Episode 87 - Fisher's Mother- Accidental or Intentional Stowaway?!

podcast episode May 18, 2015

Fisher opens the show with a bit of his own family history.  In 1947, his mother, Marquita Olsen, was one of four young women who stowed away on a luxury liner to Hawaii!  The newspapers reported they had attended a send off party on ship and while walking around touring the ship, the next thing they knew, they were on their way to Honolulu!  But Fisher's mother told a very different version, suggesting they were very much "intentional" stowaways.  Fisher's mother passed five years ago, but he decided to see if he could locate one of the remaining three, even though they would be very elderly, to see if they could clarify the details.  Of course, he did!  He recorded his visit with Terry Chaffee, age 90, initially for his own purposes, but decided it was plenty juicy enough to share with his Extreme Genes family.
One time stowaway, Terry Chaffee, then visits with Fisher about the details of who the girls went to see off from the wharf at San Francisco and how they wound up out at sea, while another stowaway was in the brig!  Fisher learns details he never knew before, with an understanding of just why his mother had held back a few things!
Terry Chaffee continues in Segment 3 talking about their arrival in Hawaii, how they were treated, how they obtained shelter, food, and clothing, etc., how they got home, and the aftermath of their adventure that brought them attention from the national press, but also the FBI!
See some of the memorabilia from this crazy event posted on ExtremeGenes.com.
Tom Perry, the Preservation Authority from TMCPlace.com, wraps up the show talking audio preservation in Segments 4 & 5.
That's this week, on Extreme Genes!

Transcript of Episode 87

Host: Scott Fisher

Segment 1 Episode 87

Fisher: Greetings genies everywhere! Welcome to Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. I am your congenial host, Fisher, on the program where we shake your family tree and watch the nuts fall out. You know, while we do this show each week and try to bring you the best experts in all kinds of areas, we also love hearing your family history stories. We often talk about how important it is to interview the seniors in your life about some of those happenings and you should know I practice what I preach. Recently, I tracked down a 90 year old woman in California, who in 1947 was a stowaway on a cruise ship to Hawaii out of San Francisco, along with three other young women including, ahem, my mother. Yes, dear old mom who passed in 2010 told us about this adventure her entire life. She was 23 at the time and co-host of a talk show on KNBC Radio, now KNBR in San Francisco, called “On the Town.” It was on several times a week and she with her radio partner, were among the dozens of people invited to attend the send off of a businessman named Edmond Sahati.

Well, while at the party, my mother and her friend met two sisters who were professional dancers. The foursome hit it off, and according to the newspaper accounts, either missed the ship’s whistle indicating that it was time to leave, as the ship was about to depart for Hawaii. Probably they simply got so caught up in touring the ship, that the next thing they knew, they too were on their way to Hawaii. But my mother’s story differed from the newspaper accounts. She’d always maintained that the girls had actually hidden in a lifeboat and remained there until well after they saw the Golden Gate Bridge pass overhead, or the Oakland Bay Bridge, depending on the day. So my dilemma was which account was true? One version suggested they were accidental stowaways, while the other version indicated that they were clearly intentional stowaways. In both versions, the man whose party they attended paid for their tickets and all was well. It wouldn’t have been unusual for my mother to exaggerate a story like this. I was in the process, of writing my mother’s history, and was working on this story when it occurred to me that perhaps; I could track down one of the other stowaways and get her version. Maybe someone was still around who could set the record straight. Well, someone is, and her name is Terry Chaffee, age 90, who still lives in San Francisco. Her sister Deedee, who was also part of this fearsome foursome, is also still with us at 89.

Both women still work part time in real estate. Well, last week I interviewed Terry, thinking I would record our visit for my own personal use, but she was so vivacious and her version so much more detailed than any version my mother had ever told me. I thought you’d find the whole thing as entertaining as I did. So today you’ll hear two segments on this crazy happening from 1947, with many facts I had never heard before, including a few that made me a little more than uncomfortable. Facts that I’m sure my mother left out intentionally and for good reason. Before I forget to mention it, I should tell you that several related photos and newspaper clippings can be seen on our website ExtremeGenes.com. and once you hear the story, I know you’re going to want to see these pieces of memorabilia from nearly 67 years ago. This was how I spent Mother’s Day, this year remembering my mom. It blew my mind to find Terry, so many years after the fact and to hear the full story. All right, that’s all in about seven minutes. By the way, when talking about stories, StoryWorth.com is continuing with their Extreme Genes Mother’s Day special. 20% off when you login by going to StoryWorth.com/promo/Extreme. It’s a terrific product.

