Russell Dale and Serena Stickney

Recorded July 28, 2008 Archived July 28, 2008 39:23 minutes
0:00 / 0:00
Id: MBY004268


Serena Stickney interviews Russell Dale, reunited after twenty years. They talk about who they were in the third grade, who they are now, and what they want to be in the future.

Subject Log / Time Code

After relaying how they found each other again after twenty years, Serena asks Russell about “the salts” - referring to the many types of salt his family invented to flavor their food.
Russell describes being a student whose father had died, and finding supporting father-figures in his teachers. He goes on to talk about the importance of “Back to The Future” in his life -- time-travel appealed to his desire to have his father back, but also nurtured a fascination with history, science fiction and a subsequent writing career.
Russell describes having bought Serena a locket in the third grade, although he never got to give it to her because she moved away. He was devastated, but saved it for twenty years, after which he was finally able to present it to her upon their reunion. They clearly love each other on some level.
Serena describes herself as somewhat of a goof-ball nerd-type. As a child she had a permed mullet, and freely told embarrassing stories about herself that crystallize her sense of integrity.
The two discuss Russ’s life at this moment in time, how he is on the cusp of fulfilling his life’s desires - although he hesitates to chase his dreams or even name them. He mentions crying himself to sleep, and having no home. Serena describes her dreams of opening an orphanage in Mexico, and being filled with lots of love to give.


  • Russell Dale
  • Serena Stickney

Recording Location

MobileBooth West


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00:06 Hi, my name is Serena Stickney. I have earned my way into living 32 years. Today's date is July 28th, 2008 and we are in the Denver Colorado and I'm here with Russ Dale my friend from third grade.

00:24 I'm mr. Russell a Dale 32 years old. Today is July 28th 2008. We are in the Denver Colorado and I am Serena stickney's friend.

00:40 Russ I had the honor of knowing you for a long time but really only knowing you for knowing you well for the last 6 months and I remember you when you were just a little rust Dale and then when you found found me on Facebook and November, you are a grown man and you're every bit the man I thought that you would become so

01:05 I just want to start out by asking you to tell us about the salts.

01:12 My mother raised for kids single-handedly. My father died when I was eight years old. I had to grow up when I was I had to grow up early. I didn't really have a childhood. So we had a lot of chores to do and my mother didn't use any sort of herbs or spices in her cooking. She just used different flavors of salt. So there was seasoned salt and celery salt and onion salt and then we would have to make our own salts out in the The Shed which we deemed the salt Shack and there was bacon salt. That was my brother's favorite Doctor Pepper salt was a good one and

01:50 Various different kinds of salt that we used to flavor everything. So needless to say now, I do not sell my food at all. What was it that made the Pizza Salt Reigns Supreme for you Pizza Salt and a hint of pepperoni place. That's what that was made. The pizza saw the best cheese pizza salt. That's what life was like before pepperoni growing before pepperoni salt and iodized. I do want people to try pepperoni salsa. Look for it on the store shelves someday if Rossdale was assault.

02:27 Not assault, but if you were a salt, what would you are flavor or your gift be?

02:34 Wow, that's a stupid question. I would be a Bittersweet salt salt with some saltiness to it and some goodness to it and it would be an all-purpose salt pork desserts breakfasts any sort of meal. You just add a dash of rust salt and unlike any you've ever had no, no. No, not the Rust Belt with a 5-minute stop it. I like pepperoni pepperoni. What is it about Denver that captivates your soul.

03:11 It's a gorgeous down the base of the Rocky Mountains. The history in this town is amazing and the you could look at the old buildings down in downtown Denver and there's a story to tell you could go underneath the streets in the sidewalks. There's a story to tell you look up at the at the at the architecture. There's a story to tell the people on the streets. There's a story to tell there's a story to tell about Denver Colorado everywhere that you go and that's why I love this town and the it's constantly changing his constantly growing but it's still Denver and the other histories there. You just have to see it and look for

03:47 Who are who are some of the founders in Denver Colorado that you admire the most who's Legacy? Really?

