Much of this project involved documenting the past before it was lost. As background research, we interviewed many senior citizens, at times quite elderly, and we noticed something right away.
As they brought the past alive for us again, they became enlivened themselves. Quite noticeably, their memories began to focus more as they gathered distant details which, upon our fact-checking, turned out to be highly accurate and illuminating. They became visibly energized, increasingly fluent with their recollections, and outright glad to have their experiences noted by others.
In Fort Mitchell, Kentucky, Steve spent three days filming veterans involved with the story. One of the spouses said on camera, “They’re coming out of those interviews like it was the Fountain of Youth or something. I’ve never seen ‘em so vibrant in years.”
The same thing occurred in Syracuse, New York when Steve interviewed several of John Meixell’s co-workers, neighbors, and friends from the past. The guests came in tentatively, then blossomed as their lives were discussed in growing detail.
It happened in Bradford, PA, Falmouth, MA, Gloucester Point, VA, Tulsa, OK, Cincinnati, OH, Philadelphia, PA, and all across Japan. In a few cases we were precautioned about dementia or early Alzheimer’s, but only once did it hamper an interview. In all the other sessions, the subjects became more descriptive and analytical as the talks went on.
For those who haven’t done so, we urge you to film or record such conversations when you can. It becomes a gift that creates worth and can be rejuvenating for all involved. And yes, for future generations, it preserves the lives of those who tread before us.