Mementos

Lori Mortimer

Personal stories about keepsakes as containers of memories, emotions, and human connection. Mementos is a member of Hub & Spoke Audio Collective. www.hubspokeaudio.org

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0.0 Welcome to Mementos
Sep 30 2019
0.0 Welcome to Mementos
Welcome to Mementos, a podcast about the stories behind the objects that evoke memories, connections, emotions. What turns an ordinary object -- a necklace, a t-shirt, a letter -- into a memento? Well, let's talk to people and find out. Appearing in this episode:Lori Mortimer, hostCherie TurnerHoma Sarabi DaumaisKaren KrolakSteve NelsonMusic by Poddington Bear, Creative Commons Attribution License:"Caravan""Window Shopping"TRANSCRIPT[00:00:03]Lori: Hi I'm Lori, and I've made a little podcast. It's called Mementos. In each episode, we're gonna capture the deeper story behind someone's cherished possession.[00:00:14] If you think about, it a memento could be anything.[00:00:17]Karen: It's a periwinkle blue, hand-stitched t-shirt. I made it for my dad, actually. And I remember when I put it on thinking that it felt like this, this hug at a time when you really want to hug from your dad.[00:00:31]Lori: Sometimes they’re like time machines zapping us back to another moment and place.[00:00:37]Homa: It was super shiny. It was the shiniest thing in the store. And I saw this necklace and was like, this is definitely magical. This should have some magic in it.[00:00:48]Lori: Or they can connect us to someone new.[00:00:51]Cherie: I received this stack of 33 letters. In his own words, these are his stories about what's going on in his life. It made me feel like I had a grandfather.[00:01:04]Lori: Here's a question for you.Steve: Mmmmhmm.Lori: The house is on fire.Steve: Mmmhmm.Lori: The people and the pets are out.Steve: Right.[00:01:11]Lori: We've grabbed life's essentials. Basically our cell phones and laptops.Steve: Okay.[00:01:15]Lori: You've got 30 seconds. What are you willing to run back inside for?[00:01:22]Steve: Maybe the needlework that my mom made. The Frank Lloyd Wright styled one. She's still alive, but it's kind of the top of her game in terms of what she did with it. But also at the stage she's at in life, with her vision and her fine motor skills, there aren't going to be any more. That's something I never want to lose. I always want to have hanging on the wall somewhere.[00:01:47]Lori: Little piece of mom.Steve: Yeah. Yeah.[00:01:51]Homa: I think I will always keep it because it's something that my grandma and I went through together. I have brought it to the United States with me. I've kept this necklace and brought it all over to oceans.[00:02:06]Cherie: Yeah, it brought him to life for me. And nobody else had done that. And the fact that he got to do that? That was really special.[00:02:17]Karen: I keep thinking it has to make it through the rest of my life with me. So I try and save it for days when, like, I know I'm doing something that is really challenging or that I need some extra belief in myself for or I know I just could use some reassurance from my dad.[00:02:35]Lori: You know, when it comes to mementos, sometimes what you really keep is on the inside.Lori: The first episode will be ready in early October. So subscribe now on iTunes, Google Play, or your favorite podcast app. And join me on social media at mementos podcast. And if you want to learn more about each episode, check out mementos podcast dot com.[00:03:03]Lori: Music provided by Poddington Bear under a Creative Commons Attribution license. 0bKEdqCm6KNdaRgLWOqy
Liz's Nonni
Dec 15 2021
Liz's Nonni
Season 1, Episode 8: Liz's NonniGuest: Liz SumnerLiz is the creator of I Always Wanted To, a podcast where she interviews people doing things others long to do. You can follow Liz on Twitter at @LizSumner or @alwayswantedpod. This episode written, sound designed, produced, and hosted by Lori Mortimer.Follow the show @MementosPodcast on Twitter and Instagram.Follow the Facebook page: Lori at @mortaymortay on Twitter and Instagram. www.MementosPodcast.comMusic Credits:"Palermo" by Trabant 33, licensed from  Epidemic Sound"Lovers At Dusk" licensed from  Soundstripe"Riviera Walk" licensed from Fesliyan Studios ASCAP IPI 792929876, 792929974    "Cold Days Ahead" by Rune Dale, licensed from Epidemic Sound"A Way to Tell" by Rune Dale, licensed from Epidemic Sound"Sage the Hunter" by Blue Dot Sessions                   "La Bottega Dei Sapori" by Medite, licensed from  Epidemic SoundMementos audio logo by Martin AustwickSound FX credits:486410__martineerok__wagon-cart-on-gravel, Freesound.org     Ziegen   Bidone  field recording    549882__guynoland__horses-pavement-then-cobblestone, Freesound.org486410__martineerok__wagon-cart-on-gravel, Freesound.org244292__ravelite__little-goat-bells, Freesound.org    ---------------------------------------------TRANSCRIPTMementos Season 1, Episode 8: Liz's Nonni[00:00:00] Lori: Mementos. Sometimes what you really keep is on the inside.[00:00:13] Liz: All the time or thinking about living in Italy, I pictured this gorgeous little Medieval town Cortona. And I imagined, okay, so we'll buy an old run-down villa and we'll rebuild it. And I got this belief in my head that because we didn't have Italian heritage that we would never belong, that it was pointless to try to think about moving to Italy, because since we didn't have family, we would never really be a part of the community.[00:00:55] That was really behind it was that nobody would help us because we, we weren't connected.[00:01:10] Lori: Welcome to Mementos. I'm Lori Mortimer, the host and producer of the show. On today's episode, my guest Liz is gonna tell us about how she and her husband moved to Italy and the memento that they found there that helped her overcome her worries about feeling like they would never belong.[00:01:33] Liz: My name is Liz Sumner, and I currently have a very boutique coaching practice. Uh, it's gotten small because I really like podcasting. And so now I consider myself a full-time podcaster. My podcast is called I Always Wanted To, and I interview people who are doing things that others long to do.[00:01:59] I didn't always want to live in, in Europe, but Michael, on the other hand, my husband, had lived in the south of France when he was in his twenties and he had done a lot of traveling. So it was more his original desire that we would move to Europe at some point.[00:02:20] Lori: In the early 2000s, Michael suggested Italy as a potential new home for them.[00:02:25] So the first step was for them to take a two-week vacation in 2002. On that trip, they did all the usual touristy stuff in the Italian capital cities. [00:02:36] Liz: At that point, we just could speak only, "Do you have a room?" and "I'm sorry, I don't eat tomatoes," and things like that. We didn't ever connect with anybody on that trip.[00:02:49] Lori: Liz was intrigued by the idea of moving to Italy. But at that point, she developed those major concerns about not ever feeling like they'd belong. But they kept researching on what it would take and what it would cost for such a move.[00:03:04] In 2005, they went on another trip. The plan this time was to be more intentional about connecting with local residents. They spent the entire first week in a tiny bed and breakfast in Orvieto. [00:03:19] Liz: And the people who ran it were so sweet. They also owned a restaurant. They kept inviting us to meals and bringing food home from the restaurant for us.[00:03:31] And I remember at one point Michael, trying to explain the electoral college system to them in, in our limited Italian. It was like the opposite of what I had felt, that, that, that we wouldn't connect with people. And we were so embraced by this couple. [00:03:55] Lori: On the next leg of the trip, they went full immersion.[00:03:59] Liz: [00:04:00] For 18 days, we did not see a single person who spoke English. But we managed, and it was really exciting and helped us -- helped me, certainly -- fall in love with this country. [00:04:16] Lori: Michael kept researching, and he found what he thought would be the perfect location for them: the Le Marche region in central Italy. The area has Renaissance and Medieval charm without the tourism and high sticker price. In the fall of 2010, they went back to Italy.[00:04:35] Liz: He surprised me on my birthday with a trip to Venice and a plan to rent a car and travel down to Le Marche and just look around, see what's what, have it be the first step in our plan to maybe someday buy something. [00:04:55] Lori: "Maybe someday" arrived a lot sooner than they expected. [00:05:02] Liz: We stopped for coffee in this little town called Pergola, and it was just something about it.[00:05:08] It's a Medieval hill town. It was built in the 1300s. And, uh, it, it had, this is lovely energy going on. And it was about 10 or 11 o'clock in the morning, we were walking up and uh down the street, stopped for coffee. And we decided, okay, this is the place. This is the place where we will check out a real estate agent.[00:05:35] And we come across this agency with the name Casa Mania. The sign outside was in that party font, you know, where it looks really wacky. So we thought, okay, good. Casa Mania. This is the place. We asked if it was possible in this price range to find something. And they said, “oh yeah, sure” and started grabbing keys and taking us to see places, which we hadn't expected to do.[00:06:05] Um, the office was right at the edge of the city wall in an old building. And we just walked on cobblestone streets, uh, about two and a half blocks, through an old archway, and came across this building with a giant portone, they call it, um, the big front door. So we walk up and, and we're just dumbfounded.[00:06:47] We had never imagined what it might look like inside. We'd mostly seen churches from the inside or places that had been made up to be BnBs or something, but we'd never seen somebody's apartment building. But it was like the person who had lived there had just gone out for coffee. The house was completely furnished, with pictures and stuff on the table and stuff on the mantelpiece.[00:07:17] And it was as though somebody was gonna come home later. It hadn't been occupied for a couple of years. The, the previous owner had passed away. But the house was still completely furnished in a very old-fashioned style.[00:07:35] Lori: They fell in love with this apartment right away, even though it was the first one that they looked at. And it had some challenges, like no hot water in the kitchen.[00:07:44] Liz: This apartment was built in the 1300s. It was the palazzo of some nobleman. Our apartment was the servant's quarters. Uh, so some of our neighbors in the other apartments downstairs have much grander places with higher ceilings and fancy stuff. But this is just right for us. [00:08:07] Lori: They made an offer and negotiated the purchase. Before the closing, Liz and Michael communicated with the sellers, who were the children of the previous owner. [00:08:17] Liz: We had told them that we would be happy to accept anything they wanted to leave there. They told us that they were gonna take some stuff.[00:08:25] So we, we had no idea what we were going to find when we got there. And when we arrived, there was just about everything that we had seen.[00:08:39] I mean, they left beds, they left dressers, they left armadia. They, they left a laundry detergent. Just everything that was in a home that somebody lived in. So we spent the first couple of weeks going through closets and chests of drawers and finding stuff. In the attic, over in the corner, all covered with dust, there was a framed picture, like an old-fashioned photograph that looks to me like, like it was Italian Gothic, like Grant Wood had painted American Gothic only in Italy.[00:09:27] And uh, and there was a farmer and his wife. The farmer's wearing a hat. He has a great big mustache. The wife has a tired smile on her face. She has dark hair with the gray beginning to show. It's sort of uncertain how old she is because you can tell she's had a hard life. She might be 36. Uh, she might be 56.[00:10:11] We dusted off this picture and decided that this was Grandma and Grandpa, um, or in Italian, it would be Nonno and Nonna and, and that we were going to, to adopt them as our, our Italian relatives. We learned that this is Ferdinando and Rosa Baldelli. They would solve the problem of me not having Italian connections.