My Passion

I have had a passion for story telling since I was a child. My favorite past time was to tell stories with Mary Jane my imaginary friend. I would tell my mother "I'm making on to believe".My love of story telling led me to major in acting at Boston University School of Fine and Applied Arts. Later I would have a thirty year career on radio and TV as a news anchor and host and producer of my own interview teachiprograms..I enjoyed helping students tell stories. I taught writing classes for five colleges. (Some of these overlapped). Now I have my own business Carole Nelson Video Biographies. My company tells people's stories which includes an interview, video of the person in his or her every day life. We add old film, video, pictures and music. Each is a mini documentary of a person's life something for generations to treasure
You will find a blog here telling parts of my own story, those of my grandmother and mother as well as snippets of the lives of people whose life stories we have told. If you are interested you may e-mail me at I would be happy to arrange a time when you could see portions of video life stories we have created and discuss what we could do for you. Each story is individual and contains what you want to tell. Meanwhile enjoy the blog.I continue "making on to believe".

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Dad I know now you loved me

I loved my father. The first ten years of my life I was afraid of him> H e was 6 6/12’  with back hair, a Widow’s Peak and blue eyes. It would be years before I knew my father was a player and continued to be a player until we moved from our tiny house when I was ten. My father changed then. He became funny and laid back. He still liked a heavy drink every night. “Your father has a heavy hand” my mother said. My father had worked for my grandfather in the most successful dry cleaning business  in south and central Vermont. Dry Cleaning was very big and Brown and Sons “We Keep the Spots” had had a fleet of six trucks and four buildings. But in those first ten years when he was driving one of a fleet of trucks throughout Vermont, picking up and delivering cleaning he was doing more.. I would be an adult before I contacted one of the young men who had worked with him. “Tell me about the other woman”. I said. He laughed. “Woman?” He your grandfather and your uncle were all drinkers and had lots of women.” My mother had been miserable in those first ten years. She had been a pretty dimpled girl sheltered by her parents in the small Swedish community near Rutland. She had bagged the most handsome man in Rutland, head turning handsome. I never sat in his lap. He n ever told me he loved me. I was not Daddy’s little girl. I envied the girl who lived down the street who waited for her father to come home from work. He would carry her on his back. She would laugh. He would hug her and her sister. The only time I sat on his lap was the day he told my mother he wanted a divorce. He told me to be a good girl. He had met and fallen in love with another woman. My father returned after a month but I never knew if it was because his father  “lit” into him.” Go home to your wife and kids”. If my grandfather had not said that would he have  returned?
Of course, after he left the dry cleaning plant and we moved from the tiny house across the street  my father was a different man. He and my mother built a motel from an old garage and made it into a successful restaurant and then they built eight motel units.  I went from someone who hated school and received barely passing grades to someone who was considered smart and who was inducted into the charter Honor Society for my junior high school. Me? That is how much my home life had affected me. But I still carried the memory of my father waking me in the middle of the night when I was very young and spanking me for wetting the bed. I remember the sound and the feel of the smack across my wet backside.
            When my folks retired to Florida and relatives and friends joined them there was a wonderful extended family. My mother and father helped me raise my three sons. My father was not a speaker:; he was a doer. My mother who was happy told me he never told her he loved her once after  they were married. He would say “Ditto”. He never hugged me or kissed me when I was an adult. When we said goodbye he would lean down so I could kiss him on the cheek. I tried to break through. When my first marriage was crumbling I worked up the courage to ask him “We are having a tough time Dad. Tell me how you and Mom worked through it,” His answer from the man who was always John Wayne was Jimmy Stewart. “Shucks, you need to talk to your mother about that”. I never tried again. My father was always there for me. When I needed rides throughout my teen years he never failed to drop me off and pick me up. Later when I was a single mother he loved my sons. The sons he never had. He was the one who ‘got on the boys when they wouldn’t pick up the garage for me. “Get off your asses and go help your mother”. My father dictates were always forceful. I lost track of the times he helped me moved or how he drove from Rutland to Boston to pick me up at college because the pain in my neck was unbearable. It would be a semester before I would return. My favorite memories were of the big table in the dining room. There was always someone there, friends, family, chambermaids, and motel guests. My father sat at the head of the table telling jokes wearing his white workman’s shirt. Everybody loved George Brown. My father was handsome and charismatic. He died on a golf course when he was 67. He teed off and died of a massive heart attack. I felt the grief for years, the loss of him in my life. I knew my father loved me. He loved being called Mr. Nelson because of course he was Carole Nelson’s father. The day before he died my guest on my noon TV show was Mitzi Gaynor, his favorite actress. My mother told me later he said. “Who would have ever believed our daughter would do this. Look at how good she is.” I treasure that quote to this day. I spent my adult years looking for my father, dating all the handsome bad boys. Of course, I always saw rejection. It would be years later before I would realize I had many boyfriends. I had never really been rejected. I married my bad boy whom I had met when I was 60. We have been together 13 years. I thought on some revel I was marrying someone like my father. In some ways he is but he is always telling me loves me. He does for me just like my Dad did. Of course, he is also a caretaker and someone like my mother who lectures me if I lose thing or don’t zip my purse. Daddy I love you. I hope you know that. I know you were from an era where men didn’t express emotion and really longed for sons not daughters. You are buried somewhere in Seminole County, your ashes are. I don’t go to your grave. I don’t have to. You live in my heart. Now I can finally realize how very much you loved me. I hope you knew that before you died.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Interviewing is Storytelling

