When StoryCorps founder David Isay sat down with his great uncle to record the first interview of the project, his great uncle told him a story about a first date. Isay’s great uncle had just returned home from WWII. He arrived at the appointed meeting spot and waited for his date on a stoop. When the woman turned the corner and walked down the street she was dressed all in purple, “From her hat to her shoes,” Isay said.
His great uncle thought she looked stunning. He got scared. “He thought to himself, ‘What is this glamorous beauty going to see in me—a hick?’” Isay said.
Isay’s great-uncle turned to flee and tried the door of the building behind him. It was locked.
The frightened man went on to marry the woman in purple. Isay knew her growing-up as “crazy aunt Bird.”
Isay said his great uncle began to cry while recounting this story. He said if the door had been open, it would have ruined his life.
Isay had known the man sitting across from him all his life, but the story was new.
“I doubt,” Isay said, “if there has been as single [StoryCorps interview] where the two people in the booth—no matter how well they knew each other—didn’t learn something.”
Isay’s great uncle listened to their recording over and over on the CD player in his car. “I came to believe,” Isay said, “that the act of giving people a chance to interview each other can have a profound impact on their lives.”
Since then, StoryCorps has recorded more than 40,000 conversations between friends and loved ones. Isay wants to record more. A week from today, the day after Thanksgiving, is StoryCorps’ National Day of Listening. Isay says a StoryCorps recording is the least expensive and most meaningful gift you can give this holiday season.
If you’d like to record a conversation with someone you know please go here to find out how.