WBEZ | StoryCorps http://www.wbez.org/tags/storycorps Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Uncle dying of cancer rescues niece from abusive relationship http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/uncle-dying-cancer-rescues-niece-abusive-relationship-111145 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/scuncle.PNG" alt="" /><p><p>Don Perry and his wife, Lee Ann, don&rsquo;t have children.</p><p>But Don&rsquo;s niece, Beth McCarthy, has always been close to her uncle and aunt.</p><p>When Don found out recently that he has Stage 4 prostate cancer, Beth brought him to the StoryCorps booth to relive some significant moments from both of their lives.</p><p>&ldquo;I remember you and Lee Ann when I was a kid,&rdquo; Beth said. &ldquo;I thought you guys were just so cool.&rdquo;</p><p>Beth brought up her uncle&rsquo;s cancer diagnosis, it&rsquo;s metastasized to his lungs.</p><p>&ldquo;We know you don&rsquo;t have that much longer&hellip;&rdquo; she said.</p><p>Don believes that with hormone therapy, he might live four or five years.</p><p>Beth questions whether her uncle believes in the afterlife.</p><p>&ldquo;No. No. Absolutely not,&rdquo; Don answered.</p><p>A while back, Don had a next-door-neighbor who was dying of brain cancer. He lived sixteen months, which is more than they thought he would. They had been good friends for 20 years.</p><p>&ldquo;And it was very hard for me just to face him because of all the baggage I had,&rdquo; Don said, &ldquo;And I just felt so inadequate that I couldn&rsquo;t say anything, that I actually avoided him.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t know what to say to you,&rdquo; Beth said. &ldquo;It just makes me so sad to know that you&rsquo;re not going to be around. And you&rsquo;ve meant so much to me.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;It just seems so unfair,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;Well, I&rsquo;m actually pretty good with that,&rdquo; Don said.</p><p>Then, Beth said something she had wanted to say for a long time. &ldquo;I guess I&rsquo;m just so grateful for what you did for me,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;I feel like you saved my life completely, literally.&rdquo;</p><p>Years ago, she was living in Boston with a boyfriend who was beating her up pretty regularly. Beth called Don and asked him to help her.</p><p>&ldquo;We just left. And I wouldn&rsquo;t have survived the next time,&rdquo; Beth said to her uncle, Don.</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, 21 Nov 2014 14:24:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/uncle-dying-cancer-rescues-niece-abusive-relationship-111145 StoryCorps: Adoptive mom encourages teenage boy http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/storycorps-adoptive-mom-encourages-teenage-boy-111112 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/scorpsadopt.PNG" alt="" /><p><p>&ldquo;My mom was the only one there, but she was a good mom,&rdquo; Matt Fitzsimmons says in this week&rsquo;s StoryCorps. &ldquo;She loved us very much. But she didn&rsquo;t have much to work with, because she was a single mom. And she passed on from cancer when I was 14. My dad came back like two months before my mom passed, and he was going to take care of us. But my dad had enough troubles of his own, with alcohol. So my sister and I had to deal with a single alcoholic parent in the house and basically he was perpetually mad at us for no good reason.&rdquo;</p><p>Fitzsimmons came to StoryCorps with Shirley Paulson, a woman who&rsquo;d known him since before he was born. She had just moved back to Chicago around the time of Fitzsimmons&rsquo; mother&rsquo;s funeral.</p><p>&ldquo;I found you then after your younger sister had gone off to school and you were living alone then with your dad&hellip;That was bad. If I remember correctly you were living with your dad in the house with a dog and a couple cats and it seemed like they had more care than you did.&rdquo;</p><p>Paulson explains how Fitzsimmons worked one summer at a camp alongside their son, Tim.</p><p>&ldquo;When we went to the airport to pick up Tim from camp, Tim said, &lsquo;Matt needs a ride home. Can we bring him home?&rsquo; Sure. So we just jumped you in the car and when we dropped you off at your house, I was stunned to realize that here you&rsquo;d been away all summer, you got your luggage out of the car, went up to the house, and there was nobody there to even say hello.&quot;</p><p>&ldquo;Oh he was there,&rdquo; Fitzsimmons says. &ldquo;He was just asleep on the couch, with the five cars in the driveway and the lawn really long.&quot;</p><p>&ldquo;Exactly,&rdquo; Paulson says. &ldquo;Well, the next day was Labor Day and I thought: Why don&rsquo;t we invite Matt over? We thought maybe you&rsquo;d like to come and join us. So I was a little bit nervous calling you &lsquo;cause I didn&rsquo;t know you that well. So we invited you and you said so quickly: &lsquo;Yes! Sure!