Tennessee – StoryCorps
Give by 9/30 & your gift will have 2x the impact! Donate

“He Was There In The Way He Could Be”: A Father Comes To Terms With His Own Dad

Tom Badgett grew up in small-town Tennessee during the 1950s. His father, Jim Patton Badgett was the president of a local bank and pillar of the community.

Tom’s father, James P. Badgett, in his late 50s. Photo courtesy of Tom Badgett.

Despite having a job where he had to be engaging and a good communicator, he was distant at home, which made Tom think hard about what kind of a parent he wanted to be.

He came to StoryCorps with his daughter, Jordan Perelle, to reflect on his complicated relationship with his dad.

 

Top Photo: Jordan Perelle and Tom Badgett at their StoryCorps interview in Knoxville, Tennessee on October 11, 2010. By Virginia Lora 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 July 7, 2023, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

Little Bit of Me—A Father And Son Look Back On A Life Filled With Music

Seventy-year-old Jim Von Stein was a Navy kid, and grew up all over the country before his family landed in Chattanooga, Tennessee. 

He became a draftsman by trade before retiring as an HVAC service technician, where he would crawl under houses installing heating and air conditioning units—hard work that often involved handling hazardous materials. 

But if you were looking around his trailer in rural Tennessee, you’d see mountains of songbooks and homemade recordings, and scraps of paper and napkins scribbled with lyrics. These are songs he’s been writing since he was nine years old, that almost nobody has ever heard.


Jason and Jim Von Stein in Birmingham, Alabama, in August of 2018. Courtesy of the Von Stein family.

Jim came to StoryCorps with his son, Jason, to look back on a life of music and the ultimate gesture of love.


Jim and Jason Von Stein on  September 18th, 1982, in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Courtesy of the Von Stein family.
Top Photo: Jim and Jason Von Stein at their StoryCorps interview in Chattanooga, TN on April 1st, 2019. By Eleanor Vassili 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 March 10th, 2023 on NPR’s Morning Edition.

 

 

On The Day Their Concentration Camp Was Liberated, Two Former Prisoners Found Love

In 1945, the Allied forces arrived at the Theresienstadt concentration camp and liberated thousands of prisoners – many of whom were Jewish. The front gates swung open and anyone who was able wandered into the nearby town in search of food and clothing. But one woman, Mina Bergman, was sick with typhus, barefoot, and unable to walk. Mina’s sister set off, promising to bring back whatever she could find. She returned with Yehuda Czarnoczapka, who introduced himself and gave Mina a few potatoes and a pair of shoes he’d found. “I think the efforts he went through won her over,” said Susan Moinester.

Passports of Mina Czarnoczapka and Yehuda Czarnoczapka issued in a displaced persons camp in Linz, Austria, after their release. Photos courtesy of Susan Moinester.

Despite the trauma, her parents endured, and Susan remembers growing up in a home filled with love. Her mother had a particular thirst for life that remained unaffected by the war. She loved to attend parties, see Broadway performances, and encouraged her daughters to date and have fun. “That was the harshest demand she placed on me,” remembers Moinester.

Mina Czarnoczapka and Yehuda Czarnoczapka in a displaced persons camp in Linz, Austria in 1945. Photo courtesy of Susan Moinester.

Like many Holocaust survivors, Yehuda and Mina have passed away, but each year Susan and family honor their story of their liberation and enduring romance. Top photo: Margot and Susan Moinester in Memphis, Tennessee in 2022. Photo courtesy of Susan Moinester. 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 27, 2023, on NPR’s Morning Edition. 

With your support, StoryCorps is able to record more stories that help lift up underrepresented voices, bridge political and social divides, and preserve personal histories for the future.

Donate

A New Heart And A New Path: Transplant Recipient Shares Lifelong Dream With Her Mom

When Gianna Paniagua was just a baby, she was diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy — a heart defect that led her to severe heart failure. Gianna was 14 months old when she received her first heart transplant.

Gianna with her mother, Lourdes, at the hospital after her first transplant in October 1992.
Courtesy of Gianna Paniagua.

Even with a new heart, Gianna spent most of her life in and out of hospitals. Those experiences shaped her childhood, and she remembers being surrounded by doctors for most of her life.