[00:10:45] So we adopted them and put them on our wall. And, uh, we, we ended up having, uh, an absolutely lovely closing with the family that we bought the apartment from, but we, we hid Grandma and Grandpa when they came to look at the apartment and to see what we had done, because we didn't want them to take 'em away.[00:11:08] So ...since then they have come and they have seen that we have given them a place of honor and they don't want them. Um, but we love them.[00:11:24] I mean at first we giggled about it, but then it just sort of became, well, of course, they're looking out for us. They are our, the representation of our connection here. Um, when a new guest comes to the house, we explain who they are because Michael is a, is a portrait artist. And there are a number of other pictures of people on the wall, um, that are illustrations that, that Michael has done.[00:11:55] And, and then there's this photograph of this couple. So it's just, it requires an explanation, but it's a good story. So we like to tell it.[00:12:12] I mostly worry that, that they worked too hard, particularly Rosa. There's another photograph of, of them with a giant family. There are a lot of children. And, uh, so I, I have respect and sympathy for Rosa. [00:12:31] Lori: After they moved in, Liz and Michael did some things around town to help them feel more integrated in the community.[00:12:37] For example, Liz volunteered at a cat shelter for a while. And what they found was that they had made a great choice about where to live. [00:12:46] Liz: A major reason why we felt connected was because we were right in town. We know of people who, who bought the beautiful country places outside of town, but they hardly ever come into to town.[00:13:01] And so they don't feel a part of things. They aren't known. When we first arrived to stay in that, the beginning of May of 2011, we walked in the door, and I met Luccia, who was our downstairs neighbor. She was the most wonderful neighbor you could possibly imagine. She introduced us to everybody. She introduced us to two of the people who told us who Rosa and Ferdinando were.[00:13:34] And, uh, she introduced us to Teresa who runs the florist shop, which has just kitty cornered from, from our apartment. And we would sit in Teresa's florist shop eating gelato, and I would just try to understand and comprehend. But it was just, like, they took us in and made us welcome. [00:14:00][00:14:09] I feel incredibly fortunate. At the time, we were just sort of putting one foot in front of the other. It just fell into place and we were carried along on this perfect idea that, that Michael and I were in sync about and the universe put into place for us.[00:14:46] Neither of us has any interest in moving back to the US, but I hope that if I ever had to, for some reason, um, I, I hope Rosa and Ferdinando would come with us. Um, I, I would feel sad to leave them. I don't want to think about that. [00:15:04] I'm just really fond of them. I don't think I have anything, anything more to say, except that I'm oh, I'm going to get a little misty. No, no. They just, um, they're they're very dear.[00:15:25] Lori: Thank you, Liz, for sharing the story about your Nonno and Nonna with us. This episode was written, produced, and sound designed by me, Lori Mortimer. Music is from Epidemic Sound, Fesliyan Studios, Blue Dot Sessions, and Soundstripe. [00:15:44] As Liz mentioned at the top of the episode, she has a podcast called I Always Wanted To. It's an interview show, and she talks to some really interesting people who are doing things that she finds interesting and that she thinks other people will find interesting, too. [00:16:06] In fact, her latest bonus episode is called I Always Wanted To Be a Podcaster, and the guest is yours truly. So if you want to hear a mini episode about how I got inspired to do this show, swing on by I Always Wanted To, and then Liz will drop the full episode of our interview later in January. And the whole point is to showcase the things that folks are doing to inspire other people to go do things they've always wanted to do.[00:16:38] If somebody else can do it. So can you.[00:16:44] I'll be rounding out the season and the year with one more episode. I'm gonna talk about the strangest object I found amongst my mother's things. And no, it's not about sex. Get your mind out there. But it's truly unusual, totally unexpected. And I really want to share my journey with this object with you. As always, thanks for listening. And I'll see you in two weeks.
Ruth's Poetry
Oct 27 2021
Ruth's Poetry
Bréjean finds a folder of her deceased grandmother's poetry tucked away in a closet and learns that she has a lot more in common with her "prim and proper" grandmother than she thought. Written, produced, and sound designed by Lori Mortimer.Story editing by Galen Beebe.Mementos audio logo by Martin Austwick.Music & SFXAllie Mine by Blue Dot SessionsGeorgia Overdrive by Blue Dot SessionsPastel de Nata by Blue Dot Sessions131032__klankbeeld__wind-in-tree-white-birch-01 © Klankbeeld  Freesound.orgBirds Sound Effect by BurghRecords 420390__magdaadga__walking-the-leaves  Freesound.org looperman-l-1440756-0080599-simonecampete-strings-of-the-sun-pizzicatolooperman-l-1440756-0080594-simonecampete-strings-of-the-sunlooperman-l-1440756-0080595-simonecampete-strings-of-the-sun-2looperman-l-0207475-0195342-milk-seduction.wavlooperman-l-0747210-0174488-82-bpm-acoustic-guitarFollow the show @MementosPodcast on Twitter and Instagram.Follow the Facebook page: Lori at @mortaymortay on Twitter and Instagram. ----------------------------------------------TRANSCRIPT[00:00:00] LORI: Mementos sometimes what you really keep is on the inside.BRÉJEAN: I feel like I’m very different from my grandmother. But am I? She had such an image that she kept up. She was very prim and proper. You know, she had perfectly coiffed hair, and she had to have her face on, and she had to have her jewelry on. And my grandfather was buttoned down shirts, ties, jackets when you went to visit him. They were not to be seen even in private or in public when they were not wearing those, you know, what felt like uniforms of the, um, prim and properness of it all. In her home, you know, there was the matching bedroom set, and then in the dining room, the table and the, the armoire and the buffet, and the chairs, like everything was all about how it looked.It was a little three bedroom ranch. All the rooms were kind of small. But what really struck you when you went to see her was when you walked into the living room, with the green and gold furniture – ’cause that was her color scheme – right over the fireplace, was a giant picture of my grandmother. Posed, sitting there, stately, lording over this home.And that was just showing that she was really, she was the one in control of that home. And all the while she had this wild side of her that she couldn't talk about or share.[00:02:07]LORI: Welcome back to Mementos. I’m Lori Mortimer, the host and producer of the show. If you’re listening for the first time, thank you. It’s great to have you here. This week, we have our first grandma episode! My guest, Bréjean, is going to tell us about a memento that’s helped her see her grandmother in an entirely new light. Just a heads up that there’s some content in this episode that’s not suitable for kids. Bréjean lives in the U.S. with her wife their cats. They’re also the parents to two adult unschooled children who have long been out of the house. Her story starts in 2012, after her mother passed away. [00:02:50]BRÉJEAN: And when that happened, I went to her house to go through her belongings. And there was like a little linen closet in the hallway.Now, this house belonged to her parents. And when her parents died, she moved into the house. So a lot of the belongings in the house were from my grandparents, Ruth and Sal. So I went through the belongings, and I went through that closet, and way on the top shelf, underneath some towels, was a brown envelope.And it said my grandmother's name on it. And it said “poetry.” And sure enough, I saw what my mother had told me many, many years ago when I was a little, that my grandmother was a poet.[00:03:37]LORI: Even though Bréjean knew her grandmother was a poet, she’d never seen any of the poetry and they never talked about it. The poems had been stored carefully and neatly, in chronological order, in an envelope and with a label that matched the way Bréjean’s grandfather stored all the important papers in that house.Her early writings when she was little were all to do with nature. And they were very, um, sort of faith based. It was a lot of mention of God in her poetry, but a lot of mention of the beauty of nature, which really spoke to me because I'm pagan. So I found my spirituality in nature, and I found that really interesting that my grandmother, as a young girl, felt the same way.[00:04:34] BRÉJEAN: February 8th, 1933, Ruth, age 12. A poem called “A Tree.”Have you ever seen anythingAs lovely as a tree?Anything more usefulOr more beautiful to see?They are messengers of God,Who sent them from aboveTo help us and remind usOf the good God and his loveAnd so we should not forgetWhen we look up and seeThe power and beauty of the LordAll revealed in a treeIsn't that wonderful? And I love that because as a pagan, one of our holidays is called Mabon, and Mabon is when we hug trees. So we go out, and everyone finds a tree in the yard and communes with it and hugs it. And I can just picture my grandmother writing this poem, sitting in her yard, looking up at the trees. And she was inspired to write a poem about them.And I just felt such a connection. ’Cause I could see myself having written exactly the same poem at her age. The mention of God, I would have expressed that differently, but the wonder and the sacredness and the spirituality was the same for me as it was for her. And in that way, I just felt like, Hey, I knew you.I knew you when you were little. I was you when you were little and I was little, and that is a really wonderful thing for me. It's almost like genetics. It's almost like we all have that in our genes, in my family. And my children do, too. Like, they're very connected to nature. So those are the ways in which we keep those connections going through our ancestors. And we don't even know that were doing it. I didn't even know that my grandmother had these interests. And there they were this whole time in an envelope in the top of her closet.There were so many years where there was no writings of hers at all. So clearly she was raising her family. She was doing all of that stuff. And then she, uh, entered the workforce later on in life. And then she rediscovered her, her love of writing. [00:07:08]LORI: In the envelope, Bréjean found poems that very much sounded like the adult version of young Ruth, with reflections on nature and family. BRÉJEAN: And then, and then I found 18 pages of an erotic poem that my grandmother wrote. Hello, grandma. [Laughter.][00:07:44]LORI: Hello, indeed. I will say that what Bréjean refers to as an erotic poem is truly porn. The poem is written in the first person. And the protagonist is an 18-year-old girl out in the workforce for the first time. BRÉJEAN:“Diary of a French Steno”I am a young stenographer. My age is just 18.And I will frankly tell you of the things I've heard and seen.The men have always called me a very pretty girl.They say my form is perfect. My mother named me Pearl. And then on we go.[00:08:23]LORI: Each stanza tells a story about how Pearl pinched, pulled, groped. Constantly sexually harassed at a series of jobs.And every time she defended herself from these assaults, she lost her job. Eventually, Pearl has had enough. And she decides at her next interview, she's gonna take control of the situation.BRÉJEAN: At last, I have decided to take things as they came,And if I lost another job, I'd have myself to blame.And then she proceeded to have this really sexual relationship with the man that’s her boss.Like, she was victimized by these men until she turned it around and said, alright, I'm gonna use this. I'm gonna, I'm gonna look at my sexuality as a power that I'm gonna take charge of this, you know, relationship. Kind of like, if this is gonna to happen to me anyway, I'm gonna own it.And I'm gonna take control of it.[00:09:41]LORI: The last half of the poem describes Pearl and her boss getting it on, over and over.BRÉJEAN: She goes on and on and on and on. With words for body parts that I never knew.I would never have believed that my grandmother would have written that. Especially just sort of her outward appearance being so perfect all the time. And she had this secret side of herself at a time where, certainly women could not be exploring their sexuality.