&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;And I noticed that you ate and ate and ate and ate. You were hungry. And so I said to my husband afterwards: &lsquo;Do you think Matt would like to come over for some more food tomorrow?&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;Then it became obvious that you were joining us more than the typical teenager coming over to have food with a family.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;I think I talked your head off,&rdquo; Fitzsimmons says. &ldquo;We talked a lot.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;Yeah, we did talk a lot,&rdquo; Paulson says, &ldquo;and I loved that. I felt honored that you would &ndash; as a teenager - take the time to talk to me. And share your life, and it meant so much to me. It really did. But I don&rsquo;t think you realized for a while what it meant to be in the family. It took you a while to register. And it was hard to do because you had to deal with the fact that you had a family. And yet you also were being part of us. And you had loyalty to your family, which was right to do.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;It was frustrating to me to have to drive you home every day across Glenview and drop you off into that nothing of a house. And then come back and pick you up the next day and bring you home and have some nice time with you and drive you back home again. And I thought: &lsquo;Why won&rsquo;t he just move in?&rsquo; But there was some stuff you had to deal with.&rdquo;</p><p>Fitzsimmons says, &ldquo;So, you were the nice person helping me. Then you converted into parental person, which is a huge shift, because you went from nice to &lsquo;You have to do this to get to the next stage of your life.&rsquo;&hellip;When I think about all those twists and turns throughout life. And if I didn&rsquo;t do this turn or that turn where would I be&hellip;That was probably the biggest turn for you to say, &lsquo;We&rsquo;re going to save him from devastation.&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;Of course we didn&rsquo;t think of saving you. We thought of we needed you. You&rsquo;ll get that through your head one of these days.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;ll say it officially: I love you.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;Oh, Matt! Can I say &lsquo;I love you&rsquo; too?&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;You do all the time!&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> Mon, 17 Nov 2014 17:42:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/storycorps-adoptive-mom-encourages-teenage-boy-111112 StoryCorps: Interracial couple travels to Ferguson, Missouri http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/storycorps-interracial-couple-travels-ferguson-missouri-111086 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/StoryCorps 141107 Helene Lucas_bh.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Helene Matumona was born in Zambia, but grew up in Canada.</p><p>&ldquo;Chicago is very different from Vancouver,&rdquo; she says in this week&rsquo;s StoryCorps. &ldquo;When you&rsquo;re here, you really feel like you&rsquo;re black. I think that&rsquo;s how I would describe my stay in Chicago: I feel black.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m not trying to divide myself,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;You know, ideally I want to live in a society where there aren&rsquo;t tensions. Where we can all just be cool with each other.&rdquo;</p><p>Matumona came to the booth with her husband, Lucas Weisbecker, who is white. He asked her about their recent visit to St. Louis and the protests in nearby Ferguson.</p><p>&ldquo;It was just really tense at times,&quot; she says. &quot;Because you could feel the anger and you could feel just how fatigued the African-Americans in St. Louis were.&rdquo;</p><p>Weisbecker asks: &ldquo;Going to those protests, did that change your idea of what it means to be black?&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;Yeah. Cause I&rsquo;m an African immigrant,&quot; she says. &quot;And I feel like there&rsquo;s a difference there. Versus being an African-American and going through these struggles, the Civil Rights movement and slavery and all that. There&rsquo;s definitely a different story there. There&rsquo;s a different fight.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;I went down there to try to see what was happening,&rdquo; Weisbecker explains. &ldquo;To try to feel the vibe of what was going on. And try to get a story from people that are actually there and experiencing like&hellip;because obviously there&rsquo;s a lot of underlying issues beyond just one kid getting killed. People react that way because there&rsquo;s a systemic problem and it&rsquo;s not being addressed.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;And you go down there and you see kids being basically fed up with the way things are and trying to make a difference,&rdquo; Weisbecker continues. &ldquo;The one thing I kept thinking about though was how is this actually going to make a difference in the end.