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Playlist: 'Work'

Compiled By: StoryCorps

Retired New York City sanitation worker Angelo Bruno (L) speaks with his former partner, Eddie Nieves (R), about working together on their daily route. <a href="http://www.prx.org/pieces/52877-storycorps-angelo-bruno-and-eddie-nieves">Listen Here</a>. Credit:
Retired New York City sanitation worker Angelo Bruno (L) speaks with his former partner, Eddie Nieves (R), about working together on their daily route. Listen Here.

We all spend 8 hours a day at it: hear stories from and about work, unusual jobs, and loving what you do.

StoryCorps Griot: Carl McNair

From StoryCorps | 02:14

Carl McNair remembers his brother, Ronald McNair, who was one of the astronauts killed aboard the space shuttle Challenger on January 28, 1986.

Mcnair_small On the morning of January 28, 1986, the space shuttle Challenger exploded shortly after lifting off. All seven crew members were killed. Ronald McNair was one of the astronauts aboard the shuttle that day. Here, his older brother, Carl McNair, remembers him.

StoryCorps: Al-Bahadli and Diana Klatte

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 01:58

Majid Al-Bahadli and his wife, Diana Klatte, remember how they met.

Al-bahadli_small Majid Al-Bahadli came to the U.S. from Iraq after the first Gulf War. In this piece, Majid and his wife, Diana Klatte, remember how they first met.

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: Sister Vincent Cecire

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:01

94-year-old Sister Vincent Cecire tells her friend Sister Catherine Garry how she fell in love with baseball.

Cecire2_small Sister Vincent Cecire became a nun in 1934, working as an elementary school teacher in cities all over the country. While teaching, she developed a love for baseball.
 
Here, Sister Vincent tells her friend Sister Catherine Garry how she first got interested in the game.

StoryCorps: George Lengel

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

George Lengel remembers growing up in the company town of Roebling, NJ.

Lengel_small George Lengel was born in Roebling, NJ, where his entire family made steel wire at the John A. Roebling's Sons Company.

Here, Lengel remembers growing up in Roebling and the influence his father had on his future.

StoryCorps Historias: Noe Rueda and Alex Fernandez

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

19-year-old Noe Rueda (R) talks to his high school economics teacher, Alex Fernandez (L), about growing up poor in Chicago.

Rueda_small 19-year-old Noe Rueda grew up the eldest of four siblings on Chicago’s West Side.

Here he tells his high school economics teacher, Alex Fernandez, how he started his own business at the age of eight to help his single mother get by.

StoryCorps: Marat and Leon Kogut

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 04:26

Leon Kogut talks with his son, Marat Kogut, an NBA referee.

Kogut_small Leon Kogut and his family moved to the United States from Ukraine more than 30 years ago.

Here,  he and his son, Marat, talk about Marat's decision to pursue a career as an NBA referee. 

StoryCorps Griot: Walter Dean and Christopher Myers

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 01:46

Author Walter Dean Myers talks about his father in an interview with his son Christopher Myers.

Myers_small Author Walter Dean Myers grew up in Harlem, the son of a janitor. Myers began writing as a teenager, but always failed to impress his father with his writing.

Here, Myers talks about his father with his own son, Christopher.

StoryCorps NTI: John Byrne and Samantha Liebman

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

Teacher John Byrne talks with his former student, Samantha Liebman, about coming out to his students.

Byrne_small Early in his teaching career, John Byrne was very strict, because he feared his students would find out he was gay.

Here, Byrne tells one of his former students, Samantha Liebman, how he eventually came out to his 10th-grade class.

StoryCorps: Mort Segal and Joan Feldman

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 01:58

Mort Segal and his sister, Joan Feldman, remember their father, Jack Segal, a booking agent for novelty acts in the Catskills.

Segal_small From the 1940s through the 1960s, the Catskill Mountains in upstate New York were a popular summer escape from New York City. The resorts needed entertainment, and talent agents like Jack Segal made their living booking comedians, singers, and novelty acts there.

Here, Jack’s son, Mort Segal, and daughter, Joan Feldman, remember their dad.

StoryCorps: Warren, Robin and Jason Weems

From StoryCorps | 02:01

Warren Weems (R), who is a teacher's aide in his wife, Robin's, first-grade classroom, is interviewed by his son Jason (L).

Weems_small Warren Weems, a retired Marine, is now a classroom assistant in his wife, Robin's, first-grade class.

Here, Warren talks with Robin and his son Jason, who is a kindergarten teacher in the same school.

StoryCorps: Bill Cosgrove

From StoryCorps | 02:01

Former NYPD lieutenant Bill Cosgrove remembers carrying Father Mychal Judge, the first official victim of September 11th, out of the World Trade Center.

Cosgrove_small Former NYPD lieutenant Bill Cosgrove remembers carrying Father Mychal Judge, the first official victim of September 11th, out of the World Trade Center.

StoryCorps: Father Michael Duffy

From StoryCorps | 04:02

Father Michael Duffy remembers his friend, Father Mychal Judge, the first official victim of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center.

Duffy_small Father Michael Duffy talks about how he came to give the homily at the funeral of his friend, Father Mychal Judge, the first official victim of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center.

StoryCorps Griot: Earl and Ashley Reynolds

From StoryCorps | 02:40

Earl Reynolds Jr. tells his daughter, Ashley, about meeting James Brown at his father's barbershop in Roanoke, Virginia.

Reynolds_small When Earl Reynolds Jr. was 11 years old, he shined shoes at his father's barbershop in Roanoke, Va.  Here he tells his daughter, Ashley, about a valuable lesson he learned from a customer -- the late James Brown. 

StoryCorps NTI: Al Siedlecki and Lee Buono

From StoryCorps | 01:52

Neurosurgeon Lee Buono and his eighth grade science teacher, Al Siedlecki, remember reconnecting after more than 15 years.

Siedlecki_small Neurosurgeon Lee Buono and his eighth grade science teacher, Al Siedlecki, remember reconnecting after more than 15 years.

