Wednesday, February 29, 2012

My neighbor, my hero

After years of thinking about it (and at least one year of whining about it), I have accomplished an item on my bucket list!

Longstanding blog readers may recall my desire expressed on Feb. 14, 2011, to hear the audio letters my dad dictated to his family back in 1961.
(click here) The letters were recorded onto small green vinyl discs and can be heard in one of two ways: on a SoundScriber dictation machine (hard to come by); or on a turntable without an automatic stylus-lift. I had neither.

Today I have great news. Thanks to my very nice neighbor, Michael, I have not only heard the letters again, but I’ve created MP3 files from each one. Here’s how it came about. One day, in passing, I mentioned to Michael what I was trying to do. I thought he’d be interested in my search because he has a collection of vintage radios, and secretly hoped maybe he'd picked up a SoundScriber at a garage sale. 

“I might have equipment that you could use for your project,” he said. The equipment was new for him, though, and he wanted to set it up and try it—to make sure it would accomplish the task. He spent at least half a day working with one of the little green discs before he was happy with the results, then telephoned triumphantly.

“It works! I have made a sample recording, which I’ll send you on e-mail.”

It’s odd, hearing your deceased parent’s voice after a fifty year hiatus. But it was thrilling.
The next day, Michael carried the equipment to my house—a special turntable that hooks into a computer—and loaded software onto my laptop, then patiently showed me the steps to convert the spinning little green discs into electronic files! 

“No hurry to return it—keep it as long as you need it,” were his parting words as he left to walk to his home just two doors away.
I couldn’t wait, though , and sped through the project in just a few days. The quality of the recordings is poor—with warps and skips and crackles and pops—as Hubby said, “sounding akin to an Ed Murrow news broadcast recorded by Thomas Edison.” But the content of two-dozen audio segments, as well as the lingering presence of my dad, unfolds with the listening.

And for that . . .  I am most grateful to my neighbor, Michael.

I will write more about the SoundScriber letters in coming posts.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

How absolutely fabulous that you are able to listen to your father's recordings. Kudos to Michael for coming to your rescue.