Tariq Sheikh and Tabinda Sheikh
In 1989, Tabinda was working in a Manhattan hotel as a housekeeper. She had just immigrated to the United States from the Dominican Republic and one day at work, she caught the eye of a fellow employee who was working behind the hotel’s front desk—Tariq Sheikh.
Tariq was also a recent immigrant, but from Pakistan, and he remembers that the first time he saw her, Tabinda was hard at work. She was still in her yellow gloves and neither spoke English too well, but after a few clumsy love notes, a relationship was born.
Tariq and Tabinda have now been married for 25 years and have a 20-year-old son, Madani Sheikh. They live in Jersey City, New Jersey, not far from the park bench they were sharing the first time Tariq realized he had fallen in love with Tabinda.
They came to StoryCorps to share the story of how they met.
Originally aired October 21, 2016, on NPR’s Morning Edition.
John Matlock and Carol Matlock
In their early days, most computers were used for mathematical work, but a few were also used to help people find love.
John and Carol Matlock met in what was a precursor to online dating—computer dating—where potential partners filled out a questionnaire and then mailed it in. Then, a person would create a punch card out of their answers and feed it through a giant computer that would spit out a few perfect matches. In just weeks (or sometimes months), that information would then arrive back in their mailbox.
In 1964, John was working in electronics and frequently on the road without much time to date. Carol was a single mother concerned about finding someone who would love and accept her 2-year-old son, and while she wanted to date, she certainly wasn’t looking to get married. After filling out his profile, John remembers receiving the names and photographs of three women. But Carol stood out from the others with her attractive red hair worn in a French roll to one side so he picked up the phone and asked her out.
Carol hadn’t received her matches in the mail and didn’t even know what John looked like when she accepted the date, but she knew that if her family didn’t like him, she wasn’t going anywhere with him. When John arrived at Carol’s house, he was surprised to find 16 other people waiting to meet him. Fortunately, he received a good report, and they were married less than a year later.
John and Carol, who will have been married 52 years in December, recorded their first interview earlier this year using the StorpCorps app when their daughter, Karyn Servin, talked them about how they first met (you can hear that conversation below). More recently, they came back to StoryCorps to continue the conversation.
Originally aired August 12, 2016, on NPR’s Morning Edition.
Above Photo: Carol and John Matlock on their wedding day, December 26, 1964, courtesy of the Matlock family.
Max Voelz and Mary Dague
Army Sgt. 1st Class Max Voelz and his wife, Staff Sgt. Kim Voelz, worked in Explosive Ordnance Disposal—the Army’s elite bomb squad. Both Max and Kim were sent to Iraq in 2003. One night, Max called in the location of an explosive and Kim was sent to disarm it. She did not survive the mission. In 2011, Max came to StoryCorps to remember her. Click here to listen to his remembrance.
At one of Max’s lowest points, he turned to another bomb tech, Sgt. Mary Dague, who lost both of her arms during an IED disposal in Iraq (pictured at left in one of her favorite t-shirts). Max and Mary (pictured together above) came to StoryCorps to talk about coping with loss.
Web Extra: After Max’s story was broadcast, NPR listener Leslie Holot (pictured at left) reached out to him on Facebook. The two fell in love and got engaged. They came to StoryCorps in 2014 to talk about their relationship.
Originally aired November 7, 2014, on NPR’s Morning Edition.
Carolyn Shoemaker and Phred Salazar
In her early 50s, Carolyn Shoemaker began a career in astronomy. While she had no formal training, she did have the support and encouragement of her husband, Eugene “Gene” Shoemaker. Gene was a renowned astrogeologist and one of the founders of the field of planetary science, which studies the geology of planets, asteroids, and other celestial bodies in our solar system.
Together they worked side-by-side for 17 years, taking pictures of the night sky in search of comets and asteroids, and in 1993, along with astronomer David Levy, they made their most significant discovery—Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9. In 1994, Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9, which had broken apart, slammed into Jupiter offering astronomers around the world their first opportunity to see the effects of two solar system bodies colliding.
In total, over the course of her career, Carolyn is credited with discovering more than 800 asteroids and 32 comets.
In 1997, while on an annual field trip to Australia, the car Carolyn and Gene were in was in a head-on collision with another vehicle. Gene died from the accident, and while Carolyn was still in the hospital recovering from her injuries, one of his former students, Dr. Carolyn Porco, contacted her to see what she thought of having Gene’s ashes put on the Moon. Carolyn enthusiastically agreed to the idea and with the help of people Dr. Porco knew at NASA, arrangements were made for his cremated remains to go into space as part of the Lunar Prospector mission in January 1998.
To this day, Gene is the only person whose ashes have been placed on the Moon.
Carolyn continued her work as an astronomer following Gene’s death and has been awarded an honorary doctorate from Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, and received both the Rittenhouse Medal for outstanding achievement in astronomy, and the NASA Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal.
At StoryCorps, she talked with her son-in-law, Phred Salazar (pictured in the player above), about working closely with her husband and her decision to make the Moon his final resting place.
Originally aired July 8, 2016, on NPR’s Morning Edition.
Top photo: Eugene and Carolyn Shoemaker in 1986 sitting in front of an an 18-inch Schmidt telescope photographed by Jonathan Blair. Photo courtesy of J.Blair/USGS.
