Episode 62 - Finding Family History Gold!

podcast episode Oct 19, 2014

Fisher opens the show with news of an exhibit in New York of one particular Chinese-American family, and the trials they have overcome as they became part of mainstream America.  Also... European "heritage travel" is becoming a booming business in places like Scandinavia and Scotland.  Want to take reindeer herding lessons to commemorate your heritage?  They're waiting for you!

Then... while a lot of family history can take years... even a lifetime... to find, we sometimes forget some items are just underneath our noses!  Phil Devitt, a news editor in Fall River, Massachusetts recently learned that as he found his great grandfather's police journal for 1921.  Phil describes what triggered his interest in his law enforcing ancestor and how the journal wound up in his hands.
Then, Heath Jones, our friend from "Task Force History" in Alabama returns.  He and his friends have been searching the property his family has owned for over 150 years for artifacts left behind by his ancestors.  Last time they found a Civil War era ring.  What did they come up with this time?  Heath will fill us in.

Tom Perry, our Preservation Authority returns to answer a listener's question about repairing warped disks.  It is possible!  Tom will tell you how, as well as give you some great ideas on family history Christmas gifts that you'll want to get started on right now.
That's this week on America's Family History Show... Extreme Genes!

Transcript of Episode 62

Host: Scott Fisher

Segment 1 Episode 62

Fisher: Hola Genies! Welcome to Extreme Genes, family history radio and ExtremeGenes.com, America’s Family History Show. I am Fisher your Radio Roots Sleuth, and I hope the search has been fruitful for you this past week. Who’s been finding stuff? Well, at least a couple of people this past week have, and you’ll hear from them both later in the show. In about ten minutes we’ll talk to Phil Devitt, a newspaper editor in Fall River, Massachusetts. Phil’s family has been in Fall River for generations and he recently made the discovery of a particular journal that had belonged to his great grandfather, a police officer for the town. What was in it and where has it taken him? We will find out. And then later in the show, our friend Heath Jones is back! His group “Task Force History” has been at it again. Searching the several hundred acres of property his family has owned in Alabama for over 150 years. Last time he told us about the Civil War era ring his team discovered. What have they literally dug up this time? Heath will have that story. If you have a great story of discovery, we’d love to hear from you. You can call our toll free Find Line at 1-234-56-GENES. Tell us your story, ask your question, leave your comment, and we’ll be happy to get back to you. Our ExtremeGenes.com poll for this week asked, “Do you have any clippings of hair that have been passed down your line?” I couldn’t believe this! 63% said, “Yes I do.” I guess the question with that always is, “Do we know who it came from and when it was taken from them, and then, where do we keep it, and why do we keep it if we don’t know whose it was in the first place?” This stuff can get complicated. This week’s poll asks, “Do you have any ancestral couples that were more than 20 years apart in age?” You can vote now at ExtremeGenes.com.

