Love – StoryCorps

After Facing A Difficult Coming Out, One Couple Changed A Mother’s Heart

Leslye Huff (left) and her partner, Mary Ostendorf (right), met in 1983. Leslye was open about her feelings for Mary and wasn’t shy about publicly showing her affection—even on their first date. Mary felt less comfortable with public displays of affection and had not told many people in her life about her sexuality, including her family.

When Mary introduced Leslye to her mother, Agnes, they did not immediately reveal to her the nature of their relationship, but during that meeting Leslye felt a connection with Agnes. “I liked her. She was short like me, and pretty vivacious. She and I sat and talked and I thought the makings of a pretty good friendship was beginning.”

Later that year, days before they gathered for Thanksgiving, Leslye picked up the phone and told Agnes the truth about her relationship with Mary.

At StoryCorps, Mary and Leslye discuss what happened after the phone call and how their relationship with Agnes changed in the years that followed.

Since then, Leslye and Mary moved across the country to Berkeley, California so Leslye could pursue a seminary degree. She recently graduated.

Top Photo: Leslye Huff and Mary Ostendorf.

Originally aired November 27, 2016, on NPR’s Weekend Edition. It was rebroadcast on November 26, 2021 on NPR’s Morning Edition. 

“Never Say Goodbye”: Remembering The Love Between Danny And Annie

Danny Perasa proposed to Annie, his future wife, on their first date, and she accepted.

The two of them came to StoryCorps in 2004 to talk about that first date—and how their love for each other grew over their nearly 30 year relationship.

Annie and Danny at their StoryCorps Interview.

After their first interview, Danny and Annie instantly became part of the StoryCorps family. Danny came back to StoryCorps again and again to interview the characters he knew, and to talk about his love for Annie. Then, in 2006, Danny was diagnosed with a fast-spreading, terminal cancer. He wanted to record one last interview with Annie, so StoryCorps went to their home in Brooklyn. Danny Perasa died a week later.

After his passing, Annie received thousands of condolence letters from StoryCorps listeners and she read one every day until she died of COVID-19 in 2021. She was 79.

Top Photo: Danny and Annie on their wedding day (Courtesy of the participants).

Listen to an update from Annie in 2013, where she explained the philosophy that she shared with Danny, “Never Say Goodbye.”

Watch “Danny & Annie,” the StoryCorps animation of the Perasas’ interviews.

Originally aired August 11, 2004, on NPR’s Morning Edition, It was rebroadcast on August 20, 2021 on the same program.

“We Mesh Together Like One”: A Miami Love Story

In 1971 George Ju was running a Chinese restaurant in Miami, Florida. George was born in China and immigrated to the United States at the age of 10. After serving in the U.S. Navy, he settled in Miami, and this is where he met Angela Rivas.

One night, while attending her friend’s engagement party, Angela met George, who was cooking for the event. George was immediately smitten, and there began their journey of love and laughter.

Angela Ju and George Ju in Los Angeles, California Chinatown, in 1988. Courtesy of MJ Moneymaker.

George and Angela Ju came to StoryCorps, nearly 50 years later, to talk about falling in love and staying in love.

Top Photo: Angela Ju and George Ju at their StoryCorps interview in Spring Hill, Florida on October 21, 2018. By Morgan Feigal-Stickles for StoryCorps.

Originally aired March 19, 2021, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

“There Was No Hanky Panky”: A Couple Reflects On The Friendship That Led To 70 Years Of Marriage

Julia and Joel Helfman met when they were just kids — at 12 and 13 years old. Their friendship blossomed into a decades-long love story. And together they had five kids of their own, as well as 11 grandchildren and eight great-grandkids.

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A few months before their 70th wedding anniversary, Joel and Julia sat down at StoryCorps to remember how it all began.

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Top photo: Julia and Joel Helfman on their wedding day in November 1949. Courtesy of the Helfman family. 
Middle photo: Joel and Julia Helfman (center) with their five kids, c. 1972. Courtesy of the Helfman family. 
Bottom photo: Julia and Joel Helfman at their StoryCorps interview in Philadelphia, PA in 2019. By Eleanor Vassili for StoryCorps.

Originally aired July 26, 2019, on NPR’s Morning Edition. 

By the Power Vested in Me

On November 18, 2003, in the case of Goodridge v. Department of Public Health, the Massachusetts Supreme Court declared that “…barring an individual from the protections, benefits, and obligations of civil marriage solely because that person would marry a person of the same sex violates the Massachusetts Constitution.” This allowed same-sex couples to be legally married in the state of Massachusetts, the first state in the United States to do so.

In this episode of the StoryCorps podcast, we’ll hear from David Wilson, one of the plaintiffs in that landmark case, who was also one of the first to be married once the law went into effect on May 17th, 2004. He came to StoryCorps several years later to reflect on his difficult path to get to that day and what being part of that historic case meant to him.