StoryCorps Griot: Mary Morris

From StoryCorps | 02:16

Mary Morris remembers her husband, Thomas, one of two Washington D.C. postal workers who died from exposure to anthrax in October, 2001.

Morris_small Thomas Morris was a U.S. Postal Service worker for 28 years. He was working in Washington D.C. when anthrax laced letters targeting senators and major media outlets appeared in the mail. He was one of two postal workers who died in October 2001 as a result of these biochemical attacks. His widow, Mary Morris, came to StoryCorps to remember their life together–starting with the day they met at a family funeral.

StoryCorps Griot: John Klein and Bernice Flournoy

From StoryCorps | 01:50

John Klein remembers meeting the love of his life, Mary Ann Allen, with her daughter Bernice Flournoy.

Klein_small John Klein tells Bernice Flournoy about falling in love with her mother, Mary Ann Allen, while he was working as a maintenance man at a senior citizen facility in Oakland, CA.

StoryCorps: Frank Curre

From StoryCorps | 02:23

88-year-old Frank Curre remembers serving on the U.S.S. Tennessee during the attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941.

Curre_small 88-year-old Frank Curre remembers serving on the U.S.S. Tennessee during the attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941.

StoryCorps: Gloria and Lou Del Bianco

From StoryCorps | 01:55

Gloria Del Bianco and her nephew, Lou, remember her father, Luigi Del Bianco, one of the chief stone carvers of Mt. Rushmore.

Delbianco_small Gloria Del Bianco and her nephew, Lou, remember her father, Luigi Del Bianco, one of the chief stone carvers of Mt. Rushmore.

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 NTI: Sarah Benko and Meliza Arellano

From StoryCorps | 01:46

Meliza Arellano tells Sarah Benko, her former seventh-grade teacher, about how she became a serious student.

Benko_small Meliza Arellano tells Sarah Benko, her former seventh-grade teacher, about how she became a serious student.

StoryCorps NTI: Ayodeji Ogunniyi

From StoryCorps | 02:15

Ayodeji Ogunniyi describes how the death of his father inspired him to become a teacher.

Ogunniyi_small

In 1990, Ayodeji Ogunniyi left Nigeria, along with his mother and brother, to come to the United States. They arrived in Chicago, joining Ayodeji’s father, Abimbola “Yinka” Ogunniyi, who’d arrived a few years earlier, and was working as a cab driver.

Abimbola always wanted Ayodeji to be a doctor.  But while Ayodeji was studying pre-med in college, his father was murdered on the job.

At StoryCorps, Ayodeji talked about how his father’s death changed the course of his life.

StoryCorps NTI: John Hunter, Julianne Swope and Irene Newman

From StoryCorps | 02:53

John Hunter talks with two former students about what they learned playing the World Peace Game, which he created.

Hunterj_small When John Hunter started teaching more than 30 years ago, he wanted to get his students to think about major world issues.

So he invented the World Peace Game. Students are divided into countries, then Hunter gives them a series of global crises — natural disasters, political conflicts — that they solve by collaborating with each other.

Hunter’s classes are remarkably successful at resolving the crises peacefully, a fact made all the more remarkable because his students are in 4th grade.

Hunter recently sat down for StoryCorps with a two former World Peace Game players: 11-year-old Julianne Swope and 20-year-old Irene Newman.

StoryCorps Griot: Richard Bennett and Craig Williams

From StoryCorps | 01:53

Iraq War veteran Richard Bennett talks with Craig Williams about how they became unlikely business partners.

Bennett_small Iraq War veteran Richard Bennett talks with Craig Williams about how they became unlikely business partners.

StoryCorps: Henry Flores and Gwendolyn Diaz

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:19

Henry Flores and his wife, Gwendolyn Diaz, talk about the first time they met.

Flores_small

Gwendolyn Diaz had just started a new job at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, Texas, when she met her husband, Henry Flores, another professor there.

It was the 1980s and Henry, who describes himself as “one of the original computer nerds,” was on his way to the computer room when the new faculty member caught his eye.

StoryCorps: Paul Crowley and Anthony Bravo Esparza

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

Paul Crowley talks with his friend and fellow veteran Anthony Bravo Esparza, who calls himself "Dreamer," about the free haircuts he gives in a VA Hospital parking lot.

Esparza_small

Many veterans seek out the West Los Angeles Veterans Affairs Hospital in hopes of feeling better. Thanks to Anthony Bravo Esparza — known to his friends as “Dreamer” — those veterans often end up looking better, too.

Since the 1970s, Dreamer, a veteran himself, has been giving free haircuts to vets.

He can be found in a red, white, and blue painted trailer parked at the VA, where he averages about 200 haircuts a month.

Last year, Paul Crowley showed up looking for a trim. Today, he’s Dreamer’s assistant.

At StoryCorps, the pair sat down to speak about their friendship.

StoryCorps NTI: Clairene Terry and Raul Bravo

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

Raul Bravo tells his former high school automotive teacher, Clairene Terry, how she inspired him to stay in school.

Bravo_small

21-year-old Raul Bravo is an auto mechanic at a car dealership in Chicago.

Back when he started high school, Raul never thought he’d have a career working on cars.

But then Raul met Clairene Terry, an Automotive Technology teacher at Schurz high school.

At StoryCorps, Raul told Clairene just how close to dropping out he was when he enrolled in her class.

StoryCorps Griot: Karen Slade, Eric "Rico" Reed and Arthur "Sonny" Williams

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:28

Karen Slade, Eric "Rico" Reed, and Arthur "Sonny" Williams of radio station KJLH remember the 1992 Los Angeles Riots.

Slade_small In 1992, Los Angeles police officers were charged — then acquitted — of assaulting Rodney King.

The news sparked riots in the city, and no neighborhood was hit harder than South Central LA.

KJLH was an urban R&B station located on Crenshaw Boulevard, at the heart of the riots.

