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Playlist: 'Struggle'

Compiled By: StoryCorps

Joan DeLevie (R) tells her daughter, Sharon (L), how she met her husband, Ari at a party in 1959. <a href="http://www.prx.org/pieces/49479-storycorps-joan-and-sharon-delevie">Listen Here</a>. Credit:
Joan DeLevie (R) tells her daughter, Sharon (L), how she met her husband, Ari at a party in 1959. Listen Here.

These are not easy. Stories about dealing with the harder decisions in life.

StoryCorps: Rob Littlefield

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:03

Rob Littlefield remembers being bullied in junior high school for being gay.

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Rob Littlefield, now 55, was in high school when his classmates began bullying him for being gay.

Here, Rob tells how this abuse affected him and his family.

StoryCorps: Erin Ryan

From StoryCorps | 02:14

Erin Ryan remembers her father, Congressman Leo Ryan, who was assassinated in 1978 while on a fact-finding mission to Jonestown, Guyana.

Ryan_small In 1978, California congressman Leo Ryan was on a fact-finding mission to Guyana. He was investigating the rumors about Jonestown—the settlement that cult leader Jim Jones had established. In an effort to bring the cult members back to the U.S., Ryan was gunned down and killed.

Here his daughter, Erin Ryan, remembers her father and some of their last moments together before his death.

StoryCorps: Mary and Charles Van Beke

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 01:52

94-year-old Mary Van Beke tells her son, Charles, about growing up in the 1920s.

Vanbeke_small Mary Van Beke grew up in Newark, N.J., in the 1920s. Her father died when she was a young girl, leaving her mother to raise four children by herself.

Here, Mary tells her son, Charles, about her childhood.

StoryCorps: Dee Dickson

From StoryCorps | 01:51

Dee Dickson remembers trying to get a job as a shipyard electrician in the 1970s.

Dickson2_small In the 1970s, Dee Dickson was a single mother looking for work.

Here, she recalls trying to get a job as as a shipyard electrician, a profession dominated by males.

StoryCorps Griot: Diane Kenney and Linda Kenney Miller

From StoryCorps | 01:31

Linda Kenney Miller (R) and her sister Diane Kenney (L) remember their grandfather, Dr. John A. Kenney, who founded the first hospital for African Americans in Newark, NJ.

Millerl_small In the 1920s, Dr. John A. Kenney left Tuskegee, Alabama after receiving death threats from the Ku Klux Klan. He moved to Newark, New Jersey, and helped found the city's first hospital for African-Americans.

Here, his granddaughters Linda Kenney Miller and her sister Diane Kenney remember their grandfather, and his dedication to the hospital.

StoryCorps: Jon Brock and Glenny Brock

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 04:02

Jon Brock tells his daughter Glenny Brock about being committed to Bryce Hospital, Alabama's oldest psychiatric facility, in 1965.

Brock2_small In 1965, Jon Brock's behavior began to worry his family, so they had him committed to Bryce Hospital—Alabama's oldest psychiatric facility. He was 22 years old at the time.

Here, Jon tells his daughter Glenny about his experience at Bryce.

StoryCorps: Max Voelz

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:34

Retired Sgt. 1st Class Max Voelz remembers his wife, Staff Sgt. Kimberly Voelz, who died in Iraq while disarming an IED.

Voelz_small In 2003, Staff Sgts. Kimberly Voelz and her husband, Max, were serving in Iraq. Both were members of Explosive Ordnance Disposal -- the Army's elite bomb squad.  

Here, Max remembers his wife, Kimberly, who died in Iraq while disarming an IED.

StoryCorps: Howell Graham and Nan Graham

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 01:51

Howell Graham, one of the longest-surviving double-lung transplant patients, tells his mother, Nan, about the days after his surgery.

Graham_small As a child, Howell Graham was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, a genetic disease that often affects the lungs.

In 1990, he had a double-lung transplant — a risky, experimental operation at the time. Today, Howell is one of the longest-surviving recipients of that surgery.

Here, Howell and his mom, Nan, remember the days after his surgery.

StoryCorps Griot: A.P. Tureaud Jr. and Steven Walkley

From StoryCorps | 01:58

A.P. Tureaud Jr. tells his friend Steven Walkley about becoming the first African-American undergraduate at Louisiana State University in 1953.

Tureaud_small A.P. Tureaud Jr. tells his friend Steven Walkley about becoming the first African-American undergraduate at Louisiana State University in 1953.

StoryCorps: Chris Whitney and Erin Kuka

From StoryCorps | 02:17

Chris Whitney tells his friend Erin Kuka about being diagnosed HIV positive early on in the AIDS crisis.

Whitney_small Chris Whitney tells his friend Erin Kuka about being diagnosed HIV positive early on in the AIDS crisis.

StoryCorps Griot: Queen Jackson and Debra MacKillop

From StoryCorps | 02:16

Queen Jackson tells her case manager, Debra MacKillop, how she became homeless.

Jacksonq_small Queen Jackson tells her case manager, Debra MacKillop, how she became homeless.

StoryCorps: Nathan Hoskins and Sally Evans

From StoryCorps | 02:37

Nathan Hoskins tells his friend Sally Evans how his family first learned that he was gay.

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Nathan Hoskins knew from an early age that he was gay. But he quickly learned to keep that a secret. Nathan grew up in rural Kentucky, in a family that didn’t tolerate homosexuality. At StoryCorps, he told his friend Sally Evans just how dangerous it was to be himself.

StoryCorps: Dennis and Buelah Apple

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:38

Dennis Apple and his wife, Buelah, remember their son Denny, who died when he was a teenager.

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In 1991, Dennis and Buelah Apple lost their 18-year-old son Denny to complications resulting from mononucleosis.

Nearly twenty years later, they sat down together at StoryCorps to remember him and talk about what their lives have been like since his death.

StoryCorps: Jennifer and Grant Coursey

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:30

Jennifer Coursey speaks with her 12-year-old son, Grant, who was diagnosed with cancer as a toddler.

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As a toddler, Grant Coursey was diagnosed with neuroblastoma — a cancer often found in young children.

A tumor was wrapped around his spinal cord and pushing against his lungs.

It took three surgeries — including one that lasted 10 hours — but in March of 2002 doctors declared Grant cancer-free.

At StoryCorps, Grant interviewed his mother, Jennifer, about that time.

StoryCorps: René and Michelle Foreman

From StoryCorps | 02:15

René Foreman, who survived cancer of the esophagus, tells her daughter Michelle about speaking through an electrolarynx.

Foreman_small In 1999, René Foreman was diagnosed with esophageal cancer. She underwent surgery that saved her life but also took her voice.

Today, René speaks using an electrolarynx–a small device that produces an electronic voice when she holds it against her throat.

René sat down for an interview with her daughter Michelle.

StoryCorps: Phil Donney and Abby Leibman

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:11

Phil Donney talks with his aunt Abby Leibman about raising Phil and his sister, Laura, after their mother was murdered.

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One night in 1995, 7-year-old Phil Donney and his 4-year-old sister, Laura, heard their parents arguing.

That fight ended when their father murdered their mother.

Phil and Laura went to live with their mom’s sisters, Abby Leibman and Marjorie Shaw.

