It Took 47 Years for These High School Sweethearts to Find Each Other Again
Jimmy Neeley first met his high school sweetheart, Becky, in Spanish class at their high school in Longview, Texas. The year was 1969 and Becky was a sophomore while Jimmy was in his last year of school and getting ready to enlist in the Navy.
Middle photo: High school senior year portraits of Jimmy Neeley in 1969 and Becky Neeley in 1971.
When Becky turned 15, Jimmy took her on her first date and when he shipped off they wrote letters. Jimmy knew he was in love and even bought an engagement ring, but Becky had reservations.
“My mom did not want me to be involved with anyone in the military during the time of Vietnam, because you don’t know what’s gonna happen,” she remembers.
Becky declined Jimmy’s proposal and later sent him a “dear John” letter, breaking it off between the two of them. From there, their lives went in different directions. It took 47 years for them to be reunited.
Top Photo: Jimmy and Becky Neeley at their wedding in Rockwall, Texas, on Valentine’s Day of 2020.
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 17, 2023 , on NPR’s Morning Edition.
“We’re Just Big Guys Dancing”: How One Man Found His Calling As A Mavs ManiAAC
When Rob Maiden was a kid, he was a little bigger than some of his classmates. And during one summer, he shot up from 5’6” to 6’3”, becoming the tallest one in his family. His father — a huge football enthusiast — couldn’t wait to watch Rob play football.
But Rob found his calling in another sport: a hip hop dance group of self-proclaimed “beefy” men who perform during Dallas Mavericks basketball games.
Mavs ManiAACs at a Dallas Mavericks game performance. Courtesy of Daniel Jacob.
Rob came to StoryCorps with his friend Daniel Jacob, to talk about how they both ended up as part of the Mavs ManiAACs, and how Rob’s father eventually saw him do what he was “born to do.”
Top Photo: Daniel Jacob and Rob Maiden at their StoryCorps interview in Dallas, TX in 2014. Photo by Liyna Anwar for StoryCorps.
Originally aired April 22, 2022, 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.
Wally 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.
Completing the Circle: A Mother and Daughter Explore What Family Really Means
Dena Kohleriter had always planned on having a family. But, when she was 36 years old and hadn’t yet met the person she wanted to build one with, she decided to take matters into her own hands. Ten years later she came to StoryCorps in Dallas, Texas with her 8 year old daughter, Jori, to talk about that time.
Top photo: Dena Kohleriter and Jori Kohleriter at their StoryCorps interview in Dallas, Texas on November 8th, 2019. By Mia Raquel for StoryCorps.
Middle photo: Dena Kohleriter and Jori Kohleriter, courtesy of Dena Kohleriter.
Bottom photo: Dena Kohleriter’s great aunt Roszi and her daughter, courtesy of Dena Kohleriter.
Originally aired January 3rd, 2020 on NPR’s Morning Edition.
‘Everything Just Came Crashing Down’: A Mother and Daughter Grapple With Homelessness
Ten years ago, Sandy Baker left her troubled marriage. Using what money she could scrape together, Sandy checked into a motel with her teenage daughter, Ashley. They were homeless for the next two and a half years.
Recently, they came to a StoryCorps booth in Dallas to talk about that time.
Ashley and Sandy now have their own apartment. This year, Ashley graduated college, and Sandy now works to provide housing for others in need.
Top photo: Ashley Baker and Sandy Baker at their StoryCorps interview in Dallas, TX on October 19, 2019. By Eleanor Vasilli for StoryCorps.
This interview was recorded through a community partnership with Family Promise of Collin County.
Originally aired November 29, 2019 , on NPR’s Morning Edition.
After Giving Up Baby, Reunion Sparks Second Chance at Motherhood
Janie Bush was just 19 years old in 1968 when she discovered she was expecting a child.
After careful consideration, she decided to give her daughter up for adoption.
In 2014, Janie came to StoryCorps in Dallas, Texas with her daughter, Tracey Bush, to talk about what happened next.
Top photo: Janie and Tracey Bush at their StoryCorps interview in Dallas, TX on December 8, 2014. By Callie Thuma for StoryCorps.
Bottom photo: The first photo taken of Janie and Tracey Bush, when they reconnected on Janie’s porch when Tracey was 12 years old. Courtesy of Janie Bush.
Originally aired on November 8, 2019, on NPR’s Morning Edition.
An Online Search for a Father Turns Up a Sister
When Courtney McKinney was 16 years old, she learned that she’d been conceived through anonymous sperm donation. As an adult, Courtney discovered she had a half-sister: Alexandra Sanchez.
Theirs is one of the many families that have expanded as a result of online DNA testing.
At StoryCorps, Courtney told Alex how she’d set out looking for her father, and about the moment she found a sister instead.
Top photo: Alexandra Sanchez (left) and Courtney McKinney at their StoryCorps interview in Dallas on April 29, 2018. By Kevin Oliver for StoryCorps.
Bottom photo: Sisters Courtney and Alex on the first day they met each other in person. Courtesy of Alexandra Sanchez.
Originally aired June 15, 2018 on NPR’s Morning Edition.
Idella Hansen and Sandi Talbott
Idella Hansen(top left) started driving big rig trucks in 1968 when she was just 18 years old. At the time, she was pregnant and hungry for independence so she filled a tanker with gasoline, took to the road, and to this day has not looked back. Now 66 years old, Idella (pictured below in 1996) has been driving for more than four decades, and her best friend is fellow trucker Sandi Talbott (top right).
Sandi, 75, began driving alongside her husband, Jim, in 1979. They drove as partners for years until Jim’s health began to decline and Sandi took over most of the driving. After Jim’s death in 2000, Sandi continued on the road without him, and has now been behind the wheel for over three decades.
Together, Idella and Sandi have driven over 9 million miles hauling everything from missiles to tadpoles. At StoryCorps they discuss their friendship, their adventures, and why they’ll never retire.
Originally aired September 23, 2016, on NPR’s Morning Edition.
Photo of Idella in 1996 courtesy of Idella Hansen.
Jenny Carter and Sean Carter
Sean Carter was a college student putting himself through school in Wichita Falls, Texas, when he was in a serious car accident.
He was riding with a friend who had been drinking, and sustained a traumatic brain injury in the crash.
Today, Sean is unable to walk and speaks only with the aid of a computer. At StoryCorps he interviewed his mother, Jenny Carter, who is his full-time caretaker.
Originally aired February 6, 2015, on NPR’s Morning Edition.
Rogelio Martinez and Lisa Moya King
At the time Rogelio Martinez enrolled in Lisa Moya King’s high school dance class, his father had been deported and he was moving among family members who were abusing him.
After Lisa saw Rogelio’s bruises, she reported the abuse, but days later, after he told her he was going to run away, she offered to help him by allowing him to stay with her and her husband.
At StoryCorps, Lisa and Rogelio, now 21, discuss how grateful he is that she took care of him when he was in need, and how he taught her about being a teacher and a parent.
Originally aired November 29, 2013, on NPR’s Morning Edition.