On Thursday, January 16, I interviewed my grandfather. It was conducted over Skype, at about 4:00 in the afternoon. My grandfather, Rod Anderson, is about 70 years old, and in good shape for his age. He lives in Chelsea, Michigan, which is in the Eastern time zone, which is 3 hours ahead from the Pacific time zone. He’s about 6 feet 6 inches tall, which is also pretty tall for his age, and he has gray hair. His voice is deep and kind of gravelly.
I chose to interview him because he had experienced some interesting things in his lifetime, like serving in the Navy air force. He also is very smart for his age, and there are a lot of things that I could learn from him that I couldn’t learn from anyone else that I know. He was also one of the only people that I could interview, because most of my relatives that I could have interviewed either don’t know how to use technology or don’t have access to it. I set up the interview by messaging him over Skype, then figured out a good time and day to interview him that would work for both of us.
I started the interview at around 4:00, and started out by thanking him for letting me interview him. We talked for a bit, and then I asked him if I could record the interview. He said that it was fine, so I started recording before asking him my first question, which was, “How was your childhood different from today?” He thought for a few seconds, then started explaining how his childhood was different. To me it didn’t seem too different from how stuff works today, except for a few things. One of those things was that there weren’t as many extracurricular activities, like after-school sports, and they almost always went home right away after school. Another thing that was different was that the women didn’t really leave the house as much as they do today, only really going to pick up children from school or get food for dinner. The family also almost never ate at a restaurant, only eating there about once every month to two months.
After that, I asked him my second question. The answers to this question, in my opinion, were the most important and the most interesting part of the interview. After he had finished answering the previous question, I thanked him for his answer, and then asked, “What were your experiences in the navy like?” He started talking right away, and after about a minute, he said something interesting, which was, “If you qualified for it, you went.” However, he had chosen to be in the navy, not just forced to serve. He kept on talking for awhile, and said a few other interesting things. One of those things was that he flew planes in the navy, which struck me as kind of strange, since the navy always seemed like it should be just a lot of boats. He also mentioned that he had gotten pulled out of training early, because he had such good grades and scores in the training. When he “finished” the training, he got to choose which plane he flew. When he got to choose, he decided to fly the RA-5C Vigilante, which had the highest accident rate in the whole navy, but was also the most maneuverable. Of course, because of that, he was usually assigned to reconnaissance missions.
Once he was done explaining what happened in the navy, which had taken about fifteen minutes, I took a break from asking him stuff and then listening so I could get something to eat, since the interview had gone on for twenty or thirty minutes already. Once I got back, I asked him my third question, which was, “What information should kids these days know and why?” He responded right away by saying, “Kids are already pretty knowledgeable, thanks to the Internet.” He proceeded to tell me that, even though kids know a lot, that one thing that they don’t know is that the past is still important. He also made a very good point by stating that older people still have something to say, which was actually probably the point of this assignment. He also said that even the ancient Greek philosophers, Socrates, Aristotle, and Plato, still have a valid point with many of their statements.
After he was done with that, I asked him my final question, which was, “What new technology have you found the most useful?” He promptly answered by saying that he finds new things like phones and other portable technology to be very useful. He also mentioned that he has had a few surgeries in the past few years, and that he thinks that new surgery technology is also very useful. And, finally, he said that he found new medicine to help him a lot recently.
All in all, I found this interview to be a great way to learn about the past and more about my grandfather, who I rarely get to talk to. I think that this was a great thing to do, especially these days, when people my age don’t really pay attention to the past, only to the future.