Forty minutes is not enough time to cram an entire person’s life into. Don’t even try. StoryCorps has more than 100 Great Questions for you to choose from, but over the course of the 40 minute conversation you may only get to an handful. When I tell participants they have 10 minutes left their eyes pop in disbelief because time has flown. It’s like the StoryBooth is a time machine where once you enter real time stands still – not true, it flies. So what does one do under these circumstances? Book another appointment!
That’s exactly what Ruth Hunt did. Over the course of 3 appointments she talked about finding her estranged brother, her career as fashion model, and her work with the Jackie Robinson Foundation. During her first visit Ruth came in by herself, unsure of the process, but with a sense of purpose. She was determined to tell the story of being reunited with a brother after 50 years of separation. Her father, a WWII vet, had a child while stationed in London who he’d become separated from until Ruth found him and reunited the two. Ruth came back a second time to share her experience as one of the first Black models to work in the Garment District. She modeled for Harry Keiser, who made bridal gowns and evening wear. When Hunt decided to leave the high-heeled world of fashion behind she began a career with The Jackie Robinson Foundation working closely with Jackie’s wife, Rachel Robinson, to raise money to help educate minority students. After the interviews, participants tend to be all chatter, gently kicking themselves for the gems and pearls they left behind. Ruth was no different; she still had more story to tell. She informed us that she was one of few African American women to be a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR). Both my partner and I looked at each other in shock. We implored Ruth to come back and tell us more. So much history stored in one person!
Now Ruth works for Bellevue Hospital as Director of Community Affairs, and after having such a great time preserving her own stories at our StoryBooth, she decided to bring the StoryCorps experience to the Bellevue community to help commemorate its 275th anniversary. We’re looking forward to hearing their stories, too.