This past week StoryCorps headed south to Austin, TX, for the 2011 South By Southwest (SXSW) Interactive Summit and Film Festival. Interactive indeed! The Austin Convention Center was buzzing – or dare I say a-twitter – with activity. Thanks to our friends at P.O.V. and PBS who sponsored a series of interviews, we recorded interviews with bloggers and web developers and documentary filmmakers. In homage to the interactive nature of the conference, here’s a recap of the conference in the form of a twitter feed:
Ignacio Pulido, Jr. came to tell his story in Austin, TX, with his daughter, Adrienne, as part of StoryCorps Historias. We worked with Las Comadres para las Americas and the Austin History Center to record 12 conversations in Austin. Ignacio grew up in Laredo, TX. In his early 20s, he realized that there were no mental health services for Latinos in South Texas. He saw many children with emotional problems ending up in jail or foster care, and he wanted to help. But Ignacio didn’t have any mental health training.
We didn’t know what bi-polar was, we didn’t know what autistic was. We just knew there was something wrong with their behavior. We said, “Okay, we can observe behaviors.” That was our method. When we started watching the behaviors of people, we understood what was happening and their behavior told us what to do.
Another problem was that all of the materials available from the state were in English and were designed for middle class people. Ignacio translated the materials into Spanish, but it wasn’t just a language issue. Ignacio also had to culturally translate the materials for the Mexican-American population he was working with. One strategy was to get the fathers involved: “If I got the father involved in the program, the mother and children would follow. That’s what the culture indicated.”
Last week, StoryCorps visited Austin, TX, not for SXSW, but as part of our Memory Loss Initiative. Family ElderCare welcomed Door-to-Door to Lyons Garden, a low-income senior housing community, in East Austin and we recorded six interviews with some great Austinites.
Charlotte Flynn, who celebrated her 90th birthday on March 28, came in with her son Greg and talked about growing up in St. Louis and meeting her husband, Bill. After graduating from Washington University in 1941, Bill got a job working as an engineer on the Panama Canal. Three months later, Charlotte joined him in Panama. She told her son Greg about a night in Panama she will never forget :
On December 7, 1941, it was the first day that Dad had a chance to take me sightseeing in Panama. And it was about five o’clock. All the transportation were Army buses….and they all congregated at the train station. And were getting ready to go home and all the service men were just streaming out. And we said, “What’s going on?” They responded, “We don’t know. Get back to your base as soon as possible!”
So then we got back to our apartment and we didn’t know what was going on. We were just married, and we couldn’t afford a radio….Then when our neighbors came home, we found out about what happened. I was starting to fix supper, and then all the lights went out. And after a little while, they went on, stayed on for half an hour, and from then on we lived in blackout.
Every plane in the Panama Canal was up in the air. And you just heard that noise all night long, just zooming around. So it’s a night that’s well etched in my memory.
Soon after, construction on the canal stopped and Bill began working for the Army Corps on Engineers.
While we were recording at Family ElderCare, Julie Moody, a reporter from KUT, Austin’s public radio station, came to check it out. She spoke with Charlotte and Greg, as well as with Emma Long, who recorded an interview later that day. Visit the KUT website to hear more from Charlotte and Emma.
Nope. Snake on terrain in Pedernales State Park.
Nope. Tree roots.
Following their interviews, Danny Terry, Jani “Alligani” Schofield, and Cowboy Doug Davis raise a farewell toast to StoryCorps. Incidentally, Jani has the distinction of being the first woman to win, in 1971, the first-place trophy in the Terlingua Chili Cook-off, an event that previously had been open only to men.
Facilitator Jackie Goodrich gets in a few practice rounds after a day of interviews in Luckenbach Texas.
Neal Brown interviewed his friend, Cowboy Doug Davis, in the “Hondo Hilton” at Luckenbach Texas. Looks like they had a good time…wonder what they talked about?
Helen "Shatzie" Crouch (left) with her daughter, Becky Crouch Patterson, and StoryCorps facilitator Jackie Goodrich (center). Shatzie recalls a blissful childhood on her family’s ranch, where sheep and goats thrived on native underbrush and you had to pass through 23 gates to reach Fredericksburg, 12 miles away. She roamed the hills and canyons with her dog, "afraid of nothing and free to use my imagination."
Shatzie Crouch and her late husband Hondo were among the group that bought Luckenbach in 1970, founding a musical and cultural haven that thrives today. In the dance hall the band room becomes a StoryBooth.
Originally a trading post and meeting place for the ranching folks in the area, Luckenbach also hosted shooting competitions and song fests. By the late 1960s, the general store, dance hall, and other buildings had fallen into disrepair. “Downtown Luckenbach” was put up for sale and subsequently purchased by a cohort of imaginative friends, who made this “living museum” a vibrant center of music and entertainment.
StoryCorps returns to Texas hill country for a day of field recording in Luckenbach Texas. It ain’t a big place, but it’s history ain’t small, neither!
Pearl Cox and her mother, Mrs. Pease, run the House of Elegance in East Austin. More than a beauty salon, the business has been a place where locals are greeted with hugs and treated as family. The clientele spans generations of devoted customers.
After Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans native Abe Louise Young founded Alive in Truth, a project where caring Austin citizens listen to and record the stories of people displaced by the storm. Alive in Truth has been collecting these oral histories since September 4, 2005. In the StoryCorps booth Abe interviewed former New Orleans residents Joe Navis and Big Chief Kevin Goodman, who are now living in Austin and have participated in her project.
While StoryCorps participant Kathie Goldsmith gets ready for her interview, her daughter, Willow, gets ready for her close-up.
Big Chief Kevin Goodman of the Mardi Gras Indians grew up hand-sewing costumes in New Orleans. The Mardi Gras Indians pay tribute to Native Americans who helped end slavery. Goodman, grateful for the kindess shown to him in Austin since arriving here after Hurrican Katrina, has reciprocated by sharing his unique craft in Texas, making costumes for Fat Tuesday and performing his music around the city.
Local singer/songwriter, Danny Terry, takes requests at the bar behind the Luckenbach Post Office. Our best pick: “I Ain’t Really a Cowboy (I Just Found a Hat).”
Facilitators Jackie Goodrich and Laura Spero pay a visit to Luckenbach Texas, raising the town’s population to five.
…and watch silent films on the big outdoor screen while they wait.