Keith Bowman came to St. George to support a friend competing in the IronMan competition. While in town he looked up his buddy from a much earlier chapter in his life. The StoryCorps recording booth was located just a few hundred yards from the finish line of the IronMan competition. Both men are public radio listeners and were familiar with StoryCorps but when they walked up to the recording Booth that day, neither were planning to participate in an interview. One thing led to another and within minutes they impulsively jumped into the booth and had an unexpected conversation.
Fred Adams founded the Utah Shakespeare Festival which is held annually in Cedar City on the campus of Southern Utah University. In 1962 while rehearsing Hamlet for the Festival’s first season, Mr. Adams and the cast had a charming but baffling experience which is not resolved to this day. We are hoping that you, our listeners, can help us answer a question about that summer.
"But I’ll never forget our first season. Our first plays were Taming of the Shrew, The Merchant of Venice, and Hamlet. And we rehearsed Taming of the Shrew every morning, and we rehearsed Merchant in the afternoon, and then we rehearsed Hamlet at night, because Hamlet need a larger cast than the other two, and so we pulled in the city post master, and a couple of clerks from JCPenny’s and that sort of thing.
We had people that had to work during the day, but really wanted to work with us at night. We set up our platform on a patio and we began rehearsing with just folding chairs and some risers as an audience.
I noticed almost the second or third rehearsal we had, we had three little boys, I would say ages maybe ten to thirteen, straddling their bikes, sitting there on the sidelines, watching the rehearsal going on, watching us with books in our hands, watching as we blocked, as we memorized. Night after night, we tried to get acquainted with them, but they didn’t want to talk to us. We were those strange actors. But they never missed.
Laura: All my life I've had to live...been forced to live in two worlds at the same time. Sometimes its added a great deal to my life and also its frustrating. When I was a young person I was confronted early with the harsh realities of life. That was my upbringing. I drank milk from the cows that I actually milked. I ate meat from the chickens and cows and sheep and deer and pigs that I actually helped to kill. I knew what a toothache was when my parents couldn't afford a dentist. I work like a man in the fields and yet I'm a small woman. I saw my family suffer after a baby's death. I ate vegetables from our own garden. And if I wanted fruit I just climbed up into the cherry tree or the peach tree or the apple tree and eat the fruit while I was playing in the tree.
Sondra Pickering of Springdale, Utah shares how her family's love allowed her to overcome her painful, life changing accident.
Sondra: My children were left without a mother for two months. I was still nursing my youngest and just after I turned 41 we were up in the mountains and through a series of weird events a pine tree fell on me and broke my back in two places and paralyzed me.
My children were all in my husbands back hoe so they were safe but they witnessed the whole thing.
I could not believe that this could happen to me. I questioned my faith in God. I left my religion because I was so disappointed and heartbroken that something so terrible could happen. Anyway, I didn't want to live for probably a couple of years after.
I did not know how to take care of three small children and a teenager and be in a wheelchair. But anyway, actually through some things that I remember reading in a Buddist book that I had that I realized that if I was going to be released from the extreme suffering that I was going through I would have to accept it. And when I did my life became good again.
Sisters Susan Savage and Amy Jones reflect on their childhood growing up in Leeds, Utah and the power of friendships and story telling.
Susan: We grew up in a little town. We're the children of the greatest generation.
Amy: We grew up in Leeds which is 14 miles north of St. George. When we were growing up we had no television and so we had a lot more acquaintance and rubbed shoulders daily with the people we lived close to. We had space around us and were able to have animals and closer relationships with neighbors. Children out playing ball in the streets, that sort of thing which was nice, which was wonderful. I loved that.
At StoryCorps, 23 year old Wesley Peterson interviewed his mom, 58 year old Diane Peterson, about growing up in Southern California during the Civil Rights Movement, and how that affected her decision to adopt him.
Wesley: First question I have for you, mom is what was it like growing up in Southern California during the 60's and the 70's. Like I know there was a lot of civil rights things happening. How did that affect you?
Kathy: I belong to a senior dance team called The Mesquite-Toes. Our average age is 69 1/2. I have only danced with them for three years but they celebrated their 10th year anniversary this year. It started as an exercise class at the rec center. Out of the ten beginners five of them are still dancing. We took a trip this year to Palm Springs and to Knott's Berry Farm in California and then next year we are going to Alaska on another cruise. We do about 26 different dances. We have tap classes, jazz classes and clogging classes. I do like the clogging the best. I think it's the fact that you can take out all of your frustrations...stomping your feet that loud.
UPR's Nora Zambreno met up with her academic mentor Glenn Wilde at the StoryCorps booth. Glenn served as Dean of the Learning Resources Program at Utah State University and shared memories of his early career at Utah State and delivering credit classes in Utah's Uintah Basin for the Extension Class Division.
Glenn Wilde also shared memories of his hometown of Coalville and Bunny's Bar and Grill.