. And he is one of the ones that I’m related to. 

Fisher: Now of course, Hollywood and the movie thing started in the New York area and then of course moved west back in the nineteen teens and the 1920s. So a lot of the early stars certainly had New England ancestry. 

Rhonda: Some did, but a lot of them are immigrants. You’ll find a lot of the early stars were not long term. Like hadn’t been here for very long.

Fisher: Right, first or second generation.

Rhonda: Exactly. And that surprises a lot of people, but it was the vigil stars and it was coming out of that. And a lot of that was because A, it was New York City and so you had a lot of immigrants there just in general. So a lot of those earlier stars are less likely to trace back.

Fisher: So it’s the more recent ones that tie in, in New England. 

Rhonda: Um hmm, exactly. 

Fisher: All right. So how do people find out if they’re related to some of the Hollywood stars we’ll be seeing at the Oscars?

Rhonda: Well, it’s actually a two pronged approach. Because not only do you have to do your own research but you also have to find the research or do it on the celebrity themselves.

Fisher: Okay. So you have to kind of pick who you want to be related to and see if you are?

Rhonda: Exactly. 

Fisher: Okay.

Rhonda: Because it’s going to be back there. If it were one or two generations you’d already know about it. You’d be invited to the family reunion.

Fisher: Yeah [laughs] you’d be at the Oscars.

Rhonda: Exactly!

Fisher: So if you had your own lines, and this is really not something for beginners because people who don’t have their own line would have a long way to go to find that out. It really is I guess for people with a little more established lines.

Rhonda: It’s certainly easier with more established lines, but sometimes if you can pick up on one of the websites that has these trees, what you can do is what I call recreate the wheel, you can sort of follow the path and that can actually teach you how to do genealogy. 

Fisher: So, what’s the second prong?

Rhonda: Well, the second prong is that you have to actually branch out because it’s not necessarily going to be through your direct line. You have to know the siblings in each generation. 

Fisher: And so you’re going up, you’re going down, you’re going sideways, you’re doing it for you, and you’re doing it for them. 

Rhonda: Right. And so a lot of people, especially newcomers to genealogy, they’re just “I’m all about my straight lines on my multi generational charts. That’s all I’m doing.”

Fisher: So you’re looking for family names then?

Rhonda: Exactly.

Fisher: That are particular unique.

Rhonda: Um hmm. And you’re looking to see who the siblings married because of course that may be the key to tying into that famous tree.

Fisher: Boy, that’s a lot to keep in your head isn’t it?

Rhonda: It is. Thank goodness we have computers.

Fisher: Yeah. [Laughs] So what have you published on this, Rhonda?

Rhonda: Well, I published a number of trees as I said, in conjunction with A&E back in the day. But I actually published a book called “Finding Your Famous and Infamous Ancestors” back in the early 2000s. And I had an opportunity actually to visit the Margaret Herrick Library which is the library of the Academy Awards. 

Fisher: And what did you find there?

Rhonda: Well, I actually worked with Vincente Minnelli’s papers and then it was a Russian/Jewish immigrant director who had done quite a bit of genealogical research. Because this is like a private library so you have to have a reason that you need to look at their papers but they were very accommodating to me. So I was able to find out some of the information about where in Italy the Minnelis came from and things like that.

Fisher: So you were working on Judy Garland, Liza Minnelli...but I guess it would just be Liza’s side wouldn’t it?

Rhonda: It was on that on Liza’s. I mean I was doing Judy in general but those papers helped me on that side because at the time I was doing that we didn’t have quite what we have as far as internet availability of records so I didn’t have easy access to naturalization papers and things like that. So without those papers his side of the tree would have been much shorter. 

Fisher: So, what’s the biggest surprise you’ve found in doing this kind of research?

Rhonda: Sometimes the biggest surprise is like Johnny Depp is very all about his living in France yet he descends from Huguenots. [Laughs]

Fisher: Hmm, so you think there’s some cellular memory going on there?

Rhonda: I don’t know about that because without his Huguenots leaving France he might not be here. [Laughs]

Fisher: Right. [Laughs]

Rhonda: Let’s face it France was taking a dim view on those Huguenots. That was sort of one of those ironic twists of fate where he’s gone back to the very country that tried to obliterate his ancestry. [Laughs]

Fisher: Wow! That is bizarre. So, what other surprises have you run across?

Rhonda: So Tom Cruise, who is Thomas Cruise Mapother IV.

Fisher: Right.

Rhonda: The Thomas Cruise Mapother I was not actually born with that name. In fact, he’s not even a Mapother. His mother was married to a Dennis Mapother who died and she married a Thomas O'mara and so Tom the first is actually from that second marriage.       

