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Playlist: Family

Compiled By: StoryCorps

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StoryCorps: Lucille Horn and Barbara Horn

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

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

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

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

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

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

StoryCorps MVI: Anny Pena and Jonny Pena

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

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

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

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

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

 

StoryCorps: Yvette Benavidez Garcia and Rene Garcia

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:18

Yvette Benavidez Garcia and her husband, Rene, remember her father, Army Master Sgt. Roy P. Benavidez, a Medal of Honor recipient.

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In 1981 Army Master Sergeant Roy P. Benavidez, a Green Beret, received the Medal of Honor for his service during the Vietnam War.

On his first tour there, he was severely injured by a land mine and told that he’d never walk again. After a year of rehabilitation, he walked out of the hospital and eventually returned to Vietnam for a second tour.

That’s when he spearheaded a daring rescue, saving the lives of eight fellow soldiers. In the process his jaw was broken and he was shot 37 times.

At StoryCorps, his daughter Yvette Benavidez Garcia and her husband, Rene, remember the aftermath of the battle.

StoryCorps: Monica Harwell and Andrea Cleveland

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

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

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

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

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

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

StoryCorps: 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: 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 MVI: Donna Orolin

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

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

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

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

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

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

StoryCorps Historias: Noramay Cadena and Chassitty Saldana

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

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

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

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

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

StoryCorps: Andy Downs and Angelia Sheer

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

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

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

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

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

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

StoryCorps: Marilyn Hillerman and Andrea Crook

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

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

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

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

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

StoryCorps: 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: Barry Romo

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

Veteran Barry Romo and his nephew Bobby Romo were born a month apart and grew up together. They both went to Vietnam, only one came home.

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Barry Romo grew up in a tight-knit family in Southern California in the 1950s. The youngest of his siblings, he spent his childhood surrounded by a niece and nephews of a similar age.

Barry was particularly close with one of his nephews, Robert, known to everyone as Bobby. Bobby was just a month younger than Barry and Barry considered Bobby to be another brother.

During the Vietnam War, Barry enlisted in the Army and Bobby was drafted. Only one of them came home. Private First Class Robert Romo was killed in action in 1968. First Lieutenant Barry Romo was chosen to escort his body home.

Barry came to StoryCorps to remember his nephew.

StoryCorps: Teresa Valko

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

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

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

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

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

StoryCorps: 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 OutLoud: Claudia Anton and Diana Keough

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

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

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

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

Roger died in 1990 and Christine died in 1994.

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

StoryCorps: Paul Nilsen and Tom Graziano

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

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

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

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

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

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

StoryCorps: Chloe Longfellow

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:22

Chloe Longfellow came to StoryCorps to remember some of the life lessons she learned as a kid, while spending time in her grandmother’s kitchen.

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With her mother away, Chloe spent a great deal of time at her grandparents’ home becoming especially close with her grandmother, Doris Louise Rolison.

Despite living in the Arizona desert, Doris, who died in May, 1988, at the age of 67, maintained a lush garden of herbs and vegetables. Chloe would help harvest the food to make dishes from recipes found in one of her grandmother’s treasured cookbooks.

At StoryCorps, Chloe remembers the happy memories and life lessons taught to her by her grandmother, many of which took place while cooking in Doris’ kitchen.

StoryCorps SCU: Akiva Johnson and Henry Jimenez

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 01:29

High school juniors Akiva Johnson and Henry Jimenez talk about the friendship they developed while taking part in the StoryCorpsU educational program.

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Henry Jimenez and Akiva Johnson, both 17, are classmates and close friends at the High School for Youth and Community Development in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn. Now juniors, they met freshman year while participating in StoryCorpsU.

StoryCorpsU is an interactive year-long program for high school students that utilizes StoryCorps interviewing techniques, radio broadcasts, and animated shorts to support the development of identity and social intelligence in students. One aim is to help teachers better appreciate and understand students as whole people by encouraging teens to share their experiences outside of the classroom with those in the classroom.

In their StoryCorps conversation, Akiva and Henry discuss the challenges they have had to confront in their daily lives, and how grateful they both are for the support—often unknowingly—they have provided each other, by sharing stories they have never before told.

While they were talking, Akiva revealed that in October 2012, after Hurricane Sandy devastated much of the eastern coast of the United States, he and his mother were displaced from their home. They spent parts of the next three years in homeless shelters across New York City—including last Christmas—something Henry was unaware of.