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;There needs to be a direction. And there needs to be somebody or a group or an idea that puts everything into a direction, because if there&rsquo;s no direction it&rsquo;s just going to be unbridled anger, which is justified, but it is not necessarily going to change what it is that people are upset about.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;It was so cool to see people out in the streets talking about politics and the issues. And I think that&rsquo;s the first step to developing a direction. And you really need to be so on point to make change. And it was like: We were marching, We were yelling. We were talking. And it was just like: Okay, what&rsquo;s the action? What are we going to do?&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;d say, I left with a lot of questions.&quot;</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, 07 Nov 2014 16:20:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/storycorps-interracial-couple-travels-ferguson-missouri-111086 Studs Terkel's assistant remembers him fondly http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/studs-terkels-assistant-remembers-him-fondly-111050 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/scorpsss.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>&ldquo;The first time I met him (Studs Terkel) was right after I got to Chicago,&rdquo; Sydney Lewis says in this week&rsquo;s StoryCorps. &ldquo;I was waitressing at a nightclub and Studs was in my section. And it was very busy. It was very crowded and I was trying to get a drink order. And he started asking me questions: Where was I from? How long had I been in Chicago? What did I think of Chicago? And finally I said to him, &lsquo;Mr. Terkel, I read <em>Working</em>. And I loved <em>Working</em>. But I AM WORKING! What do you want to drink?&rsquo; So that was our first interaction and that sort of defines our relationship over the years.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;I had that first meeting with him and then I went applying for a job at WFMT and eventually I ended up becoming the program department administrative assistant,&rdquo; she says.&nbsp;</p><p>And over the next 25 years, Lewis got to know Studs and his wife Ida very well.</p><p>Lewis admits to feeling a little lost without him. She looked to Studs to explain the world to her, like a lot of people in Chicago, she says. She relied on him for that because he cut to the human issues involved each and every time.</p><p>&ldquo;When anything&rsquo;s happening on the news, I just long to know what he would say,&rdquo; Lewis says.</p><p>&ldquo;You could hear him coming down the hallway,&rdquo; she recalls of their days together at WFMT. &ldquo;He was always talking. He never shut up. I used to tease him and go, &lsquo;How do you get good interviews?&rsquo; Because I mean, logorrhea, he just would go on and on and on. Raving about some horrible political decision or some war somewhere or joblessness or poverty. Or very excited because he had a guest coming in and he was looking forward to talking to them.&quot;</p><p>&ldquo;I always felt like he had kind of a three-tiered mind: One part of it was talking to you, one part of it was working on the program or a book or whatever he was working on. And another part of it was looking at the whole world.&quot;</p><p>&ldquo;I jokingly describe myself as his nanny, but that was somewhat my role. I would know who he would want to hear from. And what kind of authors were not up his alley&hellip;So I was good at filtering for him. And grabbing the mail, coffee for the guests.&quot;</p><p>&ldquo;But you know there&rsquo;s the immensity of what he brought and there&rsquo;s the human being&hellip;He needed to be reminded that he wasn&rsquo;t the only person on the planet sometimes.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;We would fight, I would yell at him sometimes. The worst time was when I was quitting smoking and I was really irritable.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;He had this habit. He&rsquo;d come down the hallway. Everyday he&rsquo;d say,&lsquo;Whaddya hear? Whaddya say, kid?&rsquo; You know where that&rsquo;s from?&rsquo; I&rsquo;d say, &lsquo;Jimmy Cagney!&rsquo; &lsquo;Yeah!&rsquo; You know, 325 days a year this would happen. It was his little ritual. And I was really grumpy when I quit smoking. My colleague Lois could see him. He would approach. And I was in a little alcove. And he would peer around it to see what kind of mood I was in. And at one point he went to Lois and said, &lsquo;What happened to her?&rsquo; And Lois said, &lsquo;Oh she&rsquo;s just quitting smoking.&rsquo; And he went, &lsquo;Ohhh! OK!&rsquo; He was used to me playing with him. We were very playful together.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;After his heart surgery&hellip;.This was probably the first heart surgery, so Ida was still alive. The doctor comes out. Looking like hell. He&rsquo;s really tired and he&rsquo;s just, &lsquo;Man, they don&rsquo;t make &lsquo;em like that anymore.