Editor’s Note: This is a guest post written by Janine Lucas, copywriter and blogger.
See that handsome guy in the photo on the right? That’s my great grandfather, Herman Barker. He was only 18 when the Great Depression hit, but at the time he barely noticed it was happening. He had dropped out of middle school at age 11 and spent all of his teenage years working full-time to support his family. For him, times were always hard—the Great Depression didn’t feel any different.
Fast forward nearly a century later and it was always a treat to visit grandpa. He was a scrappy guy with a great laugh and he had one of the best attitudes you could ever imagine. We’d spend hours listening to him tell us what it was like to grow up during his era. The tales he told revealed a side of history you’ll never find in a textbook and each one was absolutely priceless.
So, this past Monday, when I spotted the following single line of text on the Google homepage, I was intrigued. “Grandparents have the best stories,” the ad read, “Record your grandparents’ story this Thanksgiving.” I clicked the link to watch the video where they encouraged everyone to download the StoryCorps app. The idea behind the promotion is that this Thanksgiving we should use the StoryCorps app to interview the older generations in our lives and upload these interviews to the Library of Congress.
I was instantly moved by what they’re referring to as the Great Thanksgiving Listen. I was also instantly reminded of my great grandfather’s smiling face. He would have LOVED to participate in this—grandpa was an excellent story teller and boy did he have a million interesting tales to tell.
But I missed my chance—my great grandfather passed away in the fall of 2011 at the age of 99.
Fortunately, before he left us, my family did manage to get capture some videos of grandpa telling his stories. And of course we have the boxes of printed black and white photos of him over the years—and the 8mm reels of home video he gave to my parents to keep safe.
While I wish I could have interviewed grandpa this Thanksgiving and used the StoryCorps app to turn his stories into history, it’s comforting to know others will have the opportunity to do what I no longer can.
Please make sure you preserve the legacy of your family and the elderly loved ones in your life. As StoryCorps knows, they are each a piece of the puzzle that make up our history and we cannot let any part of it slip away. Follow @StoryCorps’ hashtag the #GreatThanksgivingListen on Twitter and share your grandparents’ interviews with the world—before it’s too late.
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