New York Archives - StoryCorps
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“We Knew We Were the Best.” Reflections from the First Black Marines of Montford Point

A group of Montford Point volunteers in their dress uniforms circa May, 1943. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

In 1942, the U.S. allowed Black men to enlist in the Marine Corps for the first time. It was during World War II, and resulted in more than 19,000 Black recruits being sent to Montford Point, North Carolina for basic training.

These men fought for their country in the midst of the racism and prejudice they faced at home. They were essential to the war effort but did not recieve the same respect in uniform as their white counterparts. 

Many of those men are no longer with us, but their voices can be heard in the StoryCorps archive. One of those voices is that of Corporal Sidney Allen Francis,  a retired New York City police detective.  Sidney came to StoryCorps with his daughter, Candice, to talk about how his time at Montford Point shaped him.

William Pickens, Estel Roberts and Benjamin Jenkins at their StoryCorps interviews in Chicago, Illinois, New York, New York, and Dayton, Ohio in 2012, 2014, and 2010. By Leslee Dean, Mayra Sierra, and Virginia Lora 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 February 24, 2024, on NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday. 

 

 

Helping The Dogs Of Chernobyl

When the nuclear power plant in Chernobyl, Ukraine, exploded in 1986, dozens died, and hundreds of thousands of people were evacuated from a 1,000 square mile radius. 

But people’s pets were impacted as well. Dogs, cats, and other domestic animals were killed or abandoned, and for more than 30 years those that survived have continued to reproduce in this radioactive forest. 

Stephen Quandt, an animal welfare worker in New York City, came to StoryCorps to talk about a humanitarian trip he took to Ukraine in 2019, and how the work he does ties back to his childhood.

Top Photo: Stephen Quandt at the Clean Futures Fund clinic in Slavutych, Ukraine—a city built for those evacuated after the nuclear power plant disaster—in June of 2019. Photo courtesy of Stephen Quandt.
Middle Photo: One of an estimated 250 stray dogs living in the forests of Chernobyl, Ukraine. Photo courtesy of Stephen Quandt.
Bottom Photo: Pripyat Amusement Park in Pripyat, Ukraine. Photo by Stephen Quandt.

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 July 28, 2023, on NPR’s Morning Edition. 

“You’re My Forever Love”: Reflections On Over 30 Years Of Friendship

In the late 1980s, Julaina Glass had moved from her childhood home in Washington Heights, NY, to a small studio in Harlem. Julaina was 19 and living alone, but she found a fast friend in her upstairs neighbor, Beau McCall.

Beau was an artist and older than Julaina by about 10 years. His apartment became like a second home to her and they soon became inseparable.

Nearly 35 years after they first met, Beau and Julaina came to StoryCorps to reminisce about some of their happiest memories together, and to look back on how it all began.

Top Photo: Beau McCall and Julaina Glass at their StoryCorps interview in New York, NY on June 3, 2017. By Jhaleh Akhavan for StoryCorps.

This interview was recorded in partnership with the I, Too Arts Collective. It is part of the Anwar Collection of Muslim Voices through StoryCorps’ American Pathways initiative. This initiative is made possible by the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art and an Anonymous Foundation. Additional support is provided by the Stuart Family Foundation. It will be archived at the Library of Congress.

Originally aired May 14, 2021, on NPR’s Morning Edition. 

“My Mother the Performer”: The Life and Legacy of Dorothy Toy

In the late 1930s, Dorothy Toy and her dance partner Paul Wing made their Broadway debut after years touring on the Vaudeville circuit. In one of their earliest Broadway appearances, the duo, billed as Toy & Wing, performed in a musical review. That night, as Toy & Wing took their bows, the applause was thunderous. Dorothy later told her daughter that the audience got on their feet and applauded so vigorously the bandleader was forced to bring them out repeatedly – stalling the next act. Dorothy would say, she lost track of how many bows they took that night, but that they became a fixture on Broadway from then on.