03:57 Inspires you in the past that the legacies of Denver. I liked it the Native American influence that was at 4 Denver the Confluence of the Cherry Creek and South Platte River. They were here before the white man. They knew what they were doing and when we in when the white man came and they just they took everything and they took over in the Indian said hey don't don't build your house right there. But we did it anyway, and then the floods came people died. And I think it's the Native American influence of the city proper of Denver is the greatest influence for me because there's just more it's there's more to I could go into that. But if I could go either that but there's more there's more of

04:43 It's part of that history aspect that I was talking about.

04:49 What's your proudest moment?

04:52 The proudest moment for me is when I graduated from college. I worked so hard that was far away from home and not too far and it was just a hard work and determination and it was

05:06 A job well done all my friends and family came down from Denver to Alamosa where I went to college and they they just think they saw me accomplished one of my goals in my earlier life. And that was the proudest moment for me standing up there and I was packed. I had my stuff packed up and I was back home in Denver within 2 hours of graduation.

05:28 I didn't stay what men in your life have influence do and how

05:36 Well, am I early life before? My father died? It was my father. He

05:42 Was a rock in my life. He was he taught me, you know good morals and how to learn how to live and how to treat people properly and and then when he died, it was like a sort of

05:55 Crush it depressed me the crush my whole family.

05:59 So then I was I was eight when that happened. So remember we were in third grade so

06:06 After that there really weren't too many except for teachers.

06:11 I had to some of the greatest teachers in my and my school life that were father figures to me and and they just

06:20 Made me who I am today.

06:24 By being involved a lot of my teachers. They knew that my father had died when I was younger and that I didn't have a father figure and they would do things with me. They would take the time after school to send the art room with me and help me make pots to hold. My father's ashes they would they would go with my family and theirs to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science to see you like the Ramses II it is a baby and we would just go out to lunch and go out to movies during the summer time, which they don't have to do and they and they treated myself and my my siblings great just on their own time, and that's that's really special to do that to some for somebody.

07:13 What did it feel like for you to see Back to the Future For the First Time as a young boy?

07:21 I Love Back to the Future I still love back the future is my favorite movie of all time when I saw Back to the Future.

07:29 I was 10 years old and I wanted to be Marty McFly had a little life preserver that I wore a little calculator watch some Gotti sunglasses and the thought of being able to travel back in time. Not just to see your parents when they were younger to travel back in time fascinated me and it is stuck with me to this day and everything that I do in the stories that I write Mindy the dreams that I have. It's all you know about traveling through time and what in history I'm interested in history and just being able to travel through time would be the coolest thing if you were to travel into the future.

08:09 2 looks like five generations ahead of where we are today.

08:14 And meet your great great great great, whatever to the 10th power grandkids. What story about yourself. Would you tell them?

08:30 A story about myself

08:36 I don't know if I would really tell them a story about myself. I think it would.

08:42 I don't know do we have to answer these questions? I don't know if I would tell a story necessary than to tell them what I believe or how I how I think

08:55 Things should be I have a weird sort of skewed view on the world and it's it's a refreshing view. It's kind of a odd view, but I would just I would like to tell them.

09:09 First I would tell him that I'm proud, you know, if I have if I have a kid that is alive Offspring is life in five generations from now. That's an accomplishment in itself.

09:24 Fact that they're living in that there. Hopefully it's their happy and that that's what I have to say about that.

09:33 What's your happiest moment?

09:40 The happiest moment of my life.

09:45 Man are so many mm.

09:49 I get simple I get Simple Pleasures simple things in life make me happy and

09:56 The happiest time that I've ever been in my life and this might seem a little goofy is I was behind a boat on a tube doing 25 30 miles an hour flying over Lake wind in your face. Yes, and I was free and I was happy and there was nothing that can stop me and that is just the most wonderful beautiful feeling I've ever felt in my life. I wish I could do it all the time cuz it's it's a good feeling. It's a good feeling when you're out there.

10:31 Giggling laughter

10:36 So could get lost in them after you're a man who talks in terms of Legacy. You bring a legacy a lot.

10:46 What's your legacy? How will you be remembered?

10:51 I'm going to be remembered as a

10:54 Good, man a kind man. Hopefully one that

10:59 Make some march on the world somehow someway. I don't know what it's going to be here if I've done it yet or if I will do it. That's what I want. My legacy to be I wanted to I want to be larger than life. I wanted to be good and I wanted to be beautiful.