Fisher: Hold on wait a minute, I’m getting my map out here, my chart, trying to follow that one.

Rhonda: [Laughs]

Fisher: So there was no Thomas the first and really there’s no Thomas the fourth anymore because he’s dropped the Mapother. 

Rhonda: Right. I think that by birth his birth family was so he was Thomas Cruise Mapother the IV. It’s a big old...

Fisher: Whew! Wow. And have you actually shared this with Tom Cruise?

Rhonda: I have not had an opportunity to share it with him. When he did the Insider the Actor’s Studio one time, they gave him a very lovely layout of his tree back to Dennis Mapother and it was wrong. [Laughs]

Fisher: And it was wrong.

Rhonda: And it was wrong.

Fisher: Just like the George Washington tree that was presented to President Grant we talked about last week. 

Rhonda: Exactly, exactly. And at the time I was sitting in my house yelling at the TV, “That’s wrong! That’s wrong!” 

Fisher: [Laughs] Well, that’s kind of the curse of being a professional and having that information in your head, isn’t it?

Rhonda: It is yes.

Fisher: We’re talking to Rhonda McClure from the New England Historical and Genealogical Society, and with the Oscars going on she’s the one who has tracked down so many of the star’s ancestry. We’ll find out more how you can tie into them, coming up next on Extreme Genes, Family History Radio ExtremeGenes.com.    

Segment 3 Episode 31

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Rhonda McClure

Fisher: Welcome back to Extreme Genes, Family History Radio and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth with Rhonda McClure from the New England Historical and Genealogical Society. She’s been researching the stars for how long now Rhonda? 

Rhonda: I’ve been researching the stars from about 1999. 

Fisher: And what kind of contact have you actually had with them personally?

Rhonda: I haven’t had too much with them personally other than once we started assisting on like “Who Do You Think You Are?” But I did have some family members who contacted me after trees were posted. Thanking me for sharing information with them and that people had appreciated it. Because of course everything I did for A&E went onto our website. 

Fisher: Sure. And where is that website? Is it something we can look at? 

Rhonda: Yes, actually the trees are still available on Genealogy.com.

Fisher: Now where do you go when you get there? 

Rhonda: I think it’s under the “Community Tab” still. Technically Genealogy.com is owned by Ancestry.com but they’ve still kept parts of it out there. There are a lot of trees there, many of which I did.

Fisher: All right. We talked in the previous segment about tracking down the various stars and you have to track down your own. Where are some of the sites? You just mentioned one Genealogy.com. Where else can people go to see if they might recognize some of their own ancestors on the ancestry trees of the stars? 

Rhonda: Well sometimes if you just do a Google of the star’s name and then put word “Genealogy” because there’s a lot of random sites where people have put information up. One of my go-to’s is, there was a very scholarly researcher for many, many years, William Wright Wisner who passed away a couple of years back but who’s site is still maintained by his executor who’s in charge of the site now. And he had done in addition to royals and presidents and other things, he has an entire selection of various celebrities that would run the gambit from authors to sports figures to stars.

Fisher: What was his name again, and what was the site? 

Rhonda: His name is William Wright Wisner, and his site is Wargs.com.

Fisher: Wargs.com. And that might be an interesting place, especially you know not everybody is into the stars but some might want to know about the presidential ties, or an author or a favorite sports figure. That would all work. And you mentioned something kind of interesting there too, about an executor for the site. And that brings a whole different topic up, but when we go, there are going to be a lot of sites left with nobody to administer them, and these are things we kind of have to plan for now. 

Rhonda: Exactly. And people who just publish on the internet, we really encourage them here at NEHGS to think about when they go. You know, to compile something and donate it to a variety of libraries in some physical format, preferably a book because that can survive any technology changes. 

Fisher: Yeah, that’s right the paper’s around for a long time. We look at a lot of old paper to this day, don’t we? 

Rhonda: Exactly we do. We do, and so that’s one of the things we stress here whenever we publishing seminars or find talking to somebody who is interested in going beyond just dabbling. 

Fisher: Okay Rhonda, other sources for the stars lines because that’s kind of the key to tying back into your own. Where would you go?

Rhonda: Well, one of the better sources are biographies, and there’s a biography written about just about everybody, the auto biographies, not so much. When the person writes about it themselves, I like to say that that sprang forth fully grown. 

Fisher: Yeah. [Laughs]

Rhonda: They talk a whole lot about the family. But the biographers will usually start with early childhood, so at the very least you’ll get parental information, maybe places of birth, grandparents names, those types of things, and sometimes that’s all you need to jump start that. Gary Boyd Roberts and I often have an ongoing joke about how we don’t actually read the biographies we just read the first chapter. 

