Saturday, December 1, 2007


I was talking to a young lady of about 14, She was a very pleasant and polite young lady.
At one point I mentioned that one of My cats is named Bogart. At which point I got kind of a blank look, I asked her if the name sounded familiar, after a minute of thinking she finely said yes. She didn't remember the first name. I said the cat was named after Humphrey Bogart . She seemed to kind of know the name. I then proceed to to give a very general sketch of who he was and the movies he'd done, mentioning Casablanca, and the African Queen. Mentioning that he was born in 1899, and if Boggie was still alive, he'd be over 100 years old now. I also mentioned Lauren Bacall and their movies together. By this time, things were moving along and folks to go so, the history lesson was over.

The point of that little story which happens too many times everyday is that young people today have no sense of history . They have no concept that there was another world before MTV ,computers, Internet and 200 TV channels and Mp3s and all the technologies we enjoy today.
What do they think all they things I mentioned a line above were built on?
Granted the story about a teenager not knowing who Boggie was, is trivial in the grand scheme of things, however, insert a another world leader of Major importance in the name blank , and is it so silly? Take a poll and see how many kids know who Kennedy or Eisenhower , or Truman was, the list is far to long, but you get the idea.

As I've gotten older, I seem to developed more of a sense of the importance of history and keeping it alive, and preserving as much oral history as possible and making itassessable , to everyone and making it in formats that they understand. But, the meat of the material along with as much background detail about what is presented is very important to give the viewer a better sense of what it was like to be in the moment when they person is relating is stories, weather it be about the depression of the 30's or WWII, or Korea, or being around when Kennedy was around or when Man first walked on the moon.

A prime example is the Korean War, largely forgotten, in fact its been said the in many was it would have forgotten, except for a tv show called M*A*S*H . There are whole generations of kids who wouldn't know there had been a Korean war if they hadn't seen repeats of MASH, and were intrigued enough to do the research. But that's only a very rare example of the power of tv and a visual media in general.
Most of the time it offers mind numbing noise that is generally called music, propped up by scantly clad woman, whose only propose is to get every male in the sight of the picture, thinking about everything but what they should be thinking about at the time.
The tools are now available to record theses important memories and preserve them. There are volumes of history that not in the books sitting in VA hospitals and nursing homes across the world . Every day huge number of people die who if given the chance probably would have loved to sit down and tell their lives stories about growing up and living in a world very different then ours.
as far general dates and places, granted memory changes over time, however many can remember 1930 like it was yesterday, and can't remember what they had for breakfast that morning. Obviously some folks for various mental or physical reason aren't good candidates for and should be screened for suitability for doing such a interview. There is also the good it may do the All of those interviews should be edited for clearly and researched for at least the basic ground of the times they are regaling us with for acutes patients to have someone interest in their lives.
As this material is collect and cataloged it should be cross-referenced and indexed so anyone wanting a oral history of, say the depression, can put in a search and find interviews that tell about living in the depression, and have supporting information regarding that time and location where the interviewee is talking about so one can get a more complete picture of what they are talking about, that would mean that items that the mention in the interview such as cars, building and historical places should be cross referenced to give information relating to that item.
This database should be made available to every school and institutions of learning in the world. and need to be continually updated.
Lately I have become a big fan of TCM, or Turner Classic Movies, in fact ,I've always like the station as a whole and lately have become to see it as what it could possibly become a treasure trove of historical film and in many respects a window into our history. The history of motion pictures is from what little I can see is largely lost on the youth of today, Many kids don't know anyone older then say, 1980 or so, and have know idea that theres is a rich history of movies both silent and precode movies. While I am not a huge fan of silent movies personally, I do feel that they should be exposed to as many folks as possible, granted many probably won't get into it too much,they should at least know that they and many other movies are out there, there will be a few who will embrace it and help preserve it along with miles of reels of film. The push to High Definition has probably helped with the preservation of old films as they are upconverted to HD or as close as the negatives will allow.
I new class should be added to grade school, some to tie history and movie appreciation something to let teachers show young students a history of movies and tie it together with history or something else that they're doing in class, then students wouldn't be put off by the idea of watching a black & white movie, if its relevant to what they're doing today in life or at least class. Hopefully it would eventually foster a interest for older movies among at least a few students,,,