11:25 I have one final question.

11:28 And I have questions for you and who is Silky who is built up Falcom? Who is she?

11:43 Zilkha, baucom is a fictional character. She is a character that I created for the novel that I'm riding. She was born the 20s during the during a massive power outage and she lost her parents when she was young and she worked for everything she had and she became a writer and she has a penchant for fashion and she's a romantic at heart didn't she's an adventure but also homebody in a girl and a gardener Silka bottom is me.

12:18 But a woman who happens to live in the 1940s.

12:24 And I'm not sure about soda. Baucom like what's going to happen is hookah bottom.

12:31 Could be a tragic tale could be a love story could be who knows?

12:35 But I'm Zouk about him. I guess if that's what it boils down to is she your highest sense of self.

12:44 One of the highest senses of self gap for me. She is.

12:51 What do you admire about her?

12:55 I admire collecting all people that I like honesty and communication and not missing words. So to speak. I've been known to be brutally honest from time to time. It's gotten me into some trouble for it. But I think if you live a life or your communicator and and you just tell the truth and then you don't hold anything back because if you don't communicate and you don't hold things back if you know, you're hurt you hurt inside your hurt the people around you so

13:30 It's best from my point of view to say it out to lay it all out on the line and in everything that you do be beat your job at your your friends or family. Why holding things back when you should we live such a short amount of time on this planet then why mince words, do you got to give it a go for the other stay on the path and don't pray?

13:55 What kind of starts with the inner dialogue being honest with yourself and yourself?

14:09 I'm not supposed to Russell these papers or anything.

14:17 The same as

14:20 Oh, okay.

14:23 Cut edit edit edit one more question. If you could cure one disease, what would it be?

14:36 I can share one disease. It would be the common cold because it haunts us it makes us miserable and if we could go to, Cole it would just be one thing less horrible that we have to worry about in this world.

14:54 Is your question you asked me a long time ago.

15:01 Okay send these questions are going to be similar to what you have asked me.

15:07 And I'm going to start off with 1 hardcore deep passion full question. How do you want to be remembered Serena?

15:18 Well, I think it starts with how my friends currently remember me when I'm not in their absence. So if I look at it on a micro scale.

15:29 I want my friends and family when I'm not around them to think she's fun and I enjoy her. She makes me.

15:41 Want to be a better human being I want to be remembered as somebody who stood for kindness.

15:47 On all levels

15:51 Now I want to be remembered.

15:56 After the things I said, but the way I acted and demonstrated my love to my

16:02 The world around me. You're well on your way to that for sure. I think you've achieved 99.2% of that. What is your first memory of me?

16:16 If you don't have one, that's fine, cuz I have plenty I could tell about you.

16:24 Russell can you just cool he was he was the coolest kid in third grade and that's for darn sure. He had a twin he has a twin and Jennifer Dale and I remember

16:38 Wearing out a path back and forth from my house to your house and your house was always warm and it was just a really safe place to go to as a kid. That I left my house because my mom created this very warm and safe house for us to but it was just warm and you and Jennifer were good siblings to each other. I don't remember a lot of the specific specific details, but I remember that you guys were good friends who each other and man you guys stick up for each other at school no matter what she used to fight for my honor. That's for sure cuz I was picked on a lot when I was a kid because of my weight gets paid full and honest.

17:24 Yeah, one of this is I'm going to interject the storage. This is part of my agenda. One of the first memories I have of you.

17:36 Relates to the tale of the locket

17:40 Now this is a tale sort of a fairy tale of Swords. It was in third grade and Christmas time was coming up and I saved up my money from shoveling snow and babysitting and mowing lawns. And for the for Christmas one year. I bought Serena a silver locket.

18:06 I don't know why I never did give it to you. I

18:11 I don't know if it was being afraid or feeling silly or young or what but I never gave it to you and I kept it and then you moved away or you move to a different school district, and I never heard from you again in the wrist.

