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Re: [S-R] Audio Recordings?

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  • Ron
    A few years ago a 96 year old neighbor came to visit my 90 year old Aunt while I was visiting and I took a few snapshots and then set my camera on video
    Message 1 of 11 , Oct 18, 2012
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      A few years ago a 96 year old neighbor came to visit my 90 year old Aunt while I was visiting and I took a few snapshots and then set my camera on video recording and casually set it on the table facing the farm yard. I have a 10 or 12 minute recording of that conversation, and perhaps someday I will find someone who can translate 100 year old Rusyn for me.

      Peter, in contrast to your experience, my 1970 and 1982 visits impressed me that traveling as a Westerner gave me distinct privileges that the local citizens did not have. My bags weren't searched while theirs were done thoroughly; I most always encountered extreme politeness from officials, while locals were treated with disrespect in transit. One woman had me slip her western currency in my pocket (I chose a shirt pocket in her sight) so customs would not find it on her. Crossing into Hungary the Citizens hid their contraband in the railroad compartment, and then after the paired up police with the auto rifles left and the train proceeded, they took their now empty wine bottles and tossed them out on the rail bed cussing out the "$%^&* communiste".

      Crossing from Hungary to Czechoslovakia was ... routine. Locals were well inspected and I just had to produce my passport. I did return having witnessed neighbor spying on neighbor, and had one instance where two fellows (one a cousin) each warned me of the other; "watch what you say in front of him, he is a communist".

      The only discourtesy I ran across was from a few individuals who despised westerners, capitalists, and felt obligated to separate me from as much money as they could. Nothing personal, it was morals. I was an immoral, materialistic westerner, while they were the moral socialist. I entered Hungary a poor USA student and 2 weeks later left Czechoslovakia knowing I was a rich westerner. I am not at all a flag waver, but in the 1982 visit had a lapel pin in my collar during the full visit.

      Ron
      Pardon me, that strayed quite a bit from the original recording and genealogy!