They all lived together in a two bedroom condo, and began rebuilding their family.

Phil, who is now 23, came to StoryCorps with his aunt Abby to look back on that time.

StoryCorps: Kenneth and Gaye Honeycutt

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:03

Kenneth Honeycutt tells his wife Gaye about witnessing the New London School Explosion of 1937.

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On March 18, 1937, a gas leak at The Consolidated School of New London, Texas, led to an explosion that claimed the lives of nearly 300 students and teachers.

It remains one of the worst school disasters in US history.

Kenneth Honeycutt was playing near the school when the explosion happened. At StoryCorps, he shared memories of the tragedy with his wife, Gaye.

StoryCorps: Marco Ferreira and Wendy Tucker

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 01:54

Marco Ferreira talks to his wife, Wendy Tucker, about surviving a near-fatal motorcycle accident in 2008.

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In 2008, Marco Ferreira was a successful lawyer in Los Angeles.

One November day he went out for a ride on his motorcycle. He hit gravel in the road, crashed his bike, and suffered major brain damage.

At StoryCorps in San Francisco, Marco and his wife, Wendy Tucker, talked about how their lives changed after Marco emerged from a six-week coma.

StoryCorps: Edith Green and her granddaughter, Chaya

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 01:59

Edith Green tells her granddaughter, Chaya, about being a survivor of gun violence.

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In 1980, Edith Green was a school teacher living just north of New York City.

Her children were grown and she lived alone, when she struck up a new acquaintance.

She spoke with her granddaughter, Chaya, at StoryCorps.

Because of her injuries, Edith had to retire from teaching, but had a second career as a guidance counselor. She died in 2010.
 

StoryCorps: Shengqiao Chen and Zehao Zhou

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:11

Shengqiao Chen (L) tells his friend Zehao Zhou (R) about being smuggled to the U.S. aboard the Golden Venture in 1993.

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In 1993, a freighter called the Golden Venture ran aground just outside New York City.

Onboard were nearly 300 people who were being smuggled into the U.S. from China. Some paid upwards of $30,000 for passage on the ship, fleeing from political persecution.

After the crash, 10 people drowned trying to reach land. Many who made it were detained in U.S. prisons for years, waiting for political asylum.

Shengqiao Chen (L) was one of those survivors. He sat down for StoryCorps, with his friend Zehao Zhou (R). They met while Sheng was in prison; Zehao was his translator.

StoryCorps: Ondelee and Deetreena Perteet

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:12

Ondelee Perteet talks to his mother, Deetreena, about getting shot when he was 14 years old.

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In 2009, Ondelee Perteet got into an argument at a party in Chicago and was shot in the face. He was 14 years old.

He survived, but his recovery has been long and uncertain.

At StoryCorps, he sat down with his mother, Deetreena, who has been his caretaker since the shooting.

StoryCorps: Liza Long and her son

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:36

Liza Long talks to her son about his experiences living with mental illness.

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Liza Long’s 13--year--old son was first diagnosed with mental illness when he was 8 years old. He struggles with rage and violent outbursts.

In late December 2012, in the wake of the shootings in Newtown, Connecticut, Liza wrote a blogpost, “I am Adam Lanza's Mother,” in which she urged the country to focus on treatment for mentally ill youth.

She wrote, “I love my son, but he terrifies me.”

At StoryCorps, Liza sat down with her son. (His real name and image have been withheld to protect his privacy.)

StoryCorps: Faith and Jerris Marr

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:29

Jerris Marr interviews his 10-year-old daughter Faith about surviving bone cancer on her spine.

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When Faith Marr was four years old, she was diagnosed with a rare form of bone cancer on her spine. At the time, doctors were uncertain if she would survive.

She had eight major surgeries and some of her vertebrae were replaced with titanium rods.

Faith is now 10 and came to StoryCorps with her father, Jerris Marr, to reflect on her fight against cancer.

StoryCorps: Mytokia Fair and Thomas Fair

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:27

Former Baltimore police officer Mytokia Fair remembers the day she shot and killed her abusive...

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In 1987, Baltimore police officer Mytokia Fair shot and killed her abusive husband.

At the time, Maryland did not allow the use of battered spouse syndrome as part of a criminal defense.

But three years later, the state’s parole board ruled that Mytokia’s actions were the result of her husband’s “repeated physical and psychological abuse” and the governor commuted her sentence.

At StoryCorps, Mytokia sat down with her current husband, Thomas Fair, to talk about the events that led to her arrest.

StoryCorps: Alex Landau and Patsy Hathaway

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 03:34

Alex Landau, who is African American, and his adoptive mother, Patsy Hathaway, who is white,...

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In 2009, Alex Landau was a student at Community College of Denver. After a traffic stop one night, he was severely beaten by Denver Police officers.

Alex is African-American. He was adopted by a white couple and he grew up in largely white, middle-class suburbs of Denver.

Alex and his mother, Patsy Hathaway, came to StoryCorps to talk about how Alex’s race has influenced his life and what happened that night when police pulled him over.

WARNING–this story contains graphic imagery and language.

In 2011, Alex was awarded a $795,000 settlement by the City of Denver.

Two of the officers involved have since been fired from the Denver Police for other incidents. 

StoryCorps: Kris Kalberer and Erika Kalberer

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:37

Kris Kalberer and her teenage daughter, Erika, talk about being homeless.

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In 2003, Kris Kalberer left her job as a retail manager to raise her kids and care for her elderly mother. The family did well on her husband’s income from his job at Countrywide. But he lost his job in the mortgage crisis. Their finances spiraled out of control, and they lost their house in 2011.

Since then they’ve lived with friends and in motels. Currently, the family lives in their car.

At StoryCorps, Kris sat down with her teenage daughter, Erika Kalberer, to talk about their situation.

This interview is part of Finding Our Way: Stories of Family Homelessness in the Puget Sound, a project supported by The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

StoryCorps: Darnell Moore and Bryan Epps

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 03:43

Darnell Moore (R) tells his friend Bryan Epps (L) about an incident that shaped his...

Moore_small

When Darnell Moore (R) was a teenager in Camden, New Jersey, he didn’t know he was gay, but he did know he was an outcast.

It was the late 1980s and Darnell was a mild-mannered A-student in a city where kids were expected to be tough.

He told his longtime friend Brian Epps (L) about growing up in his neighborhood–and about an incident that shaped his youth.

StoryCorps: Kevin Lucey and Joyce Lucey

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:32

Kevin Lucey talks to his wife, Joyce Lucey, about their son Jeff who was a...

Lucey_small

Marine Corporal Jeff Lucey was 23 when he was deployed to Iraq at the start of the war.

Together with his unit, he drove truck convoys for three months at the beginning of the invasion.

He returned home safely. At first he appeared to be well, but like many veterans Jeff struggled with the invisible wounds of war.

At StoryCorps Kevin sat down with his wife, Joyce Lucey, in Wellesley, Massachusetts to remember the day their son got deployed.

StoryCorps: Sgt. Paul Braun and Philip

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 04:28

Paul Braun, a Sergeant with the Minnesota Army National Guard, and his interpreter, Philip, remember... more.