Later in the show, of course, Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com is back and talks about preserving audio. Whether it’s on reel to reel tape, cassettes or records, you know he’ll have some great nuggets of wisdom for you. Just a reminder, if you haven’t done it yet, you need to download our free Extreme Genes podcast app to catch up on all our past shows. Everyone who does raves about it and I know you’re going to like it.

 It’s time, once again, for your family histoire news from the pages of ExtremeGenes.com. A major push is under way to locate and collect missing letters to and from George and Martha Washington. After the first president’s death, Martha destroyed nearly all of their correspondence. Some historians believe that she did it, because she had shared husband George with the public most of their adult lives, and felt that these letters compiled over many decades, were just too private for public consumption. Well, as a result, we have lost a treasure trove of insight into the man given most of the credit for gaining independence for America. Many of these missing letters have already been located and will be published this summer by the University of Virginia, and the Fred W. Smith National Library, for the study of George Washington at Mount Vernon. They anticipate another volume will be released in 2020. Not only is there excitement over what can be learned about George Washington the man, but also the crucial role played by Martha Washington before, during and after the revolution, as well as during Washington’s presidency.

Professor Edward Lengel, director of the Washington papers, at the University of Virginia, is involved in the project and actually located one of these gems himself. Written on the day of the Battle of Brandywine in 1777, Martha Washington’s son wrote to George, but no one, until Lengel came along, noticed the note on the back written by Martha. It opens with the words “Dear Love” and then she goes on to say, “I wrote to you, by the last post, about a silver cup that I bought, and it weighed 113 ounces.” Find the Washington Post link to this fascinating story at ExtremeGenes.com. The US addition of London’s “The Guardian”, is carrying a story about a celebration party in Brazil marking the 150th anniversary of the end of our Civil War. There was fried chicken, barbeque, draft beer, and Lynyrd Skynyrd music. The celebrants were all descendents of the Southern soldiers, who headed south between 1865 and 1875, taking advantage of Brazil’s offers of land grants. Well, this year’s shindig was a big event. It’s actually thrown every year and is known as the Confederate Party.

Thousands show up in Santa Barbara Duist, and the neighboring town of Americana, often dressed in full military garb and waving confederate flags. Country music plays and historians revisit the history of their ancestors. One of the partiers, Alcino Tana Coltray, who is 77, noted that his great grandfather married a Brazilian woman and quickly adjusted to Brazilian culture. He said that he felt it important that they all remember where they came from. Even American civil war buffs show up for the party.  That is your family histoire news for this week. Read more about this and other stories at ExtremeGenes.com. Coming up next, you’ll hear my interview with a friend of my mother’s from 1947. This woman and her sisters stowed away on a ship to Hawaii, late that year, along with two other young women including my mother. But was their stowing away an accident as stated in the newspapers that time? Or was it intentional? You’ll hear the real story coming up in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.

Segment 2 Episode 87

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Terry Chaffee

Fisher: Welcome back to Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show! I am Fisher, the Radio Roots Sleuth and you know, so many times on this show, we to talk about people’s family histories and how they discovered their various stories. This is an instance where we’re actually going to discover part of “my family history”, by talking to an old friend of my mother. Her name is Terry Chaffee, and she met my mother back in what, 1947, Terry?

Terry: The day after Thanksgiving. 1947.

Fisher: [Laughs] Now the story goes like this, and my mother told this till the day she died, just five years ago about the day she went down to a party on a ship in San Francisco. I feel like I know you Terry, because I’ve got all of the clippings of this amazing event, and there were four of you involved in it. You, your sister, a radio partner of my mothers, who was in the business at that time on KNBC in San Francisco, and you guys all went down for a party on a cruise ship to Hawaii -- to send off a friend of yours named Eddy Sahati. Tell us about what happened that day.

