WBEZ | StoryCorps http://www.wbez.org/tags/storycorps Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Wheelchair-bound couple describes budding romance http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/wheelchair-bound-couple-describes-budding-romance-110626 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/StoryCorps 140808 Greg Rebecca_bh.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;ve actually known each other for six years,&rdquo; Rebecca Wylie says while talking to her boyfriend Greg Anger in this week&rsquo;s StoryCorps, recorded at the Chicago Cultural Center. They met on Facebook when he was a freshman at the University of Missouri, her alma mater.</p><p>&ldquo;I was in the hospital and I was not sleeping, and Greg was the only one on Facebook at one in the morning, and it kind of just turned into a romance.&rdquo; &ldquo;You&rsquo;re a tough egg to crack, let me tell you,&rdquo; Anger says.</p><p>Wylie is working towards a Law Degree from Loyola University in Chicago with a focus on health care. She is also a quadriplegic, and uses a wheelchair. &ldquo;I wasn&rsquo;t born with my disability,&rdquo; she says. &rdquo;I was seven years old when it happened. So I do know what it&rsquo;s like to ride a bike and run around.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;What about you?&rdquo; she asks Anger, who is getting a Master&rsquo;s in higher education administration from the University of Alabama, and who also uses a wheelchair. &ldquo;You haven&rsquo;t had the experience of riding a bike like everyone else.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;Everything that I&rsquo;ve gotten in my life is somehow connected to me being disabled,&rdquo; Anger said. &ldquo;Which is weird because it&rsquo;s not something that I like to use to identify myself, like, &lsquo;That&rsquo;s the wheelchair basketball player,&rsquo; or &lsquo;That&rsquo;s the guy in the wheelchair.&rsquo; And I don&rsquo;t really like that per se, but then again everything I have gotten in my life is because I&rsquo;m disabled. I wouldn&rsquo;t have went to the University of Missouri to play basketball. I wouldn&rsquo;t have started talking to you.&rdquo;</p><p>And it&rsquo;s the talking to each other that has helped sustain both of them through difficult times.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s kind of hard for me to put into words,&rdquo; Anger said. &ldquo;She has a wonderful heart and personality.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;He&rsquo;s just very accepting of who I am regardless of any of my abilities or disabilities,&rdquo; Wylie said.</p><p>&ldquo;Living with a disability provides so many daily challenges,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;And you have no idea what those challenges are going to be because everyday the challenge is something different. Dealing with that and pushing through it, are the hardest and most rewarding things.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;There&rsquo;s really nothing we can&rsquo;t do together,&rdquo; Anger said. &ldquo;If you&rsquo;re gonna get me to move back to the freezing cold Midwest, you can pretty much do anything because I will tell you that that was not on my plans and now there&rsquo;s nowhere I don&rsquo;t want to be as long as you&rsquo;re there too.&rdquo;</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="450" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/playlists/6250422&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_artwork=true&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false" width="888px"></iframe></p></p> Fri, 08 Aug 2014 15:19:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/wheelchair-bound-couple-describes-budding-romance-110626 Survivor of sexual abuse inspires others to speak up http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/survivor-sexual-abuse-inspires-others-speak-110590 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/StoryCorps 140801 Sheila Murphy Barbara Blaine_bh.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Barbara Blaine was in eighth grade when she was sexually abused by a priest at her Catholic grammar school in Ohio. She felt responsible, that she had caused a good, holy priest to sin.</p><p>Last week, Blaine sat down with her friend and mentor, retired Judge Sheila Murphy in the Chicago StoryCorps booth to talk about the trauma that led her to create a network of survivors of sexual abuse by priests.</p><p>Blaine asked church leaders to ensure that the priest who abused her would be monitored, and would not come into contact with children. To her surprise, he began working at a hospital where kids sometimes went unsupervised.