Hi and welcome to On the Record's first blog post.
I’m Pip Nielsen, and I’m On the Record. So what is it all about? On the Record is all about you! We’re here to bring your story to life, told by you – in your own words - through recorded and transcribed interviews.
Do you really have a story to tell?
Yes, you do. You do not have to be world famous or even well known in your wider community to have a beautiful story - one that is worth telling. Some of the most poignant stories are from people many of us had never heard of (until their story was told, that is).
What would you say?
Maybe you have a snippet you’d like to share; perhaps you have a dozen stories that you keep in the recess of your memory, just waiting for the right time or opportunity to tell them. Maybe you have a lifetime of memories that would fill a book. Maybe you have a long-held secret that is ready to be revealed. Maybe your children or grandchildren have asked you to share your life-story.
Whatever stories you have, good, bad, sad, trite, tragic or momentous, they are yours to tell. Your stories, your memories, are part of you – they have shaped you, made you who you are, and, believe it or not, they also play a role in shaping the people who follow, as well. Isn’t that a good enough reason to tell your story?
How many times have you said, "One of these days I will write my memoir."?
Or, that you will – one day - pen your parents’ or grandparents' story? But, alas that one day remains in the distant future. Life gets in the way, and you cannot find the time – or you may not have the expertise or tools to tell, or write, your own story. And a memoir is just too darn' big.
It might seem so overwhelming that it just gets put in the “too hard basket”.
And who cares anyway?
Someone cares, they really do. That someone, a son, a daughter, a grandchild, or a close friend, may not even know it yet.
As I grow older, I reflect more and more on the past (something about ageing does that), and specifically, the ancestors who came before me - my parents, and their parents, and so on. I am who I am because of them. Think about that. If it were not for all our forebears, we would not be here. That is amazing in itself. I am here because… well, there are infinite responses to this, but let’s just say how lucky I am that the people before me, my ancestors, survived long enough to procreate.
My forebears, like yours, triumphed over war and disease, famine and fire; they overcame obstacles, burdens, misfortune and misadventure. They blazed trails. They suffered, and they succeeded. They loved, and they lost. And I am just one tiny piece of a much bigger jigsaw. If only I had all the missing pieces to complete the puzzle that is family. Those missing pieces are their stories.
I have been delving into my family history, and I am more than a little intrigued – besotted even - by my grandfather’s life story… but there is scant information about him available. I’ve thus far relied on some old newspaper clippings, thankfully preserved in Trove at the Australian National Library, and births and deaths information through the Tasmanian Archives office and, bless him, my father’s incredible memory.
My grandfather was a surviving ANZAC; he started a fledgling timber business during the great depression that grew to a substantial business employing hundreds of people. He was a modest and humble God-fearing man who belonged to a strict Christian sect; he married in his thirties and raised eight children; he was a talented footballer. He died at 82, leaving few possessions and (almost) forgotten. He took so much with him to his grave. I have asked myself how this could happen. Who knows his story? Who can fill in all the gaps?
Sadly, I can’t go back and ask him as he passed away when I was just 15, and I was too young and naïve to appreciate just what he – and his story – would one day mean to me. But I couldn’t ask him his story, even if I wanted to (and that is another story). So you see, everyone has a story, and it is not trivial to those who come after us, and who do want to know. Your story, recorded and preserved, is a legacy - of who you were, what you did and how you came to be. Your story is a vital piece of the puzzle.