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“The Wolf Was His Best Friend:” Remembering Henry Kendall

Growing up in the suburbs of St. Louis, MO, during the 1950s, Judd Esty-Kendall remembers a childhood surrounded by animals. There were farm animals, such as pigs, chickens and guinea hens, as well as a variety of wild ones: falcons, raccoons, and even a flying squirrel named Peanuts that he kept in his room.

Henry Kendall with one of his falcons. Courtesy of Anita Kendall.

They belonged to his father, Henry, a salesman and World War 2 veteran who took in wild animals in his spare time.

But there was one animal that stood out the most.

At StoryCorps, Judd told his son, also named Jud, about the special bond Henry developed with a full-blooded wolf named Peter.

Henry Kendall with Peter the wolf in St. Louis, MO, circa 1962. Courtesy of Jud Esty-Kendall.
Jud Esty-Kendall with his father, Judd Esty-Kendall, and daughter, Makai, in Durham, NC, on September 29, 2018. Courtesy of Jud Esty-Kendall.
Top Photo: Henry Kendall and his son, Judd Esty-Kendall, with Peter the wolf in their backyard in St. Louis, MO, circa 1962. Courtesy of Jud Esty-Kendall.

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 April 5, 2024, on NPR’s Morning Edition. 

“It Feels Like a Gift”: How Taking a Name Kept One Man’s Legacy Alive

In 1981, the death of 21-year-old Cameroonian man Acha Mbiwan devastated his family. Losing Acha — known for his mischievous sense of humor and prodigious intelligence — sent shockwaves through the family’s tight-knit community.  

For more than 40 years, they found it difficult to even speak about Acha. But little did they know that Acha had befriended an American man in college named Atiba, who was so moved by Acha’s death that he took his friend’s last name, Mbiwan, as a tribute.

In 2012, Acha’s sisters Didi Ndando and Egbe Monjimbo learned of Atiba’s existence after stumbling across him on the internet. All three sat down for StoryCorps to talk about what happened next.

This story was adapted from the StoryCorps Podcast. To hear the full story, listen to the episode: “One Who Is Understanding

Top Photo: Didi Ndando, Atiba Mbiwan, and Egbe Monjimbo at a reunion for Atiba’s family in Atlanta in 2014. Courtesy of Egbe Monjimbo.
Middle Photo: Acha Mbiwan posing in a photo booth in 1980 in Paris, France. Courtesy of Egbe Monjimbo.

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 December 2, 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.

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One Who Is Understanding

Family names bind one generation to the next. But what if that name is lost? In this episode, a grieving family learns their legacy is being kept alive by a stranger from far away.
Artwork by Lyne Lucien.
Released on November 22nd, 2022.

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.

Donate

From Civil War To Civil Rights: Remembering A “Fearless” Midwife And Matriarch

Mary Stepp Burnette Hayden was born into enslavement in Black Mountain, North Carolina. She was 7 years old when she was freed.

Mary Stepp Burnette Hayden, about 1942, with her granddaughter, Mary Othella Burnette, and two of Hayden’s great-grandchildren. Courtesy of Mary O. Burnette.

Mary would go on to become a midwife in the Appalachian town, a practice she learned from her mother, who was sold to a plantation in Black Mountain at the age of 13 to treat sick or injured enslaved people. 

Mary died at the age of 98, at the dawn of the civil rights era. 

In her lifetime, she delivered several hundred babies… including her own grandchildren.

One of them, Mary Othella Burnette, came to StoryCorps with her daughter, Debora Hamilton Palmer, to honor the family matriarch.

Mary Othella Burnette and Debora Hamilton Palmer in 2015, Michigan. Courtesy of Mary O. Burnette.

 

Top Photo: Mary Othella Burnette and Debora Hamilton Palmer at their StoryCorps interview in Saint Clair Shores, MI, and Sparks, NV, on Feb. 6, 2022. By StoryCorps.

Originally aired February 18, 2022 on NPR’s Morning Edition.

Siblings Remember Their Circus Performing Parents And Their First “Magical” Halloween

As kids, Fritzi and Bobby Huber would spend 9 months out of the year traveling the country with their circus performer parents.

Fritz and Betty Huber practice their high wire act. Photo courtesy of Fritzi Huber.

The family of four lived in a 26-foot-long trailer while they were on the road.

Fritzi and Bobby were used to the wonder of the circus, where costumes were a part of everyday life. But they had never heard of Halloween.

Bobby and Fritzi Huber hold hands at the fairgrounds, circa 1950s. Photo courtesy of Fritzi Huber

That changed one night when they were around 6 and 7, and the family stopped for the night in a remote field. More than 60 years later, Bobby and Fritzi came to StoryCorps to remember their first Halloween and how their parents made it “magical.”

Top Photo: Fritzi and Bobby Huber at their StoryCorps interview in Wilmington, NC on Sept. 22, 2021. Photo by Ben DeHaven.

Originally aired October 29, 2021 on NPR’s Morning Edition.

A Road Trip And Lost Time: A Father And Son Reconnect After 30 Years

For many of us, living through this pandemic is a reminder of the importance of strengthening our connections with loved ones. Now, reflections from a father and son who did just that.