Henry has also had to overcome difficulties. When he was 13 he left Mexico and came to the United States to live with an aunt, leaving behind his parents and younger brother. The challenges faced by a young boy coming to an unfamiliar country were eased by the support he received from Akiva.

They both expect that their friendship, which was forged in school by having the opportunity to open up and share personal stories, will endure—even after Henry follows his dream and enlists in the Marine Corps.

Click here to learn more about StoryCorpsU.

StoryCorps: Benny Smith and Christine Ristaino

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

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

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

StoryCorps 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: 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 Legacy: Eva Vega-Olds and Leonardo Vega

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

After Leonardo Vega was diagnosed with cancer, his daughter, Eva Vega-Olds, used the StoryCorps app to record her father days before he passed.

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In November 2015, Leonardo Vega was diagnosed with liver and lung cancer.
 
After multiple unsuccessful rounds of chemotherapy, he left the hospital and returned to his New Jersey home to spend his remaining days receiving hospice care while surrounded by his family. His eldest daughter, Eva Vega-Olds, decided to use the StoryCorps app to capture some of her father’s memories and preserve the sound of his voice.
 
During their time together, Leonardo was bedridden and hooked up to an oxygen tank. Finding the strength to answer questions was difficult, so Eva also took the opportunity to tell her father how much he has meant to her.
 
This recording turned out to be the last conversation they ever had together. Leonardo died days later on January 29, 2016, at the age of 73. Soon after, Eva came to StoryCorps to remember a hardworking man with a great sense of humor who loved his family.

StoryCorps: Sean Smith and Lee Smith

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

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

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

StoryCorps: Mary Reed and Emma McMahon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

StoryCorps: Nick Hodges and Charlotte Wheelock

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

StoryCorps OutLoud: Carole Smiley with Seth and Octavius Smiley-Humphries

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 03:23

Seth Smiley and Octavius Humphries had their first date on Christmas Eve. They discuss that and other memorable holiday events they have shared.

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Hoping to meet someone special, in 2010 Seth Smiley decided to give online dating a try. Soon after posting his profile, Octavius Humphries reached out to him and they began an email correspondence.

Despite their age difference—Seth is 19 years older than Octavius—they immediately hit it off, bonding over their shared search for “commitment, consistency, and (a) connection.”

Eventually they met in person, going on their first date on Christmas Eve. Unsure of Octavius’ plans for the holiday, Seth invited him to dinner the next night at his family’s Atlanta home. Octavius, who was still grieving the deaths of his parents, had, unbeknownst to Seth, planned on spending the holiday alone. Instead, he reluctantly accepted Seth’s invitation.

At StoryCorps, Octavius (above left) and Seth (above right), along with Seth’s mother, Carole Smiley, sat down to remember their first Christmas together, as well as a more recent memorable holiday event.

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: Catherine Alaniz-Simonds and David Taylor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Click here to see that image.

StoryCorps: 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: Suzanne Lynch, Patricia Mishler, and Janette Lynch

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

StoryCorps: Chris López and Gabe López

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

Gabe López, assigned female at birth, always felt like he was a boy. He came to StoryCorps with his mom to talk about growing up transgender.

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Chris López always knew there was something different about her youngest child Gabe. Assigned female at birth, Gabe always felt like he was a boy.

Gabe was always more comfortable in clothes traditionally worn by little boys (cargo pants and superhero shirts), but often switched back and forth between those and outfits often worn by little girls. Just after his seventh birthday, he convinced his parents to let him cut off his long hair and get a Mohawk—a haircut he had been wanting for years. This is also about the time that Gabe started dressing only as a boy and answering exclusively to “he” and not “she.”

At first, Chris was concerned that Gabe, being so young, might change his mind. She was scared of how people would treat him as he transitioned. But after seeing how Gabe responded to the changes in his hair and clothing, she felt confident that he had made the right decision.

Last summer, their family attended a camp for transgender, gender creative, and gender non-conforming youth in Tucson, Arizona. There, Gabe met similar kids and made three new best friends—Luke, Cooper, and Brock (who among other things taught Gabe how to pee standing up).

Gabe, who will soon be nine years old, has been attending the same school since kindergarten, and this past August when he started third grade, for the first time, he began having others refer to him by his preferred gender pronouns—”he” and “him.”