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In 2009, Sergeant Paul Braun was serving near Basra, Iraq with the 34th Military Police Company of the Minnesota Army National Guard. They were assigned an interpreter, and the American soldiers nicknamed him Philip.

During the next nine months, Paul and Philip grew close. So close, in fact, that upon returning to the U.S., Paul sponsored Philip’s visa. They now live together in Minnesota.

But Philip’s wife and children stayed behind in Iraq. So, in October 2014, Philip returned to his home country to try to reach his family and bring them back to the U.S., where they will all live with Paul.

Before leaving, Philip and Paul sat down for a conversation at StoryCorps.

StoryCorps: Darius Clark Monroe and David Ned

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:41

Seventeen years after Darius Clark Monroe robbed a bank at gunpoint, he came to StoryCorps...

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In 1997, Darius Clark Monroe (L) was a high school honor student who had never been in serious trouble.

But soon after his 16th birthday, he robbed a bank in Stafford, Texas at gunpoint with two of his friends.

Seventeen years later, he sat down at StoryCorps with David Ned, a customer who was in the bank during the robbery.

David and Darius became acquainted while Darius was a film student making a documentary about the robbery called Evolution of a Criminal.

 

StoryCorps: Ryan and Kirk Sharp

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 03:03

Army Sgt. Ryan Sharp speaks with his father, Kirk Sharp, about feeling off after coming...

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Sgt. Ryan Sharp served two tours in Iraq with the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division.

In 2008, when he returned to the States from his last tour, things weren’t the same. He had trouble thinking straight, he felt off and was deeply depressed.

Ryan and his father, Kirk Sharp, sat down for a StoryCorps conversation in Lincoln, Nebraska to talk about what happened when Ryan came home.

StoryCorps: Max Voelz and Mary Dague

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 01:59

Retired Army Sgt 1st Class Max Voelz first recorded in 2011 to remember his wife...

Dague_small

Retired Army Sgt 1st Class Max Voelz first recorded in 2011 to remember his wife, Staff Sgt Kim Voelz. They met on Valentine’s Day, while training to work in Explosive Ordinance Disposal–the Army’s elite bomb squad.

Both Max and Kim were sent to Iraq in 2003. One night, Max called in the location of an explosive and Kim was sent to disarm it. She did not survive the mission.

Around the time Max recorded his first interview, he turned to another bomb tech, Sgt Mary Dague, for support. Mary lost both of her arms in Iraq.

She talked Max through his lowest points, but they didn’t meet face to face until years later, when they recorded for StoryCorps.

StoryCorps: Trista and Hector Matascastillo

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 05:14

Trista Matascastillo speaks with her husband, Army 1st Sergeant Hector Matascastillo, about being sexually assaulted...

Matascasatillo_small

In 1998, Trista Matascastillo was in the Navy, when she was sexually assaulted by someone she had served with.

Trista told no one about the attack. She had a son as a result and raised him by herself.

Five years later, she met her husband, Army 1st Sergeant Hector Matascastillo. They recently talked about what Trista lived through.

StoryCorps: Franklin and Sherry Gilliard

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:51

Franklin Gilliard and his wife, Sherry, reflect upon their time in a homeless shelter after...

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In 2007, Franklin Gilliard and his wife Sherry, a teacher’s aide, decided to start their own business: a driving school.

But the following year, they were hit hard by the economic recession. Soon after, they found themselves behind on their bills and mortgage. Despite their efforts to stay afloat, their business went under and they lost their house.

The couple and their three children became homeless in 2013.

Franklin and Sherry sat down for StoryCorps in Tacoma, Washington.

StoryCorps Griot: Gwen Moten

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 01:41

Gwen Moten remembers her childhood best friend, Denise McNair, who was killed in the 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama.

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Fifty-one years before the deadly shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, there was another infamous attack on a Southern black church.

On September 15th, 1963, the Ku Klux Klan bombed the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. Four young girls were murdered -- Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson, Addie Mae Collins and Denise McNair.

Gwen Moten was best friends with Denise, and she recently sat down to remember her for StoryCorps.

StoryCorps: Sean Fitzpatrick and John Gately

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:27

Sean Fitzpatrick and Officer John Gately remember the day back in 2003 when Sean came to school with a gun.

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Eleven years ago, Sean Fitzpatrick was a high school junior in Spokane, Washington.

He had developed paranoid schizophrenia and was hearing voices -- but he didn’t tell anyone.

One morning, Sean went to school with a gun and a plan -- to barricade himself in a classroom, pretend he had hostages, and force police to kill him.

Sean’s plan didn’t work -- but at the end of the standoff he was shot in the face and still has difficulty speaking.

John Gately of the Spokane Police Department was the officer assigned to negotiate with Sean.

They recently sat down at StoryCorps to remember that day in 2003. Sean now works to educate law enforcement on handling encounters with people in the midst of a mental health crisis.

StoryCorps: Lucille Horn and Barbara Horn

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 01:52

Lucille Horn, 95, tells her daughter, Barbara, about the baby incubator exhibit at Coney Island that saved her life.

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For decades, Brooklyn’s Coney Island was known for sideshows featuring tattooed ladies, sword swallowers, and Dr. Martin Couney’s incubator babies.

Dr. Couney pioneered the use of incubators to keep premature infants alive in the late 1800s. But the medical establishment initially rejected the practice. So, each summer for 40 years, Dr. Couney funded his work by setting up an exhibition of the babies and charging the public admission.

Parents didn’t have to pay for the medical care, and many children survived who would have never had a chance otherwise.

Ninety-five-year-old Lucille Horn was one of them. Here, she tells her daughter, Barbara, about spending the summer of 1920 in an incubator on Coney Island.

StoryCorps MVI: Anny Pena and Jonny Pena

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 03:13

Retired Marines Anny and Jonny Pena talk about the challenges they faced as military spouses, and what it was like when Jonny came home from Afghanistan in 2012.

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Marine Sgt. Anny and Staff Sgt. Jonny Pena met while stationed in Arizona.

After dating for a couple years they got married in 2007, and they were both active duty. But after their first child was born, they decided Anny would leave the military--and that Jonny would stay.

At StoryCorps, they talked about the challenges they faced as military spouses--and what it was like when Jonny came home from Afghanistan in 2012.

 

StoryCorps: Wilson Matthews and Jeanne Yeatman

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:08

Flight nurses Wilson Matthews and Jeanne Yeatman talk about their work aboard emergency response helicopters and their attempts to save a child who was severely injured in a bicycle accident.

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For more than a decade, Wilson Matthews and Jeanne Yeatman worked together as flight nurses, caring for patients being transported to hospitals on emergency response helicopters.

They came to StoryCorps to talk about their most memorable flight, which took place in 2001.

Wilson and Jeanne were called in to save a 13-year-old named Stephen Wright, who had been severely injured in a bike accident.

To learn more about Stephen Wright, visit his family’s memorial website, Help for Those Who Grieve. 

StoryCorps: Roberto Olivera and Debra Olivera

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:33

Roberto Olivera tells his wife, Debra, about growing up with an abusive stepfather and how his mother helped him escape.

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Roberto Olivera grew up in the 1960s just outside of Los Angeles, California.

As a teenager, he worked multiple jobs to support his family, but would come home to a physically and verbally abusive stepfather.

