Connecticut – StoryCorps

He Survived The Holocaust Because Of A Stranger’s Kindness

In 1941, Philip Lazowski and his family were among thousands of Jewish people sent to the Zhetel Ghetto in what was then Poland.

One day, the Lazowski family caught wind that the Nazis were killing Jewish people in the ghetto and they decided to go into hiding. But Philip, just 11 years old, was caught alone by a German soldier after helping his parents and siblings take shelter in a hideout they’d built in their apartment.

Rounded up into the Zhetel marketplace, he saw the soldiers sending children and the elderly to their deaths, but noticed they seemed to be sparing families with adults who had jobs deemed valuable by the Nazis, like doctors, tailors or cobblers.

When he was 91 years old, Rabbi Philip Lazowski came to StoryCorps with his wife, Ruth, 86, to remember a quick decision that saved his life.

Rabbi Philip and Ruth Lazowski on their wedding day, in 1955. Credit: courtesy of the Lazowski family.

 

Top Photo: Rabbi Philip Lazowski and Ruth Lazowski. Credit: courtesy of the Lazowski family.

Originally aired January 21st, 2022 on NPR’s Morning Edition.

All I Had Was Hope And You

Ernesto Rodriguez enlisted in the Marine Corps in 2000. When he deployed to Iraq five years later, his first child, Sebastian, had just been born. 

While Ernesto loved his time in the military, being away from home proved challenging — not just for him, but for his entire family. He left the military in 2009 as a result.

A few years later, Ernesto came to StoryCorps with his son Sebastian, who was 11 at the time, to talk about his service, his transition back to civilian life, and the importance of being a father.

For Ernesto and Sebastian, their StoryCorps conversation marked the beginning of an ongoing and open dialogue between father and son. So three years later, during Sebastian’s freshman year of high school, the pair came back to StoryCorps to record a second interview.

Next, we’ll hear from Army Staff Sgt. Papsy Lemus, who first came to StoryCorps in 2009 to talk about her 13-month deployment to Iraq. She sat down to have a conversation with her eldest child, Grizz, who was nine years old at the time.

Ten years later, Grizz, now 20, had more questions for Papsy (who is still in the military). So they came back to StoryCorps to continue the conversation.

Top photo: Artwork by Lindsay Mound.
Middle photo 1: Ernesto and Sebastian Rodriguez at their StoryCorps interview in New York, NY on April 1, 2016. By Morgan Feigal-Stickles for StoryCorps.
Middle photo 2: Sebastian and Ernesto Rodriguez at their StoryCorps interview in Bridgeport, CT on October 5, 2019. By Jud Esty-Kendall for StoryCorps.
Middle photo 2: Grizz and Papsy Lemus at their StoryCorps interview in Salt Lake City, UT on April 30, 2009. By Jeremy Helton for StoryCorps.
Bottom Photo: Papsy & Grizz Lemus at their StoryCorps interview in Salt Lake City, UT on October 29, 2019. By KUER for StoryCorps.
Released on January 14, 2020.
Like the music in this episode? Support the artists:
“Heat and Memory” by Jarrett Floyd
“Surly Bonds” by Blue Dot Sessions from the album Aeronaut
“Sage the Hunter” by Blue Dot Sessions from the album Landsman Duets
“NirvanaVEVO” by Chris Zabriskie from the album Undercover Vampire Policeman
“Elegiac” by Bryan Copeland (StoryCorps Commission)

This podcast is brought to you by supporters of StoryCorps, an independently funded nonprofit organization, and is made possible in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people.

 

 

“I Still Wake Up Screaming”: Memories From One of the Only Known Survivors of a Lynching

The StoryCorps archive is the largest collection of human voices ever gathered, preserving United States history as told through the voices of everyday people in this country. The recordings run the gamut of human emotion, from joy to despair and everything in between.

Winfred Rembert, 73, added his rare perspective to the archive in 2017, when he sat down for a conversation with his wife, Patsy, to talk about his experience as one of the only people ever known to have survived a lynching.

When he was a teenager in the mid-1960s, Winfred participated in a Civil Rights protest in the town of Americus, Georgia. In the aftermath, he was arrested and served time in jail.