I had believed that my two loves storytelling and interviewing were separate skills I had developed but not related. They are. It was when I realized that interviews are really short stories. They are compact; the storyteller is also listened and vice versa. It is one thing to conduct radio and TV interviews as I have done for four decades it is another to know how to successfully conduct an interview for business. There is a great deal that hangs in the balance. For instance, in a job interview the person being interviewed will tell his or her story as prompted by the interviewer. It may not include the most important parts of the person’s life and the story will emerge in the form of answers to questions. The person doing the hiring knows its importance. This interview had to determine if the person has the skills or says he has the skills, is able to work in a team, values patience, persistency, loyalty. Does this person practice the work ethic? (It should be a given. From what I am told by employers it is not.) Then there is the person’s background. Sure, it is in her resume but resumes lie. People lie about the jobs they have held, the skills they have. But having a person talk about her background is something else. This is where the skillful interviewer picks up clues. Does the interviewer believe the person sitting before him or her? The key component is trust and that works both ways. The interviewer trusts that the person will be forthcoming and then an assessment can be made whether or not this person is a good fit for the job. The interviewer is not promising long-term trust only during this interview. What is implied but not stated is that the interviewer will give the person every chance to show “his stuff” to show why he should have the job. That is not to say the interviewer may not have negative responses. That is part of the job. It is rather the person is given “a fair shake” to show why the job should be his.
            Trust works the other way as well. The person being interviewed has to trust that she has a chance, that she shows in a short amount of time what about her training, her life experience, her values means she should have the job.
            Where is the challenge? The challenge is the same that I faced in the more than one thousand interviews that I conducted. Every person being interviewed has a reason for consenting to the interview. He or she has a book to sell, a movie to watch, an album to listen to, even a political stance to entice people to share.
It is a given the interviewer accepts this and it is only fair that you allow the person to do this to a point. The person being interviewed has been asked the same questions hundreds of times. She is prepared. She may have talked points. There may be things she has to make sure are included. The book goes on sale when? What is there about the plot or contents that should inspire a viewer to buy the book? But interview times runs out quickly, especially during TV interviews which is why I have always preferred longer term radio talk interviews. I as an interviewer will make you feel comfortable not threatened even if I don’t agree with you. I will let you present your “pitch” in the best possible light.
Now what? What prevents any interview from becoming a well rehearsed dance? Each person knowing what to expect, the questions and answers being almost rote. It is the breakthrough. This is the moment you go from eyes glazed over on the part of both the interviewer and interviewer to suddenly awakening. What is that? It is the unexpected questions. Notice I did not say unfair questions. No sudden quote from an adversary, no bombshell to which the person has to react it is simply not expected. The person doesn’t have time to stop and come up an answer the other person wants to hear. This is honesty, unless the person is very, very practiced at dealing with ad hoc questions. When I taught Business Practices in College I earned the label The Interviewer from Hell. I put my students through some of the worst possible interviews they might face. What if the interviewer just doesn’t like you, has already picked someone else, doesn’t think you have what it takes” to get the job “done. You as the person being interviewed have to ask those surprises but not impenitent questions. “How would you place your company’s strengths against (fill in the blank of competitors)? What plans to you have for the company in the next few years? People being interviewed have a much better chance of getting the job if they have done their homework about the company. That way their questions are knowledgeable.