Fisher: Right. [Laughs] And off you go. Now Gary Boyd Roberts has published a lot in NEHGS. Where can people access his information? 

Rhonda: A lot of his information is available under our resources because he’s published so many things and you can look him up as an author, but of course he does have his two books Notable Kin, which have a variety of celebrities but he does not define a notable kin as necessarily a movie star like we do. And so there are some stars that he had an interest in for whatever reason, but he also has a number of other people movers and shakers. But he’ll give the line back to however they relate to perhaps somebody from the Mayflower or something like that. So his two volumes set on that can be an excellent resource as well.

Fisher: So Rhonda, for those who are looking for a quick idea of whether or not they’re tied to the stars, give us some of the common surnames, the most common surnames you run into in your genealogies of these people.

Rhonda: Well, some of them obviously as far as the Mayflower you’ve got your Aldens, you’ve your Brusters, but believe it or not many of your connections are going to be through your females. So your female lines are a very important aspect to research. So you’ve got your Zachary Taylor, like your presidents who go back to Bruster and Alorton, those off the Mayflower.

Fisher: Right.

Rhonda: And then you have Clint Eastwood who goes back to William Bradford. Orson Welles goes back to John Oldham. So there’s a number of different things but it’s all usually done through the females in other words. Orson Welles’s grandmother is where it starts to head off. 

Fisher: Yeah, we don’t see a lot of the old New England names in the names of the stars today and of course it’s hard to tell who’s using their real name and who’s not anyway.

Rhonda: Exactly. And like Dick Van Dyke comes off of Francis Cooke and George Sewell, as well as Myles Standish.

Fisher: Wow.

Rhonda: Yeah, he’s like got a lot of New England ancestry more so than people would anticipate. I think with a name like Van Dyke, your first thought will be like he’s all some kinds of Netherlands or something, but through his mother’s side he has all of these old New England lines. 

Fisher: Interesting. How about the Lathrops? 

Rhonda: The Lathrops, now that is a huge New England name and a lot of people descend from it. I can’t think of anybody right off the top of my head who has that. But there are certain surnames that we just recognize as old New England names. 

Fisher: So, the old names typically are the ones you’ll tie into that, and that goes back from the era of the Great Migration. 

Rhonda: Um hmm. Which is why the Great Migration is such an important research project that we undertook. In that such a lot of people come from such a small time period. 

Fisher: Okay, real quickly because we are running out of time. For people not familiar with the Great Migration project that you’re doing at the New England Historical and Genealogical Society, fill us in on what the resources are that are now available on it. 

Rhonda: Okay. Well the Great Migration project right now spans 1620 to 1635 and is available both in book form and then is available to members of NEHGS as one of our databases online. And it was a completely scholarly work in that the gentlemen who spearheaded it would go and look at original records both here and in England, to identify the origins and the requirement was that the person had to be in the country through some record here in the colonies in New England. Primarily by whatever the year was so between 1620 and 1635. And in the little sketch on those individuals it lists the person, his wife, his children, but then what’s known about his origins back in England. If he was able to identify the ships he came over on. Sometimes all you need are those children and you can tie things in.

Fisher: So this is ongoing project right now?

Rhonda: Yes, yes. Um hm. He has completed through 1635 and usually he’ll take a little time off and do something else, like he’s been working on a Plymouth book and re-examining some of those early settlers. But as I said it’s an ongoing thing and there’s an actually Great Migration offshoot of our website that talks about the experiences of the Great Migration and resources that can be used. So it’s a great learning place for people may find that they descend from some of these early arrivals. 

Fisher:  Is there a lot of new information still to be found on the early arrivers?

Rhonda: There is a lot of new information, primarily because as more and more records get digitized and indexed, things pop up that we wouldn’t have thought of to look at before. In other words, we have blinders on very often with our research. So when you put in a global search and all of a sudden this random resource comes up that you may previously have discounted. Now maybe you’ll look at it and so that’s one of the benefits of the internet and the indexing. 

Fisher: Well, it’s all fascinating stuff, and you’ve got the best job in the world, don’t you Rhonda? 

Rhonda: I do yes. I get paid to play.

Fisher: [Laughs] She’s Rhonda McClure with the New England Historical and Genealogical Society, she researchers the stars. Thanks for your time Rhonda? 

Rhonda: Oh it was my pleasure.

Fisher: And coming up next Preservation Authority Tom Perry, talking about QR codes and tattoos! It’s a question from a listener, he’s going to answer it next no Extreme Genes Family History Radio, ExtremeGenes.com. 

