RENEE MONTAGNE, host:
Time now for StoryCorps. This project is crisscrossing the country, recording everyday Americans talking about their lives.
And today, a story from Appalachia. That's where Cynthia Rahn grew up in the early 1960s.
Ms. CYNTHIA RAHN (StoryCorps Contributor): I lived very far out in the country so I went to kindergarten with a lot of kids from town that I didn't know. And I looked poor to everybody else and certainly everybody else looked rich to me. And so I felt a little intimidated.
INSKEEP: One kindergarten memory stands out for Cynthia Rahn. Her class was designing a diorama of life on the farm. And for homework, students had to find something they could contribute to the assignment.
Ms. RAHN: When I got home, I took off my school clothes and ran outside to play. And then we came in and ate and got ready to go to bed. And then I realized I had forgotten to do anything to prepare for this assignment. And here was momma, you know, just got home from work, tired, and I said, oh, my gosh, I've got to get something that represents a farm. And we looked. We had nothing. I started to cry. And I said I can't go to school tomorrow and not have anything. And momma said it's too late. I mean, this was what? 1962 in rural Appalachia. I mean, there were no Wal-Marts. You couldn't just ride out and get something. So she said you should have thought about this when you got home.
The next morning, I went downstairs and momma left before we got up, and she would leave breakfast. And so I came down to the kitchen and sitting on the kitchen table was a barn that was made out of notebook paper. She had taken just plain notebook paper and folded it. She folded the walls. She folded the roof. She folded doors that open so horse could go in and out. It was like magic. I looked at it. There was no staples in it. There was no tape. She had just sort of like origami or something. She had folded a barn. I had no idea where she learned to do that or how she knew how to do it.
And when I came in to school, there were other kids that, you know, have bags of store-bought plastic farm animals, but everybody was so amazed at my barn. And I just felt like queen of the day. And I knew that she cared.
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MONTAGNE: That's Cynthia Rahn in Durham, North Carolina. Her story will be archived along with all the others at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. And you can find Cynthia Rahn's story in "Listening is an Act of Love," which is the new StoryCorps book, and at npr.org.