NPR StoryCorps

In the summer of 1994, in Tulsa, Okla., Brandy Carpenter, then 14, had just started dating her crush, 17-year-old De'Marchoe Carpenter.

But before they even had their first kiss, De'Marchoe was arrested for a murder he didn't commit.

At StoryCorps in May, De'Marchoe, 41, and Brandy, 38, remember what first drew them to each other, and the toll that prison took on their relationship.

"You always made me laugh and you always made me smile," Brandy says. "I always wanted you to be around."

Ed Cage and his daughter, Nicole Paris, share a love of beatboxing. The duo's YouTube beatbox battle went viral in 2015, and since, they've traveled the world performing together.

It has been two years since the death of Philando Castile, the Minnesota man misidentified as a robbery suspect and then shot and killed by a police officer after a traffic stop.

To the world, he was a name in a major news story, but to more than 400 kids at J.J. Hill Montessori Magnet School, he was their "lunch man."

He was the school's cafeteria supervisor. Students there called him Mr. Phil.

Leila Ramgren, 10, a student at the school, remembers that he loved kids.

In 1993, Greg Yance was serving a sentence at a prison boot camp program in Greene County, Ill., for a drug conviction. Yance says his life was changed that year — thanks to an experience he had outside of Greene County lines.

Yance, then 23, had been sent with a group of inmates about 130 miles away, to Niota, Ill., in the middle of what would become the Great Flood of 1993. The inmates were dispatched to shore up the levee in Niota, which is along the banks of the Mississippi River, with sandbags.

Growing up, half sisters Glennette Rozelle and Jennifer Mack were used to hearing their parents fight.

At StoryCorps, the women remember the night that changed everything for their family.

It was Valentine's Day, 1977. Minnie Wallace and Virgil "Glenn" Wallace were raising four children outside Oklahoma City. Glennette, then 7, and 10-year-old Jennifer, who was Glenn's stepdaughter, were home on a night that took them decades to process.

Courtney McKinney remembers what her single mother had told her about her father: "That his name was Charles and he was white, and [her parents] had a brief relationship and it didn't work out."

But she also remembers not believing that story.

As it turned out, McKinney was right to have doubts. When she was 16, she learned that her mom had actually conceived through anonymous sperm donation. Her mom had always planned to tell her, and McKinney says when she began expressing more longing to know about her father, her mom decided it was time.

He pronounces his last name "fyooks." Still, Allan Fuks grew up with a last name that, on paper, looks like the mother of all curse words — and, naturally, offered endless material for bullies.

Fuks, the son of Russian immigrants, grew up all over the U.S. — New York City, Northern California — before finally landing in suburban New Jersey in middle school. But no matter where he went, the taunting followed.

In a recent StoryCorps interview, he tells his former classmate, Spencer Katzman, that, growing up in the 1980s, he was seldom called by his first name.

Infamous photographs, taken seconds after Sen. Robert F. Kennedy was shot on June 5, 1968, show him lying on the floor of the Ambassador Hotel's kitchen. A teenage busboy kneels beside him, cradling the senator's head.

That busboy was Juan Romero.

Kennedy was running for president and had just won the California Democratic primary when he was assassinated at the Los Angeles hotel.

StoryCorps' Military Voices Initiative records stories from members of the U.S. military and their families.

In 2012, Army Spc. Robert Joseph Allen took his own life while serving in the U.S. military. At the time, the suicide rate for active-duty troops was at its highest ever, with more soldiers dying from suicide than in combat.

During the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, more than 1,600 men and women lost limbs in battle.

For nearly a decade, civilian physical therapists Adele Levine and Etaine Raphael worked side by side helping soldiers navigate life after their injuries.

In a StoryCorps conversation, Levine and Raphael talk about their work at the Walter Reed military hospitals in the Washington, D.C., area.

Levine, 48, vividly recalls the day she saw her first patient who'd been injured in war.

Matt Peters farmed corn and soybeans in Iowa for more than 35 years. The farm had been in his family for generations, and though he had gone to college to study law enforcement, Matt decided to make a life as a farmer.

"Matt just felt that that was where he needed to be," his wife, Ginnie, says in a StoryCorps conversation recorded in April. "Maybe not where he wanted to be, but it was where he needed to be."

Kittie Weston-Knauer, on the cusp of 70 years old, is the oldest female BMX bicycle racer in the U.S.

When she started competing in the late 1980s, she was often the only woman on the track. It was her son, Max Knauer, a champion BMX rider, who introduced her to the sport when he was 10.

Max, now 40, explains that he planted the racing seed after a frustrating day of his mom playing coach.