      --- In SLOVAK-ROOTS@yahoogroups.com, htcstech <htcstech@...> wrote:
      >
      > Nick,
      > I forgot about the video, thinking that it's too bulky to take with me. I
      > also have a top of the line 20x travel camera which takes HD video, but I
      > also have something called a Flipshare (Cisco) which is a small video only
      > camera, easily fits into a pocket and can be set not to show the ON light
      > as well.
      >
      > I met my Grandfather on my mother's side in 1979 who lived in a small town
      > near Budapest in one of those quaint houses with an orchard out the back.
      > He was a real survivor and no fool. Occasionally he would disappear into a
      > room a listen to the Hungarian language version of the BBC World Service on
      > shortwave with a headphone - army style! No-one knew of this except his son
      > and second wife.
      > I damn myself sometimes when I think back to those days. I was in Europe
      > for about 10 months travelling to many countries and popping into Hungary a
      > few times. As a 25 yr old travelling on a Western passport, having to
      > report to the police and show my identification papers, I was frightened to
      > speak up (unless asked).
      > It was apparent that Hungary at the time was a lot freer than neighbouring
      > Soviet Block countries as the Soviet's looked at the place as a vacation
      > spot and as an outlet for Western goods. The Soviets were privileged and
      > could buy such items. I was told by a communist sympathizer that Hungary
      > had not developed enough for 'true communism', but were 'socialist'
      > instead. Not the US Republican definition of Socialism, but true socialism
      > which in fact benefitted the people as there was negative unemployment and
      > food and lodging for all. Cheap Soviet gas (as in gas, not petrol)
      > supplies, infrastructure building and so on.
      > Interestingly, the closest I could get to Slovakia was at a natural hot
      > water baths which was dug into a system of caves near the border. There I
      > met with some 'Slovaks'. Travel to and from Slovakia was easy for either
      > citizen, but extremely difficult for Westerners, so I couldn't go.
      > Magyar-Czechoslovak passpot control was tough for Westeners at the time as
      > they feared 'contraband' - typically drugs, but also included vinyl
      > records, books and a variety of other stuff. This mentality was pervasive
      > everywhere. My uncle was gaoled (ermm... jailed) for smuggling vinyl
      > records to and from Yugoslavia. Before I left, I was warned in no uncertain
      > terms not to take 'Icons' back with me which fetched a good price on the
      > Western side. Passport control was everywhere in Europe. The West Germans
      > had it tough though. A real police state.
      >
      > In 1975 my father (under an Australian passport) went to Slovakia via
      > Hungary to meet with relatives he had not seen since 1936. He was driving a
      > car he borrowed from a Hungarian national. He was stopped at the
      > Czechslovak border for 6 hours waiting to be cleared. When one official
      > passed by and asked him why he was waiting, he was so angry he replied "I'm
      > waiting to be arrested." - He was let through after that, but the
      > experience of that and in hometown Slovakia made him very agitated, caused
      > him a minor stroke, resulting in a major stroke a few months after he
      > returned. He received news of his mother's death and weeks later, his
      > brother's death. WWII, his escape from an American prison camp, his walk
      > back from Holland to Budapest during the bombardment of Europe, Soviet
      > occupation, the Hungarian Revolution in 1956, escape as refugee, the price
      > on his head and his visit certainly took their toll on him. That is in the
      > end, what I experienced of the Slovak situation via his eyes.
      > People's attitude varied a lot. Some praised the Soviets, other (the older
      > generation) begged me to take them with me. It wasn't Soviet oppression,
      > but economic circumstances. One measure of this was when I was asked "How
      > many shirts can you buy from a month's wages in Australia?"
      >
      > Personally I can't forget these experiences and there is still some
      > apprehension in me.
      > Yet what I regret the most was that I didn't spend enough time with my
      > surviving grandparent(s) on both sides of the family. Now in hindsight I
      > wish I had.
      > My Slovak grandmother who was living in Budapest at the time told me of how
      > brutal the Soviet army was on the way to 'Liberate' the country, but how
      > the Germans were kind and gentlemanly to everyone. That was a watershed
      > moment for me, as I then understood that the newer generation, born and
      > educated under Soviet control were pro-socialist, but the older generation,
      > like my grandfather with his shortwave saw the Soviets for what they were.
      > Was it not the Jesuits who said "Give me a child under 7 and I will make
      > him believe anything"?
      >
      > When I got back to Australia, I bought a shortwave and tuned in to the
      > Soviet world service in English to listen to what they had to say. It was
      > all wonderful, how the Soviets were for world peace, advancements in
      > Science, food production for the starving around the world, educational
      > exchange, the plight of the American Negroes (!), new infrastructure and so
      > on. No wonder the propaganda worked. Now it's all arse-about with the
      > pro-Soviet generation leading the socialist parties in all the old block
      > states and the newer generation leading the right wing.