Terry: Okay. My sister and I went aboard with our two boyfriends like around 4:30 or 5:00 to this party.

Fisher: And you were dancers, right?

Terry: We were dancers and we worked for Eddy Sahati. He gave a party and there was probably, I don’t know, 30 of us there.

Fisher: And you were all in your early 20s at this time?

Terry: We all were and I don’t think any of us were over 22. [Laughs]

Fisher: Right.

Terry: Performers! The other girl’s name was Lori Burt.

Fisher: Right.

Terry: She was absolutely gorgeous. She looked just like Alice Faye.

Fisher: Well, may I say, all of you are absolutely gorgeous in the pictures I’ve seen.

Terry: None of us were bad looking --that’s true. Anyway, I just said, out of the blue, “I don’t know about the rest of you people here, but I’m staying aboard.” So Lori and Marquita called me over and they said, “Are you serious?” I said, “Yeah, I think it’s a great idea.” Eddy Sahati's mother was there, and she said, “If I was your age I would do it.” So all of a sudden, the four of us decide, that we’re all going to go together, so my sister and I walked out with our two boyfriends and, as we walked out the door, Eddy Sahati was standing there and he’s saying goodbye and I said, “Would you bet me 4 tickets that we’re going to stay?” And he shook my hand. [Laughs]

Fisher: You are kidding! I have never heard this part. What did you do with the boyfriends?

Terry: My sister and I walked out and said, goodbye to them. [Laughs]

Fisher: [Laughs] No! Now wait a minute, at this time, Marquita had been in movies the year before all through 1947, and she had this big break to work for KNBC in San Francisco. She had a three time a week radio show with Lory Burke, this other girl you mentioned, and so she basically is wearing the clothes that she would take on this trip and walk away from that job to be on this thing. What were you gals thinking?

Terry: Well I had no idea. I don’t remember what your mother had on.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Terry: But I know that I had a Chapman outfit which was fantastic. A Persian collar and a grey suit, and we all had high heels. And I had hats, and I think most of us had hats.

Fisher: Yeah, but you didn’t...

Terry: I’m not sure about that.

Fisher: But you were walking away from other things back in San Francisco.

Terry: I do know this: I don’t think any of us had the slightest clue we were going to stay aboard.

Fisher: Well, except that you had this idea. So you’re thinking and you just didn’t believe you were going to go through with it?

Terry: I don’t think that I had any idea; I was going to do it until I made that stupid statement.

Fisher: [Laughs] Now, how much had you had to drink at this point? That’s the question.

Terry: Well, I don’t know, but I don’t think we had. We were young-- we didn’t even need to drink!

Fisher: [Laughs]

Terry: [Laughs]

Fisher: Good point! So you decided you were going to stay on the boat. Now, the official story was in the AP. As you know, the story went all over the country. Your pictures were in the newspapers, pictures of you looking like you were hitch hiking, the four of you with your thumbs out. Another one where the purser is scolding you, shaking his finger at you, but everybody kind of got a kick out of the fact that you girls somehow missed the whistle that indicated it was time to get off the boat.

Terry: Well yes, that’s what we had a thrill on. We couldn’t tell them that we deliberately were stowing away.

Fisher: Right.

Terry: I’ve never seen the picture with us hitch hiking. That must be with Hawaiian clothes on.

Fisher: I will get that.

Terry: I never saw that picture.

Fisher: I will get all of that to you. I have a letter that you wrote to my mother, Marquita, in 1948, January 9th. It says, “Here’s to Marqui. She’s a darn fine gal. Dear remorseful little stowaway.” And the fact is you all knew you were stowaways, but nobody could admit it because you could get in legal trouble, yes?

Terry: Well, I mean we’ve told everybody but...

Fisher: Not the press!

Terry: What story was made up I don’t know. I never even heard that part of the story before.

Fisher: Well, Marquita had said in the press that basically you all just got kind of disoriented, and that you didn’t realize that the ship was pulling away.