&rsquo; When Ida and I came down to see him, he was sitting up in a chair, having a little soup. He thought one of the monitors was a TV screen. So he&rsquo;s saying, &lsquo;Can we get the ball game on? Can we get the ball game on?&rsquo; He offers me soup, &lsquo;Would you like a little soup?&rsquo; I&rsquo;m like, &lsquo;No that&rsquo;s OK. You need the soup.&rsquo; And just to tease him I leaned forward and said, &lsquo;Who&rsquo;s the president?&rsquo; And he looked up and he went, &lsquo;Taft?&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;So here&rsquo;s a guy after like eight hours of open heart surgery and he&rsquo;s offering to share food with you, wanting to see the ball game and making jokes.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;Yeah, like the doctor said, &lsquo;They don&rsquo;t make &lsquo;em like that anymore.&rsquo;&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, 31 Oct 2014 11:34:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/studs-terkels-assistant-remembers-him-fondly-111050 Breaking the silence about being bipolar http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/breaking-silence-about-being-bipolar-110988 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/StoryCorps 141024 Andrea Tim_bh (1)_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>When Andrea Lee was diagnosed with bipolar disorder 20 years ago, she wanted to talk about it all the time.</p><p>&ldquo;Everywhere I went, I would introduce myself and I would try to work in - maybe in the second or third sentence of that conversation &ndash; &lsquo;By the way, I have Bipolar Disorder.&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p>Eventually, though, she realized that people treated her differently.</p><p>&ldquo;So I stopped talking about it,&rdquo; Lee says in this week&rsquo;s StoryCorps.</p><p>Now Lee wants to talk about it again.</p><p>She came to the StoryCorps booth in the Chicago Cultural Center earlier this month with her husband, Tim Fister.</p><p>&ldquo;I remember in high school sitting at the lunch table with my friends,&rdquo; Lee says, &ldquo;and there was all this commotion around me and I couldn&rsquo;t hear any of it&hellip;And I remember just putting my head down and feeling so&hellip;empty.&rdquo;</p><p>Later that day, she drove to her family&rsquo;s home and parked in the garage. &ldquo;I was crying and crying. I left the car on and I remember thinking: I could just close the door and I wouldn&rsquo;t have to feel this pain anymore.&rdquo;</p><p>She sat in the car, contemplating suicide. She imagined how her mother would feel when she got home and saw her body slumped in the driver&rsquo;s seat of the car.</p><p>Lee&rsquo;s parents are from Korea and Lee says, &ldquo;There&rsquo;s such a culture of shame in Korea that people would rather suffer in silence then let the world know that they&rsquo;re in pain and that they need help.&rdquo;</p><p>Lee turned the car off and went inside the house.</p><p>Soon after she saw a psychiatrist who prescribed anti-depressants to her. Within a few weeks, the drugs helped lift her spirits. The sky was bluer and the sun was brighter. But what she didn&rsquo;t realize was that she was quickly spiraling into mania.</p><p>A short time later, Lee experienced her first manic episode, and the police brought her to a mental health facility.</p><p>&ldquo;So through all of this stuff that was going on, I&rsquo;m just curious: Did you have anyone to talk to frankly?&rdquo; her husband, Tim Fister, asks. &ldquo;&rsquo;Cause it sounds like your parents were out of the picture.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;Yeah, I don&rsquo;t think that in that state of mind I was really able to connect with anyone,&rdquo; Lee says. &ldquo;What was it like for you when you met me and I started telling you about my own mental illness?&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;It wasn&rsquo;t really that big of a deal. It was maybe a little bit of a relief &lsquo;cause on both sides of my family there&rsquo;s a fair amount of various levels of mental illness. So it didn&rsquo;t bother me&hellip;that much. You know it&rsquo;s something you think about in terms of the logistics. I still think about that even today, especially now that Juniper&rsquo;s born. What are we going to do if such a thing were to happen? But you know when it&rsquo;s coming. You know the signs. And you know what to do.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;So we&rsquo;ve been married for nine&mdash;no, we&rsquo;ve been married for four years, but we&rsquo;ve been together for nine years, but you&rsquo;ve never seen me in a manic state. How do you feel about that?&rdquo; Lee asks.</p><p>&ldquo;I think it&rsquo;s very possible you might never have another manic episode again,&rdquo; Fister says. &ldquo;You&rsquo;re lucky that you found the right combination of meds&hellip; And you have a good support system. You have a good doctor now.