            The interviewer suddenly asks
Tell me about your high school years. What were your interests? What did you do for fun?” Off the subject? Of course, not. The interviewer wants to know the whole person, not just his or her skills. It is the whole person who will attend the company picnic, eat in the lunch room with the other employees, and handle stressful job situations. One can only hope that this mini-story based on trust and the unexpected along with the usual questions will mean each party walks away feeling the interview went well. They don’t always. I asked General Westmorland

  about the casualties during the Viet Nam war, a number he supposedly had grossly misrepresented. I asked the question. He looked at me for a minute with no apparent emotion, took off his microphone and left the interview set. Mike Wallace on Sixty Minutes didn’t let him off the hook. 

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Bugs bite the Creative Spirit.

Why is it that reality can sidetrack your creativity in a  heart beat. All the words are  in my head for two projects but nasty bugs and a clumsy move  meant those words never made it to the computer.  First was the bug that simply flattened me, no other symptoms. Next what appeared to be a cold but developed into bronchitis. That one took two weeks for recovery (might have been the flu). Then yesterday in the middle of an editing session when I rose from my chair and started to walk my foot turned sideways so I know I have a sprained ankle. One of my creative projects is writing the scripting and editing a woman's life story on video. That is what my business is telling people's life stories for their own viewing and for future generations to know who this person was. This project was a challenge. What we are producing are mini-documentaries with a few differences. I did the pre-interview,and then I helped her gather 73 photos. The interview takes basically a day. My videographer/shooter is a perfectionist when it comes to lighting and audio. We are trying to keep the finished product to an hour but here is the conumdrum: the person decides everything she wants in the video. This woman had so many dramatic incidents in her life that the interview last an hour and a half. If this were a documentary we would choose what parts to use and what parts to leave out.The next big job for me is listening to the audio track and deciding what I need to condense and read in a script and what parts of her interview I use. (People do ramble). My goal is to put all the dates, places events in the script and then use the parts of the interview that are more heart felt with more emotion involved. That means going into a "soundbite" picking out a section I want to use and giving the editor the correct incue and outcue. The next step is an all day editing challenge. What pictures go where. If anything is part of the voice over that I read then we have to have pictures that match the meaning. My videographer and business partner then does all the editing with high definition software. It is much more difficult than the editing we did before HD, He does all kinds of special effects with the pictures and then puts original music on the track. The problem is there is so much work involved that two thousand dollars is the lowest price we can offer and that means each of us is working for about twelve dollars an hour. The benefit is that we both love doing this. I know when this woman sees her video she will be thrilled even if the "bugs" did slow the process down. Please check out my web site and watch the video of one man's story

Monday, August 17, 2015

Passionate about Storytelling: Passionate about Storytelling: Passionate about Storytelling:  A woman who worked with my husband called to tell...

Passionate about Storytelling: Passionate about Storytelling: Passionate about Storytelling:  A woman who worked with my husband called to

Passionate about Storytelling: Passionate about Storytelling:  A woman who worked with my husband called to tell...

Passionate about Storytelling: Passionate about Storytelling:  A woman who worked with my husband called to

Passionate about Storytelling:  A woman who worked with my husband called to tell...

Passionate about Storytelling:  A woman who worked with my husband called to tell...:  A woman who worked with my husband called to tell me that she had come across an article from the Orlando Sentinel about me that she had k...

