Written for wtad.com by Bobbe White 2/02/17
After his dad, Jim, died last year, Ted Johnson was cleaning out his father’s possessions, when he ran across an LP album. The record label was titled, “Irv Schecter: This is your life.” It was recorded in 1957, by H & H studios, 638 Maine St., Quincy IL. Irv (my dad) was 33 years old. Yours truly was almost two. Ted brought the LP to me at work, still in its original simple album cover, made of brown craft paper.
We have a turntable in our storage room; I had little confidence it still worked. Instead, I got the material transferred onto CD. When I popped the CD into the car player, my world stopped.
In the 1950’s, my parents, apparently, were in a social group, which occasionally, surprised someone with voices from his or her life. They picked Dad; the committee put Mom on task to contact each person, who could speak to Dad’s life from each stage. Friends and relatives were recorded when they called in, or their letter was read.
The LP sound quality was a bit scratchy, due to age. Still, it was easy to recognize familiar voices as the emcee played each piece to roast and toast him. Every person was introduced, in chronological order, from Dad’s past. Their names were withheld, so Dad had to identify them by voice.
1. My paternal grandparents. Sadly, I couldn’t remember Grampy Sam Schecter’s voice. He died when I was young. Grandma Schecter’s voice was a different story. Her Russian accent and voice tone rang loud and clear in my brain!
2. Uncle Sid’s commanding voice sounded as if he was in the back seat of my car. He ended by saying, “By the way Irv, you still owe me $1.38…
3. Next, was Aunt Pat, Dad’s sweet, sister, with a small shoe size (4.5!) and a big New York accent.
4. Several childhood friends were followed by fraternity brothers, from The Ohio State University. More than one guy joked that dad owed him a bit of money.
5. Dr. Ben Kimmelman, a dentist from California was the heart stopper. Ben was a fellow P.O.W. in World War II, during the Battle of the Bulge. The miracle that these two buddies survived was not lost on the audience.
Dad’s comments, interjections and craughter (crying from laughter) were something to experience again. I envisioned him being a good sport, as he threw his head back in full-out laughter, as if to say, “You got me GOOD!” And they had.
Here I was driving around town with a car full of memories. What a gift. Ted’s trash. My treasure. The mystery of why Jim would’ve even had the LP is puzzling. The fact that Ted could have easily tossed it out –but didn’t – is another puzzle. First, our fathers were definitely acquaintenances, as most Quincy businessmen were and are. But other than that commonality, the only other connection that I know of is the fact that both were residents at the Veteran’s Home on the same floor, until Jim passed away recently.
Remember this simple gesture when weeding out your own homes or those homes of others. You may give someone the gift of a lifetime…literally.
Thanks Ted. I’ll never forget this.