A few students at Polytechnic High School in Fort Worth and at Dubiski Career High in Grand Prairie had their own version of the StoryCorps oral history project. They were assigned to interview a family member. The students learned more than they expected when they pressed “record.”
Sidney Lainez interviewed his mom, Stella, about growing up in Columbia and immigrating to New York City when she was 10. Sidney is a senior at Dubiski, studying audio visual production.
One of his first questions to her was what gave her the idea to name him Sidney.
“It came to me one morning,” she said with confidence. Boy or girl, Stella knew she’d call her child Sidney.
“So you admit it’s a girl’s name,” Sidney said.
“No,” Stella said. It’s universal, like Ashley or Leslie.
Sidney didn’t buy it. “I’ve never known a man Leslie,” he said quietly.
Moesha Taylor interviewed her mom, Mildred. One of her first questions was an existential teenager drama: Did you want to have kids?
“I didn’t plan to have my kids,” her mom confessed. ”But I’m glad I did.” Her mom told her about how much she loved Moesha and her siblings, and how the hardest thing that she’d ever endured was losing a baby.
The conversation also wandered into less sober matters.
Asked what foods she likes to eat, Mildred confessed that she liked to eat everything. ”I’m a fat woman!” she said.
Moesha hoped this was a good time to slip in a question about her own future. “Can I get a tattoo when I turn 18?” she asked.
“No you may not. After you’re out of my house, living on your own, that would be fine.”
That was the final word on that subject.
When senior Ashley Black asked her dad Vincent about his memories of growing up, he said his childhood had been great. But there were dark spots.
“I wish I’d had my mother and father when I was growing up,” he said. “My kids have a mother and father and they can talk about things that I didn’t have the opportunity to talk about when I was growing up.”
Ashley also asked her dad if he would do anything differently, given the chance.
“I would have went to college,” he said. ”I would have a whole lot different lifestyle than what I have today,” he said.
Some of the students conducted their interviews in Spanish, in the hopes of getting their parents to open up in the way that was most comfortable to them.