Newton, MA 02461
ph: (617) 755-3283
To the right are brief excerpts from Memoir Books produced by Story Trust. Each memoir begins with a recorded interview. The audio is transcribed and edited, then it is printed, along with photos and captions, in a beautiful hardbound book.
Audio & Video Samples
Below are excerpts of interviews--both audio and video recordings. To play a story, just click the image. We can add photos to any recording to create a video of a person's life stories. More audio samples are available at Story Trust Voices.
All excerpts of memoirs and personal histories are used with permission.
Nadia, who lived to be 101 years old, recalls her first (and only) day of kindergarten in Russia, in 1916. She rode in a sleigh on her way to school and got frostbite. It took years for her toes to recover from the damage.
When Barbara and I started dating in the mid-1950s I didn't have much money, so I tried to find things to do that didn’t cost a lot. We used to go to these Off, Off, Off, Off Broadway theaters down in Greenwich Village, which were by contribution only. So, we’d throw in a dollar bill. They didn’t know if it was a ten-dollar bill or a five-dollar bill or a one-dollar bill. Nobody knew. I remember one night we went to night court in New York where they’d bring in all these derelicts, prostitutes, bums—all kinds of stuff. Fascinating night!
Barbara thought that was really interesting. She thought it was really different because, apparently, this guy that she was going steady with was the entire opposite of that. He had a job, and money, and cars, and they went to nightclubs. I guess that wasn’t as interesting as meeting some guy who had to be creative about how to take a girl out without a lot of money in his pocket. All I could really afford was car fare for the subway. Car fare, by the way, was only fifteen cents.
Swimming in a Hurricane
In September 1938, with one week left before it was time to go back to school, I bicycled down on a lovely fall day to the Dunes Club for one last swim. Everyone had gone back to work or to school so no one else was on the beach at ten o’clock in the morning. The waves were enormous and challenging, and the skies along the horizon took on a strange, ominous mixture of pink with layers of orange and gray.
It had been a wonderful summer and having turned the age of fourteen that year, I had become quite a proficient swimmer, so I could hardly wait to fly up on those big waves and ride down from the dizzying heights, up and down, up and down. It was not an act of bravado that impelled me to run into the surf, but it was a desire to be carefree and a determination to explore the high waves, these bigger than ever!
As I ran into the surf, I stepped on something soft and unrecognizable. I reached down and brought up a dead seagull. Without a thought, I tossed it aside and rode up on that mammoth wave, down again, and then up. The next wave crashed on me, sweeping me further and further out into the swells. With the following wave, I was swirled, almost weightless, along with sand and shells, into a green room under the sea. Fighting for a breath of air, I struggled to the top, caught again by forces beyond my control. Unbeknownst to me, my friend’s mother, Mrs. Dawley, was standing on the lawn of the Dunes Club watching my white bathing cap heading further and further out to sea. She hurried inside and called the nearby Coast Guard station in Point Judith, which, fortunately, was monitoring the storm. They saw me, came after me, caught up with me, and dragged me over their gunnels and into their boat, minus bathing suit and cap, thoroughly chastised.
The Hurricane of 1938 was very unexpected; nobody was warned that there would be such a powerful and horrific storm at that particular time. Millions of trees were knocked down, thousands of homes destroyed, and in Rhode Island alone, nearly 400 people lost their lives. In downtown Providence you can still see plaques on the sides of buildings showing where the water reached a height of eleven feet. Everything was awash—all the cars and all the signs.
The Dunes Club was totally destroyed. There was nothing left of the buildings but piles of sticks. Later we found our little beach cabana tossed on its side, nearly a mile away on Narrow River. The interesting thing was that the mirror was still on the hook! And I had heard of someone from Watch Hill who rode out the storm on a door torn loose from a house, and he survived. It just shows you how some things can manage through wind and storm.
There was no warning in advance of the approach of this hurricane and I was fortunate to survive this experience. To tell the truth, I still remember the exhilaration and bravado as an adventurous teenager riding up and down on those enormous waves until the unhappy recognition of my plight became obvious. I have always been adventurous and independent, but this experience has engendered a gratitude to God that knows no bounds.-Jane S.
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Newton, MA 02461
ph: (617) 755-3283