If you’re a fan of National Public Radio as I am (get your pledges in now!), you have probably heard of Story Corps. Story Corp is a social history project and NPR plays an interview segment every Friday. These segments are often touching, emotional, personal and always educational, providing intimate snap shots of other people’s lives we never would have known. The project is modeled after the WPA project in the 30’s in which average Americans were recorded. For historians, these histories are the “single most important collection of American voices gathered to date”. Interviews are archived at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.
The project is mobile, moving from city to city across the country. In August, Las Cruces was fortunate to be on the Story Corps route so Eric and I signed up to do an interview. I wasn’t going to miss that, I was curious how it was done and who was doing it. The way it’s set up is two people sign up, one interviews the other, but I went of a mind to interview the project people, termed “facilitators”. These were two young girls Rachel Falcone and Hilary Marshall from back east. They said they were surprised by their experiences in the Southwest. They never expected to hear interviews of people who’d known Pancho Villa or Billy the Kid. Likewise, they hadn’t known that the Southwest has a longer history than the east coast. Yselta (part of El Paso) is the oldest continuously settled community in the United States. Rachel and Hilary even have their own blog of their experiences. There, they recount one interview of a 97 year old man who recalls his young teacher who kept kids in line with a six-shooter on her desk.
The Story Corps booth is an Air Stream hauled from location to location. In Las Cruces, it was being housed in the parking lot of Wal-Mart. That day, chili roasting was going full bore. I’m sure that surprised Rachel and Hilary. In the Southwest, you can buy thirty pound bags of it at Wal-Mart and have it roasted outside (free with purchase, tips accepted).
Here’s a photo of the booth.
Below is the chili roasting
Below is a picture of Rachel (the facilitator of our interview) followed by Hilary. Hilary likes to sew.
Below is a picture of Eric inside the booth. The set up was pretty neat.
After the interview, we had our pictures taken by the local newspaper who was doing a story on the project. Below is a photo of the photographer who took our picture. I was curious about why he had duct tape applied to his camera straps. He said they wear out too quickly otherwise. I thought that sounded like a niche opportunity for one of you.
Anyway, if you want to hear Eric interviewing me, I have uploaded two versions of the file, one mp3 (17 MB), the other wma (24 MB). I apologize for the large file size, I didn’t know how to make them any smaller. These are 44 minutes in length and are broadcast quality (unedited). If you’re curious, Eric has interviewed me about the most important day of my life, specifically the day I was diagnosed with autism. In it, he asks me about the process of testing, how I knew I was different from other people, my early life experiences, how I got into sewing and the industry, and the complications that autistic “super powers” (unusual hearing, smelling and memorization abilities) can create.