Segment 4 Episode 31

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry

Fisher: And welcome back to Extreme Genes Family History Radio, ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here with Tom Perry, our Preservation Authority from TMCPlace.com. Welcome back, Tommy.

Tom: Good to be back.

Fisher: And you know, just with what we've been talking about today about the Oscars and the movie stars. Are you related to Mathew Perry?

Tom: I hope so.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Tom: And I hope he puts me in his will.

Fisher: That would be very nice. We'll have to do a little research on you and find out about that. We did get an email from Erin in Huntsville, Alabama, listening on WTKI, and he was asking about the QR codes that we've been talking about the last couple of week and was wondering if you could actually make a tattoo of a QR code. Would that work?

Tom: Oh, absolutely. There's no reason it wouldn't. You could either do temporary tattoos as QR codes to have at amusement parks. In fact, I thought about that, like when you go to Disney Land now, you have to buy a full pass, whether you're a little old lady that's not going to get on any rides, because in the old days, you would buy E tickets, A tickets, different things like that.

Fisher: Right.

Tom: And so I thought, what they ought to do is issue QR codes. And so, if you have the QR code as a temporary tattoo that gets you on all the rides you want to go. If you want to go in and just hang out with your grandkids, you don't have to pay a hundred bucks for a ticket, maybe twenty five, maybe fifty dollars, and then you just don't get the QR code temporary tattoo on your wrist.

Fisher: Wow, what a great idea! You should work for Disney, oh, wait a minute, you did.

Tom: I did.

Fisher: At one time.

Tom: But back to the QR code, there's so many options you could do with this. If you had little children and they got lost in the park, all they have to do is scan the QR code, they know where they go to, who they belong to and they can page you by name. You can put as much information on as you want. You could tell them what hotel you're staying in, as much details. So if your kid wonders off, they go to one of the first aid stations, they scan the QR code, "Oh, he belongs to so and so. They stay at such and such a hotel." They could get the information out. They would have your cell phone number they could call you and say, "Hey, you know, your two year old is at station XYZ."

Fisher: You know, you keep coming up with these things. Are people doing this now or is this something you could do with it?

Tom: Oh, this is something you could do. Nobody's doing it.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Tom: But you know, Disney needs to call me back and say, "Hey, show us how we can implement this." It’s got to be very simple to do, and it would be awesome. I mean, if I had young kids, even if I have them on those little leashes, I would still want something like that. And, leaving the park, if you have your QR code and you're not with the person that you're supposed to be, they could have security that you couldn't get out of the park. So if some little four year old was leaving with somebody that tried to kidnap them, when they scan, the QR codes don't match up, so you don't get to take that kid outside the park.

Fisher: You are always thinking, aren't you?

Tom: I try.

Fisher: Absolutely. So hopefully that answers your question, Erin. And thanks for sending that off to [email protected]. And whenever you do that, you get a twenty five dollar discount on any purchase you make from Shop.TMCPlace.com.

Tom: Exactly.

Fisher: Tom, what else do you have for us today?

Tom: Okay, I've had a lot of people that have questions about scanning, and just quickly, when we were at Roots Tech a few weeks ago, we had people come and say, "Hey, I want to buy my own equipment, you know, what do I need to do?" So I told who live locally there back in Salt Lake where Roots Tech was, there's a place called Pictureline, which is downtown Salt Lake is a good resource to go. They also have an online presence. If you don't live in that area and you want to do everything online, there's a great company called BHPhotoVideo.com, B as in boy, H as in Harry, PhotoVideo.com, and you can compare all kinds of scanners. If you want to get a good scanner, you're looking at least $1500. These $200 ones at OfficeMax and Stuff, I wouldn't get unless you don't really care about the stuff you're scanning. But if you want to get a real good prosumer, you want to spend about $5000 or if you want to get a Hasselblad Flats Tech X5 scanner, they're only $25,000.

Fisher: Oh my gosh! It’s a bargain at twice the price.

Tom: Exactly.

Fisher: [Laughs] Well, and any time you get into something like that, I think for family history purposes, you want to share that cost with members of the family and spread it out.

Tom: And as we've talked before, if you want to rent one, we can rent you one that's just as good, so you can split it between your family. If you have enough that you want to send it around, you scan, send it to the next family, do that as well, but get a good one.

Fisher: All right, and coming up next, Tom's going to talk about video tapes and why we're losing them as every day goes by, on Extreme Genes, Family History Radio and ExtremeGenes.com.