One day, after Winfred made a commotion in his cell, the deputy sheriff walked in and pulled a gun on him. Winfred then managed to take the gun away and lock the deputy sheriff in the cell before escaping.

More than five decades later, Winfred sat down for StoryCorps with his wife, Patsy, to remember what happened next.

Warning: This story includes racial slurs and a graphic description of racial violence.

Top photo: Patsy and Winfred Rembert at their StoryCorps interview in Hamden, CT in April of 2017. By Jud Esty-Kendall for StoryCorps.
Middle photo: Patsy and Winfred Rembert in April of 2017 at their StoryCorps interview in Hamden, CT. By Jacqueline Van Meter for StoryCorps.

Originally aired November 15, 2019 on NPR’s Morning Edition.

“I Felt I Was Helping A Fellow Soldier”: A Nephew Steps In For His Ailing Uncle

Growing up, Michael Menta idolized his uncle Sal Leone, a Marine. Michael would eventually follow in Sal’s footsteps, enlisting in the Navy his senior year of high school.

But in 2019, Michael found himself in a new role: caring for his uncle Sal at his bedside after he had fallen gravely ill from cancer.

They sat down together for StoryCorps.

Top photo: Michael Menta and Sal Leone at their StoryCorps interview in West Hartford, CT on October 26, 2019. By Camila Kerwin for StoryCorps.
Middle photo: A young Sal Leone in dress blues during U.S. Marine Corps Recruit Training. Photo courtesy of Sal Leone.

Originally aired November 9, 2019 on NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday.

A Daughter Comes to Terms with Her Father’s Time in Prison

In this conversation recorded in Hartford, Connecticut, Abby Gagliardo sat down with her dad, Ralph, to talk about a confusing time for their family.

Abby knew her dad was sent to prison for larceny when she was a kid. But she didn’t understand why. 

When they came to StoryCorps, Ralph had been out of prison for five years, and Abby came to understand more fully what happened.

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Photo: Ralph Gagliardo, holding his daughter, Abby, the day after she was born in 2000. Courtesy Ralph Gagliardo.

In 2018, Abby is 17 and Ralph has been sober since 2012. He is also pursuing his bachelor’s degree, with plans to attend law school.

Ralph and Abby’s conversation was recorded through the StoryCorps Justice Project, which preserves and amplifies the stories of people who have been directly impacted by mass incarceration. Original support for the Justice Project was provided by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Safety and Justice Challenge, #RethinkJails and the Robert Sterling Clark Foundation.

Originally aired April, 20, 2018, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

Jennifer Hensel and Jeremy Richman

Every morning, Jennifer Hensel and Jeremy Richman light a candle in honor of their daughter, Avielle.

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.

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Jeremy and Jennifer sat down for StoryCorps 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.

Roberta Vincent and Robert Howard II

Many people come to StoryCorps to tell the stories that have shaped their lives. Robert Howard’s story starts during the Vietnam war.

Robert grew up in Norwich, Connecticut in the shadow of his father, a larger-than-life character and celebrated athlete in town who was killed in action during the Vietnam War in 1969.

When Robert came to StoryCorps with his mother, Roberta Vincent, he spoke about saying goodbye to his dad.

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This interview was recorded in partnership with the Otis Library in Norwich, Connecticut. The Otis Library’s recordings were made possible by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

Originally aired May 19, 2017, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

Bottom photo: A picture from a local newspaper of Robert Howard II accepting the medals awarded to his father posthumously the year of his death, while his mother Roberta Vincent looks on. Courtesy of Roberta Vincent.

Jeanne Abel and Alan Abel

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.

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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.”

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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.

Originally aired April 1, 2016, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

Archival photos courtesy of Jenny Abel.

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.

Starr Cookman and Kylee Moreland Fenton

Starr Cookman (left) and Kylee Moreland Fenton (right) have been best friends since they were children—even trying to become blood sisters. And today, they remain just as close, living on the same street as each other with their families.

Kylee is a nurse and soon after Starr’s son Rowan was born, he began breathing rapidly and spitting up food. This concerned Kylee and she recommended getting him to a doctor immediately. It turned out there was something wrong with his heart and he was rushed into surgery, saving his life.

At StoryCorps, Starr and Kylee discuss the bond between them that has only grown stronger over time.

Originally aired October 18, 2013, on NPR’s Morning Edition.