</p><p>Around that same time, Blaine&rsquo;s father had a stroke and wound up in the same hospital where the priest worked. When she asked the head of pastoral care to make sure the priest didn&rsquo;t come by her father&rsquo;s room, she discovered that he was not being monitored, and &ldquo;It was like a knife going in my stomach,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;I felt so betrayed. I immediately started wondering: If they lied about this, what else did they lie about? I learned much later that he had actually continued to abuse many more girls over the years. And it&rsquo;s heartbreaking because I feel somewhat responsible.&rdquo;</p><p>In the years that followed, Blaine spoke up about the abuse she suffered, and encouraged others to do the same. As some people spoke up, others came forward. Each year, Blaine says, the victims&rsquo; group got stronger, despite denial and minimization on the part of church leaders. &ldquo;We didn&rsquo;t even have cellphones or the internet back then,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;But we found each other, and we wrote letters and called.&rdquo;</p><p>Thus began<a href="http://www.snapnetwork.org/"> SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests</a>. The group will hold its<a href="http://www.snapnetwork.org/2014_conference_schedule"> annual conference in Chicago</a> this weekend (August 1-3, 2014) with special guest speakers, including Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke and historian Garry Wills. StoryCorps will be on hand to record survivors&rsquo; tales.</p><p>Over its twenty-five year history, SNAP leaders have proven adept at getting their story to the public. In 2011,<a href="http://ccrjustice.org/ourcases/current-cases/survivors-network-of-those-abused-priests-v.-joseph-ratzinger,-et-al"> SNAP leaders, working with the Center for Constitutional Rights</a>, asked the International Criminal Court to charge Pope Benedict and other high-ranking Catholic clergy with Crimes Against Humanity for their alleged role in the cover-up of sexual abuse in the church. The International Criminal Court chose not to charge them at that time, Blaine says, but said they would take notice, should SNAP or CCR desire to bring additional evidence. The United Nations&rsquo; Committee Against Torture and Committee on the Rights of the Child both issued scathing reports, Blaine says, saying some church leaders care more about the reputation of predatory priests than the protection of children. On Pope Francis, Blaine said, &ldquo;He&rsquo;s set up a committee about sexual abuse. He&rsquo;s held a meeting. He&rsquo;s met with some victims. But we don&rsquo;t see him doing simple things like turning over all the records he has about sex crimes. Turn over those records to police.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;Most survivors want to remain anonymous,&rdquo; Blaine said. &ldquo;And they have every right to their privacy. But sometimes, keeping things private makes it a little more difficult to do fundraising or hold public meetings. And the other thing is people frequently perceive us as being anti-Catholic. And to be honest, I think someday when history looks back on our movement, people will say those survivors speaking up made the Church safer.&rdquo;</p><p>Children remain at risk in many countries, she says, including the United States. But the goal of SNAP is to make sure that risk lessens with each passing year. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s the hope,&rdquo; Blaine said, &ldquo;that our efforts will protect another generation of children.&rdquo;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="450" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/playlists/6250422&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_artwork=true&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false" width="888px"></iframe></p></p> Fri, 01 Aug 2014 08:09:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/survivor-sexual-abuse-inspires-others-speak-110590 Former gang member describes transformation http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/former-gang-member-describes-transformation-110565 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/sc_0.PNG" alt="" /><p><p>Carlos Kasper, 26, has already learned more about himself than most people ever do. Kasper grew up in Little Village and was raised by his step-dad and his mom &ndash; who struggled to make ends meet. &ldquo;We grew up in the gang culture,&rdquo; Kasper said in a recent StoryCorps interview. &ldquo;[We would] smoke a lot of weed, listen to a lot of gangster rap, hang out with the guys from the block.&rdquo;</p><p>As a kid he had a lot of pent-up anger and frustration. But his brother and cousins kept him out of the gangs&hellip;for a while, at least.</p><p>There was a period towards the end of high school, when Kasper learned community organizing techniques. But he soon became disillusioned with the non-profit world when he realized their focus was on eradicating gangbangers in Little Village.