Chicago – StoryCorps

A Special Project To Keep Dad’s Memory Alive

Since he was in high school, Al Plumley could be found under the hood of a car, fixing it himself.

In high school, Al Plumley treasured his blue Mustang. Courtesy of Ashley Cosme.

When he raised his three daughters in Northern Indiana, he spent a lot of time teaching them about his passion for fixing up old cars.

Al Plumley (center) with his wife and daughters in 2021. Courtesy of Ashley Cosme.

Al died in October of 2021. His middle daughter, Ashley Cosme, came to StoryCorps with her husband, Nicholas, to talk about how they are keeping his memory alive.

Top Photo: Ashley and Nicholas Cosme at their StoryCorps interview in Chicago, Illinois on July 27, 2022. Taken 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 Friday, August 5, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

Her Name Bound Her to Her Family – and a Tragic Chapter of Ukraine’s History

Halyna Hrushetsky was born in Soviet Ukraine during World War II, but spent her earliest years in a German labor camp with her family. After the war ended, her parents wanted to avoid being repatriated to the Soviet Union. With the aid of the Red Cross, they moved the family to the French Alps.

Halyna spent much of her youth tending to the family’s French farm. Despite the idyllic setting, she noticed her mother always seemed afraid for her safety. Eventually, her mother told her about the Holodomor: a genocide inflicted through Soviet agricultural policies. Several million Ukrainian men, women and children starved in the famine, including three of Halyna’s sisters.

At StoryCorps, Halyna sat down with her daughter Oryna Hrushetsky-Schiffman to remember the moment she learned more about her Ukrainian roots.

Top Photo: Halyna Hrushetsky and Oryna Hrushetsky-Schiffman at their StoryCorps interview in Chicago Illinois on September 4, 2014. By Andre Perez for StoryCorps.

Originally aired February 25, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

A Mother And Daughter Remember The Power Of Grandma’s Hands

Madzimoyo Owusu grew up on the West Side of Chicago in the 1970s. When she was a young girl, she spent many of her days with her grandmother, who lived in the same three-story apartment building.

Decades later, In 2010, Madzimoyo came to StoryCorps with her daughter, Johannah, to honor the memory of the woman who helped shape her life…

Madzimoyo and her grandmother Elsie’s hands together, 1995 in Birmingham Alabama, courtesy of the Owusu family.
Top Photo: Johannah and Madzimoyo at their StoryCorps Recording on July 10th, 2010, in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Photo by Jorge Rios for StoryCorps.

This interview was recorded in partnership with the Three Rivers Institute of Afrikan Art & Culture.

Originally aired November 19th, 2021 on NPR’s Morning Edition. 

Listen to Madzimoyo’s story on the StoryCorps Podcast.

Chicago Siblings Remember Brother Lost To COVID and the Love He Left Behind

Growing up in the Little Village neighborhood of Chicago, Jorge and Jessica Valdivia looked up to their older brother, Mauricio. To many, he was a larger-than-life personality known to light up the room with his jokes and pranks. To his siblings, he was the rock of the family who always took the time to let them know they were loved.

Jorge remembers one Christmas when his parents couldn’t afford presents and Mauricio surprised him with his first Transformer, which he still has.

In April 2020, Mauricio, 52, died from COVID-19. He left behind his wife, their two sons, and a huge void in the lives of those who loved him most. Jorge and Jessica came to StoryCorps to share their favorite memories of Mauricio and what he meant to them.

Top Photo: The Valdivia siblings, from left to right: Eliseo Jr., Mauricio, Jessica and Jorge. Courtesy of Jorge Valdivia.

Bottom Photo: Jorge Valdivia holds the Optimus Prime Transformer that his late brother Mauricio got him one Christmas when they were young. Courtesy of Jorge Valdivia.

Originally aired February 5, 2021 on NPR’s Morning Edition.

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. 

A Father, His Daughter, and the Choice to Start a Family as “an Act of Hope”

Jessica Kibblewhite grew up the daughter of an astronomer, Edward Kibblewhite. Among his inventions: a system that allows scientists to take clearer pictures of stars.

