Calvin Burns and Stepheni Bellamy

Calvin Burns has trouble getting his 15-year-old daughter, Stepheni Bellamy, to talk, which is something parents of teenagers everywhere can understand.

Calvin knew that Stepheni was having a hard time adjusting to being one of the only Black students in her school. Having grown up in a similar situation, Calvin could relate to that, but he had never taken the time to talk to his daughter about it.

He thought that bringing Stepheni to StoryCorps and sharing stories from his teenage years might help Stepheni open up.

Please note that this conversation contains a racial slur.

Originally aired April 21, 2017 on NPR’s Morning Edition

Photo courtesy of the Burns family

Fatuma Abdullahi, Annie Johnson, and Maryan Osman

Even though they’re only teenagers, Fatuma Abdullahi and her sister, Maryan Osman, have undertaken a long, complicated journey to get to where they are today.

When they were very young, the girls lost their parents during the civil war in Somalia, the country in which they were born. They were taken in by their grandmother until she was resettled in Australia. Fatuma and Maryan were to follow her there, but in the interim, Australia closed its borders to Somali refugees. The were shuffled between family members in Kenya until they were eventually left on their own. 

Then, in 2014, Fatuma and Maryan were resettled in the United States through Catholic Community Services of Utah. There they found a stable, loving home with a young couple, Annie and Randall Johnson, near Salt Lake City. They also live with their little brother, Roscoe, and their dog, Maddox.

JohnsonA_extra-3

Fatuma and Maryan recently sat down with Annie to talk about what it’s been like — for all of them — to become a family.

Originally aired April 7, 2017, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

Bottom photo: Randall Johnson, Maryan Osman, Fatuma Abdullahi, Roscoe Johnson, and Annie Johnson at their home in Murray, UT. 

Morelia Cuevas and Manuel Cuevas

Manuel Cuevas is a living legend in music fashion. Now 78 years old, he has crafted iconic outfits for Hank Williams, Gram Parsons, and Dolly Parton. He’s also the person who turned Johnny Cash into “the man in black.”
cuevasNPR
When he was 7, Manuel learned to sew from eldest brother, Adolfo, who was a tailor in Coalcomán, Mexico. In just one day, Manuel was able to make himself a shirt and a pair of pants. He even designed a white suit for his first communion.CuevasExtra5Manuel recognized that making clothes was meant to be his vocation and, in the late 1950s, came to the United States to pursue his calling. Settling in Nashville, Tennessee, Manuel would make a name for himself as the “Rhinestone Rembrandt,” decorating his creations with intricate rhinestone designs and embroidery.

At StoryCorps in Nashville, he spoke with his daughter Morelia about his career.

CuevasExtra2

Originally aired March 31, 2017, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

Top photo: Manuel in his workshop. Photo courtesy of  @manuelcouture.
Second photo: Manuel with Johnny Cash. Courtesy of Morelia Cuevas.
Third photo: Manuel’s designs. 
Photos courtesy of  @manuelcouture
Bottom photo: Morelia with her father, Manuel. Courtesy of Morelia Cuevas.

Jess Buzzutto, Eileen Logiudice, and Tori Medina

St. Patrick’s Day in Yonkers, New York has not been the same since Jess Buzzutto died in 2012. With a five-foot frame and a sartorial preference for the color green, he was affectionately dubbed by his neighbors the Leprechaun of Yonkers.

Eileen Logiudice (L) and Tori Medina (R)

Jess embraced what he called his “leprechaunishness.” A fixture on the street of Yonkers for many years, he was well-known as a friendly neighborhood denizen who loved to care for his garden, always ready to provide a passing car with a wave and a smile.

In 2010, Jess came to StoryCorps with his sister, Eileen Logiudice, and niece, Tori Medina, to talk about how it all started, by chance, with a green felt hat.

Eileen and Tori returned to StoryCorps in 2017, just before St. Patrick’s Day, to record a tribute to Jess.

Top photo: by Richard Perry/The New York Times/Redux
Bottom photo: Eileen Logiudice (left) and Tori Medina (right)

Originally aired March 17, 2017, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

Toni Henson and Camaran Henson

As a kid, Camaran Henson would stay up late listening to his grandfather, Leonard Simmons, tell stories about his experiences as police officer in Newark, New Jersey. 

Henson

Leonard worked undercover for “The Bandit Squad” — a group of detectives who investigated armed robberies in the 1970s — and Camaran was convinced that his grandfather was a real-life superhero. Camaran’s mom, Toni, knows the feeling because she grew up hearing these tales as well.

Leonard died in 2013, but Toni and Camaran came to StoryCorps to pass his stories on — since long conversations are something of a family tradition.

Originally aired March 10, 2017, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

Top photo: Camaran Henson with his grandfather, Leonard Simmons, ca. 1994. Courtesy of Toni Henson.

Chris López and Gabe López

Chris López always knew there was something different about her youngest child, Gabe. Assigned female at birth, Gabe felt like he was a boy.

Lopez_extra

Gabe was always more comfortable in clothing traditionally worn by little boys — cargo pants and superhero shirts — but switched back and forth between these outfits and those often worn by little girls. Just after his seventh birthday, he convinced his parents to let him cut off his long hair and get a mohawk — a haircut he had been wanting for years. Around this time period, Gabe started dressing only as a boy and answering exclusively to “he”.

