“You Have a Place in My Life”: An Old Flame Finds a Way Forward
When Mary Clark and Ron Gibson were in their 30s, they began a whirlwind romance. What started as a white-hot connection flamed out quickly.
As time passed the two fell out of touch, living their lives on separate tracks. Nearly thirty years later Ron had a health scare and Mary got back in touch.
Mary Clark and Ron Gibson after they reunited. Courtesy of Mary Clark.
When Ron and Mary reunited, they thought about picking up where they left off. The pair came to StoryCorps to reflect on what they’ve left behind and where they are now.
Top Photo: Mary Clark and Ron Gibson at their StoryCorps interview in San Francisco on August 5, 2021. By Sam Fickinger for StoryCorps.
Originally aired October 1, 2021, on NPR’s Morning Edition.
“My Mother the Performer”: The Life and Legacy of Dorothy Toy
In the late 1930s, Dorothy Toy and her dance partner Paul Wing made their Broadway debut after years touring on the Vaudeville circuit. In one of their earliest Broadway appearances, the duo, billed as Toy & Wing, performed in a musical review. That night, as Toy & Wing took their bows, the applause was thunderous. Dorothy later told her daughter that the audience got on their feet and applauded so vigorously the bandleader was forced to bring them out repeatedly – stalling the next act. Dorothy would say, she lost track of how many bows they took that night, but that they became a fixture on Broadway from then on.
Dorothy, Paul and a young Dorlie Fong dancing the cha cha during an encore performance. Courtesy of Dorlie Fong.
Dorothy Toy and dance partner Paul Wing (Toy & Wing) posing at the Forbidden City Nightclub in 1950’s San Francisco. Courtesy of Dorlie Fong.
Decades later, after founding her own dance company and touring the world, Dorothy Toy planned to visit StoryCorps with her daughter, to look back on a lifetime of performance. But she passed before that was possible. Dorothy was 102 years old when she died. She had suffered multiple broken hips and lived with dementia, but she considered herself a dancer well into her final years.
In March of 2021, her daughter Dorlie Fong came to StoryCorps to honor her mother. In that session she committed to tape many of Dorothy’s stories from a bygone era of Vaudeville, Hollywood, and Broadway. But beyond that, Dorlie described what it was like growing up backstage and finding connection with her mother the star.
Top Photo: (L) Dorothy Toy and her young daughter Dorlie Fong backstage in the 1950’s. (R) Dorlie with her mother on her 101st birthday. Courtesy of Dorlie Fong.
Bottom Photo: Dorothy Toy performing in her home dance studio in front of a CBS news crew. Courtesy of Dorlie Fong.
Originally aired April 2, on NPR’s Morning Edition.
“Amnesty Days:” One Father’s Made-Up Day of Forgiveness
There are many religious traditions that help people atone for doing something wrong. But in this StoryCorps conversation, we’ll hear from a dad who created his own method of repentance for his kids.
Vickie and Michael Feldstein grew up in Newton, Massachusetts in the late 1960s. As adults, they came to StoryCorps with their dad, Bernie Feldstein, to talk about what he called “Amnesty Days.”
Top photo: From left to right, the Feldstein family in 1983; Michael, Bernie, Barbara and Vickie in Newton, MA. Courtesy of the Feldstein family.
Originally aired October 11, 2019, on NPR’s Morning Edition.
Friends During the Vietnam War Reunite Almost 50 Years After
Back in 1967, close to 500,000 US troops were serving in Vietnam, including Kay Lee and John Nordeen. Kay was 22, a combat medic from San Francisco. John was 20, and a soldier from Seattle. They were assigned to the same Army platoon and became fast friends.
But the two lost touch after the war. For years, John tried to find his old friend. They finally reunited in 2015 on the day of the Mid-Autumn Festival, a Chinese lunar holiday that celebrates family, gratitude and reunions.
And 50 years later, John and Kay sat down at StoryCorps to remember how they first met.
Top photo: Kay Lee and John Nordeen on October 30, 2018 after their StoryCorps interview in San Francisco, CA. By Susan Lee for StoryCorps.
Middle photo: Kay Lee and John Nordeen in 1967 during the Vietnam War. Courtesy of John Nordeen.
Originally aired November 16, 2018, on NPR’s Morning Edition.
“Tubby” Johnston: The Girl Who Changed Little League Baseball
In the spring of 1950, 13-year-old Kay Johnston spent her afternoons playing baseball on the neighborhood sandlot in Corning, New York. Kay wanted nothing more than to play Little League baseball. But at that time, it was unthinkable for girls to play on an official team.
At StoryCorps, Kay sat down with her husband, Cy Massar, to remember what she did next.
Top and middle photos: Kay “Tubby” Johnston in her King’s Dairy Little League team uniform in 1950. Courtesy of Kay Johnston Massar.
Bottom photo: Cy Massar and Kay Johnston Massar at their StoryCorps interview in San Francisco.
Originally aired March 30, 2018, on NPR’s Morning Edition.
The Unedited StoryCorps Interview: Jennifer Brooks & Jose Angel Quiñonez
Did you know that the stories you hear from us on NPR and our podcast are excerpts of interviews pulled from the StoryCorps Archive? Participants visit one of our recording locations with a friend or family member to record a 40-minute interview with the help of a trained StoryCorps Facilitator, or record a conversation using the StoryCorps App. We’re sharing this unedited interview from the StoryCorps Archive with you in its original form.