Terry: Yes, right, yes. We all did say that, but that’s…

Fisher: It was the going line -- to make sure that you stayed out of trouble, right?

Terry: Yes, no kidding.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Terry: So anyway we did. We said goodbye and we knew nothing about a ship, we had no idea where the lifeboats were, but we walked until we found one. Then, one girl got up on the life boat. Oh, and we took a bottle of champagne out of the room too. We had champagne, we had cigarettes, and we had the four of us.

Fisher: And you were in a lifeboat together.

Terry: We were in a lifeboat together. Somebody got the glasses, and somebody got the bottle of wine. We had cigarettes. So, the four of us hid in the lifeboat. But, before they took off, we just sat on the seats for a while because no one was out there, and some woman did see us sitting out there, but we quickly ducked. We didn’t know if she saw us or not. Now this is a remarkable part of the story. Every other trip that Sonia and I made was usually either San Francisco to LA, or LA to San Francisco. This trip was LA to San Francisco, so we did not go to LA. We went directly to Hawaii. Otherwise we would have been taken off the ship in LA.

Fisher: Right.

Terry: The second thing is we knew nothing about pilot boats and a pilot boat goes out about 45 minutes after the ship leaves the port to see if everything is all right. That was another time we could have gotten caught. For some reason, we waited an hour where we all lied down in the lifeboat, and we looked up, and we were underneath the Golden Gate Bridge.

Fisher: [Laughs] Now Terry...

Terry: Wonderful.

Fisher: I have known this story all of my life and my mother, as you know, was a great story teller.

Terry: Yes, she was the fabulous gal. Fabulous!

Fisher: Thank you.

Terry: Now I never told anyone this story.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Terry: Until just recently. I haven’t really told my kids the whole story. Number one, they wouldn’t listen.

Fisher: [Laughs] Well here’s the thing, she had always told me about being in the lifeboat, okay, and looking up and seeing the Golden Gate Bridge going overhead. The newspaper story quotes her as talking about the Oakland Bay Bridge, which I think you had to go through also, right, from where you were? But I thought, as I read the newspaper story, she’s either exaggerating about being in the lifeboat or the real story was the one she told to the newspapers, that “we just lost track of time and didn’t realise that the boat was moving out”. Now, you have set the record straight that you were really were in the lifeboat.

Terry: I will set it a little more straight. We did not go under the Oakland Bay Bridge. We only went under the Golden Gate Bridge, because the big ships don’t go under the Oakland Bridge, they head out to the open ocean. So that part, I would say, we only went under one bridge.

Fisher: Sure.

Terry: I only remember going under one bridge.

Fisher: All right. So let’s take it from there now. You’ve been in the lifeboat with the champagne, the cigarettes, the shoes, for what, an hour?

Terry: Yes, we did stay there a whole hour.

Fisher: Okay, and at this point...

Terry: When we thought it was safe, we got out. It wasn’t easy to get out of that lifeboat now that I think about it.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Terry: [Laughs] But we got out.

Fisher: So you get out of the lifeboat, and now you’re standing.  Did anybody see you leave the lifeboat?

Terry: We don’t know. We don’t think so.

Fisher: Okay.

Terry: But all four of us went to Eddy Sahati’s door, and he was travelling with a man named Ed Kenyan, another older man. So, we knocked on the door...

Fisher: [Laughs]

Terry: And Sahati answers the door, and he looks at us, and he always had a sallow skin anyway, he turned green as he saw us.

Fisher: [Laughs] All four of you at the door?

Terry: All four of us at the door. He brings us all in the room and then, he stayed in the room with this Mr Kenyan. I think his name was Ed Kenyan. I forgot what his name was. Sahati called me, he was down in the dining room, and he says, “Get up here now!” He says. We’re in deep trouble.

Fisher: [Laughs] All right, we’re going to take a break. We’re going to hold it at that for right now. And, we’re going to come back, and when we do, we’re going to talk about what happened next. How the four stowaways wound up meeting the purser. Was the ship’s captain involved in this? He had to be.

Terry: Everybody was involved.

Fisher: [Laughs] We’ve got more coming up next in five minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show!