&nbsp; &ldquo;I took it very personal,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>&ldquo;Because a lot of my family is gangbangers. And I knew them and they weren&rsquo;t these savages or these evil people. They&rsquo;re just regular people who just chose another lifestyle.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;Gangbangers are people&rsquo;s sons, people&rsquo;s brothers, people&rsquo;s cousins, people&rsquo;s fathers,&rdquo; he continued.</p><p>&ldquo;These [community organizer] people are acting like they&rsquo;re aliens, murderers, running around wildly.&rdquo;</p><p>Little by little, he transitioned into gang life. He appreciated the sense of brotherhood that he got as a gang member and the looks he&rsquo;d get from people who were intimidated by him.</p><p>Then he got locked up for two months in the county jail. &ldquo;I had all these problems that I didn&rsquo;t let out,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;But I didn&rsquo;t take care of the root base of my deep personal issues.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m glad I got locked up,&rdquo; Kasper said. &ldquo;There was just so much time to think, so much time for reflection, so much time for meditation, exercise. And when I came out, I came out a whole different person.&rdquo;</p><p>When he got out, he refused to take orders from some gang leaders. He still valued his fellow gang members and their ideals, but he wanted to make a change for himself.</p><p>In order to get out of the gang, he agreed to a &ldquo;violation,&rdquo; which meant that he was beat up from head to toe, for three minutes by his fellow gang members, two at a time, each guy taking five to ten seconds. By the end of it, his bones were aching and he couldn&rsquo;t lift his arms above his shoulders.</p><p>He believes he ended things on good terms with the gang. &ldquo;I feel really strong being able to step in front of them without insulting them and telling them that they were my brothers and I love them, but I can&rsquo;t do these things anymore because my life had changed.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;I was real with them. I kept it genuine. And I really loved them and I showed them that.&rdquo;</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="450" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/playlists/6250422&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_artwork=true&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false" width="100%"></iframe></p></p> Fri, 25 Jul 2014 14:33:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/former-gang-member-describes-transformation-110565 Minister haunted by decades-old domestic dispute http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/minister-haunted-decades-old-domestic-dispute-110524 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/sc.PNG" alt="" /><p><p>Carl Johnson&rsquo;s parents weren&rsquo;t around much when he was a kid.</p><p>He was an only child and he was very inquisitive. &ldquo;There were three things I said I wanted: I wanted peace. There was so much chaos in my life. I wanted hope. And I wanted love. And that&rsquo;s what I found in the church.&rdquo;</p><p>This year, Johnson celebrates 50 years as an ordained member of the Lutheran clergy.</p><p>He came to the StoryCorps booth in the Chicago Cultural Center with his children, Matthew Moy Johnson and Bethany Kaufmann, to talk about his experiences as a minister.</p><p>He was ordained in 1964 in Granite City, Illinois, near St. Louis. &ldquo;When I became a pastor I realized I had a responsibility and that I needed to be very much aware of what I said and how I lived my life,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;The main thing was to find a deeper meaning.&rdquo;</p><p>As he reflects on his five decades as a clergy member, Johnson remembers small moments: Helping a husband and wife through the loss of their teenage son. Teaching people about God and watching them teach each other. Being an advocate for issues of social justice.</p><p>One experience that shaped him as a young pastor was talking to a couple going through a domestic dispute with a loaded gun. He&nbsp; felt like, as a minister, it was his responsibility to counsel them no matter what the circumstances.</p><p>Looking back, though, he says entering such a volatile fray - with an angry spouse and a loaded weapon - could almost be considered reckless. He successfully counseled the couple, but said, &ldquo;Today I would be more cautious.&rdquo;</p><p>Johnson says he is humbled and grateful for everything that&rsquo;s happened in his life. But, he adds, I still have &ldquo;so much more to learn.