Jacksonville Archives - StoryCorps
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A Teen Asks Her Mom: ‘When Can I Wear The Hijab?’

Like any 14-year-old Dana Aljubouri is navigating the rites of passage on her journey to adulthood. Dana, a devout muslim living in Jacksonville, FL, is eager to begin covering her hair. To her, the hijab demonstrates her pride for her religion and her family’s culture. But her mother, Basma Alawee doesn’t think she’s ready.

Basma Alawee and Dana Aljubouri pose for a selfie in Jacksonville, Florida. 2022. 

The family came to the U.S. from Iraq in 2010, when Dana was not yet two years-old. Since then, Basma has been made to feel uncomfortable, even unsafe, while wearing her hijab in public spaces in Florida. She worries about her daughter, and wants her to wait.

Mother and daughter came to StoryCorps to discuss this important decision.

Top Photo: Basma Alawee and Dana Aljubouri at their StoryCorps interview in Jacksonville, Florida on October 7, 2022. Andrew Avitabile/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 October 21, 2022, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

Barb Abelhauser and John Maycumber

For 14 years, Barbara Abelhauser got up each day and went to work in an office. She hated her job, and finally, one day she quit, reasoning, “I could get hit by a bus tomorrow. And if that happens, I want to have woken up that day and not thought, ‘I don’t want to go to work.’ ”

Ortega tenderhouseHer next job was nothing like the one before; it didn’t require her to put on pantyhose or navigate tricky office politics—Barb became a bridgetender. Sitting in a booth called a tenderhouse (pictured at left) over the Ortega River in Jacksonville, Florida, she opened and closed the bridge to allow boats to pass from one side to the other. Her office now consisted of a console with buttons and the walls were so close that she couldn’t even fully stretch out her arms. But windows surrounded her and from her perch on top of the bridge she had “the most gorgeous view in the entire city.”

The bridge over the Ortega River requires that a bridgetender always be on duty, but that doesn’t mean that passersby were always aware of Barb’s presence. The position requires both patience and vigilance, and from her spot she became familiar with the people (joggers, fishermen and couples out for romantic strolls), and the animals (birds, manatee, and alligators), that spend their days on and around the bridge. She was “getting paid to stop and look.”

SC_ViewfromOrtegaWhen she took the job, Barb didn’t expect to be a bridgetender for more than a year, but for the next 14 years, she watched the sun rise and set on the river from the tenderhouse. She now documents her observations and experiences on her blog, “The View from a Drawbridge.” In 2014, Barb left Jacksonville and moved to Seattle, Washington, where she continues to bridgetend.

Barb came to StoryCorps with her friend, John Maycumber, to explain why she fell in love with her job.


Originally aired April 15, 2016, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

This story is featured in Callings: The Purpose and Passion of Work, a collection that celebrate the passion, determination, and courage it takes to pursue the work we feel called to do.

Callings is now available from Penguin Books. Get the book at our neighborhood bookstore, Greenlight Bookstore, or find it at your local bookstore.

Photos courtesy of Barb Abelhauser

Alton Yates and Toni Yates

As a teenager, Alton Yates (pictured above) did a job that helped send people into space.

yatestaIn the mid-1950s, before NASA existed, Yates was part of a small group of Air Force volunteers who tested the effects of high speeds on the body. They were strapped to rocket-propelled sleds that hurtled down a track at more 600 miles per hour and stopped in a matter of seconds. These experiments helped prove that space travel was safe for humans.

At StoryCorps, Yates told his daughter, Toni (pictured together at left), that—for him—the story starts in high school, shortly after his mother died.

Originally aired August 29, 2014, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

After leaving the Air Force in 1959, Alton Yates became involved with the Civil Rights Movement in his hometown of Jacksonville, Florida. On August 27, 1960, he attended a sit-in that turned violent. It became known as Ax Handle Day.