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Quest for Sound Memories

Vicki Merrick
Project Associate

It is astounding how a piece of voice or song or sound has an indelible quality more powerful than photos or family films.

It is said that the eyes are the windows to the soul - I wonder now. Working with the Quest and the small, intense, moving stories that sound provoked makes me think that it may be sound that holds that power.

I think of the "Sound Restoration" piece and the 80-year-old daughter hearing her Swedish mother's voice restored from so long ago - they were transported to another time. From behind the curtain we know the daughter responded "Hi Mom" from her wheelchair when she heard her long-dead mother calling out to her over the radio. It is physically wrenching. My mother died when I was two and I have realized, working the Quest, that I would trade every precious photo I own, to have a tape, with just a phrase or two from my mother.

The calls were often better than the tape they referenced and mostly remarkable just for the willingness to share. Tears of one kind or another were guaranteed - whether it was out of boredom, hilarity, or being caught unaware by a moving story. Undoubtedly my favorite sound message was from the Electric Fan Collectors of America just for sheer delight. The most jarring message was from a fellow with brain damage from a drug induced accident who played a tape of his healthy "aristocratic" voice from before the accident.

Vicki Merrick
Project Associate

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