The Rangeview Library District and Anythink Libraries, an Institute for Museum and Library Services‘ 2010 National Award winner, hosted StoryCorps for three recording days at their Wright Farms branch in Thornton, Colorado. During our visit, Pam Sandlian Smith, the district’s library director, and her good friend, Sharon Morris, recorded a conversation about Anythink and some of their formative memories at other libraries.
Pam remembered a little boy who visited the Denver Children’s Library many summers ago while she and Sharon worked there. He saw the unused story hour room, its stage and hand puppets, and asked Pam if he could hold a show there at the end of the week. Sensing an opportunity, Pam obliged with one condition: He had to keep the room tidy.
StoryCorps participants arrive at our MobileBooths from all across the country. Usually their residence corresponds with where our MobileBooth is parked. But don’t tell that to these recent participants in Colorado Springs, Colorado!
After driving through snow and sleet, MobileBooth West pulled into downtown Colorado Springs, CO and set up shop in front of the Penrose Public Library. KRCC General Manager Delaney Utterback and Producer Noel Black greeted us warmly and looked on with excitement as we wedged the MobileBooth into its new home. And if a big shiny Airstream trailer wasn’t enough to announce our arrival in town, KRCC went to work producing a short web video providing the curious community with an inside peek as to what StoryCorps is all about.
Set at the eastern foothills of the Rocky Mountains and the base of the famous Pikes Peak, sprawling Colorado Springs is home to quite a number of institutions and attractions, including the United States Air Force Academy, NORAD, Fort Carson, Focus on the Family, Colorado College, the United States Olympic Training Center and Committee Headquarters, Seven Falls, and the Garden of the Gods National Park (to name a few!). Our partner organizations are just as vast and numerous, including PEAK Parent Association, PHAMALY Theatre, Partners in Housing, the Alzheimer’s Association of Colorado Springs, African Americans in Gerontology, Pikes Peak Community College, Future Self, and more. Given the wide range of various places, communities, and organizations, MobileBooth West will soon be filled with an equally diverse array of participants, life experiences, and stories!
So far, so good, in Colorado Springs!
During our brief stay in Paonia, Colorado, we met all kinds of people. Young and old; mothers and fathers; uncles, sisters, cousins, and godfathers; auctioneers and farmers; DJs and musicians; potters, poets, writers, and artists; friends, mentors, teachers, and students; miners and midwives; travelers, scientists, and even Paonia’s Elegantly Attired Running Ladies!
While every participant who came into the MobileBooth was different from the next, each with their own story and their own voice, there was one thing almost everyone seemed to agree upon. There is no place like Paonia. Part of the beautiful North Fork Valley, Paonia is home to an assortment of community-run businesses, the best peaches you’ve ever tasted, an exquisite landscape, the sweet sounds of bluegrass music, and of course, KVNF Public Radio – “the nucleus” of the community, explained one participant. As KVNF Manager Sally Kane remarked, the North Fork Valley is “pastoral, abundant, and enlightening. [...] and it attracts people with huge hearts.”
Paonia may be a small dot on the map, but as participant Liz Lilien remarked, “sometimes that dot seems to shine.” And indeed it does!
Thank You, Paonia. Colorado Springs, here we come!
Although we may have dropped 161 feet in elevation from Montrose, Colorado to Paonia, Colorado, spirits were high as StoryCorps’ MobileWest team geared up for two weeks of MobileBooth recording in front of Paonia’s brand new Pubilc Library, which opened in April of 2009. After a warm welcome from KVNF, Paonia’s “mountain-grown” public radio station, we hit the ground running in this small town of just 1,600 people. And although Paonia may be one of the smallest towns the MobileBooth has visited, it’s still big enough for community members to learn something (and meet someone) new everyday!
When participants come into the StoryCorps Booth, they often tell the story of how they first met. It’s not everyday, however, that participants meet one another for the first time at the MobileBooth! That is exactly what happened in Paonia, Colorado, at StoryCorps’ MobileBooth West when Marjorie Johnson and Marylee Hauze came in to tell their story.
