An old recording of my Grandpa

Here’s a little gem from my audio collection. Actually, I found it in my Dad’s collection of LPs. It’s a self-recorded record, not an LP, but I otherwise don’t know how to classify it. It’s much thicker than a commercial LP, a slightly different colour (not as shiny), and only recorded on one side. LPs are recorded at 33⅓ rpm, and singles at 45 rpm. Well, when I played this back, I had to go to the highest setting on my record player—78 rpm. The record sleeve carried the only marking of the contents—my Grandpa’s name.

The recording is a 3-minute mini-sermon that my Grandpa probably delivered on the radio (CJNB, perhaps) back in his radio preaching days. He talks about Revival and Canadian society, and the responsibility that Christians have in doing God’s work. He starts with the exhortation, “Revival is a matter of everyone sharing the load in God’s work…”.

Unfortunately, there is no date marked on the recording. Given the subject matter, the language used, and the availability of cassette tapes in recent decades, I would place the recording in the 1970s at the latest, but even the 1960s would be a possibility.

It is interesting to note that my Grandpa’s voice on the recording is much higher in pitch than I am used to. Of course, I realize that the recording process and the playback process probably took place at different speeds, thus affecting the pitch that I heard. In fact, as I was cleaning up the digitized audio, I reduced the speed (and hence the pitch) of the audio by 3% to make it sound most natural in terms of my perception of my Grandpa’s pitch and the likely rate of speech.

Here is the audio to give you a sense of what my Grandpa sounded like back when he was younger. We have a Johnson family reunion taking place this summer, so I welcome my family who have come here to download this. I’ll see you guys soon.

Berthuld Thomas Johnson, on Revival. (2:59, 1.3 MB)

[Rev. Bert Johnson at the microphone]

Update: Thanks to my Aunt Wendy for providing this picture. It’s wonderful! And, discussion in the comments to this post seems to suggest that the recording is more likely from the 1950s. Wow! Thanks, everyone, for commenting.

13 thoughts on “An old recording of my Grandpa

  1. Matt Johnson

    He sounds a lot younger than I’ve ever heard him. He has passion in his voice and is speaking from his heart. That’s great to have a recording from so long ago, when I was -20 years old or so, yet I can still hear my grandpa today. Cool, Darren.

  2. Luke Johnson

    Thanks, Darren. I’ve been thinking about Grandpa a lot recently, and appreciate hearing this sliver of what he was like as a younger man. A passionate, urgent preacher.
    See you in Saskatoon – Luke

  3. Aron May

    Your mom and I also enjoyed the recording. We are thinking that it is from the early 50’s, based on the 78 rpm format and the speaking style. I had several times said that I would have liked to have heard your grandfather preach. This is as close as I will come to fulfilling that wish. Thanks!

  4. Karla Schuh

    Thanks, Darren. It was really amazing to be launched back in time and hear what Grandpa may have sounded like on the radio or in his pulpit. An incredible piece of our family story. Can’t wait to see you in Saskatoon!

  5. Paul Johnson

    Thx, Darren! I just listened to Grandpa. I’d guess this is from the late ’50s, perhaps even the mid-50s. I have a photo on my living room wall of Dad and me – I’m standing at a mic, getting ready to sing (Jesus loves me, I’m sure). I’d be 3, maybe 4? So dad was well into radio by that time (’53/’54). How good of you to put it on the web!

  6. Elisa Kozma

    That’s really nice of you to preserve Grandpa in this way, Darren. He has a great voice for radio and good insight to pass along. I can hear more why people respect him so much and he is known across Canada – he really is leaving us an admirable legacy.

  7. A & W

    Thanks, Darren. That was neat to hear. It brings back some good memories, even if it didn’t sound quite like Dad. He was ever the evangelist, and fervently so.

    I recall that once there was a recording made of us older kids singing when we were quite young. I think we went to Eatons in S’toon and made it to send to our grandparents in Vanc. It would be fun to hear that it were still around. That would be from the late ’40s, I think.

    Looking forward to seeing you, Art and Wendy

  8. Darcia Hoover

    I had a really hard time picturing Grandpa – the voice is too different – it sounded more like George Braun to me. I have found that Alan Braun preaches/sounds like Paul to me because Grandpa and Paul mentored Alan and George has been around Grandpa for so long he has probably picked up some of his mannerisms and speech patterns too.

    I think you should go down in the basement at grandpa and grandmas and rescue some other recordings while you are here for the reunion.
    Darcia

  9. Willard

    Hi Darren

    The recording was great. Takes me back to the good old days when we had a little studio in the balcony of the church where Dad and all the others prepared the broadcasts for CJNB. Dad sounds so good. Thanks.

    Will

  10. Greta Johnson

    Hi! Darren– I DID IT !!!!!!!!! Your mom phoned & told me that you had found an old recording of Grandpa preaching on the radio & I immediately came to the library (I haven’t been to my computer for a long time) & I got into your websight & got it & then read the comments & was thrilled …..but I didn’t know how to get his voice on but one of the young girls helped me & I sat & heard it all—-what a GREAT thing — makes me want to go home & have a little cry!! can’t give you a date but it was long, long ago & its so wonderful that you have it at this time to share.

    Grandpa is getting stronger on his legs– he tells me that there is nothing wrong with him & he can walk 2 or 3 miles but that isn’t quite right. He is in Regional Care– across the river where he gets more therapy & there is talk of him coming home but not for a couple of weeks but today I asked about taking him to the re-union & they said it would be okay– Melvin will be here to drive & it will just be for one day so I hope that all works out.

    Gotta go –so glad you are coming home!!!!!
    Love grandma

  11. Pat Rexroat

    Thanks to Karla, I learned about ‘Grandpa’s’ homegoing. All of Heaven must rejoice when one like him arrives Home. Pat Rexroat, Fuller Seminary, CA

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