A StoryCorps tale

In February of 2020 we learned that the StoryCorps booth would be coming to the Fresno area in California during the summer months. My daughter, Jericha Rendon, put in a request for an appointment with the idea that she would like to interview me (Emily Lee) regarding my experiences growing up and living on with paralytic polio. There are a dwindling number of us left in America from the epidemics of the early 1950s (and before). After that period vaccines were tested enough to be given to the general public.

Although it was a bit late for me there was more than one type of polio and so I received a sugar cube pink with the vaccine while in elementary school.

My brother, Donald Lee, and I in late July, 1953 on a boat. Both of us were coming down with polio at the time, as was our mother.

We thought that the contrast between those great epidemics — which were also going on in a number of other countries, though nobody was using the word pandemic for them — and today’s Covid 19 pandemic would be of interest to some people.

If you aren’t familiar with it, StoryCorps began in 2003 with a booth at Grand Central Station in New York. In 2005 there were two booths from the Library of Congress for recording people’s stories, and NPR began airing some of the stories — a practice which continues to this day. Half a million people have so far shared their stories. “Listening to America” is a term the creators use to describe the mission. More information is available here: StoryCorps. Recorded stories are stored in the Library of Congress.

Unfortunately, due to the onslaught of Covid the StoryCorps booth ended up in Las Vegas before we were able to record our interview. We went on, busy with my first grandchild, Dante, and forgot all about it until months later. Out of the blue a young woman with the project called us to ask if we’d consider doing a remote interview. We said that we would, then we did, and finally, near the end of 2020 we received a link to the recording.

For those who would like to listen here is the link to my polio story. Make yourself comfortable, as it’s forty minutes long.

Emily Lee and Jericha Rendon, StoryCorps Interview

One of our sunflowers from the Summer of 2019, when my grandson Dante was born. These were the first flowers he saw.

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