Writer Alysia Abbott did not have the most ordinary of childhoods.
Her mother died when she was two years old, so she was raised by her father—a gay writer—in San Francisco’s bustling cultural scene of the 1970s. Then the 80s saw the plague of AIDS sweep through her father’s community of friends.
Now, Abbott has written a memoir about her childhood, called “Fairyland”—and she’s also planning speaking engagements this weekend in Roanoke. She hopes her story will spark more lead to more open minds and hearts about different lifestyles.
In the 1930s and 1940s, African-Americans in Roanoke were restricted to just a few neighborhoods. One was Gainsboro, just over the tracks from downtown. Among the many businesses started by black entrepreneurs in Gainsboro was "Dreamland," a swimming pool and dance hall. Dreamland is gone, but Jesse Dukes and Allison Swaim spoke to a few Roanoke residents who still remember.
This radio documentary was produced by Jesse Dukes and Allison Swaim for WVTF and Big Shed Media, with support from the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities. It was edited by Shea Shackelford.
With the relatives gone, and the turkey and leftovers digested, this might be a good time to kick back and catch a video.
One new release is short, free, downloadable, entertaining, informative, and all about your neighbors in the Commonwealth. "The Virginia Indians: Meet the Tribes" video is not only a new classroom resource that's making the rounds, but it could also inspire some outdoor event planning.