StoryCorps New Orleans

StoryCorps, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to recording, preserving and sharing the stories of Americans from all backgrounds and beliefs, will record interviews in New Orleans from March 12 to April 8 as part of its cross-country MobileBooth tour.

StoryCorps’ MobileBooth — an Airstream trailer outfitted with a recording studio — will be parked at Doerr Furniture, 914 Elysian Fields Avenue at Burgundy Street in New Orleans. Reservations for recording will be available beginning at 10 a.m. on Thursday, February 26, and can be made by calling StoryCorps’ 24-hour toll-free reservation line at 1-800-850-4406, or by visiting storycorps.org. Additional recording appointments will be available beginning March 16.

StoryCorps’ MobileBooth interviews are conducted between two people who know and care about each other. A trained StoryCorps facilitator guides participants through the interview process. At the end of each 40-minute recording session, participants receive a complimentary CD copy of their interview. With participant permission, a second copy is archived at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress for future generations to hear. 

The 2010 edition of StoryCorps New Orleans, archived here, was selected and produced by WWNO producer Eileen Fleming, with support from the WWNO Productions Fund and from Villere & Co., managing the investments of New Orleans' families for almost 100 years.

Martha Ward and Frank Aseron had a long acquaintance. It began in the mid-1970s when she was married and had a daughter, Marlowe. Frank did some carpentry work at her home, and they saw each other around New Orleans for years. She later divorced, and enjoyed her career an anthropology professor at the University of New Orleans. Frank became involved in mortgage banking and construction lending.

Marilyn Barbarin knew from a very early age that she would be a singer. It began when a priest at her school in New Orleans heard her singing in the girls' bathroom, where she was taking an unapproved break from class. But instead of facing punishment, she was taken to a recording session at the now-shuttered Nola Studios.

Ann Asprodites has always referred to Janet Wallfisch as her aunt, but the 91-year-old is actually related a bit further down ancestral lines. Ann's grandfather was Janet's mother's brother. The two remain close. They have lunch about twice a month, when Janet can book some spare time between exercise classes, opera and other activities.

Trampus Butler has lived all of his 32 years on the grounds of Angola State Prison. On April 14, he sat down for a chat on prison grounds with StoryCorps facilitator Jeremy Helton.

Andrew Condon and his wife Megan came to New Orleans from Rhode Island for a vacation, and a chance to re-energize and refocus their lives. Megan convinced Andrew that an interview session at StoryCorps' booth set up outside the World War II museum would be a great forum for taking stock of their seven-year marriage, and a focal point for looking toward the future.

Rachel Martin remembers just about everything about her family's ordeal when Hurricane Katrina hit. She remembers packing up camping gear to ride out the storm at a friend's house that was out of harm's way. She remembers those plans changing dramatically after Katrina left. She and her husband and son, Zeke Martin, were off to Houston for several weeks.

Paul Slattery has been in the New Orleans area since shortly after Hurricane Katrina. He volunteered for several months with Habitat for Humanity, and helped clear out the homes that were covered in mud and debris. He's been here ever since.

Joe and Gay DiGiovanni were in the final stages of planning a wedding in August 2005. His close family in St. Bernard Parish would be attending. Gay moved everything but her wedding dress into Joe's three-story house while the final arrangements were being set and they looked forward to a honeymoon in Las Vegas.

Henry "Junior" Rodriguez spent his life in St. Bernard Parish, serving 32 years in political office. He became a national figure after Hurricane Katrina as an advocate for restoring not only the communities, but also the coastal areas.

In this conversation recorded March 27, 2010, he speaks with media producer Jared Serigne about the importance of barrier islands to protecting wetlands, and how to stay involved in protecting the coast - even for those not interested in political office.

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