Georgia Archives - StoryCorps

How An Unexpected Deportation Cut A Young Musician’s Career Short

Decio Rubano still remembers the day he learned to play the drums. He was 12- years-old and playing stickball outside his home in Bridgeport, Connecticut, when his uncle Jimmy pulled up in his car. It was the start of WWll and Jimmy, a working musician, had just lost his drummer to the Army. Rubano remembers his uncle saying, “Hey kid, I need a drummer tonight, so you’re going to play.” Jimmy took out two spoons and showed Rubano how different beats were played.

From that first performance, Rubano says he got “the bug” and couldn’t stop making music. After high school, his career as a drummer was taking off until one night, when he was visiting his grandparents, a pair of immigration officers knocked on the door—Rubano was quickly deported to Montreal, Canada.

Middle Photo: At 17 years-old, Decio Rubano began his professional drumming career when he was scouted to play on the Arthur Godfrey radio show in Miami. Courtesy of Gina Livingston.

Rubano had been born in Montreal because his opera singer mother had taken a job for the season at the Montreal Civic Opera while pregnant with Rubano. As a young man, Rubano was shocked to learn he was not a U.S. citizen.

Rubano signed up for the U.S. Air Force and served in the Korean War. While he continued playing the drums for many years, he never returned to the music business. At StoryCorps, Rubano tells his daughter, Gina Livingston, “I did one thing right in my life. I raised you. You’ve been a joy as a daughter. Everybody should be as lucky as I am.”

Bottom Photo: While stationed on Johnston Island with the US Air Force, Decio Rubano hosted a jazz radio station in his spare time.  Courtesy of Gina Livingston. 

Top Photo: Decio Rubano and Gina Livingston at their StoryCorps interview in Decatur, Georgia on October 31, 2022. By John St. Denis 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, 2022, on NPR’s Morning Edition. 

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‘My Way of Serving’: An Airline Worker Finds His Calling Honoring The Military’s Fallen

Brian McConnell has been an airline worker for nearly four decades. Much of that time was spent working “the ramp” at the Atlanta airport — the area where aircrafts are refueled, boarded and loaded. But in 2005, after witnessing the work of the Delta Honor Guard — a group of volunteers who handle extremely personal cargo — he found a new calling.

At StoryCorps, Brian told his wife, Nora, about the moment everything changed, and how he’s found a sense of purpose by honoring the military’s fallen.

This story was recorded in partnership with Delta Air Lines.

Top Photo: Nora and Brian McConnell at their StoryCorps interview in Atlanta, Georgia on April 14, 2016. By Morgan Feigal-Stickles for StoryCorps.

Originally aired October 17, 2020, on NPR’s Weekend Edition. 

Together, Mother And Daughter Social Workers Face New Challenges During Pandemic

In 2018, Michelle Huston and her daughter Lauren Magaña came to StoryCorps in Atlanta to talk about their shared calling: helping people in the last stages of their lives.

Two years later, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Michelle and Lauren returned to have a conversation over StoryCorps Connect about how their usually very intimate jobs have changed due to the lockdown caused by the virus.

Top Photo: Michelle-Dawne Hudson and Lauren Magaña at their StoryCorps interview in Atlanta, GA on August 21, 2018. By Hillery Rink for StoryCorps.
Bottom Photo: Michelle-Dawne Huston and her daughter Lauren Magaña working together at a nursing home in 2018.

Originally aired October 2, 2020, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

“I Still Wake Up Screaming”: Memories From One of the Only Known Survivors of a Lynching

The StoryCorps archive is the largest collection of human voices ever gathered, preserving United States history as told through the voices of everyday people in this country. The recordings run the gamut of human emotion, from joy to despair and everything in between.

Winfred Rembert, 73, added his rare perspective to the archive in 2017, when he sat down for a conversation with his wife, Patsy, to talk about his experience as one of the only people ever known to have survived a lynching.

When he was a teenager in the mid-1960s, Winfred participated in a Civil Rights protest in the town of Americus, Georgia. In the aftermath, he was arrested and served time in jail.

One day, after Winfred made a commotion in his cell, the deputy sheriff walked in and pulled a gun on him. Winfred then managed to take the gun away and lock the deputy sheriff in the cell before escaping.

More than five decades later, Winfred sat down for StoryCorps with his wife, Patsy, to remember what happened next.

Warning: This story includes racial slurs and a graphic description of racial violence.

Top photo: Patsy and Winfred Rembert at their StoryCorps interview in Hamden, CT in April of 2017. By Jud Esty-Kendall for StoryCorps.
Middle photo: Patsy and Winfred Rembert in April of 2017 at their StoryCorps interview in Hamden, CT. By Jacqueline Van Meter for StoryCorps.

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

The Leesburg Stockade Girls, a Forgotten Moment in Civil Rights History

In July of 1963, a group of African American protesters were arrested during a series of non-violent, anti-segregation demonstrations in Americus, Georgia. More than a dozen girls, some as young as 12, were taken to the county jail before being transferred almost 30 miles away to the Lee County Stockade — a small cement building being used as a makeshift jail.

Leesburg

And although the girls were never formally charged with a crime, they’d stay there for nearly two months without their parents’ knowledge. One guard watched over them in this run-down structure with barred windows, a broken toilet, and very little food.

The girls were released after nearly two months when Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) discovered their location and sent a photographer, who published photos of the living conditions at the stockade.

More than fifty years later, a few of the Leesburg girls, now women in their sixties, sat down for StoryCorps to shine a light on this overlooked moment in civil rights history.

Also Verna Hollis, who was pregnant while imprisoned at the stockade, sat down for StoryCorps with her now-adult son, Joseph Jones III.

Hollis

Top photo: (From left) Emmarene Kaigler-Streeter (who also recorded an interview with StoryCorps), Carol Barner-Seay, Shirley Green-Reese and Diane Bowens in 2016 outside the stockade building in Leesburg, Georgia where they were jailed as teenagers. By Alletta Cooper for StoryCorps.
Middle photo: Young women are held in the Leesburg Stockade after being arrested for demonstrating in Americus, GA. They have no beds or sanitary facilities. From left to right: Melinda Jones Williams (13), Laura Ruff Saunders (13), Mattie Crittenden Reese, Pearl Brown, Carol Barner Seay (12), Annie Ragin Laster (14), Willie Smith Davis (15), Shirley Green (age 14, later Dr. Shirley Green-Reese), and Billie Jo Thornton Allen (13). Seated: Verna Hollis (15). Photo by Danny Lyon for Magnum Photos.
Bottom photo: Joseph Jones III with his mother, Verna Hollis, in Americus, Georgia after their StoryCorps recording in 2016. Verna Hollis died the following year. By Alletta Cooper for StoryCorps.
Originally aired January 18, 2019, on NPR’s Morning Edition.