“I know that you can go through great sadness and still be a very happy person.”

While many StoryCorps listeners are familiar with the audio pieces we share on NPR’s Morning Edition and our podcast, StoryCorps interviews are really much longer conversations. For 40 minutes, participants are invited to sit down and have a meaningful conversation with someone they know and care about. These interviews can take place in one of our Storybooths or in another private space with a trained StoryCorps facilitator present.

Currently our archives house over 65,000 of these conversations, and because they are fascinating complete looks into people’s lives, and offer insight into the mechanics of a StoryCorps interview, we have started to bring these to you unedited.

lsk001520_g2In this conversation, Julie Stolzberg, 43, is interviewed by her friend Abigail Pogrebin (pictured together at left with Julie’s husband Craig). Abigail asks Julie about her family memories, her love of teaching, and the birth of her children.

Julie and Abigail recorded their interview in February 2016 in New York City. The interview was part of a collaboration between Mount Sinai Hospital and StoryCorps’ Legacy Program, which provides people of all ages with serious illness and their families the opportunity to record, preserve, and share their stories through partnerships with healthcare organizations across the country.

Julie, a teacher and mother of two, passed away in March, shortly after this conversation was recorded. More than 900 people attended her memorial service.

In her interview, Julie reflects on being the daughter of Japanese-American parents and describes her parents’ childhood experiences being interned during WWII. Julie’s father was taken to a camp in California as a young boy. “He was a great eater but the only food that he would not eat as an adult was okra because it was a food that he associated with being in the camps.” Julie says, “to this day I’ve never tried okra out of respect…to stand in solidarity.”

Julie also talks about losing her mother to Multiple Sclerosis at the age of 14. She remembers how her father kept her mother’s memory alive for the family. “I felt like that was giving us permission to see her as a real person, that we could talk about her and that she could be with us, even if she couldn’t be with us physically.”

Click here to download a PDF transcript of this interview.

Julie worked for many years as a school teacher in Newton, Massachusetts, and in New York City. She remembers meeting her husband Craig, a PE teacher, on her first day of work at The Dalton School. Julie reflects on falling in love with Craig and starting a family with him. “There’s never been a day that I’ve felt he didn’t love me more than the day before. I want [my kids] to know that marrying their father was the best thing I ever did. I feel very confident that he will keep me alive in the same way my dad kept my mom alive. I take great comfort in that. I know that you can go through great sadness and still be a very happy person.”

Click here for more information about Legacy.

Disclaimer: All material within the StoryCorps collection is copyrighted by StoryCorps. StoryCorps encourages use of material on this site by educators and students without prior permission, provided appropriate credit is given. This interview has not been fact-checked, and may contain sensitive personal information about living persons.
Above (clockwise from top left): Julie, Craig, Tai, and Emi photo courtesy of Craig Stolzberg.