Bruce Morrison, the little boy who grew up in my house, remembered the day his younger sister Jean and brother Robert took a ride on the goat and cart out in front of the house. You never know what might turn up in an oral history interview!
There’s no time like the present to be reaching out to long-time residents to gain their insight and memories about what it’s been like to live in Alameda over the years. I’ve done dozens of oral history interviews with Alamedans and have developed a template of questions over time (which you can access by clicking here) that may be helpful.
Put on the coffee pot and invite your elder neighbor over for a trip down memory lane. Or better yet, bring a snack over to their house, where they might be more comfortable. Grab a tape recorder so you don’t miss anything. Start general and get specific. And fight the instinct to fill the silence. Just ask the question and listen. I’ve learned some interesting stories that would otherwise simply be lost to time.
Let me know if there is something I can do to support your oral history endeavor…sometimes it’s helpful to have a map of the neighborhood or old photo. I can send you something, if you like.
In fact, I’ll even offer to help conduct and transcribe the interview if you’ll help set it up. Just say the word. Personal memories are a non-renewable resource. Time is of the essence.
I’d be glad to post any oral history interviews you conduct here on the blog for neighbors to read and enjoy.