This week on the StoryCorps podcast, we’re bringing you some of our favorite love stories.

First up, Julia and Joel Helfman. They met in the 1940’s, in their early teens, when Julia moved into an apartment in the West Bronx that was across the street from Joel’s apartment. They became fast friends, and kept in touch even when Joel went away for college. When he came home during a school break, their friendship evolved into a romance; the two got married just a month shy of Julia’s 19th birthday. They came to StoryCorps right before their 70th wedding anniversary to remember how it all began.

Photo: Julia and Joel Helfman on their wedding day in November 1949. Courtesy of the Helfman family. 

Geographically, our next couple couldn’t have been further apart. In January 2007, Rachel P. Salazar was living in Bangkok, Thailand. Ruben P. Salazar was in Waco, Texas. They didn’t know the other one existed. But with nearly identical email addresses, a small typo meant they wouldn’t be strangers for long.

Photo: (Left) The email that brought Reuben and Rachel together. (Right) Reuben and Rachel Salazar at their StoryCorps interview in Texas. 2010. By Virgina Lora for StoryCorps

This love story started with a song. It was Brooklyn in the late 1950s. Jay McKnight and his friends spent summer evenings outside, singing a cappella. One night, Jay caught the ear of a girl named Andrea, and she caught his eye. They came to StoryCorps  to talk about what happened next.

Photo: James McKnight and Andrea McKnight at their StoryCorps interview in New York City, NY. By John White for StoryCorps.

We end with Mike Rudulph and Neil Rafferty. Mike grew up near Birmingham, Alabama and enlisted in the Marines when he was 20 years old. At the time, he hoped that the military environment would bring him the sense of purpose he had been missing.

This was in 2000, during the era of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” when LGBTQ people in the military couldn’t serve openly.

Mike went on his first deployment to Iraq in 2003. When he got home, he met the man who would later become his husband, Neil Rafferty. They came to StoryCorps to remember how they got together, and what’s made them stay together. 

Photo: Mike Rudulph and Neil Rafferty in 2019. Courtesy of Mike Rudulph. 
Top photo: Artwork by Lindsay Mound

Released on February 9, 2021.