Concerning Blaine Bettinger’s recent comments on why not to blame DNA companies for family secrets being revealed through DNA testing. Lou Ann in Fort Myers, Florida commented, “Fisher, Blaine is right. Secrets can come from all kinds of stuff not just DNA. I recently met a half sister I never knew I had, and I’m 76 years old. She found me after her adoption papers were opened, and we learned, we shared the same mother. No DNA necessary. No one was more surprised about this discovery than my mom. She gave up my sister when she was 18. She’s now 98 years old. If you don’t want to know family secrets, stay out of this business. Every family has them.” Luanne, all I can say is, “Wow!” If you missed my visit with Blaine, you can always catch the podcast at ExtremeGenes.com, on iTunes, or iHeart Radio’s new Talk Channel. And you can listen on your mobile device by downloading our free app for iPhones and Android. Just look for Extreme Genes in your phone’s app store. And by the way, you can email me at [email protected] or you can drop me a note through our Facebook page at Facebook.com/ExtremeGenes. Hey, and while you’re there please give us a Like. We’d love to have you as part of our growing family of Extreme Genes followers. It is time once again for your family histoire news from the pages of ExtremeGenes.com. Heidi Mitchell at Yahoo.com has written an article on what she calls Heritage Travel. She opens by saying most Americans, let’s face, it are mutts. She writes about a New Yorker named Laura Galloway who took a business trip to Sweden three years ago and found people who looked just like her with almond shaped eyes and snow white hair. She immediately felt a deep down connection and returned to the US and immediately sent her DNA sample in to 23andMe who confirmed she was half Sami, believed to be Northern Europe’s earliest Indigenous people. Galloway was so intrigued by her heritage that she made numerous return visits learning the Sami language and how to herd reindeer. Honest! [Laughs] The article discusses how the European travel industry has now prepared for people like Laura and us with, for example professional genealogists hired fulltime in hotels, particularly in Scotland. They repeat that almost $4 billion in revenue is expected to come from Heritage Travel in Scotland alone in 2014. You might get some ideas for your own heritage travel by reading the entire article through the link at ExtremeGenes.com. NBCNews.com has an article about a current feature at the New York Historical Society Museum and Library in Manhattan called the Chinese American Exclusion Inclusion Exhibit. The story is written by Michelle Lee who talks about how little her heritage was discussed in history classes in school, growing up in New York. But now the story of her family is available for anyone to see at this unique exhibit. It covers three generations of the Lee family in America with photos and artefacts, many displayed in glass cases. Included in the exhibition were artefacts such as a 1913 photograph of Michelle’s great grandfather with his certificate of identity. Every Chinese American was required to have this document on them at all times, otherwise even as an American they could have been sent back to China. Another panel featured her great uncle who died as a member of the US army in Africa in WWII in 1944. His I.D tag and the contents of the wallet he was carrying when he was killed are part of the presentation. Michelle discusses Chinese American involvement in the history of our country, including the story of Wong Kim Ark, a cook. It was his case taken up by the Supreme Court in 1898 that made it law that anyone born in America is a United States citizen. There’s also a recreation of Angel Island and Ellis Island of the West. How many must have heard of that? It’s a fascinating article with some great pictures. Find the link now at ExtremeGenes.com. And coming up next, he was covering a ceremony for the induction of new policemen into the force in a town in Massachusetts. That led to newspaper editor Phil Devitt looking through a very special book. Phil will tell us where that led him and the connection he since made with an ancestor he never met who walked the same streets he walks every day. That’s in three minutes on Extreme Genes, Family History Radio and ExtremeGenes.com, America’s Family History Show.

Segment 2 Episode 62

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Phil Devitt

Fisher: Hey, you have found us! Extreme Genes, family history radio, America’s Family History Show. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth with my guest, the Editor from Falls River Massachusetts, Phil Devitt. How are you Phil? Welcome to the show!

Phil: Thanks for having me. I’m doing just fine.

Fisher: And you know, the reason we’re in touch is because Phil has located... I would guess you’d call it a log or a journal of your great grandfather. That is the thing, you could have something like that in the hands of a writer, suddenly all that information is out there for everybody to see, and I got a kick out of reading what you’ve written here in your newspaper. What is it? South Coast Today?

Phil: Yeah. We’re South Coast media group in south eastern Massachusetts and one of the cities we cover is Fall River and that’s my city that I report on. And I have been chomping at the bit to write about this notebook for a long time, and the timing felt right just recently.

Fisher: Now where did you get the notebook?

Phil: Well, this is really an example of finding something that has been under your nose the whole time, like right in front of you.

Fisher: [Laughs] Yes.

Phil: Which I think a lot of people in this community can relate to. This notebook has been in my family for about a century now. But it was never in a glass case or on the fireplace mantle or something that we talked about all that much.

Fisher: Yeah they rarely are.

Phil: Right. So, while I knew it existed, that sort of floated to other regions of my brain and I forgot as I grew up that we had it. But since I’m reporting about Fall River, I saw myself at a swearing in ceremony for fifteen new police officers last year, and before the officers were sworn in, the police chief came to the podium and said, “We have a department tradition dating back to the early 19th century and that is, any new officer before swearing the oath, comes up and signs his name in this book.” And that triggered something in me. I said, “Wait, my great grandfather who I didn’t know all that much about, was a Fall River police officer.” So after the ceremony I went over to the ledger and found his name there, and I was just confronted with my family’s past. It was great. It was great to see, and so well preserved, so well taken care of. It looked like the ink had just dried.

Fisher: Right, right, the sacred book.

Phil: The sacred book.    