At StoryCorps, Roberto tells his wife, Debra, about how his mother helped him escape.

StoryCorps: Monica Harwell and Andrea Cleveland

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 01:59

Monica Harwell, talks to her daughter, Andrea Cleveland, about being the first woman to climb electric utility poles for ConEd in New York.

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In 1991, Monica Harwell became the first woman to climb electric utility poles for ConEdison in New York.

As a line constructor, her job was to install power lines dozens of feet in the air.

She worked alongside men whose families had been working on the lines for generations.

At StoryCorps, she tells her daughter, Andrea Cleveland -- who now also works for ConEdison -- that many of them never thought she’d make it.

StoryCorps Griot: Burnell Cotlon and Lillie Cotlon

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:11

Burnell Cotlon owns and operates the only grocery store in the Lower Ninth Ward. When it opened in 2014, it was the first grocery store to serve that neighborhood since Hurricane Katrina. Here, he speaks with his mother, Lillie.

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For New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward, the section of the city hit hardest by Hurricane Katrina and the flooding that followed, recovery has been slow.

Nearly ten years after the storm, the neighborhood still did not have a single grocery store. But Ninth Ward resident Burnell Cotlon set out to change that.

Using money saved while working at fast food restaurants and dollar stores, he bought a dilapidated building on an empty block.

And in 2014 he opened the Lower Ninth Ward’s first grocery store since the storm.

At StoryCorps, he sat down with his mother, Lillie, to remember the days after the flood.

StoryCorps: Tyra Treadway and Ardyn Treadway

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 01:06

Tyra Treadway and her daughter, Ardyn, remember their husband and father, Dr. James Kent Treadway, a beloved pediatrician in New Orleans. Dr. Treadway committed suicide three months after Hurricane Katrina.

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Dr. James Kent Treadway was a beloved pediatrician in New Orleans for nearly 30 years.

Children loved him for his eccentric costumes and his ability to make even the most nervous patients laugh.

But after Hurricane Katrina, hearing his patients’ grief took a toll on him. Two months after the storm, he committed suicide.

At StoryCorps, his wife, Tyra Treadway, and his daughter, Ardyn, remember him.

StoryCorps MVI: Donna Orolin

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:26

Donna Orolin remembers the disappearance of her husband, Private First Class Brian Orolin, and the day he came home from Afghanistan.

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After Army Private First Class Brian Orolin returned from Afghanistan in 2011, everything seemed fine. But as the years went by, his wife, Donna, could tell something wasn’t right. He became paranoid, suffered constant headaches, and would isolate himself in his bedroom with the lights dimmed.

Then, on November 19, Brian left his home and family. He’s been missing ever since.

At StoryCorps, Donna remembered the day he returned from Afghanistan, and the moments before he disappeared.

If anyone has information regarding Brian’s whereabouts, please contact the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office near Spring, Texas. 

StoryCorps 9/11: Isaac Feliciano

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:39

Isaac Feliciano, a longtime worker at Brooklyn's historic Green-Wood Cemetery, remembers being at his job on September 11, 2001, when his wife, Rosa Maria Feliciano, was killed while working in the World Trade Center.

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Isaac Feliciano has been working at Brooklyn’s historic Green-Wood cemetery for 21 years. He has done many jobs there and is currently a field foreman, supervising landscape and maintenance workers on the grounds.

On September 11, 2001 he dropped his wife off at the subway so she could get to her job at Marsh & McLennan in the South Tower of the World Trade Center. He then headed to work at Green-Wood.

StoryCorps Historias: Noramay Cadena and Chassitty Saldana

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:44

Noramay Cadena, a mechanical engineer with several degrees from MIT, tells her teenage daughter, Chassitty Saldana, about the summer her parents took her to work with them at a factory in Los Angeles.

Cadenanpr_small Noramay Cadena is a mechanical engineer with several degrees from MIT.

Her family came to the U.S. from Mexico. They settled in Los Angeles where her parents worked in factories.

Noramay came to StoryCorps with her teenage daughter, Chassitty Saldana, to remember one summer when, as a teenager, her parents brought her to work. 

StoryCorps: Andy Downs and Angelia Sheer

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:26

On October 4, 1971, George Giffe, a 35-year-old Tennessee man suffering from mental illness hijacked a charter plane at gunpoint from the Nashville airport. Andy Downs, the son of one of the two hostages killed that day speaks with Angelia Sheer, the daughter of the hijacker.

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On Oct 4, 1971, George Giffe, a 35-year-old Tennessee man suffering from mental illness, hijacked a charter plane at gunpoint from the Nashville airport. He also claimed to be in possession of a bomb.

Running low on fuel, the plane’s pilot landed in Jacksonville, FL, where the FBI was waiting. After a brief standoff, Giffe killed the two hostages who remained onboard before turning the gun on himself.

One of the two was Brent Downs—the pilot of the plane.

At StoryCorps, Brent’s son Andy spoke with Angelia Sheer, the daughter of the man who killed his father.

StoryCorps: Marilyn Hillerman and Andrea Crook

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:33

When Andrea Crook was 24, she began having paranoid thoughts, delusions, and her behavior became erratic. She picked up the phone and called her mother, Marilyn Hillerman. In their interview, they reflect back almost 20 years to that call and its aftermath.

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After graduating high school, Andrea Crook moved from her parent’s home in Northern California to Los Angeles. She was on her own for the first time in her life and had never before knowingly experienced the symptoms of mental illness.

A few years later, when she was 24, Andrea began having paranoid thoughts, delusions, and her behavior became erratic. One day she picked up the phone and called her mother, Marilyn Hillerman, who knew by the tone of her voice that Andrea needed her help.

Almost 20 years later, the two of them sat down for StoryCorps in Sacramento, California, to discuss that call and its aftermath.

StoryCorps: Marilyn Hillerman and Andrea Crook

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:33

When Andrea Crook was 24, she began having paranoid thoughts, delusions, and her behavior became erratic. She picked up the phone and called her mother, Marilyn Hillerman. In their interview, they reflect back almost 20 years to that call and its aftermath.

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After graduating high school, Andrea Crook moved from her parent’s home in Northern California to Los Angeles. She was on her own for the first time in her life and had never before knowingly experienced the symptoms of mental illness.

A few years later, when she was 24, Andrea began having paranoid thoughts, delusions, and her behavior became erratic. One day she picked up the phone and called her mother, Marilyn Hillerman, who knew by the tone of her voice that Andrea needed her help.

Almost 20 years later, the two of them sat down for StoryCorps in Sacramento, California, to discuss that call and its aftermath.

StoryCorps: Marilyn Hillerman and Andrea Crook

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:33

When Andrea Crook was 24, she began having paranoid thoughts, delusions, and her behavior became erratic. She picked up the phone and called her mother, Marilyn Hillerman. In their interview, they reflect back almost 20 years to that call and its aftermath.

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After graduating high school, Andrea Crook moved from her parent’s home in Northern California to Los Angeles. She was on her own for the first time in her life and had never before knowingly experienced the symptoms of mental illness.

A few years later, when she was 24, Andrea began having paranoid thoughts, delusions, and her behavior became erratic. One day she picked up the phone and called her mother, Marilyn Hillerman, who knew by the tone of her voice that Andrea needed her help.