Dorothy, Paul and a young Dorlie Fong dancing the cha cha during an encore performance. Courtesy of Dorlie Fong.
Dorothy Toy and dance partner Paul Wing (Toy & Wing) posing at the Forbidden City Nightclub in 1950’s San Francisco. Courtesy of Dorlie Fong.

Decades later, after founding her own dance company and touring the world, Dorothy Toy planned to visit StoryCorps with her daughter, to look back on a lifetime of performance. But she passed before that was possible. Dorothy was 102 years old when she died. She had suffered multiple broken hips and lived with dementia, but she considered herself a dancer well into her final years.

In March of 2021, her daughter Dorlie Fong came to StoryCorps to honor her mother. In that session she committed to tape many of Dorothy’s stories from a bygone era of Vaudeville, Hollywood, and Broadway. But beyond that, Dorlie described what it was like growing up backstage and finding connection with her mother the star.

Top Photo: (L) Dorothy Toy and her young daughter Dorlie Fong backstage in the 1950’s. (R) Dorlie with her mother on her 101st birthday. Courtesy of Dorlie Fong.
Bottom Photo: Dorothy Toy performing in her home dance studio in front of a CBS news crew. Courtesy of Dorlie Fong.

Originally aired April 2, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

A Grandmother Gives Advice On Living Through “Crazy and Consequential Times”

As a young girl growing up during WWII, Jane Isay heard stories about how both of her grandparents had died during the 1918 influenza pandemic, leaving her mother an orphan from a young age. 

Now, as the United States contends with the COVID-19 pandemic, Jane made time to sit with her grandson, Tobey Isay, 11, to impart some of her hard earned wisdom. They recorded this conversation using StoryCorps Connect, not long after Tobey had contracted and recovered from COVID himself.

Editor’s note: Jane Isay is the mother of Dave Isay, founder of StoryCorps. Tobey Isay is the son of Dave Isay.

Top Photo:  Jane Isay and Tobey Isay at their StoryCorps interview in Brooklyn, New York on April 11, 2020.
Middle Photo: Tobey Isay and Jane Isay. Photo courtesy of Jane Isay.

 

“It’s Still Worth Celebrating” Two Friends Reflect on Finding Joy During Challenging Times

Jamie Olivieri and Yennie Neal-Achigbu have been by each other’s side since the fifth grade. As adults, Jamie was there for the birth of two of Yennie’s three children, and has acted as a surrogate parent for the kids. They fondly refer to her as “Auntie Pasta.”

They’ve shared many happy moments and have also stood by each other through the passing of Jamie’s mom and Yennie’s husband, Alexander Achigbu. They supported each other through the grief of both losses, and even created new traditions in the midst of the sadness.

Photo: (Left to right) Zuri, Xoan, and Lyon Achigbu. Christmas 2014, Bronx, NY. Courtesy of Jamie Olivieri.

“Auntie Pasta’s Annual Christmastime Sleepover,” a tradition that started after Alexander’s death, is an eagerly anticipated Christmas celebration for Jamie, Yennie, and Yennie’s three children, Zuri (aged 10), Lyon (age 8), and Xoan (age 6).

After a tough 2020, Jamie and Yennie had a conversation using StoryCorps Connect to reflect on almost 30 years of friendship, and how they continue to find joy even in the most challenging of times.

Top Photo: (L) Yennie Neal-Achigbu and Jamie Olivieri, 1998. (R) Yennie Neal-Achigbu and Jamie Olivieri, 2012, Yonkers, NY. Courtesy of Jamie Olivieri.

Originally aired December 25, 2020, on NPR’s Morning Edition. 

A Queens Family’s Tradition of Feeding Those in Need — 365 Days a Year

Since 2004, Jorge Muñoz has gathered with his family in their small kitchen in Queens, New York where they cook meals for those in need. Together, they’ve provided more than one hundred meals per day to day laborers, many of whom are undocumented immigrants, in the city.

They’ve kept up the tradition year-round for the last 16 years, providing approximately 500,000 meals — until May, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

Using StoryCorps Connect, Jorge spoke with his sister, Luz, to remember the beginning of their journey, and how their mother inspired them to give to those in need.