Fisher: [Laughs]

Phil: And so I said, “That’s right, the notebook! I’ve seen that handwriting before in my youth. I know we have that notebook somewhere.” And I went home and found it and dug it out.

Fisher: Now, did you have it? Your parents have it? What was the story?

Phil: My parents had it, my father. So it had been in his possession for some time, passed down to him through the generations and so I knew to go to him to look for it. And when I found it, I didn’t want to put it down.

Fisher: Oh I bet. Did he let you take it?

Phil: He let me take it. He trusts me as far as I can tell you know.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Phil: He didn’t think I was going to put it on eBay or anything.

Fisher: Right. Right.

Phil: And I understood. I think he and I have a mutual appreciation for how precious those documents are. Because this is really the only thing I know of that the family has of my great grandfather remaining.

Fisher: Sure.

Phil: So we knew that whatever is in there is going to tell us a lot about him and who he was and how he worked, and it’s true, every time I pick it I get to spend a year working with my grandfather on the same streets that I report about now.

Fisher: Isn’t that interesting. You know it really does extend the tap route, doesn’t it? I mean your sense of your life extending way back before you were even born.

Phil: It does. You know, you hear the names when you grow up and occasionally you’ll hear a story or two, but there’s really something about having something tactile in your hands that you can just connect with somebody about. Every time I pick it up I can picture him walking down the street and jotting down names and information in there, and I feel like I’m with him in a way. It’s the closes thing we have to time travel as far as I’m concerned.

Fisher: Oh and I was looking at some of the entries because these are from mostly the early 1920s and I was thinking about how I’ve read where school teachers back in the 1940s, one of the biggest issues they had in dealing with the students was that they would chew gum during class.

Phil: Oh boy.

Fisher: Yes, I know. It doesn’t get much worse than that. But when you read your stuff, it’s kind of similar isn’t it? You know, the officer on the beat and what’s he looking for? Let’s go through some of these entries.

Phil: Sure. When I read the book for the first time all the way through, I had to stop and think, and I mentioned this in the story, I had to wonder if the police chief put my great grandfather on the meddling kids beat.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Phil: Because every other page is an entry about kids misbehaving and some of these are kind of a hoot. Let’s go to Monday June 13th 1921.

Fisher: Okay.

Phil: And he says, “Patrol route 22 from 6 to 1am, and found six boys trespassing and damaging flowers on grave lots in the north burial ground.”

Fisher: Hmm.

Phil: An hour later he found five young boys trespassing at Saint John’s cemetery and he secured their names. No idea if the boys found in the last cemetery are the boys found in the first cemetery.

Fisher: Right.

Phil: But you’re led to believe that they may know each other at the very least.

Fisher: Well and it’s interesting because you guys both grew up in the same town. You grew up in Fall Rover, yes?

Phil: I did yeah. My roots are right there in the city. So when I read about you know, the north burial ground, or French street, or Highland Avenue, these are all streets that I can walk down today and I can appreciate it and see the same house as he visited. It’s great that way. This is one of my favorites and there’s a happy ending to this one which you don’t often see in these very quick reports. It’s about a bunch of kids of April 28th 1921at the baseball field. They damaged a bicycle owned by another young man named George Kimble.

Fisher: Uh oh.

Phil: Yep. And the damage was estimated at a whopping seven dollars and eighty five cents.

Fisher: Um hmm.

Phil: So then, my great grandfather lists the names and address of the accused and says that the boys admit causing the damage to the bicycle and they agreed to pay the bill and bring the receipt to the station house to show that it was settled.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Phil: Because that would be satisfactory to George Kimble, the young boy who owned the bicycle.

Fisher: See, that’s an awesome entry and you’ve got some names there. My next is, do those family names ring family to you? Did you grow up with their grandchildren?

Phil: Well you know, these names in particular don’t ring a bell, but, it’s very interesting. After I published this story I got an email from a woman who lives in California now who happens to be a Fall River native, and she was wondering if I could go through the book and find any of her relatives. And she listed them for me.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Phil: So I haven’t gotten back to her yet, but I kind of want to tell her you know I’ll look, but if your relatives are in this book it’s probably because they were doing something bad.

Fisher: Yeah.

Phil: So I’m going to look for that. It’s just a lot of fun. It’s opened up a lot of fun for me which I didn’t expect.

