Growing Up – Page 4 – StoryCorps

In A House Full Of Rules, Cousins Remember A Rare Glimpse Of Freedom

In the early 1980s, Monica Jordan and her family moved in with her great aunt in Atlanta. That’s where she and her cousin, LaTonya Walker, developed a bond that made them more like sisters.

With two moms raising them under one roof, there were plenty of rules. Church was required every Sunday and no one got to play unless all of their chores were done.

At seven and nine years old, Monica and LaTonya dreamed of the day where they could spend a day doing whatever they wanted. And one particular afternoon, that’s exactly what they did.

Monica and LaTonya came to StoryCorps to remember their rare glimpse of freedom.

Top Photo: Monica Jordan and LaTonya Walker at their StoryCorps interview in Atlanta, Georgia on May 30th, 2021 for StoryCorps.

Originally aired Friday, April 1, 2022, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

Sisters Remember Growing Up In Their Parents’ Hollywood Laundry Business

In the 1940s, Siu Fong Yee Wong and Moon Tung Wong — also known as Frank — immigrated from China with their firstborn daughter, Suzi, and opened up a laundry business on Melrose Avenue, right in the center of Hollywood.

The Wong kids (Suzi, Eddie, Donna & Warren Wong) with a World Book Encyclopedia set in the early 1960s. Courtesy of the Wong family.

As Frank and Siu Fong Yee saved up for a house, the growing family lived in the back of the laundry.

It was a cozy setup: behind the business, the family carved out a living space. Their bedroom, play area and living room were all rolled into one, and the kitchen space doubled as a study and wash room.

Suzi and Donna Wong at their StoryCorps interview in Atlanta on March 15, 2022. By Hillery Rink for StoryCorps.

Sisters Suzi and Donna came to StoryCorps in 2013 and then again in 2022 to share stories of what it was like growing up just minutes from all the big movie studios in Hollywood, California… but a world away.

Siu Fong Yee Wong and Frank Moon Tung Wong, before their laundry closed in late 1984. Courtesy of the Wong family.

Originally aired March 25, 2022, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

Listen to Suzi and Donna’s story on the StoryCorps Podcast.

Her Aunt Saw Her for Who She Truly Was

In 2018, at the age of 63, Dee Westenhauser came out as a transgender woman. But growing up in El Paso, Texas in the 1950s, she remembers having a hard time fitting in.

At StoryCorps, Dee sat down with her friend, Martha Gonzalez, to remember the one person who made her feel comfortable in her own skin.

Photo: Dee Westenhauser and Martha Gonzalez at StoryCorps in El Paso, TX. By Nicolas Cadena for StoryCorps.

Originally aired April 5, 2019, on NPR’s Morning Edition. It was rebroadcast on March 11, 2022 on the same program.

Her Name Bound Her to Her Family – and a Tragic Chapter of Ukraine’s History

Halyna Hrushetsky was born in Soviet Ukraine during World War II, but spent her earliest years in a German labor camp with her family. After the war ended, her parents wanted to avoid being repatriated to the Soviet Union. With the aid of the Red Cross, they moved the family to the French Alps.

Halyna spent much of her youth tending to the family’s French farm. Despite the idyllic setting, she noticed her mother always seemed afraid for her safety. Eventually, her mother told her about the Holodomor: a genocide inflicted through Soviet agricultural policies. Several million Ukrainian men, women and children starved in the famine, including three of Halyna’s sisters.

At StoryCorps, Halyna sat down with her daughter Oryna Hrushetsky-Schiffman to remember the moment she learned more about her Ukrainian roots.

Top Photo: Halyna Hrushetsky and Oryna Hrushetsky-Schiffman at their StoryCorps interview in Chicago Illinois on September 4, 2014. By Andre Perez for StoryCorps.

Originally aired February 25, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

Bringing Hope and a Love of Horses to L.A. Streets

Ghuan Featherstone grew up in South Central Los Angeles. He has one clear memory of riding a horse for the first time, in Griffith Park, when he was eight years old. It was a feeling that he never forgot, and a lifelong passion was born.

When Ghuan left the military and returned to L.A. years later, he began to immerse himself in the craft of riding and caring for horses. After a tragic fire destroyed his neighborhood stable, Ghuan saw a hole torn into his community. Instead of standing by, Ghuan decided to step forward to found a new stable: Urban Saddles.

Jordan Humphreys riding his horse Winter at the Urban Saddles Stables, in South Gate, California.

He came to StoryCorps with his mentee Jordan Humphreys. At just 13 years old Jordan has become a cornerstone of Urban Saddles.

Top photo: Ghuan Featherstone and Jordan Humphreys at their StoryCorps interview in Los Angeles, California on December 15th, 2021. By Maja Sazdic for StoryCorps.

Originally aired January 28th, 2022 on NPR’s Morning Edition.

