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Playlist: 'Wisdom'

Compiled By: StoryCorps

Theresa Nguyen (L) talks to her daughter, Stephanie (R), about balancing their Vietnamese heritage with raising a family in the United States. <a href="http://www.prx.org/pieces/52422-storycorps-theresa-and-stephanie-nguyen">Listen Here</a>. Credit:
Theresa Nguyen (L) talks to her daughter, Stephanie (R), about balancing their Vietnamese heritage with raising a family in the United States. Listen Here.

From poetic turns of phrase to plain-spoken truths, there are little gems of wisdom in each one of these stories.

StoryCorps Historias: Ricardo Ramirez

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 01:57

Bishop Ricardo Ramirez remembers his grandmother Francisca "Panchita" Espitia.

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On a fall day in 1981, Ricardo Ramirez accepted an offer to become a bishop in San Antonio, Texas.

At StoryCorps, he remembered the dozens of phone calls he made that day.

One of the first was to his grandmother Panchita Espitia.

StoryCorps: Lynne and Jack Bruschetti

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

Lynne Bruschetti tells her son, Jack, about her father, Leonard Carpenter.

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Leonard Carpenter raised his family in Akron, Ohio during the 1960s. He worked as an assembly worker at a tire factory there.

He died in 1999.

That same year, his grandson, Jack Bruschetti, was born.

At StoryCorps, Jack sat down with his mom, Lynne, to find out about his grandfather.

StoryCorps: Patrick Haggerty and Robin Bolland

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:49

70-year-old Patrick Haggerty tells his daughter, Robin, about the day he first had a conversation with his father about being gay.

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Patrick Haggerty grew up the son of a dairy farmer in rural Washington during the 1950s.

As a teenager, Patrick began to understand he was gay–something he thought he was hiding well.

But as he told his daughter Robin, one day, when he went to perform at a school assembly, his father Charles Edward Haggerty, decided to have a serious talk with him.

StoryCorps: Patty Woods

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:25

Patty Woods remembers her partner, who left a lasting impact on her life.

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In the late 1970s, Patty Woods was a waitress at a restaurant in New York City when a customer caught her eye. They became friends and soon after, struck up a relationship.

Years later, Patty lives in San Francisco. At StoryCorps, Patty told Cedar Lay about the lasting impact this partner left on her.

StoryCorps: Clela Rorex and Sue Larson

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:47

Clela Rorex (R), a former County Clerk in Boulder, Colorado, tells her friend Sue Larson...

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In late June 2014, county clerks in Colorado challenged a ban on same-sex marriage by issuing marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples. The state attorney general has ordered them to stop, and the case has reached the Colorado Supreme Court.

But few know that this is history repeating itself.

Back in 1975, Clela Rorex was the newly-elected County Clerk in Boulder when she began issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples.

At StoryCorps, Clela (R) told her friend, Sue Larson (L), that it started one day when two men came to her office door.

On the day this story was broadcast, the Colorado Supreme Court ordered County Clerks in the state to stop issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. 

StoryCorps: Barbara Moore and Olivia Fite

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

Barbara Moore (R) tells her daughter, Olivia Fite (L), about becoming a bricklayer in the...

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Barbara Moore spent more than 40 years working as a bricklayer in Baltimore.

She helped lay the foundation for some of the city’s most famous landmarks, including Camden Yards, where the Baltimore Orioles play.

When she started, she was only 21 years old and was the first woman to join her local bricklayers union.

Barbara (R) retired last year and at StoryCorps, she told her daughter, Olivia Fite (L) how she first got into the trade.

StoryCorps: Rita Fischer and Jay Fischer

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

Rita Fischer (90) and Jay Fischer (65) recall the moment that Jay came out as...

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90-year-old Rita Fischer and her son Jay interviewed each another at a StoryCorps booth in New York City.

They recalled a conversation they had back in the 1980s, when Jay first told Rita he was gay.

Warning: This clip features senior citizens dropping ‘f’ bombs.

Rita Fischer has walked in New York’s AIDS Walk since 1986. She has raised more than $800,000 in that time. 

