New Jersey Archives - StoryCorps

A Father And Imam Records a Love Letter to His Family

Sohaib Sultan was an Imam and Chaplain at Princeton University when he and his wife, Arshe Ahmed, learned that they were about to become parents. After more than a decade struggling to conceive, the couple decided to adopt. 

Arshe Ahmed, Radiyya and Sohaib Sultan, celebrating their first Eid together on Sept 1, 2017, in Hamilton, NJ. Photo Courtesy of Arshe Ahmed.

Their dreams of building a family came true when they learned their daughter, Radiyya, would be arriving from Pakistan. But when Radiyya was 3 years old, Sohaib was diagnosed with cancer. He and Arshe came to StoryCorps to reflect on that time.

Arshe Ahmed and Radiyya at Sohaib’s graveside on the anniversary of his death, April 16, 2023 at Greenwood Cemetery in Hamilton NJ. Photo courtesy of Arshe Ahmed.

Top Photo: Arshe Ahmed, Radiyya, and Sohaib Sultan at Spring Lake Beach, New Jersey on August 30, 2020. Photo Courtesy of Arshe Ahmed. 

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.

This interview is part of the Anwar Collection of Muslim Voices and Tapestry of Voices Collection through StoryCorps’ American Pathways initiative. This initiative is made possible by the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art and an Anonymous Foundation. Additional support is provided by the Stuart Family Foundation. It will be archived at the Library of Congress.

Originally aired February, 14, 2024, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

How a Teacher’s Act of Kindness Bound her Student and Family Together

In 1958, John’s Cruitt’s mother fell ill and passed away shortly before Christmas. His third grade teacher, Cecile Doyle, gave him a kiss on the forehead after class, and told him he didn’t have to be alone.

John never forgot that moment, and 54 years later wrote a heartfelt letter telling her how much she meant to him. Not long after, they came to StoryCorps to reflect on how they became so close.

The letter John Cruitt wrote to his former third grade teacher, Cecile Doyle, in 2012.
Photo by Julia Kirschenbaum for StoryCorps.


Cecile passed away in 2019. But John had also grown close to her daughter, Allison Doyle. At StoryCorps, they discussed how John’s reunion with his teacher brought them together.

John Cruitt and Allison Doyle looking through Cecile Doyle’s  scrapbook on December 10, 2023.
Photo by Julia Kirschenbaum for StoryCorps.
Top Photo: John Cruitt and his third grade teacher, Cecile Doyle, reuniting for the first time in 54 years in 2012. Courtesy of Allison Doyle. 

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.

Original broadcast aired December 28, 2012, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

Update aired December 22, 2023 on NPR’s Morning Edition.

“We Lived Happily Ever After”: Milt And Etta Share Their Love Story

In the summer of 1955, Milt Ehrlich knew he’d met the love of his life. Her name was Etta, and they were both applying to be counselors at a summer camp for children with special needs. 

“You’re going to marry me,” he told her. She was initially unsure, so much so she made Milt wait 5 years before ultimately saying yes. 

Throughout her life, Etta was consumed by her art and appreciated Milt’s enthusiasm for helping her find the raw materials she would use. He frequented garage sales to hunt for objects such as tools or bottles — so long as they had charm.

Etta and Milt Ehrlich in Prince Edward Island, Canada in the early 1980s. Photo courtesy of the Ehrlich family.

In 2014, the couple came to StoryCorps to record the story of their love, and talk about how they used art and creativity as a vehicle for grappling with aging, grief, and the fear of death. 

They were married for almost 62 years, until Etta’s death in August of 2021. She was 90 years old. Milt came back to StoryCorps a year later to remember her. 

Top Photo: Milt and Etta Ehrlich on their wedding anniversary in Prince Edward Island, Canada in August. 1985. Photo courtesy of the Ehrlich family.

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 Nov. 4, 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 Surviving COVID-19, A Mom And Daughter Mourn Loved Ones

For Mother’s Day, a conversation from Alice Stockton-Rossini and her 90 year old mother, Jackie Stockton.

