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Some stories make you want to hug someone you love and hold onto them until they feel how much you care. Forget Titanic and The Notebook. All There Is, a new collection of real-life tales of love, is a reminder of the transcendent grace of human connection. Culled from the oral history project called StoryCorps, they share every day people's huge acts of courage, generosity, and hope in a plainspoken way that will grip your heart.
Reminiscing with Frank Newby, her husband of 57 years, Gayle Terris Newby recalls catching a first glimpse of him before they went out on a blind double date, "Look at that hick with no tie. I'll bet I get stuck with him. And I did." Since he couldn't even afford to buy his date "a hamburger and a Coke," Frank suggested they just sit in the car and talk. "Talked ourselves right into love and marriage," says Gayle. Three days later they wed.
StoryCorps was launched in 2003 when the first recording booth was set up in Grand Central Terminal in New York City. "It was a simple idea," Dave Isay, founder of the project and editor of All There Is, told Yahoo! Shine. "You can bring a loved one to the booth and honor their stories by listening. Often interviews are very intense-if I had 40 minutes left to live, what would I say to this person?" A copy of the recording goes home with the participants and another is filed with the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.
The book covers courtship, marriage, and love lost and found, sometimes against a backdrop of events that make up our shared history. Two soldiers fall for each other in a bunker in Baghdad. Surviving Hurricane Katrina together cements a reluctant couple's commitment. A wife receives a cell phone call from her husband trapped in the World Trade Center on 9/11, and they are given the harrowing gift of spending his last 30 minutes alive affirming their love and saying goodbye.
"Do you remember when we were 19 and in love-and couldn't tell anyone?" 58 year-old Bobbie Côté-Whitacre asks her wife, Sandi, age 59. The two women fell in love in 1968 and made a lifelong commitment to each other by reading out of a Gideon Bible they found in a "cheesy little hotel" in Atlanta. Thirty-two years later, in Vermont, they had a civil union ceremony in Bobbie's mom's backyard. "The minister said, 'Bobbie and Sandi did it backward. They did all of the committing stuff, and then they got married,'" remembers Sandi. "I didn't believe that there was another level that we could reach, but just having the ceremony, and having our friends and family all around us, was sort of like being nineteen again and celebrating our love."
In his introduction to the volume, Isay writes, "In a culture that often feels consumed by all that's phony or famous, these stories give me hope and remind me to try to live life without regrets." Pick up a copy for Valentine's Day and share it with those you love. To hear interviews from StoryCorps or to learn how to arrange a recording appointment, click here.
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