Gabe and his mother (pictured in the player above) recently came to the StoryCorps MobileBooth to talk about what it’s been like for him to be transgender, and his fears about the future.

StoryCorps: Francisco and Frankie Preciado

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:06

Frankie Preciado talks with his father, Francisco, a groundskeeper at Stanford University, about the time they shared together on campus.

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When Francisco Preciado was six years old, his family moved from Mexico to the California. They entered the United States through the Bracero program, which, starting in 1942 and lasting more than 20 years, allowed Mexican workers to come to the U.S. to take temporary agricultural jobs.

At the time, Francisco spoke only Spanish, but he quickly learned English with the help of his teachers. This led him to dream of one day becoming a teacher himself, but financial demands and the need to support his family forced him to drop out of school and begin working full-time.

In the early 1980s, he took a job as a groundskeeper at Stanford University and was often accompanied to the college by his young son Frankie. Francisco hoped that one day Frankie would become a student at Stanford, and his dream came true with Frankie graduating from the university in 2007 with degrees in political science and Chicano(a) Studies.

Now 31 years old, Frankie is the executive director of the union that represents Stanford’s service and technical workers, and whose membership also includes his father.

Francisco and Frankie came to StoryCorps to talk about their relationship and their time together at Stanford—one as a maintenance man, the other as a student.

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: Jim Stockdale and Jasey Schnaars

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

StoryCorps: Donna Engeman and Nicole McKenna

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:06

Donna Engeman shares stories about her husband, Army Chief Warrant Officer John Engeman, who was killed 10 years ago while deployed in Iraq.

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In 1981, when she was 20 years old, Donna Engeman enlisted in the United States Army. Prior to joining, Donna had not only never set foot outside of the country, but she had never even left the state of Minnesota.

While stationed in Germany, she met Long Island native John Engeman. Living in the barracks, they had what soldiers often refer to as a “barracks romance”--a fling that does not last long. But Donna and Sergeant Engeman quickly fell in love and in February 1983 they married.

Months after the wedding, Donna, pregnant with their first child, a boy, and believing herself to be a better spouse than soldier, left the Army and returned to the states to raise Patrick.

John remained in the military and in January 2006, as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom, he was deployed to Baghdad. On May 14, 2006, an improvised explosive device detonated near his Humvee during a combat operation killing him and a fellow soldier.

Chief Warrant Officer John W. Engeman is buried in Arlington National Cemetery. Donna and John’s son, Patrick, is currently an Army major who has been deployed overseas four times.

Donna came to StoryCorps with their daughter, Nicole McKenna (pictured together at left), to share stories of John as a young husband and father.

StoryCorps: Jamal Faison and Born Blackwell

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

Jamal Faison talks with his uncle, Born Blackwell, about his release from Rikers Island and the support he received through the challenges of re-entry.

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In February of 2012, Jamal Faison was a 20-year-old college sophomore home on school break in New York City when he, along with two others, were arrested for attempting to steal mobile devices from a subway rider.

Transit police arrested Jamal and he spent the next eight months on Rikers Island--New York City’s massive main jail complex that can house as many as 15,000 people at one time.

While incarcerated, Jamal struggled with the difficult conditions on Rikers and turned to his uncle, Born Blackwell, for support. Throughout his teens, Jamal had been close with Born, and during those eight months, almost weekly, Born made the arduous trip from his home in Brooklyn to visit his nephew. His uncle’s support, telling him to “keep his head” and reminding him, “just because they treat you like an animal doesn’t mean you have to act like one,” soothed Jamal and helped him maintain a sense of worth while knowing that one day he would again be free.

In September 2012, Jamal pleaded guilty to grand larceny and attempted robbery charges and a month later was released from custody. Dropped off in Queens around 2:00 AM, he immediately understood the challenges that would await him outside jail knowing that his conviction would haunt him and his opportunities would be limited.

One year after his re-entry, Jamal became a father and is now raising his son as a single parent, and he hopes to someday return to college and resume his studies. He works at The Osborne Association--a New York-based nonprofit that helps people who have been in conflict with the law change their lives--mentoring youth and helping people who have been incarcerated find employment.

Jamal came to StoryCorps with Born to remember the night he was released from Rikers, and to discuss how their relationship supported Jamal through the conditions of his incarceration.

Originally aired June 3, 2016 on NPR’s Morning Edition.

