Friendship Archives - StoryCorps
Support voices across America. Become a sustaining member today! Join

How a Teacher’s Act of Kindness Bound her Student and Family Together

In 1958, John’s Cruitt’s mother fell ill and passed away shortly before Christmas. His third grade teacher, Cecile Doyle, gave him a kiss on the forehead after class, and told him he didn’t have to be alone.

John never forgot that moment, and 54 years later wrote a heartfelt letter telling her how much she meant to him. Not long after, they came to StoryCorps to reflect on how they became so close.


The letter John Cruitt wrote to his former third grade teacher, Cecile Doyle, in 2012.
Photo by Julia Kirschenbaum for StoryCorps.

 

Cecile passed away in 2019. But John had also grown close to her daughter, Allison Doyle. At StoryCorps, they discussed how John’s reunion with his teacher brought them together.


John Cruitt and Allison Doyle looking through Cecile Doyle’s  scrapbook on December 10, 2023.
Photo by Julia Kirschenbaum for StoryCorps.
Top Photo: John Cruitt and his third grade teacher, Cecile Doyle, reuniting for the first time in 54 years in 2012. Courtesy of Allison Doyle. 

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.

Original broadcast aired December 28, 2012, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

Update aired December 22, 2023 on NPR’s Morning Edition.

“It’s important to look after people.” A Big Brother Reflects on What His Younger Brother Taught Him.

The Rigano family lived just north of New York City in New Rochelle. There were five siblings: Denise, Phil, Lola, Adele, and Robbie, who grew up in a loving home in the 1960s. But Robbie held a special place in their hearts. 

Left to Right: Phil Rigano school portrait at age 6; Adele, Rob, and Phil Rigano in the 1960s; Lola, Rob, and Denise Rigano on a family vacation to Lake George, NY in 1971. Photos courtesy of Lola Rigano. 

Robbie is developmentally disabled, and from a young age was known for getting into sticky situations.  He was especially drawn to cars, which led to a number of what his brother Phil described as “shenanigans.”

Phil and Rob Rigano during a visit to California in 2014. Photo courtesy of Phil Rigano.

In 2006 Phil brought Robbie to record a conversation together when theStoryCorps Mobile Tour stopped nearby.  Knowing Robbie’s love of cars, Phil knew he’d get a kick out of recording in the iconic Airstream trailer. He came back 17 years later to reflect on that first recording.

Rob Rigano at his job at the Department of Public Works for the City of Larchmont in 1987. Photo courtesy of Lola Rigano.

 

Top Photo: Rob and Phil Rigano at their StoryCorps interview in San Diego, California on February 11, 2006. By Piya Kochhar 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 December 8, 2023, on NPR’s Morning Edition. 

Caring For People With HIV, With Kindness And Hope

Joseph Rogers Britton began caring for people living with HIV in the 1980s. He nurtured friends and children, always looking out for those around him. After his own diagnosis, he continued to care for people through illness. 

While looking after one friend, he met his future long-term partner, Steven Lee Leuthold. That act of kindness became a foundation in their own connection. 

Joseph Rogers Britton and Steven Lee Luethold in the late 90s in St Louis, MO. Photo Courtesy of Joseph Rogers Britton.

Joseph came to StoryCorps with his friend Jeff Moore to reflect on a life full of generosity.

 

Top Photo: Joseph Rogers Britton and Jeff Moore at their StoryCorps interview in St. Louis, Missouri on September 22, 2023. By Manuela Velasquez 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.

This recording was made in partnership with the organization Doorways.

Originally aired December 1, 2023, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

Nearing The End Of Her Life, They Sat Down For One Last StoryCorps Conversation

In the early 1970s Jackie Miller and her husband adopted their son, Scott.

Thirty-seven years later — in 2008 — Scott came to StoryCorps with Jackie to talk about their relationship and to find out more about the history behind his adoption. 

Scott Miller with his parents, Jackie and Percy Miller, in Barbados, in the mid 1970s. Photo courtesy of Scott Miller.

 

A cut of that recording aired June 11, 2010, on NPR’s Morning Edition. You can listen to it here.

Fifteen years after that initial conversation, Jackie’s health started to decline. Realizing his mom was nearing the end of life, Scott wanted to do one more interview, and share an update on their relationship.

Scott Miller and Jackie Miller at their StoryCorps interview in New York City, NY, on May 30, 2008. By Mike Rauch for StoryCorps.

Click here to watch “Me & You,” an animation of Scott and Jackie’s first story.

 

Top Photo: Jackie Miller and Scott Miller at their StoryCorps interview in Tarrytown, NY, on October 27, 2023. By Julia Kirschenbaum 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 Nov. 17, 2023, on NPR’s Morning Edition. 

As Two Communities Clashed, A Lifelong Friendship Grew

When Jim Murphy was nine, his Irish-American family moved to the south side of Tucson, Arizona. They were one of many families who migrated to the city just after World War II. 

Carlos G. Vélez-Ibáñez and his Mexican-American family were already living there.

At first the groups clashed, and fights were frequent at Jim and Carlos’ school. But the students would still find themselves together each Sunday for church. 

Carlos and Jim came to StoryCorps to talk about their memories growing up on the south side, and how they had more in common than they initially realized.

