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Welcome to Tracktown USA

Posted on Wednesday, May 20th, 2009.

I sat reclined on a rocking bench at the end of a long day of interviews. From where I am perched, I can see out over the entire city from the tops of trees that encompass this lovely landscape. The view is serene and as I lean back in my seat to initiate the motion that will eventually make me sleepy, I hear over the warm air, sounds of a starter’s pistol and the voice of an announcer following the movements of four University of Oregon racers setting would be both a college and United States speed record for the 4 x 1-mile relay race.

Welcome to Tracktown USA – Eugene, OR.

MobileBooth in Eugene

Sunshine in Kesey Square

Our welcome to this area was ordinary by Eugene standards: it rained for three days straight. But that didn’t take away from the rustic beauty inherent to this part of the country.

Reading with Kesey

Facilitators Carl Scott and Alex Kelly enjoying the statue of Ken Kesey.

Parked in an area of downtown commonly known as Kesey Square (named for the famed author of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Eugene native, Ken Kesey), our first interview was most appropriate — it was between Ken’s mother and daughter. Looking out over a bust of her son reading to his grandchildren, Geneva Kesey shared her own stories; stories that would kick off a day that brought an end to the rainy season and began a string of amazing Oregonians that would step into our booth.

The Kesey Family

Facilitator Alex Kelly, Ken Kesey’s mother, Geneva, and former wife, Faye.

I’m looking forward to the mountains forests and Saturday Market which stands as the first of its kind created in the United States.

On your marks… get set…


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5 Responses to “Welcome to Tracktown USA”

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  • I too treasure my interview time as one of the most wonderful experiences I can remember. I am presently visiting my Mom in Delaware and gave her a copy, and one to my sister who lives in Detroit. Neither were aware of StoryCorps, so now they will spread it even further.
    Thanks so much for the opportunity, and thanks to Beth Little, the manager of Saturday Market, who connected us all up. It was so satisfying.

    Comment from Diane McWhorter on September 16, 2009 at 10:22 pm - Reply to this Comment
  • StoryCorps’ Alex Kelly contacted me the day before my birthday – I’d asked that my program, Senior Connections – become a partner, and Alex called to say my dream had come true. I’ve cherished the listening times that KLCC has provided each Friday morning for a long time now, and this was IT! Since May is Older Americans Month, and we offer essential services to senior citizens in Lane County, the opportunity to record stories and share the experiences of some of our elders seemed so perfect. Story Corps generously allowed us three interview times, and we arranged for appointments with four very special people, ages 74-99. One of our interviewees was celebrating her 99th birthday on the day of the interview, which added still another special note to the experience. To say that this was one of the most special moments in my life is such an understatement. Carl and Alex were wonderful – friendly, generous, solicitous and gracious – and very, very good at their jobs as facilitators. They are respectful to elders in a way that has become a little bit rare, and it was beautiful to witness their shining eyes and gentleness. We were made to feel so comfortable – and the conversations began. We shared some profound, funny and touching moments – all in the warmth of Kesey Plaza, under the witchy cypress tree, in this friendly town called Eugene. Thank you for the gift of listening, for taking the time to mark these histories, for all of us and for all time.

    Comment from Paula Marie Gourley on June 2, 2009 at 2:17 pm - Reply to this Comment
  • Story Corps has brought three weeks of sunshine to Eugene, literally and figuratively. This has been the event of the spring in our ‘burg. I’ve had three students enter with various relatives as well as several friends and families. My time in the booth was one of the most profound experiences of my life. Man, I never experienced 40 mins. going by so fast. Alex and Carl should receive honorary masters degrees in conversation facilitation. As their time winds down, I hope they will always carry a piece of Eugene in with them as both of them take their leave of the road. Whitney–keep on truckin’!

    Comment from Andy Traisman on May 25, 2009 at 12:24 pm - Reply to this Comment
  • Would be more appropriate to refer to Faye as Ken’s Widow, rather than ‘former wife’ in your caption.

    Comment from P. Mackey on May 20, 2009 at 3:50 pm - Reply to this Comment
  • Sounds lovely over there. Kesey’s book, “Sometimes a Great Notion” is one of my favorites.

    Comment from Chaela on May 20, 2009 at 1:29 pm - Reply to this Comment

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