Segment 3 Episode 87

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Terry Chaffee

Fisher: And we are back on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show. It is Fisher here, the Radio Roots Sleuth with my guest Terry Chaffee. She's a Californian, who back in 1947, hopped on a ship for a little party, a send off party, on a boat that was going to Hawaii along with my mother. Now mom told me about this story throughout her life and Terry has confirmed that they were actually stowaways. Yes, on the lifeboat! Hidden in there for an hour, watched the Golden Gate Bridge go overhead, as they went out to sea from San Francisco bound for Hawaii. When we last left this story Terry, you were knocking on the door of this Eddy Sahati, the guy you had gone there to see off in the party. You'd given him a little idea that you might be doing this, and that he would have to pick up your cabin fees.

Terry: We only gave him an idea an hour before. He didn't really know about it. He thought I was out of my mind.

Fisher: And he probably thought you were kidding too. And yet, here were the four of you at door going, "Okay, we win the bet!" And he says to his buddy, "We're in trouble." Pick it up from there. Now you have to be involved with the crew of the ship. Who did you talk to first?

Terry: Well, as I told you, this Kenyan was a very spoiled man. So he picks up the phone and he dials the purser and he says, "I want you to come upstairs here. We have four guests. We have to buy their tickets." The purser said, "I am the purser of the ship -- you come down!" We all marched down. All the officers are standing there at full attention, all with grim, grim faces. They took those two men in the other room. First of all, they got dressed down and then they came back, after came back after they dismissed the two men, and they were smiling and acting like they were playing violins. [Laughs]

Fisher: [Laughs] Well, you were all four pretty, young women. Obviously they were delighted to see you there!

Terry: It was so funny, the way they treated those two men and how differently they treated us four girls. [Laughs]

Fisher: [Laughs]

Terry: So then, Kenyan Meikles got down to business. They found four different upper berths in the lowest part of the boat, which I think was D deck. I went to one room with two people, two women I didn’t know. I guess my sister went to another, and your mother went to another and we were all separated, but all I know is, the tickets were, for the four of us, $200 apiece, because we were practically in storage.

Fisher: Right. [Laughs]

Terry: So that was the first night we spent on the berth.

Fisher: But the company line you told them is, you just lost track of time, right, with the party?

Terry: Oh yes! I don't think they asked us too many questions after they got the tickets and put us in at that point.

Fisher: The story had to make its way around the ship at some point, because you kind of became celebrities on board, did you not?

Terry: Well, yes. Because the next morning, you know, we've got our thanksgiving clothes on, so Kenyan says, there was a ship store, and said, "You girls can all go down and buy a pair slacks, and a sweater and socks." Because they didn't have shoes, we all went down and got the same pair of slacks and the same sweater and socks for shoes. So we ran around in that outfit the whole three or four days we were at sea.

Fisher: Right. I saw where Marquita, my mother, wrote to her family that you only had the set of underwear that you wore onto the ship that day for the whole trip!

Terry: Oh you've got to be kidding!

Fisher: [Laughs]

Terry: Well that's for sure!

Fisher: Yeah. [Laughs]

Terry: That's a positive. [Laughs] We won't go into detail.

Fisher: No! [Laughs]

Terry: But we washed at night. Anyway, so we got those and then they let us each send a telegram to our mother, Marquita’s mother and Marquita’s fiancé and whoever Lory did. So we got that established. That's the first day that newspapers knew about it in San Francisco that we were stowaways on the boat.

Fisher: Right. Except they weren't accusing you of that, because you'd now had your berths paid for.

Terry: Well, Deedee and I came home together, and they had headlines “Prodigals Returns.”

Fisher: [Laughs]

Terry: [Laughs]

Fisher: The press now knows that you're stowaways on the ship. Did they actually have somebody on board to interview you?

Terry: That was when we landed in Hawaii.

Fisher: Ah! okay. So that's when things really got crazy, right? First of all, how long was the trip? It was only a few days, right?

Terry: I would say four days at the max.

Fisher: Yeah, four or five days.

Terry: Yes.

Fisher: Okay.

Terry: Then for the last night party, we all made formals out of the shower curtains.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Terry: You can believe that!?