&rdquo;</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="450" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/playlists/6250422&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_artwork=true&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 18 Jul 2014 14:07:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/minister-haunted-decades-old-domestic-dispute-110524 StoryCorps: Veteran encourages his kids to be proud of the United States http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/storycorps-veteran-encourages-his-kids-be-proud-united-states-110484 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Capture_13.PNG" alt="" /><p><p>Sam Guard graduated from high school on D-Day, when General Dwight D. Eisenhower launched troops onto the beaches of Normandy. Within two weeks of graduation, he turned himself in to an army post and began his military service. He was sent to the Pacific, earning his first battle star in the Philippines.<br /><br />When Sam visited the Chicago StoryCorps booth with his neighbor and friend Ruth Knack, he described his time in the military as being like a marriage. &ldquo;You think to yourself. &lsquo;This is it. Let&rsquo;s make the best of it.&rsquo; It is a continuous challenge and you need to rise to the occasion.&rdquo;<br /><br />He used the GI bill to go to college, but was soon recalled for the Korean conflict. He earned four more battle stars by being in 270 days of continuous combat. He recalls sleeping in a hole in the ground, without changing his clothes or washing himself. &ldquo;Our sink was our steel helmet turned upside down,&rdquo; he said.<br /><br />In the trenches, he was reminded of something his mother would say when he was a kid. &ldquo;No son of mine will ever serve in a war,&rdquo; she would tell her friends. Her husband had served in the military and she believed that it was supposed to be the &ldquo;war to end all wars.&rdquo;<br />&nbsp;<br />Sam remembers a time in the 1970s when his kids came home from school in tears.<br /><br />&ldquo;What&rsquo;s the matter?&rdquo; he asked. They said they were ashamed.<br /><br />&ldquo;Ashamed of what?&rdquo; he asked. Ashamed to be Americans, they responded.<br /><br />Kids at school were reacting to news of the Watergate scandal. &quot;And I thought about this,&quot; Sam said. &quot;I spent four years and two wars fighting for my country and my children are ashamed to be Americans?&quot;<br /><br />But Sam felt that the Watergate scandal was a net positive because the country corrected itself, without a revolution. &ldquo;What seems like a great defeat is possibly the highest moment,&rdquo; Sam said. &ldquo;Our greatest insight into the ultimate truth. It&rsquo;s that taking apart that may reveal its true nature.&rdquo;</p><p>He looked into his children&rsquo;s tiny faces and told them &ldquo;that they are witnessing not the disgrace of America but the triumph of our system that works.&rdquo;</p><p>And so, throughout his life there has always been a mixture of pride in his military service and shame in having to explain things to his family.<br /><br />&ldquo;We call them heroes? But what the hell is heroic about dropping bombs on people?&rdquo; To soldiers today he would say: I have some understanding of the price they paid and I wish them well. It is appreciated.</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="450" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/playlists/6250422&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_artwork=true&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false" width="100%"></iframe></p></p> Fri, 11 Jul 2014 13:50:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/storycorps-veteran-encourages-his-kids-be-proud-united-states-110484 Transgender man learns to accept love http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/transgender-man-learns-accept-love-110424 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/StoryCorps 140627 Nick Heap.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>&ldquo;I was the oldest of three girls and I had really only male friends for most of my growing-up years,&rdquo; Nick Heap says in this week&rsquo;s StoryCorps. &ldquo;I had long, long blonde hair, long enough I could actually sit-on-it, blonde.&rdquo;</p><p>Nick grew up female and transitioned to male as an adult. He recorded his story as part of a partnership between StoryCorps Chicago and the<a href="http://transoralhistory.com/"> <u>Trans Oral History Project</u></a>.</p><p>As a kid, Nick was a &ldquo;tomboy&rdquo; who enjoyed riding around the neighborhood on his dirt bike, without a shirt on. His parents were supportive of expressing his identity as much as they understood it, but he struggled to understand himself.</p><p>In seventh grade, Nick wrote anonymous love letters to a girl at school who figured out pretty quickly who was writing them. &ldquo;Within days it was all over the school,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;The harassment I would get after that was daily.&rdquo;</p><p>Nick&rsquo;s parents were called into the principal&rsquo;s office, but they stood firm: &ldquo;Is she causing an academic disruption in the classroom?&rdquo; they asked. &ldquo;So she wrote some notes to another kid. Kids do that.