Karen Slade, the general manager, Eric “Rico” Reed, a DJ, and Arthur “Sonny” Williams, KJLH’s driver, remember what happened during those days.

StoryCorps NTI: Kate Musick and Harleé Patrick, Jose Catalan and Carlos Vizcarra

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:50

Two stories about teachers who went beyond the classroom to help their kids.

Patrick_small

For students who are struggling, sometimes the difference between success and failure can start when a teacher takes the time to listen.

In these two stories from our National Teacher’s Initiative, teachers go beyond the classroom to help their kids.

In 2004, Kate Musick was teaching third grade at T.C. Walker Elementary school in Gloucester, Virginia. When Harleé Patrick walked into the room, Musick saw a troubled child.

Harleé is now a teenager, and the two came to StoryCorps to talk about how she made it through that year.

The second story comes from Los Angeles, where 19-year-old Jose Catalan, who is studying to become a math teacher, sat down with his former high school teacher Carlos Vizcarra to talk about how they became friends.

StoryCorps: Harrison Wright and Sean Guess

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 01:56

Harrison Wright tells his grandson, Sean Guess, about serving in the Army at the end of World War II.

Wrighth_small

When Sean Guess brought his grandfather, Harrison Wright, to a mobile booth in Austin, he asked about Harrison’s service during World War II.

Harrison was drafted in early 1943 and soon after shipped out to Europe. He played the bugle in his unit, and, at the end of the war, he was called upon for a special assignment.

StoryCorps NTI: Tyrese Graham

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:16

Tyrese Graham remembers his first day as a teacher at John Marshall Metropolitan High School in Chicago, IL.

Grahamt_small Tyrese Graham is a second year science teacher at John Marshall Metropolitan High School on the West Side of Chicago. When he started teaching, Marshall was among the worst public schools in the city. At StoryCorps, Tyrese talked about his first day on the job.

StoryCorps Historias: Ricardo Ramirez

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

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

Ramirez_small

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: Adeline Roccko and Zachariah Fike

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 01:48

Army National Guard Capt. Zachariah Fike speaks with Adeline Rockko about returning her brother's lost Purple Heart medal.

Rockko_small

Captain Zachariah Fike is an Army National Guardsman on a special mission.

He finds Purple Heart medals for sale in antique stores and on the internet, buys them, tracks down their rightful owners, and returns them.

So far, he has reunited five families with lost medals.

The first one belonged to Corrado Piccoli, an Army translator who was killed in Europe during World War II.

At StoryCorps Captain Fike and that soldier’s sister, Adeline Rockko, remembered their first conversation.

StoryCorps: Mark and Jessie Edens

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

Mark Edens tells his daughter, Jessie, about his career with the Michigan State Police.

Edens_small

Mark Edens is a retired state trooper who worked for the Michigan State Police for 25 years.

During that time, he was often tasked with investigating fatal car accidents on Michigan’s highways.

At StoryCorps, he sat down with his daughter, Jessie, to talk about his work.

StoryCorps: Don and Mackenzie Byles

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

Don Byles talks to his daughter Mackenzie about their family's funeral home.

Byles_small

Don Byles is a funeral director in New London, CT, where he runs the funeral home that’s been in his family for more than a century.

With retirement on the horizon, Don is getting ready to hand over the family business to his 25-year-old daughter Mackenzie.

They recently sat down for a conversation at StoryCorps.

StoryCorps: Constance Labetti

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:16

Constance Labetti remembers her boss, Ron Fazio, who died in the World Trade Center attacks on September 11, 2001.

Labetti_small

Connie Labetti was working for Aon Corporation in 2001. Her office was on the 99th floor of the World Trade Center’s South Tower--the second to be hit on September 11th.

As the attacks began, she fled the South Tower and made it out alive--with help from her boss, Ron Fazio.

StoryCorps: Dekalb Walcott Jr. and Dekalb Walcott III

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

Dekalb Walcott III talks to his dad, retired Chicago Fire Chief Dekalb Walcott Jr., about...

Walcott_small

Dekalb Walcott Jr. spent more than 30 years as a firefighter for the Chicago Fire Department.

He’s now retired--but his son, Dekalb Walcott III, is following in his dad’s line of work.

They recently sat down for a conversation at StoryCorps.

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...

Rorex_small

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...

Moore_small

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: Alton Yates and Toni Yates

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 04:24

Alton Yates tells his daughter, Toni, about being part of a small group of Air...

Yatesta_small

As a teenager, Alton Yates (L) did a job that helped send people into space.

In the mid-1950s, before NASA existed, Yates was part of a small group of Air Force volunteers who tested the effects of high speeds on the body. They were strapped to rocket-propelled sleds that hurtled down a track at more 600 miles per hour and stopped in a matter of seconds. These experiments helped prove that space travel was safe for humans.

At StoryCorps, Yates told his daughter, Toni, that — for him — the story starts in high school, shortly after his mother died.

After leaving the Air Force in 1959, Alton Yates became involved with the Civil Rights Movement in his hometown of Jacksonville, FL. On August 27, 1960, he attended a sit-in that turned violent, and became known as Ax Handle Day. 

StoryCorps: Kenny Thompson, Gary Barber and Dakota Gibson

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

Kenny Thompson, a volunteer mentor, tells students Gary Barber and Dakota Gibson about discovering that...

Thompson_small

Some students in the Spring Branch Independent School District in Texas dreaded lunchtime. The school cafeteria meant humiliation because their parents couldn’t afford a hot lunch.

The alternative for these kids was a cold cheese sandwich. Anyone seen leaving the lunch line with that on their plate was marked as being poor.

But that changed when school volunteer Kenny Thompson saw it happen. Kenny recently told that story to kids he works with, 13-year-old Gary Barber and 15-year-old Dakota Gibson.

Thanks to Kenny’s efforts, two school districts in Houston have changed their lunch policy. Now all kids receive the same lunch, whether or not they can afford it. 

StoryCorps: Lori and Erich Baker

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:28

Dr. Lori Baker, a forensic scientist, tells her husband, Dr. Erich Baker, about identifying bodies...

