Why I created TimeScape

My dad died of Leukemia on May 1st, 1999. With him died a lot of my family’s history. He used to tell us stories about how my grandfather barnstormed the Midwest with a threshing team. How on New Year’s Day 1943 he played baseball in North Dakota wearing short sleeves… and how the next day it was 15 below. How during the roaring 20’s his cousin arrested a member of the notorious Ma Barker gang with a gun he had hidden in his pocket..

Click on photo to see why you should record your parents' stories

There were many other stories that I heard but didn’t listen to. I was a teenager at the time, and stories about the depression held no relevance to me. What I wouldn’t give to hear him tell those stories again. Dad was a great storyteller, and now I have nothing to document it other than my faulty memory, photos and a few scraps of paper. His grandchildren would really never know that side of him. His talent and many of his stories had vanished with him.

As we cleaned out my dad’s house to sell it, I kept nearly everything. Buckets of bolts, scraps of paper with his handwriting, photos…anything that might tell me more about this man. My basement is still filled with these items.

Missing was his voice and the meaning he gave to these things. It left me with many questions — and no one to answer them.

I vowed this would not happen again.

I convinced my mother to sit down with me and tell me the story of her life. I thought I knew my mother, but I found there was much more to know. She had an incredible story to tell of how she and her family of 7 brothers and sisters lived through the depression, how her brothers were shot down in World War II and how one of them escaped a German prison camp. I finished the video in time to show it to the family at her 70th birthday party. She wept. Her grandchildren wanted to watch it over and over. It’s a family heirloom we’re going to treasure forever.

And yet, I’m haunted by the stories my dad told that I never recorded. His lone surviving brother is in his 80s. Soon we will sit down with my video camera and talk. I hope my uncle will be able to recall the stories my dad told --the ones about the long-gone days of threshing, heroic cousins, and struggle through the Great Depression that I heard, but didn’t listen to. I know I will treasure this too, but I still will forever long to hear the stories again first-hand from my dad.

Michael McIntee

Michael McIntee is a veteran TV producer and storyteller. He has
created programs for Showtime, USA, Lifetime, VH-1 and other cable
channels. For 13 years he managed the programming for All News Channel, a 24-hour news channel on DirecTV.

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