18:25 It was devastating to a kid, you know, I didn't know what to do. I didn't have phone numbers or anything and it was way too well before the internet. So I kept this locket. I put it in storage throughout my whole life. I kept it. I I really didn't think about it. It was just in a box Dusty box until you re-enter my light 21 years later. I'm like why I have that locket that I got for Serena cuz you poked me on Facebook on Facebook poker.

19:03 So am I going well, when do I give Serena this like I don't want to give it to her for Christmas or which is original attention. I don't want to give it to her for

19:11 For new years, that's kind of hokey. So I waited but I pulled it out of storage at clean. I cleaned it off as best. I could have bought a new chain for it. I was took out the faded photos that were in there with me and Faded by time and I gave it to you with a little tail of the locket.

19:31 And a lot of my friends didn't think that was cool that I did that but I think that's pretty darn cool. It's one of my most treasured possessions and

19:44 That's one of my memories that sticks out in my mouth a lot of her we can't talk about hear me giving my string cheese and preview for square accidents at recess and so on and so forth.

20:03 Enough of that. So Serena, what is your best childhood memory?

20:11 My best

20:19 Oh, wow, so many of them.

20:24 Having concerts with my little sister in the backyard of our house my parents.

20:33 Then on a house and we rented this this house that was big enough for our family. My mom was pregnant with my with my baby brother who's out to Lenny and in the backyard there were three tears.

20:49 And Chelsea and I wouldn't take my old music stand would take that Lena the little metal part off that holds the actual book and and then we take the music stand and we would use that as a microphone and then we would use the backyard because all the world is a stage and we would put on Madonna she was too she had no idea who Madonna was but and we would dance all throughout all those three tiers and we take our microphones with us and we would sing and we just thought everybody wanted to wanted to hear a concert of ours and that is something at

21:27 We still have this day we have concerts for my mom all the time for Jodi and that's one of my favorite childhood memories. My sister becoming my best friend. What's your worst childhood memory?

21:47 6th grade who was his name?

21:51 Eric Olson, I think I'm getting off the bus. I was kind of plump little girl in 6th grade. I wasn't little but I had a mullet with a perm and kind of jacked up teeth and crazy hair all over the place little little bit on the nerdy side. Haven't really outgrown that and I was getting off the bus and Jason wallet Jason Wiley do remember him. Anyway, he and Eric Olson brought eggs to school and eggs me when I got off the the school bus remember this and I was so humiliated as if I wasn't cool enough now I had egg on my face right lane pun intended So I myself home.

22:39 I just got an egg my dad all six foot six of them and he was a big man.

22:49 Hightailed it down to the bus stop and I'll tell you Erica Eric and that Jason never mess with me again, but I will never forget you said I know you said the worst childhood memory, but it actually turned out to be one of my favorite because crying humiliated my mom looks at me and she says Serena people pay a lot of money to have egg added to their hair because it has protein in it makes it really shiny.

23:16 And I am always at 9 a.m. Lifelong advocate of shiny hair.

23:21 But at the deepest sense, I think what that taught me was optimism and no matter if I had egg on my face or egg in my hair. I knew I could go home and my dad would stand up for me.

23:32 And I knew that my mom would always make me see the bright side of things. So I choose my eggs sunny-side up.

23:40 You're amazing. That's amazing. Thanks Jodi.

23:49 There's so many questions that I could deviate from this questions prepared for storycorps interview.

23:57 Serena's looking frightened. How would you describe me?

24:04 Russ you are a gentleman.

24:09 A gentleman and I mean you are gentle and kind and you are a man.

24:15 And not a lot of guys are men.

24:23 You are honest and sincere.

24:30 Emotional like a Scorpio would be right near prolific.

24:38 You are a big thinker and you see the world in terms of the universe and ucdenver in terms of the world and you see your life in terms of Denver and you

24:49 Always see things from a bigger perspective.

24:54 In one word

24:56 Russ you are a genius.

24:59 I don't deny that you're a genius.

25:09 Serena

25:12 Is my best friend?

25:14 I love her with all my heart. She is amazing.

25:20 The Gleam in her eyes when she's doing even the most simple of tasks, it's just something that

25:29 You could start with forever. She's funny.

25:35 And witty

25:37 And she has got this strut when she walks how she could control a room with just her smile. That's even when she frowns. It's an it's amazing. It's something she makes me want to be a better person she and possible that they are you already are.