Baker_small

Thousands of people have died trying to cross from Mexico into the United States.

The unidentified remains of those who are found often end up in small, border town cemeteries, buried in unmarked graves.

Dr. Lori Baker, a forensic scientist at Baylor University in Texas, is trying to identify these remains and match them with families who are looking for lost relatives.

She sat down for StoryCorps with her husband, Erich Baker, to talk about how she got started.

StoryCorps: Michelle Dynes and Anne Purfield

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

Epidemiologists Anne Purfield (L) and Michelle Dynes (R) talk about responding to the Ebola outbreak...

Dynes_small

Anne Purfield (L) and Michelle Dynes (R) are epidemiologists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

They both volunteered to spend several weeks in Sierra Leone, responding to the Ebola outbreak there.

When they returned to the U.S., they came to StoryCorps to talk about what they saw.

StoryCorps: Tina Vasquez and Sonia Vasquez

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

Tina Vasquez tells her mother, Sonia Vasquez, about what it was like to grow up...

Vasquez_small

Tina Vasquez grew up just outside of New York City in the 1990s.

Her mother, Sonia, raised her with little help, and money was often tight for their family.

At StoryCorps, Sonia told Tina about how she’d take on several jobs to pay the bills.

StoryCorps: Phil Mortillaro and Philip Mortillaro Jr.

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:16

Phil and Philip Mortillaro, a father-and-son locksmith team, talk about the family business.

Mortillaro_small

For Phil Mortillaro, locksmithing was a summer job that turned into a lifelong passion. He started in the trade shortly after he left school in the 8th grade.

All five of his children grew up in his shop in Greenwich Village, but it was his youngest son, Philip, who has followed in his father’s footsteps.

Father and son sat down for a conversation at StoryCorps.

StoryCorps: Joanna and Bob Ebenstein

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

Joanna Ebenstein, founder of the Morbid Anatomy Museum, tells her father, Bob, about the childhood...

Ebenstein4_small

Since she was a child, Joanna Ebenstein has been fascinated with things that make most people squirm.

As an adult, she founded the Morbid Anatomy Museum, where visitors can see a pickled opossum and a two-headed duckling, among other unusual and grotesque objects.

At StoryCorps, Joanna sat down with her father, Bob Ebenstein, to talk about the childhood origins of her current career, including a hunt for black widow spiders in their backyard.

StoryCorps: Maurice Rowland and Miguel Alvarez

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 01:35

Miguel Alvarez (L) and Maurice Rowland (R) remember caring for residents at an assisted living home, where they were a janitor and a cook, when it closed suddenly, leaving many elderly residents abandoned.

Rowland_small

In 2013, Maurice Rowland (R) was working as a cook at Valley Springs Manor, an assisted living home for elderly residents in California. He got his friend Miguel Alvarez (L) a job there as a janitor last fall.

But in October of that year the company that managed the home suddenly shut it down, leaving many of the elderly residents with nowhere to go.

The staff stopped being paid so they all left, except for Maurice and Miguel.

At StoryCorps they remembered caring for abandoned residents until the fire department and sheriff took over three days later.

The incident led to legislation in California known as the Residential Care for the Elderly Reform Act of 2014. 

StoryCorps: Ruth Coker Burks and Paul Wineland

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 03:51

Ruth Coker Burks tells her friend Paul Wineland about caring for AIDS patients during the...

Burks_small

Ruth Coker Burks was in her early 20s and raising a small child when the AIDS epidemic hit Arkansas, her home state.

Although she had no formal medical training, Ruth took it upon herself to care for AIDS patients who were abandoned by their families and medical professionals who feared the disease.

Ruth estimates that she has cared for nearly 1000 people since the 1980s. One of those people was Paul Wineland’s partner.

At StoryCorps Ruth told Paul about how she got started after visiting a friend at a hospital where one of the state’s early AIDS patient was dying.

Listen to Ruth’s interview with Jim Harwood, the father of another AIDS patient she cared for during this time.

StoryCorps: Gay Talese and Bob Walsh

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 03:30

Gay Talese interviews Bob Walsh, one of the ironworkers who built the the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge,...

Walsh_small

New York City’s Verrazano-Narrows Bridge opened in 1964. The graceful span of the Verrazano connects the boroughs of Brooklyn and Staten Island, making it the longest suspension bridge in the country.

Gay Talese (R) was a young reporter at the time, and wrote a book documenting the construction called “The Bridge”.

Talese recently interviewed Bob Walsh, whose family boasts five generations of ironworkers. The construction of the Verrazano was Bob Walsh’s first job in the trade.

Here, Talese reads from his book and speaks with Bob about building one of New York City’s iconic bridges.

“The Bridge” was republished in 2014 to mark the 50th anniversary of the Verrazano Narrows bridge. 

StoryCorps: Terri Van Keuren, Richard Shoup and Pamela Farrell

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

Terri Van Keuren, Richard Shoup and Pamela Farrell remember how their father, Air Force Colonel Harry Shoup, started the holiday tradition of tracking Santa Claus on U.S. military radar in 1955.

Van_keuren_small

Every Christmas Eve, people all over the world log on to the official Santa Tracker to follow his progress through U.S. Military radar.

It all started in 1955 with a misprint in a Colorado Springs newspaper and a call to Air Force Colonel Harry Shoup’s secret hotline at the Continental Air Defense Command, now known as NORAD.

Here’s the story, told by Colonel Shoup’s children, Terri Van Keuren, Richard Shoup and Pamela Farrell.

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.

Berknpr_small

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 Griot: Mario Loiseau and Mabou Loiseau

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 01:48

Mario Loiseau talks with his 9-year-old daughter, Mabou, about why he works so hard to provide for her education.

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Mario Loiseau is a Haitian immigrant who works two jobs, including long hours as a parking lot attendant in New York City.

He does this to help pay for his 9-year-old daughter, Mabou’s, tutoring. She is a science and language prodigy, and is already studying college-level algebra.