StoryCorps: Len Berk and Joshua Gubitz

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

Len Berk talks to his friend, Joshua Gubitz, about becoming a salmon slicer after retiring from a 40 year career in accounting.

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Len Berk (R) loves lox -- the salt-cured salmon that goes so well with bagels.

Today, the 85-year-old New Yorker is a veteran salmon slicer at a gourmet food shop in Manhattan, but it wasn’t always that way.

At StoryCorps, Len tells his friend, Joshua Gubitz (L), about becoming a salmon slicer after forty years in accounting.

StoryCorps: Herman Heyn and John Heyn

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

Herman Heyn tells his nephew, John, about spending almost three decades as a street corner astronomer, giving passers-by the chance to look through his telescope.

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If you’ve ever visited Fells Point on the Baltimore waterfront, you may have noticed an older man with a telescope.

His name is Herman Heyn, the city’s street corner astronomer.

For decades he’s set up in the same spot, inviting passers-by to peer through his telescope.

At StoryCorps, he sat down with his nephew, John, to remember how he became a self-proclaimed “star hustler.”

StoryCorps: Erik Booker and Jenna Power

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

Eighth grader Jenna Power talks with her seventh grade social studies teacher, Erik Booker, about his military service and his deployment to Iraq.

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Erik Booker is a seventh grade social studies teacher at Bates Middle School in Sumter, South Carolina. He served more than 20 years in the United States Army, including two deployments to Iraq.

Last year Jenna Power was a student in Mr. Booker’s class. Like Mr. Booker, her father also served in Iraq as a member of the Army. Without it ever having been spoken, Jenna immediately recognized traits in Mr. Booker that connected him to her father and their shared service.

The two of them sat down at StoryCorps so Jenna could interview her teacher about his time at war.

StoryCorps: James Kennicott and Kara Masteller

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:52

Recorded using the StoryCorps app, a granddaughter learns about a difficult upbringing, loved ones lost, and gets advice on growing older.

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Since 2003, we have broadcast hundreds of conversations that were recorded in booths across the country, but this week, for the first time, we present one recorded in the front seat of a 1994 Buick.

Last month, Kara Masteller, 21, and her grandfather James Kennicott, sat together in a Waterloo, Iowa, mall parking lot and conducted a StoryCorps interview. They chose this location because James, who is 86 and resides in a local senior living facility, had no interested in sharing his business with any of the other people who live alongside him.

Their 16-minute long interview begins simply with Kara saying to her grandfather, “Tell me about yourself, where did you grow up?”

From there, Kara, the youngest of James’ 10 grandchildren, was able to get a man she described as unaccustomed to opening up about his life to briefly discuss his difficult upbringing. He then talked in greater detail about his beloved wife, Annie, who passed away in 2012, his work as a supervisor at the John Deere factory, the loss of his eldest son Chuck who suffered with Lou Gehrig’s disease, as well as his thoughts on life and advice for others as they age.

In a separate interview with StoryCorps, Kara, a senior at the University of Iowa, remembered her grandfather as once being an intimidating figure in her life, but as they have both grown older and maintained their close relationship, she now sees him as fun, protective, and loving. He’s a man who enjoys joking around, dancing, shooting pool, and playing the penny slots at a local casino.

During their conversation, James also offers Kara advice on a happy marriage, “You gotta kinda like each other…if something happened just say ‘I’m sorry’ and get it over with and make up,” because “when you get married, it’s kind of like the two of you are one. You think the same.” And on life in general, advising her to “keep it so the days don’t just go by and that’s all there is, a boring old day…let life roll on…it goes fast.” You need to “roll with age, don’t worry about it, it’s coming. Enjoy life, it’s wonderful.”

According to Kara, after their recording ended, James continued to share memories with her about Annie before they grabbed a cup of coffee and headed over to the casino to play the penny slots together.

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 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: Susan Kaphammer and Joshua Myers

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:58

Joshua Myers and his mother, Susan Kaphammer, discuss his life living with Down syndrome, and how he has overcome some early difficulties.

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Joshua Myers, 29, was born with Down syndrome. Growing up, he often felt overwhelmed by his condition and struggled with depression.
 
Once, when he was a teenager, Joshua attempted suicide by walking into the middle of a busy intersection, but was saved by a passing motorist.
 
