When you visit with family or friends you most likely just sit and talk about times of old, expectations of what coming or current news. Sometimes you have something to eat, sometimes just a drink.
Think back on how many times you visited the same person. Did you have the same drink, food or talk?
I know that when I visit certain people I am offered the same beverage or food. The talk varies some but not much until I guide it to where I want it to go. I started out getting caught up with what is happening to them, their family and issues of concern.
I think by now you are grasping the fact that a sit and chat for a while is my way of interviewing my family. Most of my family get a glazed look when I talk about genealogy or ask if I can talk about what they remember. I’m sure yours do the same. Forget trying to get it recorded or video tape. I didn’t have much luck with that.
My alternative was the sit and chat method. If I wanted to learn more about my mothers’ family I needed to be creative in how I was able to get her sister-in-law how to talk about them. Example is; “I remember my mother telling me that Uncle Fred chased Uncle Art up a tree.” I didn’t have to say more than that before Aunt Bea was telling me how that happened. What I didn’t know about the story was that Uncle Fred was so upset with his brother for getting his car dirty, that when Uncle Art ran up in the Cherry Tree and wouldn’t come down, Uncle Fred started chopping that tree down with Uncle Art still in it. I had heard the Cherry Tree story before. I had not heard that Uncle Art was in the tree when Uncle Fred started cutting it down. No one was hurt, tempers cooled, much laughter followed for years to come. My aunt takes great pleasure in recounting the story, making the point that George Washington never really cut down a Cherry Tree but Fred did.
This is just a small example of how to guide a conversation to get that family history you want without an interview style encounter. I had a tape recorder, still old fashion way for me, in the car. On the drive home I recorded what I remembered of the stories told to me that day.
Today I talked about the chat of the Sit and Chat style of interview. Tomorrow I will talk about why “Tea is just not Tea.”
My mother was Shirley Beatrice Pease Stearns. Her brothers were Fredrick Frances Allen (half-brother) and Arthur Lawrence Pease. Shirley’s sister-in-law, wife of Fred, Beatrice Mae Chandler Allen, was the story teller.