StoryCorps: Savannah Phelan and Kellie Phelan

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

Savannah Phelan, 8, talks with her mother, Kellie, about how she felt after learning that her mother was in jail on Rikers Island at the time of her birth.

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Last year, Savannah Phelan was on the internet looking up the organization where her mother, Kellie, works as an advocate and mentor when she came across a video of Kellie talking about giving birth to Savannah while she was in jail. Kellie was seven months pregnant in 2007 when she was arrested on a misdemeanor drug possession charge and sent to New York City’s Rikers Island jail complex. Two weeks before her release, Savannah was born in a nearby hospital.

At StoryCorps, Kellie recalled the joy of spending time with Savannah alongside the parents of other newborn babies in the hospital’s nursery, as well as the shame she felt at being shackled and wearing an orange Department of Corrections jumpsuit. Kellie was returned to jail while Savannah remained in the hospital a few additional days. Soon after, they were reunited and spent Kellie’s final weeks in custody together at the Rose M. Singer Center--a women’s jail on Rikers Island also known as “Rosie’s”--that includes a small nursery where mothers can stay with their children until they are up to a year old.

After her release, Kellie and Savannah moved into Hour Children, a Queens-based nonprofit that provides supportive programs and transitional housing for women and mothers that have been incarcerated. Today, she works there as a program coordinator, mentoring youth whose parents are formerly or currently incarcerated, and often speaks openly about her own experiences.

At StoryCorps, Savannah, 8, and Kellie sat down for one of the first times to talk about Savannah’s birth, and how she feels after learning that her mother had been in jail at the time.

Originally aired August 5, 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: Jasmine Pacheco and Carmen Pacheco-Jones

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

StoryCorps: 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 OutLoud: Leslye Huff and Mary Ostendorf

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

When they met in 1983, Leslye was open about her sexuality while Mary kept hers private. With a family Thanksgiving approaching, that all changed.

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Leslye Huff (left) and her partner, Mary Ostendorf (right), met in 1983. Leslye was open about her feelings for Mary and wasn’t shy about publicly showing her affection--even on their first date. Mary felt less comfortable with public displays of affection and had not told many people in her life about her sexuality, including her family.

When Mary introduced Leslye to her mother, Agnes, they did not immediately reveal to her the nature of their relationship, but during that meeting Leslye felt a connection with Agnes. “I liked her. She was short like me, and pretty vivacious. She and I sat and talked and I thought the makings of a pretty good friendship was beginning.”

Later that year, days before they gathered for Thanksgiving, Leslye picked up the phone and told Agnes the truth about her relationship with Mary.

At StoryCorps, Mary and Leslye discuss what happened after the phone call and how their relationship with Agnes changed in the years that followed.

Originally aired November 27, 2016, on NPR’s Weekend Edition.

StoryCorps: Francisco and Kaya Ortega

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:43

A father tells his daughter about growing up in Tijuana, Mexico, after his parents left to find work in the U.S., and the day he was reunited with them.

Ortegafnpr_small When he was a young boy, Francisco Ortega’s parents left him and his siblings in Mexico and moved to the U.S. to find work. He did not reunite with them for three and a half years, joining them in Los Angeles in 1978 when he was 9 years old. At StoryCorps he talks with his daughter Kaya about his time in Tijuana, and the day he left.

StoryCorps: Judy Charest and Harold Hogue

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

A woman speaks with one of the men who saved her life on Christmas Eve 1956, after her mother jumped with her off a bridge and into the river below.

Charestnpr_small On Christmas Eve 1956, Judy Charest’s mother drove with her to a bridge and jumped off into the cold waters of the river below. One of the men who helped rescue them that day was Harold Hogue. At StoryCorps, Judy and Harold discuss their first meeting -- when Judy was 3-months-old-- and their second almost 60 years later.

StoryCorps: Kayla Wilson and Wendy Founds

From StoryCorps | Part of the StoryCorps series | 02:57

A story told in two parts: Kayla Wilson came to StoryCorps in 2006 to talk about her mom’s drug addition and incarceration. Ten years later, she returned with her mother, Wendy Founds.

Wilsonnpr_small Kayla Wilson came to StoryCorps with her grandmother Teri Lyn Coulter-Colclasure in 2006 to talk about the impact of addiction and incarceration on their family. Ten years later, Kayla and her mother, Wendy Founds, released from prison, to talk about her return home.  

