Love Stories – StoryCorps
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“I Thought You Knew:” A Love Story Like No Other

In the mid-90s, Chhaya Chhoum shared some high school classes with Eddie Rivera. Eddie was more interested in sports than school, but the two connected.

Eddie Rivera and Chhaya Chhoum early in their relationship after a 1996 snow storm in New York City. Courtesy of Chhaya Chhoum.

Chhaya grew up the daughter of Cambodian refugees in the Bronx, and Eddie came from a Puerto Rican family in Manhattan. Starting out as just a friend, Eddie won over Chhaya – and her extended family. Chhaya and Eddie came to StoryCorps to reminisce about how they met and some of the unexpected ways their cultural differences shaped their relationship. .  

Top Photo: Chhaya Chhoum and Eddie Rivera at their StoryCorps interview in the Bronx, NY on January 11, 2014. By Jill Glaser for StoryCorps.

This broadcast is supported in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Originally aired March 3, 2023, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

With your support, StoryCorps is able to record more stories that help lift up underrepresented voices, bridge political and social divides, and preserve personal histories for the future.


10 Years After Sandy Hook: Remembering Jesse Lewis

On the morning of December 14, 2012, a gunman killed twenty six people at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Twenty of them were between the ages of 6 and 7.

Six-year-old Jesse Lewis was among those killed.

Jesse Lewis posing for his mom, Scarlett Lewis, on the morning of December 14, 2012. He stands in front of Scarlett’s car, on which he’d written, ‘I love you’ and drawn hearts in the frost. Photo courtesy of Scarlett Lewis.

His mother Scarlett Lewis has spent the subsequent ten years founding and leading the Jesse Lewis Choose Love Movement, dedicated to creating safer and more loving communities.

She and her mother Maureen came to StoryCorps to share their memories of Jesse and the importance of gratitude.

Maureen Lewis (left) and Scarlett Lewis at their StoryCorps interview in Sandy Hook, Connecticut on November 27, 2022. By Halle Hewitt for StoryCorps.


Top Photo: Jesse Lewis posing for his first grade school photo at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Fall, 2012. Photo courtesy of Scarlett Lewis.

Your support makes it possible for StoryCorps, an independently funded nonprofit, to collect, archive, and share the stories of people from all backgrounds because everyone’s stories deserve to be heard.


“It’s hard all the time.”: A Decade of Agony Since Sandy Hook Shooting

On December 14, 2012, a shooter opened fire at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, killing 20 children and six educators. Avielle was one of the children murdered that day. She was six years old at the time.


Jeremy and Jennifer sat down for StoryCorps in 2017 to remember Avielle.

After Avielle’s death, Jeremy and Jennifer had two more children, Imogen and Owen. They also started The Avielle Foundation, a neuroscience non-profit that conducts brain research in order to understand the underpinnings of violence and how to build compassion.

Bottom photo: Jeremy and Jennifer with their daughter, Avielle, at her kindergarten graduation in 2012. Courtesy of Jeremy Richman.

If you or anyone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline for help at 1-800-273-8255.

This broadcast is supported in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people, and the National Endowment for the Arts. 

Originally aired on December 09, 2022 on NPR’s Morning Edition

Your support makes it possible for StoryCorps, an independently funded nonprofit, to collect, archive, and share the stories of people from all backgrounds because everyone’s stories deserve to be heard.


After Facing A Difficult Coming Out, One Couple Changed A Mother’s Heart

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.

Since then, Leslye and Mary moved across the country to Berkeley, California so Leslye could pursue a seminary degree. She recently graduated.

Top Photo: Leslye Huff and Mary Ostendorf.

Originally aired November 27, 2016, on NPR’s Weekend Edition. It was rebroadcast on November 26, 2021 on NPR’s Morning Edition. 

“I Never Let Anything Stop Me”: One Woman Recalls Her Determination To Go To Space

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

She almost got the chance to go in 1961. That year, she was part of a group of female pilots who took part in tests to determine if women were fit for space travel. The project was run by the same doctor who developed tests for NASA astronauts. The women, who became known as the Mercury 13, passed many of the same tests as the men, but never got to go to space. 

More than half a century later, Wally Funk hasn’t given up and at the age of 82, she’ll be joining the crew on the New Shepard rocket, which will be launching on July 20th, 2021. She’s expected to become the oldest person to reach space, beating John Glenn’s record set in 1998.

In 2017, she came to StoryCorps with one of her flight students, Mary Holsenbeck, to talk about her time training to be an astronaut.

Exif_JPEG_PICTUREWally and Mary, circa 1993. Photo courtesy of Mary Holsenbeck.
Top photo:  Wally, circa 1960. Photo courtesy of Wally Funk.

Originally aired August 4, 2017, on NPR’s Morning Edition. It was rebroadcast on July 9th, 2021 on the same program.

A Dad Tells His Daughter About The Risk That Led Him To The Love Of His Life

Eddie Chang had just finished his junior year in college and was spending some time at his friend’s house in Chicago, when he got reacquainted with his friend’s older sister, E.F. Wen.