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;You know for a long time I didn&rsquo;t want to have a child because I didn&rsquo;t want that child to go through that,&rdquo; Lee says, &ldquo; but then also selfishly if that child committed suicide I didn&rsquo;t know how I would live. I didn&rsquo;t know how I could live with that knowledge: That I knew what that experience was but still decided to get pregnant and to bring a life into the world where that could happen.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;So what turned it around?&rdquo; Fister asks.</p><p>&ldquo;I think that I&rsquo;ve experienced things in our relationship together that made me feel like that chance was worth it,&rdquo; Lee says.</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, 24 Oct 2014 11:41:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/breaking-silence-about-being-bipolar-110988 Young couple prepares for the birth of their first child http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/young-couple-prepares-birth-their-first-child-110958 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/StoryCorps 141017 Meg and Bobby Hart.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Megan and Bobby Hart met after college, while preparing to do the Peace Corps in Burkina Faso.</p><p>Three years ago, they got married. And now they&rsquo;re on the cusp of yet another adventure.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re gonna have a baby,&rdquo; Bobby says, in this week&rsquo;s StoryCorps. &ldquo;Very soon,&rdquo; Meg says. &ldquo;Tomorrow I will be 37-weeks pregnant, so that is considered full-term. The baby could come any time now.&rdquo;</p><p>As if that weren&rsquo;t enough excitement, they bought their first home a month ago, and Bobby is spending all his time getting it ready.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m hoping that the child doesn&rsquo;t come for maybe another four weeks,&rdquo; Bobby says, &ldquo;to allow us to really do all the work that needs to be done on the house&hellip;I mean I love this person who&rsquo;s coming into the world but I don&rsquo;t want them to come just yet. I want a solid four more weeks if I can get it. Three would be acceptable. Please no sooner than two.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;What makes you think we are ready to be parents?&rdquo; he asks.</p><p>&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t know if we&rsquo;re ready,&rdquo; Megan says.</p><p>&ldquo;I think we are ready enough because there&rsquo;s a lot of love in our house so I think there&rsquo;s plenty of room for a new person to come into it and be loved and supported. And I think we&rsquo;ve also traveled, we&rsquo;ve gone to school. We&rsquo;ve kind of settled down and I think we&rsquo;re ready to bring somebody else into our lives now.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re not woefully underprepared,&rdquo; Bobby says, &ldquo;but how do you know if you&rsquo;re really ready for this new experience that you&rsquo;ve never had? I&rsquo;ve never even really babysat. So this is really something that it&rsquo;s tough to say that I&rsquo;m absolutely prepared for.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;What are you most looking forward to with this child coming into our lives?&rdquo; Meg wants to know.</p><p>&ldquo;Oh, gosh! This is the person I get to hopefully teach the lessons that I think are really important. And maybe expand and move those things. I&rsquo;m excited to be able to have a relationship similar to the one that my father and mother have with me. All those sorts of cultural things you take from your parents. I&rsquo;m looking to be on the other side of that equation. And share those with a son or daughter. What about you?&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m looking forward to that relationship,&rdquo; Meg says. &ldquo;You know I love you very much. But the way that our parents love us, I&rsquo;m excited to experience that love for somebody that is uncontrollable and overwhelming. I already feel it a little bit but I can&rsquo;t wait to meet the person.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;We hope we do a good job,&rdquo; Bobby adds.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m confident we can do it,&rdquo; Meg says.</p><p>&ldquo;I am too.&rdquo;</p></p> Fri, 17 Oct 2014 11:38:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/young-couple-prepares-birth-their-first-child-110958 Vietnam veteran's combat experiences left him disillusioned with the war http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/vietnam-veterans-combat-experiences-left-him-disillusioned-war-110888 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/StoryCorps-141001-Barry-Romo-bh.png" alt="" /><p><p>&ldquo;One-third of the casualties in Vietnam were because of IEDs (improvised explosive devices), because of bombs and booby traps,&rdquo; Barry Romo, 67, said while recording this week&rsquo;s StoryCorps.</p><p><a href="http://www.history.com/topics/vietnam-war/vietnam-war-history/videos/barry-romo">Romo is a Vietnam veteran</a> who lives in Chicago and is associated with the group, <a href="http://www.vvaw.org/veteran/article/?id=189">Vietnam Veterans Against the War.