October 1 - the day my son Jim and I were scheduled for an interview with Story Corps. As we drove into the library parking lot in Arlingotn, VA we saw the trim air-stream parked at the curb. Inside it is outfitted as a spiffy recording booth with wonderful sound equipment and a comfortable place to sit for conversation. The women in charge and the surroundings establish a very friendly environment that puts you right at ease.
Jimmy was the interviewer and I was the storyteller. We did not pre-script our 40 minute conversation but rather let it roll after he asked the first question - which was "so how did you become a storyteller?"
We talked of storytelling, family stories, genealogy, and how storytelling can restore the family storytelling that once took place at the lost dinner table. I talked of "finding gus" my one-person show of finding my lost grandfather and he asked me about my trips back to Charlotte, NC to retrace my childhood foot-steps. And we spoke of Jim and how his interest in genealogy had been a catalyst in firing my interest in investigating the family stories.
Jimmy and I laughed as we remembered our trip to Hallenberg, Germany where Jimmy and his wife Monica and Jim and I touched base with the roots of the Schoettler family. I particularly remembered seeing Jim and Jimmy sitting with cousin Josef and a Schoettler elder, Edvouard (80ish) and noticing that the four men all had the same hands. Its an image that stands out in my mind because it gave me such a glimpse of the fact of family relatedness.
Jimmy was a wonderful interviewer and our conversation flowed freely and easily. We had wondered if 40 minutes would be too long - it wasn't - in fact it was not long enough.
At the close of the interview we signed permissions for broadcast if they found anything interesting in the tape and they gave us a cd to copy for our family members. Another copy will be given to the Folklife Archives at the Library of Congress.
For me - I was grateful for sharing the experience with my son and for having this lovely recording for our family.
With Jim's passing in March I am so conscious of missing the sound of his voice that it is a comfort to have a recording of mine in conversation with Jimmy.
My recommendation - if the Story Corps air stream comes to your area by all means apply to schedule an interview. Share your story.