For his mother, Susan Kaphammer, it was difficult to watch her son suffer and know that there was very little that she could do to make his pain go away.
 
With those tough times behind them, Joshua and Susan came to StoryCorps to discuss what he now loves about his life, and his dreams for the future.

StoryCorps: Clarence “Clancy” Haskett and Jerry Collier

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:09

Clarence ”Clancy” Haskett talks with his friend and former coworker about his long and successful career as a beer vendor for the Baltimore Orioles.

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This past weekend marked the official opening of the 2016 Major League Baseball season. And while the games now count in the standings, it won’t be until the weather warms up that the competition on the field will really heat up. But in the stands, there is a battle taking place that won’t wait until summer: the fight to be top vendor.
 
As anyone who has ever been to a baseball game knows, vendors roam the stands offering anything from hot dogs and peanuts, to scorecards and foam fingers. They are in a head-to-head competition with each other to sell the most of whatever product they are assigned, and one of the all-time greats is a man known as “Fancy Clancy.”
 
As a teenager, Clarence Haskett began selling soda at Baltimore Orioles games back when they played their home games at Memorial Stadium (the team moved to their current home, Camden Yards, in 1992). Over the years, he worked his way up to the vendor’s most prized offering—beer.
 
During his 43-year long career, Clancy has used his quickness and his gift of gab to sell more than a million beers to baseball fans—a number we believe makes him Hall of Fame worthy.
 
Clancy came to StoryCorps with his friend and former coworker, Jerry Collier, to talk about their work and how he got started.
Clancy’s story is one of 53 work stories featured in our new book, Callings: The Purpose and Passion of Work.
 
Click here to pre-order Callings before April 19, 2016, and get great gifts from StoryCorps.

StoryCorps: Barb Abelhauser and John Maycumber

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:13

Barb Abelhauser explains how she quit an office job she hated and became a bridgetender, beginning a career she quickly fell in love with.

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For 14 years, Barbara Abelhauser got up each day and went to work in an office. She hated her job, and finally, one day she quit, reasoning, “I could get hit by a bus tomorrow. And if that happens, I want to have woken up that day and not thought, ‘I don’t want to go to work.’ ”

Her next job was nothing like the one before; it didn’t require her to put on pantyhose or navigate tricky office politics—Barb became a bridgetender. Sitting in a booth called a tenderhouse over the Ortega River in Jacksonville, Florida, she opened and closed the bridge to allow boats to pass from one side to the other. Her office now consisted of a console with buttons and the walls were so close that she couldn’t even fully stretch out her arms. But windows surrounded her and from her perch on top of the bridge she had “the most gorgeous view in the entire city.”

The bridge over the Ortega River requires that a bridgetender always be on duty, but that doesn’t mean that passersby were always aware of Barb’s presence. The position requires both patience and vigilance, and from her spot she became familiar with the people (joggers, fishermen and couples out for romantic strolls), and the animals (birds, manatee, and alligators), that spend their days on and around the bridge. She was “getting paid to stop and look.”

When she took the job, Barb didn’t expect to be a bridgetender for more than a year, but for the next 14 years, she watched the sun rise and set on the river from the tenderhouse. She now documents her observations and experiences on her blog, “The View from a Drawbridge.” In 2014, Barb left Jacksonville and moved to Seattle, Washington, where she continues to bridgetend.

Barb came to StoryCorps with her friend, John Maycumber, to explain why she fell in love with her job.

Barb’s story is one of 53 work stories featured in our new book,Callings: The Purpose and Passion of Work.

Click here to pre-order Callings before April 19, 2016, and get great gifts from StoryCorps.

StoryCorps: Vito de la Cruz and Maria Sefchick-Del Paso

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:58

Civil rights lawyer Vito de la Cruz grew up in a family of migrant farmworkers. He describes his childhood and the loving aunt who raised him.

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Vito de la Cruz’s parents were already separated when he was born, and when he was 6 months old, his father left him in the care of his 19-year-old aunt, Iris de la Cruz, a woman he called Nena.