Both Jackie and Alice are COVID-19 survivors. The outbreak in their community in New Jersey can be traced back to Jackie’s 90th birthday party held at her church on March 8. Many family members became ill with the virus, and Jackie’s best friend, and a family member died.

They recorded their conversation with StoryCorps Connect, a new platform which makes it possible to interview a loved one remotely, and then upload it to the StoryCorps archive at the Library of Congress.  

Photo: Jackie Stockton and daughter Alice Stockton-Rossini at the Philadelphia Flower Show, March, 2019 Courtesy of Alice Stockton-Rossini.

Originally aired May 8th, 2020, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

This Is Where I Leave You

It’s never easy to say goodbye to the people we love, but in this episode of the podcast, we’ll hear from four families as they navigate some of the most difficult conversations imaginable and, in the process, they remind us that even in death, there is life.

The first story comes from Patricia Mishler who moved to the United States from England in the late 70s with her two daughters, Suzanne and Janette. In 2014, at the age of 72, Patricia was diagnosed with ALS–also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. At StoryCorps, she sat down with her daughters to talk about living with the disease and knowing that it would one day take her life.

Next, you’ll hear from Eva Vega-Olds and how she used the StoryCorps app to record her final conversation with her father, Leonardo Vega, while he was receiving hospice care at home. 

You’ll also hear Natalie Colvin interviewing her 88-year-old grandfather, Willy Weeks, who, after being diagnosed with terminal cancer, made the decision to end his life on his own terms using a drug prescribed by his doctor. 

Our final story comes from 25-year-old Mark Carles, who came to StoryCorps with his older brother, David, to talk about how living with a rare form of liver cancer has impacted both of their lives.

Top photo: Artwork by Lindsay Mound.
Middle Photo: Patricia Mishler with her daughters Suzanne and Janette Lynch on March 28, 2016 in Nashville, Tennessee. By Erika Romero for StoryCorps
Middle Photo: Eva Vega-Olds with her father, Leonardo Vega, on her wedding day in May of 2009. Courtesy of Eva Vega-Olds.
Bottom Photo: Mark Carles and David Carles at their StoryCorps interview in New York City on November 6, 2019. By Mia Warren for StoryCorps.

Released on December 3, 2019.

Like the music in this episode? Support the artists:
“Heat and Memory” by Jarrett Floyd
“Untitled #2” by Yusuke Tsutsumi
“John Stockton Slow Drag” By Chris Zabriskie
“Siloed” By Matt Stevens
“Photosphere” By Charles Atlas


104-Year-Old WWII Veteran Remembers Fake Tanks, Sound Effects in Top-Secret ‘Ghost Army’

Gilbert Seltzer was an architectural draftsman when the World War II broke out. Soon after he joined the Army, he was told he would be put on a top-secret mission — and an unconventional one at that.

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He had been selected to lead a platoon of men in a unit dubbed the “Ghost Army,” made up mostly of artists, creatives and engineers. Their mission? Deception. From inflatable tanks, to phony convoys, to spreading misinformation in bars, they used any possible trick to fool the enemy.

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Gil is now 104 years old. At StoryCorps, he sat down with his granddaughter, Sarah, to remember this unusual outfit.

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Top photo: A young Gilbert Seltzer in uniform in October, 1942, after graduating from Officer Candidate School in Fort Belvoir, VA. Courtesy Gilbert Seltzer.
Middle photo 1: A dummy 155 mm gun. Photo taken between 1943 and 1944. Courtesy Ghost Army Legacy Project, The George William Curtis Collection.
Middle photo 2: Gilbert Seltzer eating lunch at  Pine Camp, Watertown, NY, during the spring of 1941. Courtesy Gilbert Seltzer.
Bottom photo: Sarah Seltzer and her grandfather, Gilbert Seltzer in West Orange, NJ for StoryCorps in January 2019. By Afi Yellow-Duke.