</a> Earlier this week, Romo spoke about how his wartime experiences changed him.</p><p>&ldquo;Part of my job was to pay money to people who would bring back unexploded rounds,&rdquo; Romo said. &ldquo;The U.S. dropped more explosives on Vietnam than in the Second World War and 11 percent of those bombs were duds. And the Vietcong and the North Vietnamese would literally saw them in half, get that explosive and make mines to blow up Americans.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;One day, there was an explosion on the other side of the base, and what had happened was two or three or four Vietnamese children were bringing back a white phosphorous artillery round to get paid a buck and something happened to it just as they were reaching the base and two or three of the children literally ceased to exist. And one little girl was left, somewhere between the ages of 10 and 14. And she was bleeding, and in pain, and her clothes had been burned onto her. And I took off my poncho, wrapped her in that, and put her on the floor of the helicopter.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;And we flew to where there was a giant military hospital. I jumped out with the little girl in my arms. And I ran to an attendant. He was a white Caucasian male. And he took one look and said, &ldquo;We don&rsquo;t treat Vietnamese nationals here. You&rsquo;re going to have to take her to the Catholic orphanage.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;And we got into the helicopter and I put the girl on the floor again. And she whimpered like a little kitten in pain. The pilot landed and there was a Caucasian woman. And I jumped out, put the little girl in her arms and we flew off&hellip;I don&rsquo;t know whether she lived or she died.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;We had been told, &lsquo;You&rsquo;re going to Vietnam to fight for the future, for freedom and democracy.&rsquo; And here was a little girl whose friends had all died. And it didn&rsquo;t matter. The only thing that mattered was the color of her skin and the shape of her eyes.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;But the way you deal with combat is: You get through the night and then you get through the day and then you get through the night and then you get through the day. You put those things away, not to revisit them until you get back to the United States.&rdquo;</p><p>Romo lost a nephew, with whom he was close, fighting in Vietnam as well. And the experience of bringing his body back to the United States from Vietnam shook him to the core.</p><p>&ldquo;I couldn&rsquo;t admit the war was wrong to begin with. It took me a year of doing drugs and drinking and not sleeping.&rdquo;</p><p>Romo survived and became an active member of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War. But for some veterans, the memories of their combat prove too much to bear.</p><p><a href="http://www.cnn.com/2013/09/21/us/22-veteran-suicides-a-day/">According to the VA,</a> an average of 22 U.S. veterans kill themselves each day. <a href="http://veteranscrisisline.net/About/AboutVeteransCrisisLine.aspx">A crisis line created specifically for veterans has fielded more than a million calls </a>since it began in 2007.</p><p>Since Romo finished his military service, the VA has made an effort to address the issue, as evidenced by a <a href="http://www.va.gov/opa/docs/Suicide-Data-Report-2012-final.pdf">2012 report from the Veterans Administration</a> compiling veteran suicide data.</p><p>But Romo is convinced the issue is far from over. &quot;Twenty-two vets a day are killing themselves,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;Twenty two vets. And it&rsquo;s important because when the war ends, it doesn&rsquo;t really end for the people who fought it or who are victims of it.&rdquo;</p></p> Fri, 03 Oct 2014 10:15:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/vietnam-veterans-combat-experiences-left-him-disillusioned-war-110888 Friends describe love's endurance after alcoholic husband's death http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/friends-describe-loves-endurance-after-alcoholic-husbands-death-110855 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/StoryCorps 140926 Lisa Sophia bh.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall - and George H.W. Bush&rsquo;s &ldquo;thousand points of light&rdquo; speech - two young American women became close friends while serving in the Peace Corps in Hungary. Lisa Jurkovic and Sophia Forero were assigned to the same village for their two year stints. And during their stay, Lisa met another Peace Corps volunteer named Nick. Recently, Lisa stopped by the StoryCorps booth to talk with Sophia about the impact Nick had on both of their lives.<br /><br />&ldquo;Didn&rsquo;t you meet him playing volleyball?&rdquo; Sophia asks. &ldquo;Do you remember looking at him and thinking he was kind of cute?