Local historian and author Robert Glennon will discuss the effect Fairhope’s founders had on the city’s legacy and other odd facts about the Baldwin County city during one of the first interviews for StoryCorps’ visit to downtown Mobile.
Glennon, a Mobile native who now lives in Point Clear, will share how Fairhope’s founding as a single-tax colony created a “liberal epicenter in the middle of the classic South.” The economic and social experiment in 1894 would help attract artists to the area for generations, Glennon said.
“The free thinking led to the creative types, the writers and artists,” he said. “The idea is to just say ‘let loose, be free and live your life.’ It’s not an aggressive lifestyle. It’s a cool, imaginative place to live.”
To highlight his point, Glennon mentioned an early Montessori school and not one, but two Fairhope nudist colonies in the 1920s.
“Little old, fat ladies would walk down Main Street naked as jaybirds to go take a swim in the bay,” he said.
StoryCorps, a nonprofit organization celebrating the stories of everyday Americans, will record interviews in Mobile from Thursday, Feb. 9, to Friday, March 10, as part of its cross-country MobileBooth tour. Having collected more than 65,000 interviews from Americans in all 50 states, StoryCorps has gathered one of the largest single collections of human voices ever recorded.
Glennon will give the second interview in the StoryCorps booth, an Airstream trailer outfitted with a recording studio located at Cooper Riverside Park. Mayor Sandy Stimpson will be the first person interviewed.
City spokesman George Talbot wrote in an email message that the city was contacted by National Public Radio to gauge interest in the traveling project. With Stimpson’s approval, the administration worked to find a suitable location for the booth.
StoryCorps has partnered with Alabama Public Radio, a service of The University of Alabama, to collect interviews with residents of the Gulf Coast. APR is broadcast on WHIL 91.3, Mobile’s NPR station.
APR will air a selection of local interviews recorded in the StoryCorps MobileBooth and create special programs around the project. StoryCorps may also share excerpts of these stories with the world through the project’s popular weekly NPR broadcasts, animated shorts, digital platforms and best-selling books.
With participant permission, all StoryCorps interviews will be archived at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.
Reservations can now be made by calling StoryCorps’ 24-hour, toll-free reservation line at 1-800-850-4406 or visiting storycorps.org.