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.