StoryCorps Door-to-Door traveled to Charlotte, North Carolina to visit Levine Children’s Hospital for three recording days. During these days we had the opportunity to listen to the stories of current and former patients and their parents, as well as hospital staff.
We set up our recording equipment in the hospital’s Family Resource Center and listened to stories of resilience and hope. Children came in to talk about what it felt like to confront death and spoke of how the strength of their families and friends helped them through. They spoke of finding fun and laughter inside the hospital walls. Hospital staff talked about being the support of parents and children, of how the babies of strangers become their own. They recalled falling in love with babies and experiencing the loss of them along with their parents without losing sight of the other children that still needed care.
Often, a StoryCorps interview is just a starting point for other conversations. Forty minutes in the MobileBooth has a tendency to get the conversational juices flowing. Luckily, on September 6th, our Opening Day in Tacoma, WA at the Museum of Glass with our local radio station partner Northwest Public Radio, there were waterside surroundings, hor d’oeuvres, and people on hand to swap tales–inside and outside of the MobileBooth.
Inside the Booth, Jack Creighton shared stories with Jimmy Collins of his years as a Civilian Aide to the Secretary of the Army (CASA). He recalls meeting with one soldier at Walter Reed Hospital. The young man was slated to lose his right leg, but, he said to Jack, “My left leg is gonna be ok.” Jack reflects, “He said that with maturity that just overwhelmed me. It was not ‘woe is me’–it was a very positive response, and really emotionally triggered me.”
On August 21st, StoryCorps kicked-off it’s two-week Historias Mobile Tour stop in Pasco, WA. Historias is an initiative to record, preserve, and share the stories of Latinos across the US and has become one of the largest collections of Latino voices in the country. This was our second tour stop in Tri-Cities, following three weeks of recordings with Northwest Public Radio. For our two week Historias set of interviews, we partnered with Radio La Campesina 96.3 FM (this is the first time we partner with a Spanish Language radio station during our MobileTour) and the Pasco Public Library continued to be our site host.
Felipe Tapia and his wife, Cody Mains-Tapia, came during Opening Week to share the story of how they met. Felipe was born in Mexico City, and though he had fond memories that brought a smile to his face, he talked about having a very difficult childhood, surrounded by violence, and learning to fight and defend himself at an early age.
Yearning for a change in his life, he looked towards a new horizon and came to the U.S to join his mother. During his interview, Felipe talked about how, soon after coming here, he discovered that it was not quite the “paradise” his mother would speak of. He had to work in the fields and that, along with the language barrier made for a challenging transition. He needed an escape from his newfound struggles, and found it in dancing. As it happened, it was during one of these outings that Felipe’s life took a turn, and her name was Cody.
For three weeks this summer, since Opening Day on August 4 which marked our first day of interviews, StoryCorps’ West Mobile Booth has recorded stories in Tri-Cities, WA, in partnership with Northwest Public Radio. Our recording Booth was stationed in front of the Pasco branch of the Mid-Columbia Libraries and residents of the three neighboring cities, Pasco, Kennewick and Richland, as well as of nearby communities came to share their personal stories. Many people talked about growing up in the area and reflected on the growth and changes they’ve seen it undergo. Others have shared stories of how they found their way to the Columbia Basin and have since come to call this place home.
During Opening Week, Sheri Solomon came to our Mobile Booth with her mother, Lola Yale. Lola has lived in 21 different places since first leaving her home near Walla Walla, WA, and finally settled in Kennewick. She told the story of going on a family trip with her seven children before they lived in the Tri-Cities and having to stop in Kennewick to get gas.
When the Druid Hills High School class of 1986 celebrated its 25th reunion this summer, I invited several of my classmates to record their memories with StoryCorps Atlanta. We grew up in Atlanta in the ’70′s and ’80′s, so one unique aspect of our educational experience was being the first generation of children in the South whose schools were fully integrated. Because of an elective transfer program, our schools were approximately 50% Black and 50% white, from 1st grade through our senior year.
In his interview with fellow classmate Jim Ostrowski, Roland Dawkins remembered that in 1986, “Druid Hills was predominantly white, very affluent, highly educated, but also a very liberal and Democratic portion of Atlanta. At that time, I lived literally on the other side of town, and the (integration) program, “Majority to Minority” was in its heyday. I had to take a bus, actually a couple of buses, for an hour and a half. Eventually it got tiresome, but by then all my friends went to the school I went to.”
Jim, who was our senior class president, added that it was, “something way out of the ordinary for that neighborhood, at that time, but it all seemed to work pretty well.” They talked about how he and Roland, with all their differences, “were the bridge between cliques, we were the bridge between races, between socioeconomic stratuses.” Their friendship has lasted more than 30 years.
How long have you been at your job? 2 years? 5 years? Ok maybe you’re in the double digits, say ten to fifteen? These days that may qualify you as a lifer. By that definition, Camille Petty is a lifer several times over, as the head nurse on the children’s psychiatry unit at Bellevue Hospital for 52 years.
During a day of field recordings at Bellevue Hospital, in honor of its 275th anniversary, Camille was interviewed by friend and colleague Florenna Thompson about her journey to this incredible milestone.
A standout highlight for the San Francisco StoryBooth recording team this summer was our two-day recording trip to the Pinoleville Pomo Nation, the reservation of the Pinoleville Pomo people indigenous to the Ukiah, CA, area. Invited by the tribe’s Environmental Director, David Edmunds, Site Supervisor Natalia Fidelholtz and I took the trip about two hours north of San Francisco. Like most StoryCorps interviews, each conversation touched on a range of themes, though the thread that ran throughout was the importance of documenting stories of Pomo tribal history in the area, particularly those of community elders and leaders like Violet Carpello Renick (interviewed by David Edmunds) and Tribal Chairwoman Leona Williams (shown with her daughters Lenora Dawn Brown-Steele and Angela James).
This July, in collaboration with The Brooklyn Collection, an archive dedicated to the history of Brooklyn, of the Brooklyn Public Library, StoryCorps spent one week recording the stories of people who live and work in the borough. Through storytelling, StoryCorps celebrated the history and diversity of Brooklyn and the members of its communities and…
We did it! With 24 interviews and 49 participants, we have made the first installment of what we hope to be many more, building a growing portrait of the people and life of Brooklyn.