[00:10:38]LORI: After the long poem, the envelope contained a short story. And that revealed another connection between Bréjean and her grandmother. BRÉJEAN: It was queer writing. You know, my grandmother wrote about, uh, experiences with other women, which I found fascinating because I'm a lesbian and both my children are queer.[00:11:03]LORI: It’s the story of a high school girl named Jan who’s exploring her sexuality with other teens.BRÉJEAN: Jan had a very explicit encounter with, with her sister named Helen. But the way that she wrote it was very much … it was like a sexual fantasy between two women. And I don't think that the incestual piece of that was the point. I think the point was -- at least that's my takeaway now -- as I'm looking at this thinking that somebody who was repressed because of her religion or her upbringing or society or whatever was happening around her, like this was a way that she could talk about having a lesbian, um, experience with somebody, in -- I don't know if I would use the word safe -- but in a way that she would understand. [00:11:59] LORI: In the envelope, along with the short story, Bréjean found an adult porn magazine from the same era. She sees a connection between the fantasy world of Ruth’s story and the material world of the magazine. [00:12:12]BRÉJEAN: I really think that my grandmother was bisexual.I feel like that magazine was my grandmother's way of being able to access images of women, naked women, who are having sex with each other, even though there were men involved. Coupled with this porn that she wrote, that was her way of being able to experience something that she wasn't able to really experience. Like this fantasy or this desire to be with other women.I mean, you could look at that magazine and think, well, maybe it was Grandpa's magazine, but it wasn't Grandpa's magazine. It was with Grandma's poetry. [00:12:55]Everything was all about appearances for her. So if she really thought it would tarnish her reputation to be out in any way as bisexual, she would have thought that that was the worst thing that could happen. So how torturous that would have been for her to, to live in a, in a prison, a prison of many bars, of many definitions. So it makes sense that she would keep everybody at an arm's length, that she would play her cards close to her chest, that she would be, you know, unapproachable, that she would not be able to open up warmly. When I came across her porn writing I felt like I was almost, um, violating her privacy.But then when I thought about it, it was, it was saved. That envelope had survived through her life. And then after she passed, my grandfather kept it. And then when he passed, my mother moved into that house. And it’s interesting because my mom was pretty conservative in a lot of ways. And she must have had some kind of pride in my grandmother’s writings because my mom knew everything that was in that house. And she, she knew what was in that closet. And I think that's interesting that it was in the closet. Literally.[00:14:45]It felt like it was meant for us -- and by us I mean my family -- to know this side of Ruth. And we had such a good time reading it all with both of my kids sitting around the kitchen table that day. We still talk about it. We talk about grandma's porn.I think that my grandmother would have been at least proud that someone found her writing, and that's where I struggle with what to do with it from this point on.I wrestle with the concept of coming out versus not coming out. And certainly, she chose not to. But it's important, especially in the queer community, for us to know our history.Do I publish it so that other queer people can see a part of our history in the writings of a woman who could not speak out loud who she was?[00:16:00]So I'm torn about what to do with it, but I think so much about my grandmother and about what life was like for her and what would have been different for her had she been able to be out. But I think that's the case for many queer people. I mean, myself included.I didn't come out until I was 40. Um, so I think the parallels are kind of interesting because she would have written that queer porn around that same age.I’ll never know if she wants it published, if she wants it shared with the rest of the world. Or whether just it’s enough for her that her family knows. I just think that she would have been happy to have it in my hands.And I think about, like, sometimes we keep mementos because something will remind us of someone. [00:17:02]But in this case, I'm keeping something that is an item of discovery.About her, about my family, and about my, my heritage, which I think is amazingly beautiful and important and certainly is a gift to me.[00:17:35]LORI: I am always so grateful to my guests for trusting me, a new podcaster, with their stories, and that’s especially true with this episode. Thank you, Bréjean, for trusting me with this story. This episode was written, sound designed and produced by me, Lori Mortimer. And Galen Beebe was the story editor. The music is from Blue Dot Sessions and Looperman. And you all for listening. Keeping with the theme of grandmothers, there is something you can do for me. What would be really helpful for me is if you thought of yourself as my grandmother and you just started bragging about the show everywhere you go. Just whip out your phone like it’s a wallet full of snapshots, and show your friends and family how to subscribe. Thank you in advance for being obnoxious on my behalf.My next episode will be out in a few weeks. My goal is to have something ready for you before Thanksgiving so that you have something to listen to if you’re traveling. Thanks again. See you soon.
Jared's Flock
Oct 6 2021
Jared's Flock
Jared meets his match in an aggressive little Senegal parrot named Cricket, who ultimately charms Jared and changes his life for the better. Jared keeps a large scarlet macaw feather as a memento of the relationships in his life that led to his becoming a "flock leader." Mementos Season 1, Episode 5: Jared's FlockGuest: Jared H.Visit www.MementosPodcast.com to see some photos of the memento in this episode. Follow the show @MementosPodcast on Twitter and Instagram.Follow the Facebook page: Lori at @mortaymortay on Twitter and Instagram CREDITSLori Mortimer – Host, Sound Designer, ProducerJared H. – Guest (Jared has a gaming podcast called Parrot Talk.)Galen Beebe – Story EditorAlyssa Duvak – Social MediaMusic:Kenneth Donahue for “Good Boy”Martin Austwick for the Mementos audio logo“Borough,” “Pedalrider,” “Let Go Gecko,” and “Checkered Blue” by Blue Dot Sessions (www.sessions.blue).looperman-l-2789900-0179984-roddy-rich-x-ynba-type-looplooperman-l-1186967-0194474-piano-melody-755-abelouisTRANSCRIPTMementos Season 1, Episode 5: Jared's FlockLori: Mementos. Sometimes what you really keep is on the inside. Jared: So I, uh, I walked into Emily's family house then various in the kitchen, and he's just staring at you with these watching every movement you make. She goes and gets some, opens the cage and you know, he's, he's able to fly. He's got his feathers.They're not clipped, but he sits just on her and he just stares. He would fluff up a little bit and he puff his wings out a little bit, kind of get a little huffy at ya and he just make himself look about two or three times bigger. And it wasn't like he was looking at you more as looking through when he wanted to be aggressive.The first introduction of me and Cricket was him turning around to bite my finger and making me bleed. He was, he was a demon.[00:01:10] Lori: Welcome to Mementos. I’m Lori Mortimer. You know, it makes sense that people like to talk about mementos that remind them of someone who’s passed away. But it’s also nice to hear somebody talk about a memento that has deep meaning to their own personal journey. Today we’re gonna hear about a memento that's tied to that little Senegal parrot, Cricket. Cricket isn’t very big. He stands about 9 inches tall. And he weighs no more five or six ounces. But that little guy made big impact on my guest’s life. Be sure to listen all the way to the end today because I’ve dropped something special after the credits. Ok. On to the story. [00:01:54] Jared: My name is Jared. I’m from central Wisconsin, Lori: Wisconsin, huh? Guess what Jared does for a living.Jared: I make cheese. Jared: Um, yeah, I know very Wisconsinite of me. [Laughter]Lori: Also very Monty Python.Monty Python clip: Blessed are the cheese-makers! Lori: And even though Jared humored me when I barraged him with cheese-related questions, Jared: uh, I mean, Parmesan is Parmesan, no matter what, uh, acidity level.Lori: That's not what he came to talk about. [00:02:25] Jared: The object that I wanted to talk about today, which I actually brought with us, is a giant macaw tail feather. Specifically, it's a scarlet macaw feather. It has quite significant meaning to me because of the impact parrots have made in my life. The tail feather of a scarlet macaw -- some people don't really know how big they actually are -- it's actually the size of my forearm, believe it or not. Lori: Scarlet macaws are the big red and blue parrots. Like the ones you see on a pirate's shoulder. But Jared's not a pirate, mateys. He's an air force veteran, a blessed cheesemaker, and he's here to tell us about….Jared: My journey into fatherhood of, of parrots. [00:03:09] Lori: The story starts with little Cricket. About seven or eight years ago, Jared was dating a young woman named Emily.She was in college nearby. Cricket was Emily’s her pet. But he lived across the state with her parents. So she asked Jared if it would be okay if Cricket moved in with him, so that she could see him more often.Jared: I was a little naïve, just because I'm dog whisperer and a cat whisperer. Like, every animal loves me.When he actually bit me on that first go around, I was like, all right, this might be a little bit tougher than it was going to be. And, uh, I kind of took it upon myself that I was like, I was gonna make him my friend. Just simply because no animal hates me. [00:03:57] Lori: Jared's mission: Win Cricket over. Codename: Parrot persuasion.Jared: The way I had it set up was I had a long couch, and then in the corner was Cricket with his cage. And then I had a loveseat, and I would sit next to his cage. And I'd just sit there and chat with Cricket and be like, Hey buddy, what's up?I would cut up these little strips of paper, and then I'd kind of fold them in half until it became like a little scratching stick. And put it through his cage, and I'd scratch his noggin. Or I'd open the cage and I'd give him like a blackberry or a blueberry or some kind of treat.And I would slowly reinforce that, Hey, I'm not a bad guy. I'm here to make your day, buddy. I got some pretty nasty bites. ’Cause, you know, I was like, all right, I can go in for a step up. And no, not even close. Like he definitely let me have at one time. And I was like, no, he was not ready. And so, you know, that's where I got my pretty big scar on my thumb, where he tried to gnaw it off.[00:05:01]Lori: Jared built up trust with Cricket over about four or five months, but he still hadn't turned the corner. And then Jared got the flu and was home for several days in a row. Jared: And I worked very intensely with Cricket, kind of, you know, letting him out, letting him just free roam around the house. And finally, on the third day, when I was finally starting to feel a little bit better, he crawled up and sat on my shoulder. And then parrots will do this weird thing where they'll turn around, and then they'll put their head in their back, which is basically like their way of sleeping.And he ended up doing that while I was sick at home. And that was kind of like, okay, he's now my friend.