Taco Land!! (on the radio)

Screenshot of Ram from Laura Escamilla-Fouratt's 1996 Documentary

Screenshot of Ram Ayala from Laura Escamilla-Fouratt's 1996 Documentary

This Sunday, listen for Taco Land on NPR weekend edition (7am & 10am).  If you miss the segment live, you can listen to the archived story online – and be sure to check out with all of the Taco Land stories, photos and videos, that folks have been uploading to the site.

A shot from across the street during a day show at TacoLand. Look at that tree!  (photo courtesy Katherine Strickland)

Taco Land during a day show. Look at that tree! (photo - Katherine Strickland)

Taco Land was an amazing place with an enormous story, and we hope we’ve captured some key elements of the place and it’s iconic proprietor, Ramiro “Ram” Ayala on the Radio.  One that we only vaguely make reference to is the monumental oak tree that covered the amazing outdoor patio and hung down over the San Antonio river, so I have to include this photo that was uploaded to our site.

We’ve received some nice voicemail memories about Taco Land.  I hope we get a few more of these from folks (888-910-2555).  This one is a nice PG version of a “ribauld” Taco Land tale.

(photo by Patrick Watson)

(photo by Patrick Watson)

Everyone we’ve met from San Antonio has been incredibly welcoming and generous with their memories of Ram and Taco Land, and we’d like to thank them and anyone else who was a part of this place for sharing that with us. If we missed you in San Antonio, please keep adding your stories to the website.

And if you had your own hallowed hall of rock, that you wish you could go back to (even if your liver, you eardrums, your parents and your priest are relieved that you can’t), we hope you’ll add it to the Place + Memory site, as well.


Theme of the week: Back to School

The Oscar Minor Waring School's 8th grade class of 1971.

"This was my 8th grade graduating class of June 1971" - Oscar Minor Waring School (St. Louis, MO)

Now that it’s September—students and teachers are heading back to school—we want YOUR back-to-school stories!

Was your school closed? Was the building demolished?  Pull together some old photos and memories, and add your school to our website!

Check out the the “Institutional Life” section of our website, where others have added their memories of beloved teachers and grueling classes.

St. Louis Institute of Music, circa 1959.

"The Institute was housed in a rambling 3-story brick building that seemed to have been around forever, even in the 1960s." - St. Louis Institute of Music (St. Louis, MO)

Sarah Sears remembers The St. Louis Institute of Music, where “the sound of tinkling pianos created an atmosphere of happy industry.” We’d love to hear more stories about the places you made your “home away from home” during the school year.

Track down some old classmates, gather your own school memories, and get posting!

In production for our next piece: Taco Land!

Outside of Taco Land

Photo shared by a contributor to the Place and Memory website.

We’re knee-deep in the post-production stage of our next radio piece on the live music venue Taco Land, San Antonio’s answer to CBGB’s.  We’ll keep you posted on when we’re going to hit the airwaves!  In the meantime, some Taco Landers have already added their photos and memories to our website. Do you have memories or photos of your own to share, or do you want to learn more about Taco Land? Pay a visit to our website and check out our Taco Land page!

We’ve gathered a LOT of great tape  — too much to ever throw into a 6-8 minute piece for NPR.   We’ve loved listening to these interviews so muc–we wanted to share some of those voices with you here.   Some really interesting themes have emerged as we listen to people remembering Taco Land, and it’s fearless leader, Ram Ayala.  One of our favorites was the idea of Taco Land as a family.  Give a listen!

Ram and the nightrocker

Photo shared by a contributor to the Place and Memory website

Place + Memory on the Road: On to Ohio!

"This is a big freakin’ car!"

"This is a big freakin’ car!"

Project Producer Shea Shackelford in West Virginia, heading to Dayton, Ohio.

Dayton is the site of the third Place + Memory radio story—one on the National Cash Register Company.

Of the rental Chevy Malibu he’s driving, Shea has this to say: It’s fancy and new and I can plug the iphone into the stereo.  I hate to admit how much I like driving this car; it’s huge and powerful and smooth.

You can hear Shea live on the radio tonight (8-11pm EST)  on WYSO,  our partner for “Miami Valley Memories.”

Theme of the week: Water, Water, Everywhere…

It’s high summer, and we’re sweltering.  We’d give anything for a dip in The Plunge , a huge saltwater pool that used to grace the Boardwalk in Santa Cruz, CA.  And that got us thinking…

The huge pool featured a statue of King Neptune and bathing cherubs.

The huge pool featured a statue of King Neptune.

This week, we want to hear about the places that you used to cool off:  swimming holes, water parks, fire hydrants … whatever gave you a break from the heat in summers past! Tell us about the lake at your overnight camp, or about the creekbed behind your house that ran dry.  Where did you learn to swim?  We want to know!  Share your story with us!

Inspired?  Sift through your pictures, and revisit those salt-sprayed, water-soaked memories.  Submit to our website between August 16th and August 23rd, and it could be featured on our blog!  You can also leave us a memory message by calling our toll-free number:  1-888-910-2555.

Shake down, dry off, and start posting!

Lost Neighborhood: Portland, Maine’s Little Italy

Ari Zeiger’s audio documentary on this lost Portland, Maine  neighborhood so struck a cord with Place + Memory that we asked if we could share it here.

Little Italy today -- Photo by Claire Houston

Little Italy today -- photo by Claire Houston

Listen to:  “What We Talk About When We Talk About Little Italy”

Producing this documentary seemed impossible at timeswhere was the conflict? why did this neighborhood matter? who would be the main characters? And most vexing of all: How do you locate a neighborhood that no longer exists!? That was the central paradox at the heart of my radio documentary on Portland, Maine’s long-lost Little Italy section.

My project began with a simple step: I headed down to (the area formerly known as) Little Italy and happened upon Sangillo’s—a small, working-class tavern. The locals pointed me to other locals who plied with me with phone numbers, street names, and anecdotes. I wrote everything down, my notes quickly metastasizing into a spider web of people to meet and places to visit. It was a vital lesson: access, to a large degree, is determined by local and impromptu connections, by your interviewees passing you along to someone else along the memory chain.
-Ari Zeiger

Photography by Claire Houston.
“What We Talk About When We Talk About Little Italy”
was produced at the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies.
Ari Zeiger studied print journalism in college, creative writing in graduate school, and radio documentary at the Salt Institute. Check out audio vignettes on his blog:  webuyballoons.blogspot.com

Theme of the Week: Stadiums!

Photo: The Yankees' field, after the last Yankee game at the old stadium, May 2009. By wikipedia user dvdkid919

In order to get those creative juices flowing, we’re introducing themes of the week. This week is stadiums!

With summer fully upon us, think of those afternoons and evenings you spent in the bleachers, getting scorched by the summer sun, screaming yourself hoarse for your favorite team. Or on the field, running toward that goal or sliding to reach home plate. Schools are always vying for updated, state of the art facilities, leaving the stadiums we loved and hated to our memories.

Gather your memories and your photos and add your stadium to the Place + Memory website. The Stadium theme lasts from July 21- July 28. One of the stadium stories that gets our attention will be featured on our facebook fan page and here on our blog. So start submitting!  

Click to Listen Memory Message about Buffalo Memorial Auditorium, (1:54 minutes)