The two of them sat down together for StoryCorps, so Mabou could ask him some questions.

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.

Matthewsnpr_small

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: 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.

Harwellnpr_small

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: Adam Graff and Jackie Graff

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 01:53

Adam Graff, a member of New Orleans' all-volunteer, mental health crisis unit, speaks with his wife, Jacqueline, about the surge in patients after Hurricane Katrina.

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Adam Graff is a member of New Orleans’ all-volunteer, mental health crisis unit.

The group works with the New Orleans Police Department and is often described as a SWAT team for mental illness and suicide crisis situations.

After Hurricane Katrina, Adam and his colleagues helped residents cope.

At StoryCorps, he sat down with his wife, Jacqueline, to talk about his work.

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 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: 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: 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: Carol Miller and Marge Klindera

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

Marjorie Klindera and Carol Miller have spent the past 30 Thanksgivings answering phone calls about turkey troubles from panicked home cooks.

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Marge Klindera spent decades teaching home economics to Illinois middle and high school students. As she was transitioning into retirement, she began looking for other ways to share her years of knowledge and experience. In 1983, she began working at a seasonal call center—answering questions from those needing last-minute information on cooking a turkey.

Each Thanksgiving, for more than 30 years, Butterball has run their Turkey Talk-Line. Operating from October to December, trained professionals like Marge answer thousands of turkey related questions from home cooks across the United States and Canada.

At StoryCorps, Marge, 79, sat down with her longtime coworker, Carol Miller, 68, to remember some of the best callers they have had, as well as some of the best advice they have dished out.

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: François Clemmons and Karl Lindholm

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

François Clemmons played Officer Clemmons on "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood." He came to StoryCorps to discuss the role and his life.

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In February 1968, the children’s television program “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” debuted nationally.
 
Besides its eponymous creator, the show also featured a cast of characters from Mister Rogers’ make--believe world (King Friday XIII, Daniel Striped Tiger, and Bob Dog), and his “real” world (Mr. and Mrs. McFeely, Lady Aberlin, and Handyman Negri).
 
François Clemmons was cast in the “real” world as Officer Clemmons.
 
Fred Rogers met François in 1968 after hearing him sing in a Pittsburgh--area church they both attended. He was so impressed with his voice that he asked him to join the show. At the time, François was a graduate student working on getting his singing career going and was reluctant to accept Fred’s offer. But after realizing he would get paid to appear on the show—enabling him to afford his rent—François accepted, becoming the first African American actor to have a recurring role on a children’s television series.
 
For 25 years François appeared on the show while maintaining a separate career as a professional singer. In 1973, his performance with the Cleveland Orchestra earned him a Grammy Award and his love of spiritual music later led him to found the Harlem Spiritual Ensemble. He also spent 16 years as an artist--in--residence at Middlebury College in Vermont until his retirement in 2013.
 
François came to StoryCorps with his friend, Karl Lindholm (pictured together above), to discuss how he became the friendly singing Officer Clemmons, and his relationship with the man known to children as Mister Rogers.

StoryCorps OutLoud: Zeek Taylor and Dick Titus

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:35

Together since 1971, Dick Titus and Zeek Taylor came to StoryCorps to discuss the lengths they went to while keeping their relationship secret.

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Dick Titus and Zeek Taylor met in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1971. Zeek was openly gay having already come out to his friends and family, but Dick was still in the closet with the added burden of having his family living close by.
 
In order for the two of them to be together, they decided to leave Memphis and move to Fayetteville, Arkansas, a city that would put some distance between Dick and his family, and where he knew he could find work as an electrician. But when they got there, Dick was convinced that he would have to continue to remain closeted after encountering homophobia on job sites, leading him to believe that he would lose work if anyone discovered that he was gay.
 
In order to protect Dick (pictured on the right), they decided to buy two homes—one to live in together and another to use as a dummy house for Dick in case any of his fellow workers wanted to come by at the end of the day. They also established a code in case they ran into any of the people Dick worked with while they were out together. Dick’s colleagues called him “Oscar,” so when they were in public and heard someone use the name, Zeek (pictured on the left) would pretend that they did not know each other.
 
Today, Dick is out to his friends and family. They came to StoryCorps to recall their journey from owners of multiple homes for 13 years, to married owners of a single home together in Eureka Springs, Arkansas.

StoryCorps: Trista James, Tanya James and Michelle Paugh

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

In 1979, Tanya James went to work in the West Virginia coal mines. She came to StoryCorps to share her experiences from those early days.

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Tanya James was 17 years old when her father died in 1978. His death left her and her mother, Beryle Hanlin, struggling financially. So they did what so many generations of West Virginians before them had done—they went to work in the coal mines.

At the time, almost 99 percent of miners were men, and some still believed in the old superstition that a woman setting foot in a coal mine brought bad luck. Many also assumed that the few women who took the job only did so to find a husband. Harassment, both verbal and physical, was not uncommon, and a 1979 survey found that more than three-quarters of female coal miners had been sexually propositioned at work, and that 17 percent had been physically attacked.

Both Tanya and Beryle regularly faced hostility from their male colleagues. Early in her career, Tanya was sent to a remote part of the mine with a male colleague who kept trying to touch her. Unable to convince him to stop by simply telling him “No,” Tanya put an end to his behavior by kneeing him in the groin.

But none of this discouraged Tanya and she never considered quitting. Her career underground lasted more than 20 years and she recently became the first woman in her union’s 124-year history elected to international office. She came to StoryCorps with her daughters, Trista James (above left) and Michelle Paugh (above right), to tell them what it was like for her early in her mining career.

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: Jeanne Abel and Alan Abel

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 03:59

In 1964, Yetta Bronstein, a woman who never existed, ran for President of the United States. Her creators tell the story behind the fake candidate.

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In the 1964 presidential election, Republican Senator Barry Goldwater from Arizona ran against Democratic incumbent Lyndon Johnson who had assumed office following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. LBJ won in a landslide, but there was another candidate in the race who has largely been forgotten by history: Mrs. Yetta Bronstein, a Jewish housewife from the Bronx.