Top Photo: Siblings Luz and Jorge Muñoz spoke about how their meal program began in their recent StoryCorps interview from their home in Queens, NY.

Middle Photo: The Muñoz family, (from left to right) Jorge, Justin, Blanca, and Luz, prepares meals from their kitchen in 2010.

Originally aired December 4, 2020, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

“I Took An Oath To Respond To The Needs Of My Nation”: An Army Chaplain Remembers The Height Of COVID-19 In New York City

As a military chaplain, Army Major Ivan Arreguin has seen many overseas deployments. But in April 2020, while serving with the 44th Medical Brigade out of Fort Bragg, North Carolina, he was deployed stateside for a mission unlike any other.

At the time, New York City had been dubbed the epicenter of the coronavirus. Hospitals were overrun with patients, and doctors and nurses were spread thin. Relief came in many forms, including military medical units, who were providing additional support and care.

Over StoryCorps Connect, Chaplain Arreguin told his wife, Aileen, what it was like to be stationed in New York City during the height of COVID-19.

Top Photo: Army Major Ivan Arreguin (center), and other soldiers, escorting the remains of a veteran who died from COVID-19 while being treated at the Javits New York Medical Station, in New York City, April 19, 2020. Photo by U.S. Air National Guard Major Patrick Cordova.
Middle Photo: Army Major Ivan Arreguin and Aileen Arreguin at their son’s wedding in Sanford, NC, in June 2020. Courtesy of the Arreguin family.
The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement.

Originally aired November 14, 2020, on NPR’s Weekend Edition.

For Teachers And Staff In New York City Schools, Work Is An Act Of Love

In 1999, Debra Fisher worked in film and TV in New York City. But when her father became ill and required occupational therapy as part of his treatment, Fisher was impressed by the care that his therapists brought to their work. That’s when she decided to make a major career change.

Twenty-one years later, Fisher works in New York City public schools, providing occupational therapy to a wide range of students in elementary and middle school. 

Fisher met Emma Pelosi, a special education teacher, on social media during the COVID-19 pandemic. They came to rely on each other for support and friendship as they invented new ways to do their jobs. 

Fisher and Pelosi recorded a conversation through StoryCorps Connect in September 2020, just as schools were preparing to reopen their doors to more than one million school children. In their interview, they talk about how it feels to work in the country’s largest school system during this unprecedented moment.   

Top Photo: Emma Pelosi and Debra Fisher after their StoryCorps interview in New York City on September 18, 2020. Courtesy of Debra Fisher and Emma Pelosi for StoryCorps.

Originally aired September 25th, 2020, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

Touched By Tragedy Twice: Father, Who Later Died from COVID, Remembers Losing Son on 9/11

Albert Petrocelli Sr. survived more than his share of hardships during his 73 years.

As a young man, he fought in Vietnam. Returning to his native New York City, he started a long career fighting fires, eventually rising to the rank of Battalion Chief. Then, a year after retiring, Chief Petrocelli lost his youngest son, Mark, a commodities broker, in the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. 

But what war, fire, and unspeakable grief couldn’t do, a global pandemic did. On April 1, 2020, Chief Petrocelli died from COVID-19.

Before his death, Chief Petrocelli and his wife, Ginger, recorded a remembrance of their son Mark. They remember the last time they saw him, on September 9, 2001, at one of their family’s weekly Sunday meals. 

This recording was made in partnership with the National September 11 Memorial & Museum as part of StoryCorps’ effort to collect one recording for each life lost that day.

Top Photo: Ginger Petrocelli and Retired New York City Fire Chief Albert Petrocelli in 2017, at their 50th wedding anniversary. Courtesy of the Petrocelli family.
Middle Photo: Retired New York City Fire Chief Albert Petrocelli in 2002, with a photo of Mark that he carried inside his hat. Courtesy of the Petrocelli family.
Bottom Photo: Albert Petrocelli Jr., Mark Petrocelli, and Albert Petrocelli Sr. on Father’s Day 1989, at Mark’s home in New York. Courtesy of the Petrocelli family.

Originally aired September 11, 2020, on NPR’s Morning Edition.