StoryCorps: Ellie Dahmer and Bettie Dahmer

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

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

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

StoryCorps: 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: George Rincon and Yolanda Reyes

From StoryCorps | 04:23

At the beginning of the Iraq War, nearly 40,000 members of the United States military were not citizens. Army Private First Class Diego Rincon was one of them. As a child, he had immigrated to the U.S. from Colombia with his family. He he always known he wanted to join the military, and at 19, he enlisted in the Army. Diego was deployed to Iraq in March 2003, at the beginning of the war. Just 11 days in, he was killed by a suicide bomber. Diego received U.S. citizenship on April 10, 2003--the day of his funeral. His parents, George Rincon and Yolanda Reyes, came to StoryCorps to remember him.

Img_1408_small At the beginning of the Iraq War, nearly 40,000 members of the United States military were not citizens. Army Private First Class Diego Rincon was one of them. As a child, he had immigrated to the U.S. from Colombia with his family. He he always known he wanted to join the military, and at 19, he enlisted in the Army. Diego was deployed to Iraq in March 2003, at the beginning of the war. Just 11 days in, he was killed by a suicide bomber. Diego received U.S. citizenship on April 10, 2003--the day of his funeral. His parents, George Rincon and Yolanda Reyes, came to StoryCorps to remember him.

StoryCorps: Anthony "Tony Bees" Planakis

From StoryCorps | 01:56

When bee season in New York City begins in early spring, that means retired police detective (and unofficial NYPD beekeeper) Anthony “Tony Bees” Planakis gets busy tending to his hives and rescuing swarms.

Tony Bees didn’t always love bees. In fact, it took a long time for his beekeeper father to convince him of their beauty. Ultimately, Tony became enamored with honey bees and even has a tattoo dedicated to his affection for them. He says it’s in his blood; he’s a fourth generation beekeeper whose family hails from Crete.

At StoryCorps, Anthony talked about what drew him to working with bees, and what he’s learned from them.

Tony retired from the NYPD in 2014. He now works as a private consultant and contractor removing hives and swarms all over the New York City region.

Planakisdiptych_small When bee season in New York City begins in early spring, that means retired police detective (and unofficial NYPD beekeeper) Anthony “Tony Bees” Planakis gets busy tending to his hives and rescuing swarms. Tony Bees didn’t always love bees. In fact, it took a long time for his beekeeper father to convince him of their beauty. Ultimately, Tony became enamored with honey bees and even has a tattoo dedicated to his affection for them. He says it’s in his blood; he’s a fourth generation beekeeper whose family hails from Crete. At StoryCorps, Anthony talked about what drew him to working with bees, and what he’s learned from them. Tony retired from the NYPD in 2014. He now works as a private consultant and contractor removing hives and swarms all over the New York City region.

StoryCorps: Darrow Brown and Juan Calvo

From StoryCorps | 02:52

Now, a conversation that reminds us how being a father can be about much more than biology.

In 2007, after volunteering to care for infants born to drug-addicted mothers in Baltimore, Juan Calvo knew he wanted to do more. So he and his husband, Darrow Brown, became foster dads. At StoryCorps, they remember the moment they met their first child and talk about the heartbreak and joy of being foster parents.

Two years later, they adopted their, son, Lucas, who is now 7 years old. They continue to open their home to foster children.

Calvonpr_small Now, a conversation that reminds us how being a father can be about much more than biology. In 2007, after volunteering to care for infants born to drug-addicted mothers in Baltimore, Juan Calvo knew he wanted to do more. So he and his husband, Darrow Brown, became foster dads. At StoryCorps, they remember the moment they met their first child and talk about the heartbreak and joy of being foster parents. Two years later, they adopted their, son, Lucas, who is now 7 years old. They continue to open their home to foster children.

StoryCorps: Emily Addison

From StoryCorps | 03:54

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

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

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

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

StoryCorps: Five Mualimm-ak and Omar Mualimmak

From StoryCorps | 02:52

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

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

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

StoryCorps: Tom Sullivan and Terry Sullivan

From StoryCorps | 03:10

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

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

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

StoryCorps: Dawn Sahr and Asma Jama

From StoryCorps | 03:24

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

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

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

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

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

StoryCorps: Sylvia Bullock and Marcus Bullock

From StoryCorps | 02:44

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

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

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

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

StoryCorps: Francine Anderson

From StoryCorps | 02:46

Francine Anderson grew up in rural Virginia during the 1950s. It was the Jim Crow South and “Whites Only” signs punctuated the windows of many businesses. Francine came to StoryCorps to talk about one night when she became aware of what those signs meant for her family.

