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Grandfather Stories
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“Mr. Lardas, you write beautifully.”  “Would you be willing to write my family’s history?” the woman asked. “It is a fascinating story.”

I never say no. I know their family’s history is fascinating. All family histories are. Instead I explain what it would cost to hire me to research and write a family history. Few people can afford my fee. I have to charge what I would earn during that time doing other work. If I do not, I am not being fair to my family.

While capturing family history is important, you do not have to hire a professional writer. You do not even have to be a writer. You can do it orally.

We do this in my family. My father-in-law is ninety. He has dinner at my house every weekend. After dinner he tells a story about his family. After the first time everyone wanted to preserve what he said. He did not feel like writing it up, however.

A few weeks earlier I had purchased an MP3 player to listen to audiobooks during my commute to work. My player – which cost very little – could also make recordings, which it stored in an MP3 format computer file. I realized I had a way to hold onto my father-in-law’s stories by recording them my MP3 player.

Afterwards I transferred the recordings to my computer. Once the files were on my computer, the rest of the family could get copies. We could not only preserve this family history – we could easily share it.


An adult son who lives in a different city, too distant to visit regularly, wanted copies of these “grandfather stories.” The files were too large to e-mail. Instead, my son suggested using a free Internet file transfer service called Dropbox*. This allowed me to put the files in a folder, which I set accessible only to my family, on a cloud server. Once there, family members could download them to their computers – wherever they lived.  

I later discovered that some online e-mail services (I use Hotmail.com) have a similar capability. When you attach a large file, it automatically transfers the file to an online server, from which an e-mail recipient can later download it.

The files, once stored, can be listened to over and over – and saved virtually forever. While the Super-8 home movies my parents made in the 1960s can only be viewed with projectors that are difficult to find or digitized with special equipment, converting a digital file from one format to another is simple.

Not only will my children be able to listen to their grandfather’s stories – their great-grandchildren can too, someday. We always state the date and place the recording was made, as well as making sure that my father-in-law states his name so his descendants will know who he is.

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By Mark Lardas. Copyright © 2012 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

* https://www.dropbox.com/

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