Thursday, June 21, 2012

Goal #61: Record my dad's oral history

It was a fascinating experience getting my dad’s oral history. There was so much I didn’t know about him. I have transcribed it and added photographs to it so that it’s a very nice history.

I learned some interesting things from the experience. My father was an alcoholic for about 30 years. He eventually got to where he no longer drank much. While interviewing him, I discovered that there is a 30 period of his life where there simply wasn’t much he could remember. I told a friend of mine about this Ah Ha moment and he said that this wasn’t uncommon for alcoholics. They are so focused on their addiction that they almost completely lose touch with the world around them. They are either in a drunken stupor or they are completely focused on getting to that state. Because of that, they lose touch with the world around them and the people who make up that world. That appears to be the case with my dad. He had very few meaningful memories of drinking years.

I also discovered something I had never known before. I found out that my father was born with a different name than I knew him as. He was born with the name Lyle Anderson. When he was about 6 months old, his mother took my dad to visit her brothers in Oregon. They complained that Lyle was silly name to give a boy. Grandma told them to be quiet unless they could come up with a better name that she would approve of. After some thinking, they decided that he was more of a Theodore Roosevelt Anderson than a Lyle Anderson. Grandma liked the new name and kept it. So my dad left Minnesota as Lyle and came back as Theodore Roosevelt. I’d love to know what Grandpa thought of that when they came back home.

I wanted to check on the accuracy of that story because it just sounded to much like one of those old family myth kind of stories. To verify the story I went to the city hall to check my father’s birth record. Sure enough, the original birth register had Lyle Anderson on it. A big red line crossed out the name Lyle and in black lettering was written the name, Theodore Roosevelt Anderson. Dad really was telling me the truth.

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