Blogging Story Corps

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.

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  1. Karen C says:

    What an interesting program. Can’t wait to hear your interview. I wonder if I can subscribe to their weekly podcast through iTunes. I’ll check it out.

  2. Aw, honey, that’s so sweet! You guys sound so in love.

    Eric, I could choose to be offended because there is absolutely nothing about NT functioning in women that forms a causal link to People magazine. (While my executive functioning sucks, my eye contact is so intense it completely excludes Aspergers’ as an explanation, so I am just a flaky analytical NT – and I do not read People magazine.) I choose instead to believe your statement reflects a poverty of language to describe non-process-related concepts. (Which is fine, we can’t all be good at everything.) If I ever pass through Las Cruces I would hope to stop in and meet you guys and we could have some nice long friendly chats, but I’m not going to inflict a lecture on the blog. I will simply point out that Kathleen’s love of pretty dresses and beautiful blouses definitely qualifies her as a girly-girl.

  3. Eric H says:

    Hi Alison;

    “your statement reflects a poverty of language to describe non-process-related concepts.”

    Yes, probably. I haven’t listened to it again to remember exactly what I was talking about, but I think I was distinguishing between Kathleen and superficial women (yes, there are superficial men) who have an unhealthy obsession with clothing, makeup, and celebrity.

    “Kathleen’s love of pretty dresses and beautiful blouses definitely qualifies her as a girly-girl.”

    No, absolutely not, LOL. Don’t get me wrong, my wife’s a woman, but she loves those things because they are interesting puzzles.

  4. Eric, Kathleen has published photo evidence of herself wearing that beautiful tie-dye dress with navy inserts. She’s no Paris Hilton – um, yes, a good thing – but she appears to display a suspicious kinship with Erin of in their shared appreciaton of Bright colours! Comfort! Accomplishment! Beauty! in the form of a dress one makes oneself and then wears.

    There is no shame in that.

  5. Kathleen says:

    Eric’s temporary paucity of language -and flippancy- aside, I can’t imagine that anyone who’d ever met me would ever describe me as a girly-girl. Maybe we have a different definition of it? Autie brains are very masculine; I am no exception. My interests in dresses and blouses is less aesthetics than engineering. The love of bright colors isn’t limited to sex. I have all the color sophistication of a pre-schooler.

    For my husband’s sake (when my presence is required for his job) I sometimes wish I were more feminine but it is way too much work, time and money (and fine hand coordination I don’t have). The extent of my grooming is to remember I should brush my hair -doesn’t mean I’ll actually do it, just that the thought will momentarily cross my mind. I usually put it up, retained with a pencil.

    ps. I’ve worn that dress twice, the last time for that photo. I’ve worn the shoes once.

  6. Dianne C says:

    This is so interesting…I have 2 grandmothers in my life that are in their 90’s and have so much knowledge. They do not believe their knowledge is special, as they are both very humble and still very vibrant!

    One note, the oldest city in the nation is st. augustine florida
    My Northern in-laws are always surprised when they visit me that they Never heard about or learned about Pedro Menendez and the Spanish settlers in their history classes. (and the wars between the British and Spanish, lots of fighting over this territory of Florida)
    Thank you for this great blog,
    it keeps me sane!

  7. Grace says:

    Yes, it finally dawned on me, after 17 years on earth, that most other people could not flip and rotate objects in their head and that multi-variate calculus did not make intuitive sense to them. Yet, I still haven’t figured out how to make my hair behave and keep my makeup in place. Most other women have mastered that. We each have our superpowers.

  8. Eric H says:

    Unfortunately, claims to being the oldest this or that are largely informed by local tourism boards. Obviously, neither Ysleta nor St. Augustine were cities when they were first founded; “military outpost” is probably more accurate. Therefore, they frequently resort to calling themselves “continuously occupied settlements.” Then they add the qualifier “European” for obvious reasons.

    Acoma, Taos, and Santa Fe have been continuously occupied for about 1000 years, but they apparently don’t count. We are unfortunately informed by popular images of natives as universally nomadic, but many native groups were not. I would guess Ysleta was also occupied by natives before the Spaniards arrived and “founded” it. Looking at the natural geography of Pittsburg, I would guess that was a native settlement before the Europeans arrived, too (Wiki says 10,000 years!). But since the Europeans came there much later in the settlement timeline and then chose to disregard or bury the pre-European history, their true origins are unknown and unclaimed.

    Sorry, I don’t mean to be argumentative, but this is a pet peeve of mine. Spend some time at Gila, Mesa Verde, Chaco, or Bandelier and you’ll understand.

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