One reason Mrs. Bronstein remains absent from the history books is that although she ran, she didn’t actually exist. She was the creation of professional media pranksters Alan and Jeanne Abel. The husband and wife team cooked up Yetta while doing a nightclub act, and decided she should run for the highest office in the land. Registering her as a write-in candidate, she was listed as a member of the Best Party, with a platform that included national bingo and lowering the voting age to 18 so that juvenile delinquents would have something to do (the 26th Amendment was ratified 1971).

Jeanne, a gifted improviser, posed as Yetta, promising voters 16 ounces in every pound and offering free hot dogs and bagels in exchange for votes. She only gave reporters radio interviews because unlike Jeanne who was in her 20s, Yetta was the middle-aged wife of a New York City cab driver. At one point during the campaign, she wrote to President Johnson offering to end her run if he would name her as his running mate (Click here to read Yetta’s letter). Alan, her campaign manager, perpetuated the ruse by using a photo of his own Jewish mother in their election materials.

The Yetta Bronstein hoax is just one of scores of pranks the Abels orchestrated over the past 60 years. The one they are best known for is attempting to advance the Society for Indecency to Naked Animals (SINA), which aimed, in the name of morality, to put pants on the world’s creatures. SINA’s slogan was, “A nude horse is a rude horse.”

Proving that no prank can go too far, Alan once even faked his own death, leading to a January 2, 1980, obituary in The New York Times. Two days later, for the first time in their history, the newspaper of record ran a retraction of an obituary explaining, “An obituary in The New York Times on Wednesday reported incorrectly that Alan Abel was dead. Mr. Abel held a news conference yesterday…”

The audio for this story includes archival recordings of live radio appearances Jeanne made during the 1964 and 1968 presidential campaigns when Yetta ran a second time for president. In between her runs at the White House, Yetta also ran for mayor of New York City, a seat in Britain’s parliament, and wrote a book, The President I Almost Was by Yetta Bronstein. Years later, their daughter, Jenny Abel, produced and directed a film about her father titled “Able Raises Cain.”

Asked if they’d consider running Yetta against the current field of presidential hopefuls, Jeanne responded, “The comedy is already happening.”

Jeanne and Alan sat down for StoryCorps in their rural Connecticut home. Surrounded by countless boxes filled with documentation of their life’s work, they tell the true story behind their fake candidate.

Click here for more information on the Abel’s hoaxes.

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: Sharon Long and Steve Sutter

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:20

Enrolling in college at 40 to study art, Sharon Long had no idea an anthropology class would put her on a path to a career as a forensic artist.

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Throughout the 1970s, Sharon Long, a single mother raising two kids on her own, worked four and five jobs a day, seven days a week. She hated all the work and was worn out.

When she went to enroll her older daughter in college, she mentioned to a financial aid officer that she wished she could enroll as well, but that she was probably too old. The woman convinced her that it wasn’t too late, and then helped her fill out the paperwork. At 40 years old, Sharon entered the University of Wyoming and began taking classes toward a degree in art.

In order to graduate, Sharon was required to take a course in science, a subject she believed she was not particularly good at. But with guidance from an adviser, she signed up for a physical anthropology class, and started on a path that led her to find her calling as a forensic artist—using her skills as a sculptor to recreate human faces from skulls.

Over the course of her career, Sharon has worked for museums—she once constructed a face from a skull that was more than 9,000 years old, and for numerous law enforcement agencies, using found skulls to help put a face to unidentified remains. She has also made busts for the National Geographic Society and the Smithsonian, and her work has been featured on the History channel and the television show America’s Most Wanted.

Now 75, Sharon retired about four years ago, but hasn’t been able to bring herself to completely stop working. She focuses her energy now on the protection of archaeological sites through her work at the Wyoming State Historic Preservation Office.

Sharon came to StoryCorps with her friend and colleague Steven Sutter (pictured together above) to talk about her passion for forensic art.

Sharon’s story is one of 53 work stories featured in our new book, Callings: The Purpose and Passion of Work. Click here to order Callings today.

StoryCorps: Carolyn Shoemaker and Phred Salazar

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:16

Astronomer Carolyn Shoemaker remembers her late husband, renowned astrogeologist Gene Shoemaker, whose ashes are buried on the Moon.

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In her early 50s, Carolyn Shoemaker began a career in astronomy. While she had no formal training, she did have the support and encouragement of her husband, Eugene “Gene” Shoemaker. Gene was a renowned astrogeologist and one of the founders of the field of planetary science, which studies the geology of planets, asteroids, and other celestial bodies in our solar system.
 
Together they worked side-by-side for 17 years, taking pictures of the night sky in search of comets and asteroids, and in 1993, along with astronomer David Levy, they made their most significant discovery—Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9. In 1994, Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9, which had broken apart, slammed into Jupiter offering astronomers around the world their first opportunity to see the effects of two solar system bodies colliding.
 
In total, over the course of her career, Carolyn is credited with discovering more than 800 asteroids and 32 comets.
 
In 1997, while on an annual field trip to Australia, the car Carolyn and Gene were in was in a head-on collision with another vehicle. Gene died from the accident, and while Carolyn was still in the hospital recovering from her injuries, one of his former students, Dr. Carolyn Porco, contacted her to see what she thought of having Gene’s ashes put on the Moon. Carolyn enthusiastically agreed to the idea and with the help of people Dr. Porco knew at NASA, arrangements were made for his cremated remains to go into space as part of the Lunar Prospector mission in January 1998.
To this day, Gene is the only person whose ashes have been placed on the Moon.
 
Carolyn continued her work as an astronomer following Gene’s death and has been awarded an honorary doctorate from Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, and received both the Rittenhouse Medal for outstanding achievement in astronomy, and the NASA Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal.
 
At StoryCorps, she talked with her son-in-law, Phred Salazar, about working closely with her husband and her decision to make the Moon his final resting place.