Ten years ago, Tracia Kraemer wanted to celebrate her 40th birthday by trying something new.

So she mustered her courage and visited Indian Hills, a nudist park in Louisiana.

At the very least, she figured she'd return home with a good story. "I thought I'd go to Indian Hills, get naked, get dressed and drive off," she says.

But the people she met were so nice and welcoming, she says, that she decided to stay longer that day. "Soon after, I got a membership."

Two years after that first visit, she met her husband-to-be, Patrick Kraemer, at the park.

Charisse Spencer, 64, grew up in southeast Virginia during the 1960s civil rights movement.

Back then, the area of Portsmouth, Va., where her family lived — Cavalier Manor — was one of the largest black suburbs in the country.

"I could stand in my backyard and listen to Ku Klux Klan meetings," Charisse tells her son, Myles Spencer-Watson, in a StoryCorps conversation recorded in 2009. "And in my young mind, I'd imagine these ghostly demons in white sheets with their eyes being black holes and —"

For much of Abby Gagliardo's childhood, her dad had been in and out of jail and prison. "People would ask me, they'd be like, 'Oh, where's your dad?' " Abby recalls in a StoryCorps conversation recorded last year, when she was 16.

She knew he was incarcerated, but she was never given a clear picture why. "I didn't understand any of it," she says.

Roxanne and Dennis Simmonds knew their son as fearless and strong from the day he was born.

"D.J. came out with shoulders of a linebacker," Roxanne says. "He was the first baby I saw that had muscles."

"He wasn't really afraid of anything," Dennis says.

At night, young D.J. would take the dog with him and circle the entire house, to "make sure there's nobody on the grounds," Dennis says, laughing. "I used to say, 'D.J. where you going? It's late.' He would say 'I'm doing a perimeter search, Dad.' "

StoryCorps' Military Voices Initiative records stories from members of the U.S. military and their families.

Good things come in small packages — it's a proverbial truth that, for one veteran, holds up even in the middle of war.

At 20 years old, Pfc. Roman Coley Davis found himself 7,000 miles from home. Born in Douglas, Ga., he'd joined the military after high school, and was now living in one of the most remote U.S. outposts in Afghanistan.

Brothers Russell, 28, and Remmick Wadsworth, 27, have autism. As kids, they had trouble with social interactions, so they often relied on each other for support during tough situations. Now, as the siblings navigate the working world, they're still looking out for each other.

Remmick remembers his first job, working with his older brother in a coffee shop. "You would always have my back, talking to customers for me, handle them for me while I make their drinks," he tells Russell during a StoryCorps conversation.

There's no crying in baseball. But for Kay Johnston, there's crying when you can't play.

In the spring of 1950, in upstate New York, 13-year-old Kay Johnston wanted nothing more than to play Little League baseball. But in those days, that was out of the question. Girls weren't encouraged to swing bats and throw balls.

As families around the country search for answers in the wake of school shootings in Parkland, Fla. and elsewhere, parents and children are having conversations that would've been almost unfathomable a generation ago.

Dezmond Floyd is a 10-year-old student in Houston. At StoryCorps, he and his mother, Tanai Benard, 34, talk about the active shooter drills in his fifth-grade classroom.

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AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Mohammad Ashraf Faridi left Pakistan for the U.S. in the 1980s. He settled in New York City, and his wife and three children joined him almost a decade later. By then, he was earning his living behind the wheel of a taxicab.

Faridi came to StoryCorps with his son — named Muhammad — who talked about growing up with a dad who's a livery taxi driver.

Climate scientists Zoe Courville, 42, and Lora Koenig, 40, met more than a decade ago in the middle of the Greenland ice sheet where they were colleagues — before either of them had kids.

Now, Koenig, who lives in Colorado, has two sons, and Courville, who lives in Vermont, has one son.

The working moms are often away from home for weeks at a time studying the impacts of climate change in remote areas of the world. It was especially hard at first to be thousands of miles away from their families, the researchers say in a StoryCorps conversation.

Vince Cantu and Joe Galloway, both aged 76, have been friends since they met as third graders in the tiny town of Refugio, Texas.

After their high school graduation in 1959, Joe left town to become a journalist. Vince stuck around Refugio where he fronted a local band, until he was drafted into the Army in 1963. Naturally, the two lost track of each other over the years.

But the two reunited in a most unexpected place: in South Vietnam, where the U.S. was ratcheting up its involvement in the war. Joe and Vince recounted the moment during a StoryCorps interview.

Ashley Judd was one of the first women to publicly accuse Harvey Weinstein of sexual harassment.

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