&rdquo;</p><p>Nick says that years later he talked to the girl who passed his notes around. She became a family counselor as an adult and they were able to talk through the experience in a healing way.</p><p>Even with that kind of support, for a long time it felt like he was on the outside looking in.</p><p>&ldquo;It was really hard feeling like I was utterly alone,&rdquo; Nick says. &ldquo;Now that I am passably male one hundred percent of the time, I am finally free to express those aspects of myself that are feminine, safely. But for so long, I spent so much of my life being ultra-masculine.&rdquo;</p><p>Over time, Nick has learned to have more patience with his family and himself.</p><p>&ldquo;For so long in my life, I couldn&rsquo;t feel the love of all the people around me,&rdquo; Nick says. &ldquo;It was like I was walking around inside a shell of armor. And their love just couldn&rsquo;t get to me. I couldn&rsquo;t feel it. I saw it, I knew it was there, I just couldn&rsquo;t feel it. And today that&rsquo;s not the truth. I can absolutely experience all this amazing love that has been all around me all the time and I&rsquo;m able to give that back to people now.&rdquo;</p><p>In June,<a href="http://storycorps.org/outloud/"> <u>StoryCorps launched the &ldquo;Out Loud&rdquo; initiative</u></a> to collect stories from LGBT people. One of these stories will be broadcast nationally on NPR each week for the next year.</p><p>The Trans Oral History Project continues to collect stories in partnership with StoryCorps Chicago. They <a href="http://transoralhistory.com/uploads/toolkit/ilive-interactive.pdf">recently published a toolkit</a> for gay-straight alliances and community organizations that work with LGBT youth.</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="450" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/playlists/6250422&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_artwork=true&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false" width="100%"></iframe></p></p> Fri, 27 Jun 2014 07:49:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/transgender-man-learns-accept-love-110424 Interracial lesbian couple falls in love http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/interracial-lesbian-couple-falls-love-110385 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/StoryCorps 140620 Angela Virginia_bh.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>&ldquo;There are lots of things about the queer community that I love and there are lots of things I don&rsquo;t love. I think there tends to be a big emphasis on looks and size,&rdquo; Angela Ibrahim says in this week&rsquo;s StoryCorps.</p><p>&ldquo;You tend to see people who look alike together. And if there are two people who don&rsquo;t look alike &ndash; It&rsquo;s Virginia and I. I&rsquo;m six feet tall and I&rsquo;m a big kid. Virginia is five (foot), five (inches), small and blond. So, we don&rsquo;t look alike.&rdquo;</p><p>There are other differences too: Angela is black and Virginia is white.</p><p>Angela grew up in the suburbs, while Virginia grew up in the city.</p><p>There are similarities as well. Both women work in higher education and both have brothers who have been to prison.</p><p>Angela says for a while after they met, though, she thought they could never be together because of their differences.</p><p>In this week&rsquo;s StoryCorps, recorded at the Chicago Cultural Center, where the women were visiting from Wisconsin, Angela and Virginia express fear and excitement about their impending wedding and their families&rsquo; reactions.</p><p>&ldquo;I never really envisioned myself marrying someone,&rdquo; Virginia says. &ldquo;And even though I didn&rsquo;t have a vision for it, I know that when I&rsquo;m with you, I feel like it&rsquo;s gonna be okay&hellip;It just makes sense, and I trust that.&rdquo;</p><iframe frameborder="no" height="450" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/playlists/6250422&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_artwork=true&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false" width="100%"></iframe></p> Fri, 20 Jun 2014 10:41:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/interracial-lesbian-couple-falls-love-110385 Dad gets sober, learns how to be a father http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/dad-gets-sober-learns-how-be-father-110347 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Screen Shot 2014-06-15 at 9.00.38 AM.png" alt="" /><p><p>Jerome Biegel grew up in a big Catholic family on Chicago&rsquo;s Southeast Side, the middle of nine children. His father worked in an industry supporting the steel mills and, like a lot of kids on the Southeast Side, he thought he&rsquo;d follow in his father&rsquo;s footsteps.</p><p>Earlier this year, Jerome Biegel, 66, joined his daughters Karen Benita Reyes, Kendall Veronica Biegel and granddaughter Una Reyes in the StoryCorps booth at the Chicago Cultural Center. They talked about his childhood on the Southeast Side and how he became a father.