Originally aired July 8, 2016 on NPR’s Morning Edition. 

StoryCorps: Frank Mutz and Phil Mutz

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 04:18

A father and son talk about working together in an air conditioner repair business that has been in their family for more than half a century.

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We’re almost three-quarters of the way through what scientists are predicting will be the hottest year on record, so it’s a good time to take a moment to remember those who help keep us cool—air conditioner repair people.

During the 1950s, as AC units were becoming more common sights in U.S. homes, brothers Frank and Harold Mutz were operating a business installing and repairing units. In the 1970s, Frank’s son Thomas took over the business and soon after, Thomas’s son, Frank II, moved to Atlanta and took up the profession as well.

Frank only intended to remain in Atlanta a short time, but working with his father, he found that he had a knack for cooling and heating and ended up staying.

Over the years, their company, Moncrief Heating & Air Conditioning, has grown, and today two of Frank’s three children—Tom and Phil—and his son-in-law, Matt, work alongside him.

Frank and Phil came to StoryCorps in Atlanta to talk about their work; from fixing broken units at churches without AC during Sunday morning sermons, to dealing with cranky customers who need to be turned from unhappy to happy.

Originally aired August 26, 2016 on NPR’s Morning Edition.

StoryCorps OutLoud: Drew Cortez and Danny Cortez

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:35

Pastor Danny Cortez and his son, Drew, recall the sermon Danny gave to his church congregation after Drew told his father that he was gay.

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Danny Cortez was the founder and pastor of the New Heart Community Southern Baptist Church in La Mirada, California, in 2014 when his 16-year-old son, Drew, told him that he was gay. Up until that time, Danny’s church would either recommend celibacy or reparative therapy--a widely discredited form of treatment that identifies homosexuality as a mental disorder with the goal of converting people to heterosexuality--to congregants who identified themselves as gay or lesbian.

Even before Drew’s coming out, Danny had slowly begun to reevaluate his views on homosexuality and whether he was doing more harm than good. When his neighbor invited him to visit the HIV clinic where he worked, Danny was introduced to a community of people he had not previously known much about. This began, for him, a gradual change of heart.

Years later, as he was driving Drew to school, “Same Love” by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis came on the radio. Danny liked it a lot but didn’t understand that it was a celebration of LGBT love. Drew, encouraged by his father’s affection for the song, then revealed to him that he was gay.

Realizing that they could no longer keep this secret from those they love, Drew posted a video online, and a week later, Danny delivered a sermon to his congregation about his changing views on homosexuality. As a result of the sermon, the Southern Baptist Convention cut ties with Danny’s church and his congregation split leading he and other members to form a separate LGBT inclusive, non-denominational church.

Danny and Drew came to StoryCorps to remember the sermon that changed their lives.

Originally aired on August 28, 2016 on NPR’s Weekend 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: Idella Hansen and Sandi Talbott

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:07

Two big rig truckers with more than 9 million miles in the driver’s seat between them discuss friendship, adventures, and why they’ll never retire.

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Idella Hansen started driving big rig trucks in 1968 when she was just 18 years old. At the time, she was pregnant and hungry for independence so she filled a tanker with gasoline, took to the road, and to this day has not looked back. Now 66 years old, Idella has been driving for more than four decades, and her best friend is fellow trucker Sandi Talbott.

Sandi, 75, began driving alongside her husband, Jim, in 1979. They drove as partners for years until Jim’s health began to decline and Sandi took over most of the driving. After Jim’s death in 2000, Sandi continued on the road without him, and has now been behind the wheel for over three decades.

Together, Idella (top left) and Sandi (top right) have driven over 9 million miles hauling everything from missiles to tadpoles. At StoryCorps they discuss their friendship, their adventures, and why they’ll never retire.

Originally aired September 23, 2016 on NPR’s Morning Edition.

StoryCorps: Julie Taylor and Fred Taylor

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

Fred Taylor talks to his wife Julie about his 15 years writing letters to frustrated airplane passengers as Southwest Airlines’ apologizer-in-chief.

Taylornpr2_small Fred Taylor was the Senior Manager of Proactive Customer Communications for Southwest Airlines -- his job was to communicate with angry customers facing an array of travel issues. At StoryCorps, Fred recalls in conversation with his wife, Julie, some extraordinary cases in which he stepped in as "The Sorry Man."

StoryCorps: John Marboe and Charlie Marboe

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:35

John Marboe, aka Reverend Doctor Garbage Man, tells his 13-year-old daughter, Charlie, about his work as a pastor and a trash hauler.

Marboenpr_small John Marboe, aka Reverend Doctor Garbage Man, tells his 13-year-old daughter, Charlie, about his work as a pastor and a trash hauler.

StoryCorps: Father Noel Hickie and Marcia Hilton

From StoryCorps | 02:07

Father Noel Hickie was working as a hospital chaplain when he met Marcia Hilton, a bereavement counselor, at a hospital in Eugene, Oregon. For 25 years, they often worked together on the hospice team, helping patients and their families through illness and death.

But when they first started, neither was sure if they were cut out for the work.

Marcia retired in 2013, Father Noel in 2015.

Hickiesquare_small Father Noel Hickie was working as a hospital chaplain when he met Marcia Hilton, a bereavement counselor, at a hospital in Eugene, Oregon. For 25 years, they often worked together on the hospice team, helping patients and their families through illness and death. But when they first started, neither was sure if they were cut out for the work. Marcia retired in 2013, Father Noel in 2015.

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: Carla Saunders and Kyle Cook

From StoryCorps | 05:03

Kyle Cook and Carla Saunders are neonatal nurse practitioners at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital in Knoxville.

They’ve spent decades caring for infants, but when the opioid crisis began to hit in 2010, their jobs changed in ways they never anticipated.

Tennessee has seen a sharp increase in babies born with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS), a condition marked by tremors and constant shaking in babies who experience withdrawal. In fact, over the past decade, the incidence of babies born with NAS in the state has risen nearly ten-fold.

