Philadelphia Archives - StoryCorps

“He Was a Gentleman and a Gentle Man to Me”: A Widow Remembers Her Late Husband, a Marine Veteran

 

Marine Corporal Daniel MacMurray at Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, North Carolina in 1982. Photo courtesy Cynthia Alvarez.

Seventeen years ago, Cynthia Alvarez fell in love with Marine Corporal Daniel Mark MacMurray. She was a peace activist, and he was a proud Marine veteran and firefighter, and the two didn’t always see eye to eye.  But they agreed to love each other. And they did just that, until Dan became sick and died. 

Cynthia came to StoryCorps to remember him.

Cynthia Alvarez and her daughter, Isabela Alvarez, at their StoryCorps interview in Philadelphia on April 27, 2024. By Alan Jinich for 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 May 25, 2024, on NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday.

A Father And Daughter Reflect On Shared Wisdom And ‘Cool Genes’

Yusuf Ali has spent his adult life working hard to be a father and a provider. Long before family life he was known as “Joe Cool,” respected by friends and colleagues for his boundless style.

Yusuf Ali, his son Noble and Attyah Milton in the late 1980s. Photo courtesy of Attayah Milton.

Yusuf and his family moved from town to town as he followed work selling office furniture. No matter where they lived, he was always imparting life lessons and wisdom to everyone he mentored, including his two children, Attayah and Noble.

Noble Ali, Yusuf Ali, Attayah Milton and her children, November 2019. Photo courtesy of Attayah Milton.

Yusuf came to StoryCorps with his daughter Attayah to record some of their memories and share a few laughs in celebration of Yusuf’s 70th birthday.

Top Photo: Attayah Milton and Yusuf Ali at their StoryCorps interview in Philadelphia, PA on June 3, 2019. By Ava Ahmadbeigi for 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 May 24, 2024, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

A Daughter Reflects on What Philadelphia’s Chinatown Meant to Her Mother.

 

In the 1960’s Deborah Wei’s parent’s left China for the United States and eventually settled in the suburbs of Philadelphia. . At StoryCorps, Deborah talks with her daughter Kaia Chau about how her mother navigated making  a home, and what Philadelphia’s Chinatown meant to the family.

 

Deborah Wei’s mother with strawberries she grew in Philadelphia in 1981. Courtesy of Deborah Wei.
Top Photo: Deborah Wei with her mother and sister in Philadelphia in 1959. Courtesy of Deborah Wei.

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 19, 2024, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

“Try to be happy.” : A Father Shares his Wisdom

Tchin, an artist and metalsmith, has built a distinguished career. He’s an established Indigenous artist, even creating pieces for brands like Cartier.  

Tchin and Xiao Hui Star in Santa Fe, NM in 1985. Photo courtesy of Xiao Hui Star.

Growing up in foster homes across Virginia and Rhode Island, Tchin was often one of the few Indigenous people in his community. But he made a life as an artist while raising four daughters in New York City.

At StoryCorps Tchin sat down with his daughter Xiao Hui Star Chin to reflect on all he’s learned.

Xiao Hui with her parents Tchin and WanWoo Chin in Brooklyn, NY in 1988. Photo courtesy of Xiao Hui Star
Top Photo: Xiao Hui Star and Tchin at their StoryCorps interview in Philadelphia, PA on September 16, 2023. By Kayla Lattimore for 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 January 12, 2024, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

Amor Eterno: Remembering Ana Guissel Palma on Día de los Muertos

Cesar Viveros in front of his altar in Philadelphia in 2022.
Photo by Neal Santos, courtesy of The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage.

In 2016, Cesar Viveros and his wife Ana Guissel Palma set out to document Day of the Dead altars in South Philadelphia—a thriving Mexican and Central American community.  The pair went door-to-door, recording stories across their neighborhood in the hopes of creating a large community altar for people to visit and remember their loved ones. 

But two years into the project, Ana became sick, and passed away just before Day of the Dead, leaving Cesar to finish the project on his own. 

He came to StoryCorps with his niece, Kathy Lopez, to honor her.

A framed photo of Ana Guissel Palma at an altar created by Cesar Viveros. October 21, 2023 at FDR Park in Philadelphia. By Kayla Lattimore for 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 27, 2023 on NPR’s Morning Edition.

Finding A Mom And “The Power Of Love”: Reflections From A Foster Mother And Daughter

Jade Rone grew up in foster care in Philadelphia, and spent the majority of her childhood living with one foster mother. When she was 17, her foster mom died, and she found herself searching for a family once again.

In 2015, Jade was placed in the home of Stacia Parker. The early months of their relationship were rough, as they both learned to trust each other.

Photo: Jade Rone and Stacia Parker. Courtesy of Stacia Parker.

Their connection eventually deepened into a mother-daughter relationship, with Stacia becoming a devoted grandmother to Jade’s two young children, Kelani Grace, age 4, and Nova Reign, age 1.

In 2019, Jade and Stacia came to StoryCorps to remember when they first met.

Top Photo: Jade Rone and Stacia Parker at their StoryCorps interview in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. By Ava Ahmadbeigi for StoryCorps.

Originally aired May 7th, 2021, on NPR’s Morning Edition. 

Philadelphia Poll Worker Supports Her Community, and Inspires Daughter to Do the Same

Cherie DeBrest cast her first ballot nearly 30 years ago and has voted in every election since.

