Before we left Kansas City, we took a long hard look at the Missouri River and felt some fleeting nostalgia for the days of Lewis & Clark.
Without a map or compass, facilitators Ryan Murdock and Mitra Bonshahi set off on their journey into uncharted waters.
As the crow flies Ryan and Mitra should have stayed on the “Big Muddy,” but somewhere along the line they veered off track and found themselves on the Arkansas River. Land ho! They soon saw the shores of Little Rock and knew immediately they had found their destination.
To their surprise, the booth made it to Little Rock just before sundown where it is parked at it’s new home in front of the Cox Creative Center, which houses a great used book store, coffee shop, and art gallery.
As our stay in Kansas City drew to a close, we wanted to share some images from our lovely site in downtown City Market. Here you can see a wide variety of produce, plants, and people every Saturday, Sunday, and Wednesday.
Kansan farmer and market seller John Goode proudly displays his favorite crop: Heirloom tomatoes. John joined us for an interview and joked how he’s been told that he has a “radio face.” He then went on to describe (in his best radio voice) the connection he feels with nature while tending the earth.
The market was always full of enticing smells…and sounds. These marimba players made our booties shake one Saturday afternoon. Luckily, Airstream made the MobileBooth soundproof, so the dancing was checked at the door.
We had many wonderful volunteers who helped us spread the word that we were in town. Here KCUR Program Director Bill Anderson chows down with volunteers at our thank you pizza party.
Just before the booth pulled away, we grabbed a picture with Kevin Alexander, our KCUR host. Thanks Kevin and the rest of KCUR for making Kansas City a great stop for the Mobile Tour! We will miss you dearly.
We were invited by Mrs. Betty Crow to record some stories at the Mutual Musicians Foundation in the historical 18th & Vine jazz district of Kansas City.
Established in 1917, many Kansas City jazz cats belonged to Local No. 627, an African-American musicians union affiliated with the American Federation of Musicians. The best KC jazz can still be found here on Friday and Saturday nights, starting at 1am and going till 5 am, way past our bedtime.
Drummer Horace Eugene Washington and Garland Smith (pictured here) shared their favorite memories of the KC jazz scene and their definition of music which Horace explained as “organized noise.”
Singer Myra Taylor and longtime friend Pearl Thuston Brown reminisced about their favorite gigs, recording sessions and neighborhood characters.
Pearl was quite the sensation as a piano player in the style of Erroll Garner, whom she once replaced on a New York bill when Erroll couldn’t perform.
Here Myra Taylor sings along with Charlie Parker (far left). The “Bird” was Kansas City’s most nationally acclaimed musician and he cut his chops playing at the Local 627 starting in 1936. At the age of 90, Taylor occasionally performs and even visits the recording studio. Her most recent album, My Night to Dream, was released in 2001.
Three’s company when we have each other…
…Excuse me, did you say something? I’m busy listening…
…Who said kids don’t pay attention…
….What better way to end a day than with a good bedtime story.
When asked what she wanted to be when she grows up, Opal said “100.” And when Michael wanted to know about the happiest day in her life, she jumped to the occasion and replied, “right now- today!” Opal sure made our day.
Wendell Isaac’s employer gave him time off to participate in StoryCorps with his caseworker and friend, Rita Flynn. Wendell shared with us the difficulties he faces in Kansas City after spending 25 years in prison since the age of 17. Thanks to Rita’s help through the TurnAround Program, Mr. Isaac found a comfortable apartment and a well paying construction job. Hats off to that…Or maybe hats on, in this case.
On September 5, StoryCorps announced a collaborative arrangement with the WTC Memorial Foundation to honor the stories of lives lost on 9/11.
On our way to Kansas City last week, we visited the Oklahoma City National Memorial. As the 5th anniversary of September 11 approaches, and away from our home in New York City, we were reminded of suffering around the world.
Here, facilitator Mitra Bonshahi stands underneath the Gates of Time overlooking the site where the Murrah Building once stood. The two Gates are engraved with the numbers 9:01 and 9:03, designating the time in between when the bomb exploded and lives were changed forever.
One hundred and sixty eight chairs dot the south lawn, representing each life lost on on April 19, 1995. The chairs illuminated by the sunlight are arranged in rows that correspond to the floor on which the victims worked.
The shallow depth of the Reflecting Pool brought us a sense of serenity in what was once a place of destruction.
Resting on a terrace, The Survivor Tree is a ninety year old elm that endured the blast. It has become a testament to the spirit that has lived on in the face of such devestation.
Through StoryCorps, we are exposed to the personal side of a public suffering. We hope that by truly listening to each other, we can bring some meaning to such tragedies.
It was a quiet, sunny morning in historic City Market before opening day in Kansas City. City Market Square has been a site for horse trading, political rallies, revival meetings, medicine shows and circuses since 1856. And now the StoryCorps booth has joined the ranks of such oddities where it is nestled among a variety of restaurants, shops, the famous Arabia Steamboat Museum, and a bustling farmers market.
Host station KCUR did a terrific job of getting the word out for StoryCorps’ arrival – by mid morning, City Market was buzzing with excitement for our first interview.
Our first participants shared some thoughts with reporters outside before they headed into the booth. Nazir told his daughter, Samara, about his life as a young boy living in India, then escaping to a war-torn Yemen. Nazir described the day he finally arrived in the United States as the happiest day of his life.
Getting ready for our second interview, facilitator Ryan Murdock helped long time radio personality, Walt Bodine, and his son Tom, get comfortable to the cozy confines of the MobileBooth. Walt shared many funny stories from his 50+ years as a radio personality, including the time when a fellow announcer fell asleep in the middle of a morning broadcast.
KCUR Music Director and host of Sonic Spectrum, Rob Moore, spun some tunes as our successful first day came to a close. A perfect end to a great day set the tone for an exciting stay in Kansas City.