Gianna as a child playing doctor with her dolls. Courtesy of Gianna Paniagua.

During these countless appointments and medical procedures, Gianna was able to lean on her mom, Lourdes Matamoros. Lourdes has been by Gianna’s side for decades — including when she received her second heart transplant in 2021.

Gianna (right) in the hospital with her mom after receiving her pacemaker in 2018. Courtesy of Lourdes Matamoros.

A year after receiving a new heart, Gianna came to StoryCorps to speak with her mom about her plans for the future.

Top Photo: Lourdes Matamoros and Gianna Paniagua at their StoryCorps interview in Nashville, Tennessee on March 17, 2022. Taken for StoryCorps.

Originally aired April 8, 2022, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

“I Have These Dreams Where I Go Back”: Dad and Daughter Mourn a Syria They Once Knew

Walid Sakaan grew up in Syria and immigrated to Memphis in his 20s, where he settled and raised a family of his own. Despite moving away, he always stayed connected to where he was from— which included a large close knit family, where he was one of eleven siblings. 

Photo: Walid Sakaan (bottom center) with his siblings in Aleppo in 2006.

In an attempt to connect to her father’s roots, Walid’s daughter, Magda, moved to Syria as an adult and built a life for herself there but when the war began in 2011, she left and they have both not been back since. 

They came to StoryCorps to remember both the country and the people they love.

Top Photo (left to right): Magda Sakaan and Walid Sakaan at their StoryCorps interview in Memphis, Tennessee in 2019. By Eleanor Vassili for StoryCorps.

This interview is part of the Anwar Collection of Muslim Voices through StoryCorps’ American Pathways initiative. This initiative is made possible by the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art and an Anonymous Foundation. Additional support is provided by the Stuart Family Foundation. It will be archived at the Library of Congress.

Originally aired March 12th, 2021, on NPR’s Morning Edition. 

“I Want to be Remembered as a Person Who Cared”: A 93-Year-Old Retired Nurse Looks Back on Her Service

Ruth Owens has lived her whole life in the mountains of rural Tennessee. She worked as a nurse in the area for over four decades, eventually retiring when she was 85 years old.

Now 93, she sat down at StoryCorps with her grandson, James Taylor, who, along with several of her kids and grandkids, followed in Ruth’s footsteps to become a nurse. 

They begin by talking about Ruth’s childhood in the late 1930s and how she eventually found her calling. 

Photo: Ruth Owens with her grandson, James Taylor, in April of 2019 at their StoryCorps recording in Cookeville, TN. Photo by Rochelle Hoi-Yiu Kwan for StoryCorps.

Originally aired March 20, 2020 on NPR’s Morning Edition.

This interview was recorded in partnership with Independent Lens and WCTE as part of a project to record stories about health and access to care in rural communities.

This Is Where I Leave You

It’s never easy to say goodbye to the people we love, but in this episode of the podcast, we’ll hear from four families as they navigate some of the most difficult conversations imaginable and, in the process, they remind us that even in death, there is life.

The first story comes from Patricia Mishler who moved to the United States from England in the late 70s with her two daughters, Suzanne and Janette. In 2014, at the age of 72, Patricia was diagnosed with ALS–also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. At StoryCorps, she sat down with her daughters to talk about living with the disease and knowing that it would one day take her life.

Next, you’ll hear from Eva Vega-Olds and how she used the StoryCorps app to record her final conversation with her father, Leonardo Vega, while he was receiving hospice care at home. 

You’ll also hear Natalie Colvin interviewing her 88-year-old grandfather, Willy Weeks, who, after being diagnosed with terminal cancer, made the decision to end his life on his own terms using a drug prescribed by his doctor. 

Our final story comes from 25-year-old Mark Carles, who came to StoryCorps with his older brother, David, to talk about how living with a rare form of liver cancer has impacted both of their lives.

Top photo: Artwork by Lindsay Mound.
Middle Photo: Patricia Mishler with her daughters Suzanne and Janette Lynch on March 28, 2016 in Nashville, Tennessee. By Erika Romero for StoryCorps
Middle Photo: Eva Vega-Olds with her father, Leonardo Vega, on her wedding day in May of 2009. Courtesy of Eva Vega-Olds.
Bottom Photo: Mark Carles and David Carles at their StoryCorps interview in New York City on November 6, 2019. By Mia Warren for StoryCorps.