[00:05:41] Lori: Cricket and Jared really bonded. And like any roommates, they learned each other's routines and their quirks. Jared: He knew little phrases. Um, I drink a lot of fizzy water, and I like, I like my sodas every once in a while. And he learned the opening of a can of soda. One day I was sitting in my bedroom, and all of a sudden I hear that [sound effect of can opening].And I’m like, Emily's not here. Wait, what? And then I, and I look out and there's Cricket, just kind of sitting there. And I'm like, all right, buddy.I would come home at night. I always worked second or third shift. He’d kind of fluff up. I'd hear him fluffing, and he'd make it a little squeak. And I’d open the door. And then he'd come on top of the cage.He would actually fly to my shoulder and hang out with me. There are countless nights where I'd be watching TV and he'd be on my shoulder. He'd be on my knee. And he would just fall asleep for like an hour or two. And I’d be like, all right, Cricket, it's actually time for you to go to bed, bud.You know, so it was, it was just the nightly relationship that we ended up having that really cemented how much I would love this little guy.[00:06:54] So I ended up kind of losing Cricket and, uh, and Emily, when she went away on an internship. Our lives were just kind of deviating in different paths.Like, I was very sad for Emily, but I was, like, very sad that I no longer had my feathery friend at home. You know, there's this bird that would just. Jared, hi, welcome. You know, Welcome home, buddy. It's like, Hey, you come over here and you fly over my shoulder. You know, we’d eat breakfast together. He'd steal a noodle off of my fork as I’m eating.This guy was a big part of my life, even when she wasn't there. So, like, the loss of a loved one, as well as the loss of a very, very close animal was just absolutely devastating.[00:07:55] When Cricket and Emily kind of left, I was by myself. It was kind of my transition from, from Emily and Cricket to, uh, this feathery void that I had in my soul. And so a gentleman had a scarlet macaw who needed a new home. She was a beautiful sassy macaw. I visited her about three times, and I almost adopted her, but she just would've been too big for my tiny little apartment. Lori: On one of the visits, Scarlet's owner gave Jared one of her tail feathers. And that feather is the memento he's talking about today. [00:08:18] Jared: The reason why I kept the feather was it was kind of like a nice little introduction into being a flock leader, is what I call myself. And that was kind of like my first step into the world of parrots by myself.Emily and I were very, very close. We had a hardcore relationship, you know, over parrots and, and my love for parrots and how I took care of Cricket. When I transitioned into, um, going off on my own, it kind of reminded me of taking that first step to where I was reaching out, trying to, trying to find a flock of my own. [00:09:20] Lori: Bonding with Cricket and visiting Scarlet really sealed the deal for Jared. He left the nest and set out to find his flock. Jared: I ended up adopting an old man by the name of Harley. Uh, then I, you know, he was looking sad. So I was like, all right, I've got to get the young buck for the old bull, you know, rejuvenate him a little bit.That's where Mr. Blue Nibbles the Third came into play. That is actually his official name, Mr. Blue Nibbles the Third. Blue ’cause he's blue. Nibbles cause he nibbles on everything. And the Third, because he's my third parrot. Lori: Unfortunately, Harley started having seizures and eventually passed away.Jared: Blue had this like sad, sad Panda look on his face one day. And I was just like, all right, I need to get you a new buddy. Now I've got my two best friends, a sun conure by the name of Helios and a blue monk parrot by the name of Mr. Blue Nibbles the Third. Lori: Like any pets, Blue and Helios have their own personalities. [00:10:33] Jared: They don't actually like to sit on my shoulder and hang out with me while I watch TV. I, I consider them more of gargoyles. You know, they just kind of sit there and hang out with me throughout the day. They make cute little noises. They're my alarm clock.You know, they, they provide some sort of companionship, especially during this COVID stuff. They have definitely taught me patience. They they've taught me, uh, to be understanding of what they want. And they really kind of taught me their own little language. You know, these cute little squeaks that you hear in the background, they're just, they're like, Dad's talkin’. So we're going to talk, too. We're going to make noise. Um, you know, Helios has got his wake up call where he literally will just [parrot squawks three times].Until he just feels satisfied that like I get up and get out. Blue, when he's upset about something, he gets into his cage and he does the South Park “rabble rabble rabble” [sound of Blue making “rabble rabble rabble” sound].[00:11:30] Lori: I think one of the coolest things about parrots is that some of them can talk. And Jared's been teaching Blue a few phrases. Jared: Who’s a good boy?Blue: Who’s a good boy?Jared: Gimme kiss.Blue: Gimme kiss.Jared: You know, a lot of parrot owners will say, you know, uh, you know, oh, if you're a great parrot owner, you never get bit. I, I call shenanigans on that. I get bit all the time. And that's, that's simply because I, I want to show them that I'm the alpha of the flock, you know? Lori: Well, I'd say flock hierarchy may still be a work in progress. Here's what happened when I asked Jared to bring the birds closer to the mic. Jared: It may be a process. Hold on. Come here. No, don't even. Don't do it. No. No. Why are parrots so difficult? One second.[00:12:40] Jared: The feather has a lot, a lot of deep meaning. When Emily came into my life, we both kind of had the understanding of like, hey, you know, no marriage, no this, no that, you know. This is just kind of, you know, something fun while I'm in school. So when I met her, I kind of started to invoke these feelings of, you know, like, hey, this could be something real.And she kind of started getting real with it, too. And that's about when she brought up Cricket. And, you know, we're coming up on our year anniversary is like, this is big news, this is a big deal. I'm getting her parrot. I'm getting a girl. And like, we were doing awesome.You know, these parrots are an extension of mine and hers relationship. And the feather’s kind of the end of the era of Emily and Cricket and the here-I-am-now with the two goobers that I have sitting behind my computer, uh, you know, as we're talking.Like, so it kinda signifies the transition of this, this amazing relationship that I, you know, that I basically cemented into my life.My parents are still weirded out about the fact that I'm a parrot guy now. They’re like, Why can't you just have a dog or something like that?’Cause I like parrots. They’re better.[00:14:16] Lori: Jared, thank you for sharing your story with us. I really loved putting this episode together. This episode was written, produced and sound designed by me, Lori Mortimer. Story editing was by Galen Beebe. And listener feedback was from: Steve “Oshman” Nelson, the Pod Prod, Brenda LaPorte, Alyssa Duvak, and also Shruti Ravindran and Skye Pillsbury of The Edit. Music in this episode is by Blue Dot Sessions and Looperman. And Martin Austwick wrote the audio logo that you hear at the top and end of every episode.There’s just one more thing before we get to the surprise. I wanted to let you know I’ve been listening to a podcast called 'I Always Wanted To.' Liz Sumner is the host and she interviews people who are doing things that they always wanted to do. Sometimes it's a career or a life change, sometimes it's a new hobby or skill, and sometimes it's some kind of an adventure. It inspires me to take my 'always wanted to' list and make it a priority in my life. So check it out. I think you'll really enjoy it.[00:15:37] Hey. What's that mysterious ticking noise?[Music: “Good Boy”][00:16:48] Lori: “Good Boy” was written, mixed, and produced by Kenneth Donahue, featuring Jared and Mr. Blue Nibbles the Third.
Cherie's Letters
Sep 22 2021
Cherie's Letters
Cherie inherits a stack of 33 letters, written by her grandfather, who died during the Korean War, and who Cherie's family never talked about. Before receiving the letters, she knew almost nothing about him. She hadn't even seen a picture of him. But the letters unveil who he was and the fateful decisions he made that affected not only his life but still affect her life today. Larry Hood’s page on the Korean War Project website. (While talking with Cherie, I misspoke and called it the Korean War Memorial website. It's the Korean War Project. My apologies to the folks there!)Season 1, Episode 4: Crystal's LettersGuest: Cherie Louise TurnerVisit www.MementosPodcast.com to see some photos of the memento in this episode. Follow the show @MementosPodcast on Twitter and Instagram.Follow the Facebook page: Lori at @mortaymortay on Twitter and Instagram. CREDITS:Lori Mortimer – Host, Sound Designer, ProducerCherie Turner – GuestCharles Gustine – Voice ActorGalen Beebe – Story Editor Alyssa Duvak – Social MediaMusic: Micolai by Blue Dot SessionsLooperman: looperman-l-1186967-0179585-piano-melody-654-abelouislooperman-l-2431466-0230476-sunset-piano-melodylooperman-l-4487063-0257366-lofi-piano-really-chilllooperman-l-2392682-0213471-classic-mellow-piano--------------------TRANSCRIPTMementos Episode S1:E4Cherie’s Letters[00:00:00]CHERIE: One of the reasons that he was so aggressive about putting himself in danger is because he just wanted to get back home. And that was his fastest way to get back home. And it ended up doing the very thing that made it, this short track, which is that it was super, super dangerous and you're at risk of dying.And that's what happened.LORI: Welcome to Mementos. I’m Lori Mortimer. If you listened to the last episode, Crystal’s Hymn, you’ll know that it was a story about a grandfather. Today’s episode is also about a grandfather, but the two episodes could not be more different. In this episode, my guest is going to tell us about a grandfather who she knew nothing about until just a few years ago.Cherie has been able to bring back to life, in a sense, her grandfather, who died many years ago and who had been lost to the sands of time. And she learned that he made some fateful decisions a long time ago that not only affected him but also still affect her life today.[00:01:30]CHERIE: My name is Cherie Louise Turner. And I’m originally from Goleta, California, which is near Santa Barbara.LORI: Cherie’s story starts in 2010, when she got a phone call from her aunt. CHERIE: She informed me that my grandmother had passed, after several bouts of cancer. And she had left me some things in her will. Which I was very surprised about because I really hadn’t spoken much to her um, in probably over 20 years. [00:02:00]So I received this stack of 33 letters that my grandfather, Larry Hood, had written to my grandmother while he was in the Army and then when he went off to the Korean War.Before I got these letters -- I got them when I was 40 years old -- I really didn’t think much of my grandfather. Or I didn’t give him much thought. I had maybe known that he died in a war. I wasn't even ever clear on which war it was.He went into the Army on the 4th of April, 1951, and he died on June 29th, 1952. He wasn't even overseas for but a few months. So by the time I was cognizant of this missing person, he'd been gone for such a long time, and nobody really talked about him because my grandmother had already been married -- remarried -- twice.And so this was my first opportunity to learn anything about him.[00:03:03]LORI: One by one, these letters unveil the pieces of Larry’s life story.Most of them are written to Cherie’s grandmother Mary and to Cherie’s father Gary, who was just little at the time. He was between 4 and 5 years of age. And yes, this family has rhyming names: Larry and Mary, and their son Gary.In the letters, Larry talks about his everyday life in the Army. They start when he was in training camp in California, and then take him to a stop to Japan and then on to the front lines in North Korea.[00:03:30]CHERIE: I don't know how he ended up in the Army. I don't get the sense that he was real gung-ho about it. I think he probably got enlisted. And from all of the letters, all he wanted to do was come back home.LORI: You can tell that Larry was especially focused on getting home sooner rather than later. CHARLES (as LARRY):Dear Mary and Gary,Tomorrow morning at 3 a.m, I leave by ship for Korea. I get 20 percent more pay in Korea and the full G.I. Bil. The way the rotation system is now workin’, I will get home twice as fast as I would if I stayed here in Japan.CHERIE: The other thing about these, coming from the Army, is there are just some basic things that you miss. You know, you miss your family. Every single letter, he writes, tell Gary I love him, tell him how much I miss him.LORI: He didn’t just miss them, he stayed in communication and supported them. He stayed in communication and supported them. He asked how they were, and he followed up on the things they told him in their letters to him. And he expressed a lot of concern about Mary's well-being.