Friday, June 19, 2009

When 3 hours can seem like a lifetime...

One of the challenges in creating a Video Biography is to try and capture the essence of a lifetime in say, an hour or two... or as the case was on Tuesday, even three.

My interview with the Wallers* earlier this week was to do just that. To get them to share with me a slice of their life as it used to be when they were growing up... so that I could help them document that world; a world that now belongs only in their memory. But they remembered more than that. They remembered a time that belonged to their own parents (born in the 1890s) - whether they learned of this world from stories or shared memories or from looking at old pictures, who is to say? But tumbling out came tales of one-room schools, horse-drawn wagons, and a period in world history when 'fried chicken was not like it is today, with all sorts of crumbs on it'.

We talked about the world, yes... and marveled at automobiles, vacuum cleaners, the internet, and proms held at big hotels with the most glorious dresses to choose from at the stores. We talked about all that. But we also spoke about their own private universe as well... first crushes, first jobs, college, marriage, the Air Force, parenting, grandparenting... great-grandparenting.

And I learned a lot. I learned that Grandpas, under their tough and solid exterior have marshmallow hearts. Grandmas can go back to college to get their degrees at the same time as their children. Children can know their parents an entire lifetime - and still think that Air-Force-Dad actually used to fly to Japan during WW II to get back a pineapple for his favorite 'princess'. I learned, or shall I say re-learned, that we might know people for a lifetime and yet not know a whole lot about the kind of person they are... or used to be... or how they got to be one thing after being quite another.

And no doubt their children and grandchildren... and who knows how many generations after... will learn a lot about them through this interview. My only regret is that I'm going to have to be the one to reveal the pineapple coverup.

* Names have been changed to respect their privacy

1 comment:

Pat's Place said...

Very nice! You are learning a lot!!

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