Fisher: And it connects you to him. And that’s the thing that’s so interesting, suddenly these people become very real and not just a name on a tombstone or a name in family law. You’re holding something that was theirs. So how many names do you think you have in there? Have you gone through and actually started to index it?

Phil: I haven’t indexed it yet. If I have to estimate, there’s a name in almost every entry and there are entries for almost all three 365 days between January of 1921 and January of 1922.  So I would estimate we have at the very least a couple of hundred names, and it would be very interesting to go in and now see if we can make connections in modern day to the people mentioned in the book.

Fisher: You might have a centenarian or something out there who’s still living who is mentioned in there as a child.

 Phil: Yeah you know that’s very true. People are living a lot longer now. And if not, certainly family members who would love to get their hands on this and know more about their own relatives and what they were up to on August 3rd 1921 whether it was good or bad. And you’re right, I don’t know about anybody else, but I have a tendency to romanticise the past since I wasn’t there, you know?

Fisher: Oh it’s a lot of fun. Absolutely.

Phil: Yeah. But sometimes you can look at things as hunky dory and black and white and everything was fine. So it was refreshing to go into this notebook and to see how similar in some respects my great grandfather’s time was to today. It wasn’t Maybury by any stretch of the imagination.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Phil: You know, there are references to assault and battery, and attempted robbery, and theft, and traffic violations and of course kids being kids.

Fisher: Um hmm.

Phil: And while all of that sounds pretty ugly, there is something... I don’t know, beautiful in that and being able to connect with that time and say, “Gee you know, we’re really not that different.”

Fisher: No that’s true. I mean it’s just the way we go about living because of technology and things like that. I was looking at this one entry from 1921 and your great grandfather Patrick, nabbed a ‘speed demon’ patrolled route 22 and 23 from 1am to 8am, investigated vile auto law on Brightman street by Joseph Raposa of 6 Stewart Street, travelled west and 40 to 45 miles an hour on Brightman.

Phil: Right. I think today if you travelled 40 to 45 miles on Brightman, nobody would bat an eye. In fact you might get people honking at you because you’re going too slow.

Fisher: [Laughs] Yes. And he got a twenty dollar ticket for going 40.

Phil: He got a twenty dollar ticket for going 40. And if I’m not mistaken, Joseph Raposa is mentioned a few other times in the book for other auto violations. So I can’t really say he learned his lesson, at least not in the early 1920s.

Fisher: Sounds like a lead foot.

Phil: Yeah absolutely. You got to look out for these people.

Fisher: As a writer you might want to start gathering some of the descendents of these folks together and have a day where you go through it all together about which one of their ancestors did what, in Fall River.

Phil: I think that is a fantastic idea. It’s right up our ally here, and on a personal level that would be entertaining to no end.

Fisher: Oh yeah, and you could write a great story I think that might get some attention too.

Phil: Absolutely. It’s amazing the attention that this one has gotten. You know, I mentioned a woman from California who connected with it, but I got an email from a woman who lives maybe three or four blocks away from me, and she said, “I read your story. I think we are related.” And I wrote back to her and we ended up exchanging a few names and cross checking and sure enough we are cousins maybe two or three times removed. But here’s a woman I had never met in my life who lives in the same neighborhood, who has an entire family history written and bound that she plans to give me a copy of soon. This has opened up a whole Pandora’s Box in a good way for me.

Fisher: [Laughs] You’re on your way to an amazing adventure.

Phil: Oh I have no doubt about that. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I feel almost like I was pushed by unseen forces to look into this and get  started and launch off on my own journey to discover who did what in my family and when they got here and what their lives were like, and it’s going to be incredible I think.

Fisher: Phil Devitt thanks so much for your time and congratulations on your discoveries and good luck on your journey.

Phil: Thank you so much. I really appreciate it.

Fisher: And on the way in five minutes, our friends at Task Force History in Heflin Alabama are back at it. What have they found now? Our friend Heath Jones will tell us about the renewed search for ancestral artefacts on his own family’s long time property, when we return in five minutes on Extreme Genes, Family History Radio and ExtremeGenes.com.