Segment 5 Episode 31

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry

Fisher: We are back and you have found us, Extreme Genes, Family History Radio, ExtremeGenes.com. Fisher here the Radio Roots Sleuth with Tom Perry, our Preservation Authority from TMCPlace.com. You can always contact Tom to ask your questions at [email protected]. Tom, you've been telling me the last couple of weeks when we've been off the air about you've got to get in these videos, you've got to get in your kids' videos from the 90s and the 00s, because they are deteriorating every day, talk about this.

Tom: Oh yeah, as we speak, while we're broadcasting right now, your tapes are dying, they're going away. The biggest problem with tapes are about anything that's magnetic it’s like the tire on your car, as you drive down the street, you don't actually see the wear, but after a while, you see the wear, that's how tapes are, they wear out. We had a tape come in the other week from us that's flaking. There's actually particles you can see inside the cassette, you can see little pieces of magnetic particles that are actually falling off the tape, which is generally caused by heat or poor storage.

Fisher: And so, when that happens, of course, there's really not a lot you can do.

Tom: Well, I never tried baking one. One of these days when I get one in, if the customer is willing to let us try it, we're going to try it, like we bake audio tapes and that fixes them, but I've never tried it with a videotape. So if somebody comes in with one that's flaking so bad we can't transfer it, we'll go ahead and do that. The problem with flaking tapes is, those little flakes will get caught in the heads of your player and they'll plug them up, they won't be able to hear audio or video, and that's why you have to get the tape clean, as we actually still sell cleaners for VHS machines.

Fisher: Really?

Tom: Oh yeah!

Fisher: Do they make them or is this something you stored or you find them on eBay or something, what?

Tom: Yeah. Some of our distributors actually have them stacked away. In fact, we have one distributor that has old Betamax tapes still.

Fisher: Oh! [Laugh]

Tom: Blank Betamax tapes. So if anybody wants them, I have a lead for them.

Fisher: [Laughs] Well, it is amazing what's still out there, isn't it?

Tom: Oh, it’s incredible.

Fisher: One of the other problems you've talked about, Tom, is how people store their tapes, and that there are different ways. Now does this affect audio or video or both?

Tom: Yes.

Fisher: Oh boy.

Tom: It does them all. Yeah, anything that’s magnetic, it’s put on a polyester type film, and anything can cause it to take off. When it’s originally made, it’s made through high heat, so if exposed to high heat, the metallic particles can come back off and they'll flake around. So the best thing to do is, always make sure you store your tapes in a cool, clean environment. Keep them away from heat. Heat is really bad for them. The only thing that's worse than heat is water. We have some that go through floods, like we've talked about on the air when Katrina went through, we got a lot of tapes through there that had been in water and mud, and that's bad. We've had a tape that actually went through an oven that we were actually able to fix, but that got to such a high degree it actually helped that tape, you know 110, 120 isn't going to do it any good, all its going to do is hurt it.

Fisher: So you want it to actually bake. [Laughs]

Tom: Yeah, you want it to actually bake. Yeah, make sure it through a fire, if the case itself starts melting, it’s probably got to a high enough temperature that the tape inside is okay.

Fisher: Okay, VHS tapes and then the big ones that we used to use back in the 80s.

Tom: Yeah, the U Matic.

Fisher: Are those fading away as well?

Tom: Oh, absolutely. Anytime you play any kind of magnetic tape, even a MiniDV tape, it’s going to degrade over time. The nice thing about MiniDV tape is, they're digital, so we can still have a better chance of getting information off. But the way you want to always store your tapes is, you want to store them on end. Don't store them flat, because the control track on most tapes is on the edge, and if one of the springs breaks inside and the tapes falls down on itself, the first thing that's going to go is your control track, which basically is the brain of your entire tape.

Fisher: And so, there's no way for you to fix that?

Tom: Very rarely. We have some, we can run it through a ProCam, we can run it through deciphers, all kinds of different equipment, and sometimes they can bring them back, and sometimes they can't, it depends what the damage is. So you want to be really, really careful with the way you store them. And one thing that is a misnomer that 90% of the people out there understand wrong is, when you used to rent videotapes in the old day, it always said, "be kind, rewind", they're not doing that or telling you that to make the tape better, they're doing it so the next person has it rewound. That is the worst way to store a tape.

Fisher: Ooh!

Tom: Because when you rewind it, it rewinds really tight. So you want to always when you're done playing it, take it out of your machine and store it that way, because it’s loosely wound that way. So don't be kind and rewind if you're trying to preserve your memories.

Fisher: Ooh great advice as usual, Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com. That's it for this week on Extreme Genes, Family History Radio. Thanks so much for joining us. Thanks once again to Rhonda McClure from the New England Historical and Genealogical Society for helping us connect with the stars! We'll talk to you again next week. And remember, as far as everyone knows, we're a nice, normal family!


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