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StoryCorps collections speak of real American lives

By Pam Everhardt Bloom

Rowan Public Library

Juvenile and young adult author Phillip Pullman once said, “After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.”

Many of our most loved stories originated from the oral tradition, later to be written down for future generations. StoryCorps, an independent nonprofit dedicated to preserving stories through recorded question and answer interviews of everyday folk, actively collects stories you may have heard first on your favorite National Public Radio station.

Originally recorded in a booth at Grand Central Station in New York, StoryCorps now has permanent booths in cities throughout the country as well as mobile recording studios that travel the United States. Stories from everyday folks are collected and eventually archived at the Library of Congress and accessed through the American Folklife Center.

Founder Dave Isay has also edited many of these interview transcripts into book form. Visit Rowan Public Library and enjoy a collection of these interviews that provide and preserve society’s love and need of stories.

“Listening Is an Act of Love, a Celebration of American Life from the StoryCorps Project” (2007) is the first compilation of collected stories from this national project. Isay arranges the collected stories in chapters titled Home and Family, Work and Dedication, Journeys, History and Struggle and Fire and Water.

The introduction gives you a brief overview of StoryCorp and includes photos of a recording booth and many of the participants. Interviews can begin with the simplest question between two people who love each other. Craig Curry, 34, asks his mom why she always cries when a combine or tractor drives by their home.

Virginia Hill Fairbrother, 81, relates a miracle story about her dad during the Great Depression to her daughter.

Thankfully, these tales of family lore and other stories of everyday life are preserved for future generations and available to us all.

“Mom, A Celebration of Mothers from Storycorps” (2010) might be just the read for Mother’s Day. In addition to enjoying the interviews filed under headings of Wisdom, Devotion, and Enduring Love, consider using the information in the afterword to help record your own loved one. Favorite StoryCorps questions are listed or you can also visit www.storycorps.org for additional interview techniques.

In “All There Is, Love Stories from Storycorps” (2012) and “Ties that Bind, Stories of Love & Gratitude from the First Ten Years of StoryCorps” (2013) find stories as well as fascinating introductions and notes from the founder. Isay describes the interviews as intense and follows with “I am always hearing from participants who say that the time they spent recording at StoryCorps was among the most important 40 minutes of their lives.” These StoryCorps collections may spurn you to collect treasured stories in your life for generations to come.

Many of the interviews in “Callings, the Purpose and Passion of Work” (2016) have only recently been broadcast. This book contains stories from people doing what they love. This book might be the perfect gift for a new graduate with the dedication, “Dedicated to everyone working to find and follow their callings. May you live with courage always.” Isay shares 53 amazing stories under the headings of Dreamers, Generations, Healers, Philosophers and Groundmakers. From salmon slicer to veteran crisis hotline workers to tool and die maker and ink removal specialist, these are stories of our America.

Chapter Chats Book Club: A weekly club for teens 14-17, primarily for participants with developmental or intellectual disabilities, but all are welcome. Meets Tuesdays (May 9) at East branch meeting room, through May 23, 5 p.m. For more information, contact Tammie Foster at 704-216-7842.

Annual Book Sale: Monday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., headquarters, 201 W. Fisher St. The RPL Annual Book Sale will be in Stanback Auditorium at headquarters. All items are $2 or less. Monday, anyone can bring a reasonably-sized box and buy a box of books for $1. When inventory is gone, the sale ends; a closing notice will be posted on www.RowanPublicLibrary.org. Call 704-216-8243 for more information.

Make a Card for Someone Special: Through May 13. South Rowan Regional, China Grove. Spare a few moments to honor a special person in your life. In honor of Mother’s Day on May 14, create a card for your mother or a special motherly figure who has impacted your life. All ages welcome to create. Supplies are available near the entrance of the library.

Mom’s Night Out: May 9, East Branch, Rockwell. Celebrate Mother’s Day a little early. Enjoy a night of relaxation, a chocolate fountain, hand waxing and a showing of the 2014 movie “Moms’ Night Out.” This event is free and open to the public.

Genealogy Class — Searching Europe: May 13, headquarters. This event, co-hosted by the Genealogical Society of Rowan County and the History Room of RPL, is free and open to the public. “Searching in Europe” explores the resources available to access records in European countries. We will also discuss peculiarities of culture that might create difficulties in researching certain areas. For more information or to register, please contact Gretchen Witt at 704-216-8232 or visit www.rowanpubliclibrary.org 

Displays: Headquarters, Photowalk pictures from the N.C. Transportation Museum (Paul Birkhead) and tea cups (Brenda Zimmerman); East, vintage lunchboxes; South, South Rowan High School student artwork.

Literacy: Call the Rowan County Literacy Council at 704-216-8266 for more information on teaching or receiving literacy tutoring for English speakers or for those for whom English is a second language.

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