Friday, June 19, 2015

Practical Joke Leads to Obscure but Profound Historical Memory

Each week I listen to a podcast (on-demand radio) show called Reply All. It's a show about nothing (like Seinfield!) that leads to some very interesting stories about the internet that would never occur to a normal person. Genealogists, because of their insatiable curiosity, have a terrible habit of chasing down rabbit holes. Reply All chases a lot of rabbit holes too.

This week's episode, called "Shipped to Timbuktu," is just one of those rabbit holes - yet one with profound meaning.

The show starts off with a practical joke. The target was the Girl Guides (in Canada) known in the United States as the Girl Scouts. The rabbit hole takes us to London to the Girl Guides archives where an obscure reference is found to China. Next we're listening to a Belgian who was in China during World War II. Next we're talking to  82-year-old Mary Previty from New Jersey who will knock your socks off. I can't be more specific because it will ruin the story. I've already told you too much. You'll have to hear the rest of the story from Mary.

This story was profound to me, and I'm hoping it will be to most genealogists, because of three points:
  1. Obscure history from the past (in this case World War II) may be forgotten but is never unimportant.
  2. Oral history is a critical source of memory. We should focus on recording our family, friends, neighbors and community members as part of our everyday activities as genealogists.
  3. The triumph of the human spirit is powerful.
If you get the chance listen to this episode, then let me know what you think. When the part about the Girl Guides is over, stop there. There is a little segment after that. It's a frivolous thing about Star Trek that contains some good-natured profanities that would not be appropriate in the earshot of children.

1 comment:

  1. I just listened to Reply All, Marian. Thanks for suggesting it....wonderful!