New Orleans – StoryCorps

“Mama Was a Daredevil:” The Firefighting Pilot Who Blazed a Path for Women

Mary Barr made history when she became the first woman to fly for the U.S. Forest Service in 1974, a time when few women were professional pilots.

Mary Barr (center) poses with her daughters Molly Barr (left) and Nevada Barr (right). Courtesy of Molly Barr.

She flew a tiny propeller airplane into wildfires across the American West, finding a safe path through the flames so larger tanker aircraft could follow in behind her and dump smothering chemicals on the blaze.

Her daughters Molly and Nevada came to StoryCorps to remember an adrenaline-loving aviator with a hidden side. 

Mary Barr in her U.S. Forest Service uniform. Courtesy of Molly Barr.

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 August 19, 2022, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

A Family Remembers A Civil Rights Activist On The 60th Anniversary Of His Killing

Herbert Lee, Sr. was a businessman, farmer and activist for racial equality in 1950s Mississippi.

On September 25, 1961, he was murdered in Liberty, MS. His white killer, Mississippi state legislator, E.H. Hurst, was acquitted the very next day.

On the 60th anniversary of his death, Shirley Lee Riley — Lee’s youngest child — and her son, Clifton Franklin, sat down for StoryCorps to remember Herbert Lee’s civil rights legacy.

Herbert Lee’s daughter, Shirley Lee Riley, and her son, Clifton Franklin. Courtesy of Clifton Franklin.
Top Photo: Herbert Lee, Sr. and Prince Estella Lee. Courtesy of Clifton Franklin.

Nudist Couple on Falling in Love and the Mistake Only a Nudist Would Make

We’re used to people baring their souls at StoryCorps, but this is a story about baring quite a bit more.  

Ten years ago, on Tracia Kraemer’s 40th birthday, she wanted to do something she’d never done before. So she gathered her courage and paid a visit to the last surviving nudist park in the state of Louisiana, Indian Hills.

She figured she’d at least wind up with a good story, but as she remembers in this conversation with her husband Patrick, she came away with a whole lot more.

Patrick and Tracia Kraemer

Tracia and Patrick married in 2013. Together they managed Indian Hills for several years.

Last fall, they took off in an RV for a year-long adventure visiting nudist establishments across the country.

Top photo: Patrick and Tracia Kraemer pose nude behind a tractor at the Indian Hills Nudist Park in 2015. Courtesy David Grunman / The Times-Picayune.

Bottom photo: Patrick and Tracia Kraemer at their StoryCorps interview in New Orleans, Louisiana in February of 2018.

Originally aired May 4, 2018, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

Friends and Climate Change Scientists on the Personal Cost of their Work

Dr. Lora Koenig and Dr. Zoe Courville first met over a decade ago in the middle of the Greenland ice sheet.


Their friendship formed while conducting research in some of the most remote corners of the world. As field researchers, they’re often away for weeks at a time, drilling ice cores and using ground-penetrating radar to study the impact of climate change.

Through the years, they’ve helped each other navigate the challenges of balancing their work and personal lives. They came to StoryCorps to talk about it.


Top photo: Dr. Zoe Courville and Dr. Lora Koenig at their StoryCorps interview in New Orleans, Louisiana in December 2017.
Middle photo: Dr. Zoe Courville taking snow density measurements in the field. Courtesy of Robin Davies.
Bottom photo: Dr. Lora Koenig with her son, Seelye, on a rare visit to the Russell Glacier in Greenland. Courtesy of Marilyn Koenig.

This interview was recorded in partnership with the American Geophysical Union, the world’s largest organization of Earth and space scientists.

Originally aired March 9, 2018, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

Burnell Cotlon and Lillie Cotlon

For New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward, the section of the city hit hardest by Hurricane Katrina and the flooding that followed, recovery has been slow.

Nearly ten years after the storm, the neighborhood still did not have a single grocery store. But Ninth Ward resident Burnell Cotlon (pictured above, right) set out to change that.

before and after

Using money saved while working at fast food restaurants and dollar stores, he bought a dilapidated building on an empty block. And in 2014 he opened the Lower Ninth Ward’s first grocery store since the storm. At StoryCorps, he sat down with his mother, Lillie (pictured above, left), to remember the days after the flood.


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.

To help Burnell further his dream of expanding the Lower 9th Ward Market, visit his Go Fund Me page.

Originally aired August 8, 2015, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

Photos courtesy of Daniel Schergen, Ian Spencer Cook, and Hanna Rasanen for StoryCorps.

Jerome Smith and Carol Bebelle

Jerome Smith tells Carol Bebelle about an experience he had as a young man on a streetcar in pre-Civil Rights era New Orleans that made him the person he remains today.

Originally aired December 1, 2006, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

David Duplantier and Melissa Eugene

New Orleans police officer David Duplantier tells his wife, Melissa Eugene, about patrolling the Superdome during Hurricane Katrina.

Originally aired August 25, 2006, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

Bobby Brown and Rufus Burkhalter

New Orleans Pump Station workers Rufus Burkhalter (right) and Bobby Brown remember the night Hurricane Katrina hit.

Originally aired August 25, 2006, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

Roy Calabrisi and Anthony Calabrisi

Roy Calabrisi and his brother Anthony talk about rebuilding their lives after Hurricane Katrina.

Originally aired August 25, 2006, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

John W. Taylor, Jr.

John W. Taylor, Jr. talks about how New Orleans has changed since Hurricane Katrina.

Originally aired August 25, 2006, on NPR’s Morning Edition.