</p><p>Jerome says at that time the Southeast Side was full of open space. Despite having eight siblings, he was able to play in the prairies around his house. He went away to high school at a seminary, where he soon learned about the war in Vietnam. After school he entered the military and went overseas.</p><p>When he got back to Chicago at age 24, he worked at the Solo cup factory, where he met a woman. They had a child, Karen. Jerome was drinking heavily at the time.</p><p>It wasn&rsquo;t until years later &ndash; and the birth of another child &ndash; that he was able to quit drinking and learn to become a father.</p><p>&ldquo;How was it different to be a father the first time and the second time around?&rdquo; Jerome&rsquo;s daughter Karen asks him in this week&rsquo;s StoryCorps. &ldquo;Did you perfect it all the second time?&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t think I perfected anything,&rdquo; Jerome says. &ldquo;The big difference was definitely me, and the condition I was in. Being an alcoholic the first ten years of your life I was still drinking and abusing alcohol. I know I was around and I know I was there physically. But I feel like I missed more than I wanted to with you growing up.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;I learned in recovery the whole thing about &lsquo;stopping drinking wasn&rsquo;t enough,&rsquo;&rdquo; Jerome says. &ldquo;You had to find something else in your life to replace that feeling that we got from alcohol, from drinking.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;Life has a tendency to take things away as well as present us with opportunities. That charge that I used to get from drinking was real and I felt it. And you can&rsquo;t shy away from that and say I never wanna feel that way, or I shouldn&rsquo;t feel that way.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;You gotta find something else in your life. Life has a tendency to take some things away but I think it&rsquo;s important for us to help both ourselves and the people around us to find new ways to not only replace those feelings but to find a bigger high.&rdquo;</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="450" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/playlists/6250422&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_artwork=true&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false" width="100%"></iframe></p></p> Sun, 15 Jun 2014 08:56:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/dad-gets-sober-learns-how-be-father-110347 'If you’re going to do your dance, be the best' http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/if-you%E2%80%99re-going-do-your-dance-be-best-110300 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Vickie Willis and Fred Baker.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Fred Baker was, at one time, the &ldquo;World&rsquo;s Limbo King,&rdquo; says his friend and colleague Vickie Casanova Willis.</p><p>That might seem like a dubious claim but an&nbsp;<a href="http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=2206&amp;dat=19710811&amp;id=jQ9VAAAAIBAJ&amp;sjid=Nj0NAAAAIBAJ&amp;pg=3989,255135">article from the August 11, 1971 <em>Miami News</em></a> describes a nightclub act in Montego Bay, Jamaica: &ldquo;The topper on the show is King Alfred Baker. If he isn&rsquo;t the world&rsquo;s champ of limbo, I&rsquo;d like to see the act that can beat him.</p><p>His assistants do the easy passes under the bar, but when it gets tough, King Alfred takes over. The clincher comes when he places the bar on top of two beer bottles. He not only wiggles under, he does it with a glass of water in each hand and a third balanced on his forehead.&rdquo;</p><p>Baker, 64, went to the StoryCorps booth at the Chicago Cultural Center earlier this year with his friend, Willis, 53. They discussed his life as a dancer.</p><p>When Fred Baker was born in Montego Bay, the city was the tourism capital of Jamaica. He followed his older brother to the markets to dance alongside the vendors.</p><p>Once his brother moved on, Baker stepped in, and began to get noticed. By the age of nine, he was travelling to perform outside of the country. He trained professionally and soon was performing in places like Paris and London.</p><p>Making a living in the arts hasn&rsquo;t always been easy for him. He remembers auditioning for the play&nbsp;<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=auKZ2QDqkrE">&ldquo;House of Flowers&rdquo;</a> in New York - with lyrics by Truman Capote and featuring the hit song, &ldquo;Two Ladies in the Shade of De Banana Tree.&rdquo; There were so many dancers at the audition that he almost went home. Instead, he got the part.</p><p>Eventually he went back to Montego Bay to start a dance school. It began with five kids but quickly grew to more than a hundred. A few years later, he moved to Chicago and brought his dance school with him.