Segment 3 Episode 62

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Heath Jones

Fisher: Hey, welcome back! It is Extreme Genes, Family History Radio and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, the Radio Roots Sleuth, with my good friend, Heath Jones on the line from Alabama once again with Task Force History. Heath, welcome back to the show!

Heath: Hey, thanks for having me on, Fisher.

Fisher: You know, I love this because a few months ago, we had you on with some of your buddies, and you're one of the rare people who can actually go do family history research on a piece of property that's been in your family for how long?

Heath: Well, since about the 1850s. We've had it in our family. It’s been passed down. We have parts that’s still part of the old original plantation.

Fisher: Unbelievable! And you found on that property, as I recall, or one of your teammates found an old ring that dated back to the Civil War era, which you presented or he presented to your grandmother, who is what, 90 years old or something? I mean, just, it was an unbelievable find, because she knew it had belonged to one of her family members.

Heath: Yes, it was a great find. She doesn't have a lot of her family left. Most of her family died when she was very young, so it was very special to her. And Brian is just a stand up guy who really appreciated doing that.

Fisher: And now you've gone back out onto this property. I keep thinking to myself, "If I had a piece of property that was in my family a century and a half or longer." I mean to go out there with metal detectors and mapping out certain areas and digging where foundations were, and the thing you might find relating to yourself are unbelievable! And the reason we're talking now is, you have found some more things. Fill us in on this.

Heath: Sure, yeah. We had a big hunt. I had about seventy people of my closest friends and people affiliated with Task Force History, customers of mine that had purchased metal detectors from me. They come out and we found a lot of great items out there this past week, a few we've got together now.

Fisher: Now what is it you do? Do you arrange this thing and you've got all these people, do you actually grid out certain places or do you go with shovels or do you do it just with the metal detectors, how do you work?

Heath: Well, essentially we will grid out an area when we want to make sure that we cover everything, and we'll do the grid so that each person's overlapping. This past month, we just kind of put everybody out freestyle and we camped out and cooked and everything for everybody, and just, you know, everybody kind of find their own spot. And believe it or not, we actually had a lot of great finds that resulted in that, even though we didn't grid out the area.

Fisher: How big a property is it first of all?

Heath: We've got about 300 acres left.

Fisher: Oh ho!

Heath: At one time, we 1000, and it has kind of dwindled down as people have passed on and the property has passed down and that sort of thing.

Fisher: Sure. So the property you have is where the Homestead was, though.

Heath: It is not where the plantation was. The part that I have is where my grandmother was born. And they moved into that property around 1910.

Fisher: 1910, okay. So what have you found in this latest effort?

Heath: Well, a good friend of mine, she's also a member of JC Carbahauls, from Birmingham. She came up and found a Union bullet that had been fired. It’s commonly called a three ranger.

Fisher: Right. I'm familiar with them. Your area though, was there fighting going on there?

Heath: No. And that's what's so rare about it. We really couldn't believe it, you know. This is the first one that's ever been found. And also found small musket balls, like a pistol round as well, a .36 caliber. So we're still, we will have to do a lot of research to try to figure out.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Heath: Don't know where that comes from, but we found a lot of other items. One of my friends from Tennessee, Jennifer Barrel, she located a half dime, 1850s. We can't make out the exact date, but we count 1850s seeing the half dime.

Fisher: Right. The half dimes date back to that era, don't they?

Heath: Yes, they do.

Fisher: And then they changed in the 1860s if I recall.

Heath: I believe so. And you know, we don't find a lot of coins from the 1860s. We haven't so far, because during the Civil War, there wasn't that many coins.

Fisher: Right.

Heath: Passed down during the Civil War, so.

Fisher: Yeah, that makes sense. So either you'd find them from before or after.

Heath: Sure. Most of the coins we found out there had been in the 1850s. Brian Romine that found the ring, he actually found an 1853 seated dime there at that same location, not far from where he found the ring, believe it or not.

Fisher: Now is this, of your finding rings and coins, it kind of suggests that somebody might have lived on the spot that he's looking at. Are you aware of a former structure there?

Heath: Yes. We found rocks and that sort of thing. And then there's an old well close by, so we know that there was somebody living there. And there's where my grandmother's aunt lived. And that's why we believed that that ring also belonged to them.

Fisher: Um hmm. How many people did you have on this?