Fisher: No! But, yes! [Laughs]

Terry: They had this fantasy football team aboard. So, this story has… she told you about the FBI following us, right?

Fisher: Excuse me!

Terry: Did she tell you about the FBI following us every day we were there?

Fisher: In Hawaii? No! [Laughs]

Terry: Okay. All right, that comes later.

Fisher: Okay. Now you land in Hawaii. You're in Honolulu.

Terry: Yeah. This is the most amazing part of the story. In those days, when you left a ship, someone came, they were like Navy, and ask you where're going to stay, how you're going to get to your hotel and all this. So we're talking and this man comes up and he says, "I'm appointed to find out where you girls are going and where you're staying." We say, "Well, we don't know where we're staying." And I said, "I know one woman on the island. Her name is Valarie Huff. And she was a great friend of the woman we worked for, the dancer. He says, "Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Selwyn Jenkins and I'm Valarie Huff's husband.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Terry: They owned this lovely Colony Surf hotel, and we got free rooms with them, all four of us, one big, big room.

Fisher: Unbelievable!

Terry: I mean the whole story is unbelievable. The next morning when we woke up at the Colony Surf, a man called us. He says, "My name is Dagmar, D A G M A R.

Fisher: Yes! He's the guy who gave you your clothes, right?

Terry: Yes. He was a designer and John Crawford had been there the week before and he had outfitted her. So he said, "I'd like to outfit you, could you come down to where we are?" I happily answered the phone and I said, "Yes! Yes! Yes! We will be right down there!" He gave us each five outfits. Beautiful outfits! He took us out and bought us sandals for our feet. He bought nail polish. He polished our toenails.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Terry: And then he took us to the Bawana hotel for the “Hawaii Calls” the radio shows that came from Hawaii.

Fisher: Right.

Terry: So we get all dressed and we go down” Hawaii Calls”. We were walking where the banyan court is, and everybody claps and gets up. We look over and there’s Sahati just glaring at us.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Terry: Hey, I forgot to tell you the best part about the FBI!

Fisher: What's that?

Terry: The last day we're at the Colony Surf, the phone rang and once again I answered it and he said, “This is the FBI, and we would like to see you all in our office.” So, we went down to the FBI, shaking in our boots wondering what the devil is going on. The man said to us, “We’ve been watching you for five days. We’ve watched every move that you’ve made and we just know that you’re just four stupid girls.”

Fisher: [Laughs]

Terry: And they said, “Just promise us that you’ll never do it again.” [Laughs]

Fisher: [Laughs] What a great exclamation point on the story right there! [Laughs]

Terry: Yeah, and then, of course, the horrible thing is, all the time while we had this glorious trip there was one man stowaway that spent all this time in the brig.

Fisher: No!

Terry: Yes.

Fisher: And that’s how I learned about my mother’s crazy adventures, stowing away on a ship in 1947. By the way, the whole thing with the FBI, that’s because the man they went to see off, apparently was quite a shady businessman. I think mom was a little naïve back then. And come up next, we’ll be talking audio preservation with our Preservation Authority, Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com. On Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.

Segment 4 Episode 87

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry

Fisher: Hey, welcome back to Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show. It is Fisher here with Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com, he is our Preservation Authority and today we're talking about something near and dear to my heart, Tom, Audio.

Tom: Exactly.

Fisher: You know its fun because there are some old recordings and tapes that can take you way back sometimes, even before video, or maybe just something separate from it. But just like the video, these things deteriorate as well and we've got to get them saved.

Tom: An audio's so important. So many people pushed it off. In fact, when I got my audio engineering degree, I only went after that because I was in broadcasting and everybody's always, "Oh, fix it and mix. Don't worry about the audio." And I thought, "That makes no sense."

Fisher: Really?

Tom: Yeah.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Tom: So I went to Full Sail University in Florida, and learned about audio and found out how important it is and if you don't believe me, sit down and watch a movie and mute it... and then watch it for 10 minutes. Then do the same thing, just close your eyes and listen to it for 10 minutes and tell me which one was more enjoyable.

Fisher: Yeah, that's right. The audio makes a huge difference.

