How a Family Guitar Found its Way Home
When StoryCorps rolled into Laramie, Wyoming, Rodger McDaniel came into the Mobile Booth to remember his father.
His dad, Johnny McDaniel, worked over the years as a miner and milk truck driver, married and divorced Rodger’s mother three times—and he loved music.
Rodger remembers his beautiful singing and his shiny, black guitar.
After getting his dad’s guitar back, he tried to learn how to play without much success. It sat in his closet for years—until he got a guitar player for a son-in-law. They came together for a conversation on the StoryCorps Podcast.
Rodger went on to spend much of his career working in the field of alcohol and drug addiction.
Top photo: Johnny McDaniel, Rodger McDaniel’s father, when he was about 18 years old in Sweetwater, Texas. Photo courtesy of Rodger McDaniel.
Middle photo: Rodger McDaniel at his StoryCorps interview in Laramie, WY. Photo by Rachel Falcone for StoryCorps.
Bottom photo: Rodger McDaniel and his son-in-law Josh Jacobsen in Denver, Colorado, with Johnny’s guitar.
Originally aired February 1, 2019, on NPR’s Morning Edition.
Sharon Long and Steve Sutter
Throughout the 1970s, Sharon Long, a single mother raising two kids on her own, worked four and five jobs a day, seven days a week. She hated all the work and was worn out.
When she went to enroll her older daughter in college, she mentioned to a financial aid officer that she wished she could enroll as well, but that she was probably too old. The woman convinced her that it wasn’t too late, and then helped her fill out the paperwork. At 40 years old, Sharon entered the University of Wyoming and began taking classes toward a degree in art.
In order to graduate, Sharon was required to take a course in science, a subject she believed she was not particularly good at. But with guidance from an adviser, she signed up for a physical anthropology class, and started on a path that led her to find her calling as a forensic artist—using her skills as a sculptor to recreate human faces from skulls.
Over the course of her career, Sharon has worked for museums—she once constructed a face from a skull that was more than 9,000 years old—and for numerous law enforcement agencies, using found skulls to help put a face to unidentified remains. She has also made busts for the National Geographic Society and the Smithsonian, and her work has been featured on the History Channel and the television show America’s Most Wanted.
Now 75, Sharon retired about four years ago, but hasn’t been able to bring herself to completely stop working. She focuses her energy now on the protection of archaeological sites through her work at the Wyoming State Historic Preservation Office.
Sharon came to StoryCorps with her friend and colleague Steven Sutter (pictured together above) to talk about her passion for forensic art.
Sharon’s story is one of 53 work stories featured in our book, Callings: The Purpose and Passion of Work.
Originally aired April 29, 2016, on NPR’s Morning Edition.
Top photo: Sharon Long in her studio, courtesy of Sharon Long.
Vickie Goodwin and Sissy Goodwin
There’s an electrical power plant technology instructor at Wyoming’s Casper College who stands out on campus. His name is Sissy Goodwin and he dresses in women’s clothing.
He wears bows in his hair, likes his skirts exactly 17 inches short, and he prefers his tool boxes in pink.
Sissy identifies as straight. His wife, Vickie, didn’t know he wore women’s clothing when they met, but for the past four decades she has stood by his side.
When they sat down for StoryCorps, Sissy and Vickie looked back on the early days of their love story.
Originally aired April 3, 2015, on NPR’s Morning Edition.
Photo courtesy of Sissy Goodwin.
Philip & Susan McClinton
Biologists Susan and Philip McClinton live just outside of Yellowstone National Park in Cody, Wyoming.
They’ve been there for more than a decade, studying snakes, bats and other animals.
But when they met in the fall of 1972, their lives were very different.
The drought of 2012 is the worst since the 1950s. With so many scorched acres, wildfires have been steadily burning across the center of the country this summer.
Across the western U.S., wildfires are fought in part by prison inmates. This has been a busy year for these firefighters; in Wyoming, inmates have been dispatched more than 50 times to battle fires in all four corners of the state.
Daniel Ross began working as an inmate firefighter there in 2011. He is a former crystal meth addict who is currently serving time for aggravated assault against a police officer.
At StoryCorps, he remembered his first fire.
Originally aired August 24, 2012, on NPR’s Morning Edition.
Kenny Sailors and Anne Brande
Former NBA player Kenny Sailors is credited with pioneering the modern jump shot. Growing up on a farm in Wyoming, he played basketball with his older brother, which required him to find a new way to shoot the ball. (Until then, shots were taken with two hands from chest level while the player stood on the ground.)
Kenny went on to become a three-time all-American at the University of Wyoming and later played a few years of professional basketball. He was inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in 2012.
Kenny, who never explicitly claimed credit for inventing the jump shot, told StoryCorps he likes Ray Meyers (DePaul University’s famed coach) explanation of his place in history best, “Sailors might not have been the first player to jump in the air and shoot the ball, but he developed the shot that is being used today.”
Kenny came to StoryCorps with his friend, Anne Brande, in July 2008, to talk about his early life and the lasting fame the jump shot has brought him. (Kenny Sailors passed away on January 30, 2016 at the age of 95.)
Originally aired October 24, 2008, on NPR’s Morning Edition.