Mary Payne is 99 years of age. Last year, she came by herself to the StoryCorps booth in Chicago and was interviewed by StoryCorps’ regional manager Amy Tardif. Payne talked about working in a laboratory at the University of Chicago in the 1940s and discovering that her work was part of the Manhattan Project to develop an atomic bomb and learn about its potential consequences. Payne, then known as Mary Tinsley, appears in the book, Their Day in the Sun: Women of the Manhattan Project.
Earlier this year, she came back to the StoryCorps recording booth with her son, Dr. Michael Payne. He asked her about the experiences that led her to Chicago, including a stint teaching in a one-room schoolhouse in rural Tennessee.
Special thanks to Amy Tardif, StoryCorps’ regional manager, who first interviewed Mary Payne at the recording booth.
StoryCorps Chicago is hosting a public listening event featuring first-person stories recorded with Chicago residents aged 90 and above about their lives. The event is Nov. 22 from 11 a.m. - 1 p.m. at the Renaissance Court at the Chicago Cultural Center and will be hosted by author Beth Finke.
Check out this flyer for more details.
Bill Healy produces StoryCorps Chicago for WBEZ and teaches journalism at Northwestern University. Follow him @chicagoan.