New York – StoryCorps

After 82 Years, A Grandfather Inspires His Grandson To Live Full Of Honesty And Love

When Jeffrey Perri was growing up in Rochester, New York, his grandfather, Tony Perri, came out to him as gay. Jeffrey was only 9 years old. Years later, Jeffrey also came out, and what was already a close relationship became something even more meaningful for both of them.

They originally came to StoryCorps to reflect on their stories and relationship in 2009

Tony had remained friends with Jeffrey’s grandmother, Shirley Perri, after they divorced, and Tony went on to have two more long term relationships. These men were “uncles” to Jeffrey, and Tony modeled loving relationships throughout Jeffrey’s childhood.

Now, in 2022, Jeffrey and Tony returned to StoryCorps to reflect on their shared connection — and Tony’s feelings about aging and family.

 

Top Photo:
Jeffrey Perri and Tony Perri on May 7th, 2022 at a family wedding. Courtesy of Jeffery Perri. (L) 
Jeffrey Perri and Tony Perri at their StoryCorps interview in Rochester, NY on July 11, 2009. By Jeremy Helton for StoryCorps. (R)

Originally aired July 22, 2022, on NPR’s Morning Edition. 

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.

These Memories Shaped His Journey Into Hospice Work

Having built a career in hospice care, Hajime Issan Koyama, known simply as Issan, has many experiences with death, and with bringing comfort to people in their final moments. 

He made his way into a  caregiving role after he found himself at the epicenter of the 1980s AIDS epidemic in New York City, where he witnessed many of his friends and colleagues die. 

But the experiences that laid the foundation for his concept of death and dying go back to his childhood growing up in Japan, and his favorite grandmother.

He came to StoryCorps July of 2015 with his husband, Paul Boos, to share those memories. 

Paul Boos and Hajime Issan Koyama at their StoryCorps interview in New York City on July 17, 2015. By Mitra Bonshahi for StoryCorps.
Top Photo: Hajime Issan Koyama at his StoryCorps interview in New York City on July 17, 2015. By Mitra Bonshahi for StoryCorps.

Originally aired May 13, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

Hunny Reiken and Elliot Reiken

It was the summer of 1946 in the Catskills. Hunny Feller and her identical twin sister, Bunny, were waitresses at a hotel. Another set of identical twins, Elliot and Danny Reiken, worked as musicians in a band there.

At StoryCorps, Hunny and Elliot (below in 2010) remembered what happened when the twins met the twins.

ReikenFull

Originally broadcast May 28, 2010, on NPR’s Morning Edition. It was rebroadcast on May 6, 2022 on the same program.

Top photo: Danny and Bunny, and Hunny and Elliott, at their joint wedding. Courtesy of the Reiken family.
Bottom photo: Hunny and Elliott Reiken at their StoryCorps interview in New York City.

‘A Package Deal’: Two Brothers Face Mortality Together

David Carles and his little brother, Mark Carles, were best friends.

David and Mark Carles at a family wedding in 2002. Courtesy of Mark Carles.

Growing up on Staten Island, the two did everything together. But in 2018, at the age of 24, Mark’s life was upended by a rare form of liver cancer called fibrolamellar hepatocellular carcinoma.

David Carles’ Tinder profile. Courtesy of David Carles.

A year after that diagnosis, the brothers sat down at StoryCorps in New York City to talk about the ways Mark’s illness had changed their lives.

Mark died on February 24th, 2022. He was 27. David came back to StoryCorps to remember him, just a few days after his death.  

Top photo: Mark Carles and David Carles at their StoryCorps interview in New York City on November 6th, 2019. By Mia Warren for StoryCorps.

Listen to David and Mark’s original 2019 conversation:

Originally aired November 22nd, 2019, on NPR’s Morning Edition. An edited version was rebroadcast on March 4, 2022 on the same program.

“We’re Stuck With Each Other”: An Unconventional Quarantine Love Story

Neil Kramer and Sophia Lansky married in 1996, but it didn’t work out. After they divorced, Neil moved across the country, but they still leaned on each other. 

At the end of 2019, when the pipes in Sophia’s apartment burst, she was stuck with no place to stay. So she called the one person she knew she could depend on.

Neil Kramer and Sophia Lansky holding hands in Queens, New York, in October of 2021, on what would have been their 25th wedding anniversary. Courtesy of Neil Kramer.

Sophia moved in with Neil at the beginning of 2020. Coincidentally, Neil’s mother also moved back in with him around the same time, and the three of them decided to share the two-bedroom New York apartment for what they thought would be “a few weeks”. 

Elaine Kramer (left), Neil Kramer, and Sophia Lansky in Queens NY, in May of 2021. Courtesy of Neil Kramer.

Exes Sophia and Neil came to StoryCorps to talk about what they’ve learned from living together during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Early on during the pandemic, Neil started chronicling their odd living arrangements through a photography project. 

From left to right: Sophia, Neil, and Elaine watching the news in March of 2020. Queens, New York. Courtesy of Neil Kramer. 

He’s still taking photographs of their shared experience. And the three of them are able to collectively tap into the humor and absurdity of their life.

Top Photo: Neil Kramer and Sophia Lansky on February 9th, 2022 in Queens, New York. Courtesy of Neil Kramer.

Originally aired February 11, 2022, on NPR’s Morning Edition. 