In November 2010, Jennifer Caldwell Brooks interviewed her husband, Jose Angel Quiñonez, about coming to the United States and his life here. They were recorded at our former StoryBooth at the San Francisco Public Library.
Jose describes coming across the border from Mexico with his five siblings when he was nine years old. Both of his parents had passed away and the children collectively decided that it was the best option for them. “There was going to be nothing for us in Mexico and there was nobody that wanted to take care of us,” he said.
About 22 minutes into the conversation, Jose tells Jennifer about the perceptions he had of her when they first met — she was white and came from an “upper middle class, educated, wholesome family.” It wasn’t until a Thanksgiving dinner at her dad’s house that he realized they had more in common than he first thought.
Jose and Jennifer look back on their childhoods and their parallel desires to just have a “normal” life. They talk about being parents to two young children together and discuss how their upbringings affect and inform the decisions they make.
Launched in 2009, StoryCorps Historias is an initiative to record the diverse stories and life experiences of Latinos in the United states. Sharing these stories ensures that the voices of Latinos will be preserved and remembered for generations to come. Historias recordings are archived at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress and in a special collection at the Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection at the University of Texas at Austin.
All material within the StoryCorps collection is copyrighted by StoryCorps. StoryCorps encourages use of material on this site by educators and students without prior permission, provided appropriate credit is given. This interview has not been fact-checked, and may contain sensitive personal information about living persons.
Sarah Churchill and Yomi Wrong
Many people come to StoryCorps to honor loved ones — often their parents. Yomi Wrong brought her mother, Sarah Churchill, to a recording booth to say thanks for never giving up on her.
In 1972, Sarah was pregnant with her third daughter. Shortly after giving birth, doctors told her that her baby had a rare genetic disorder that caused her bones to break under the slightest pressure. The doctors told Sarah that she had a choice — she could try to raise a child who might not survive, and, if she did, would be a tremendous burden on their family, or Sarah could leave the child at the hospital since she wouldn’t live long.
That baby was Yomi, who, at the time of this recording, was about to celebrate her 45th birthday. Here, Sarah tells Yomi about the night she was born.
This interview was recorded in partnership with the Disability Visibility Project.
Originally aired May 12, 2017, on NPR’s Morning Edition.
Bottom photo: Sarah Churchill at a family gathering in the Bronx with her daughter, Yomi, in 1976. Courtesy of Yomi Wrong.
Francisco and Frankie Preciado
When Francisco Preciado was six years old, his family moved from Mexico to the California. They entered the United States through the Bracero program, which, starting in 1942 and lasting more than 20 years, allowed Mexican workers to come to the U.S. to take temporary agricultural jobs.
At the time, Francisco spoke only Spanish, but he quickly learned English with the help of his teachers. This led him to dream of one day becoming a teacher himself, but financial demands and the need to support his family forced him to drop out of school and begin working full-time.
In the early 1980s, he took a job as a groundskeeper at Stanford University and was often accompanied to the college by his young son Frankie. Francisco hoped that one day Frankie would become a student at Stanford, and his dream came true with Frankie graduating from the university in 2007 with degrees in political science and Chicano(a) Studies.
Now 31 years old, Frankie is the executive director of the union that represents Stanford’s service and technical workers, and whose membership also includes his father.
Francisco and Frankie came to StoryCorps to talk about their relationship and their time together at Stanford—one as a maintenance man, the other as a student.
Originally aired May 13, 2016, on NPR’s Morning Edition.
Above: Frankie with his father, Francisco, and his mother, Margarita, at his 2007 graduation from Stanford University.
Top: Frankie and Francisco at one of the fountains that Francisco takes care of on the campus of Stanford University.
Photos courtesy of the Preciado family.
Scott Skiles and Zach Skiles
Marine Corporal Zach Skiles was deployed to Iraq in 2003 at the start of the United States invasion. While serving on the frontlines, he lost five of his friends within a two-week period.
When he returned home, Zach found it difficult to hold down a job and soon after found himself homeless.
At StoryCorps, Zach sat down with his father, Scott, to talk about the difficulties he faced after the war and how he got back on his feet.
Where are they now?
In 2018, Zach is in his fourth and final academic year of a PhD program in clinical psychology. He looks forward to using his degree to help other veterans in need.
Photo: Zach Skiles (right) with his father Scott (left) at their StoryCorps interview in San Francisco, CA. Photo by Geraldine Ah-Sue for StoryCorps.
Originally aired April 18, 2015, on NPR’s Weekend Edition.
Jeff Wilson and Tammie Baird
When Jeff Wilson heard this StoryCorps conversation about a car accident, it brought back bad memories.
In 1984, Jeff was driving to high school when the sun got in his eyes and he struck another student as she was crossing the street.
Jeff told that story in an online comment, and we suggested that he sit down with Tammie Baird, the person he hit 30 years ago.
So they came to a StoryCorps booth and sat face-to-face for the first time since high school.
Originally aired March 27, 2015, on NPR’s Morning Edition.