26:00 She

26:04 Means the world to me.

26:08 So thank you. How would you describe yourself?

26:13 August Rock Bar

26:16 You going to have to go into detail about that now that you mentioned it 9th grade. I may have accidentally become a cheerleader and I was in fourth. I don't know if you know what time 4th. Is but it's usually I'm almost noon. My dad is taking me to school and I had a lot of school spirit of course, right? So I had written

26:39 Spirited words on my face and turn, you know where my red black and silver and strut around the halls of my high school and forth. A football player comes over to me. We really cannot figure out what you wrote on your face and I'm like nah can't tell you how to read know Serena really serious. We can't figure out what you've written on your face in like what's wrong with you? Why can't you ready set go to the bathroom and come back and tell me what you see so my crazy curly hair and my jacked-up teeth in my

27:13 School spirit I started on down to the bathroom and I looked in the mirror and sure enough. It said go Raptors. I mean, I'm looking at myself in the mirror. It says go Raptors. Oh, except I was looking in the mirror so really for about 5 hours in the morning. I've been walking around the halls of my high school with all strata part written all over my face. That's like daintily on One Cheek all the way across the face.

27:40 That is such a. Describe myself a nerd who just doesn't really get it until somebody else pointed out. That is such a good story that I'm the man. I'm putting in that in my novel. That's that's going in my now, I can't read that. That's a great story. What is your future hold my future?

28:07 I'm not sure.

28:09 I think I'm a question a lot. I meditate and think of the universe in my place in it. And what is the future holds for me? What can I do?

28:22 To make my life better to make those people around these lights better, but as for my future, I it's uncertain.

28:31 I think I'm on the I'm on the edge. I'm on the cusp of something change in my life. I'm 32 years old or something that I need to do, but I don't know what it is, you know, and I

28:46 There's so much that I want to do that I have to do that. I would like to do that I should do and that I just have to do it. I have to take that step and go for it instead of wasting my time, even though I do a lot but I just needed to make the decision and need some poking and prodding to steer me in the direction of my future cuz I know it's there. I can see it like smell like to taste it. I just need to grab it.

29:15 So what will you do between now?

29:18 In July 30th know what is today the 28th, and let's sail away you do between now and August 30th.

29:27 To take that leap of faith. It's one concrete thing you're going to do.

29:32 I need to discuss.

29:36 May may sound weird. I need to discuss my future with my father. I my father died in 1983.

29:49 Talk to him every now and then, you know not in the most literal of senses and

29:57 I do believe that what he thinks of me has a big influence on my life because as I'm going now, I'm pretty much the going to be the last one in my line that has a

30:15 That could possibly pass on the family name and it means a lot to me that we were talking about Legacy.

30:22 And I need to do that somehow someway and my grandfather before he died pounded into my skull and

30:32 You got me to think about some things before by the end of August 2008, have to get back to you on that one. That's a great question the hold your feet to the fire.

30:46 1 month * 1 months if it's there and you can smell it and you can

30:59 So is a facilitator. Do you have any questions?

31:11 Step is what this cost is I mean, yeah. Well lately in my life. I thinking that

31:21 Not to sound darker anything. I have been walking around lately with the feeling that I have been useless.

31:30 To a point that I have so much talent and so much desire and so much so much more. Off the world than what I already do now.

31:40 And yet I'm not doing anything with it and I'm just going through the motions of life where I go to work. I go to sleep. I did I spend time with friends I spend time with family but there's something that needs to be done more it being something a legacy of sorts or something greater than what I'm doing now, and I think everyone has that sort of feeling but with me I'm not it's not a midlife crisis sort of thing cuz I'm not midlife but it's just something that's been gnawing at me and eating it is eating away at me and giving me stress and giving me tears tonight. I mean, it's not not fun to cry yourself to sleep at night thinking about this sort of thing and then one day at some point.

32:22 When you know what it is with that big thing is that you were supposed to do. It'll bring you Joy instead of pain.

32:31 Health right and you'll surrender yourself to that Joy.

