When my mother realized that I would be blind, she asked her doctor what to do. The good physician gave her two bits of advice: (1) “Have another baby so you don’t spoil this one.” My brother John was born fourteen months after I was. (2) “Stimulate the child’s hearing by playing records for him.” Thus Mom bought a set of eight Bible story records (LPs) that I grew to love. (They were created by Catholics, Protestants, and Jews.) Yes, I thought “The Story of Ruth” was downright girly, and I was not too keen on the “Birth of Christ” or “The Last Supper,” but I really liked all the rest. To this day, I cannot hear the actual biblical accounts without thinking of the voices and sound effects from my childhood.
Well, I went on eBay and was able to buy all the old records, and I had a professional transfer their contents onto CDs. Since then, I have been giving out copies to families with young children (third grade or so) and to schools. I have gotten many positive responses. To be sure, the recordings pop and hiss a little, like the old phonograph records from which they were taken, but you can tell kids they are “retro,” and then they don’t seem to mind.
Alas! Young people are no longer familiar with the Bible stories my generation seemed to know quite naturally. (Most of them we never hear at Sunday Mass.) Of course, kids have Veggietales today, but none of us can grow up to be a tomato or a cucumber. We can, however, grow up to be heroic like Daniel or faithful like Moses or virtuous like Ruth.
If you know of any teachers or parents who might benefit from these recordings, please pass them on. Since they are no longer available commercially, they can (I believe) be copied with impunity—as long as they are not sold for money. In addition, since each story is only about fifteen minutes long, they are good for parents to listen to with their children while in the car. Kids today are so video-oriented that they need to develop their listening skills.
If my father’s legacy was partially embodied in the essay The Surgeon’s Tongue: Images of Christian Discipline (available online), perhaps part of my mother’s legacy will be the re-popularization of these Bible stories.
A word of warning: These recordings do not sugar coat the Bible stories (although they are adapted for children). “The Story of Samson,” for example, (my favorite) has the hero give a really good scream as his eyes are being burned out. (My brother and I used to play that scream over and over.)
So there you have it! I hope these Bible stories prove helpful and/or encouraging.
God bless you!
Father Bernard J. Ezaki
Fully Dramatized – Starring Leif Erickson – Cast of 50 – Full Musical Background – True-to-Life Sound Effects – Produced and Directed by George Wallach for Dramadiscs Productions Inc. – The Library of Sound Education Inc. – Cricket Records – 1961