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

Andersonsquare_small Francine Anderson grew up in rural Virginia during the 1950s. It was the Jim Crow South and “Whites Only” signs punctuated the windows of many businesses. Francine came to StoryCorps to talk about one night when she became aware of what those signs meant for her family. Editor’s note: This story contains a quote where a racial slur is used.

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: Max Hanagarne and Josh Hanagarne

From StoryCorps | 02:51

StoryCorps gives people the chance to talk to each other about the events that have helped shape who they are. Josh Hanagarne did just that with his nine-year-old son in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Josh has an extreme form of Tourette’s syndrome, in which his tics — or involuntary movements and noises — have been so severe, they’ve put him in the hospital. He first started showing symptoms of Tourette’s when he was around the age his son is now.

One thing that helps Josh minimize his tics is when he is talking to someone. At StoryCorps, he sat down for this conversation with his son, Max.

Hanagarnesquare_small StoryCorps gives people the chance to talk to each other about the events that have helped shape who they are. Josh Hanagarne did just that with his nine-year-old son in Salt Lake City, Utah. Josh has an extreme form of Tourette’s syndrome, in which his tics — or involuntary movements and noises — have been so severe, they’ve put him in the hospital. He first started showing symptoms of Tourette’s when he was around the age his son is now. One thing that helps Josh minimize his tics is when he is talking to someone. At StoryCorps, he sat down for this conversation with his son, Max.

StoryCorps: Armeen Hamdani and Talat Hamdani

From StoryCorps | 02:09

On September 11, 2001, Salman Hamdani was a 23-year-old emergency medical technician, NYPD cadet, and aspiring medical student who rushed to the World Trade Center that morning to help.

Like thousands of others, Salman never came home that night. And as his family searched for him in the weeks that followed, he was wrongfully linked as an accomplice in the attacks.

His mother, Talat Hamdani, came to StoryCorps with her niece, Armeen Hamdani, to remember the days after Salman went missing.

In April 2002, a month after his remains were found, Salman was finally given a hero’s burial — with his casket draped in an American flag. Hundreds of people attended his funeral, including then-New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the city’s police commissioner.

Today, there are scholarships in Salman’s name at his alma mater, Queens College, and at Rockefeller University. The street on which he lived in Bayside, Queens, was renamed in his honor.

Hamdanisquare_small On September 11, 2001, Salman Hamdani was a 23-year-old emergency medical technician, NYPD cadet, and aspiring medical student who rushed to the World Trade Center that morning to help. Like thousands of others, Salman never came home that night. And as his family searched for him in the weeks that followed, he was wrongfully linked as an accomplice in the attacks. His mother, Talat Hamdani, came to StoryCorps with her niece, Armeen Hamdani, to remember the days after Salman went missing. In April 2002, a month after his remains were found, Salman was finally given a hero’s burial — with his casket draped in an American flag. Hundreds of people attended his funeral, including then-New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the city’s police commissioner. Today, there are scholarships in Salman’s name at his alma mater, Queens College, and at Rockefeller University. The street on which he lived in Bayside, Queens, was renamed in his honor.

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: Alan Stepakoff and Josh Stepakoff

From StoryCorps | 06:12

On the morning of August 10, 1999, a white supremacist opened fire with a semi-automatic weapon at a Jewish day camp in Los Angeles. Five were wounded, including six-year-old Josh Stepakoff, who was shot in his leg and hip, and one person was killed.

Now an adult, Josh sat down with his father, Alan, to remember that day.

The shooter is serving two consecutive life sentences plus 110 years for multiple convictions. His actions were ruled a federal hate crime.

Stepakoffsquare_small On the morning of August 10, 1999, a white supremacist opened fire with a semi-automatic weapon at a Jewish day camp in Los Angeles. Five were wounded, including six-year-old Josh Stepakoff, who was shot in his leg and hip, and one person was killed. Now an adult, Josh sat down with his father, Alan, to remember that day. The shooter is serving two consecutive life sentences plus 110 years for multiple convictions. His actions were ruled a federal hate crime.