[00:04:47]CHARLES (as LARRY):You say for me to take care of myself. It sounds like you're the one who should take it easy.Your mother wrote me you only weigh a hundred two pounds. So, gal, you better get on the ball and start taking your shots again. Especially now that the windy season is startin’. You're going to blow away if you don't.So honey, write me what you're doin’ because sometimes I wonder and worry about you.[00:05:24]LORI: Through the letters, Cherie got a surprise about her grandparents' relationship, which makes Larry's support of Mary even more remarkable. CHERIE: He and my grandmother had been divorced before he went to war. They got married when they were 17 years old. So they were children. And when you look at the dates it seems pretty obvious that they got married because she got pregnant.[00:05:45]But he’s just so sweet to her the whole time, and he talks about how she would always be very special to him.CHARLES (as LARRY):You'll always mean a lot more to me than just an ex-wife because we were together and did too much to ever forget. Even if it wasn't for the fact that Gary is part of us both.So, baby doll, take care of yourself, and tell Gary that I never stop thinking of him. And naturally, when I think of him, I also think of you.[00:06:27]LORI: You know, not surprisingly, Cherie has opened and read through these letters many times since she got them. But one time, not that long ago, she found something new when she was trying to put one of the letters back in its envelope.CHERIE: The envelope felt kind of heavy after I took the letter out and I just, I kind of gave it a second thought, but not much. And then I was reading through the letter, and I go to put it back, and it won't go in very well. And I realize that there are two photographs in here.They’re the only photos I've ever seen of this man. Which is just kind of miraculous to me.[00:07:00]LORI: Think about that. She’d never even seen a picture of her grandfather before. And when Cherie saw these photos, she was struck by just how young he was. CHERIE: In my mind, he’s an old person. But he died when he was 23.LORI: The photos also captured the bleakness of his surroundings and what he was living through while stationed in North Korea.CHERIE: Of course they’re black and white, so like, there’s no color to them. And you can see it's a very desolate landscape where he is.And you can see hills. Um, there’s a lot of rocks. There are no trees whatsoever. And here they are guarding this post.CHARLES (as LARRY):Except for the guard duty, half the night, we don't have hardly anything to do, but every so often we have to go on patrols of the Chinese lines to see where and what they are doing. Goin’ on those patrols, I can't say I like too well. As far as I'm concerned, they can stay on their hill, and we'll stay on ours.It gets me that so many fellas have to get hurt and go through so much just to take one of these worthless hills. I just hope I get outta here before too many more months because every week seems like a month itself.[00:08:18]CHERIE: He talks about how they do live in tents, and it snows. You know, they were digging into the snow in the hillside to get themselves into a warmer situation. That was just for insulation. Because it was so freezing cold. He said it would take them about an hour in the morning to put their boots on because everything was frozen.CHARLES (as LARRY):More guys have left here because of pneumonia or frozen hands or feet than those who have gotten wounded or shot. I got frostbite in January, and my knees are still bothering me from the cold that has set in them.I’ll be home sometime this summer. I’ll have at least 30 days’ leave, which I’m going to spend at the beach. The sun will feel so good after havin’ spent the winter here.[00:09:13]LORI: After getting frostbite and suffering with the lingering effects, Larry makes a fateful, but consistent, decision.CHARLES (as LARRY):I could have gotten off the front lines because of it, but I would have been moved to a rear area where I would have to stay twice as long.[00:09:33]CHERIE: I, I have a lot of respect for the military and the things that they do. But when you’re reading about a single person’s existence and their experiences, it also can make you feel like, here was this man who was full of life, and he didn’t come back. And it really does make you wonder, was that life worth losing? LORI: The letters are kind of an extended family, treasure trove for Cherie because she learned that other family members were very supportive of Larry while he was overseas. One set of the letters are to Bernice and Ted Boyd. CHERIE: And I can only surmise that Bernice and Ted were my grandmother's parents, so my great-grandparents.I'm just putting this together because he sent a bunch of letters to these people, and it sounds like they took care of my father a lot. And that lets you know how fractured my family was and how little I know about a lot of these people.[00:10:42]CHARLES (as LARRY):Dear Bernice and Ted,Just received your letter today. You're right. Spring is here. Right now I'm sitting in the sun enjoying the sunshine. I sure hope I never spend another winter like this year has been. I'm still having trouble with the cold that had set in my bones. For a while, I even had trouble walking. But they are much better now.I would very much enjoy some cookies from you. They should be wrapped airtight. Wrapped and thin, put into a coffee can, they keep very well. When I get home, I'm going to get you to make some pop overs. I haven't forgotten how good they are or how swell you make ’em.[00:11:29]CHERIE: There is a very last letter in all of this, and it's in a return envelope. And it is a letter from Bernice Boyd that never gets to him because by the time it gets overseas, he's already died. Dear Larry,Yesterday your mother read to me over the phone your letter that you were in the hospital and hurt in the leg and knee.We have all been praying for you during all these months. I have pictured you in our home in chairs around the house with faith that you would be here.We told Gary last night at dinner that you were hurt and in the hospital. Larry, the expression on his face was so sad and so deeply hurt. I told him right away quick that his Daddy would be home soon and that he was getting well. And the expression changed right away to one of happiness. He loves his Daddy. We all love you.God will take care of everything, Larry. Right always wins in the end. I will accept the future as God’s will.I have been making preserves to go into those popovers.Relax now, Larry, all you possibly can. And don't worry about anything.Love, BerniceHe really liked popovers. Just assuming that this is the mother of his ex-wife, there was just a very loving situation all the way around.And had he had the opportunity to come back, they would have all still at least had friendly relations. Who's to say how things would have turned out in the end? I can only fantasize about them, being that my father didn't turn out to be the nicest guy or the most responsible person.[00:13:17]LORI: Cherie’s father, Gary, the little boy in the letters, was entirely absent from Cherie’s life. By choice. CHERIE: My mother got divorced from Gary Hood, uh, about six months after I was born. So I never met him. Uh, he has since passed, so I will never meet him. And my grandmother I love to pieces, but she definitely had her challenges, and she could be a challenging person.And then there’s this sort of shining light of a person who ends up getting killed … and so, it’s, you know, it’s sad. And I hold onto these because he really just felt like such a good part of a history that I didn't even – that I didn’t know about. And then I got this gift of getting to know about him.It was just this really, it, argh, it just … it made me really happy to feel like there was this person who had been in the world who I'm related to, who I kinda got to know just through these series of 33 letters that he wrote to people. It brought him to life for me, and nobody else had done that.And the fact that he got to do that? That was really special.[00:14:42]LORI: At first, I was thinking this is where Cherie’s story would end. But, you know, something kept nagging at me. And it was something Bernice Boyd said in the letter that was returned to her. She said that Larry had been injured in the leg and the knee. And I wondered if those are the injuries that killed him because he had been well enough to write a letter home to his mother about them. I was curious, so I did a little research. And then I called Cherie to tell her what I found.[00:15:20]LORI: Hey, Cherie.CHERIE: Hey, how's it going?LORI: It's goin’ well, thanks! LORI: Um, okay, so I am going to read to you from the Korean War Memorial website.Private first class Lawrence Clark Hood was a member of the 179th infantry regiment, 45th infantry division. He was seriously wounded by the enemy in North Korea on June 16th, 1952, and returned to duty on June 18th, 1952.CHERIE: Oh, wow.LORI: Yeah, yeah, two days. And then he went back.LORI: He was killed in action while fighting the enemy on June 29th, 1952.CHERIE: Wow.So he survived the leg injuries. And then he was killed in action 11 days later.CHERIE: You know, that's really interesting because I just assumed he had died in the hospital. [00:16:06]This just makes so much more sense. It kind of, honestly, it kind of makes me want to cry.You know, the first thing that comes to mind is that … argh … I’m, I'm trying to think of a way of saying this without sounding, I don't know, dramatic or cruel. But, like he, he died fighting. You know, like somehow that just seems, it seems very powerful to me. I mean, in a really awful way, because to die violently is horrible.Um, but somehow it, I, I don't know. It, it just sort of goes with who he was that he was fighting to get home. He, he was putting himself in danger to get back to his family.And what a tough guy, right? Like, he's got frostbite, he's got a leg injury, and it's like, he's still not asking for desk duty.[00:16:58]Like, like I don't really like the word badass, but it's just like, well, that's kind of a badass move. Like just the, just the human spirit of that, right? Like, the human spirit of just wanting something so badly that you're just gonna keep at it until either you die or you get what you want.The fact that he died -- it changed my life. Absolutely. And I think he would have been an amazing father. And that's the saddest part because my father missed out on that. And I missed out on having a great grandfather. [00:17:26]Like, every time I think about him, like, it really gets me welled up. It’s the sadness of missing out on what could have been. [00:18:00]LORI: Thank you, Cherie, for sharing the story, the letters, and your newly found grandfather with all of us. He really does sound like a shining light of a young man. Cherie has her own podcast called Strides Forward: Stories of women runners. You can check it out. She's on all the podcast apps. She's got a website. And she's publishing a series right now, um, about nine women who are prepping for the Boston Marathon, which is running in October this year instead of April, because of the pandemic.For this episode, I must give huge thanks and praise to Charles Gustine, who read Larry's letters.Beautiful work, Charles. Thank you so much. Charles also has a podcast called Iconography, which he calls a tour of icons real and imagined. It’s a mix of pop culture, history, place. So I would check it out. One of my favorite episodes is the episode on Jaws.Galen Beebe edited the story and really helped me pull all the pieces together.[00:18:58]Thank you to the Pod Prod, secret society. And Skye Pillsbury and Jenna Spinelle for your feedback and suggestions. And as always my main man, Steve.This episode was written, produced, and sound designed by me, Lori Mortimer. And lastly, how you can support this show. If you like Mementos, and I hope you do, anytime you’re talking to a friend, mention that you listen to the show and send them to it. See you again in two weeks where we will not hear about a grandfather this time, but we will hear about … birds. See you then!
