The handwritten post on the bulletin board says:
103 YEAR OLD MAN NEEDS SOMEONE TO TRANSCRIBE HIS STORIES
And I grab the little piece of paper with the phone number on it. I call and leave a message, saying I want to talk to the man about his life.
A month later, I take the elevator to the seventh floor of the beautifully appointed senior residence. I knock on the apartment door and am introduced to Sydney Bacon.
He’s sitting on the couch. Framed black and white photos adorn the walls, above antique spindly chairs.
He’s wearing DJ-style headphones, and he offers me the small microphone connected to the headphones by a cord. I explain that my podcast listeners would love to hear about his life. He cocks an eyebrow and asks me what I’m getting out of all of this, and I laugh and say just the joy of sharing his stories. He says he’ll have to take me out to Red Lobster for dinner.
I listen to a story he recorded when he was a bouncing young man of ninety-six, of love almost lost.
His voice sounds like a man in his sixties. Resonant and deep, an English accent that hardly exists anymore. Rolling Rs and perfectly clipped consonents. He tells the story and I am transported to that moment in the seventies, that kitchen, that touch on the shoulder. He is a natural storyteller.
I head home with thirteen stories. And now you can hear them too.
Meeting Fredelle Maynard – a love story.
Growing Up in London – this story begins with Sydney’s parents as teenagers, in the year 1899.
Yearning for Romance – courtship, in the nineteen twenties.
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