32:37 But better

32:39 Better than a totally different person better than I already am I could be possible. Is that possible? I don't want to strut around saying how you know, have you

32:54 Found something that makes you feel useful in life against him. Which one this is how

32:59 He said you're more to go. Definitely.

33:06 I knew when I was 12 that one day I would open an orphanage in Mexico and it has been a lifelong dream of mine and

33:16 I kind of know my path. I I kind of have a good sense of of what's what I need to do in order to get there and I've been incredibly fortunate to be able to

33:29 Meet heads of companies and

33:34 Men and women who run Fortune 500 companies and I look at them and I think these are people who are making a real mark on the world in terms of creating jobs and in creating wealth in it in an American and sometimes worldwide.

33:49 And I look at the way they process information and they collect information and they make decisions. Then I think someday I'm going to use that when I open an orphanage in Mexico inside want to use that. I take those tools and put them in my little skill set. And I think okay sometime sometime when I do that and I've been fortunate to be in a fundraising position so that I can understand when I do go to build this or I know exactly how how fundraising works and how I can be accountable to benefactors and people that have a have a passion for that. I look at my childhood. Amy my mom ran a daycare for

34:29 Most of my childhood and she loved those kids.

34:37 I could go into a million stories about that. But I think I would Rob the world of something if I didn't pass on what my mom demonstrated to me on a daily basis if I didn't take that to unwanted kids in

34:49 And Mexico, I mean these kids I go down there and they just want Bubbles and they want to play soccer and

34:58 I just want to be showered with love.

35:01 I got a lot of that to give so she does Serena. There's this thing in Denver call doors open Denver and we went to it it's where they open up public buildings to Denver and so on and so forth, but this story struck me and she's shaking her head. It made me weak in the knees. Okay, here's what it is. We were walking the street. She know you always could have caused by people when you're walking the streets. That's a fact of life and this musician Darryl accosted us for some spare change Ur. And so we had a conversation as we were walking and we didn't stop we just get the lock him, but he followed us and we were having a conversation and and for 5 years and at that point when I was living in that Homeless Shelter not as a resident, but as of a shelter manager

35:55 I made it a personal goal of mine to never say no to somebody who asked me for money.

36:01 I would find another way to meet their need not give them cash but find some way to not say no to them and not turn away. Somebody who really was in need. Okay, so she ended up buying the sky a pair of shoes and

36:17 He was grateful, but he still ask for money afterwards was kind of struck me as odd but seeing that kindness and goodness coming from someone who was standing next to me. He was inspirational. She threw his inspirational on so many levels that she doesn't believe

36:38 When you hear the word home, what does that mean to you? What does home look like or mean to you? Well house doesn't make a home.

36:46 Home for me is happiness. It's Choi its safety. It's warm and it's a place where you can you should go and you don't have to worry about anything anything at all.

37:03 What are you is that what your home is like right now know my home is not like that at all. Not even the Urban Garden. Well if I wallow out of doors in the Urban Garden then maybe it is a home, but it's not home right now and no I do not have a home. No way. No how maybe that's what I need in 30 days time anybody's willing to give up a free house to rest that he can create into a home big great human interest story.

37:37 2 minutes left. I don't know if you have any final quest 15 review.

37:44 Who is been the kindest to you and your life?

37:51 Today the truth not really people that many people can kind of me in my life. Tell me about pam pam is my mother. She raised 4 Kids all by herself. She worked her butt to the Bone to provide very kids. I mean we weren't rich but we had everything that we needed. We were kids everything that we needed to be happy and live and she did such a great job of raising her kids. I commend her. She's coming up towards retirement. Now, she's Travis needs to relax since not work she needs to not worry cuz I know she were still works two jobs she works today.

38:26 60 hours a week mom take it easy and she doesn't. Joyfolie. Yeah, but I wanted to thank you for coming here today. Thank you. I know this was a interview thing, but I think

38:40 There's some good sound. It was created here today for the archives. You're a man whose name will be written on the walls of History. Russ. I have no doubt.

38:58 The plan I don't know what day of the week is that schedule is pretty booked. We're going to have to discuss that and do something for sure.

39:08 Pressure

39:10 But you said in the next 30 days you need to have a conversation with your dad about the future. I'll talk to him tonight and I'm on vacation.