Preserve your memories

Somewhere in this house is a cassette tape of a radio show I recorded in 1975 called “Voices of Old Waupaca.” Every week I was responsible to do a 20-30 minute interview show with a local person and/or newsmaker. That week I featured the local historical society that was compiling an oral history project, recording conversations with elderly residents about what the town had been like in their younger days. I had trouble editing the wonderful nuggets of memory, and I think the show ran an hour or more that Sunday noon.

Somewhere around here is also a videotape my brother made in the early 1990s. When we were kids in the late 1950s and 1960s, our parents would take us for a week or two at Cold Spring Camp near Milton, Vermont, a collection of wooden cabins over Lake Champlain at the end of a long, long winding dirt road that wove through fields and forest for several miles. The trip down that road was part of the experience of getting away from civilization.

When my brother took his own family to Cold Spring Camp, the road was still very much as it had been in our memories — including the hairpin curve that required the driver to slow to a crawl — and so he made a tape of the entire drive, from the entrance between two cow pastures all the way to parking outside the rented cabin. It was 10 minutes or so of wonderful memories.

I probably named my Waupaca show after “Voice of Old People,” the Simon and Garfunkel track on Bookends that features elderly people reminiscing. It’s the lead-in to the song “Old Friends” and eventually the title track, which concludes with the advice, “Preserve your memories; they’re all that’s left you.”

The first track is an old guy talking about an old picture, and he laments, ““I got little in this world; I’d give honestly without regret one hundred dollars for that picture.”

Every so often I would pass by my cassette of that old show, or the video my brother made, but they have eluded me of late, now that I’m actually looking for them. They contain glimpses of a time past but not lost forever because someone had the sense to preserve the memories. I sure hope I can find them again.

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