Vito’s extended family traveled the migrant trail, finding work on farms across the United States. At 5 years old, Vito joined them in the fields. He remembers the excitement of traveling in the summers with his aunts, uncles, and grandmother from tomato fields in South Texas, to cherry orchards in Ohio, and sugar beet farms in North Dakota. During the days, they worked side-by-side, and in the evenings, they gathered together for dinner.

But their family’s migrant lifestyle was not easy; it was “equal parts hardship and poverty.” When he was 13, Border Patrol agents raided the farm where Vito and his family were working and rounded up undocumented workers. Witnessing workers’ fear of law enforcement struck a “profound chord in his being” and changed the course of his life.

Vito had always excelled in school, with Nena’s encouragement. She, herself, was the first person in the de la Cruz family to graduate high school, and she later went on to college. Following Nena’s example, Vito left South Texas for Yale University and then went on to attend law school at the University of California, Berkeley.

After law school, Vito began volunteering with the United Farm Workers union and focused the early part of his legal career on immigrant and farmworker rights. Years later, he became a federal public defender in Nevada before moving to Bellevue, Washington, where he continues to practice civil rights law.

Vito came to StoryCorps with his wife, Maria Sefchick-Del Paso, to remember how his childhood and his loving Nena shaped his future.

Vito’s story is one of 53 work stories featured in our new book, Callings: The Purpose and Passion of Worknow available in bookstores.

StoryCorps: Bill Sayenga and Ellen Riek

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

Bill Sayenga remembers his mother, a woman who saw the need for change and ran for office—winning in 1953 and holding her seat for six terms.

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Bill Sayenga’s father died when he was just four years old leaving behind his mother, Marie, and his older sister Louise.

In order to support her family, Marie found a job with the Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, recorder of deeds office as a secretary, but her pay—about a dollar an hour and just over $2,000 a year—was miserable. Although it allowed her to provide a home for her family, the money was only enough for them to just get by.

For 11 years Marie worked at the recorder of deeds’ office, and according to Louise, she hated it. But for all that the job lacked, it did provide Marie with insights into the inner workings of her local government. She recognized the need for change and in 1949, Marie ran for tax collector in the borough of Bethel.

Being both a woman and a Democrat made her a long shot. For over 50 years, men had been elected tax collector, and for the previous 24, Merle Long held the office. Marie lost that first race, but in 1953 she made a second run and unseated Long by just nine votes.

Marie would hold onto the job for the next 24 years, winning five subsequent elections. In 1973, in her final race, she received more votes than anyone else on the ballot running for any office in the borough.

Marie died in February 1993 at the age of 83.

Bill came to StoryCorps with Marie’s granddaughter, Ellen Riek (pictured above), to remember their family’s influential and powerful matriarch.

StoryCorps Griot: Anthony Merkerson and Charles Jones

From StoryCorps | 02:57

Two fathers of children on the autistic spectrum talk about the concerns they have for their sons — two young black men growing up with autism.

Jonesnpr1_small Charles Jones was already a father to three daughters when he found out his fourth child was going to be a boy. He was so excited by the news that even before Malik was born, Charles began plotting ways he would get the new baby into playing and loving sports--the same way his own father had done with him--even joking to others that he had already bought him New York Knicks season tickets.

When Malik was two and a half years old, he was diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. Like many parents of children on the autistic spectrum, Charles and his wife struggled to adjust to their son’s unexpected needs, but over time, they worked together to better understand autism and Malik. Early on, Charles feared his son would be non-verbal, unable to even speak his own name or say, “I love you,” but eventually Malik, now 12, began talking, and according to his father, once he did, “He wouldn’t shut up.”

Charles decided to start a support group for fathers like himself to provide a space for them to feel safe sharing their feelings. Five years ago, at a New York Mets game on Autism Awareness Day, Charles met Anthony Merkerson. Anthony has two children--Elijah, 10, and Amaya, 7--who are both on the autistic spectrum. After meeting Charles, Anthony joined the support group and they have since become close friends.

Charles, a filmmaker, came to StoryCorps with Anthony, a New York City Metropolitan Transit Authority police officer, to talk about what they have learned from one another, and the concerns they have for their sons as young black men growing up in a society where they are at constant risk of being targeted and misunderstood because they are autistic.

Originally aired July 15, 2016 on NPR’s Morning Edition.

