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StoryCorps: A Reason to Roadtrip

Posted on Friday, November 2nd, 2012.

For many families living far away from our StoryCorps Atlanta booth, a visit to StoryCorps offers more than the opportunity to record, preserve, and share their story—it’s a chance to pack the family into the car, hit the wide-open road, and travel to our charming Southern city!

Recently, two separate families, the Gardners and the Fortwendels, journeyed 4 and 6 hours, respectively, to make it to the cozy StoryCorps Atlanta Booth. Our team was delighted that their stories were just as fascinating as their journeys.

Charlotte Gardner, affectionately known as “Nana” to her loved ones, traveled from Charlotte, NC to talk with her granddaughter Jeanine about what it was like growing up in Chicago in the 1920’s. She brought with her a stack of colorful, tattered war bonds that her family had in possession from World War II times.

Charlotte Garner (l) poses with her granddaughter, Jeanine Gardner (r).

“We would use these bonds to buy rationed food and gas,” Charlotte said. “It was a hard time.”

Jeanine was surprised when her grandmother admitted to skipping school once as a high school senior—especially because on her day off she was nearly arrested for espionage! Listen to Charlotte’s story here.

“We were blown away by the whole set up of StoryCorps,” Jeanine gushed. “I tried to explain to Nana what StoryCorps was and what we would be doing but it didn’t do it justice.”

The Fortwendels also had a great time at StoryCorps. Jarrod Fortwendel took a flight from Mobile, AL to Nashville, TN to pick up his sister, Beth, before driving four hours to Atlanta. Beth was diagnosed with scleroderma in 2005, a life-threatening illness that has given her a new outlook on her purpose and personal relationships.

Beth Fortwendel (l) with her brother Jarrod (r).

Beth Fortwendel (l) with her brother Jarrod (r).

“Having the chance to record my sister’s story was very important to me. I have not lived near my sister or parents for a long time, since long before her diagnosis, and do not get to interact with her on a daily basis, Jarrod said. “Doing StoryCorps has made me understand how truly and unbelievably strong my sister is.”

If you don’t live near StoryCorps, consider a road trip and come visit. Go to or call the reservation system at 1-800-850-4406 to book your StoryCorps Atlanta appointment.

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