Almost four months ago to the day of their scheduled conversation, participant Marylee Hauze came upon a letter to the editor in the Delta County Independent written by an “M.E. Johnson” titled, “A Mother’s Day Tribute.” Marylee was so moved by the article, she wrote a letter to “M.E.” thanking her for her words. Since then, Marge and Marylee have been exchanging letters as pen pals. It was September 5 that they met for the first time. After sharing lunch in town, they came to StoryCorps to continue their conversation face-to-face. It didn’t take long to understand why Marylee was so eager to make the acquaintance of Marjorie E. Johnson.
In the Montrose Public Library, near the Libros En Espanol [Books in Spanish] section, we took over a study room and set up shop for a week-long recording session of 41 conversations in Montrose, Colorado.
The city of Montrose rests north of the towering San Juan Mountains at an altitude of 5,806 feet. It’s home to a diverse group of residents including long-timers whose families have been in the area for multiple generations, transplants from bigger cities looking for a slower pace, and nature-seekers wanting to co-exist with the beautiful Colorado landscape. And boy, is it beautiful!
Although we were only there for a week, Montrose Public Library gave us the full red-carpet greeting. A wonderful ice cream social – covered by Montrose Daily Press – was arranged by the library on Opening Day, and Library Director Paul Paladino formally welcomed us with open arms; KVNF news director Daniel Costello talked about the radio station’s excitement; and West MobileBooth Site Supervisor Whitney Henry-Lester thanked the crowd for their participation. Needless to say, we were very excited to begin!
Paula Anderson and Doris Butler have been friends now for over thirty years – both heavily involved in saving family farms and orchards in and around Grand Junction, Colorado.
Traveling through the neighboring towns of Grand Junction, you will notice several small orchards full of peaches and cherries. You might spot neat rows of vineyard in people’s backyards and at the very foot of the Grand Mesa.
Christopher Aguirre and his librarian, Melisa Gilbert, were sitting in a dimly lit classroom during a StoryCorps sound-check, getting microphoned while they listed-off all their tattoos.
On the right side of his neck like a sprouting daffodil, you can see two hands joined in prayer, growing out from under Chris’ collar — fingertips just barely tucked behind his ear. Melisa described cute, fantastical creatures that adorn her, albeit nowhere in sight.
Beyond ink, Melisa and Chris have a few more things in common.
“They say that if you love your job, it’s not a job at all,” says Chris, who is passionate about auto-body – with plans on building his own shop.
“Absolutely,” replies Melisa, who as a librarian, goes home after work just to continue researching, reading, and mulling over information access. “You see the connection between your art and your work,” she empathizes.
The small room has been sound-proofed – improvised, that is. Layers of soft white linen have been carefully stapled over all four walls to capture bouncing echoes. This StoryCorps field recording was conducted at Arrowhead Correctional Center, a minimum security prison located in Canon City, Colorado – otherwise known as the Corrections Capital of the country. Melisa and other prison-library staff invited StoryCorps across red-tape and barbed-wire fences, to host a day of recorded oral histories for those “offenders” with a desire to speak into a microphone. Chris participated along with seven other men who are also currently serving time at Arrowhead.
Professional chef, educator and artist Gigia Kolouch remembers people and events by what foods were being eaten at the time. Oral history became edible when her son Fred, made reservations for two at the StoryCorps MobileBooth.
2 TB butter
2 TB olive oil
1/2 lg. onion, mined very finely
10 mushrooms, chopped very finely
2 cups aborio rice
pinch saffron 4-5 cups chicken broth
1 cup white wine
1/2 -1 cup parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste…..Saute onion and mushrooms in olive oil and butter. When soft, add rice and saute for 3-4 minutes. Add the saffron, 1/2 cup wine and 1 cup broth and let simmer with the lid off, stirring frequently. As the liquid is absorbed, add more, a cup at a time until the rice is cooked, about 20 minutes. Add the rest of the wine last. Before serving, add the parmesan cheese and let cook 5 minutes stirring constantly. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve AT ONCE with parmesan cheese. Risotto waits for no man (or woman)!
