November 29, 1987 |
Nancy Reagan wanted automobile license plates personalized with her initials, NDR. So Verne Orr set out to fulfill her wish. After all, he was director of the state Department of Motor Vehicles and she was the wife of his boss, the governor. But Michael K. Deaver, then a top aide to Gov. Ronald Reagan and later deputy chief of the White House staff, told Orr to drop the idea. Deaver was afraid the plates would make Mrs. Reagan's car easily identifiable to terrorists. A month later, she called back and asked Orr, "How is my license plate coming?"
August 11, 1989 |
Twenty years ago - from Aug. 15 to 17, 1969 - four young chaps put on a musical weekend party that changed the psyche of this Vietnam War-troubled country. A lot of oldsters didn't think young men and women who liked drugs and loved music could behave under such crowded and muddy conditions. That those older folks were wrong is just one reason for an essential book on the event, Woodstock: The Oral History by Joel Makower (Dolphin/Doubleday, $16.96), a large-size trade paperback of 361 pages, including many photographs and hundreds of interviews presented in an ongoing narrative.
November 16, 1998 |
If there's a moral in the recent scientific discoveries concerning Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings, it might be - for my family, anyhow - that oral history is at least a match for science. A few years ago, out of love and admiration for my grandfather, Howard D. Woodson, my mother, Minnie S. Woodson, undertook a remarkable voyage of genealogic discovery. She was intrigued by my grandfather's inner drive and by the oral history of our family, which held that Thomas Woodson, my great-great-great grandfather, was the first son of Jefferson and Hemings.
April 5, 1987 |
From the mountains hereabouts, they used to mine the coal that fired the steel in a long-gone day when the Allegheny Valley was smithy to American industry. But now, all that is left to mine is nostalgia, and the lode is rich. Larry Evans, former steelworker, feels there is still something to profit future generations in the boarded-up mill towns decaying along the river banks, embarrassments to image-makers who tout a new, high-tech Pittsburgh as far removed from the gritty past as a glass skyscraper from a blast furnace.
February 4, 1993 |
"History with its flickering lamp stumbles along the trail of the past, trying to reconstruct its scenes, to revive its echoes, and kindle with pale gleams the passion of former days. " - Winston Churchill Oral history, that loquacious witness that testifies to the passing of time, has a great future in Northeast Philadelphia. Augustine Birrell's observation of history as a "great dust heap" is being dismissed as nonsense by oral historians from the Wissinoming Historical Association.
April 11, 1994 |
During World War II, Robert Warr, now a retired Marine Corps lieutenant colonel, was in the Pacific working as an air control officer with a specialized unit that intercepted Japanese planes at night. Marnie Linton, who was living in Phoenix, Ariz., recalled visiting a Japanese-American relocation center in Arizona, where she saw rows of Quonset huts and barbed wire. Despite the sparse living conditions, they had planted lovely flower gardens in front of their temporary homes, she said.
October 31, 1988 |
To those fortunate enough to have survived it with limbs, mind and bodily facilities intact, World War II was not an unalloyed horror. Many considered it, in retrospect, the highlight of their lives, a time of unbounded excitement against which the relatively humdrum years that followed could only pale. Quite ordinary men and women were pried out of the ruts to which society or their own limitations had consigned them. They were afforded unparalleled opportunities to travel at government expense (if often to destinations not high on their wish lists)
July 4, 1995 |
The three women who gathered at the public library here Thursday to share their memories of the borough had varied experiences and different perspectives, but all had the same overall feeling about the small town: They enjoy living there. The oral history presentation was organized by Howard Zogott, director of the Yeadon Public Library, who said he wanted the program to be for the children of Yeadon, as a way to develop "a sense of who they are and where they are. " The lightly attended session turned out to be more like an overheard conversation among three long-time residents who were sharing outtakes of their lives.
May 10, 1988 |
The letter was formal, impersonal. Yet it instantly transported her back to that day, 50 years ago, when she received the glorious news that she, Frances Parry, a poor girl from a modest Pittsburgh neighborhood, would be going to college in Philadelphia. The letter invited her to come to the National Archives in Washington, to talk about her life and her 1938 essay on the U.S. Constitution, the essay that won her a college scholarship and changed her life. Parry, now Frances Parry Dorworth, and the four other winners of the Pennsylvania essay contest held in honor of the sesquicentennial of the ratification of the Constitution participated in an "inter-generational oral history session" last week with high school students who won prizes in last year's bicentennial essay contest.
November 9, 2007 |
"Tell me," Vera Cramer Hershenberg urged her 80-year-old father. "Tell me about where you grew up, and why you became a doctor. Tell me how you want to be remembered. " And with that, David Cramer's story, of a Jewish doctor tending to African American families in North Philadelphia during race riots in the late 1960s, poured out. "I was never afraid," he said. "When the riots started, my patients came and sat on my steps and made sure nothing happened to me or my office. " Cramer, of Center City, was speaking to his oldest daughter, but he was speaking for posterity - for his grandchildren and for everyone else's.