Tom: Yep.

Fisher: I'm very fortunate, that back in the late 50s, a friend of my mother's came by and he was in from out of town in Connecticut and he recorded us to take back to my mother's mother in Oregon. I have this tape of me being interviewed for like 5-10 minutes back in 1958 when I was 4 years old.

Tom: Wow!

Fisher: And it's a treasure to hear my dad talking to me and asking me these simple questions and questions about the neighbours and things that happened at Christmas time. Then I said hi to grandma, and then a few years later there was an interview done by a radio station with my dad telling about his career with the Ed Sullivan Show. So I have that which is priceless as well. I have these two recordings, dad passed away in the 70s, so it's the only recordings of his voice that I have and they're absolutely priceless to me.

Tom:  There are so many things that are like that, and are just so important. That's why when you clean out mom and dad's house after they pass away, don't throw stuff away. Any kind of genealogy related stuff, audio recordings, video film -- don't throw them away because you never know what hidden treasures are in there. You want to look at everything. We even have people come into our store that say, "Hey, I got all this stuff from grandma and grandpa's house, all these photographs. We don't know half these people so I'm just going to throw them away." I go, "No, no, no, no, no, no. Give them to me. Donate it to me. I'll scan them." One day we'll be able to find somebody, just like you, who has had success in your life finding pictures that we don't know who they belong to. You had somebody on a little while ago that found an old picture that was on eBay, and they were selling it for a few hundred dollars and found out that it was priceless, it was the only one.

Fisher: Yes, it was worth six figures.

Tom: Yeah. I mean, stuff like that is incredible. You're not just doing it for the money you want to preserve this stuff. It is so important to get this whether it's the old wire recordings, wax recordings, vinyl records, or all these kind of things. We have people constantly calling us and say, "Hey, I've got an old vinyl recording of my dad going off to war. Is there anything I can do with it?"

Fisher: Is this when they went into the booth?

Tom: Exactly.

Fisher: Was it a dime, or something?

Tom: Yep.

Fisher: And you could record for 5 minutes?

Tom: Yes. I remember even clear back when my brother went off to boot camp in Vietnam. I remember hanging out at the train station where he was going to go. You pop a dime or a quarter into the machine and make a record. Stuff like that is so priceless. Even if they're kind of damaged, a lot of times we can get sound off of them. As technology is growing so fast, I think in the future somebody's going to come out with a way, with a laser, that you can read a record that's broken or damaged or cracked. Then where a needle is not going to work because it's going to get stuck in the crack, it's going to pop out, it's going to create all kinds of problems. But the way laser technology is coming, I think one day you're going to be able to shoot a record with a laser, pop it into a 3D printer and make a new record without all the scratches and stuff in it.

Fisher: Really?

Tom: Oh yeah. Because you have this 3D image of it and you can go in with your cursor and basically fix the track. There's a scratch here, so you kind of figure out-- okay just like with digital-- you have zero’s and ones, and there's a couple of zero’s missing. What really goes through are they zero’s-- or are they ones? You can kind of figure out and play around with it, and then once you get that 3D record transferred into your hard drive then you can go in, and with your ears listen, "This sounds wrong. Let me fix this. Let me do this. Let me do this" and so in the next segment I want to help people, once you've got all this audio stuff down. How you can get other people to listen to it like we talked about last week, how you're going to get people to watch your old videos.

Fisher: All right, great advice, looking forward to getting into that in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.

Segment 5 Episode 87

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Tom Perry

Fisher: We are back! It is Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show. Fisher here, the Radio Roots Sleuth, that’s Tom Perry from TMCPlace.com. The Preservation Authority, talking about audio today which is a great topic because everybody’s got something. An old reel to reel tape, sometimes those old master ones that are like an inch or two thick.

Tom: Oh yeah.

Fisher: You know, once in a while you wind up with something like that. But there is a psychology also in getting people to use these things, and actually listen to them and enjoy them as part of family history. Let’s talk about that, Tom.

Tom: Oh, absolutely. In fact, I am just amazed that we have more, and more, and more audio coming in every single day. It’s not slowing down; it’s getting more, and more, and more. In fact, I was telling you off the air, it’s almost going to pass video tapes now the amount of audio that we’re getting in right now.

