Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Voices From the Past

I couldn't pronounce my r's when I was little. I called myself "Gin-juh" and my baby sister "Glowia." I must have been about four and my brother Tommy five when he decided I needed a little coaching. I'm told the conversation went something like this:

"Ginger, say car."
"No, say car."
"Ginger, say ca-rrrr."
"No, honey, say ca-urh."
At this point I started jumping up and down shouting, "He called me honey! He called me honey!"

When I was digging through the boxes of childhood treasures in our garage in December, I came across a small canister. Thinking it strange that someone had saved an old can of shoe polish, I pulled it out and discovered a small yellowed note taped to the top which read, "Us at home, Nov 23, 1954." It was a wire recording! We found a man in Seattle to transfer the recording to CD and just last night were able to give my parents their belated Christmas present.

On the recording, Dad played the part of Art Linkletter and told us we were on his "Houseparty" radio program. He asked us questions about ourselves -- names (Tommy and Gin-juh), ages (five and fo-uh), what our parents did (Daddy was a nol'um layer [linoleum layer] and Mama didn't work but she liked to read), who was the boss at our house (of course the answer was our Daddy!). Tommy said George Washington was the smartest man in the world, and his wife was the smartest woman. I said the prettiest woman in the world was Mrs O'Brien! No one at the table had any idea who Mrs O'Brien was, but she must have been gorgeous. Already I had two boyfriends -- Chuck and Leroy. Tommy thought it would be fun to be a zraff (giraffe) so that he could watch the fireballs, and for no reason I could come up with, I wanted to be an ow-uu (owl). In an attempt to get five-month-old Gloria to talk, we made her cry instead.

We each sang a song, exuberant me with words I can't quite make out, and my brother singing sweetly and clearly, "Whisper a prayer in the morning, whisper a prayer at noon, whisper a prayer in the evening, so keep your heart in tune."

Tommy and I did a lively rendition of "I Love to Go to Sunday School," then Dad and I sang "Whisper a Prayer" with Tommy, this time Tommy singing the harmony to Dad's and my melody. Tommy was undisturbed by my attempt to find the right note or even by the melody that Dad was singing as he harmonized high above us. I'd forgotten how naturally music came to him.

Our family didn't own a recorder or camera during our early days, so this find is especially precious to us. Tom and I were glad to get it back from being transferred while my brother Ted, who was passing through on his way back to Juneau, and Peach (that is, Glowia) were both available to hear it too. Tim, check the mail. Your copy will be there in a couple of days.

Now where did we put that cassette of our boys when they were preschoolers?

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