StoryCorps: William Chambers and Ceceley Chambers

From StoryCorps | 03:23

William’s mother is a chaplain providing spiritual support to seniors and hospice patients. At StoryCorps they discuss how her work affects them both.

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William Chambers’ mother, Ceceley, is an interfaith chaplain who has provided spiritual support to seniors and hospice patients suffering from memory loss and dementia. Her work involves talking with people about their faith, listening to their stories, and praying with them--sometimes up to ten times a day.

Last year William, 9, went to work with his mother while she was visiting with residents of the Boston-area Hebrew Rehabilitation Center. Ceceley knew that many of the residents liked having children around, and they were thrilled to have William there.

At first William was afraid to go to the center, but his experience there left him pleasantly surprised. Among the residents he spent time with was a woman with end-stage Alzheimer’s disease who carried a baby doll with her that she treated like a real child. This didn’t faze William who told his mother, “I think people are free to think whatever they want to think.”

Since his initial visit, William has returned to work with his mother several more times. While Ceceley finds it difficult to say goodbye to the residents at the end of the day, they have taught her the “importance of being present, and the beauty of just little small moments.” William says that his time going to work with his mother has changed how he sees things as well: “They made me think, you should enjoy life as much as you can cause it doesn’t happen forever.”

They came to StoryCorps to discuss the affect Ceceley’s work has had on them both.

[Of the many residents Ceceley has counseled, she felt particularly connected to one man who would sing her love songs and tell her dirty jokes. Listen below to hear one of the love songs.]

Originally aired September 2, 2016 on NPR’s Morning Edition.

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: Terri Roberts and Delores Hayford

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

The mother of the gunman who entered an Amish schoolhouse and killed five girls discusses the events of the day and the bonds that came from it.

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It has been a decade since Charles Roberts IV took 10 young Amish girls hostage inside the West Nickel Mines School one-room schoolhouse in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, before killing five, wounding the others, and committing suicide.

Immediately following the tragedy, the Amish community reacted in a way that many found surprising--with forgiveness.

Forgiveness is an important tenet of the Amish faith, which closely follows Jesus’ teachings to forgive one another and place the needs of others before your own. Vengeance and retribution are left to God. Their quickness to forgive the killer led a number Amish to attend the funeral of Charles Roberts, and closeness developed between his family and the community--particular his mother, Terri Roberts.

Terri sat down for StoryCorps with her friend Delores Hayford (pictured together above) to remember the events of October 2, 2006, how the Amish community treated her following the killings, and to discuss her current relationship with one of the severely wounded girls.

Originally aired September 30, 2016 on NPR’s Morning Edition.

StoryCorps: Jay Hollingsworth and Rick Williams

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 03:24

John T. Williams, an accomplished Native American carver wrongly killed by a Seattle police officer in August 2010, is remembered by his brother.

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On August 30, 2010, Native American woodcarver John T. Williams was crossing the street while carving a piece of wood when he was shot and killed by a Seattle Police Department officer. John, 50, a member of the Nitinaht First Nation was deaf in one ear and didn’t immediately respond to Officer Ian Birk’s calls to put his knife down. Less than five seconds after giving his first command, Officer Birk had shot John four times.

John descends from generations of well-known and respected carvers whose work is part of museum collections and has been sold for more than a century at Seattle’s famous Ye Olde Curiosity Shop. He carved his first totem when he was just 4 years old and knew more than 250 figures by heart.

Even with a long history of alcohol abuse and homelessness, carving in Seattle’s Victor Steinbrueck Park was a near constant activity towards the end of John’s life. He spent the morning of the shooting in the park with his brother, Rick Williams, carving together. Rick was waiting for John to rejoin him when he heard about what had happened.

In February 2011, the Seattle Police Department’s Firearms Review Board found unequivocally that the use of deadly force by Officer Birk was unjustified and recommended that Officer Birk be “stripped of all Seattle Police powers and authority.” Shortly thereafter, Officer Birk resigned. In April of 2011, the city settled all legal claims with the Williams family for $1.5 million.

Rick, who visits his brother’s grave weekly, is teaching his own sons to carve so that they will carry on the family tradition. He also continues to carve in Victor Steinbrueck Park where he last spent time with his brother.

