Legacy – StoryCorps
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The Unedited StoryCorps Interview: Julie Stolzberg and Abigail Pogrebin

“I know that you can go through great sadness and still be a very happy person.”

While many StoryCorps listeners are familiar with the audio pieces we share on NPR’s Morning Edition and our podcast, StoryCorps interviews are really much longer conversations. For 40 minutes, participants are invited to sit down and have a meaningful conversation with someone they know and care about. These interviews can take place in one of our Storybooths or in another private space with a trained StoryCorps facilitator present.

Currently our archives house over 65,000 of these conversations, and because they are fascinating complete looks into people’s lives, and offer insight into the mechanics of a StoryCorps interview, we have started to bring these to you unedited.


lsk001520_g2In this conversation, Julie Stolzberg, 43, is interviewed by her friend Abigail Pogrebin (pictured together at left with Julie’s husband Craig). Abigail asks Julie about her family memories, her love of teaching, and the birth of her children.

Julie and Abigail recorded their interview in February 2016 in New York City. The interview was part of a collaboration between Mount Sinai Hospital and StoryCorps’ Legacy Program, which provides people of all ages with serious illness and their families the opportunity to record, preserve, and share their stories through partnerships with healthcare organizations across the country.

Julie, a teacher and mother of two, passed away in March, shortly after this conversation was recorded. More than 900 people attended her memorial service.

In her interview, Julie reflects on being the daughter of Japanese-American parents and describes her parents’ childhood experiences being interned during WWII. Julie’s father was taken to a camp in California as a young boy. “He was a great eater but the only food that he would not eat as an adult was okra because it was a food that he associated with being in the camps.” Julie says, “to this day I’ve never tried okra out of respect…to stand in solidarity.”

Julie also talks about losing her mother to Multiple Sclerosis at the age of 14. She remembers how her father kept her mother’s memory alive for the family. “I felt like that was giving us permission to see her as a real person, that we could talk about her and that she could be with us, even if she couldn’t be with us physically.”

Click here to download a PDF transcript of this interview.

Julie worked for many years as a school teacher in Newton, Massachusetts, and in New York City. She remembers meeting her husband Craig, a PE teacher, on her first day of work at The Dalton School. Julie reflects on falling in love with Craig and starting a family with him. “There’s never been a day that I’ve felt he didn’t love me more than the day before. I want [my kids] to know that marrying their father was the best thing I ever did. I feel very confident that he will keep me alive in the same way my dad kept my mom alive. I take great comfort in that. I know that you can go through great sadness and still be a very happy person.”

Click here for more information about Legacy.

Disclaimer: All material within the StoryCorps collection is copyrighted by StoryCorps. StoryCorps encourages use of material on this site by educators and students without prior permission, provided appropriate credit is given. This interview has not been fact-checked, and may contain sensitive personal information about living persons.
Above (clockwise from top left): Julie, Craig, Tai, and Emi photo courtesy of Craig Stolzberg.

The Unedited StoryCorps Interview: Phil Avillo and Susan Scherr

“I wasn’t injured, I was wounded. Big difference. Your mother used to say, ‘Before his accident’ meaning, like, getting shot, I would say, “Linda, it wasn’t an accident, somebody was trying to kill me.”

Phil-Avillo-July-1965-Qui-Nhon,-Vietnam-512x348While you are used to hearing the audio pieces we share on NPR’s Morning Edition and our podcast, StoryCorps interviews are really much longer conversations—about 40 minutes—that take place between two people in a booth or other private space with a trained StoryCorps facilitator present.

Currently our archives house over 65,000 of these conversations, and because they are fascinating complete looks into people’s lives, and offer insight into the mechanics of a StoryCorps interview, we have started to bring these to you unedited.

This discussion, between Phil Avillo, 73, and his daughter, Susan Scherr, 36, was recorded in York, Pennsylvania, in November 2015, and covers two StoryCorps programs: the Military Voices Initiative (MVI) and Legacy. MVI provides a platform for veterans, service members, and military families to share their stories in order to honor their voices and amplify their experiences, while Legacy provides people of all ages with serious illness and their families the opportunity to record, preserve, and share their stories through partnerships with organizations across the country.

You may notice that Phil and Susan are pictured below not in a StoryCorps booth or medical facility, but in his home. The unique Legacy “train the trainer” model allows partner organizations like Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center (who have recorded over 30 interviews with StoryCorps), to train their own facilitators who then record interviews with participants in a variety of locations.

lsk001470_g1Phil, a former Marine who fought in the Vietnam War (pictured above in 1965), was recently diagnosed with ALS (also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease).