      >
      > Go figure eh?
      >
      > Peter M.
      >
      >
      > On 18 October 2012 02:58, Nick Kerpchar <ccknk@...> wrote:
      >
      > > **
      > >
      > >
      > > Hi Peter,
      > > I have read your post and the replies with interest and thought I would
      > > add my thoughts.
      > >
      > > Some individuals that live/lived under "police-state" conditions are
      > > cautious about being
      > > recorded/photographed for fear that they will become a target of interest
      > > to the regime for
      > > whatever reason ... even if they have done nothing wrong. This is not
      > > exclusive to Eastern
      > > European countries. It is happening even now in the Middle East, South
      > > America and some
      > > Asian countries. One never knows where a voice recorder or photos may end
      > > up so people
      > > are cautious. However, that does not mean everyone in such places will
      > > hesitate to participate
      > > in recording family histories.
      > >
      > > I have traveled extensively around the world and used a voice recorder to
      > > record the spoken
      > > word as well as music in natural surroundings. I found that if I gain
      > > trust, did not try to hide
      > > using a recorder, explained why I would like to record "the story" or
      > > music, and did not try to
      > > force someone to participate, most people usually would agree and actually
      > > become more
      > > relaxed as they got into telling their story versus worrying about being
      > > recorded. Oh yes, and
      > > I learned not to stick a microphone or recorder in someone's face ... read
      > > the instructions and
      > > practice getting good results by putting the recorder on a table or
      > > holding it in your hand (palm
      > > up) so that it is in plain sight but not the focus of attention. The less
      > > you have to fiddle with
      > > the recorder the less people will focus on it. And the less people focus
      > > on it the more they will
      > > talk with it on.
      > >
      > > I would definitely take the voice recorder. When someone is willing to be
      > > recorded you will be
      > > happy you have it. I use a MP3/WMA 2GB record and play digital voice
      > > recorder. It uses 2 AAA
      > > alkaline batteries and gives about 40-hours of use on a set of batteries.
      > > I especially like this
      > > one as it has voice activation and some sensitivity features. It is
      > > smaller than a pack of cigarettes;
      > > thank goodness for the case with strap as the recorder can easily slide
      > > out of a shirt pocket. And
      > > it has a USB cable to hook up to a computer for downloading.
      > >
      > > I have also used a small digital camcorder to capture video as well as
      > > using it as a voice recorder.
      > > When I use it as a voice recorder with someone that definitely does not
      > > want to be videoed, then
      > > I simply put the lens cap on it or otherwise obstruct the lens while
      > > leaving the mic unobstructed.
      > >
      > > Take the recorder and have a safe and successful trip. Nick
      > >
      > >
      > >
      > >
      > >
      > >
      > > ________________________________
      > > From: htcstech <htcstech@...>
      > > To: SLOVAK-ROOTS@yahoogroups.com
      > > Sent: Tuesday, October 16, 2012 10:09 PM
      > >
      > > Subject: Re: [S-R] Audio Recordings?
      > >
      > >
      > >
      > >
      > > Michael, I can identify a bit with some of your comments. Thank you. The
      > > typical comment I've heard my mum retell after a recent visit was "Oh
      > > there are lots of Marafkos in the town, but only a few of them are
      > > relatives." which struck me as an odd thing to say as ALL the Marafko's in
      > > the town ARE relatives :) In fact half the population are relatives with
      > > different family names.
      > > I had my mum place a short advert on noticeboards with my email address for
      > > anyone to contact me about the genealogy and in 6 months I've had no leads
      > > from it.
      > > It goes to show that in my case (and probably many others) 'Relatives'
      > > equate to those individuals in their collective memories, however when my
      > > mum started to press the issue(s), more and more stories came from
      > > different peoples from all walks of life. She couldn't follow some of them
      > > up as she was bound by certain factions and loyalties of her host. A
      > > shopkeeper mentioned that she was a Marafko but that's where it ended.,The
      > > priest introduced my mum after a Mass to the congregation and she was
      > > approached by a few 'relatives' as well but nothing came of it because she
      > > was dissuaded to visit.
      > > I fear that I'll have my work cut out for me - especially post 1914, post
      > > Trianon and Benes Decree which had a huge impact on my family.
      > > Ironically, the problem is that it is easier to deal with the dead.
      > > From the getgo in the mid 1700's my family were servants and estate
      > > managers of the Esterhazy family. Every now and then, there are mentions of
      > > guards, overseers, strong ties to the church, local council administration
      > > and so on. Even to this day, the core family is rural-rich. Good for them!
      > > But I think it has caused some angst with others...... and somehow none of
      > > them (and I mean no Marafko) was on a Benes Decree list.
      > >
      > > I don't think I'll be that concerned over transcription errors. That a moot
      > > point anyway.If I go ahead then at least I'll be able to relisten and
      > > revise.
      > >