Crystal's Hymn
Sep 8 2021
Crystal's Hymn
Crystal Chandler finds the perfect memento of her grandfather, a former Seventh Day Adventist preacher, to bring with her when she moves to New York. Season 1, Episode 3: Crystal's HymnGuest: Crystal ChandlerCrystal Chandler runs a media production company that highlights the underrepresented voices in society while providing production opportunities for young people of color to gain hands-on media experience.You can follow Crystal on social media @TheCrystalLens. You can can learn more about her work and production company at www.TheCrystalLens.com.Original music composed by Nate Sharples.Sound FX, Foley, and mixing by Kenneth Donahue.Story editing by Galen Beebe.Produced and hosted by Lori Mortimer."Victory in Praise" by Cast of Characters; licensed from Soundstripe. Visit www.MementosPodcast.com to see some photos of the memento in this episode. Follow the show @MementosPodcast on Twitter and Instagram.Follow the Facebook page: Lori at @mortaymortay on Twitter and Instagram. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------TRANSCRIPT:[00:00:00] Mementos … sometimes what you really keep is on the inside. CRYSTAL: About a year ago, I'm moving to New York, and I want something of my grandfather’s. Like, I need to have something other than just a picture to remember him by. And I go back to my childhood home. My mom and my grandmother still lived there, and they had really cleaned out a good portion of his stuff at that point.[00:00:31] And mind you, he's passed for about seven, eight years at this point. And so I'm looking in the closets, and I'm looking past this plastic bag with like this gray thing in it. And I'm thinking, oh, it's just some, like, I don't know, like rain jacket, like, like, let me find something, you know, more of substance. And I keep passing it.[00:00:47] I'm pushing the bag to the left. And to the right. And just looking around it. As soon as I'm about to leave, I think, okay, let me go look one more time. And for whatever reason, I don't know if it was God or the universe or what, but something told me to open up that plastic bag. And I just thought, like, this is worth a million dollars.[00:01:14] I couldn't have found anything better than this.[00:01:25] LORI: Welcome back to Mementos. I'm Lori Mortimer, and I am so happy to return, finally, with some new episodes after an almost two-year hiatus. That's one reason this is a happy tune.[00:01:44] But the real reason is because of the story my guest Crystal has to tell us today. It has moments of sadness. But ultimately it's about deep love and bonds between a grandfather and his granddaughter. [00:02:00] What's more joyful than that?[00:02:05] I'll step out of the way now and let Crystal get back to telling us what she found in that plastic bag.[00:02:19] My name is Crystal Chandler. I currently live in New York City, and I'm originally from Boston. My grandfather's name was Aubrey Prescott Williams, and he was born in Barbados in the 1920s, I want to say. And he went to England and then eventually came to the United States and settled in Cambridge, where his mother was living.[00:02:43] He was a pastor in Barbados, and then I'm not sure if he preached when he was in England, but he definitely preached when he got to United States. And he was a pastor at Cambridge Seventh Day Adventist Church.[00:02:59] Growing up, I didn't get to enjoy him as a pastor, but I got to enjoy, you know, all of the years of his, his pastoring through his sleep. So my grandfather used to sing in his sleep and sing full choruses, full hymns. He would sing soprano. He would sing the tenor. He would sing the bass and he would sing the piano part and the violin and the trumpet part.[00:03:24] I mean, he was just a one-man band in his sleep. I mean, fully dead asleep, but he was singing his heart away.[00:03:35] I remember my cousin and I, sometimes we would laugh or peek and see what was going on, but it was just grandpa singing in his sleep. [00:04:01] When he passed, I actually had his blanket. And I kept it with me, and I just never wanted to let it go. Until my apartment caught on fire. We didn't actually lose anything. Like, the fire didn't catch my things on fire. It's just that the entire apartment smelled like smoke, and it's really hard to get smoke out of any type of fabric.[00:04:24] And so I think in the process of getting rid of things, you know, maybe a roommate of mine tossed it out by accident. And so now I go back to, again, to my childhood home. And so I'm looking in the closets, and something told me to open up that plastic bag. And I open it, and it’s his pastor’s robe. And I just thought I hit the jackpot.[00:04:49] I mean, it still smells like him. It has his name in it, on the tag, on the inside. And I can really still just feel his energy in here, even though I didn't actually get to see him actually wear it. But his spirit is all throughout every fiber of this pastor’s robe.[00:05:15] So my grandfather was definitely not only the rock, but I'd say the super-glue of our family. And after his passing, you could definitely tell the difference. For me, he was always that person I could run to when I was upset or even if I had good news or I just wanted to relax. I would just sit there and watch TV with him.[00:05:37] But specifically, a lot of times, my mom and I would get into, like, arguments and I would grab the key for upstairs and I would run out and run upstairs, and he would just hold me.[00:05:51] And there's something really warm and loving and just safe about being in your grandfather's arms, despite his trembling from the Parkinson's and whatever other ailments he was going through. It really didn't matter because I could just feel his love throughout all of it.[00:06:19] So from a really early age, you know, my mom had to work nine to five. And so who's home when I get home from school at 2:30 in the afternoon? My grandparents. And my grandfather was just really good at math. So we would sit there at the dining room table and he would help me with my homework. And he was also a historian and had all these random facts in his head.[00:06:41] So I think you definitely get a different type of relationship when your grandparents live at home with you. And specifically when they end up being your caretakers. You know, even on the weekends, sometimes I just wanted to go up and hang out with my grandpa, just, just because.[00:07:06] When I was young -- elementary school age, I'd say -- I knew that he had Parkinson's, but I don't think I could comprehend exactly what was going to happen to him over the years.[00:07:21] One of the first memories that I had was he actually fell in the backyard. My cousin and I, we had our bikes out there, and he wanted to ride a bike. And so he hopped on our bike. And I just remember watching him from the back window on the second floor. And we're like, oh, grandpa's on the bike and not thinking much of it.[00:07:44] And so he fell over because he couldn't peddle on our bikes. And I remember running over, running downstairs, busting through all the doors and just running to him and making sure he was okay. That was probably the first time that I realized, okay, like this, this disease is something. And it's something that he's gonna need some help with.[00:08:09] At first, he could pretty, pretty much still get around on his own. And then it turned into, okay, like he needs someone to kinda like hold his arm, you know, when we walk around. Not a problem, but still pretty mobile. And then it kind of turned into, okay, well now you need a walker, you know? And then it turned into, okay, like either you have to take the walker or someone has to be with you because we don't want you walking without it.[00:08:35] Sometimes when he was eating, his jaw would lock up, and there'd be food in his mouth. And you know, your number one goal is to get that food out of his mouth or to unlock his jaw. And I remember having to learn from my mom and my aunt, just how to massage his, his jaw and his cheek so that it would actually loosen up because it was such a choking hazard for him to be sitting there with food in his mouth.[00:09:08] You could see in his eyes, he would want to talk. And, you know, he was still very alert, very aware, but his body wasn't doing what he wanted it to do. And I think how children can communicate is such a big thing because the moments when his jaw was locked, we could communicate through our eyes. You know, it's an unspoken type of communication that you can't just develop with anyone. It's, it's a special type of communication that you just can't recreate.[00:09:43] I don't think my grandfather ever verbally got upset about the disease that I can remember. But I could see it. I could see it in his eyes. I could see it in his attempts to open a pickle jar or his attempts to change the channel on the remote and his thumb can't get the button to press. And so I think I saw it in those ways where he would attempt to do something and he wasn't able to do.[00:10:17] There was never a thought that crossed my mind that said, oh, okay, we need to put you in a nursing home. I actually, I don't know. I just thought, I always thought it was a little strange to just kind of have your grandparents in a nursing home. You know, it's like they raised you. And so now it's their time that they need help.[00:10:36] And so you return the favor, you know? And so I grew up putting my grandpa to bed. You know, he started off putting me to bed, and then I ended up putting him to bed. I remember I was downstairs in my part of the house, and I was watching, Finding Nemo. And I went upstairs to help grandpa, you know, eat his food.[00:11:02] And I want to say that he was doing okay. Like, he wasn't in a bad spot where he couldn't eat by himself. And I told him, okay, grandpa, just sit here at the dining room table. I'll be right back, I’ll be right back. [00:11:19] And it's late in the evening, and I was so tired. I just remember I was so tired. And I went back downstairs, and I fell asleep. And I woke up to this loud thud. There's a certain sound that the house makes. There’s a certain tremble that the house makes when a person falls. And whenever I heard that specific thud, I always knew that it was grandpa.[00:11:48] This time was different because we did have to call the paramedics. And he went to a rehab center, and I'm thinking, okay, cool. Like, he's going to the rehab center, they're going to rehabilitate him, and he'll be fine. And he'll be back home, just like always. But he didn't come home. He had fallen in the rehab center, but this time he fractured his hip. But when you're 80 years old, they can't really operate on you.[00:12:17] I don't think I realized that definitely meant he wasn't coming home. I just thought it meant, okay, we're going to have to figure out a different way to fix his fractured hip. I remember that it was a Saturday morning, which is ironic, too, because as Seventh Day Adventists, we celebrate the Sabbath on Saturday.[00:12:33] So the rehab center called us and said, Hey, like, you probably should come up here. You know, we're not sure if he's going to make it through the day. We get there and his eyes are closed. He's in a room by himself, and he was still breathing and all that. And I just remember sitting there --we're holding his hand and just talking with him.[00:12:56] Cause they say that the person could still hear you, even if they can't respond.[00:13:04] And I remember I had a iPod dock that played all these like nature sounds. And I remember playing him the sounds of what you would imagine the Amazon forest to sound like. You just feel like ou're in the middle of some type of like paradise with all of these just natural animal sounds.[00:13:26] The last moment I had with him, we were just telling him, I'm okay. You know, my cousin's okay. My aunt's okay. Just running through the list of everything that he might be worrying about. And again, he's not responding, but we know he's listening.[00:13:49] And I'm holding his hand, and he shed a tear and then just [breath] and took his last breath. [00:14:03] It's sad in the moment because you're, you're losing someone as you know them. But you're gaining them in a different sense. You're gaining their spirit. You're gaining all of the lessons that they taught you. You're gaining a sense of how to continue their legacy. You know, when he first passed, I was beyond devastated.[00:14:24] I'm maybe like 14 years old, so that's a lot. But it definitely shaped me. Even in the moments after and learning how to plan a funeral and learning how expensive funerals are. And, you know, all the family politics that come with that. You know, even in his passing, he was still teaching me a lot.[00:14:51] Honestly, it's been a lot easier, I'd say, now that I have his pastor's robe. There was some weight that was lifted off of me or something that just, I don't know, something that was relieved once I had this pastor’s robe. And I didn't know that I needed it.I feel warm. I feel safe in it. I feel empowered in it.[00:15:11] I just feel all of the positive feelings.[00:15:17] He's with me forever now.[00:15:41] LORI: Thank you, Crystal, sharing your story with us. And an extra thank you for being so patient with me during our interview, when I forgot to hit record during your interview, and we had to start over. Galen Beebe’s my editor. Galen, thank you so much. Original music is by Nate Sharples. Kenneth Donahue handled Foley, sound effects, and mixing. Alyssa Duvak was my summer intern. Wait, hold on. Oh, okay. Here it comes. I thought I was running out of music there for a second. Nope! Here we go.Of course, my husband, Steve, who has listened to no fewer than, I don't know, 10 versions of this while I was working on it.Thanks to my buddies at the Pod Prod for all the help they've given.And thank all of you for being here to listen. I really appreciate it.If you like the show, please tell your friends about it. That's really the best way for me to build an audience for it. So share it on Facebook. Tell your friends the next time you're having a drink or a cup of coffee together. Um, anything you can do to spread the word about a show you like -- that's the best way for a little show like mine to build an audience. So thank you in advance for that. And if you're so moved, you can leave a review on Apple or whatever your favorite podcast app is. You can check out my website, MementosPodcast.com. Sometimes I'll have some extra photos or artwork up. And I'm gonna be be doing some blogging there as well about the show.If you have some friends who are less tech savvy, you can send them to MementosPodcast.com also to listen to episodes. They don't need to listen on an app. And I'm also on YouTube right now. So you can listen to the episodes there. Thank you. See you in two weeks.
Coming back in September!
Jul 25 2021
Coming back in September!
Mementos is returning in September 2021 with new episodes. In this update, you'll hear a clip of the first episode that will drop just after Labor Day. Subscribe now or set a reminder to check MementosPodcast.com the week of Labor Day. TRANSCRIPTEpisode Title: Coming Back in September!Date published: 7/25/21LORI:Hey there, I’m Lori Mortimer, the host and producer of Mementos. After a brief hiatus – brief being defined as, say, 23 months (it sounds shorter if you say it in months) – Mementos is coming back this September with brand new episodes. Here’s the opening to the first episode you’ll hear this fall. It drops in September, just after Labor Day. CRYSTAL:About a year ago, I'm moving to New York, and I want something of my grandfather's. Like, I need to have something other than just a picture to remember him by.And I go back to my childhood home. My mom and my grandmother still lived there, and they had really cleaned out a good portion of his stuff at that point. And mind you, he's passed for about seven, eight years at this point. And so I'm looking in the closets, and I'm looking past this plastic bag with like this gray thing in it. And I'm thinking, Oh, it's just some like, I don't know, like rain jacket. Like, like, let me find something, you know, more of substance.And I keep passing it. I'm pushing the bag to the left and to the right and just looking around it. As soon as I'm about to leave, I think, Okay, let me go look one more time. And for whatever reason, I don't know if it was God or the universe or what, but something told me to open up that plastic bag.And I just thought, like, this is worth a million dollars. I couldn't have found anything better than this.LORI: What did Crystal find in the closet? I dunno. You’ll just have wait until September to find out. Hit Subscribe in your favorite podcast app, or set a reminder to check MementosPodcast.com just after Labor Day. See you in September. Mementos audio logo is by Martin Austwick. And the song today was by Blue Dot Sessions. Thank you both.