</p><p>He still runs the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.westindianfolkdancecompany.">West Indian Folk Dance Company</a> in Chicago, which has been his home for the past 35 years.</p><p>He&rsquo;s&nbsp;<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8okOu9sEWKs">a living legend in the Caribbean&ndash;American community in Chicago</a>, an instructor with Columbia College Chicago&rsquo;s Community Arts Partnership (CCAP).</p><p>When he was young, Baker&rsquo;s parents wanted him to be a lawyer or a doctor. He resisted. When they realized that their son was not going to relent, his dad gave him a piece of advice that has stuck with him all his life:</p><p>&ldquo;If you&rsquo;re going to do your dance, be the best.&rdquo;</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="450" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/playlists/6250422&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_artwork=true&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false" width="100%"></iframe></p></p> Fri, 06 Jun 2014 11:57:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/if-you%E2%80%99re-going-do-your-dance-be-best-110300 Husband and wife battle Alzheimer's together http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/husband-and-wife-battle-alzheimers-together-110260 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Capture_10.PNG" alt="" /><p><p>Ben Ferguson, 66, and his wife of more than four decades, Robyn, 64, grew up in Texas. It&rsquo;s where they met and fell in love. About a year ago, Ben was diagnosed with early stage Alzheimer&rsquo;s disease. And so the couple moved to Chicago to be closer to their daughter and grandchildren. They recently came to the StoryCorps booth in the Chicago Cultural Center to relive Ben&rsquo;s earliest memories, and to describe what the disease has meant for their family.</p><p>Alzheimer&rsquo;s disease, which negatively impacts the brain&rsquo;s ability to remember things, may affect more than five million Americans, according to the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nia.nih.gov/alzheimers/publication/alzheimers-disease-fact-sheet" target="_blank">National Institute on Aging.</a> That number is growing, however, and could reach as many as 16 million by the year 2050, according to the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.alz.org/documents/greaterillinois/statesheet_illinois(1).pdf" target="_blank">Alzheimer&rsquo;s Association of Greater Illinois.</a></p><p>&ldquo;These memories are going to fade,&rdquo; Robyn said. &ldquo;They&rsquo;ve already begun to,&rdquo; Ben said.</p><p>In the booth, the couple talked about how Ben got into all kinds of trouble in elementary and high school. He once wrecked two of the family cars in one day. He was kicked out of several universities, before finding his footing and eventually earning a PhD in Psychology.</p><p>&ldquo;There have always been two sides to you,&rdquo; Robyn said. &ldquo;You&rsquo;re a bad boy. But you&rsquo;re a good boy too. I liked the bad boy first and now I like the good boy better.&rdquo; &ldquo;Yeah, but the bad boy got you,&rdquo; Ben said, laughing.</p><p>When Ben met Robyn, he said it was love at first sight. She thinks the attraction might have been more physical at first. &ldquo;I was pretty sure I wasn&rsquo;t gonna be able to run over you,&rdquo; Ben said. &ldquo;I was definitely sure that you were one of the prettiest women I have ever seen and I had tender feelings toward you.&rdquo; They married two months after meeting. They had two kids, one of whom moved to Chicago.</p><p>Then about a year ago, Ben started showing signs of Alzheimer&rsquo;s. &ldquo;It was the worst thing that&rsquo;s ever happened to me,&rdquo; Ben said. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m still trying to figure out how to deal with it.&rdquo;</p><p>Now, Ben and Robyn live in Chicago and enjoy spending time with their grandkids. Ben participates in some long-term research programs at&nbsp;<a href="http://www.brain.northwestern.edu/" target="_blank">Northwestern University&rsquo;s Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer&rsquo;s Disease Center (CNADC)</a>. He also takes classes there to help build memory through improvisation and takes part in a buddy program.&nbsp;<a href="https://soundcloud.com/morningshiftwbez/workshop-offers-new-form-of" target="_blank">He and Robyn are part of a storytelling group for Alzheimer&rsquo;s patients and their families.</a></p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;ll just keep working on things,&rdquo; Robyn said. &ldquo;I think we&rsquo;re doing really good,&rdquo; he added.</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="450" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Fplaylists%2F6250422" width="100%"></iframe></p></p> Fri, 30 May 2014 15:26:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/husband-and-wife-battle-alzheimers-together-110260