Phil talks with Susan about how his recent diagnosis has affected his life, and sheds light on his approach to living with a disease with no known cause, cure, or long-term treatment. “It’s not like I’m 25, you know. I think this disease is—as insidious as it is—is cruelest, and think all diseases are cruelest, when they hit younger people. If I were forty and you kids were young and this was happening to me, I would be beside myself.”

He also reflects on his service during the Vietnam War where he lost his left leg in combat on December 7, 1965—making him, as he puts it, a Pearl Harbor Day survivor of sorts—and telling Susan that the amputation infused him with a confidence he never before had leading his life to take on a feeling of urgency.

Phil also discusses the loss of his mother at a young age, meeting and marrying his wife, and the full life he now enjoys despite the challenges he confronts daily.

Click here to listen to the interview.

Click here to download a PDF transcript of this interview.

Click here for more information about Legacy.

Click here for more information about the Military Voices Initiative.

Disclaimer: All material within the StoryCorps collection is copyrighted by StoryCorps. StoryCorps encourages use of material on this site by educators and students without prior permission, provided appropriate credit is given. This interview has not been fact-checked, and may contain sensitive personal information about living persons.

StoryCorps Legacy: Helen Ann McNulty

“In your high school yearbook, under your name, it says, ‘Goes for square-dancing in a big way.'”

Helen Ann McNulty (above right) sat down with her daughter, Janice McNulty, to record this Legacy interview in partnership with Forbes Hospice, located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Listen to an excerpt from Helen’s interview:

Click here to read a transcript of the conversation.

Recorded in December 2014, they speak about Helen’s big family and about an outside brick oven that Helen’s father used to bake bread. Janice also hears about when her father first set his sights on Helen at a square dance, “Dad had seen you, and there’s all your sisters, and he said he wanted the one with the red hair.”

Helen talks about her life as a farmer, describing it as tough, but good living, “Important thing was to get your kids educated, so that they could have a better life than what we did.” The conversation ended with the mother and daughter wishing the sun would come out and sharing their love for one another, “I hope God let’s us be together for a long time.”

Click here to learn more about Forbes Hospice.

Click here to learn more about StoryCorps Legacy.

Disclaimer: All material within the StoryCorps collection is copyrighted by StoryCorps. StoryCorps encourages use of material on this site by educators and students without prior permission, provided appropriate credit is given. This interview has not been fact-checked, and may contain sensitive personal information about living persons.

StoryCorps Legacy: Peter Byrd

“A lot of people don’t get a chance. I’ve had a million chances.”

Peter Byrd sat down with Lisa Roland to record this Legacy interview in partnership with Grady Health Ponce De Leon Center in Atlanta, Georgia.

Listen to an excerpt from Peter and Lisa’s conversation:

Click here to download a PDF transcript of this clip.

Recorded in June 2014, Peter talks about his father who was a football coach for an undefeated team, “He was very big and very bold and very smart and very masculine. But if he would drive home and I’d be on the porch combing barbie doll’s hair, he never said a word. He never skipped a beat.”

He also recalls the moment he realized he was gay and how he thought it would change the way he was treated by others, “If you’re like that, the teacher’s won’t protect you. If you’re like that, the ministers don’t like you. It was just the beginning of trying not to be something that got your behind kicked all the time.”

Peter then remembers visiting a psychic three months after he was diagnosed with HIV and the advice he received, “She told me, ‘Stop worrying. This is not the end. This is the beginning for you.’”

At the end of the excerpt, Peter reflects on how grateful he is for the people in his life and for all the chances he’s been given, “I really want to honor all that has been given to me by how I treat people, how I embrace the world, how I keep myself safe, how I feel loved, how I give love.”

Click here to learn more about Grady Ponce de Leon Center.

Click here to learn more about StoryCorps Legacy.

Disclaimer: All material within the StoryCorps collection is copyrighted by StoryCorps. StoryCorps encourages use of material on this site by educators and students without prior permission, provided appropriate credit is given. This interview has not been fact-checked, and may contain sensitive personal information about living persons.

StoryCorps Legacy: John Carlson

“I think one of the happiest moments is truly when I got my Star Scout.”

John Carlson recorded this Legacy interview with his mother, Patricia Carlson, in partnership with Connecticut Children’s Medical Center in Hartford, Connecticut. In this clip, John talks about his involvement in Boy Scouts and what he is most proud of.

