For Father’s Day someone sent me a book that I have just loved. Ties That Bind is written or compiled by Dave Isay of NPR. For at least ten years—he has been interviewing people through an oral history project called Storycorps. He begins by telling the story of Studs Terkel when he was 91 years old. He stood in front of a small sound studio in the middle of Grand Central Terminal He said, “Today we shall begin celebrating the lives of the uncelebrated!” He went on to say: “We’re in Grand Central Terminal. We know there was an architect, but who hung the iron? Who were the brick masons? Who swept the floors? These are the noncelebrated people of our country. In this kiosk, those anonymous people—the noncelebrated—will speak of their lives!”
So Dave Isay has recorded about 100 thousand interviews with just plain folks. None of these people will ever make People Magazine. But in a few short pages different people pour out their hearts. The things they are grateful for. The people who held them up and changed their lives. Everybody has a story—and Isay celebrates these. USA Today has said of his work: "Each interview is a revelation."
Years ago Kenneth Koch, a poet, taught poetry writing in a nursing home. Most of those people had never written a poem. Many were unsophisticated—yet Koch collected their poems in a book called, I Never Told Anybody. Most of the stories in Isay’s book are heart-warming experiences that most folk have never heard. I recommend this book to everybody who wants a breath of fresh air in a very toxic world.
(After I read the book I discovered three others with incredible stories that Isay has recorded. All There Is (which are love stories), Listening Is An Act of Love, and Mom (a celebration of mothers).