Two years older than him, E.F. happened to be home for the summer. She was always the well-liked one around the community, and her playful, rebellious energy caught his eye.

What happened that week sparked a romance that would last them four decades — until E.F. died after a battle with colon cancer.

Eddie came to StoryCorps with their youngest daughter Tria to remember how it all started, and recount all that he still loves about his late wife.

Top Photo: Tria Chang and Eddie Chang at their StoryCorps interview in San Francisco on May 6th, 2017. By Yosmay del Mazo for StoryCorps.
Middle Photo: Eddie Chang and E.F. Wen. Circa 1973
Bottom Photo: From left to right: Eddie Chang, E.F. Wen, Vanessa Chang, Tria Chang, & Meesha Chang. 1993 at Smith College.

Originally aired February 14, 2020 on NPR’s Morning Edition. 

New Year’s Eve With Spencer The Possum

’Tis the podcast season for difficult conversations, but on this New Year’s Eve episode, we’re bringing you something a little different; just one story that we couldn’t resist sharing.

Many people will be watching the ball drop in Times Square, but you’re probably unaware that the “real” action will be happening in Tallapoosa, Georgia. That’s where Bud and Jackie Jones, career taxidermists, live. They helped establish a completely different kind of New Year’s Eve tradition in their small town.

Bud and Jackie came to StoryCorps in 2018 to share the love story that helped launch it all.

Since the Tallapoosa Possum Drop began in the late 1990s, the event has grown from about 40 people to over 7,000 in attendance. That’s more than twice the population of Tallapoosa itself.

Top photo: Artwork by Lindsay Mound.
Middle photo: Bud and Jackie Jones in 2018 at their StoryCorps interview in Tallapoosa, Georgia. Photo by Brenda Norbeck-Ford for StoryCorps.
Bottom photo: Bud and Jackie Jones pose near “Spencer” at the Possum Drop in Tallapoosa, GA in 2014. Courtesy Bud Jones.

Released on December 31, 2019.

Like the music in this episode? Support the artists:
“Heat and Memory” by Jarrett Floyd
“Towboat Theme” by Blue Dot Sessions from the album Towboat

Swept Away: Falling for the Man with 600 Vacuums

We love a good love story here at StoryCorps. But this one? It sucks … just not in the way you might think. 

Tom Gasko has been a vacuum repairman for over 35 years. He also collects vacuums hundreds and hundreds of them and proudly displays them in his very own vacuum cleaner museum in a Rolla, Missouri strip mall. 

He came to StoryCorps to share his love for the machines with his husband, Donnie Pedrola. 


Top photo: Donnie Pedrola and Tom Gasko at their StoryCorps interview in Rolla, MI on June 26, 2019. By Dupe Oyebolu for StoryCorps.
Bottom photo: In 2001, Tom got a tattoo of the logo of his favorite vacuum cleaner, The Airway from 1935. This is the same machine he hopes to spend eternity in. Courtesy Tom Gasko.

Originally aired September 6, 2019 on NPR’s Morning Edition. 

“There Was No Hanky Panky”: A Couple Reflects On The Friendship That Led To 70 Years Of Marriage

Julia and Joel Helfman met when they were just kids — at 12 and 13 years old. Their friendship blossomed into a decades-long love story. And together they had five kids of their own, as well as 11 grandchildren and eight great-grandkids.


A few months before their 70th wedding anniversary, Joel and Julia sat down at StoryCorps to remember how it all began.


Top photo: Julia and Joel Helfman on their wedding day in November 1949. Courtesy of the Helfman family. 
Middle photo: Joel and Julia Helfman (center) with their five kids, c. 1972. Courtesy of the Helfman family. 
Bottom photo: Julia and Joel Helfman at their StoryCorps interview in Philadelphia, PA in 2019. By Eleanor Vassili for StoryCorps.

Originally aired July 26, 2019, on NPR’s Morning Edition. 

A Teenage Romance, Rekindled After Three Decades

It was the spring of 1981 in Louisiana. Liz Barnez was 16 and Lori Daigle was 17. They met while playing on competing high school sports teams. When they joined the all-star softball team that summer, their friendship blossomed into something more.


At StoryCorps in Fort Collins, Colorado, Liz and Lori sat down to reflect on their teenage romance, and how they reunited nearly 30 years later.


They married in 2015 after the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage. That was more than 30 years after their first kiss.

Top photo: Lori Daigle and Liz Barnez at StoryCorps in Fort Collins, Colorado. Photo by Jacqueline Van Meter for StoryCorps.
Middle photo: Liz Barnez and Lori Daigle in the summer of 1981. Photo courtesy of Lori Daigle.
Bottom photo: Robert Herman, Lori Daigle, Liz Barnez, and Haley Daigle, from left to right, at Liz Barnez and Lori Daigle’s wedding in 2015. Photo by Kris Harmon and courtesy of Lori Daigle.

Originally aired March 8, 2019, on NPR’s Morning Edition.