At first, Chris was concerned that Gabe, being so young, might change his mind. She was scared of how people would treat him as he transitioned. But after seeing how Gabe responded to the changes in his hair and clothing, she felt confident that he had made the right decision.

Gabe, who’s nine years old now, has been attending the same school since kindergarten. In the fall of 2016, when he started third grade, he began having others refer to him by his preferred gender pronouns —”he” and “him” — for the first time.

In 2015, the López family attended a camp for transgender, gender creative, and gender non-conforming youth in Tucson, Arizona.

LopezG_3

Gabe and his mother came to the StoryCorps MobileBooth to talk about how that camp transformed his life.

A version of this broadcast aired May 1, 2016, on NPR’s Weekend Edition Sunday, and was rebroadcast on March 3, 2017, on NPR’s Morning Edition. 

Middle photo: Gabe López. Courtesy of Chris López.
Bottom photo: The López family.

Michael Benjamin Ryan and Michael John Ryan

As a juvenile court judge in Cleveland, Ohio, Judge Michael Ryan encounters many children who have had a tough start in life. At StoryCorps, Ryan explains to his 19-year-old son — also named Michael — that he knows where these kids are coming from.

RyanExtra1

During his own childhood in Cleveland during the 1970’s, Ryan lived in a violent household where he often witnessed his heroin-addicted mother endure beatings from his stepfather.

He sought refuge in books, went on to study law, and eventually gained a seat on the bench at Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court. But Ryan’s difficult childhood didn’t just motivate him to better his own life — it shaped who he is as a dad and what he wants for his own children.

Originally aired February 24, 2017, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

Bottom photo: Judge Ryan and his son, Michael, at Michael’s graduation on May 31, 2015. Courtesy of the Ryan family.

Aiko Ebihara and Roy Ebihara

February 19, 2017 marks the 75th anniversary of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066, which authorized the internment of Japanese Americans on the West Coast.

In the weeks leading up to the executive order — shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor —  anti-Japanese sentiment reached a fever pitch. So-called “enemy aliens” were forced to register with local authorities and turn over radios, flashlights, and anything else that could be used as a signaling device.

ebihara2

Roy Ebihara was 8 years old at the time living in Clovis, New Mexico with his family. He watched as his town grew increasingly hostile towards its small Japanese community. His father had to stop working as a machinist at the Santa Fe Railroad Company and the children were pulled out of school under threats of violence.

Several weeks before the executive order was issued, Roy’s family became among the first to be forcibly removed from their home and taken to a detention center.

Roy’s wife, Aiko, was also interned along with her family.

At StoryCorps, Roy and Aiko reflect on the days leading up to their internments.

Originally aired February 17, 2017, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

Top photo: Roy Ebihara (far left) with his siblings Mary, Kathy, and Bill on Easter 1941 in Clovis, New Mexico. They were taken to an internment camp the following January.

Claudia Dewane and Bill Dewane

When Bill Dewane was a college freshman, he suffered a severe spinal cord injury. He was hospitalized for more than six months and doctors thought he’d never walk again. He did regain his ability to walk, but was left partially paralyzed and with chronic pain.

Claudia Maraviglia graduated from Rutgers University in 1973 and took a job at a New Jersey bank before heading to graduate school that fall. She was working at the bank when she met Bill, and a confused transaction led to their first date.

Dewane2

Bill and Claudia married on July 12, 1975 — this year marks their 42nd wedding anniversary.

Bill is a retired budget analyst for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and Claudia teaches social work at Temple University. They have two daughters, Maggie and Mollie Dewane.

At StoryCorps, Bill and Claudia discuss the beginnings of their relationship and reflect on their years together.

Originally broadcast February 10, 2017, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

Top photo: Bill and Claudia on their wedding day. Courtesy of the Dewane Family.

John Marboe and Charlie Marboe

John Marboe is known to many as Reverend Doctor Garbage Man. He’s a Lutheran pastor, a professor, and a garbage hauler.

Growing up in Alexandria, Minnesota, he admired his local garbage man. In fact, he was friends with that man’s son and regularly played on the edge of the city landfill, marveling at the treasures people would discard.

garbageman1After finishing his graduate degree in 2011, times were lean for John’s family. So he took a job hauling trash and before long, he discovered some surprising connections between his work on his garbage route and his work as a pastor.

At StoryCorps, John spoke with his 13-year-old daughter, Charlie.

You can learn more about John on his blog, Rev. Dr. Garbage Man.

Originally broadcast January 20, 2017, on NPR’s Morning Edition.

Photo: John Marboe on his garbage route. Courtesy of John Marboe.
This StoryCorps interview was recorded as part of The American Pilgrimage Project, a partnership based out of Georgetown University’s Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs that is devoted to gathering stories of religious faith. Author and Berkley Center senior research fellow Paul Elie is the project director and Adelina Lancianese is the project assistant.

Take the StoryCorps Listening Challenge. Join the Listening Movement Today.

Each week, the StoryCorps podcast shares these unscripted conversations, revealing the wisdom, courage, and poetry in the words of people you might not notice walking down the street.