Staff Picks – Page 2 – StoryCorps

Jeff Dupre and David Phillips


In September 1975, Air Force Tech. Sgt. Leonard Matlovich was featured on the cover of Time magazine under the headline, “I Am a Homosexual.”

It was the first time an openly gay man appeared on the cover of a national news magazine.

In March of that year, Matlovich—who served three tours in Vietnam and received both a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart—delivered a letter to his commanding officer stating that he was gay and that he intended to continue his military career. Read it here.

Leonard Matlovitch was challenging the military ban on gay service members.

Soon after the issue of Time hit newsstands, Matlovich was discharged from the Air Force for his admission. For the next five years, the decorated veteran fought his dismissal in Federal court and was eventually reinstated. While he never returned to active duty, he did receive a monetary settlement from the military that included back pay.

Tech. Sgt. Leonard Matlovich died on June 22, 1988.

Jeff Dupre (above left) knew Leonard Matlovich in the 1970s. He came to StoryCorps with his husband, David Phillips, to record Jeff’s memories of the man who started the legal battle for military acceptance of LGBTQ people.

Originally aired October 30, 2015, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

Grave photo courtesy of
Letter courtesy of Leonard Matlovich Papers, Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Historical Society.

The Saint of Dry Creek

Patrick Haggerty grew up in the 1950s as the son of a dairy farmer in rural Dry Creek, Washington. As a teenager, he began to realize he was gay—something he thought he was doing a good job of hiding from others. One day after performing at a high school assembly, his father Charles offered his son some advice that showed Patrick he knew his son better than he ever realized.

“The Saint of Dry Creek” online release is presented in partnership with the It Gets Better Project.

To listen to Patrick Haggerty’s StoryCorps interview click here.

Para subtítulos en español, haga click en el ícono de YouTube en la esquina derecha, y escoja “Spanish” bajo la opción de “settings” y “subtitles/CC.”

Herman Heyn and John Heyn

If you’ve ever visited Fells Point on the Baltimore waterfront, you may have noticed an older man with a telescope.

His name is Herman Heyn, the city’s street corner astronomer.

For decades he’s set up in the same spot, inviting passers-by to peer through his telescope.

At StoryCorps, Herman (left) sat down with his nephew, John (right), to remember how he became a self-proclaimed “star hustler.”

Originally aired August 28, 2015, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

Photo by Kevin & Sonia McCarthy, courtesy of Herman Heyn.

Traffic Stop

Alex Landau, an African American man, was raised by his adoptive white parents to believe that skin color didn’t matter. When Alex was pulled over by Denver police officers one night in 2009, he lost his belief in a color-blind world—and nearly lost his life. Alex tells his mother, Patsy Hathaway, what happened that night and how it affects him to this day.

In 2011, Alex was awarded a $795,000 settlement from the City of Denver.

Two of the officers involved have since been fired from the Denver Police Department for other incidents.

Click here to listen to their StoryCorps interview. (Note: The audio contains graphic descriptions of violence and the web post contains a graphic photograph.)

Para subtítulos en español, haga click en el ícono de YouTube en la esquina derecha, y escoja “Spanish” bajo la opción de “settings” y “subtitles/CC.”

Joshua Gubitz and Len Berk

berkx1Len Berk loves lox, the salt-cured salmon that goes so well with bagels.

Today, the 85-year-old New Yorker is a veteran salmon slicer at Zabar’s, a gourmet food shop in Manhattan. But it wasn’t always that way.

At StoryCorps, Len (pictured at left slicing lox at Zabar’s) tells his friend Joshua Gubitz (above left) about becoming a salmon slicer after forty years in accounting.

Originally aired June 5, 2015, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

Photo courtesy of Cosima Amelang for StoryCorps

Terri Van Keuren, Rick Shoup and Pamela Farrell

sears-santa-adEvery Christmas Eve, people worldwide log on to the official Santa Tracker to follow the man himself (along with his eight reindeer and Rudolph), as they make their way across the globe delivering presents to boys and girls.

It all started in 1955 with a misprint in a Colorado Springs newspaper and a call to Air Force Colonel Harry Shoup’s secret hotline at the Continental Air Defense Command, now known as NORAD.

Here’s the story of how it all began, as told by Colonel Shoup’s three children, Terri Van Keuren (top left), Richard Shoup, and Pamela Farrell (top right).

Originally aired December 19, 2014, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

Listen to Terri, Richard and Pamela’s story on the StoryCorps Podcast.

Bob Walsh and Gay Talese

New York City’s Verrazano-Narrows Bridge opened in 1964. The graceful span of the Verrazano connects the boroughs of Brooklyn and Staten Island, making it the longest suspension bridge in the country.

Gay Talese was a young reporter at the time, and wrote a book documenting the construction called “The Bridge.”

Talese (right) recently interviewed Bob Walsh (left), whose family boasts five generations of ironworkers. The construction of the Verrazano Bridge was Walsh’s first job in the trade.

At StoryCorps, Talese reads from his book and speaks with Bob about the dangers involved in building one of New York City’s landmarks.

Originally aired December 12, 2014, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

John and Joe

John Vigiano Sr. is a retired New York City firefighter whose two sons followed him into service—John Jr. was a firefighter, too, and Joe was a police detective. On September 11, 2001, both Vigiano brothers responded to the call from the World Trade Center, and both were killed while saving others. Here, John Sr. remembers his sons and reflects on coping with his tremendous loss.

Para subtítulos en español, haga click en el ícono de YouTube en la esquina derecha, y escoja “Spanish” bajo la opción de “settings” y “subtitles/CC.”

The Road Home

Eddie Lanier struggled with alcoholism for over 40 years, until his 28th stint in rehab finally led to sobriety. Homeless and hungry, Eddie found a friend in David Wright, a passerby whose frequent donations stood out. Four years after they shared Eddie’s remarkable story with StoryCorps, David persuaded Eddie to move into his home. They still live together to this day.

“The Road Home” is part of StoryCorps’ first-ever half-hour animated special, Listening Is an Act of Love, which premiered November 28, 2013 on the PBS documentary series, POV. Watch the special for free on our YouTube channel. Now also available for download on iTunes—or purchase the DVD!

Rebecca Greenberg, Carl Greenberg, and Laura Greenberg



When we first heard from Laura Greenberg and her daughter Rebecca in January 2011, Laura spoke about growing up in her parents’ home in Queens, New York, in the 1950s, and not knowing what normal behavior was. She also spent time telling stories about meeting and marrying her husband, Carl.

Laura and Rebecca returned to StoryCorps, this time with Carl along as well, to give him an opportunity to weigh in on some of the things said about him the first time his wife and daughter recorded their interview.

Originally aired October 24, 2013, on NPR’s Morning Edition.