Originally aired May 25, 2019, on NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday.

Dr. Joseph Linsk

For the second year in a row, StoryCorps invited everyone to take part in The Great Thanksgiving Listen—our effort to collect and preserve intergenerational interviews over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. And while tens of thousands of TGTL conversations continue to be archived and listened to, one interview in particular has gotten us wondering: Is it ever too late to make amends?

1480098019980-1The day after Thanksgiving, Dr. Joseph Linsk was joined in his Atlantic City, New Jersey, home by his son Richard. Dr. Linsk, 94, whose practice once focused on treating patients with cancer and blood diseases, is now himself in poor health and living with Parkinson’s disease. During the recording, Dr. Linsk shared a story that he says has left him “smitten with grief” for more than 80 years.

When he was 8 years old, Dr. Linsk was playing with friends in the schoolyard when he unintentionally broke another child’s glasses. Needing to pay for their repair, he stole the money his mother had left for their family cleaning lady, an African American woman named Pearl. When Pearl asked for her pay, Dr. Linsk’s mother accused her of stealing and a young Dr. Linsk said nothing. His mother fired Pearl, whom he remembers as having a few children, and word quickly spread that Pearl was a thief, damaging her reputation and making it impossible for her to find work again.

There is also Pearl’s side to the story. How did this lie and the cover-up affect her and her family? Unfortunately, Dr. Linsk doesn’t know her full name or any further details about her family, but he did grow up on Atlantic Avenue in the Uptown section of Atlantic City in the early 1930s, so if you believe you know anything about her or any of her surviving family members, we would love to hear from you.

Contact us at: [email protected] or call us at 301-744-TALK.

Originally aired December 9, 2016, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

Top Photo of Dr. Joseph Linsk from 2011 courtesy of Stefanie Campolo and The Press of Atlantic City.

Eva Vega-Olds and Leonardo Vega

In November 2015, Leonardo Vega was diagnosed with liver and lung cancer.

photo_1453844228000After multiple unsuccessful rounds of chemotherapy, he left the hospital and returned to his New Jersey home to spend his remaining days receiving hospice care while surrounded by his family. His eldest daughter, Eva Vega-Olds, decided to use the StoryCorps app to capture some of her father’s memories and preserve the sound of his voice.

During their time together, Leonardo was bedridden and hooked up to an oxygen tank. Finding the strength to answer questions was difficult, so Eva also took the opportunity to tell her father how much he has meant to her.

This recording turned out to be the last conversation they ever had together. Leonardo died days later on January 29, 2016, at the age of 73. Soon after, Eva came to StoryCorps to remember a hardworking man with a great sense of humor who loved his family.

Originally aired March 25, 2016, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

Top Photo: Eva and Leonardo on her wedding day in May 2009.
Above Photo: Eva and Leonardo on January 26, 2016.

Gwen Moten

Fifty-one years before nine people were killed during the mass shooting in the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church on June 17, 2015 in Charleston, South Carolina, there was another infamous attack on a Southern black church.

On September 15, 1963, the Ku Klux Klan bombed the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. Four young girls were murdered—Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson, Addie Mae Collins and Denise McNair.

Gwen Moten was best friends with Denise (pictured below), and she recently sat down to remember her for StoryCorps.


Originally aired June 26, 2015, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

Photo courtesy of the 4 Little Girls Memorial Fund. 

Kevin Powell and Shirley Parrello

Lance Corporal Brian Parrello (left) was the only member of his Marine platoon who didn’t make it home from Iraq.

They were patrolling near the Haditha Dam when Brian was killed by an IED. He was 19 years old.
Since then, Brian’s platoon has become close with his family. One of those Marines, Sergeant Kevin Powell (top left), sat down for a StoryCorps conversation with Brian’s mother, Shirley (top right).


Originally aired October 25, 2014, on NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday.

Photos courtesy of Shirley Parrello.