Heath: We had about seventy people, all over in the weekend. We had some people come in early Friday, they camped out. And then we had, the main hunt was Saturday. And then we had more people even come in on Sunday, so it was just a great time.

Fisher: Well, and with 300 acres, I mean, you could do this for the rest of your life, couldn't you?

Heath: Oh sure! And you know, that's why I don't charge anybody to come hunt or anything like that. There's a lot of land, and I just want to make it accessible to people that want to learn about history and are interested in that sort of thing.

Fisher: Now do they take these items and return them to you, because they're part of your family? Is that part of the requirement?

Heath: No, it’s not. I don't require anybody to give these items back. Like the coins, they both took the coins home with them. They offered to give them back, but I'm not going to take stuff like that. The only thing that we really kind of wanted, was that ring. And even that, we weren't going to take that, but Brian was nice enough to offer it to my grandmother.

Fisher: Right, absolutely. So how many years have you been doing this with Task Force History?

Heath: Well, Task Force History just started a couple of years ago. We actually had another name. It’s a really long name and it’s hard to pronounce.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Heath: We called it A. A. A. Jasper the abbreviation, and that’s about as much as we’ll go into.

Fisher: [Laughs] So how many items over the years have you found? I mean the ring made national news, but now you’re finding more stuff. How much have you found over the last couple of years since you’ve started this?

Heath: Well, we found several things on the property. We found several ceded dimes, half dimes, jewelry. My friend Mike Roper, he found a locket. We’re still trying to get that dated, we don’t know if it’s going to be depression era or earlier, but it’s a cool locket, you know. Unfortunately there wasn’t a picture in there. We were kind of hoping there would be one.

Fisher: Yeah I was wondering who would be in there. [Laughs] Any initials on it?

Heath: No. I’m going to get you a picture, if you guys want to put it up on your page. I’d be glad to.

Fisher: Oh yeah! Love to see that.

Heath: Let your listeners see it and maybe somebody will be able to tell us what time period it dates from.

Fisher: Yeah absolutely! Where there people living there during the depression?

Heath: There were. There were actually people living on the property until 1972. When the home that my grandmother was born in, when it burned.

Fisher: Wow! You might be able to find a black and white TV there then somewhere.

Heath: [Laughs] Well, you know everything had burned. A full home, everything kind of burned and collapsed. We’re still actually finding stuff in the rubble of that home.

Fisher: How fun is that! So, what’s on your agenda? Where are you going next? Because I know you don’t just work on your own land which to me is the most intriguing thing. Because family history is so fun to think, “Wow I could find items that my people actually owned.”

Heath: Well, you know Fisher we do a lot of projects. We have people call us and want us to investigate their land. We’ve got information about two Civil War cannons that are in a river. We’re researching those. We have divers on our team. We’re going to send them down to have a look at them. And of course we’re going to work with the state archeologists on that, make sure that they excavated correctly. That’s on the agenda. We’ve been to several Confederate camps along the way that we’re going to be researching. We’ve got a lot of stuff going on. We’ve actually done home sites for other people. We did a home site for a lady in Birmingham and we found an 1888 I believe it was, police belt buckle there.

Fisher: Wow!

Heath: And the girl that found the belt buckle, her father was actually the former police chief in that area not far back. They then donated the belt buckle to the National Police Museum. That was really cool. The belt buckle would get a price of $300, so for them to donate that, that was really nice of them.

Fisher: Very kind. Well, a lot of fun, I’m always happy to hear about what you guys are doing. Because it sounds like something I’d actually like to be joining you on sometime. So maybe I will.

Heath: You know Fish, we’d love to have you out on one of our digs, and make sure on the next dig we’ll get you an invite to it.

Fisher: All right buddy. Well you take care of yourself. Thanks for checking in!

Health: All right, thanks for having us on again!

Fisher: And by the way, that locket that Heath described can be seen on our website ExtremeGenes.com, as well as our Facebook page. It’s pretty awesome, check it out! Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com, our Preservation Authority is next. He’s going to be answering another one of your questions, when we return in 3 minutes on Extreme Genes, Family History Radio and ExtremeGenes.com.

