Wisconsin Archives - StoryCorps

A Sister Shares A Cherished Memory That Carried Her Through Childhood

Sisters Amy McNally and Emily Fortner grew up in the 1980s in rural Ohio.

They were raised by a single mom in an old farmhouse, where they didn’t cross paths with many neighbors. Whenever someone did come knocking on their door, it would be a hunter asking if they could track their deer onto their property. 

In July of 2022, Amy came to StoryCorps to share one special childhood memory, and why it stood out to her.

Amy McNally and Emily Fortner (center and right) with their mother, Nan Barnebey (left), in the early 1990s in Ft Lauderdale, FL.
Top Photo: Emily Fortner and Amy McNally. Photos courtesy of the participants.

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 Sept. 2, on NPR’s Morning Edition. 

Returning Home: Three Oneida Children Find a Final Resting Place

Growing up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Kirby Metoxen knew that many of his family members had been removed from their families in the Oneida Nation and sent to boarding schools. These schools were founded and run by both the United States Government and Christian churches. The purpose was forced assimilation: to strip Native American children of their language, dress, food and rituals. It is estimated that by 1926, around 83% of Native children were attending these schools. 

Pupils at the Carlisle Indian Industrial School in Pennsylvania, circa 1900.

As an adult Kirby was on a road trip with friends to Pennsylvania from Wisconsin. While driving, he was recounting the personal history of his family’s experience at one of these schools in particular, the Carlisle School in Pennsylvania. On a whim, they decided to take a detour and visit the school.

The Grave of Ophelia Powless  at the Holy Apostles Cemetery in Oneida, WI. Courtesy of Rodger Patience.

Unbeknownst to Kirby, there were Oneida children buried in a cemetery on the school grounds, now a military base. This revelation led him on an unexpected journey to return those children to the Oneida Nation once and for all.

 

Top Photo: Rodger Patience and Kirby Metoxen at their StoryCorps interview in Green Bay, Wisconsin on January 27, 2022. By Carl Romey for StoryCorps. 

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

Remembering Their Quiet Mornings Together, This Granddaughter Honors Her “Gentle Giant”

Growing up in rural Wisconsin, Libby Stroik remembered she liked to pass her days reading, playing the piano, or writing; finding solace in the peacefulness of these solo activities.

But Libby was adopted into a large family, so it could be hard to find these moments of quiet. 

But there was one person with whom Libby always felt comfortable: her grandfather, Harry Golomski. Visiting him and Grandma on their farm in rural Wisconsin was somewhat of an occasion for Libby as they lived a few hours away.

Harry Golomski with Libby Stroik and one of her siblings in 1991. (Courtesy of Libby Stroik).

Decades later, when Libby sat down with StoryCorps for this conversation, Harry was living in an assisted living facility and losing his memory. So she came alone to honor Harry’s quietly joyful soul, and remember how he always made her feel special.

Toddler Libby Stroik stomping around in her grandpa’s boots in 1993. (Courtesy of Libby Stroik).
Top Photo: A recent photo of Libby Stroik at home in Milwaukee in 2019. (Courtesy of Libby Stroik).

Originally aired August 13, 2021, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

“We’re Stuck With Each Other”: 50 Years of Friendship And Troublemaking

In the 1970s Gary “Zooks” Bezucha was in school to become a physical therapist in Madison, Wisconsin. He kept running into another student time and again, Greg Klatkiewicz.

Greg Klatkiewicz and Gary “Zooks” Bezucha camping in 1996. Courtesy of Greg Klatkiewicz.

Gary and Greg instantly became a dynamic duo, that is until Greg introduced his friend to a hilarious woman he knew from work, Janet. Gary and Janet started dating soon after, and the dynamic duo became the “three amigos.”

Janet Bezucha and Gary “Zooks” Bezucha camping in 2003. Courtesy of Gary Bezucha.

Now, after nearly 50 years, Greg and Gary came to StoryCorps to recount some of the memories that truly stand out.

Top Photo: Greg Klatkiewicz and Gary “Zooks” Bezucha camping in 2019. Courtesy of Greg Klatkiewicz.
Editor’s note: Diane Bezucha, who co-produced this interview, is a StoryCorps employee, and is the daughter of Gary Bezucha.
Originally aired July 23, 2021, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

‘I Was Told I Was A Lifer’: One Woman’s Story Of Mental Illness, Recovery, And Doing Her Own Dishes

Amanda Farrell always wanted to get married and become a mom. But for a while, it looked like her mental health struggles might stand in the way of her dreams. 

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At StoryCorps, Amanda told her husband Craig about how she lost — and ultimately regained — control of her mental health.

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Top photo: Craig and Amanda Farrell in September 2017. Courtesy of the Farrell family. 
Middle photo: Craig and Amanda Farrell with their daughter Elorah in July 2019. Courtesy of the Farrell family.
Bottom photo: Amanda Farrell and Craig Farrell at their StoryCorps interview in Appleton, WI in July 2019. By Sylvie Lubow for StoryCorps.

Originally aired August 2, 2019, on NPR’s Morning Edition. 

Their Love for Each Other Grew into a Love for their Community

In 1997, Sharon Adams felt a call. After 30 years away from her hometown of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, she moved back into the house where she grew up. As Sharon was fixing up her family home, she needed an electrician. That’s when she met her now-husband, Larry Adams.

They’ve since completed several projects around the house, but the couple’s biggest undertaking came when they turned to the area outside of their home.

Inspired by Sharon’s memories of her once close-knit community, they established Walnut Way, a nonprofit dedicated to revitalizing their neighborhood.In the two decades since, they’ve built and restored more than 100 homes and transformed over 20 lots into gardens and orchards.

AdamsExtra1_Peach_16x9

At StoryCorps, they remembered how as their relationship grew, so did their involvement in the community.

Top Photo: Sharon and Larry Adams in the house where their nonprofit, Walnut Way, is based. Photo by Adam Carr.
Bottom Photo: Sharon and Larry Adams in front of their peach trees. Photo by Sara Stathas.

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

Frank Kovac

Deep in the North Woods of Wisconsin, some 230 miles north of Milwaukee, sits the world’s largest rotating globe planetarium.

It’s the brainchild of Frank Kovac, a former paper mill storeroom clerk, who built this roadside attraction in his backyard. Entirely homemade, the project took nearly a decade to complete.

Frank’s planetarium is one of only four of its kind ever built, the oldest dating back nearly 400 years.

At StoryCorps, Frank spoke about how his lifelong fascination with the stars turned into a project of cosmic proportions.

Originally aired August 19, 2011 on NPR’s Morning Edition.

Alex Fernandez and Noe Rueda

Nineteen-year-old Noe Rueda (right) grew up poor in Little Village, a neighborhood on Chicago’s West Side. He is the oldest of four siblings raised by a single mom. As a boy, Noe watched his family struggle and decided to help.

At StoryCorps, Noe tells his high school economics teacher, Alex Fernandez (left), about launching his first business venture selling discarded cleaning products from a nearby factory.

Click here to watch “Making It,” an animation of Noe’s story.

Originally aired April 15, 2011, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

Kelly Krieg-Sigman and Michael Sigman

Kelly Krieg-Sigman and her husband, Michael, talk about how they met.

Jim Krawczyk

Jim Krawczyk recalls a trip he made to New Hampshire in the 1960s to meet reclusive author J.D. Salinger. After being told by Salinger’s ex-wife, “Anything he says, he says in his books,” Jim eventually tracked down Salinger in person and got a handshake.

Originally aired June 8, 2007, on NPR’s Morning Edition.