Listen to an excerpt from John’s interview:

Click here to download a PDF transcript of this conversation.

lsk000730_sta1Recorded in January 2014, John discusses the support he received from his Boy Scout troop during his medical treatments, “They don’t do anything if I’m not able to do it. They want me to be able to do everything they are able to do. And it really means a lot.”

He also speaks about becoming friends with Dr. Christopher Carroll, a physician at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, and getting to know Dr. Carroll’s children. John recalls how playing video games with Dr. Carroll’s son before his cancer treatments has helped him feel okay, “That’s one of the things I’m able to look forward to and make it possible for me to do this.”

At the end of the clip, John talks about how Dr. Carroll is also a Scoutmaster in the same council as John, and that one of his happiest moments since his diagnosis was when Dr. Carroll presented him with the Star Scout rank, “I was able to go to my troop meeting and have it presented to me. And I don’t remember a time since I got diagnosed that I was so happy. I plan on becoming an Eagle Scout and choosing Dr. Carroll as the person to present me with my Eagle Scout badge in my ceremony.”

Click here to learn more about Connecticut Children’s Medical Center.

Click here to learn more about StoryCorps Legacy.

Disclaimer: All material within the StoryCorps collection is copyrighted by StoryCorps. StoryCorps encourages use of material on this site by educators and students without prior permission, provided appropriate credit is given. This interview has not been fact-checked, and may contain sensitive personal information about living persons.

StoryCorps Legacy: Resurreccion “Sony” Florendo

“Enjoy art, because enjoying art is a part of healing.”

Resurreccion “Sony” Florendo sat down with her husband, Gerardo Florendo, and their son, Luis Florendo, to record this Legacy interview in partnership with Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center in Baltimore, Maryland.

Listen to an excerpt from Resurreccion’s conversation:

Click here to download a PDF transcript of the conversation.

lsk001502_sta4Recorded in December 2015, Resurreccion talks about discovering her love for painting after curating an art exhibit of Philippine masters. At the exhibit, Resurreccion’s friend saw potential in her as an artist and offered to teach her to paint, “I had never painted in my life, but after two lessons, I picked it up and started painting.” Resurreccion was 77 years old at the time, and in the year since she began painting, she has completed over 70 pieces, noting, “I caught up with my age.”

At the end of the excerpt, Resurreccion discusses how breast cancer has kept her from painting but has not affected her creativity, “Sometimes lying down in this hospital bed, I feel like I’m painting the ceiling. I want to paint the ceiling.”

Click here to learn more about Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center.

Click here to learn more about StoryCorps Legacy.

Disclaimer: All material within the StoryCorps collection is copyrighted by StoryCorps. StoryCorps encourages use of material on this site by educators and students without prior permission, provided appropriate credit is given. This interview has not been fact-checked, and may contain sensitive personal information about living persons.

StoryCorps Legacy: Maria Rivas

“I miss her waving goodbye.”

Maria Rivas (above right) sat down with Caroline Dezan (above left), a social worker at Hinds Hospice, to record this Legacy interview about caring for her mother, Julia Medina, during the last six years of Julia’s life.

Listen to an excerpt of Maria and Caroline’s conversation:

Click here to download a PDF transcript of this conversation.

Maria Rivas_lsk000767_x1Recorded in April 2014, Maria recalls Julia’s strength and remembers a time she got in trouble in junior high school for chewing gum, and how her mother dealt with the vice principal, “The guy put his fingers in his ears ‘cause he didn’t want to listen to my mom. And my mom just reached across that desk, I remember, and she pulled his hands out and she goes, ‘You’re gonna listen to me.'”

Maria also talked about the rewards of caring for her mother later in life, “As she got older, you know, she couldn’t move her body as much. So after I’d bathe her, I put the lotion on her and she would tell me, ‘Oh, that feels so good…it’s good.’”

Remembering the things she misses most about her mom, Maria discussed seeing Julia wave goodbye from their porch when she would leave. Before Julia died, Maria was able to capture a photograph of that moment and she brought the picture with her to her StoryCorps Legacy interview, “I’m so, so happy I took this picture, ‘cause before I leave for class, or before I go to work, I always open the door back up and I go, ‘Bye, Mom!’”

Click here to listen to more stories from Hinds Hospice.

Click here to learn more about StoryCorps Legacy.

Disclaimer: All material within the StoryCorps collection is copyrighted by StoryCorps. StoryCorps encourages use of material on this site by educators and students without prior permission, provided appropriate credit is given. This interview has not been fact-checked, and may contain sensitive personal information about living persons.