Fisher: Why do you think that is?

Tom: I think a lot of people are just finding it in grandma and grandpa, and mom and dad’s attic where they never even knew it existed.

Fisher: Cassettes, a lot of that.

Tom: Mostly cassettes. Right, absolutely, and a lot of it is funerals, and a lot of it is mom and dad just talking. They had the old cassettes players, weren’t very expensive, and at Christmas time they just hit record and ran it during the whole thing.

Fisher: And mailed it to somebody.

Tom: Exactly! And that was a big one, because back in the day a lot of people would record on a tape and send it to their kids who were in the military, or on a mission or whatever.

Fisher: College.

Tom: Right, all those things and they would listen to it, and then unfortunately, they usually would record over it and send it back, they’d use the same tape.

Fisher: Yes.

Tom: But some people didn’t do that. They’d kept the tapes, or they’d send it to their son and the son would never send it back to them, so they’d send another one to their son. Their son smartly kept them all and didn’t put the Rolling Stones over them or something.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Tom: People are finding these tapes and having them turned into CD’s. One thing, for you new genies out there that haven’t been with us for a long time, make sure whether you’re using CD’s or DVD’s, to use good quality disks. I recommend Taiyo Yuden, which you can buy online, and you can buy them from us. Mass retailers don’t sell them because Taiyo Yuden won’t sell them to the mass retailer. They’ll only sell them to people in smaller shops like ourselves. But make you get those. They cost a little bit more, which is like a DVD, if you buy one they’re a buck and CD’s are like 60 cents if you buy one. If you buy a spindle of 50, they’re really cheap. So get good quality disks, because you can get a disk and in three years it won’t play anymore because the dyne broke down, so make sure you get good quality disks. Get your stuff transferred, whether we do it or our competitor does it, or anymore, just get it done. Get it on a CD so you can share them.

Now, once you’ve got them on a CD don’t just hand them out to your family and say, “Oh, yeah, this is grandpa’s funeral or this is da, da, da.” Because 9/10 times they’re going to put it in and listen to it and not recognise who the heck this person is that’s talking and it’s going to get boring. They’re going to turn it off and they’re not going to play it again. What you need to do is, like we’ve talked about before with video, is to make an index. Go through it one time, and write down, “Okay, it starts out with prelude music.” So the clergyman speaking, you’re going to have to explain, “Oh, they were really close to grandma or grandpa.” Whoever it is, whoever’s funeral it is. Tell them the relationship they had and then, somebody else is going to talk, could be a neighbor, say, “Oh, this is one of the neighbours or this is his uncle and this is his relationship. This is a cousin speaking, and this is mom speaking or whatever.”

Fisher: Just project yourself 50 years from now, if you listen to this, would this mean anything? It’s like an unmarked photograph.

Tom: Exactly!

Fisher: The same problem, right? Who wants an old photo? Doesn’t matter that it was done in 1894!

Tom: Right. And the thing even with old photographs you have to say, “Don’t know them, don’t know them, and don’t know them.” But audio, nobody is going to sit down and listen to a funeral having no idea who these people are and what their relationship is to grandma or grandpa, or whoever it is. You need to go and put some kind of index, so they can go, “Oh, I remember Uncle Ed! Let me go and listen to Uncle Ed’s part.” And do these kinds of things, put an index with it, then people are going to sit and listen to it and enjoy it.

Fisher: And let me suggest also that you transcribe the important tapes, because at some point you might actually lose that recording and that digital thing might go away. But, at least, if you have a transcription of what was on it that will be preserved. All right, great stuff, Tom. Thanks for joining us!

Tom: Good to be here.

Fisher: That wraps it up for this week! Thanks once again to Terry Chaffee, my mother’s old friend from 1947. Stowed away on a ship with her to Hawaii! If you didn’t catch that visit and all the information she shared with me, get on our website ExtremeGenes.com and catch the podcast in the coming week. Take care. We’ll see you again next week! And remember, as far as everyone knows, we’re a nice, normal family!

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