At StoryCorps, Rick and his friend, Jay Westwind Wolf Hollingsworth, remember John and the day that he was killed.

Originally aired October 7, 2016, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

StoryCorps: Lou Olivera and Joe Serna

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:31

A retired Green Beret found adjusting to civilian life difficult. He talks with the judge that helped him change his life during a night in jail.

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In 2013, Green Beret Sergeant Joe Serna retired from the Army after more than 18 years of service that included three tours of duty in Afghanistan and numerous awards including two Purple Hearts. Returning to North Carolina to be with his wife and children, he found adjusting to civilian life difficult.

In 2014, following a DWI arrest, Joe’s case was assigned to the Cumberland County Veterans Treatment Court. After a probation violation, District Court Judge Lou Olivera (above left), an Army veteran who served during the Gulf War, sentenced Joe to a night in jail.

Joe was with three other soldiers in Afghanistan in 2008 when their armored truck flipped over and landed in a river. It quickly filled with water and Joe was the only survivor. Knowing Joe’s history and how difficult it would be for him to spend an evening confined, Judge Olivera decided to spend the night with Joe in his jail cell.

At StoryCorps, they reflect upon the night they spent together, the difficult memories that being sentenced brought back, and the relationship they have formed since.

Originally aired October 14, 2016, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

StoryCorps: Jenn Stanley and Peter Stanley

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 04:46

A conservative father and his self-described liberal daughter try to put their political differences aside and listen to each other’s points of view.

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During the 2016 presidential race, many families are finding their viewpoints incompatible with those of even their closest relatives. So rather than spend their time constantly arguing, they have agreed to just avoid discussing politics all together.

Jenn Stanley, 29, and her father, Peter, have experienced a strain on their relationship for years. Political discussions regularly leave them angry and frustrated with each other. Jenn, a self-described liberal who turns to yoga to clear her head, writes about feminist issues for various publications and produces a podcast about women’s rights. Peter, who relaxes by shooting his guns, works in construction and began voting Republican in 1980 during the Reagan revolution.

Whenever they are together and the news comes on the television, they argue.

When Jenn was younger, she considered Peter to be her best friend. She played softball--which she hated--because Peter liked baseball; he coached her team because he thought she wanted to play. But as she got older and left for college, their views grew further apart, making it difficult for them to talk about many of the things that are most important to each of them.

They came to StoryCorps to try to put their differences aside, and listen to each other’s points of view.

Originally aired November 4, 2016, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

StoryCorps: Saboor Sahely and Jessica Sahely

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:05

The owner of a Logan, Utah, restaurant tells his daughter about lessons he learned growing up in Afghanistan, and how they inspire him today.

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Saboor Sahely grew up in eastern Afghanistan’s Laghman province. He remembers the village in which he was raised as being like a bg family, with neighbors coming and going freely from each other’s homes, sharing food, and attending one another’s celebrations. On hot summer nights they would sleep on their roofs entertaining each other with stories late into the night. That is also where he first heard about America, planting a desire to one day come to the United States.

In 1978, a long Afghani civil war began, and Saboor’s family, fearing that he would be unable to soon leave the country, urged him to go to the United States. He had already been accepted to Utah State University, and when he arrived in New York City, he only had with him a suitcase, the phone number of a relative he had never met, and a few hundred dollars. He used the money to purchase a bus ticket to Logan, Utah.

In Logan, he got a job as at a restaurant as a dishwasher and quickly moved up to cook, eventually becoming a district manager. But the restaurant ran into financial problems and closed. Saboor used the money he had saved to purchase the building, and in 1983 he opened Angie’s Restaurant--named after his then 2-year-old daughter.

Starting 26 years ago, Angie’s Restaurant began offering free meals to the Logan community on Thanksgiving. Saboor came to StoryCorps with his younger daughter, Jessica, to talk about his life in Afghanistan, and how the lessons he learned continue to inspire him.

Originally aired November 25, 2016, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

StoryCorps: William Lynn Weaver

From StoryCorps | 03:04

You may recall the voice of Dr. William “Lynn” Weaver from a StoryCorps interview he did back in 2007, where he talked about his father, Ted Weaver — the most important man in his life.

