In 2004 Mike and I made a project of turning two audio tapes of my Uncle Jim's memories of his mother and father into three audio discs. From the original tapes recorded from my uncle's running narration Mike created tracks for the discs and we named the chapters according to topic, resulting in 17 tracks on disc one, 16 on disc two, and 10 on disc three. I created a fourth disc loaded with 21 separate folders of old family photographs and also created music slide shows for a select amount of the photos. We made some 25 sets of the project for family members which was my contribution to the family story.
With the renewed interest in preserving the oral history of this country (see The Smithsonian Folklife and Oral History Interviewing Guide) I've decided to share some of our family project here at my blog from time to time, and not in narrative order.
James H. Swearingen, Jr. -- my Uncle Jim, the narrator of this "report," as he refers to it in the tapes-- was born in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1901. His memory was fully in tact when, at age 80, he sat in his study and recorded these memories. He died three years later.....of a heart attack, out in his garden in Mill Valley, California.
I wrote introductions for each folder in the photo disc and am including the one describing the shots that accompany this short narrative. My first offering from the family project describes their Early Kansas City days, specifically the horse Teddie.
This memory runs 3:28
The house at 17th and Topping in Kansas City, Missouri. My grandmother, Nellie, is holding Teddie's reins, Jim (the narrator) to her left. Next to Jim is Marshall leaning against older sister, Marjorie. Other sister Pauline is probably the other young woman in the carriage. The woman and the boy standing are unknown.
(My mother, the baby of the family, was to be born years later in Berkeley, California.)
Teddie with my Uncle Marshall left and Uncle Jim (narrator) right.
My grandfather had two daughters from his marriage to his deceased wife, and my grandmother raised them as her own. I adore this photo of Pauline with the family dog, Rastus, and horse Teddie.
I wondered what 17th and Topping looks like today, and studied the cross-street at street view using Google Maps. It shows a mixed neighborhood of older homes in various states of repair/decline, some light business, and a small townhouse development. I think I located the correct corner based on the description in the for sale newspaper ad published in 1913.........