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It Took 47 Years for These High School Sweethearts to Find Each Other Again

 Jimmy Neeley first met his high school sweetheart, Becky, in Spanish class at their high school in Longview, Texas. The year was 1969 and Becky was a sophomore while Jimmy was in his last year of school and getting ready to enlist in the Navy. 

 Middle photo: High school senior year portraits of Jimmy Neeley in 1969 and Becky Neeley in 1971.

When Becky turned 15, Jimmy took her on her first date and when he shipped off they wrote letters. Jimmy knew he was in love and even bought an engagement ring, but Becky had reservations. 

“My mom did not want me to be involved with anyone in the military during the time of Vietnam, because you don’t know what’s gonna happen,” she remembers. 

Becky declined Jimmy’s proposal and later sent him a “dear John” letter, breaking it off between the two of them. From there, their lives went in different directions. It took 47 years for them to be reunited.

Top Photo: Jimmy and Becky Neeley at their wedding in Rockwall, Texas, on Valentine’s Day of 2020.

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 March 17, 2023 , on NPR’s Morning Edition. 

Two Love Birds Bring The Holiday Spirit To The White House

Growing up in Piura, Peru Hugo Sánchez always noticed his classmate, Marité. But despite his best efforts she didn’t return his feelings. Hugo left Peru for the U.S. with his family at the age of 13, but returned for a summer vacation three years later.

This time, there was a spark. The two kicked up a whirlwind romance, but they were ripped apart as he returned to the states.  

Marité Espinoza Sánchez and Hugo Sánchez in 2007 in Urbana, IL. Courtesy of Marité Sánchez for StoryCorps.

In 2022 the couple had been married for 15 years and through Marité’s work as an expert crafter they were selected to volunteer as White House holiday decorators. Every holiday season, people from across the country are invited by First Lady Jill Biden to decorate the White House.

 

Marité Espinoza Sánchez and Hugo Sánchez at the White House Decorating Event in Washington, D.C. in November 2022. Courtesy of Marité Sánchez for StoryCorps.

Hugo and Marité Sánchez took a break from wreath making and tinsel spreading to record a conversation with StoryCorps.

 

Top Photo: Marité Espinoza Sánchez and Hugo Sánchez at their StoryCorps interview in Washington, D.C. on November 27, 2022. By Bella Gonzalez 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 23, 2022, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

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We Can Do It: How One Woman Found Independence During WWII

Growing up in San Antonio, Texas, Connie Rocha was the second of six siblings. She left school in the 8th grade to help provide for her family. Connie was 16 years old when the United States entered World War II, and like many women, she felt drawn to contribute to the war effort.

Connie Doria Rocha during her employment at Hickam Field in Hawai’i. Courtesy of Connie Rocha. 

Connie began working at Kelly Field repairing airplanes as a sheet metal mechanic. After a year she applied for a transfer to another repair depot in Hawai’i, where she continued to work as an aircraft mechanic till the end of the war.

Women Mechanics known as “Kelly Katies” assemble for a photo. January 1944, at Kelly Field, San Antonio, Texas.

In 2008 Connie came to StoryCorps to record her memories for the Military Voices Initiative, to talk about the independence she gained through her work during World War II.

Top Photo: Connie Rocha during her StoryCorps interview in San Antonio, Texas on February 18, 2008. By Rose Gorman for StoryCorps.

Originally aired July 3, 2021, on NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday.

Completing the Circle: A Mother and Daughter Explore What Family Really Means

Dena Kohleriter had always planned on having a family. But, when she was 36 years old and hadn’t yet met the person she wanted to build one with, she decided to take matters into her own hands. Ten years later she came to StoryCorps in Dallas, Texas with her 8 year old daughter, Jori, to talk about that time.

Top photo: Dena Kohleriter and Jori Kohleriter at their StoryCorps interview in Dallas, Texas on November 8th, 2019. By Mia Raquel for StoryCorps.
Middle photo: Dena Kohleriter and Jori Kohleriter, courtesy of Dena Kohleriter.
Bottom photo: Dena Kohleriter’s great aunt Roszi and her daughter, courtesy of Dena Kohleriter.

Originally aired January 3rd, 2020 on NPR’s Morning Edition.