Almost 20 years later, the two of them sat down for StoryCorps in Sacramento, California, to discuss that call and its aftermath.

StoryCorps: Marilyn Hillerman and Andrea Crook

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:33

When Andrea Crook was 24, she began having paranoid thoughts, delusions, and her behavior became erratic. She picked up the phone and called her mother, Marilyn Hillerman. In their interview, they reflect back almost 20 years to that call and its aftermath.

Crooknpr_small

After graduating high school, Andrea Crook moved from her parent’s home in Northern California to Los Angeles. She was on her own for the first time in her life and had never before knowingly experienced the symptoms of mental illness.

A few years later, when she was 24, Andrea began having paranoid thoughts, delusions, and her behavior became erratic. One day she picked up the phone and called her mother, Marilyn Hillerman, who knew by the tone of her voice that Andrea needed her help.

Almost 20 years later, the two of them sat down for StoryCorps in Sacramento, California, to discuss that call and its aftermath.

StoryCorps: Marilyn Hillerman and Andrea Crook

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:33

When Andrea Crook was 24, she began having paranoid thoughts, delusions, and her behavior became erratic. She picked up the phone and called her mother, Marilyn Hillerman. In their interview, they reflect back almost 20 years to that call and its aftermath.

Crooknpr_small

After graduating high school, Andrea Crook moved from her parent’s home in Northern California to Los Angeles. She was on her own for the first time in her life and had never before knowingly experienced the symptoms of mental illness.

A few years later, when she was 24, Andrea began having paranoid thoughts, delusions, and her behavior became erratic. One day she picked up the phone and called her mother, Marilyn Hillerman, who knew by the tone of her voice that Andrea needed her help.

Almost 20 years later, the two of them sat down for StoryCorps in Sacramento, California, to discuss that call and its aftermath.

StoryCorps: Alex Fennell and Janette Fennell

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:37

In 1995, two armed men forced Janette Fennell and her husband Greig into the trunk of the Fennell's car. The men drove off with Janette believing that her infant son, Alex, was still in the car in his car seat. Twenty years after surviving the kidnapping, Janette and Alex came to StoryCorps.

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Days before Halloween in 1995, Janette Fennell, her husband Greig, and their 9-month-old son Alex arrived home from a night out with friends. After pulling into the garage of their San Francisco home, they were confronted by two armed men who forced the couple at gunpoint into the trunk of the Fennell’s car and drove away.

During the several-hour ordeal, which the family survived, both Janette and Greig believed that Alex was still in the backseat of the car in his car seat were they had left him.

The carjackers were never caught, but Janette and her husband continued to drive the car they were kidnapped in for several years.

Alex, now in college, sat down for StoryCorps with his mom to talk about the experience.

Janette went on to devote herself to improving car safety by founding a nonprofit that lobbies for car safety reform. Due to her efforts, emergency trunk releases are now standard equipment on all new cars. She has also worked on legislation requiring child safe windows and rear view cameras on all cars.

StoryCorps: Teresa Valko

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:14

Teresa Valko remembers what it was like to see her mother’s memory deteriorate from Alzheimer’s, and to undergo her own genetic testing.

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Teresa Valko’s family has been battling Alzheimer’s—a progressive disease that attacks the brain causing memory loss, the deterioration of thought and language skills, and changes in behavior—for generations. According to Teresa, on her mother’s side of the family, there is a 100% occurrence of Alzheimer’s disease.

For many years, Teresa, who lives in California, would spend hours on the phone chatting with her mother, Evelyn Wilson, in Georgia. But in 2007, Evelyn began to show the early symptoms of Alzheimer’s.

At StoryCorps, Teresa sat down with friends Lisa Farrell and Doris Barnhart to talk about her weekly telephone conversations with her mother and how they have changed over the years, as well as what she has learned about her own future health after undergoing genetic testing.

StoryCorps OutLoud: Claudia Anton and Diana Keough

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:24

Sisters from Wisconsin recount what it was like to find out both of their parents had AIDS, and to lose them both to the disease in the early 1990s.

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Roger and Christine Bessey had been married for 27 years and were the parents of six children when he learned he had AIDS. According to his family, Roger had been living a double life for decades.

Christine was then diagnosed with AIDS and soon after left her husband.

Roger died in 1990 and Christine died in 1994.

Two of their daughters, Claudia Anton and Diana Keough, came to StoryCorps to remember what it was like to lose both parents to AIDS.

StoryCorps: Paul Nilsen and Tom Graziano

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:26

Tom Graziano remembers how his son’s elementary school principal and the community responded when they learned that his son was HIV positive.

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In the early 1980s, Tom Graziano and his wife adopted an almost 2-year-old boy named John. As a child, he was constantly sick, but doctors where never able to determine why.

In 1986, when John was in the second grade at Central Elementary School in Wilmette, Illinois, his parents discovered the reason for his health problems—John was HIV positive having contracted the disease from his biological mother.

At StoryCorps, Tom sat down with John’s elementary school principal, Paul Nilsen, to discuss the reaction of other students attending the school and among members of their suburban Chicago community to John during the AIDS epidemic in America.

John died in May 1989, just days shy of his 10th birthday.

StoryCorps: Benny Smith and Christine Ristaino

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:37

Last year, 11--year--old Benny Smith started having seizures which kept him out of school, he talks to his mom about life with the disorder.

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Last year, 11--year--old Benny Smith began feeling strange sensations in his body that felt like small electrical jolts. Soon after, the jolts began lasting longer and growing more intense--Benny was suffering with grand mal seizures (a condition characterized by loss of consciousness and muscle spasms).
 
The seizures would come at various times, including during the school day where the resulting falls led to multiple concussions.
Often, his mother, Christine Ristaino, would have to pick him up in the middle of the day and bring him home since his condition made it unsafe for him to be in a classroom. Soon after the beginning of sixth grade, Benny was forced to remain at home, being taught by a tutor. An outgoing social kid who loved being around his friends, to him this was one of the most difficult parts of the illness.
 
But more recently, his condition has begun to improve, and in January, he was able to return to the classroom. Benny and his mom, Christine, came to StoryCorps to mark the occasion and discuss how he has lived with the seizures.
 
Originally aired February 12, 2016 on NPR’s Morning Edition.

StoryCorps Griot: Willie Harris and Alex Brown

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:30

Willie Harris and Alex Brown remember the prejudice they faced as African American stuntmen while breaking into the film industry in the 1960s.

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Since the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences announced the nominees for the 2016 Oscars, there has been outrage both online and in the press. For the second year in a row, all 20 individuals nominated in the acting categories are white. The outcry has been so great that the Academy’s governing board voted to add new members in order to increase diversity in the coming years.
 
For some African Americans who have spent decades around the film industry, this continues to spotlight an age-old problem.
Willie Harris and Alex Brown came to Hollywood in the 1960s dreaming of breaking into the movies as stuntmen. Both were athletic and strong, but despite their qualifications, stunt coordinators repeatedly turned them away.
 
Realizing that movie studios had little interest in hiring black stuntmen—many wouldn’t even open stages and gyms for them to practice in—they continued to hone their skills training and practicing in public parks around Los Angeles. They would leap from bleachers onto donated mattresses and practice elaborate driving maneuvers using rented cars.
 
