My father had a heart attack in 1975, when he was 65 years old. He recovered and lived for five more years. After he recovered, I realized if I wanted to find out about his life, I needed to ask him now. I took my cassette recorder and sat down with him asking him to tell me about his childhood. The tape ran for almost an hour as we talked back and forth. I took the tape home and put it in my file drawer. I did not know when I would get it out and listen to it again.
Forty years later, I decided to write a biographical fiction book about my grandfather who came to this country when he was six years old. He was a most interesting man who was a concrete mason in Central Pennsylvania. One of his hobbies was catching and breeding skunks! He operated on them and took out their stink glands, selling them as pets and also selling the hides. It was during my writing of his story that I remembered my father’s interview tape. It was most helpful in adding depth to the story.
Most young folks are too preoccupied to think about asking parents or grandparents to tell them their stories. Sadly, most of the stories die with them when they are gone. I urge you to ask your questions while you can. Your fathers and mothers will not always be around.
Father’s Day stories
Lifetime of memories shared
Ask them while you can
Photo: Dwight L. Roth
You can read my grandfather’s biographical fiction here: