After spending the summer working in StoryCorps’ Brooklyn office, I gave up my little apartment, sold all my belongings, and hit the road.
Before I left New York many people asked me, “How does the Airstream trailer get from one location to the next?” In the old days (like 3 years ago) the MobileBooth was towed by brave Facilitators and StoryCorps staff in a truck. Today, we hire drivers, who usually come with pets. Mike, our fearless driver and his beefy sidekick Brandy, a 120 pound rottweiler, picked up our roving recording booth Sunday morning from the Basketball Hall of Fame parking lot in Springfield, Massachusetts, and delivered her safely to our new spot in front of the Virginia Museum of Transportation in Roanoke, Virginia on Monday afternoon.
I met up with the MobileBooth East team (Jeremy, Chaela and Whitney) in Springfield to help get the booth ready for our transition south to Roanoke. We said a tearful goodbye to Chaela, who was heading back to the Brooklyn office. Then Jeremy, Whitney, and I set off south. Two CDs (on repeat), one episode of “This American Life,” a stop at the Cracker Barrel, one hilarious waiter named Zak who thought we worked in “fashion,” a few hours sitting in Red Skins traffic, an overnight in a swanky Country Inn in Fredericksburg, Virginia, breakfast with a tour bus of senior citizens, a quick jaunt to the Airstream Dealer to fix the MobileBooth steps, a bathroom break at White’s Truck Stop (which serves up a lovely strawberry, rhubarb cobbler), one order of fried catfish, and a few hours of chatting later, we found ourselves in Roanoke.
Life on the road is all about firsts. Roanoke is the farthest south that I have ever been. The city is surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains, which words fall short to describe: jarring, impressive, stark against the blue sky. Roanoke is known as Star City because of a giant, neon star that lords over the city from Mill Mountain. However, the original name was the Big Lick because of an abundance of salt in the area. Roanoke was and still is a railroad town, many rail lines have crossed through the town, the Virginia & Tennessee Railroad, the Atlantic, Mississippi & Ohio Railroad, and the Norfolk & Western Railroad, to name a few. Each morning we can still hear the box cars rushing past the museum. The singer Wayne Newton was born in Roanoke and the African American filmmaker Oscar Micheaux was a resident.
We look forward to bringing you more stories from Western Virginia!