 A woman who worked with my husband called to tell me that she had come across an article from the Orlando Sentinel about me that she had kept for 23 years. She wasn't even sure why she kept it. Did I want it? She gave it to my husband. The article was yellow with age. The page was crisp to the touch. I
It was not an article I had been happy about. The year was 1992  The Orlando Sentinel had called the reporter telling me the paper  wanted to do a profile of me for its Sunday magazine section. I agreed although I questioned the timing. I had been fired by Channel Nine even though I had signed a contract just months before. (How you can be fired for no reason when you have a contract?That is another story).  Now I had been fired from the radio talk show I had hosted for three years I was stuck with a new house I had built after I signed the latest contract. I couldn't afford the mortgage or the expenses. My savings dwindled quickly. I had moved from that house to an apartment and now I couldn't afford that. I was moving in with my sister and putting a few possessions  in storage. The same day I met the reporter for lunch at Apple Annie's in Church St Station I was moving out of the apartment. I had broken two toes when a moving box fell on my foot. That week I had shown up like every other unemployed person in the unemployment line (no longer required). I talked about the need to start over, to pare my life down to the essentials. I was in survivor mode. When the article came out the headline read :Appreciating the Recession with the former TV news anchor on unemployment." I had become the symbol of the unemployed.  I was quoted as saying "I'm good at starting over. I'm almost better at starting over than I am when everything is in place and going fine". Be careful what you wish for. At that moment I had no idea what lay ahead of me. If I thought I had experienced tough times I hadn't seen anything yet. I did say concerning unemployment checks "The heavens don't open up. Plenty of good people have to do it. You realize you can survive and you take risks." Could I have imagined then that I would fly to Seattle with three suitcases, feeling out whether this was a move I should make. I did make it. I lived with my son and his family across the Puget Sound in Bremerton. I took over my son's small office with my clothes hanging off doors, windows and sills. I had no computer skills then. I had a word processor which broke down. I wrote resumes and cover letters in long hand and stuffed the envelope with promotional materials from my TV career. What kind of a chance did I have finding a job. Bob Jordan my former boss and co-anchor from Channel 9 was now a news director for a Seattle station. He helped me land a part time job as a radio talk show host for the number one station in Seattle. I took a full time job as a professor at The Art Institute of Seattle but not before filing for bankruptcy and having my car towed away. I would live and work in Seattle for six years. Those were wonderful but terrifying years.Years before that move I had worn expensive clothes and had my hair and make up done every day for TV. Now I wore jeans, Doc Martin boots, carried a heavy book bag on my back and usually was sans make up. And that adventure  was only from '92 until '96. I had returned to Orlando attempted to market a defunct studio, taught for two colleges, hosted three more TV programs in Orlando and,met the man I would marry years later. Are you still with me? I was so captivated by transitions  not just mine but other people's that I would host a TV program in Orlando  on Navigating Transitions.I won't go into all the transitions that occurred after that. What did that article tell me?It told me that now in my 70's my personality and philosophy haven't changed. I am still willing to hang my fanny over the fence knowing in doing so that I am very vulnerable to shots either by people or just circumstances. The article had been accompanied by a picture which I hated at the time. I was standing in the full sun against a tree with my arms crossed and a facial expression that pretty much said  "Bring it on". It was oddly reassuring now. I wasn't doing anything new. Only the circumstances had changed. It is an article and a picture that are as apt today as they were 23years ago.  I will follow my passion and am willing to take the risks that go with it. I am glad the woman found the old yellowed article. Maybe I will take it out again when I am in m 80's.