Segment 4 Episode 62

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry

Fisher: Welcome back to Extreme Genes, Family History Radio, ExtremeGenes.com, America's Family History Show. It is Fisher here, the Radio Roots Sleuth, with Tom Perry. He is our Preservation Authority from TMCPlace.com. Welcome back, Tom!

Tom: It’s good to be back.

Fisher: And we have a question for you from Ruth Springer, in West Jordan, Utah. She writes to you of course at [email protected], and says, "Tom, is there any way to fix a warped disk?" Ooh, that sounds awful!

Tom: That is really awful! You know, there's a lot of different things that you can try. It depends how warped it is. I've even had people bring ones in to us that were just a little warped, and we put them in our duplicator and set it at the slowest speed, a 1x speed, "1x" as they call it. And we were able to duplicate it, so it worked fine. That's kind of rare. If you're in the situation where you're willing to take a gamble and try something and if you lose the disk, it doesn't matter, because it so warped anyway. What you can do is, get two pieces of wood, good hardwood, like a walnut. Make sure it’s really, really smooth. Put your disk between those two layers of the wood. Preheat your oven to only 100 degrees. Put the disk in there with the wood on both sides, and leave it in there for only about ten minutes. Then once it’s at ten minutes, turn the over off, but don't take it out. Leave it in and let it just naturally cool. It could take an hour, it could take a couple of hours.

Fisher: Just 100 degree?

Tom: Oh yeah, just 100 degrees! Oh yeah, that's when they will start getting in the set that they'll start melting. Same thing like in your cars and every oven varies a little bit, whether you have like a toaster oven or a big oven. I'd probably use a toaster oven. And it just depends on the consistency of the heat. If you tried that and it didn't work, go a little bit hotter. But you don't want to start too big and have the thing melt, because then once you damage the plastic part, if it’s a replicated disk, which means you bought a disk out of the store, like a Disney DVD that has the stuff actually ingrained right into it, you could damage those. The biggest thing with a one off disk like the kind that you make at home that have dye in them is the silver. If it gets too hot, it can crack, and once that happens, the disk is pretty much gone. So that's an option. What I would do, one of these days, I'm going to actually try this. We do a lot of baking of tapes, old reel to reel tapes, video tapes that have lost their.

Fisher: Yeah, they start to flake.

Tom: Yeah, they flake. So the way we "deflake" them, so to speak, is we actually heat them, but we heat them in a food dryer, because its lower constant heat. You could try that if you've tried the oven way and it doesn't work, or try this if you've got a good food dehydrator. Do the same thing with the blocks of wood. Put it in there, but you know, probably leave it at least a day and just check on it from time to time, because it’s less heat, but its consistent heat.

Fisher: Now, you're talking about if the disk is not severely warped, it’s just somewhat bent.

Tom: Right.

Fisher: Okay.

Tom: If it’s really bad, if it’s really rippled, do the oven thing, and I would go a higher temperature, maybe 150, 200 degrees. I'm just talking about barely warped ones. If they're really warped, even the compression of bringing them down, even if you get them warm enough, the chance of surviving is zero. However, if it’s a disk you don't care about, go ahead and do it. And if you have a disk like this and you don't want to take your own chance, send it in to us, we'll experiment with it and see what happens. And if we're able to recover it, dynamite! And you know, we can tell other people on the air what's happened. So if you have one you don't want to do yourself, send it in to us, write to me at [email protected], and we'll take care of it, and maybe we can get something done for you.

Fisher: So what causes a disk to warp?

Tom: Usually, nine out of ten times, its heat, so you're just undoing it from the heat. The thing is, I see people all the time, they throw a CD on the top of their dashboard as they put a new CD in their player, and they forget about it. And it might only get to seventy degrees outside, but if that's on your front window, that's going to become like a magnifying glass and its going to warp. I've seen video tapes, audio cassettes, CDs, DVDs, everything just totally warped beyond recognition by just setting them on your dashboard.

Fisher: All right, thanks so much, Ruth, for your question and Tom, for the answer. What are we going to talk about in our next segment?

Tom: We're going to talk about how all these family history tips we've been giving you over the weeks, you can take these and interpret them or translate them into really cool Christmas gifts for family and friends.

Fisher: All right, straight ahead on Extreme Genes, Family History Radio and ExtremeGenes.com, America's Family History Show.

