The 1800s composition “Vexations,” by Erik Satie, comes with a cryptic instruction to perform the piece 840 times in a row. Many thought that it couldn’t be done, but in the late 1960s, John Cage and some friends decided to give it a shot.
On May 4, 1970 Jerry Lewis was a young professor when he saw the smoke come out of the National Guardsmen's guns. Many people in the crowd thought the bullets were blanks - Jerry, a former Army man, knew immediately that they were the real thing.
Journalist and activist Hodding Carter lobbied hard to get a job with the Carter administration and finally got one - working as a spokesman for a man he'd never met, Secretary of State Cyrus Vance. Hodding had to quickly get up to speed, because President Carter in the first months in office announced what seemed to him like dozens of changes in foreign policy.
Katrina Browne is a descendant of the DeWolfe family. Every 4th of July when she was growing up, her family went to Bristol, R.I., where her prominent and wealthy ancestors had lived, and watched the parade from the lawn of a family mansion. Katrina had always been proud of her patriotic heritage, so she was stunned in her late 20's when she found out that her family's wealth had been made from the slave trade. Also in this episode, Steve Lanier wrote to The Story to tell us about the funniest person he has ever known - Mr. Louis Phillip Hornthal, better known to all as "LP." Steve spent many days visiting with LP when he was a child. He died years ago, but LP's antics are still legendary among his friends and family - he is particularly remembered for his cleverly-executed pranks - including the time he convinced the neighborhood kids that a tree could blossom with candy.
Harry Bernstein was a child in England during World War I. He remembers when people living on his narrow street got word that their son or husband had died, they poured into the street to grieve and be consoled by their neighbors. It was one of the few times Harry can remember that the Jews and Christians on his street came together. The rest of the time, they lived in strict separation - the Jews on one side of the street, Christians on the other. Also on the show: another entry from Ahmed's Diary. And, a woman hears for the first time.
Anita Isaacs was born in Namibia in 1959, a time when the apartheid system of South Africa was in place. Anita joined the armed struggle for Namibian independence, while still in her teens, and she was in exile for 13 years. Also in this episode, Berta Scott's 180,000 pounds of fruitcake.