By Jim Deeks

This is not an actual transcript. But it could be. Maybe it could be you…


My name is Arthur, and I’m recording this video in 2015 for my great great granddaughter.   I don’t know what your name is, of course, and I don’t even know if I’ll have a great great granddaughter. Maybe I’ll have a great great grandson… or both… or many… but for now, I’m just going to pretend I have you. And I’m going to pretend that your name is Melanie, because that’s the name of my granddaughter today… and maybe your Mom and Dad will name you after her… she’d be your grandmother.

Melanie, I’m 81 years old. If you’re 15 years old and watching this, I figure it’s probably about the turn of the century… about the year 2100. If I was alive in 2100, I’d be 166 years old. I’m sure nobody’ll be that old then.

I’m putting this video together, Melanie, because I want to tell you a little bit about me, and our family, and where we came from, and where you’ve come from. I hope you’ll watch this video a few times in your life, because I think each time you do, you’ll like it even more than the last time. Because as you get older, these things – family, and history, and heritage — just seem to get more and more important.   Trust me, you’ll see.

Now I’m not for a minute suggesting that I’m important. No, I’m just one more carrier of the genes that came from my father and my mother, that came from their fathers and mothers, and that your great great grandmother Dorothy and I passed along to our two daughters – Sara and Frances – and our son Paul.   One of those three is one of your great grandparents, Melanie.

Gosh I hope I’m not boring you already… I know it’s hard to figure out who all these people are that you don’t know… But I tell you what… let me show you a picture… 

This is the house that I grew up in as a kid… Number 31 McAllister Avenue in Cincinnati, Ohio. I don’t live in Cincinnati now. I’m here in Santa Monica, California, where I’ve lived for over 40 years. But I lived in Cincinnati from the day I was born in May, 1934, until after I fought in the Korean War.

Have you ever heard of the Korean War, Melanie? It’s probably forgotten by most people in your world, as it has by many people in mine. But I was a U.S. Army soldier for three years and I fought in that war, in the early 1950’s, and I can tell you, it was no fun at all.

But let me tell you about growing up in Cincinnati. This is a picture of me and my Mom and Dad and my brother and two older sisters, taken in about 1946. That’s Carole, my sister on the left, and Bill who was two years older than me, my Mom Gertrude – but everyone knew her as Trudy – my Dad, whose real first name was Horst but everyone knew him as Harry – and my oldest sister Bettina better known as Betty. And me in front of Dad.

I could fill a whole video telling you about my family, but I’ll just tell you this…

My Dad was born in New York City, on the lower east side, in 1895. He had two older brothers, who were born in a small town in southern Germany called Füssen. Those boys and their parents sailed to America in 1892… over 200 years before you’re watching this video, Melanie! There were no airplanes then, they had to sail from France and it took about two weeks. This is a photo of a typical ship carrying immigrants from Europe around that time.

My Dad’s name, Horst, is very German, but growing up in Ohio, as he did, he wanted to be American. In fact, our family’s real last name was Rossdeutscher, but my grandfather shortened it to Ross when he moved the family to Cincinnati in about 1900. I’ll bet you never knew THAT, Melanie…

You get the picture. And maybe Melanie will, too.

The point of this piece is: everyone has a life story to tell. And everyone who tells their story will have an audience… in their children, and their children’s children, and in generations to come… from here to eternity.

But if you don’t put your life story down… in print, or on video… your life, your memories, your heritage, your character, your photos and film…what you know about your history… it’ll be gone forever when you go. You owe it to your family – past, present, and future – to tell your story, and to preserve, protect and perpetuate your unique database.

Jim Deeks is a Toronto-based consultant, broadcaster, and President of Primary Counsel Productions, a company focused exclusively on producing Personal Video Biographies.

Jim Deeks

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