- Associated Press - Monday, May 11, 2015

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) - Edna Parcell is a young girl, traipsing down to the Pollack family’s drugstore on South Bend’s east side, where she orders a soda - maybe a cherry phosphate or a green river - from the soda jerk, a Central High School kid named Sydney Pollack. He’ll go on to become a Hollywood darling, acting and producing major films like “Tootsie” and “Out of Africa.”

The store’s radio plays top-40 tunes, which always launch Parcell and her sister into song.

Parcell is now 77, and she is in a recording booth at The Salvation Army’s Kroc Center with her son, 52-year-old Matthew Barnes, where they are comparing stories from their own generations.

WVPE-FM and the Kroc Center are collecting these oral histories from pairs of family members, colleagues and friends. “South Bend Stories” will air each Monday to celebrate the city’s 150th anniversary. But not yet. It needs more storytellers. And it especially needs more sponsorship before it can afford to launch, said Tom Labuzienski, who recruits underwriters for WVPE programs.

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Barnes liked dropping into the Shoppers Fair department store. He’d find the jukebox that aired its tunes throughout the store.

“For a dime I could share music with everyone,” he recalls for the South Bend Tribune, as he and his mom sit in her present-day Mishawaka home and recall their radio interview.

One of his favorites was Eric Carmen and the Raspberries, known for tunes like “All By Myself.”

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The radio segments are modeled after National Public Radio’s StoryCorps project, which features two people who know each other, talking about their lives.

“We really tried hard to take the inspiration of StoryCorps and stay true to the format,” Labuzienski said.

Ten pairs of local people have recorded their stories so far.

Among them, developer Dave Matthews chats with his father, David, which, after editing, ends up as just the elder Matthews talking about crowded downtown street corners at Christmas before the time of shopping malls and the purr of a Studebaker’s engine. Sisters Gladys Muhammad and Bernice Freeman both share about the neighborhood around Beck’s Lake, which produced both salamanders and civic leaders, and they reflected on their father, who worked at the Studebaker plant until it closed.

Each pair sits down with Kroc Center’s studio manager, Sean Scott, and almost three pages of suggested questions to spur the memories. After an hour of conversation, Scott boils it down to three and a half minutes for the radio, edited down to stories that are most relevant to South Bend’s history. Longer versions of almost a half hour will be posted online and will be archived at the St. Joseph County Public Library and at The History Museum in South Bend.

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One of Purcell’s earliest memories is of wartime.

“I can remember fear,” she said. “Fear of the Western Union bicycle coming with a telegram” with news of a loved one killed in war.

Six of her seven brothers served in World War II - North Africa, Italy, Germany, the Normandy invasion, the Philippines - and they all returned home alive. Since they were all older, leaving for war when she was 4 or 5 years old, she said, “I didn’t even know them until they came home.”

Barnes served almost 12 years in the U.S. Air Force, including a spell in Germany in the 1980s during a time of terrorism threats, along with three months in Saudi Arabia with Operation Desert Storm.

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“South Bend Stories” aims for 44 pairs of storytellers, which would take the weekly segments into January. It seeks people of different backgrounds and faiths and experiences, said Meg Sauer, who oversees marketing for the Kroc Center.

Interviews also can go to where the people live. For example, Sauer said, the interview between Les Fox, retired CEO and creator of the nonprofit REAL Services, and his successor, Becky Zaseck, was at the Sanctuary at St. Paul’s, where Fox lives.

And on May 22-23, the project will post a booth to record stories at the city’s 150th anniversary celebration.

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Source: South Bend Tribune, https://bit.ly/1bjQql7

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Information from: South Bend Tribune, https://www.southbendtribune.com


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