Our Own Mountains to Climb: How A Personal Trainer Inspired a 90-Year-Old to Embrace His True Self
A few months into the COVID-19 pandemic, we heard from 90-year-old Kenneth Felts, a man who amidst quarantine, decided it was time to confront a truth he’d been hiding for more than 60 years.
After coming out — first to his daughter, then publicly — Ken wanted to talk to the one person who inspired him the most: his personal trainer, David Smith.
The two met back in 2013, at Ken’s local rec. center in Colorado. From water aerobics to weightlifting, what started as a professional relationship quickly blossomed into a friendship; one that ultimately helped Ken find the strength to be exactly who he was.
Top Photo: David Smith and Ken Felts in Denver, Colorado in 2013. Courtesy of David Smith.
Bottom Photo: David Smith and Ken Felts at a training session in 2017. Courtesy of David Smith.
Originally aired December 11, 2020, on NPR’s Morning Edition.
How One Soldier’s Halloween Shenanigans In Iraq Were “All Worth It”
Former Army Specialist Garett Reppenhagen has always loved Halloween — for the tricks as much as the treats. Not even the military could curb his penchant for pranks.
In 2004, three years after he enlisted, his team was sent to Iraq. Despite the stresses of that deployment, when October 31 rolled around, Garett still managed to find a way to get into the holiday spirit.
Over StoryCorps Connect, Garett and his former bunkmate, Thom Cassidy, remembered the creative costume choice that almost landed Garett in hot water: dressing up as his team leader.
Top Photo: Former Army Specialist Garett Reppenhagen at his home in Colorado Springs, CO. Courtesy of Garett Reppenhagen.
Bottom Photo: Garett Reppenhagen during his 2004 deployment to Iraq. Courtesy of Garett Reppenhagen.
Originally aired October 31, 2020, on NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday.
A Love Kept Secret for 60 Years, Revealed During Quarantine
Growing up in Kansas the son of a railroad worker, Ken Felts could always be sure of two things: he’d never spend long in any one town before his father had to move on in search of work, and they’d always attend church on Sundays. It was a lonely childhood.
But in the late 1950s, Ken moved to California and found the love of his life, a coworker named Phillip. Both in their 20s, Ken and Phillip were inseparable during the two years they spent together, before the weight of Ken’s religious background became too much for him to bear. He left California — and Phillip — to return to Kansas and lead a straight life.
Kenneth Felts (L) and his first love Phillip (R) in the 1950s. Courtesy of Kenneth Felts.
Ken is now 90 years old, a father and grandfather. But he never forgot Phillip or forgave himself for the decision he made. So, in March 2020, while under quarantine during the COVID-19 pandemic, Ken finally told his daughter, Rebecca, the secret he had been keeping for more than 60 years.
Top Photo: Kenneth Felts and Rebecca Mayes after their StoryCorps interview in Arvada, CO in July 2020. Courtesy of Kenneth Felts and Rebecca Mayes for StoryCorps.
Originally aired July 17, 2020, on NPR’s Morning Edition.