In the middle of decluttering, while going through old record albums, I thumbed through some that belonged to my father. There it was, a 78 vinyl record of my paternal family members welcoming my father home from World War 2.
From what I read online, it was usual to record directly onto a blank record disk on a portable machine at a welcome home party of family and friends. My father’s was Sunday, February 17, 1946 in the Bronx, after his tour of duty on Morotai Island in the South Pacific.
That’s 76 years since this record was probably ever played.
Luckily I can still play 78s. And I recorded both sides of the disk to my iphone VoiceMemos app, to share with my brothers and pass along to their children who remember my father.
For the first time in my life I heard my grandfather’s voice; he died when I was very young. Names and inside jokes from family friends and neighbors were alien to me. Only one voice was immediately familiar, just as I remember it. But not my father’s, or my grandmother’s. My brother remarked the same.
I guess the record preserved their much younger voices forever, and my memory still retained theirs. One difference, their voices had changed as they grew older.
So I started to think that we do change voices as we age, but not only in pitch, bass, or treble as I learned from the 78, but in maturity, choice of words, depth of insight, and speech timing.
And in our memories.
In 1946 a 78 was the means of leaving your voice for posterity. Today we have dozens of media to do so. It’s not the hardware or the software, but the quality of the words you leave behind for later generations–how we formulate what we say and I suppose how it sounds.
I do miss my father’s and grandmother’s voices. Yes, I got nostalgic, perhaps weepy here, but my thoughts are intended to be worth recording here for later reference or on any social medium.
Let’s hope our words stay accessible, our thoughts memorable, and our ideals meaningful beyond the test of time.
Just not once every 76 years please.