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Next, we catch up with David and his husband, Robert Compton, as they get ready to celebrate their 15th wedding anniversary. We’ll also hear from a gay couple married 50 years before David and Rob.

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Top photo: Artwork by Michael Caines.
Second photo: David Wilson and his husband, Robert Compton, in 2019 at their StoryCorps interview in Palm Springs, California. Photo by Jud Esty-Kendall.
Third photo: Michael McConnell and his husband, Jack Baker, in 2017 at their StoryCorps interview in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Photo by Jhaleh Akhavan.

Released on May 14, 2019.

Like the music in this episode? Support the artists:

“Overture” by Patrick Wolf from the album Sundark and Riverlight
“Periodicals” and “City Limits” by Blue Dot Sessions from the album Albany, NY
“Vittoro” by Blue Dot Sessions from the album Aeronaut
“Elegiac” by Bryan Copeland

A Daughter on Living with, and Relating to, a Father with Mental Health Conditions

Shotzy Harrison lived with her father, James Flavy Coy Brown, until she was three years old. But James, who has been treated for multiple mental health conditions over the years, was in and out of Shotzy’s life as a result, and spent most of his adult life homeless.

After they reunited in 2013, Shotzy brought James home to live with her in Winston Salem, North Carolina. That’s when they sat down for a StoryCorps interview where they talked about their relationship and the time they’d lost.

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Five years later, Shotzy recorded again, by herself, to reflect on that StoryCorps conversation with her dad. You’ll hear excerpts from both of those interviews in this story.

To hear more, listen to the episode of our podcast where Shotzy and James are featured.

Top photo: Shotzy Harrison in 2013 with her father, James Flavy Coy Brown, at their StoryCorps recording in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
Bottom photo: Shotzy Harrison in 2018 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

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

A Man Recalls Being Shot by a White Supremacist at Jewish Day Camp

On the morning of August 10, 1999, a white supremacist opened fire with a semi-automatic weapon at a Jewish day camp in Los Angeles. Five were wounded, including six-year-old Josh Stepakoff, who was shot in his leg and hip, and one person was killed.

Now an adult, Josh sat down with his father, Alan, to remember that day.

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The shooter is serving two consecutive life sentences plus 110 years for multiple convictions. His actions were ruled a federal hate crime.

This story aired November 2, 2018 on NPR’s Morning Edition. A version also aired November 10, 2017 on the same program.

Bottom image: Josh and his father, Alan, in Washington D.C. for the Million Mom March rally in May 2000, the year after Josh was shot.

Best Friends and Vietnam-era Vets on Their Shared Sisterhood

Sue McConnell and Kristyn Weed are best friends and Vietnam-era veterans. Although they didn’t serve in the war together, they share a story of courage — on and off the battlefield.

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At StoryCorps, they talked about their other shared sisterhood.

Top photo: Sue McConnell (left) and Kristyn Weed at their StoryCorps interview in Tucson, Arizona. By Mia Warren for StoryCorps.
Bottom photo: Sue McConnell (left) and Kristyn Weed are regulars at Denny’s in Tucson, Arizona, where the best friends say they often talk for hours. Courtesy of Kristyn Weed.

A version of this story aired June 30, 2018, on NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday. It was rebroadcast on August 17, 2018, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

A Father-Daughter Beatboxing Duo on Making Music

Ed Cage and Nicole Paris are a father-daughter beatboxing duo.

Back during the 1980s, Ed immersed himself in the St. Louis hip hop scene and fell in love with beatboxing. Fast-forward a couple decades and that love is now firmly planted in 26-year-old Nicole as well.

At StoryCorps, they talk about how it all began.

Top photo: Ed Cage and Nicole Paris at StoryCorps. Today, the beatboxing duo travels the world performing on stage together.

Originally aired July 13, 2018, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

A Wife Remembers Her Husband and the Stress of Family Farming

Springtime is planting season on farms all across the country. The stress of the season can take its toll: farmers have one of the highest suicide rates of any profession in the United States.

For more than 35 years, Matt Peters grew corn and soybeans on the Iowa farm that his father and grandfather farmed before him. Then in May of 2011, at the age of 55, he took his own life.

His wife, Ginnie Peters, came to StoryCorps to remember him. She spoke with Trent Andrews, the man who took over the farm after her husband’s death.

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Today, Ginnie lives a few miles away from the farm where she and Matt made their life together. Now and then she returns to visit Trent and his family, who continue to work the 1,500-acre farm.

Top photo: Trent Andrews and Ginnie Peters at their StoryCorps interview in Des Moines, Iowa, on April 19, 2018.

Bottom photo: Ginnie Peters and Matt Peters on vacation in February of 2011. Courtesy of Ginnie Peters.

If you or someone you know is feeling suicidal or just needs someone to talk to, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Originally aired May 18, 2018, on NPR’s Morning Edition.