Eventually, Willie and Alex were able to break into the industry. They became original members of the Black Stuntmen’s Association spending decades in Hollywood taking and throwing punches in films like The Color Purple and the James Bond classic Live and Let Die.
 
Willie and Alex came to StoryCorps to remember how they broke into the movies.

StoryCorps: Sean Smith and Lee Smith

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 03:53

In June 1989, Sean Smith, 10, fatally shot his younger sister while playing with his father’s gun. He talks to his mother, Lee, about that devastating day.

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On June 5, 1989, Sean Smith, 10, and his younger sister Erin, 8, returned home together from school. Alone in their empty house, they went into their parents’ bedroom in search of video game cartridges that their mother had previously hidden away.
 
But instead of finding the games, Sean came across a .38-caliber revolver that was being kept in his father’s dresser drawer. Sean began playing with the gun, and unaware that it was loaded, he pulled the trigger, fatally shooting Erin in the chest. Sean immediately called 911, and that recording of him–pleading for help for his dying sister–was played repeatedly on news stations across the country. (Note: the audio contains a segment of the 911 call.)
 
Within two weeks of Erin’s shooting, a total of five Florida children were accidentally shot with their parents’ guns, leading the state legislature to pass a gun safety bill punishing anyone who leaves a firearm within reach of a child.
 
Sean, now 36, has lived with constant pain and guilt as a result of what happened that day. His parents have also had a difficult time coming to terms with the loss of their youngest child. Sean came to StoryCorps with his mother, Lee (seen together above), to discuss the day of the shooting, and how they have tried to cope with the burden of going on with their lives following an unimaginable personal tragedy.

StoryCorps: Mary Reed and Emma McMahon

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 03:02

Mary Reed talks to her daughter, Emma McMahon, about the day she was shot while at a Gabrielle Giffords event in suburban Tucson, AZ.

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In the summer of 2010, following her junior year of high school, Emma McMahon left her home in Tucson, Arizona, and traveled to Washington, D.C., to work as a page for her local Congresswoman, U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords.

Following her internship, she returned home to her family, but without one important memento from her summer—a photo of herself with the congresswoman.

Looking to rectify the situation, her mother, Mary Reed, learned months later that Rep. Giffords would be holding a constituent meet-and-greet in the parking lot of an area shopping center and made plans for her family to attend and finally get that coveted photo.

That was the day, January 8, 2011, that Jared Lee Loughner opened fire on a crowd outside of the Safeway critically wounding Gabby Giffords and shooting 18 others—six of whom were killed.

Mary, one of those who were shot that day, came to StoryCorps with Emma to remember the day she shielded her daughter from a gunman.

StoryCorps: Nick Hodges and Charlotte Wheelock

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:14

Nick Hodges and Charlotte Wheelock discuss raising two boys while Nick was hospitalized with spinal stenosis and their family was homeless.

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In 2014, Nick Hodges and his wife, Charlotte Wheelock, were living in Albuquerque, New Mexico, with their 4- and 6-year-old sons when Nick developed a condition—spinal stenosis—that caused him to be temporarily paralyzed from the waist down.

Already struggling to make ends meet, Charlotte took a leave of absence from her job to care for their children while Nick was hospitalized, and without any steady income, their family lost their home.

Charlotte heard about a job opportunity in another state, so their family packed up and relocated to Seattle, Washington, hoping for a new start. But before they could establish themselves in their new city, Nick ended up back in the hospital leaving their family once again unable to pay rent.

Homeless for 14 months, Charlotte eventually found steady work—she is now employed at one of the shelters the family once lived in—and in time they also managed to find affordable housing for their family.

At StoryCorps, Charlotte and Nick remember what it was like to be a family without a home.

StoryCorps: Catherine Alaniz-Simonds and David Taylor

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 01:50

Catherine Alaniz-Simonds and retired Col. David Taylor remember Catherine’s husband, Andy Alaniz, who died by friendly fire during the Gulf War.

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February marked 25 years since the end of the Gulf War.

Operation Desert Storm, the portion of the war focused on removing Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi military forces from neighboring Kuwait, began in January 1991.

One of the war’s final battles, waged just before a cease-fire was declared, was a United States-led attack on the Iraqi controlled Jalibah Airfield by the 24th Infantry Division. Army Captain David Taylor was one of the officers leading the troops, and he feared that the plan would result in American soldiers dying as a result of friendly fired. But he did not say anything, and unfortunately, he was right.

Army Specialist Andy Alaniz was a member of a unit not under the command of Capt. Taylor, his vehicle turned sharply during the fight and he ended up in the line of fire. Andy died in the crossfire, one of 35 soldiers killed by friendly fire during the Gulf War.

At the time of his death, Andy, 20, had been married less than a year, and is wife, Catherine Alaniz-Simonds, was six months pregnant. While Andy was in Iraq they would send each other letters and Polaroid photos almost daily. Catherine would give him detailed updates about her pregnancy, and Andy would send back photos scrawled with messages like “Take care of the baby,” and “I love you.”

Days after her baby shower, Catherine learned that on February 27, 1991, Andy had been killed.

Since his death, Catherine has sought out men from both Andy’s unit and the other units present at the airfield to help her better understand what happened to her husband that day. And since that time, now retired Colonel David Taylor has lived with the guilt of believing that he could have done something to prevent the death of his fellow solider.

Earlier this year, at a reunion of the 24th Infantry Division at Fort Stewart in Hinesville, Georgia, Catherine and David (pictured in the player above) met face-to-face for the first time. They sat down for StoryCorps to talk about the day Andy died and how it has impacted both of their lives.

Catherine and Andy’s daughter, Andee, will turn 25 later this year. In 1992, the photographer David Turnley won a World Press Photo of the Year prize for his image of the grief shown by Sergeant Ken Kozakiewicz who was being evacuated to a hospital by helicopter upon learning that the body bag accompanying him and fellow wounded soldier Corporal Michael Tsangarakis contained the remains of his friend, Andy Alaniz.

Click here to see that image.

StoryCorps: Suzanne Lynch, Patricia Mishler, and Janette Lynch

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:42

Patricia Mishler discusses with her daughters what it is like living with ALS, and her thoughts on knowing that the disease will one day take her life.

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In 1978, Patricia Mishler left her home in England and moved to the United States after marrying an American. The mother of two daughters—Suzanne, 13, and Janette, 11—her family first lived in Indiana before eventually resettling in Nashville, Tennessee.

Patricia, now 73 years old, was diagnosed about a year and a half ago with ALS. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, destroys motor neurons, the nerve cells that control muscle movement in the brain and spinal cord leading to progressive paralysis and eventual death. 

Most people with ALS die from respiratory failure, usually within three to five years from the onset of symptoms. (According to the National Institutes of Health, only about 10% of those with ALS survive for 10 years or more.)

A grandmother to more than a dozen grandchildren, Patricia once spent much of her free time pursuing favorite hobbies like gardening, sewing, and cooking. But since her diagnosis in October 2014, she has been unable to enjoy them any longer.

Suzanne and Janette recently brought their mother to StoryCorps to talk to her about what it’s been like for her to live with ALS, and also her thoughts on knowing that the disease will one day take her life.