Segment 5 Episode 62

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry

Fisher: We are back, Extreme Genes, Family History Radio, America's Family History Show. Fisher here, with Tom Perry, from TMCPlace.com, our Preservation Authority, and, Tom, you're talking about Christmas gifts, and you're right! I mean, it’s coming up very quickly. And family history gives you some great opportunities for gifts that people will never forget.

Tom: Oh yeah, these are absolutely awesome opportunities! And even though we're just hitting Halloween, this is something you want to get together. It’s easy to do, but it’s not something that you're just going to do overnight. You need to get a few things. The first one I'm going to tell you about is fairly simple that anyone can do, and it takes very minimal effort. All you need to do is go to a local bookstore or on Amazon.com, buy an age appropriate book for one of your grandkids or your own kids. And then what you want to do is, you want to get an audio recorder, like they have these new digital ones, a lot of computers, you can just hook a mic into it, and then read the book onto your computer or whatever. Make an AIFF file or an MP3 file and then you burn this to a CD and you give it to your kid with the book or your grandkid or great grandkid. And just think how exciting it would have been if your parents or your grandparents had done this for you. They're a lot of fun to do. There's a lot of Dr Seuss books, there's Disney books, there's so many different books out there, just light stuff that the kids will enjoy. If you have older kids that love to read and love to go to library and check out books on tape, get maybe a small novel or something like that as well, and just read it to them and then give them the book with the CD. And this is something that is so priceless that can be handed down for generations and generations. One day your grandkids are parents and they're talking about their grandparents, they can go and give them this book, make a copy of it, get the CD and play it for them. And it’s a gift that keeps on giving.

Fisher: And it could be even better if they're reading their own family history, their own story.

Tom: Okay, you just stole the thunder.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Tom: I was going to say, the second tip is even better than the first tip, and that's exactly what it is. You go get your family history, of your own personal family history and ready it into the microphone, make the MP3 or the AIFF file whichever you want. Now some people say, "Well, what's the difference between MP3s and AIFFs. AIFF's are basically what a CD is that you play in your car in a normal CD player. OF course, we know MP3 are for like, iPads, iPods, different things like that. And a lot of the older cars, you can't play MP3s in them, a lot of the newer cars, you can. So if you're really good at the computer, you can go and make both, record the thing, make the AIFF CD to play in the car. So on a travelling trip, they can hear grandma telling stories or reading stories or reading a novel or anything, but it’s wonderful. But as you mentioned, it’s even better when it’s your own story. And if you say, "Oh yeah, I'd love to do that. My life's not important. I don't know what to talk about. I don't know where to begin." There's two books that I recommend. There's tons out there, but there's two I recommend. The one is called "The Book of Myself", it’s a do it yourself autobiography. It has 201 questions, and it’s written by Carl and David Marshall, and it’s only like $15.95 retail. I'm sure it’s cheaper on Amazon. Another book that's really good is, "The Book of Me" by Nanette Stone, which is only $14.99.

Fisher: Right. And these give you questions to ask yourself or actually to write on and expound on and maybe create an entire chapter around.

Tom: You know, even have your kids do stuff like this. Have them go and read their own questions, have them tell these stories, play it on your next travel vacation, and you're going to learn stuff about your kids that you had no idea, "Oh, that's their favorite color! Oh, this is what their dreams are!" So it’s not like, "Oh, this is just for old people to do for their kids". Even younger kids that can't even read, read them questions and see what their responses are. And these CDs that you're going to make are going to be priceless, they're going to be absolutely incredible, for you to enjoy, for generations to enjoy in the future.

Fisher: Well, those are great suggestions. And I'm sure there are many more we'll come up with as we get closer to the holidays. Thanks so much, Tom.

Tom: You bet! Merry Christmas!

Fisher: [Laughs] And if you have a question for Tom, you can always [email protected]. Thanks once again to Phil Devitt, from Fall River, Massachusetts, for sharing his story of discovery of his great grandfather's police journal, and our friends in Alabama, Heath Jones and Task Force History, with the update on their recent discoveries on his family's land. Next week, we're going to get caught up on the World's Largest Family Reunion. How are the plans coming for next year’s big event in New York? We'll be talking to AJ Jacobs. Thanks for joining us. And remember, as far as everyone knows, we're a nice, normal family!

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