FARAI CHIDEYA, host:
Time now for StoryCorps Griot. Each Tuesday, we bring you a story from this project that's recording black Americans across the country.
Today, we hear from a man who has lived almost a century in New York City.
Mr. HAROLD SLAPPY (Resident, New York City): My name is Harold Slappy. I've lived here all of my life and for me, this is the Garden of Eden for me: New York.
CHIDEYA: Harold Slappy was born in 1912. One of the things he spoke about when he came to StoryCorps with his friend Monica Estaban was visiting Harlem's Savoy Ballroom as a teenager.
Mr. SLAPPY: We used to go to the Savoy Ballroom every Saturday and stay there until Monday morning. We were youngsters, and they adopted us. Saturday, we stayed Saturday afternoon, matinee Sunday night. Sunday matinee listening to Duke Ellington and Fats Waller, Count Basie, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Louis Armstrong, all of them.
That was the time we had provision in New York, and we always managed to get a little extra libation from a corner drugstore. We'd go in and get a little bottle of half and half - half wine and half gin - go out to the Savoy, get the most comfortable chairs, sit down, bought some dance, and looked at the pretty girls. They had about 10 hostesses there. If you paid 25 cents, you could dance two sets with them. And we just saved up our nickels and dimes and give it to our favorite hostess and spent the night dancing with her.
(Soundbite of laughter)
Mr. SLAPPY: I'm trying to make love to her, but she'd say, come back in 10 years when you grow up.
(Soundbite of laughter)
Mr. SLAPPY: Yeah, yeah.
Ms. MONICA ESTABAN: What is the most important thing you have learned in life?
Mr. SLAPPY: The most important thing that I learned in life is the foundation of all happiness is love, L-O-V-E. Love and respect for your fellow man because if you have no love in your life, you're not living. You're not living.
(Soundbite of music)
CHIDEYA: Harold Slappy talking to his friend Monica Estaban in New York City.
The StoryCorps Griot booth is currently in Memphis. Next stop: Harlem.
All the Griot Initiative recordings are archived at the Library of Congress. A copy of each interview will also go to the National Museum of African-American History and Culture in Washington D.C.
To find out how to record your interview and to hear more from StoryCorps Griot, go to nprnewsandnotes.org.