“No, I wouldn’t have anything interesting to say”. I’m Dave Boeve with Audio Memories and that’s what Ralph Scheirbeek said two years ago when I asked if I could record an interview with him about his days in the Dutch Resistance during World War II. I pushed him a little more for an interview but he refused… and then he shared an amazing story about how he kept a work coverall in the basket of his bicycle during World War II just in case an Allied plane went down. He told about how he’d pedal towards the plume of smoke from a downed plane in hopes of helping the pilot disappear before the German soldiers arrived.
It seems normal for people to say they don’t have any interesting stories. In fact, I think some people take pride in believing their lives are boring and uneventful. I’m often invited by grown children to interview their aging parents. These children are excited to hear and preserve the stories of their parents and grandparents. So I’ll call the Story Teller, explain what their children have asked me to do, and without fail, I’ll hear: “I hope it’s not too boring for you”. I remember my Grandma saying those very words back in 1990 when I asked to interview her for a high school class assignment. How have we come to a point in society where our elders believe their lives have been boring and uninteresting?
So the question is: If we’ve been trained to believe our lives are boring, how do we get the people we love to open up and share their stories? That’s why I created Audio Memories. Sitting in church one Sunday morning in the fall of 2006, I realized I saw many of the same people every week for the past 30 years and knew very little about their lives. Simply by taking the time to ask, I’ve learned that my childhood choir director doesn’t remember when she became a Christian, but she remembers exactly when she realized what it means to trust God. I’ve learned that I have been in the presence of a World War II POW who was shot down on his 13th mission and survived having his POW transport train bombed going to and from the POW camp in Poland. I’ve learned that one member stole a watermelon from their neighbors field, and still hasn’t told them 70 years later, even though they see each other in church EVERY Sunday! I’ve asked a lot of people about their lives since the morning in 2006, and I still haven’t found a person with no stories worth sharing.
Here are a few reactions I’ve received from people who have asked me to record their parents or grandparents:
Dave: Thanks for the CD you sent me. Marilyn and I listened to it last night. It is amazing. I learned lots of things about my dad that I never knew (like him going awol, missing in action for 60 days, etc.). Very well done. It was emotional for me to listen to it. I'm wondering if it would be possible for me to purchase 5 more CDs from you to give to my brothers and sisters and what the cost would be. It would be neat to give them one with my dad's pictures on it. –Jim
Thank you for interviewing my grandpa. He died last night and I’ve been listening to his interview over and over all day. Thanks for visiting with him. –Renae
Thanks for sending them to us in Florida. I finished hearing the last side last night. You did a great job. I am going to want to order five more sets. – Jud
Thanks, Dave. Kind of a coincidence-we had a guest minister last night, and he talked about his dad passing away about 12 years ago. He said that he has several tapes of recorded conversations with his dad that he pulls out at least once a year and listens too. You're right....this will definitely be a keepsake for my siblings and me. -Dan
Whose story would you like to hear? Let me help you draw out the interesting stories of the people you love. Sometimes all it takes is for someone new to ask the questions. Please call 269-751-7017 today to discuss what stories you would like to share. Your stories will be edited and indexed before they are preserved to archive quality digital audio compact disks for you and your family to enjoy and cherish. With the Story Tellers permission, the stories can be included in the Audio Memories collection at the Joint Archives of Holland for future generations to enjoy. Call 269-751-7017 today to schedule a time of sharing. You’ll be glad you did. To hear this story and more, visit us on-line at AudioMemories.org.
For Audio Memories, I’m Dave Boeve