1.2 A T-Shirt Hug from Dad
Oct 28 2019
1.2 A T-Shirt Hug from Dad
Editorial advice provided by Ariana Martinez -- thank you, Ariana! Music:"This Our Home" by Blue Dot Sessions"Spring Cleaning"by Blue Dot Sessions"When the Guests Have Left" by Blue Dot Sessions"Egomaniacal Pluck Melody" by FJX via Looperman.com"Bebop intro in C" via Looperman.comTRANSCRIPTMementos Season 1: Episode 2: A T-Shirt Hug from DadLori: Welcome back to Mementos, where we talk to people about the personal meaning and deeper stories behind the items they keep. Lori: I’m your host, Lori Mortimer, and I’m excited to bring you Episode 2.Lori: On this episode, we’re gonna switch gears and talk about a handmade gift. Lori: Handmade gifts connect the maker with the recipient. Both people are represented in the final piece. Lori: My husband – let’s call him Steve -- really enjoyed making toys for our kids when they were little. He hand carved and painted them Star Trek phasers (from the original series – for you nerds out there). He made them swords. He carved them little totems to wear after we watched the movie Brother Bear. Lori: And he even made them canoe paddles. We had gotten a canoe and the standard paddles that came with it were way too long for them. They were just unwieldy, and that frustrated them. So instead of just buying kid-sized paddles, my husband, Steve, bought two pieces of wood and used this hand-scrapy tool that had belonged to his grandfather, who was a carpenter. And he slowly and deliberately carved them kid-sized canoe paddles. Like the apocryphal story of Michelangelo chipping away at the stone until David just emerged, Steve scraped away and chipped away at the wood until the paddles that were inside were revealed. Lori: Okay, so maybe that’s a bit much, but you know what I mean. When Steve made those paddles, he brought three generations.Lori: Behind every handmade gift is an expression of love. It takes a lot of time and it takes intention -- and especially in today’s click-and-buy world -- it takes commitment to make something for someone else. Lori: Today, you’ll hear from a woman who encapsulated her relationship with and love for her dad in a hand-stitched t-shirt. she brought it with her to my house one sunny Sunday afternoon last winter.Karen: I'm Karen Krolak. I'm an interdisciplinary artist, and most recently I've been working on a project called The Dictionary of Negative Space that looks at where we don't have words for things that relate to mourning and loss and healing after trauma.Karen: I've come with a periwinkle blue T-shirt that has in it a hand-stitched eagle that's been reverse appliquéd. Lori:Karen found the shirt as a do-it-yourself kit on a clothing designer’s website. Karen: It dawned on me that it was something I could make for my dad that he would actually wear. Originally the kit was made with a white overall shirt, and the background you would kind of choose the color on. But when I called the company to say, “I'm making this for my dad, and my dad spills things constantly on his shirts. Is it possible to do this in a darker color?” They had actually suggested that I do it in in blues.Karen: It's the first thing that I ever had sewed the entire garment.Karen: I first began on the appliqué part of just sewing around all the pieces of the eagle. And I was really aware of how many stitches each little section took. And I began thinking as I was putting in each of the stitches of memories of my dad and time that we spent together and both things that kind of drive me crazy about him and things that I had not thought about in a while that we did together.Karen: You know it has all of these little knots that are the talons. And I had decided that that's what it was going to do for the foot there because I figured that would be a good place to place all the things that kind of drove me crazy about him, was to be like I’ll just knot those up and put them in there. Karen: And I really kind of made a conscious choice to make sure that when I was stitching on it that I would be thinking about him and thinking about our relationship.Lori:Karen was drawn to the eagle design because eagles are sort of a Krolak family insignia.Karen: I made it an eagle actually because when we were kids my younger brother had been asked in school what religion our family was. And he had told the teacher he didn't know what religion meant. Karen: So she had said, “Well, where do you go on either Sunday or Saturday every week?” And his answer was, “The cheese store?” Because there is a really great cheese counter that my dad would spend a lot of his Saturday afternoons at. Karen: And so she had sent him with the assignment to go home and find out overnight.Karen: And then the next morning at the bus stop with my dad -- my dad was a very, very bright man who was a computer scientist, and he had this ability to kind of see worlds that we can't even begin to imagine. And my younger brother looked up and said, you know, “Dad what religion are we?” And he looked at him and he said, “Son you're an eagle!”Karen: And he got on the bus totally happy, having no idea that eagle was not on anybody's list of world religions, and went into the school. And when the teacher asked him, he was so excited, you know, “We're eagles!” Karen: And then he wound up in the principal's office, and my mom got this crazy phone call. When she got there, and he was talking about eagles, she had no idea what he was talking about, and it became kind of a big family joke that whenever anyone asked what we were, we were eagles.Lori: But when Karen gave the shirt to her dad… Karen: The first thing that he said when he looked at it was, “Oh, it's a crow, for Krolak!”Karen:It was typical of the way that my father and I know that there is kind of a code to what we've done but just aren't connecting.Lori: Karen’s dad was unique in many ways.For example, he was a pioneer in computer science, and he was one of the first computer science teachers.Karen: He was a tenured professor by the time he was 27, and trained many of the people who went off to go work for NASA and for Microsoft and for Apple. His fingerprints go everywhere within the tech industry.Lori: He was wicked smaht, but that doesn’t paint the full picture. From how he showed up for the first date with Karen’s mom, two hours late ….Karen: … wearing two different shoes―one was a sneaker, one was a dress shoe―two different socks. A pair of cutoff camouflage pants that were way too big for him that he had belted with a piece of rope, and he had put on his best dress shirt. He had just mis-buttoned it.Lori:  … to his interpretation of religion …Karen:  You’re an eagle!Lori: … to his quirky household collections …`Karen:  …24 snapping turtles, a pink alligator, a bird, two snakes, and this kayakLori: Pat Krolak marched to his own beat, and family life reflected that.Karen:  There were three of us. My older brother Patrick, who was about 18 months older than I am. And then my younger brother, who is five years younger than I am and seven years younger than Patrick.Karen: My dad was a very playful person in a lot of ways. So as a little kid, he was fantastic because his imagination was going all directions. He also didn't seem to have a lot of the same understandings of what should be possible for kids to do or not do. And was someone who enjoyed getting messy. Like, at a time when a lot of dads didn't get on the ground with their kids and do things, he was always the type who would be in his suit, in the sandbox with us and, you know, running around the backyard.Karen: And our dinner table was constantly filled with people talking about ideas. And my dad loved to argue, so he would always take kind of a contrarian point of view to get people thinking out of the box.Karen: And he was notorious for bringing home anyone who needed a meal on campus. They could be a visiting professor. They could be a student. They could just be somebody who was taking a tour on the campus. They would be at our house at the dinner table.Karen: And as kids we were invited to the table, and as long as we had something related to what was going on to say, we were encouraged to share.Lori: And there were family vacations, too.Karen: My mom would name them the great American pottery tour or the great American yarn tour.Lori: In August of 2012, Karen’s older brother Patrick joined their parents for one more vacation.Karen: And because Patrick had gotten really interested in genealogy that year, they had gone on the great American cemetery tour.Lori: Karen and her husband had sold their condo and were living temporarily with their friend Nicole. One evening, they were driving in Boston, headed to a party, when Nicole called.Karen: And Nicole said, “There are some policemen that are here that want to talk to you.” And she said, “They won't get on the phone. You need to come back.”Karen:  And then my younger brother called. And I said, “Has something happened to dad?”Karen: And I figured, of anyone, you know my dad was 72 and wasn't in the best of health, something had happened to him,Karen: And he said, “They're all gone.Karen: All of them.”Lori: Karen’s parents and brother Patrick were killed in a head-on collision when an SUV crossed into their lane.Karen: You see television shows where people just begin screaming, and you don't realize, like, that's there because you just begin screaming. I just remember having this moment of hearing this screaming and thinking, “Well who's doing that?” And realizing it's me.Karen: They just left on what seemed like a reasonable trip and then we never saw them again.Karen: We now have three bodies that need to be transported back to two different places where families are going to be gathering. There are now literally hundreds of people that need to be notified. Karen: And I don't know how any of this works. Like, we don't have a religion, we don't have a funeral home, we don't have cemetery plots, we don't have anything.Karen: But I also know that the first thing that I thought of was, like, my dad had better not be wearing that shirt. Because I really want that shirt now. Like, I really … I really couldn't focus on anything else. And when I finally got to my younger brother's house that night, the first thing that I said to him was, like, “Do you know what they were wearing? Do you have any idea, like, what they packed with them to go?” ‘cause …Karen: I want that shirt.Lori: Karen’s father wasn’t wearing the t-shirt the day of the accident. Her aunt found it in the laundry at her parents’ house. Karen and her husband’s new home purchase was put on hold. So they were a bit nomadic for a while.Karen: We kept kind moving around, and, like, the only thing that would move with me that was constant was this shirt. You know, it's still … it still smelled like my dad. It still had all of the, like, coded memories of all the things that I had thought about while making it for him. Karen: And you know, I would run my hand over the, like, knotted part at the bottom and think, you know, this is just one more of those knots. This is just one more of those, those challenges that we face.Karen: And I wasn't sure at first that I could, that I could wear it. But about two years after the accident, we were heading out to the Mayo Clinic because I have a very weird chronic health condition. And I was feeling very nervous about going to see the doctors there. And so I took it with me just to have it with me. And it wound up with me going into anaphylaxis in the middle of the night in a snowstorm in Upstate New York.Karen: And we got into the hospital and ended up staying the night overnight there. When I got up the next morning, I finally put it on. And it felt like this, this hug at a time when you really want to hug from your dad.Karen: And so oftentimes now when I wear it, it's on days when I know I just could use reassurance from my dad.Karen: I keep thinking it has to make it through the rest of my life with me. So I try and save it for days when, like, I know I'm doing something that is really challenging or that I need some extra belief in myself for. Or even just on days where, like, my health has been driving me nuts and I feel like I'm really broken and can't do things.Karen: It's almost like a kid's security blanket. And if you take it away, you know, just passing them some other blanket isn't going to have the same magic to it. Karen: It makes me laugh, like, whenever I look in the mirror and see the eagle and hear my dad say, “Oh, it's a crow for Krolak!”Karen:You know, it still has that ability to make me smile and that our differences instead of being something that are like ARRGGHH are now at a stage where, like, I'd give anything for a conversation where the two of us weren't seeing eye to eye again.Lori: I’d like to send Karen Krolak a huge thank you for sharing her story with us. She has been doing amazing work at The Dictionary of Negative Space, which encourage you to check out at dictionary of negative space dot com. Lori: Music by Blue Dot Sessions and FJX via Looperman.com. Lori: I’ve heard from a lot of people who took a few minutes out of their day to listen to the first episode, and I want to thank you for listening and for letting me know that you liked what you heard.Lori: It’s hard to build an audience for a podcast, so if you’re in a sharing mood, please do let friends and family and coworkers and even strangers on the street that this podcast is out there. You can send them to mementospodcast.com, and there they can listen or subscribe via their favorite podcast app. Lori: And if you’re feeling extra spicy, please leave a review and rating at Apple Podcasts. For whatever reason, Apple reviews still make a huge difference. They help a podcast move up in rankings and get discovered by more listeners. Lori:Thanks for listening. We’ll see you next time on Mementos.