Friday, August 14, 2015

I am trying to write a memoir but I can't go past those first ten years. It brings up feelings of.  anxiety of a kind of depression I can't even name. The house is tiny, maybe 1200 square feet, a two story house just across the street from Brown and Sons the dry cleaning plant my grandfather owned and where my father worked. There are vivid images, more vivid than images from much later in my life. It is during the war. I stand at the sink and pluck "pin feathers" from the chickens my father has killed. There is a chicken coop in our back yard. It is fenced off with wire fencing but I stand by the fence watching the chickens. I smell the strong odor from the yard. My father kills a chicken when we need one. I watch as the chicken runs around frantically even though its head has been cut off. It is dead. I stand at the sink and press on the orange button that will release color into the bag of lard I am holding. This is our 'butter'. I massage the lard until the orange color is spread  throughout the plastic package.
At night I lie propped between two arm chairs with a flannel rag on my chest. Under it is a coating of Vaseline. A humidifier hisses steam into the small living room. My mother brings me milk and butter. She says it will cut phelm. I stand at the edge of the   front lawn. I clutch my doll Rebecca as I watch the kids going to school. Soon I will go. Part of me yearns  to leave this house, but another part of me is scared. I don't want to go. I wet the bed. I wake up with wet sheets. I have not had any water to drink since supper. My father stands over my bed. He picks me up by one arm and spanks me through the wet pajamas. I walk in my sleep. One night my parents find me down the street standing at the bridge, looking down in the water. Sometimes they talk to me when I am sleep walking. I have no memory of it nor do I remember answering them, but I did.  I hear my parents yelling late at night. I want them to stop. My father has been out late again, returning at 2 in the morning. He drives the truck that picks up and delivers dry cleaning throughout central Vermont. My mom cries sometimes. She says there is no reason for him to be out that late. One morning she wakes me up. She is sobbing. She gets me dressed and my sister and I go downstairs. My father is sitting on the sofa. "Come and sit on my lap", he says. I never sit on my father's lap. It feels uncomfortable. Probably I am too heavy for his lap. "You need to be a good girl', he tells me. "Do what your mother says". I think he is going to war. He is not. He is in love with another woman. We leave in a cab and go to my grandparents' house. My grandmother is standing at the front door. She is crying. She is wearing her slip. One strap has slipped down over her shoulder. Every night I go to bed and think about my favorite book. It is the "Box Car Kids". These are kids who have run away and live in a box car. They scourge for food. They make a table from an orange crate. Every night I dream of living in a box car. When it is dark I will close and lock the massive door. Is anyone inside with me?. They are the friends with whom I share the box car.. It is the beginning of a lifetime of going to sleep at night thinking of escape. Sometimes people are saved with me; other times I am alone. What am I running from? During all these years it has changed from Nazis to Indians, then the Mafia, sometimes aliens and I am taking all my friends and family on a giant space ship. We alone are saved. I love small spaces. I hid in the closet in my bedroom when no one was looking for me. Now whether it is a doctor's office or any tiny room I think of how I would live there. Where would the sink be? the microwave?Where could I put my books.  When I was ten we moved from that house. I see the little girl standing on the edge of the lawn. I want to go to her, to put my arms around her, to tell her it is going to be better. Her life will be much better. She may not believe me. I will not tell her that the dream of escaping from this house frames each might of my life, even now when I am an old woman.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

An Unexpected gift

It has been an unexpected gift. I started this company because I wanted to interview people who would have a legacy of their lives in their own words. What has happened during this process is discovering the courage and fortitude people have experienced in their lifetimes. It has been inspiring to me on a personal level. The famous people I interviewed over the years always had something to promote. They had "talking points" to promote a book, a movie, an album or maybe a political campaign. They were out to promote; I was out to find some candor somewhere. It was far easier on talk radio than TV. The TV interviews were always short so it was a battle allowing them to simply promote and my trying to give viewers a glimpse into who this person really was. Radio made that easier and that is what I miss. But the interviews now are with ordinary people who have met extraordinary challenges. The woman whose life story we are doing now is a woman who re-invented herself. She had a life as a public servant, a successful business woman but a matron. She is divorced now. She had to go through a lot of pain to get to the point where she is attractive in her own eyes and everybody else's. In her older years she has discovered her own independent spirit, her own sexuality. She has not let life, friends and family define her. A huge struggle but what a woman today! I work on an interview like this and think I am so glad I have the opportunity to allow her to tell her story on her own terms. As she said when I die I don't want someone else writing my obituary. How lucky I am to have struggled for fifteen years to finally have this company that tells life stories.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

It has been a struggle with many moments of doubts. How do you start a business when you are in your 70's and although you have a passion you have no money? Finally, I can say that it is happening. I worked with two different videographers over a period of years when I found the videographer who shared my vision. We did videos that I am proud of, people's life stories on video with photos, old films and videos, music and special effects. All of this in addition to an interview that is from a half hour to an hour. Plus I found someone to design a web site who shared my vision. Intrigued? Check it out.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

My new business Carole Nelson Video Stories is off to a great start. I am so grateful to have found a great videographer Todd Dunlap and a web page designer to help me. They share my vision of capturing people's life stories on video. The stories vary from a half hour to an hour. Some are dramatic; others are not. They all have a story to tell. We do the interview, and then work with visuals, editing, music to create what is your life to live on for future generations. It says this is who I am to some; to others this is who I was, my footprint on the earth. The web site will allow easy access when it is done. For now these are the links on YouTube. One should lead into the other, four parts.
ary Lambert’s Video Biography Part #1 ~ 