He Survived The Holocaust Because Of A Stranger’s Kindness

In 1941, Philip Lazowski and his family were among thousands of Jewish people sent to the Zhetel Ghetto in what was then Poland.

One day, the Lazowski family caught wind that the Nazis were killing Jewish people in the ghetto and they decided to go into hiding. But Philip, just 11 years old, was caught alone by a German soldier after helping his parents and siblings take shelter in a hideout they’d built in their apartment.

Rounded up into the Zhetel marketplace, he saw the soldiers sending children and the elderly to their deaths, but noticed they seemed to be sparing families with adults who had jobs deemed valuable by the Nazis, like doctors, tailors or cobblers.

When he was 91 years old, Rabbi Philip Lazowski came to StoryCorps with his wife, Ruth, 86, to remember a quick decision that saved his life.

Rabbi Philip and Ruth Lazowski on their wedding day, in 1955. Credit: courtesy of the Lazowski family.


Top Photo: Rabbi Philip Lazowski and Ruth Lazowski. Credit: courtesy of the Lazowski family.

Originally aired January 21st, 2022 on NPR’s Morning Edition.

How A Shared Language Helped Two Young People Find Their Voice

In 2006, Luis Paulino immigrated to the U.S. from the Dominican Republic. He was a child and didn’t speak any English, so he struggled during his first year in school.

Four years later — then a senior in high school — he’d meet Angel Gonzalez, who reminded him of his younger self. Angel was also a transfer student from the Dominican Republic, and he was facing challenges that Luis could understand.

Angel Gonzalez and Luis Paulino, in New York, after Luis’s high school graduation in 2011. Courtesy of Angel Gonzalez.

They came to StoryCorps to remember that time, and how they got through it together.

Originally aired January 7th, 2022 on NPR’s Morning Edition.

Love and Skating: One Family That’s Rolled Through Six Generations

When Temica Hunt was growing up in Washington D.C. she was introduced to the jumping, whirling, bopping world of roller skating. She’s the fifth generation in her family to take up the pastime. Her mother, Necothia Bowens-Robinson, would bring Temica with her to the rink every chance they got, not for your typical sweet roll around the rink but more like a dance party on wheels. This brand of skating includes impressive tricks, spectacular moves and plenty of style.

Necothia Bowens-Robinson and Temica Hunt at the Crystals Skate Palace in 2009. Courtesy of Necothia Bowens-Robinson.

Necothia has her own memories of learning to skate from her father, David A. Bowens. A loving, hard-working man who “knew how to roll.”

Temica Hunt, about 8 years old, with her grandfather, David A. Bowens. Courtesy of Necothia Bowens-Robinson. 

Necothia came to StoryCorps with her daughter to reflect on the family’s skating legacy, with Temica now raising the sixth generation of skaters. . .

Temica Hunt with her daughter Kennedi, at Anacostia Skate Pavillion. Courtesy of Necothia Bowens-Robinson. 
Top Photo: Temica Hunt and Necothia Bowens-Robinson at their StoryCorps interview in Washington D.C. on December 14th, 2021. By Selcuk Selcuk Karaoglan for StoryCorps.

Originally aired December 31st, 2021 on NPR’s Morning Edition

StoryCorps Alum Turned Bestselling Author Reflects On The Power Of Storytelling

Jason Reynolds is an award winning writer, specializing in novels and poetry for young adults and kids. He started writing poetry at the age of nine, and by 16, he had self-published his first work. He went on to become a #1 New York Times bestselling author, and was also recently appointed the 7th National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature by the Library of Congress.

But before all that, he was a StoryCorps Facilitator. 

At the age of 22, he sat down to record with another facilitator for the very first time, to ponder his dreams for the future, and pay tribute to the woman who inspired him.

Isabelle Reynolds and Jason Reynolds, at their StoryCorps recording in 2006. Photo by Justina Mejias for StoryCorps..
Top Photo: Jason Reynolds, on November 15th, 2006. Photo by Jonah Engle for StoryCorps.



A Mother And Daughter Remember The Power Of Grandma’s Hands

Madzimoyo Owusu grew up on the West Side of Chicago in the 1970s. When she was a young girl, she spent many of her days with her grandmother, who lived in the same three-story apartment building.

Decades later, In 2010, Madzimoyo came to StoryCorps with her daughter, Johannah, to honor the memory of the woman who helped shape her life…

Madzimoyo and her grandmother Elsie’s hands together, 1995 in Birmingham Alabama, courtesy of the Owusu family.
Top Photo: Johannah and Madzimoyo at their StoryCorps Recording on July 10th, 2010, in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Photo by Jorge Rios for StoryCorps.

This interview was recorded in partnership with the Three Rivers Institute of Afrikan Art & Culture.

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

Listen to Madzimoyo’s story on the StoryCorps Podcast.