How A Shared Language Helped Two Young People Find Their Voice

In 2006, Luis Paulino immigrated to the U.S. from the Dominican Republic. He was a child and didn’t speak any English, so he struggled during his first year in school.

Four years later — then a senior in high school — he’d meet Angel Gonzalez, who reminded him of his younger self. Angel was also a transfer student from the Dominican Republic, and he was facing challenges that Luis could understand.

Angel Gonzalez and Luis Paulino, in New York, after Luis’s high school graduation in 2011. Courtesy of Angel Gonzalez.

They came to StoryCorps to remember that time, and how they got through it together.

Originally aired January 7th, 2022 on NPR’s Morning Edition.

The Brooklyn EMT Who Saved A Life and Inspired A Nursing Career

In the summer of 1991, 7-year-old Bryan Lindsay was riding his bike in Brooklyn, New York when he was struck by a van and almost killed.

Rowan Allen was the paramedic who arrived on the scene. Almost 20 years later, he and Bryan came to StoryCorps to remember that day and the impact it had on both of their lives.

But Rowan and Bryan weren’t the only ones transformed by the accident. In 2021, Bryan’s mom, Dorothy Lindsay, sat down for a StoryCorps interview with Rowan to thank him for saving her son’s life, and to tell him how his actions inspired her to pursue a new line of work.

Top Photo: Bryan Lindsay, Dorothy Salmon-Lindsay and Rowan Allen at their StoryCorps interview on June 26th, 2013. By Eve Claxton for StoryCorps. 

Originally aired December 24th, 2021 on NPR’s Morning Edition.

StoryCorps Alum Turned Bestselling Author Reflects On The Power Of Storytelling

Jason Reynolds is an award winning writer, specializing in novels and poetry for young adults and kids. He started writing poetry at the age of nine, and by 16, he had self-published his first work. He went on to become a #1 New York Times bestselling author, and was also recently appointed the 7th National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature by the Library of Congress.

But before all that, he was a StoryCorps Facilitator. 

At the age of 22, he sat down to record with another facilitator for the very first time, to ponder his dreams for the future, and pay tribute to the woman who inspired him.

Isabelle Reynolds and Jason Reynolds, at their StoryCorps recording in 2006. Photo by Justina Mejias for StoryCorps..
Top Photo: Jason Reynolds, on November 15th, 2006. Photo by Jonah Engle for StoryCorps.

 

 

The Santa Protest — How One Man’s Firing Became A Fight For AIDS Awareness

In 1989, at the height of the AIDS crisis, Mark Woodley was caring for his dying best friend, while coping with his own HIV status. Although an architect by training, he saw an ad in the Village Voice looking for Macy’s Santas. He applied and got the job. He loved the experience of bringing joy to children, and Macy’s invited him back the following holiday season. 

By 1990, he had started taking the drug AZT, which was the primary treatment for AIDS. When he went in for his physical, he was honest about his medication regimen — AZT in combination with Prozac — and he knew he made a mistake.

Mark waited for Macy’s to respond, but no news came about the job. He was called into an HR meeting and told that they wouldn’t be rehiring him back as Santa. He filed a lawsuit against the department store.

Around the same, Jon Winkleman, a young gay man, was taking his first steps into activism with the coalition group ACT UP — along with their subsidiary group Action Tours, which carried out covert direct actions. He read a blurb in the back of the New York Times about Mark’s lawsuit, and he and the group decided to do something about it.

The Action Tours protest at the Macy’s 34th St Store in NYC on Nov 29, 1991. Photo by Meryl Levin.

After the protest, Mark never returned to Macy’s as Santa, but in the following years, he donned the red suit again at different pediatric AIDS clinics and organizations. 

After losing his job as Macy’s Santa, Mark Woodley welcomed the chance to play the part for children with H.I.V. at the State University Health Science Center in Brooklyn. Dec. 16th 1994, by Michelle V. Agins, for the NY Times.

Mark eventually moved to Amsterdam, where he opened a small import business. Jon stayed in New York until 2015, when moved back home to Rhode Island. He is still an activist. They connected virtually for StoryCorps almost 30 years to the day of the protest. 

Mark Woodley in Amsterdam, and Jon Winkleman in Rhode Island, after their StoryCorps recording on November 22nd, 2021. For StoryCorps.
Top Photo: The Action Tours action at the Macy’s 34th St Store in NYC on Nov 29, 1991. Photo by Meryl Levin.

Originally aired December 10, 2021 on NPR’s Morning Edition.

Siblings Remember Their Father, A Combat Pilot Who Served In Three Wars

Growing up in the 1930s, Lt. Col. Miguel Encinias wasn’t sure if his dream of becoming a military pilot was in reach. In those days, combat pilots of Hispanic heritage were almost unheard of. 

But Encinias was accepted into the Air Force cadet school, and would go and serve as a combat pilot in World War II, Korea and Vietnam. He flew around 240 combat missions in all.

Miguel Encinias in Saigon, Vietnam, in 1961. (Courtesy of the Encinias family)

He died in 2016, at the age of 92.

Two of his children, Isabel and Juan Pablo Encinias, came to StoryCorps to remember him and his love for flying.

Juan Pablo Encinias and Isabel Encinias in 2016. (Courtesy of the Encinias family)
Top Photo: Miguel Encinias crouched beneath a F105 aircraft in 1967.  (Courtesy of the Encinias family)

Originally aired November 5, 2021, on NPR’s Morning Edition.