Released on December 3, 2019.

Like the music in this episode? Support the artists:
“Heat and Memory” by Jarrett Floyd
“Untitled #2” by Yusuke Tsutsumi
“John Stockton Slow Drag” By Chris Zabriskie
“Siloed” By Matt Stevens
“Photosphere” By Charles Atlas

 

Ashley Judd on the Importance of Speaking Out

When the New York Times first broke the story about Harvey Weinstein’s decades-long record of sexual harassment in late 2017, it sparked a national conversation about sexual misconduct in the workplace. In Hollywood, Ashley Judd was one of the first actresses to speak publicly about Weinstein’s abuse.

At StoryCorps in Nashville, Tennessee, she sat down with her friend Ted Klontz to reflect on the courage it took to come forward — and the importance of speaking out.

Originally aired March 2, 2018, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

StoryCorps is partnering with Time’s Up to record, preserve, and amplify the stories of working women past and present and to create a dynamic and vital record of the stories of people in the workplace across the world. You can record your own Time’s Up interview with a woman in your life. Get started using the StoryCorps App.

 

Judy Charest and Harold Hogue

On December 24, 1956, Marguerite Hunt drove with her 3-month-old daughter, Judy, to the Shelby Street Bridge (now called the John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge) in Nashville, Tennessee, got out of her car, and with her baby in her arms, jumped 90 feet into the cold waters of the Cumberland River.

charest3Harold Hogue, an engineer with the Nashville Bridge Company was at work in a nearby building and happened to see the incident unfold through an office window. Immediately, he and his colleague, Jack Knox, ran to the river and saw Marguerite in the water holding onto a piece of rebar pleading for someone to save her baby. Jack jumped into the water and grabbed Judy, swam back to shore, handed her to Harold, and headed back into the river in an attempt to now save Marguerite. Harold rushed Judy to the first aid station in the Nashville Bridge Company building and left the infant in the care of a nurse; with help from others, including Harold, Marguerite was saved as well.

When Judy Charest was 21 years old, Marguerite was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. It was also the first time Judy learned of the Christmas Eve incident on the bridge. Jack passed away in 2005, and Marguerite died in 2015. Recently, Harold told his grandson about the rescue and he was able to track down Judy allowing them to meet again almost 60 years after Harold helped save her life.

At StoryCorps, Judy and Harold discuss both of their meetings.

Originally aired December 23, 2016, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

Above: Rescuers pull Marguerite Hunt onto the shore of the Cumberland River. Harold Hogue is in the foreground in a white shirt, dark pants, and wearing a watch. Originally published Christmas Eve 1956, photo courtesy of Mike Hudgins/The Nashville Retrospect.

Suzanne Lynch, Patricia Mishler, and Janette Lynch

In 1978, Patricia Mishler left her home in England and moved to the United States after marrying an American. The mother of two daughters—Suzanne, 13, and Janette, 11—her family first lived in Indiana before eventually resettling in Nashville, Tennessee.

Patricia, now 73 years old, was diagnosed about a year and a half ago with ALS. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, destroys motor neurons, the nerve cells that control muscle movement in the brain and spinal cord leading to progressive paralysis and eventual death. mishler1Most people with ALS die from respiratory failure, usually within three to five years from the onset of symptoms. (According to the National Institutes of Health, only about 10% of those with ALS survive for 10 years or more.)

A grandmother to more than a dozen grandchildren, Patricia once spent much of her free time pursuing favorite hobbies like gardening, sewing, and cooking. But since her diagnosis in October 2014, she has been unable to enjoy them any longer.

Suzanne (above left) and Janette (above right) recently brought their mother to StoryCorps to talk to her about what it’s been like for her to live with ALS, and also her thoughts on knowing that the disease will one day take her life.

Originally aired May 6, 2016, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

Top Photo: Suzanne, Patricia, and Janette (left to right) in England on holiday in 1976 courtesy of Janette Lynch.