1.1 Whose Memento Is It?
Oct 21 2019
1.1 Whose Memento Is It?
Funkybutt clip courtesy of Juli Berg and Candace Corelli.Music by Blue Dot Sessions and UltraCat, via a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License. Songs used: "A Palace of Cedar" and "Scalloped" (Blue Dot Sessions) and Disco High (UltraCat)"This is Roller Skating" by The Roller Skating Foundation of America (public domain, Mark 1)Roller skating rink ambient sound from SoundSnap (www.soundsnap.com). TRANSCRIPTIs there this one thing that you can't throw away or wish you hadn't thrown because it had some kind of meaning for you that was connected to another person or an experience?Well, that’s what we’re going to talk about here on Mementos – so thank you for joining me, Lori Mortimer, your host, on this first episode.We’re going to explore the personal meaning and deeper stories behind the items people keep. What makes an ordinary item a memento?Not collectibles, but individual items that are really containers of meaning. Items that hold memories, they hold stories, emotions, and sometimes raise questions that will never, ever be answered.The idea for this podcast sprouted after my mother died and I had to empty her house.About three days before Habitat for Humanity was coming to take what was left, I came across one particular item that threw me for a loop.What I found was something that had belonged to my mom when she was an adolescent and which I didn't know she owned. At that point, I’d already cleaned out every closet, every cabinet, every kitchen drawer. I had looked in every pocket of every coat and every pair of pants and every skirt. I had literally touched every item inside the house and had had decided its fate.So I started working in the garage.And I was digging in this back corner underneath the stairs to the garage attic. So I had I pulled out the shop vac, and I found my brother’s old chain saw in there. And Behind that, I found my dad's old manual typewriter, and that was a pretty cool thing to find.And then I saw this wooden box. It wasn’t very big, maybe a foot by a foot square, maybe about 8 inches tall.I crouched down to move further under the stair with that sloping ceiling.So I reached and I grabbed it by its handle, and I slid it toward me across the floor. It was just covered in dust, and near the handle, it had a brass latch on the front.I honestly had no idea what was in it. I had never seen this box before.It was clearly old, because nothing comes in a wooden box like that anymore.So I brushed away the dust and I opened it up.And inside was a pair of white leather roller skates.And they had wooden wheels and wooden stoppers on the front.And I just didn’t know my mother owned these.At this point, I had found a lot of personal things. I mean, but this … there was sobbing.There was wailing. There was snot. I mean, I just lost it.But why? I mean, it’s roller skates.I think it was a lot of things, right? I think it was, you know, she had only just died a couple of months earlier. And there was then all the pressure to go through everything, to sell the house, and to get rid of so much personal stuff.But I really think that what I saw when I looked in that box was that the person who died wasn't a 74-year-old woman. It was my grandmother's daughter.I think that's what hit me. My grandmother’s only child just passed away. And my grandmother most likely gave her those skates.My grandfather died in 1944, when my mother was 2 and a half. And my grandmother, who had to find a job immediately, started working two weeks later. But she made very little money.On Fridays, all she had left was a nickel to take the bus to work. And she needed her paycheck, so that at the end of the day, she had bus fair back home.So these roller skates must have been an extravagance for the only child of a single mother.She was, of course, a child I never knew. So the roller skates are like this connection to my parent as a child who I could have never known as a child.When I saw the roller skates, I imagined the teenage version of her. I had also just recently found a picture of her as an adolescent, which I imagined to be of the same vintage as the skates.It's like she's totally doofy in this picture. It’s like her eyes are closed, and she's got this big goofy smile. And so I picture that girl in those roller skates at the roller rink in the 1950s wearing a poodle skirt with a white blouse with a little scarf around her neck.Male voice: This is roller skating, America's favorite fun sport, a wholesome year-round recreation. Teenagers rate it tops for exciting fun and for wholesome recreation. Wholesome sport for all ages. Wholesome, outdoor fun, wholesome, wholesome, wholesome.We are convinced that on the American scene, one of the most potent ways of attaining fitness is by well administered.Lori: Huh. I wonder what he's going to say.Male voice: WholesomeLori: Yep.Male voice: Healthy sport.Lori: But I roller skated in the 70s, and it's different in the 70s. We're talking roller disco, we're talking shaking your booty, we’re talking tight pants, guys, with the shirts unbuttoned all the way down to their navel. Roller disco was a thing.My friend Juli even made an homage to roller disco with her senior project in film school.It's called Funkybutt. The tragic story of an aging one-hit-wonder roller disco queen.My mom’s roller skates really got me thinking about these sort of parallel experiences that my mother and I had decades apart. And like parallel lines, they kind of went along the same path, but our streams never crossed.I remember what it was like to be a 13- or 14-year-old girl going roller skating, and that feeling of, oh, thank God, it's all-skate. It's not couples’ skate, it’s not guys’ choice. Where I have to stand there like a big dork with pimples and sweaty palms feeling all awkward, probably smelly too, and wondering if some boy who I didn't even know was gonna come by with his sweaty hand and ask me to skate.And then you've got that issue of, like, how do I hold hands? Is it like gonna be like that interlocking finger handhold? What are we doing here?I wonder if my mother had similar experiences when she went skating. Was she also a dork standing there waiting for some boy to pick her?I mean, who … who thought this was a good idea?When I think of roller skating, I think of the most awkward and least confident period of my life. And like a lot of people, I am okay with mostly burying memories of my adolescent social life. You won’t find me keeping my old roller skates.But my mom kept hers. For about 60 years.My mother had a few catchphrases. She’d say things like, “If it had teeth, it would bite you.” “Because I said so.”And this uncomfortable nugget:“Herpes is forever.”One of her other catchphrases was, “I'm not your friend, I'm your mother.”And what that meant was, at least to me, there were just certain subjects or conversations we wouldn't broach. There were certain opinions or thoughts or experiences I was just never going to be able to share.And that kinda makes sense for big topics or for difficult topics to talk about.But roller skating? She had told me she used to roller skate in our basement when my older brother and I were little. That’s how young she was when she was already married and living in the suburbs with two kids.I mean, did your mom roller skate in the basement?I’m thinking she was wearing those white roller skates, too. Which if you think about it, would have been only 9 or 10 years old at the time.I have no memories of seeing her skating. And I have no memories of skating with her. I also did roller skate. We just never went skating together.One of the things that struck me about finding her roller skates was they had already made the cut and followed my mother three times in her life. Once when she got married and moved in with my dad. Once a couple of years later when they bought our house.And then once again, over 40 years later, after my father died and when she sold the house and moved into the last house she owned. I helped her clean out the old house, and I never saw these skates. She remembered them. She brought them with her to the new house.Did she keep them because they reminded her of her mom? Did she keep them because they connected her to her best friend growing up, who she must have skated with? Did she keep them because she remembered skating in our basement when she was a young mother? I have no idea.So the skates, I guess, are kind of like my connection to my mom when she was a young girl. They’re attached to memories. They're not my memories. They’re her memories. It's like I'm keeping her memories, which I don't even know anything about, alive.Remember, folks, herpes is forever, but not our moms.Next time on Mementos, we’re going to hear from Karen Krolak. SHe's gonna tell us about the handmade item that connects her and her dad and why it's so important that she holds on to it. Music in this episode was provided by Blue Dot Sessions and UltraCat under a Creative Commons attribution license.Funkybutt clip courtesy of my OG, Juli Berg, and Candace Correlli.If you like what you heard in this episode, there’s more to come. Just click that little subscribe button on your podcast player so you don’t miss a thing. There are so many people to recognize and thank for this podcast's existence.  First of course is my husband, Steve. Steve, you're my everything. Thank you. There’s also the community and staff at the PRX Podcast Garage. It all started there two years ago last August and I haven't looked back.It’s safe to say that without the amazingly supportive Boston audio community, I would have never gotten this far. We'll see you next time on Mementos.Mom:Hi there. Happy birthday. Sorry I didn't get you earlier, but I was at a conference, so I will try you later because I do want to talk to you on your birthday. But it's a beautiful day in New Jersey, just like that day 50 years ago when you were born. So I hope you're having a good day, doing something that you want to do, and having fun. And know that I love you, honey. Bye bye.Lori: I love you too, Mom. Bye.
0.0 Welcome to Mementos
Sep 30 2019
0.0 Welcome to Mementos
Welcome to Mementos, a podcast about the stories behind the objects that evoke memories, connections, emotions. What turns an ordinary object -- a necklace, a t-shirt, a letter -- into a memento? Well, let's talk to people and find out. Appearing in this episode:Lori Mortimer, hostCherie TurnerHoma Sarabi DaumaisKaren KrolakSteve NelsonMusic by Poddington Bear, Creative Commons Attribution License:"Caravan""Window Shopping"TRANSCRIPT[00:00:03]Lori: Hi I'm Lori, and I've made a little podcast. It's called Mementos. In each episode, we're gonna capture the deeper story behind someone's cherished possession.[00:00:14] If you think about, it a memento could be anything.[00:00:17]Karen: It's a periwinkle blue, hand-stitched t-shirt. I made it for my dad, actually. And I remember when I put it on thinking that it felt like this, this hug at a time when you really want to hug from your dad.[00:00:31]Lori: Sometimes they’re like time machines zapping us back to another moment and place.[00:00:37]Homa: It was super shiny. It was the shiniest thing in the store. And I saw this necklace and was like, this is definitely magical. This should have some magic in it.[00:00:48]Lori: Or they can connect us to someone new.[00:00:51]Cherie: I received this stack of 33 letters. In his own words, these are his stories about what's going on in his life. It made me feel like I had a grandfather.[00:01:04]Lori: Here's a question for you.Steve: Mmmmhmm.Lori: The house is on fire.Steve: Mmmhmm.Lori: The people and the pets are out.Steve: Right.[00:01:11]Lori: We've grabbed life's essentials. Basically our cell phones and laptops.Steve: Okay.[00:01:15]Lori: You've got 30 seconds. What are you willing to run back inside for?[00:01:22]Steve: Maybe the needlework that my mom made. The Frank Lloyd Wright styled one. She's still alive, but it's kind of the top of her game in terms of what she did with it. But also at the stage she's at in life, with her vision and her fine motor skills, there aren't going to be any more. That's something I never want to lose. I always want to have hanging on the wall somewhere.[00:01:47]Lori: Little piece of mom.Steve: Yeah. Yeah.[00:01:51]Homa: I think I will always keep it because it's something that my grandma and I went through together. I have brought it to the United States with me. I've kept this necklace and brought it all over to oceans.[00:02:06]Cherie: Yeah, it brought him to life for me. And nobody else had done that. And the fact that he got to do that? That was really special.[00:02:17]Karen: I keep thinking it has to make it through the rest of my life with me. So I try and save it for days when, like, I know I'm doing something that is really challenging or that I need some extra belief in myself for or I know I just could use some reassurance from my dad.[00:02:35]Lori: You know, when it comes to mementos, sometimes what you really keep is on the inside.Lori: The first episode will be ready in early October. So subscribe now on iTunes, Google Play, or your favorite podcast app. And join me on social media at mementos podcast. And if you want to learn more about each episode, check out mementos podcast dot com.[00:03:03]Lori: Music provided by Poddington Bear under a Creative Commons Attribution license. 0bKEdqCm6KNdaRgLWOqy