“If I make something that they taught me how to make, they’re still alive…they’ll be alive because you’re eating the food that they made.”
Married couple Jodi & Page came to the MobileBooth in Denver this afternoon to talk about the way they first met — online.
“He thought that it was sad that I would use the ‘internets’ to find someone,” Jodi said of his father.
Little did dad know, that not only would the two get married within the year, but that he would also jump on the internet bandwagon, becoming an ordained minister online so that he could preside over their wedding.
Jodi and Paige wanted someone official at the altar, but preferred that it not be a stranger. “My dad…who’s practically atheist. He got online and was able to get ordained, just like that,” said Jodi. “You can do that in Colorado.”
Opening Day in Denver was a full day of celebration. Colorado Public Radio welcomed us with open arms and bright t-shirts. Our first booth storyteller was John Kite who has played piano at Denver’s Brown Palace for over 20 years. We were also delighted to welcome Rhoda Krasner, owner of the Denver institution, Lakeside Amusement Park.
After the press conference, listening became an act of community with 12 Colorado storytellers who told their tales to a curious audience in Skyline Park. “What designs are tied up in our memories?” Storysmith Susan Marie Frontczak asked in her narrative. The ‘designs’ at this performance were diverse and colorful: Brahmans, 60th wedding anniversaries, adventures on a tricycle and Christmas trees. That was only the beginning…
Moving the booth from Greeley, CO to Ames, IA, we followed the historic Mormon Pioneer Trail through Nebraska. Along the way, we stopped for a quick swim at Mormon Island State Recreation Area right off Interstate 80.
We spent Wednesday morning watching rodeo slack. Too many contestants means that competition takes place outside of normal rodeo times. Here, the cowboys line up and wait for their shot at calf wrestling. Some do it in under six seconds!
The Greeley Stampede is filled with families in cowboy boots and hats. Yolanda Heaton works at KUNC, our partner in Greeley. She and her daughter Brook came to the rodeo dressed to impress.
This morning the local Kiwanis club sponsored a $4 all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast complete with sausage, eggs, and the signature dish: hot flapjacks. We stepped nextdoor to capture the chefs in action.
Our first participants at the Stampede, Jeffry Buechler, Daniel Crisbin, and Erica Yerkey, are friends and neighbors from Orchard Grove trailer park in Boulder. Jeffry and Erica interviewed 10 year-old Daniel. Outside the booth, Daniel assured our next participants, "This is awesome!" Later that day, David Moyer interviewed his grandfather, Anthony Trinidad, in honor of Father’s Day. Anthony, age 86, told David about growing up in Gibraltar before immigrating to America at age 19.
MobileBooth West is the first stand along the main vendor strip at the Stampede, just before the National Guard and Navy tent and trailer.
Today the booth moved down the road to Island Grove Regional Park, home of the Greeley Stampede. Here, the booth passes the site of the flapjack feed on the way to its home on 14th Ave. across from Island Grove Pool.
Ken, a local electrician who works at the Centennial Village Museum nearby, helped us prepare the booth to record at the rodeo. His father used to ride in rodeos, but Ken preferred to work with machines. Now, he restores cars, trucks, and antique tractors.
Colorado’s Cache La Poudre River begins in Rocky Mountain National Park along the Continental Divide. Sometime in the 1820s French fur trappers were caught in a tremendous snowstorm and lightened their load by burying gunpowder (poudre) in a hiding place (cache) along the riverbank. MobileBooth West facilitators Carolyn Bancroft and Karen DiMattia reached the Poudre after a four mile hike through rain, wind and some snow.