She felt “duty-bound” to vote in honor of those before her who weren’t allowed. She credits her inspiration to early suffragettes, Black women like Mary Church Terrell and Ida B. Wells, who fought for the right to vote in 1920, but never got the chance to vote themselves. She carries their legacy, along with so many others in the fight for civil rights, each time she goes into the voting booth.

But last year, she decided to take it a step further and started working at the polls in her North Philadelphia neighborhood.

Using StoryCorps Connect, she spoke with her 18-year-old daughter, Naima.

Top Photo: Cherie and Naima DeBrest following their StoryCorps interview in Philadelphia, PA on October 21, 2020. Courtesy of Naima DeBrest.

Originally aired October 30, 2020, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

“I Was Going To Have Family Again:” How One Woman’s Path to Being Herself Led Her Home

Elizabeth Coffey-Williams was in her early 20s when she told her family that she was transgender. But back then, in the early 1970s, there were very few options for people who wanted to medically transition. 

She is now 71 years old. She sat down for a StoryCorps interview with her niece, Jennifer Coffey, to reflect on that journey. 

Elizabeth now lives in a LGBTQ-friendly housing complex for seniors in downtown Philadelphia. Hear more from Elizabeth and her neighbors on the StoryCorps podcast.

Top Photo: Elizabeth Coffey-Williams and Jennifer Coffey at their StoryCorps interview in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on April 8, 2019. By Jud Esty-Kendall for StoryCorps.

Originally aired August 16, 2019, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

“There Was No Hanky Panky”: A Couple Reflects On The Friendship That Led To 70 Years Of Marriage

Julia and Joel Helfman met when they were just kids — at 12 and 13 years old. Their friendship blossomed into a decades-long love story. And together they had five kids of their own, as well as 11 grandchildren and eight great-grandkids.

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A few months before their 70th wedding anniversary, Joel and Julia sat down at StoryCorps to remember how it all began.

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Top photo: Julia and Joel Helfman on their wedding day in November 1949. Courtesy of the Helfman family. 
Middle photo: Joel and Julia Helfman (center) with their five kids, c. 1972. Courtesy of the Helfman family. 
Bottom photo: Julia and Joel Helfman at their StoryCorps interview in Philadelphia, PA in 2019. By Eleanor Vassili for StoryCorps.

Originally aired July 26, 2019, on NPR’s Morning Edition. 

A Beautiful Gray In The Gayborhood

Many people come to StoryCorps with a loved one to talk about the things that matter most in their lives. But for many LGBTQ seniors, finding someone to even have that conversation with can be tough. 

So in this episode of the StoryCorps podcast, we visit the John C. Anderson Apartmentsan affordable housing complex for seniors in downtown Philadelphia’s “gayborhood.” We’ll get to know eight residents who all led very different lives but ultimately ended up here to live out their golden years together.

We’ll start by hearing from one of the first people to move in, Elizabeth Coffey Williams. She sat down with her niece Jenn Coffey, as well as her gardening buddy, best friend, and neighbor Frank Potopa.

CoffeyWilliams_composite

In the building’s lobby, there’s a large black and white photograph framed on the wall.  It shows people marching outside of Independence Hall in Philadelphia, holding signs with slogans demanding equal rights.

This protest—which went on to become a yearly event called the Annual Reminder—happened in 1965. It was one of the first organized demonstrations for gay rights in the country.

One of the protesters is named John James and he’s now 78 years old. He sat down for StoryCorps to remember being part of that historical protest.

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Another fixture in the building’s lobby is Roosevelt “Rosy” Adams, who often holds court in the seating area there. In his StoryCorps interview, he reflects on growing up in Philadelphia and falling in love with his neighbor.

AdamsR16x9

But even with an established community, it can still be hard to make new friends. Two of John C Anderson’s newest residents, Katherine Allen and PC Wilson, took their StoryCorps interview as an opportunity to get to know each other better.

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Finally, we’ll hear from Mary Groce and Susan Atlas, who live across the hall from Katherine Allen. They met and fell in love years ago, and moved into the John C Anderson building when they had nowhere else to go.

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Top photo: Artwork by Michael Caines.
Middle Photo: Elizabeth Coffey Williams with her niece, Jennifer Coffey, at their StoryCorps interview. Also Elizabeth with her friend and gardening buddy Frank Potopa at the John C Anderson apartments in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. By Jud Esty-Kendall.
Middle Photo: John James at the John C Anderson apartments in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In the historical photo of the Annual Reminder protest, he’s on the left side wearing a black suit. By Jud Esty-Kendall.
Middle Photo: Roosevelt “Rosy” Adams at StoryCorps in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 2019. By Jud Esty-Kendall.
Middle Photo: PC Wilson and Katherine Allen, who recorded in Katherine’s apartment in 2019. By Jud Esty-Kendall.
Bottom Photo: Mary Groce and Susan Atlas at their StoryCorps interview in 2019. By Jud Esty-Kendall.

Released on July 23, 2019.

Like the music in this episode? Support the artists:
“Overture“ by Patrick Wolf
“Untitled #4” by Yusuke Tsutsumi
Step In Step Out” by Blue Dot Sessions
“Grey Grey Joe” by Blue Dot Sessions
“City Limits” by Blue Dot Sessions
“Cast In Wicker” by Blue Dot Sessions
“Lahaina” by Blue Dot Sessions