He later came back to StoryCorps to remember someone else who had a huge influence on him: his 7th grade science teacher, Mr. Edward O. Hill.
In the fall of 1964, Weaver was 14 years old and about to start his sophomore year of high school in Knoxville, Tennessee, when, along with 13 other black students, he integrated previously all-white West High School.

At StoryCorps, he talks about what happened on his first day at West High.

Weaversquare_small You may recall the voice of Dr. William “Lynn” Weaver from a StoryCorps interview he did back in 2007, where he talked about his father, Ted Weaver — the most important man in his life. He later came back to StoryCorps to remember someone else who had a huge influence on him: his 7th grade science teacher, Mr. Edward O. Hill. In the fall of 1964, Weaver was 14 years old and about to start his sophomore year of high school in Knoxville, Tennessee, when, along with 13 other black students, he integrated previously all-white West High School. At StoryCorps, he talks about what happened on his first day at West High.

StoryCorps: Johnny Holmes and Christian Picciolini

From StoryCorps | 02:19

In the 1990s, Johnny Holmes was head of security at a high school in Blue Island, Illinois, located just outside of Chicago, where he met Christian Picciolini, a teenage student who was the leader of a local neo-Nazi group.

Christian was involved for eight years before he renounced the movement’s racist principles. Today, he devotes himself to helping others leave hate groups.

He credits Johnny with being the person who helped turn him around; they came to StoryCorps to remember how it happened.

Christian founded EXIT Solutions, a global organization of former extremists with a mission to help people to leave hateful and violent ideologies.

Johnny now serves on his local school board.

Editor’s note: This story contains a quote where a racial slur is used.

Holmessquare_small In the 1990s, Johnny Holmes was head of security at a high school in Blue Island, Illinois, located just outside of Chicago, where he met Christian Picciolini, a teenage student who was the leader of a local neo-Nazi group. Christian was involved for eight years before he renounced the movement’s racist principles. Today, he devotes himself to helping others leave hate groups. He credits Johnny with being the person who helped turn him around; they came to StoryCorps to remember how it happened. Christian founded EXIT Solutions, a global organization of former extremists with a mission to help people to leave hateful and violent ideologies. Johnny now serves on his local school board. Editor’s note: This story contains a quote where a racial slur is used.

StoryCorps: Jessi Silva and Maggie Marquez

From StoryCorps | 02:40

Maggie Marquez and Jessi Silva grew up in the desert town of Marfa, Texas in the 1950s. At the time, segregation of Latino and white students was not legal. However, Marfa’s school system — like many others in the Southwest — practiced de facto segregation, in which Latino and white children attended different schools.

In Marfa, Latino children attended the Blackwell School. Many of the students spoke Spanish as their first language.

Both Maggie and Jessi were students at Blackwell. They came to StoryCorps to remember the day their school banned students from speaking Spanish in a ceremony called the “burial of Mr. Spanish.”

In 2007, a group of Blackwell alumni, including Maggie and Jessi, returned to the school grounds, where they buried a Spanish dictionary and dug it up in a symbolic ceremony to “unearth Mr. Spanish.”

In recent years, a local organization, the Blackwell School Alliance — in partnership with Marfa Public Radio — is collecting oral histories featuring the voices of former students.

Marquezsquare_small Maggie Marquez and Jessi Silva grew up in the desert town of Marfa, Texas in the 1950s. At the time, segregation of Latino and white students was not legal. However, Marfa’s school system — like many others in the Southwest — practiced de facto segregation, in which Latino and white children attended different schools. In Marfa, Latino children attended the Blackwell School. Many of the students spoke Spanish as their first language. Both Maggie and Jessi were students at Blackwell. They came to StoryCorps to remember the day their school banned students from speaking Spanish in a ceremony called the “burial of Mr. Spanish.” In 2007, a group of Blackwell alumni, including Maggie and Jessi, returned to the school grounds, where they buried a Spanish dictionary and dug it up in a symbolic ceremony to “unearth Mr. Spanish.” In recent years, a local organization, the Blackwell School Alliance — in partnership with Marfa Public Radio — is collecting oral histories featuring the voices of former students.