Gary Lambert’s Video Biography Part #2 ~

Gary Lambert’s Video Biography Part #3 ~

Gary Lambert’s Video Biography Part #4 ~

Monday, June 8, 2015

Tell Me a Story! Tell Me a Story and Then I'll Go to Bed

When I was a child my love of storytelling took so many forms. I loved to read Grimm’s’ Fairy Tales to my grandmother as I sat at her feet and she took a fine comb to my hair looking for dandruff. I loved comic books and later I devoured the magazines like Photoplay with the stories of the lives of the actresses and actors. My love of acting took me further than I ever thought I would go but not as far as that long held dream of starring in a play on Broadway. I longed to crawl into the lives of other people, to be them as least for awhile. On some level I knew I wasn’t movie star material but I had heard the sound of applause; that was the affirmation I needed.
 But as a child I didn’t foresee one day acting in a play in the Richard Rogers Theater in Boston, of looking up in the balcony which was so steep it seemed right over my head. I would never have dreamed of 30 years in the media as a news anchor, TV and radio talk show host, always telling stories. I loved interviewing on radio because there was more time than on TV. I sought out and found people I wanted to interview Deepak Chopra before anyone was familiar with his work, Elmore Leonard with his fascinating crime stories, even my teen age idol  Eddie Fisher.  I saw the handsome young man on his own show sponsored by Coke not the old man who sat in the studio delighting in making me squirm as he told me about  his sex life with each of his three wives. Stories don’t always end the way you think they will end.
 But it is the stories from my family. I asked so many questions and I have a good memory so I have been able to fill in the blanks in at least some of my family history. What a shock to find the similarities among the lives of my great grandmother, my grandmother, my mother’s and my own.  Each of us faced daunting challenges, heartbreak, betrayal and the need to somehow summon strength we didn’t know we had. What a gift I owe them and how grateful I am for their stories. I asked the questions about their lives.  They told me some of the answers; other  answers I found from relatives, of putting together the pieces of the puzzle.  In the weeks before my mother died while she was in the nursing home she hated, before I had her moved to Hospice  she told me of some of her childhood memories…of the aqua gown she wore to the prom and how it swirled around her as she danced the Lindy and the Turkey Trot. She told me of the excitement of being the one in her family allowed to turn on the lights for the first time when electricity came to the small Vermont village where she lived.
Of course, there are many questions that are unanswered. Somewhere I believe there is a half brother I have never met, part of a secret life my father led during the years I was growing up. I started to pursue the story. Decades after “the other woman” and my father had died I picked up the phone and called the dead woman’s brother. I was the one who had seen her. I knew her name. “Tell me about my father and Irene”, I said. “Carole, let it go” he said. “They are gone now. There is no reason.” I had called given my name and simply asked the question. It was as though I had asked the question in 1950. It was not just my story. The man I think  my dad fathered doesn’t know that we share a father. He thinks he was adopted by a family member. I hang up the phone when I reach him. It is my father’s voice on the other end of the line. I see now the clues that I didn’t see when I was growing up. I feel my mother’s pain and how she wrestled away the power in the family from my father. He allowed her to do that.
 Some questions I tried to ask were left on the table.  I was a mother of two sons at that time.“Tell me about the problems you and my mother had in your relationship “I said. He averted my eyes. “Oh you talk to your mother about that”, he said. Was the relationship ongoing with the other woman? I will never know.
 If I come across as an interviewer when I meet people (which I have been accused of) it I want to climb into that person’s head. Now come the stories of the people I interview for my new venture Carole Nelson Biographies. They hold me enthralled. No one has a boring life. I want that person to leave a footprint, to say:” I was here. This was and is my life, its challenges, its joys; this is what I want people to know about me when I am gone.”  I want to help them to do that. My passion of “making on to believe” has continued all these decade since I first listened to and told stories to my imaginary friend Mary Jane. The stories have only become richer. This picture is of my mother and her parents. I could swear my grandmother is crying.