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Darcy Bacon
Darcy Bacon
Project Asscociate
Scrapbook
Quest for Sound Memories

Darcy Bacon
Project Associate

The Quest for Sound fills me with pride and wistfulness. Listeners have such extraordinary trust in us-- their willingness to share their sad, haunting, silly, precious, noble, ignoble moments on the air; their eagerness to go to extraordinary lengths to find and give their recording to us with few if any questions asked. I feel a kinship with them, and a sense of loss at all the remarkable offerings there isn't time to hear--and the others so generously given that we heard but couldn't air. We've barely touched the treasures held out to us. In the short message time, people told us a lot, often calling back again and again to help us understand why we had to hear their bit of sound. Their messages sometimes brought them to tears, and me too. Others made me laugh out loud. I could feel the emotions they described in their eagerness but even when their voices were flat or they read messages from a script to get them just right. There are many people I heard on those tapes I'd like to know and voices I won't forget.

Priscilla Warner from Washington state told wonderfully of a Kentucky coal miner she met on a beach who was at the negotiating table with John L. Lewis. A Harrisburg, Pennsylvania mother taped her adopted daughter the day she arrived from India learning English, singing songs, missing her home. A man on his honeymoon in England caught the unforgettably eerie sound of the train announcer's voice from the platform; a daughter brought alive her mother's terrifying telling of the story "The Blueberry Witch" on a family vacation trip.

I want to know the tale of the four tapes of Martin Luther King talking about Vietnam found by a caller in the drawer of an antique desk. I'd like to hear the memories of the lady who lived in the Cabrini-Green housing project in Chicago and took the bus to the suburbs to clean houses. I was intrigued by the story of a group of musicians on motorcycles in a desert tavern taping an old cowpuncher named Sourdough Berry. I laughed with the man who made a pet of the tree frog he found in a bag of spinach at the Safeway-- and with the screenwriter whose script for his own wedding kept the audience from realizing it was real until the last scene. I want to hear about a mother's first day as a widow on a Utah farm. I heard the ache in the voice of the divorced man who'd saved the voices of his two daughters on his phone machine pleading with him to come home.

My curiosity was roused by the Idaho woman whose father-in-law robbed a bank in 1924. I envied the officers at Westover Air Force base who heard the trumpet and banter of Louis Armstrong when he played there during World War II. I loved the image of the young girl talking to herself through an open door about running away on a warm spring Kentucky day in 1968. And I was grateful for the patience of Philip Burno who kept calling back until he finished the loving telling of his African-American family's story.

Sometimes the memory of the tape is the best part, but it's tantalizing to leave so much fascinating territory unexplored. The consolation is knowing we've caused people recall and revisit sounds they hadn't listened to or thought about in years, had been afraid to hear or hadn't known how. We started something exciting and the listeners can take it from here.

Darcy Bacon
Project Associate


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