Every time I’ve heard a StoryCorps segment on NPR, I’ve thought, “Wouldn’t it be cool to be a part of this?” If you aren’t familiar with the program, StoryCorps is a national nonprofit project whose mission is to honor and celebrate each other’s lives through listening. The initiative has inspired thousands of Americans to travel to sound booths across the county to interview a special person in their life and record that person’s story. StoryCorps was founded in 2003 by radio documentarian David Isay, whose vision has been honored with a Peabody Award as well as by the Daughters of the American Revolution, one of Hammock’s clients.
Last fall, I was thrilled to hear that a StoryCorps booth—the fourth in the nation—was coming to the Nashville Public Library. I told my dad that he had to let me interview him, no arguments allowed.
As our interview drew near, I prepped him with questions, and he prepared a few notes to prompt his memories during our 40-minute session. When we finally found ourselves in the booth, the huge microphones and soundproof environment were a little daunting, but it didn’t take Dad long to warm up and make me laugh at stories about his youth in rural Georgia in the 1940s, his early career with the Norfolk-Southern Railroad and his courtship of my mother. Some of the stories were old favorites about the double features—usually Westerns and old serials—he and his friends watched every Saturday in his hometown, but there were a few gems I had never heard before, like the time his pet mule escaped!
We left the booth with a CD of the interview. Another CD and our photos will be sent to the Library of Congress. (Yes, one day we’ll be in the card catalog of the future!) I love listening to the recording—an amazing time capsule of some significant experiences in my dad’s life.
If you’re interested in learning more about StoryCorps, listen to weekly broadcasts on NPR or download podcasts here. And if there’s ever a booth in your area, take my advice and sign up. Don’t miss your chance to preserve a loved one’s memories.