Photo of All Saints Catholic School 8th grade graduating class, including Jim and Carlos, in Tucson, Arizona, in 1950. Courtesy of Jim Murphy.

 

Top Photo: Carlos G. Vélez-Ibáñez and Jim Murphy in Jim’s backyard in Tucson, Arizona on April 16, 2023. By Esther Honig 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 November 11, 2023 on NPR’s Morning Edition.

College Roommates Find Lasting Friendship In A Time of Transition

In 2016, Trey Phillips set off for his freshman year at Connecticut College. Itching for independence, he moved cross-country from his hometown of Los Angeles, California.

Trey’s roommate, Andre Thomas, ventured away from his home state of Illinois.  

The freshmen had emailed over the summer, but neither knew the impact they would have on each other in the coming year. 

Trey and Andre came to StoryCorps to reflect on that time, and all they’ve learned from one another.

Top Photo: Trey Phillips and Andre Thomas at their StoryCorps interview in New London, CT on January 21, 2018. By Aisha Turner 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 October 6, 2023 on NPR’s Morning Edition.

18 Years After Katrina, A Grocer Rebuilds His Community One Shop at a Time

To mark StoryCorps’ 20th Anniversary we are revisiting classic conversations from the past two decades with updates from the participants.

This story is from New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward. The neighborhood was hit hard by Hurricane Katrina and was slow to recover. Almost 10 years after the storm it still didn’t have a single grocery store.

Lower Ninth Ward resident Burnell Cotlon wanted to change that. He saved money by working at fast food restaurants and dollar stores and used it to buy a dilapidated building on an empty block, and opened a neighborhood grocery. 

In 2015 he told his mother, Lillie, how his story started in the days after the flood…

 

Produce, snacks, and a picture of the building before it was renovated at ‘Burnell’s Lower Ninth Ward Market’, New Orleans, Louisiana. By Ian Spencer Cook for StoryCorps. Photo of original building courtesy of Daniel Schergen, who helped renovate it.

 

Burnell Cotlon and customers in his store in the Lower Ninth Ward, New Orleans, Louisiana in September, 2023. Courtesy of Burnell Cotlon.

 

Top Photo: Lillie Cotlon and Burnell Cotlon in front of Burnell’s store, ‘Burnell’s Lower Ninth Ward Market’ in New Orleans, Louisiana on August 19, 2015. By Ian Spencer Cook 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 September 22nd, 2023, on NPR’s Morning Edition. 

First story aired on August 8th, 2015 on NPR’s Morning Edition. 

This story is featured in Callings: The Purpose and Passion of Work, a collection that celebrates the passion, determination, and courage it takes to pursue the work we feel called to do from Penguin Books.

In the Midst of a Shooting, Two Strangers Play an Important Role in Each Other’s Lives

 

In April of 2022, a gunman wearing a gas mask dropped smoke grenades on the floor of a New York City subway car and opened fire on the passengers, resulting in the injury of 29 people. As the car pulled into the next station, passengers fled, and chaos ensued.

Mayra Kalisch and Eric Acevedo, strangers who had never met despite living two blocks from each other, were there to witness the aftermath.

What happened in the next few minutes forged a special bond between them, but also sent them down different paths in the months that followed.

Top photo: Mayra Kalisch and Eric Acevedo at their StoryCorps interview in New York City on May 11, 2023. Courtesy of Brett Tubin.
Middle photo: Mayra Kalisch and Eric Acevedo pose at the 45th Street Station in Brooklyn, New York where they first met in 2022. Courtesy of Eric Acevedo.

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 August 25th, 2023 on NPR’s Morning Edition.

 

 

“You Are Seriously Fearless”: A Niece Thanks Her Favorite Aunt For Her Wisdom and Friendship

Menaja Obinali was born in 1948 and grew up in Franklin, a small Louisiana town. She was one of eleven children, and loved dancing, reading and making art as a teenager. One day an unexpected event shifted the course of Menaja’s life.

Undaunted, Menaja went on to get a Ph.D. in clinical psychology, and later moved to Dallas to get a master’s degree in theology. That’s when she moved in with her sister Connie and 5-year-old niece, Jarie.

Jarie, who still lives in Dallas, interviewed Menaja for StoryCorps when the Mobile Tour passed through in 2014.

Photo: Jarie Bradley and Menaja Obinali at their first StoryCorps interview in Dallas, Texas on December 13, 2014. By Callie Thuma 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 June 23, 2023, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

‘Your Heart is On Protein Powder:’ Reflections On Love and Family

 

Mason Best seems to have a lot on his mind. At 12 years old, he already has a lot of thoughts on life and love. Mason came to StoryCorps at his local Boys Club in Queens, NY. 

Roseann Smith and Mason Best on New Year’s Day 2023. Courtesy of Roseann Smith.

He decided to invite his mom, Roseann Smith, to sit down for a conversation. The duo got right to the serious stuff.

 

Top Photo: Mason Best and Roseann Smith at their StoryCorps interview in Queens, New York on March 25, 2023. By Julia Kirschenbaum for StoryCorps.

This recording was made possible by a partnership with The Boys’ Club of New York.

This broadcast is supported in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people, the National Endowment for the Arts, and public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.

Originally aired April 28, 2023, on NPR’s Morning Edition.