StoryCorps: Jim Stockdale and Jasey Schnaars

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:46

Vice Admiral James Stockdale was a Vietnam War POW for more than seven years. His son, Jim, recalls the family’s difficult wait for his father’s return.

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Many Americans remember Vice Admiral James Stockdale as H. Ross Perot’s running mate during the 1992 presidential campaign. Standing on stage between Dan Quayle and Al Gore during the vice-presidential debate, Admiral Stockdale opened by rhetorically asking: “Who am I? Why am I here?”

Those questions immediately became a sound bite and a punchline for late night comedians, and for millions of Americans, they defined a man they knew little about.

Adm. Stockdale’s legacy goes far beyond a few sentences spoken at a debate. Over the course of his Naval career, he earned 26 combat awards including two Distinguished Flying Crosses, three Distinguished Service Medals, two Purple Hearts, four Silver Stars, and in 1976 President Gerald Ford presented him with our nation’s highest military honor, the Medal of Honor.

In 1947, Adm. Stockdale graduated from the United States Naval Academy, and in 1965, then-Captain Stockdale’s plane was shot down over North Vietnam. He was then captured and brought to the Hoa Lo Prison, infamously referred to as the Hanoi Hilton.

Being the highest-ranking Naval officer held prisoner of war, he became a leader among the other POWs establishing a code of conduct to help keep them from being used by the North Vietnamese for propaganda purposes. Adm. Stockdale, who was forced to wear leg irons for two years while held captive, at one point slashed his own face with a razor to keep from being put on camera, and according to his Medal of Honor citation, he once used glass from a broken window to slit his own wrist in order to “convince his captors of his willingness to give up his life rather than capitulate.”

During his seven and a half years as a POW, Adm. Stockdale was able to send letters to his wife, Sybil, in California. Quickly, she figured out his correspondences contained coded messages and she coordinated with the CIA to continue their communications while her husband was held captive.

Sybil herself was a force to be reckoned with. She was a vocal advocate for the families of POWs and soldiers missing in action at a time when the United States government followed a “keep quiet” policy, asking relatives of POWs not to call attention to their family members (this policy was primarily for public relations purposes). And as a response, she helped found the National League of Families of American Prisoners Missing in Southeast Asia, a nonprofit organization that is still active today as The National League of POW/MIA Families.

In 1979, Sybil was awarded the U.S. Navy Department’s Distinguished Public Service Award, presented to civilians for specific courageous or heroic acts. The citation that accompanied the honor noted, “Her actions and indomitable spirit in the face of many adversities contributed immeasurably to the successful safe return of American prisoners, gave hope, solace and support to their families in a time of need and reflected the finest traditions of the Naval service and of the United States of America.”

In July 2005, Adm. Stockdale died at the age of 81, and in October 2015, Sybil died at the age of 90. They are buried alongside each other at the United States Naval Academy Cemetery in Annapolis, Maryland.

Their son, Jim, who was a teenager at the time of his father’s capture, came to StoryCorps with his friend, Jasey Schnaars, to talk about his mother’s strength as they waited for his father’s return home.

StoryCorps: Larry Kushner and Eileen Kushner

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:38

As an adult, Eileen was diagnosed with a learning disability. At StoryCorps, she remembers how she overcame the challenges she faced at work.

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For as long as she can remember, Eileen Kushner has had a difficult time reading and doing simple math. Growing up in Detroit the 1950s, she recalls her teachers calling her “stupid” and “lazy,” but no one knew she had a processing disorder until she was tested and diagnosed by a psychiatrist when she was in her mid-30s. “It was like a door in my brain would drop and it wouldn’t allow me to process any of the information.”

After graduating high school, Eileen married Larry Kushner and over time they had three daughters. Eileen hoped that staying out of the workforce would help her hide her learning difficulties, but surviving on the money Larry earned as a bank teller was hard. There were days when their family didn’t have enough food in the refrigerator, so Eileen began to look for a job.

She worked briefly as a secretary but was fired because her notes were riddled with misspellings, and then Larry suggested that she apply for a job at the McDonald’s next to the bank where he worked. Eileen was overjoyed when she got the job and started by making French fries and milkshakes and cleaning the floors. She secretly hoped she would not be promoted because she knew that would mean working at the cash register.

In the 1960s, McDonald’s cashiers manually calculated the cost of an order, and Eileen was afraid that a promotion would lead others to discover her secret -- she wasn’t able to add. But she did so well with her first responsibilities that a promotion to the register soon followed. For Eileen, it was a tragic moment, and she told Larry she was going to quit. That’s when he came up with a solution.

Larry brought home different denominations of bills from the bank, and Eileen brought home Big Mac boxes, French fry containers, and cups, and they began playing McDonald’s at their kitchen counter. Larry would pretend to be the customer and Eileen would practice adding up his order. They did this every day until Eileen felt comfortable enough to accept her promotion.

Eileen moved her way up at McDonald’s eventually becoming a manager and then attending Hamburger University. Together Eileen and Larry have owned five separate McDonald’s restaurants (currently, they own one). Now in their 70s, she credits Larry with their success while he believes that it was her dogged perseverance and hard work that got them to where they are today.

They came to StoryCorps to remember their earlier struggles.

Originally aired September 16, 2016 on NPR’s Morning Edition.

StoryCorps: Jasmine Pacheco and Carmen Pacheco-Jones

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:30

A mother talks to her daughter about what it was like to reconnect with her children after her years of drug and alcohol abuse tore their family apart.

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Carmen Pacheco-Jones grew up in an unstable home and had stopped attending school by the time she was 13 years old. She was abusing drugs and alcohol, and throughout her childhood, she spent time in and out of more than a dozen foster homes.

Her drug and alcohol dependence continued into adulthood--even as Carmen started her own family. Her five children remember being raised in a chaotic home; that changed nearly 20 years ago when police in Washington state raided the house where the family was living. Following her arrest, the children were separated and placed in different foster homes.

At StoryCorps, Carmen sat down with her 27-year-old daughter, Jasmine, who was 10 years old when the raid took place, to remember what it was like when their family reconnected after being torn apart.

Today Carmen has been alcohol and drug free for 17 years and is a part of all of her children and grandchildren’s lives. This winter Jasmine is on track to graduate from Eastern Washington University with a degree in psychology and a minor in art.

Originally aired October 28, 2016, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

StoryCorps: Ellie Dahmer and Bettie Dahmer

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:30

Vernon Dahmer was a successful farmer who fought for voting rights in the mid-1960s. His family recalls the night he was killed by the KKK.

Storycorps_small Vernon Dahmer was a successful black farmer and businessman in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, who fought for voting rights in the mid-1960s. He was killed January 10, 1966, after the Ku Klux Klan firebombed his home. At StoryCorps, his widow, Ellie Dahmer, and daughter Bettie Dahmer, remember that night.

StoryCorps: Ed Roy and Mary Johnson-Roy

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:00

Mary Johnson-Roy first came to StoryCorps in 2011 to talk about her bond with the young man who killed her son. Years later, she married a man who lives with a similar tragedy. StoryCorps brings an update to her story.