Kyle and Carla came to StoryCorps to remember when they began to notice how this affected their patients firsthand.

Over the past several years, Kyle and Carla helped establish one of the first treatment protocols for babies exposed to opioids, as well as a program connecting mothers with treatment and therapy.

Cooksquare-2_small Kyle Cook and Carla Saunders are neonatal nurse practitioners at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital in Knoxville. They’ve spent decades caring for infants, but when the opioid crisis began to hit in 2010, their jobs changed in ways they never anticipated. Tennessee has seen a sharp increase in babies born with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS), a condition marked by tremors and constant shaking in babies who experience withdrawal. In fact, over the past decade, the incidence of babies born with NAS in the state has risen nearly ten-fold. Kyle and Carla came to StoryCorps to remember when they began to notice how this affected their patients firsthand. Over the past several years, Kyle and Carla helped establish one of the first treatment protocols for babies exposed to opioids, as well as a program connecting mothers with treatment and therapy.

StoryCorps: Russell Lehmann and David Apkarian

From StoryCorps | 02:37

Air travel can be a stressful experience for just about anyone. But for 26-year-old Russell Lehmann, a flight delay or cancellation isn’t just a small inconvenience. He was diagnosed with autism at age 12, and unexpected changes can cause him to have a meltdown — when sensory overload causes him to lose control and break down crying.

That’s what happened when he tried to catch a flight from Reno, Nevada to Cincinnati. At StoryCorps, Russell sat down with David Apkarian, an airline employee, to remember that difficult day.

Russell is a poet and advocate for autism awareness who regularly speaks about his experiences on the autism spectrum. Learn more about him and his work here.

Lehmannsquare_small Air travel can be a stressful experience for just about anyone. But for 26-year-old Russell Lehmann, a flight delay or cancellation isn’t just a small inconvenience. He was diagnosed with autism at age 12, and unexpected changes can cause him to have a meltdown — when sensory overload causes him to lose control and break down crying. That’s what happened when he tried to catch a flight from Reno, Nevada to Cincinnati. At StoryCorps, Russell sat down with David Apkarian, an airline employee, to remember that difficult day. Russell is a poet and advocate for autism awareness who regularly speaks about his experiences on the autism spectrum. Learn more about him and his work here.

StoryCorps: Ronald Clark and Jamilah Clark

From StoryCorps | 02:11

During the 1940s, custodians who worked for the New York Public Library often lived inside the buildings they tended. In exchange for cleaning and keeping the building secure at night, the library provided an apartment for the custodian and their families.

Ronald Clark’s father, Raymond, was one of those custodians. For three decades he lived with his family on the top floor of the Washington Heights branch on St. Nicholas Avenue in upper Manhattan. Three generations of the Clark family resided in that library until Ronald’s father retired in the late 1970s.

After college, Ronald got a position as a professor teaching history at Cape Cod Community College.

At StoryCorps, Ronald told his daughter, Jamilah Clark, how living inside the library shaped the man he would become.

Clarksquare_small During the 1940s, custodians who worked for the New York Public Library often lived inside the buildings they tended. In exchange for cleaning and keeping the building secure at night, the library provided an apartment for the custodian and their families. Ronald Clark’s father, Raymond, was one of those custodians. For three decades he lived with his family on the top floor of the Washington Heights branch on St. Nicholas Avenue in upper Manhattan. Three generations of the Clark family resided in that library until Ronald’s father retired in the late 1970s. After college, Ronald got a position as a professor teaching history at Cape Cod Community College. At StoryCorps, Ronald told his daughter, Jamilah Clark, how living inside the library shaped the man he would become.

StoryCorps: Lynne and Greg Houston

From StoryCorps | 02:53

Many StoryCorps conversations touch on love, work, and death. But when Lynne Houston and her husband, Greg, sat down for their interview, they covered all of that and more just by talking about their first date.

They met 25 years ago in Buffalo, New York. Lynne worked at a restaurant across the street from the funeral home where Greg was a mortician.

Greg charmed Lynne, despite his work bleeding into their romance. When Greg picked her up for dates, he would sometimes be accompanied by an occasional corpse from the hospital. After six months, the couple took a romantic weekend away and drove through upstate New York — in his hearse.

Lynne and Greg eventually married on All Souls Day and now live in McLeansville, North Carolina, where they recorded with StoryCorps.

Houstonsquare_small Many StoryCorps conversations touch on love, work, and death. But when Lynne Houston and her husband, Greg, sat down for their interview, they covered all of that and more just by talking about their first date. They met 25 years ago in Buffalo, New York. Lynne worked at a restaurant across the street from the funeral home where Greg was a mortician. Greg charmed Lynne, despite his work bleeding into their romance. When Greg picked her up for dates, he would sometimes be accompanied by an occasional corpse from the hospital. After six months, the couple took a romantic weekend away and drove through upstate New York — in his hearse. Lynne and Greg eventually married on All Souls Day and now live in McLeansville, North Carolina, where they recorded with StoryCorps.

StoryCorps: Kristin Glasgow and Karen Offutt

From StoryCorps | 04:23

In the late 1960s, Karen Offutt was a patriotic teenager who got chills whenever she heard the “Star-Spangled Banner.” At 18, she dropped out of nursing school to enlist in the U.S. Army and was deployed to Vietnam.
As a stenographer, Karen was given top secret “eyes only” clearance working for high-ranking generals. Her duties included everything from typing and transcribing to serving tea.

At StoryCorps, Karen spoke with her daughter Kristin about her time at war.

Offuttsquare_small In the late 1960s, Karen Offutt was a patriotic teenager who got chills whenever she heard the “Star-Spangled Banner.” At 18, she dropped out of nursing school to enlist in the U.S. Army and was deployed to Vietnam. As a stenographer, Karen was given top secret “eyes only” clearance working for high-ranking generals. Her duties included everything from typing and transcribing to serving tea. At StoryCorps, Karen spoke with her daughter Kristin about her time at war.