The 2011 Summer National Senior Games came to Houston, TX, last month, and thanks to Humana, StoryCorps Door-to-Door recorded the stories of athletes, caregivers, and the Houston community for ten days. In a MobileBooth parked at the George R. Brown Convention Center, the term senior was redefined. We met 93-year-old triathletes and 70-year-old competitors who began their sports at age 60. The Summer National Senior Games are open to adults, age 50 and up, who qualify for their sports in the States and Canada. Several athletes stopped by to share their stories after seeing the Booth parked near the Athlete Village, and we were excited when Patsy Lillehei was one of them (pictured in the first slide below).
On Wednesday, June 22 StoryCorps Atlanta fans gathered for our second annual “StoryCorps Out & OutLoud: A Celebration of Stories from the LGBTQ Community.” The evening’s host, WABE’s John Lemley, commented that despite moving to a larger venue, the event was once again standing room only.
Kerrie Cotton Williams, Archivist and Manager of the Archives Division at the Auburn Avenue Research Library on African American Culture and History and StoryCorps alumna discussed the importance of archiving our stories.
Today the big marriage issue captivating the country is the debate around same-sex unions. But, not long ago, it was inter-racial and inter-cultural marriages that sparked intense political and legal debate across the 50 states. It wasn’t until 1967 that the U.S. Supreme Court officially legalized interracial marriages on a national level. The case was Loving vs. the State of Virginia, named fittingly after the newlywed couple who brought the case before the court, Mildred Jeter Loving and Richard Loving. Mildred was African American and Richard was white, and though they lived in Virginia, they married in Washington DC, where interracial marriage was legal. Upon their return to Virignia, they were arrested. With the help of the ACLU, their case eventually reached the Supreme Court, and with the court’s decision, all interracial couples in the U.S. were legally free to marry.
This landmark court decision is now commemorated as Loving Day, celebrated with events and festivities across the country on June 12th, the day of its passing. To honor this year’s 44th Anniversary of Loving Day , StoryCorps San Francisco teamed up with the Contemporary Jewish Museum and the Loving Day national organization, LovingDay.org, to host a special community recording and art-making day for multiracial, multiethnic and mixed heritage individuals, couples, and families. We also set up listening stations with some of our favorite Loving Day-related broadcast stories.
StoryCorps Door-to-Door traveled to the Land of a Thousand Lakes to record stories of the staff and patrons of the Hennepin County Library System, which includes the Minneapolis Central Library, Edina, Plymouth and Sumner Libraries. Over twelve recording days, the team recorded stories as diverse as Minnesota’s landscape. However, we wanted to share one story from our time in Minnesota about a group of people who are often invisible: the men and women of the Hennepin County Adult Corrections Facility. Cheryl D. Tigue and her coworker, Kathleen Hannan, came to the Plymouth Library to talk about Kathleen’s thirty-year career in corrections.
Kathleen earned her graduate degree in Public Health and in 1979 and began working for Hennepin County Adult Corrections’ female division. At the time, there were about forty female residents. Her first day on the job, Kathleen remembers, “I was so excited to have a job. I felt like I belonged there.”
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. (more…)
Aloha! For the past five weeks, StoryCorps facilitators have been traveling from Oahu, Maui, Kauai, and the Big Island to record the stories of Hawaiians! Sadly, we couldn’t bring our Airstream with us across the Pacific, but with the help of Hawaii Public Radio, we were able to record at partner sites on each of the islands: Mission Houses Museum in Honolulu, Maui Economic Opportunities in Wailuku, Kauai Community College Performing Arts Center in Lihue, and the County of Hawaii in Kailua Kona.
Hawaii was also a little bittersweet for those of us facilitating: It was my and my co-workers’ last stop on our Mobile Tour. We’ve all been on the road for a year going from state to state to record your stories. Traveling from island to island in Hawaii we heard uniquely Hawaiian stories from kupuna, taro farmers, ukulele musicians, surfers, cowboys, and coffee farmers. We also heard from grandparents, parents, teachers, and mentors – the kinds of stories we’ve heard from Fargo to Pennsylvania and Birmingham to Los Angeles.
So thank you to those of you we met in Hawaii and thank you to everyone we’ve met this year! You all make our job worth doing. Aloha a hui hou! Until we meet again!
Last week was my second ever in Kentucky, and what better way to usher it in than a morning spent traversing meandering mountain roads for a day of recording at the Hindman Settlement School.
Upon arrival in Hindman, we were greeted with an infectious smile by Randy Wilson, Director of the Settlement’s Folk Arts Education Program and one member of a long-serving staff that works tirelessly to serve the changing needs of the Appalachian community. Randy was accompanied by his 90 year old mother, Shirley, with whom he recorded our second interview of the day.
Established in 1902 by a pair of determined young female visionaries, the Hindman Settlement School was the first of its kind in the country: a boarding school for mountain students whose rural lifestyles didn’t include easy access to education, healthcare, and social services. The Settlement quickly became a model institution, an all-purpose bastion of regional culture dedicated in equal parts to preservation and innovation.
During our Mobile Stop in Wilmington, North Carolina husband and wife JoAnn and Irving Fogler came and reminisced about their little bookstore, The Bookery.
JoAnn told what she calls “The Bible with the Wide Margins” story: A customer came to return a Bible for not having wide enough margins. JoAnn told him “I can see the margins are a little too small, you give me this back and I’ll send for it personally.” When he came back a week or two later JoAnn presented the Bible to him by opening the book slowly, letting the pages fan out in a grand way. She said, “See, these margins are wide, they are so wide the company said it is going to go into the Guinness Book of Records!” The customer was very pleased and every time he came by the bookstore he would remark, “This is a bookstore that really follows through.” JoAnn explains, sometimes it is not what you say but how you say it. He never realized that JoAnn had presented him with the same bible he had returned!