Above: Photo of the design created by Dr. Carolyn Porco of the inscription etched onto the capsule of Eugene’s remains sent to the Moon. Photo courtesy of Dr. Carolyn Porco.
Donna Engeman and Nicole McKenna
In 1981, when she was 20 years old, Donna Engeman enlisted in the United States Army. Prior to joining, Donna had not only never set foot outside of the country, but she had never even left the state of Minnesota.
While stationed in Germany, she met Long Island native John Engeman. Living in the barracks, they had what soldiers often refer to as a “barracks romance”—a fling that does not last long. But Donna and Sergeant Engeman quickly fell in love and in February 1983 they married.
Months after the wedding, Donna, pregnant with their first child, a boy, and believing herself to be a better spouse than soldier, left the Army and returned to the states to raise Patrick.
John remained in the military and in January 2006, as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom, he was deployed to Baghdad. On May 14, 2006, an improvised explosive device detonated near his Humvee during a combat operation killing him and a fellow soldier.
Chief Warrant Officer John W. Engeman is buried in Arlington National Cemetery. Donna and John’s son, Patrick, is currently an Army major who has been deployed overseas four times.
Donna came to StoryCorps with their daughter, Nicole McKenna (pictured together at left), to share stories of John as a young husband and father.
Originally aired May 26, 2016, on NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday.
Top photo of Donna Engeman courtesy of Slade Walters/IMCOM, U.S. Army.
Photo of Donna and John at a 2002 Military Ball courtesy of Donna Engeman.
Angela Stowe and Glenda Elliott
Glenda Elliott (right) grew up in Mayfield, Georgia during the 1940s. Long before the Stonewall Riots launched the modern gay right movement she met the love of her life — another woman, named Lauree.
When Glenda sat down with her friend, Angela Stowe (left), she told the story of this lifelong love that never had the chance to blossom.
Glenda Elliott is a retired Associate Professor of Counselor Education at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, where she co-founded Alabama’s Association for LGBT Issues in Counseling. She told her story as part of StoryCorps OutLoud.
Originally aired September, 18 2015, on NPR’s Morning Edition.
StoryCorps 10th Anniversary Update: Danny Perasa and Annie Perasa
For the 10th Anniversary of StoryCorps, we are revisiting some of our favorite stories.
When we first heard from Danny and Annie Perasa in August 2004, they talked about their first date, an on-the-spot marriage proposal, and their deep enduring love for each other. Danny also shared that he leaves daily love notes for Annie.
“To my princess, the weather out today is extremely rainy, I’ll call you at 11:20 in the morning. And I love you, I love you, I love you.”
In February 2006, Danny and Annie recorded another StoryCorps interview, but this time it was conducted in their Brooklyn home because as they revealed, he has a fast spreading form of pancreatic cancer.
“My dearest wife, this is a very special day. It is a day on which we share our love which still grows after all these years. Now that love is being used by us to sustain us through these hard times. All my love, all my days and more. Happy Valentine’s Day.”
Not long after that interview, Danny died in his sleep at the age of 67.
Today, Annie, 71, still lives in that same apartment, and she recently recorded another StoryCorps interview to thank all those who have reached out to her over the years and let everyone know that while she misses Danny, she has his love letters and is doing all right.
Originally aired October 25, 2013, on NPR’s Morning Edition.
Ericka Naegle and Walter Naegle
On the heels of a historic Supreme Court ruling that upholds the right of LGBTQ people to marry, we look to the late 1970s—a time where this week’s ruling on marriage equality was unimaginable.
Back then, the iconic civil rights leader Bayard Rustin (right) and his partner, Walter Naegle (left), a man decades his junior, fell in love. They were together for many years.
As Bayard was getting older, they decided to formalize their relationship in the only way that was possible for gay people at the time–Rustin adopted Walter Naegle.
Here, Walter tells his niece, Ericka (pictured above, left), what it was like to fall in love with Bayard, and the unconventional decision they made to protect their union.
Originally aired June 28, 2015, on NPR’s Weekend Edition.
Photo courtesy of Walter Naegle.
Shane Fairchild and Sayer Johnson
Shane Fairchild (above left), a transgender man, lived with his wife, Blue Bauer, a transgender woman (pictured at left), for almost six years.
Blue transitioned when she was 54 years old. She and Shane met at a bar and were inseparable. But then Blue got lung cancer. She died on April 12, 2013.
Shane sat down with their friend, Sayer Johnson (top right), to remember Blue.
Originally aired January 25, 2015, on NPR’s Weekend Edition Sunday.
Photo Courtesy of Shane Fairchild.
Meaghan Starkloff Breitenstein and Colleen Kelly Starkloff
In his early 20s, Max Starkloff was in a near-fatal car accident, which left him quadriplegic and living in a nursing home.
One day he came across a young woman who worked there, named Colleen. At StoryCorps in St. Louis, Colleen Kelly Starkloff (right) sat down with her daughter, Meaghan Starkloff Breitenstein (left), to remember Max.
Originally aired January 16, 2015, on NPR’s Morning Edition.
Top photo of Max Starkloff courtesy of Colleen Kelly Starkloff.