When Jessica and her husband were having a hard time deciding whether to have a child, she brought her dad to StoryCorps in Chicago to ask him for advice. Essentially, she hoped he might help her do the same thing his invention does: see more clearly.

Top photo: Edward Kibblewhite and Jessica Kibblewhite at their StoryCorps interview in Chicago, IL on October 27, 2018. By Rocio Santos for StoryCorps.

Originally aired December 13th 2019, on NPR’s Morning Edition. 

Adopted Woman Finds Siblings, Learns Family Secret

Lisa Bouler Daniels grew up knowing she was adopted; and as an adult, she began searching for her birth family.

By the time she found them, both her birth mother and her adoptive mother had passed away. But she did track down her biological brother: Benjamin Chambers.

And the story of her adoption unearthed a family secret that had been kept quiet for decades.

Photo: Benjamin Chambers and Lisa Bouler Daniels at the Chicago StoryBooth in December 2018. Rocio Santos/StoryCorps.

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

A Visit to the ER Takes an Unexpected Turn

When Ellen Hughes’ son Walker tried a new medication, it was supposed to help him calm down. It wound up doing the opposite.

Thirty-three year old Walker became agitated and violent. Walker has autism and struggled to communicate what was going on. But his mom Ellen knew they had to get to a hospital.

When they arrived at Loyola University Medical Center near Chicago, Walker bit Ellen. That’s when they encountered Public Safety Sergeant Keith Miller. At StoryCorps, Ellen told Keith how he helped her son — and herself — get the care they needed that day.


Top photo: Keith Miller and Ellen Hughes at the Chicago StoryBooth in February 2019. Photo by Rocio Santos for StoryCorps.
Bottom photo: Walker Hughes with his mom Ellen Hughes. Courtesy of Ellen Hughes.

Originally aired April 12, 2019, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

Remembering the Start of a Lifelong Love of Books

At StoryCorps, we’re used to hearing tales of love. But here’s one of a different sort: a love letter to the written word.

Meet Alagappa Rammohan, who has amassed enough books over the course of his life to fill a small library (10,000, to be exact).

Rammohan immigrated from India to the United States in 1962. He came to StoryCorps in Chicago with his daughter, Paru Venkat, who as a child witnessed his love of books.


Continuing his lifelong love of books and learning, Rammohan plans to donate all 10,000 of his books to a learning center and library he’s founded in his hometown in India.

Top photo: Paru Venkat and Alagappa Rammohan pose after their StoryCorps interview in Chicago on June 23, 2018. By Eliza Lambert for StoryCorps.
Bottom photo: Alagappa Rammohan poses at the site of the ancient Great Library at Alexandria (350 B.C. – 280 B.C.) in Alexandria, Egypt in 2013. Courtesy Alagappa Rammohan.

Originally aired January 4, 2019, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

DACA Recipient on the Pressure of Living Life Undocumented

Irakere Picon was just two years old when his parents brought him to the United States from Mexico on a tourist visa. They never left.

He was aware something was different about his childhood, but it wasn’t until he applied to get a driver’s license that he realized his immigration status might get in the way of his dreams.

In 2012, Irakere received protections from the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and was able to attend law school.

It was around that time that he met Arianna Hermosillo on a bus and later asked her on a date to Millennium Park in Chicago. When they were together, Irakere told Arianna he was undocumented.


Irakere and Arianna were married earlier this year, but it remains unclear whether Irakere will be approved for a green card for permanent residency.

Top photo: Arianna Hermosillo and Irakere Picon pose at their StoryCorps interview in Chicago on February 3, 2018. Photo by Laura Saenz for StoryCorps.
Bottom photo: Irakere Picon and Arianna Hermosillo on their wedding day in Oak Park Conservatory in Chicago. Courtesy Arianna Hermosillo and Irakere Picon.

Originally aired October 19, 2018, on NPR’s Morning Edition.