      > > Peter M.
      > >
      > > On 17 October 2012 13:12, MGMojher <mailto:mgmojher%40verizon.net> wrote:
      > >
      > > > **
      > >
      > > >
      > > >
      > > > Peter,
      > > > A few observations from the experience of having taken six trips to
      > > > Slovakia.
      > > > The only time I thought an audio recorder could be useful was on one to
      > > > one conversations. For me this would be with the use of a translator. The
      > > > problem with Slovak is the country was covered by 40 dialects. Those
      > > > dialects survive most in the villages. They can even be a difficulty at
      > > > times for the translators. Where they would need to ask for a
      > > > clarification. If the Dragon Naturally Speaking is suppose to transcribe
      > > > English is it capable of handling accents? Your translator may not be
      > > > understood by the program.
      > > > The other issue is that you do need the persons permission to be
      > > recorded.
      > > > Remember with the older generation in Slovakia who were under the Soviet
      > > > era government were under constant fear of being caught saying something
      > > > that could cause them trouble. My Mother was visiting and started singing
      > > > an old Slovak anthem. Instantly people jumped up to close doors and
      > > > windows. So this old generation even if they give you permission may not
      > > > speak as freely knowing they were being recorded.
      > > > I found that the best stories was in a setting that was filled with
      > > > family. Unfortunately, where there can be multiple speakers at one time a
      > > > translator is under a lot of pressure. I’m sure it can overload your
      > > > recorder or any recorder. I told my translator in such a situation with
      > > so
      > > > many people present to give me what I called a “Reader’s Digest
      > > > Translation.” Give me the essence of the conversations that don’t provide
      > > > any vital information. This system seems to have worked well.
      > > > Your desire to learn more about your family history in Slovakia may be
      > > > very limited. I was the first of my family to return to the ancestral
      > > > village in 100 years. So I was wanting to “flesh out” the “bones” of my
      > > > genealogy research. I soon learned very few Slovaks know anything about
      > > > genealogy. For them genealogy is limited to those family members they
      > > have
      > > > meet. So if you are lucky someone knew their grandparents, very few knew
      > > > their great-grandparents. Life expectancy was relatively short. Few
      > > > families have any records about their families. Those records they do
      > > have
      > > > are often business documents like land deeds and the like.
      > > > I hope you have a wonderful time in Slovakia. May is a beautiful time of
      > > > the year. My first trip was in May.
      > > > Michael Mojher
      > > >
      > > > From: htcstech
      > > > Sent: Tuesday, October 16, 2012 5:44 PM
      > > > To: mailto:SLOVAK-ROOTS%40yahoogroups.com
      > >
      > > > Subject: [S-R] Audio Recordings?
      > > >
      > > >
      > > > Hello All,
      > > >
      > > > I'm just free-thinking here and I'd like opinions and experiences if
      > > > possible about audio recordings of relatives and family friends in
      > > hometown
      > > > Slovakia.
      > > > I've been struggling to finish 'the book' on my researches into my
      > > father's
      > > > line, but everytime I get what I consider the final draft, new
      > > information
      > > > pops up. It's not annoying at all, but I had always intended to hand
      > > > deliver finished copies to relatives I've never met in person.
      > > > My deadline is in May 2013 (I already missed a previous deadline this
      > > May)
      > > > when I will be travelling there. Yet I suspect that I'll find a lot more
      > > > genealogical info that should have gone in the book.
      > > > So in that regard, I'm happy to delay deadlines to include more info.
      > > >
      > > > Relying on memory, photos and notes is not good enough for me and I had
      > > the
      > > > thought of taking an audio recorder so I can later transcribe stories and
      > > > other info.
      > > > The plus side of doing this is that I would have 'sound bites' that I can
      > > > review later. The downside is that it may alienate some or make them
      > > > hesitant in opening up.
      > > >
      > > > These audio recorders are small (cigarette lighter size) and can
      > > interface
      > > > with transcription software like Dragon Naturally Speaking.
      > > >
      > > > What are your thoughts? Has anyone tried this before?
      > > >
      > > > Thanks
      > > >
      > > > Peter M.
      > > >
      > > > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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      > > >
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      > >
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    • Nick Kerpchar
      It s all a matter of perspective.  If your life experiences are only a few years then you think it has always been that way.  That is why the older
      Message 2 of 11 , Oct 18, 2012
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        It's all a matter of perspective.  If your life experiences are only a few years then you think it has
        always been that way.  That is why the older generations have a different view of things  Propaganda
        is propaganda even in democratic countries and the uninformed are very susceptible to it.
         
        Good luck on your trip.  Nick


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