StoryCorps is an oral history project associated with NPR and the Library of Congress. There’s a permanent recording booth in Chicago’s Cultural Center and each week dozens of people bring their family members and friends there to interview each other about the most important and personal questions in their lives. Since 2012, I have produced more than 125 of these interviews for WBEZ. Each week I receive the full 40-minute interviews from everyone who visits the booth, and each week I pick one of them and edit it down into a 3-minute segment that appears on WBEZ during All Things Considered every other Friday.
For more than 30 years, Marjorie Klindera and Carol Miller have spent Thanksgiving Day together. But instead of sitting around a dining room table, the two sit around a bank of telephones. That’s because Marjorie and Carol both work at the Butterball Turkey Talk-Line. It’s a toll-free phone number for people who need help cooking turkeys. Even with the Internet the talk line gets more than 10,000 phone calls each Thanksgiving. And Marjorie and Carol are two of the longest-serving experts.
Christmas has always been an emotional time of year for Steve Pemberton. Pemberton is now a vice-president at Walgreens. But his early life was hard. When he was three years old, he was taken from his mother a few days before Christmas. He bounced from one foster home to the next. Then at age five he moved in with a foster family, where he stayed for more than a decade. As he explains in this week’s StoryCorps, though, when he was in high school, something happened a few days after Christmas that changed all that.
Anja is nine years old. She plays piano, takes classes in Chinese and does ballet. She also has a physical disability. Anja came by the StoryCorps booth recently to talk with her aunt, Andrea Korovesis, about their relationship and Anja’s life.
February 29, 2016 marked twenty years since Aiman Tulaimat moved to Chicago from his native Syria. Tulaimat is as a doctor at Cook County Hospital. He met his wife Dima Turkmany in Syria when they were both in medical school. She came to Chicago a few months after him, so they could finish their studies here. Last weekend the two of them joined StoryCorps Producer Bill Healy at the booth in the Cultural Center where he asked them about their ideal vision for how Americans would recognize Syria.
Anastasia Page is a twenty-five year-old documentary photographer in Chicago. As a kid, she met her biological father only once, when she was four years old. Five years ago she started a documentary project to help process her feelings about her father. She recently came to the StoryCorps booth to talk with WBEZ’s Bill Healy about a turning point in that project. Page says when her mom remarried, her step-dad wanted to adopt her. But they couldn’t make it official until her biological dad signed off on the paperwork.