Roynpr_small Mary Johnson-Roy first came to StoryCorps in 2011 to talk about her bond with the young man who killed her son. Years later, she married a man who lives with a similar tragedy. StoryCorps brings an update to her story.

StoryCorps: Emily Addison

From StoryCorps | 03:54

On June 12, 2016 a lone gunman killed 49 people at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida.Among those killed was Deonka Drayton. She was 32.

Deonka left behind a young son and her co-parent, Emily Addison. At StoryCorps, Emily sat down to remember her.

There were hundreds of people at Pulse the night of the shooting, and some were able to escape in time.

Addison3_small On June 12, 2016 a lone gunman killed 49 people at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida.Among those killed was Deonka Drayton. She was 32. Deonka left behind a young son and her co-parent, Emily Addison. At StoryCorps, Emily sat down to remember her. There were hundreds of people at Pulse the night of the shooting, and some were able to escape in time.

StoryCorps: Five Mualimm-ak and Omar Mualimmak

From StoryCorps | 02:52

StoryCorps gives people the chance to sit down together and have a conversation they’ve never had before. Five Mualimm-ak did just that with his son, Omar, who was five years old when his father was first incarcerated.

By the time Mr. Mualimm-ak was finished serving his sentence for weapons charges, he had been in prison for nearly a dozen years, many of those spent in solitary confinement. When he was released in 2012, Omar was a senior in high school. The two have had difficulty connecting since then. They came to StoryCorps together to talk about their relationship for the first time.

Mualimm-aksquare_small StoryCorps gives people the chance to sit down together and have a conversation they’ve never had before. Five Mualimm-ak did just that with his son, Omar, who was five years old when his father was first incarcerated. By the time Mr. Mualimm-ak was finished serving his sentence for weapons charges, he had been in prison for nearly a dozen years, many of those spent in solitary confinement. When he was released in 2012, Omar was a senior in high school. The two have had difficulty connecting since then. They came to StoryCorps together to talk about their relationship for the first time.

StoryCorps: Tom Sullivan and Terry Sullivan

From StoryCorps | 03:10

On July 20, 2012, a gunman shot and killed 12 people in a packed movie theater in Aurora, Colorado. One of the victims was Alex Sullivan. He was celebrating his birthday at the movies that night — something he had done since he was a small child. Alex and a group of friends planned to see a midnight showing of the latest Batman film, just as he turned 27.

Five years later, his parents, Tom and Terry Sullivan, sat down at StoryCorps to remember him.

Sullivansquare_small On July 20, 2012, a gunman shot and killed 12 people in a packed movie theater in Aurora, Colorado. One of the victims was Alex Sullivan. He was celebrating his birthday at the movies that night — something he had done since he was a small child. Alex and a group of friends planned to see a midnight showing of the latest Batman film, just as he turned 27. Five years later, his parents, Tom and Terry Sullivan, sat down at StoryCorps to remember him.

StoryCorps: Dawn Sahr and Asma Jama

From StoryCorps | 03:24

One night, in October 2015, Asma Jama went out for dinner with her family at an Applebee’s restaurant in Coon Rapids, Minnesota. Asma, who is Somali American and Muslim, was wearing a hijab, as she always does.

While Asma was talking with her cousin in Swahili, a woman named Jodie Bruchard-Risch, who was seated nearby, told her to speak English or go back to her country. When Asma responded to say that she was a U.S. citizen, the woman smashed a beer mug across Asma’s face. She was rushed to the hospital and required 17 stitches in her face, hands and chest.

Bruchard-Risch pleaded guilty to felony assault charges and served time in jail for the crime. After the trial, her sister, Dawn Sahr, contacted Asma online and they struck up a correspondence.

At StoryCorps, Dawn and Asma met in person for the first time.

Jama2_small One night, in October 2015, Asma Jama went out for dinner with her family at an Applebee’s restaurant in Coon Rapids, Minnesota. Asma, who is Somali American and Muslim, was wearing a hijab, as she always does. While Asma was talking with her cousin in Swahili, a woman named Jodie Bruchard-Risch, who was seated nearby, told her to speak English or go back to her country. When Asma responded to say that she was a U.S. citizen, the woman smashed a beer mug across Asma’s face. She was rushed to the hospital and required 17 stitches in her face, hands and chest. Bruchard-Risch pleaded guilty to felony assault charges and served time in jail for the crime. After the trial, her sister, Dawn Sahr, contacted Asma online and they struck up a correspondence. At StoryCorps, Dawn and Asma met in person for the first time.

StoryCorps: Wally Funk and Mary Holsenbeck

From StoryCorps | 02:32

When Wally Funk was 8 years old, she jumped off the roof of her barn while wearing a Superman cape, hoping to fly. That desire never left her, and as an adult she became a pilot and flight instructor. But for Wally, the ultimate destination was always outer space.

She almost got the chance to go in 1961. That year, she was part of a group of female pilots who took part in tests to determine if women were fit for space travel. The project was run by the same doctor who developed tests for NASA astronauts.

The women, who became known as the Mercury 13, passed many of the same tests as the men, but never got to go to space. More than half a century later, Wally Funk hasn’t given up.

She was interviewed in Dallas by one of her flight students, Mary Holsenbeck.

Wally bought a ticket for Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic and hopes to be onboard its maiden voyage into space.

Funksquare-1_small When Wally Funk was 8 years old, she jumped off the roof of her barn while wearing a Superman cape, hoping to fly. That desire never left her, and as an adult she became a pilot and flight instructor. But for Wally, the ultimate destination was always outer space. She almost got the chance to go in 1961. That year, she was part of a group of female pilots who took part in tests to determine if women were fit for space travel. The project was run by the same doctor who developed tests for NASA astronauts. The women, who became known as the Mercury 13, passed many of the same tests as the men, but never got to go to space. More than half a century later, Wally Funk hasn’t given up. She was interviewed in Dallas by one of her flight students, Mary Holsenbeck. Wally bought a ticket for Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic and hopes to be onboard its maiden voyage into space.

StoryCorps: Sylvia Bullock and Marcus Bullock

From StoryCorps | 02:44

In the mid-1990s, Reverend Sylvia Bullock was raising two kids on her own near Washington, D.C. while working and going to college full-time.

Her teenage son, Marcus, saw how hard his mother was working — and how little they had — and decided to take matters into his own hands. He and a friend committed a carjacking, and although he was 15 years old, Marcus was tried as an adult. He served eight years for the crime.

Marcus was released in 2004. Since then he has created an app, called Flikshop, that makes it easier for inmates and their families to stay in touch. His mom works for his tech company as Fulfillment Manager and Mom-in-Chief. She received her Doctor of Ministry in 2008.

Bullocksquare_small In the mid-1990s, Reverend Sylvia Bullock was raising two kids on her own near Washington, D.C. while working and going to college full-time. Her teenage son, Marcus, saw how hard his mother was working — and how little they had — and decided to take matters into his own hands. He and a friend committed a carjacking, and although he was 15 years old, Marcus was tried as an adult. He served eight years for the crime. Marcus was released in 2004. Since then he has created an app, called Flikshop, that makes it easier for inmates and their families to stay in touch. His mom works for his tech company as Fulfillment Manager and Mom-in-Chief. She received her Doctor of Ministry in 2008.