&rdquo;<br /><br />&ldquo;Black hair, fabulous green eyes,&rdquo; Lisa says. &ldquo;He was absolutely the life of the party. He was the one who wanted to go out for pizza afterwards. He was the one who gathered everybody together. If somebody felt bad, he made that person feel better. I liked how honest he was, and open, and friendly. He always made sure that I was happy.&rdquo;<br /><br />Lisa and Nick spent every weekend together, travelling by train, to meet one another.<br /><br />&ldquo;When did you realize this person was someone who was going to be special to you?&rdquo; Sophia asks.&nbsp; &ldquo;Two months in,&rdquo; Lisa says.</p><p>&ldquo;Was there anything in Nick&rsquo;s behavior that made you think that the road with Nick might be difficult?&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;Nick had a very hard time enjoying anything without drinking.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;When you married him, did you ever imagine that ten years into your marriage he would become more withdrawn or as withdrawn as he became?&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t believe that anyone sets out in a marriage predicting anything like that. I&rsquo;m 46 now. It&rsquo;s easy to look back. And at 24 the heart wants what the heart wants.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;That&rsquo;s really true, isn&rsquo;t it?&rdquo; Sophia sighs. &ldquo;For the last three years of his life, he was slowly just drinking himself to death.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;It became impossible for him to be in the house,&rdquo; Lisa says. &ldquo;He refused to seek help for eight years. And he was a liability. He was wrecking cars and it couldn&rsquo;t go on.&rdquo;</p><p>Sophia says, &ldquo;And you basically made the decision in order to make sure that your children&hellip;&rdquo;<br />&ldquo;&hellip;were safe,&rdquo; Lisa finishes.</p><p>&ldquo;Do you ever really think about how much courage that took? Are you able to process that?,&rdquo; Sophia asked.</p><p>&ldquo;It had to happen,&rdquo; Lisa responded.</p><p>&ldquo;I know, but do you realize how important it was for your children? He drove me crazy like a brother, but there&rsquo;s a part of me that really loved him,&rdquo; Sophia recalled, &ldquo;And there&rsquo;s a part of me&hellip;I just wanted to shake him and say: Just do this! Why can&rsquo;t you do this?&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;Because his pride would not allow it,&rdquo; Lisa says.</p><p>&ldquo;You know that you loved him very much,&rdquo; Sophia says. &ldquo;You know that.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;I still do,&rdquo; Lisa says.</p></p> Thu, 25 Sep 2014 15:09:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/friends-describe-loves-endurance-after-alcoholic-husbands-death-110855 HIV diagnosis leads two friends down different paths http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/hiv-diagnosis-leads-two-friends-down-different-paths-110823 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/StoryCorps-140919-Mark-Rick-bh.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>&ldquo;Drug addiction is really exhausting,&rdquo; Mark S. King says in this week&rsquo;s StoryCorps, recorded at the Palmer House Hilton Hotel in Chicago&rsquo;s Loop, in conjunction with the National Lesbian and Gay Journalist Association&rsquo;s annual convention. &ldquo;I was here in this very hotel maybe eight years ago, and was in a room upstairs for five days and never left my room.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;Why&rsquo;s that?&rdquo; his friend Rick Guasco asks him.</p><p>&ldquo;Because I had a crystal meth pipe in my mouth and was smoking and injecting crystal meth for five days.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;That&rsquo;s kind of surprising to hear you say that,&rdquo; Guasco says. &ldquo;So how did you fall into it?&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;What happened to me&hellip;It was about 1996 and we had just gone through 15 years of pure hell in the gay community, with AIDS. And I had certainly seen that. I had lived through the &lsquo;80s as an HIV-positive person in West Hollywood. And in 1996, at long last, we had these medications that came out&hellip;and for the first time almost since the crisis began the dying seemed to almost stop in its tracks.</p><p>&ldquo;And It was kind of at that nexus of new medications beginning and gay men looking for a reason to celebrate. And it wasn&rsquo;t long until crystal meth started creeping into that equation, creeping into our community.</p><p>&ldquo;That&rsquo;s where drug addiction takes you: It makes your world very, very small. You keep shutting out everything else and you&rsquo;re left in a small room, in a hotel room, with you and the drugs and nothing else.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;Those of us who have lived with HIV for a longtime&hellip;We came out of it one or two ways: Either we came out of it with a strong sense of empathy and sadness and wanting to do our best to help and understand. Or you come out of it with a real sense of judgment and bitterness, as if this is a new phenomenon amongst young people.