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.
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
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.
McIntee is a veteran TV producer and storyteller. He
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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