Sunday, July 09, 2006


Helen is everyone's adopted grandmother at our church. She cheerfully and faithfully greets folks at the door on Sunday mornings. She enjoys praying for people and even the youngest children know her by name. Her fame extends to our homeschooler's Friday Program where she provides trays of freshly baked goodies for the staff. (That alone will make a person famous in this church!)
When I heard on NCPR that the StoryCorps was coming to Canton, Helen immediately came to mind. The StoryCorps is dedicated to recording the oral history of ordinary citizens. Housed in a remodeled airstream van, they park in town squares and on village greens to open their doors to people like you and me. They provide a cozy sound-proof room, recording equipment, a friendly technician, and plenty of encouragement. As a parting gift, StoryCorps hands the participants a CD of their interview. Clips of the interviews may be aired locally (NCPR) and nationally (NPR), and all of the recordings will be filed for posterity in the Folklife Archives at the Library of Congress in D.C.. What an amazing opportunity, I thought as I dialed Helen's number. She wasn't too keen on my idea at first, feeling that she hadn't had a remarkable enough life.
"I haven't done anything important!" she exclaimed. "Nothing anyone would care to hear about."
"Not true, Helen," I countered. "You have led an interesting and full life. And the world needs to hear what you have learned and experienced." It took some doing, but I talked her into it. This morning she admitted I had been a little pushy. "But in a nice way." Hmmm.

It was an inspiring experience listening to Helen recount memories of her childhood. She grew up on a farm as one of eight children and was educated in a one-room schoolhouse. The family was very close; they depended on one another through thick and thin. Her stories were rich in detail of her mother and father, rides over the snow in a horse-drawn sled, church meetings and family meals. Some of the tales Helen told today were followed by her wistful comment," I haven't thought of that in so many years..."

Anyone can visit the StoryCorps website and download a list of helpful questions to ask a friend or family member. (Or think up some of your own!) With the wealth of recording methods available today, an interview can easily become reality. Of course, you may have to do some convincing to get an elderly friend to talk into a microphone.

Just be pushy in a nice way.


Blogger Darlene Sinclair said...

Very cool and totallv wonderful!!

9:06 AM  
Blogger Deb said...

Oh, that's so cool! I couldn't think of a sweeter person to hear telling her stories!

2:48 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home