When T. Chick McClure was growing up, they were really close to their dad, Chas McClure. They spent time fishing, sledding, and swinging a bat in the backyard. But when Chick was 14 years old their parents divorced and their dad moved away for his job in the Navy. They spent the next 30 years having a distant relationship, speaking only occasionally.

 Chas McClure and T. Chick McClure in McClure Pass, Colorado. Photo Courtesy of  T. Chick McClure.

But after 30 years Chick decided to change that. Not long after, Chas responded by inviting them on a two week road trip through the Southwest. They used StoryCorps Connect to remember the trip that brought them back together. 

Originally aired August 14, 2020, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

Top Photo: T. Chick McClure and Chas McClure in Los Angeles, California. Courtesy of  T. Chick McClure.

The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea

Since as far back as the Revolutionary War, LGBTQ service members have been discriminated against in various ways by the United States military. On this episode of the StoryCorps podcast, we bring you stories from veterans who were kicked out of the service, as well as some who stayed in the closet to keep their jobs.

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First, we’ll hear from Sue McConnell (above left) and Kristyn Weed, who both served during the Vietnam-era and came out as trans after leaving the military.

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Next, we’ll remember Technical Sergeant Leonard Matlovich, who received national attention for outing himself as gay in 1975 while serving in the Air Force.

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Lastly, Air Force veteran Jeri Dilno and Navy veteran Joseph Patton take us back to the 1950s and early 60s, when they were given undesirable discharges due to the assumption that they were “homosexual.”

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Top photo: Artwork by Michael Caines.
Second photo: Sue McConnell (left) and Kristyn Weed at their 2018 StoryCorps interview in Tucson, Arizona. By Mia Warren.
Third photo: Leonard Matlovich, who appeared on the cover of Time in 1975 to challenge the military ban on gay service members.
Fourth photo: Jeri Dilno with her friend Andrea Villa in 2013 at their StoryCorps interview in San Diego, California. By Cambra Moniz-Edwards.
Fifth photo: Joseph Patton, who recorded in Santa Monica, California with StoryCorps in 2019. By Jud Esty-Kendall.
Bottom photo: Joseph Patton in 1956 when he was a member of the US Navy. Courtesy of Joseph Patton.

Released on May 21, 2019.

Like the music in this episode? Support the artists:
“Overture” by Patrick Wolf from the album Sundark and Riverlight
“Step In, Step Out” by Blue Dot Sessions from the album Crab Shack
“Watermarks” by Blue Dot Sessions from the album Crab Shack
“Untitled #9” by Yusuke Tsutsumi from the album Birds Flying in the Dark
“Cast in Wicker” by Blue Dot Sessions from the album Aeronaut
“Paloma” by Fabian Almazan and Linda Oh

This podcast is brought to you by supporters of StoryCorps, an independently funded nonprofit organization, and is made possible in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people.

A Daughter on Living with, and Relating to, a Father with Mental Health Conditions

Shotzy Harrison lived with her father, James Flavy Coy Brown, until she was three years old. But James, who has been treated for multiple mental health conditions over the years, was in and out of Shotzy’s life as a result, and spent most of his adult life homeless.

After they reunited in 2013, Shotzy brought James home to live with her in Winston Salem, North Carolina. That’s when they sat down for a StoryCorps interview where they talked about their relationship and the time they’d lost.

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Five years later, Shotzy recorded again, by herself, to reflect on that StoryCorps conversation with her dad. You’ll hear excerpts from both of those interviews in this story.

To hear more, listen to the episode of our podcast where Shotzy and James are featured.

Top photo: Shotzy Harrison in 2013 with her father, James Flavy Coy Brown, at their StoryCorps recording in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
Bottom photo: Shotzy Harrison in 2018 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

Originally aired March 15, 2019, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

Memories of Escaping the South Tower of the WTC on September 11, 2001

On September 11th, 2001, Joe Dittmar was visiting New York City from the Chicago suburb of Aurora, Illinois. He worked in the insurance industry and had an early morning meeting at the World Trade Center.

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Joe was on the 105th floor of the south tower when the north tower was attacked. Then, 17 minutes later, his tower was hit. He followed the crowds as they evacuated.

And at StoryCorps, he remembered making his way back home.

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Top photo: Joe Dittmar at his StoryCorps interview in Chapel Hill, North Carolina on August 28, 2017. Photo by Jud Esty-Kendall.
Middle photo: Joe Dittmar’s World Trade Center visitor’s pass that he received for his 9/11/01 meeting — set to expire the following day. Photo by Jud Esty-Kendall.
Bottom photo: Joe Dittmar (right), pictured with his wife, Betty Dittmar. Photo courtesy of Joe Dittmar.

Originally aired September 7, 2018, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

William Lynn Weaver

Dr. William Lynn Weaver grew up during the 1950s and 1960s in Mechanicsville, a black working-class neighborhood in Knoxville, Tennessee.

In 1964, he was one of 14 black teens who integrated West High School. He told that story in two other StoryCorps segments here and here.

After graduation, Weaver went on to study at Howard University. This story took place when he came home during his freshman year for Christmas break.

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Dr. William Lynn Weaver died in May 2019.

Originally aired December 15, 2017, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

Bottom photo: Dr. William Lynn Weaver with his younger brother, Wayne, in Knoxville, Tennessee in 1963. Courtesy of the Weaver family.