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;I do feel a little sad and scared for younger gay men. I&rsquo;m not judgmental. I worry for them,&rdquo; Guasco says. &ldquo;I had developed Kaposi&rsquo;s Sarcoma&hellip;the spots. And there were more of them on my legs, and I started to get nervous, worried. And I fell into the sense of denial. The first spot came in May. I didn&rsquo;t get tested until December. And a week before Christmas that year, I found out that yes, indeed, I was HIV-positive.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;We have two HIV warhorses here,&rdquo; King says. &ldquo;We&rsquo;re learning as we go along. And that&rsquo;s what I try to keep in mind when we are speaking to other gay men, young or old, about how best to get a handle on this epidemic.&rdquo;</p></p> Fri, 19 Sep 2014 08:46:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/hiv-diagnosis-leads-two-friends-down-different-paths-110823 Gay journalist battles Boy Scouts in court for 18 years http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/gay-journalist-battles-boy-scouts-court-18-years-110793 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/StoryCorps 140905 Noel Tim bh.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Growing up in Berkeley, California in the 1970s, Tim Curran loved camping. When his best friend joined the Boy Scouts, Curran signed up too. He rose up through the ranks, achieving scouting&rsquo;s highest honor, Eagle Scout, during high school.</p><p>Curran, who is gay, came out when he was a teenager. His troop was supportive of him. But after his senior year, he was featured in a newspaper story with his prom date, who was also male. And the newspaper found its way into the hands of some higher-ups within the Boy Scouts, who decided to take action against Curran.</p><p>These days Curran works as a journalist with CNN, but three decades ago, he found himself in a very different position, as the plaintiff in a lawsuit against the Boy Scouts of America. Curran was in Chicago recently for a convention of the National Gay and Lesbian Journalists Association, when he stopped by the StoryCorps booth with his partner, Noel Parks.</p><p>Curran was a freshman at UCLA, when he got a letter at his dorm. &ldquo;I opened it up and it was from the council executive, the head guy of the local scout council, the Mt. Diablo Council. And it said, &lsquo;Your application to attend the national jamboree is rejected. And we need to have a conversation about your future participation with scouting.&rsquo;</p><p>So I called the council executive from my dorm room and I said does this have something to do with the article in the [Oakland] Tribune? Does this have something to do with the fact that I&rsquo;m gay?&rdquo;</p><p>And he sort of hemmed and hawed and said &ldquo;Well, yes, and we can talk about it at Thanksgiving.&rdquo;</p><p>So that&rsquo;s what happened. My mother and my stepfather [and my troop leader] and I met with this council executive guy over Thanksgiving vacation and we had this lengthy conversation the gist of which was, &ldquo;Do you still espouse homosexuality?&rdquo; And I said: &ldquo;If by that are you asking whether I&rsquo;m still gay, the answer is yes.&rdquo;</p><p>And he said, &ldquo;Scouting does not believe that you have the moral qualifications to be a leader. And so we are revoking your registration in scouting, we&rsquo;re revoking your registration in your troop.&rdquo; And he said knowing that my troop knew that I was gay and was perfectly happy to have me. So that was the end of that.</p><p>I just remember shaking with anger at the injustice of it, but also sort of impotent to do anything about it. But also knowing that you&rsquo;re talking with this guy, it&rsquo;s a civilized conversation and you just have to keep cool and act like a scout would act.</p><p>And so in April of 1981, we filed suit against the Boy Scouts of America. We meaning myself and the ACLU of Southern California.<br />It was a trial with testimony, and both sides, my friends in scouting getting on the stand and me getting on the stand, and the council executive, all testifying.</p><p>And the judge at the trial ruled against us, so we appealed. And 18 years almost to the day after we filed that suit, I lost.</p><p>But I have to say that I think it&rsquo;s very much made me a better journalist.</p><p>Because unlike nearly all of the people I&rsquo;ve ever worked with in journalism, I know what it&rsquo;s like to be on the other side of the mic.<br />I volunteered for that. But it has very much informed the way that I treat others and the way that I concern myself with accuracy. Because I heard my story misreported a million times, and knew how the little details could be gotten wrong. And so I really struggled &ndash; much to the annoyance of my editors - to get those details, the nuances right, even though sometimes it takes more time to tell a story that way.&rdquo;</p></p> Fri, 12 Sep 2014 15:12:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/gay-journalist-battles-boy-scouts-court-18-years-110793