Our American Stories

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About

Our American Stories tells stories that aren’t being told. Positive stories about generosity and courage, resilience and redemption, faith and love. Stories about the past and present. And stories about ordinary Americans who do extraordinary things each and every day. Stories from our listeners about their lives. And their history. In that pursuit, we hope we’ll be a place where listeners can refresh their spirit, and be inspired by our stories.

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1912 episodes

Edgar Allen Poe, Father of Modern Horror… Detective, Science Fiction, and Treasure Hunt Stories

On this episode of , EDGAR ALLEN POE is known for his scary short stories and poems, and when we look at his life, early tragedies explain a lot of his stories… but what we don’t often think of when we consider Poe are his comedic writings, his detective stories, and even… a bit of early Science Fiction. CHRIS SEMTNER, Curator at the Poe Museum in Richmond, Virginia pulls back the curtain on Poe. Support the show https://www.ouramericanstories.com/donate (https://www.ouramericanstories.com/donate) See omnystudio.com/listener https://omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

38m
Aug 12
They're One of the Youngest Couples in Their Community and Doing Aerobics... at 90?!

On this episode of , author RICHARD RHODES shares the amazing story of Austria-born turned Hollywood movie star, Hedy Lamarr. She was known for her beauty, but her accomplishments go far beyond her appearance, including inventing what would become WiFi, GPS, and Bluetooth. DAVID and ZELA FLOR give us a look at what "Blue Zone" living in Loma Linda, California, is really like and how there way of clean living produces results you'd never imagine. Support the show https://www.ouramericanstories.com/donate (https://www.ouramericanstories.com/donate)   TIME CODES: 00:00 - Hedy Lamarr: The 40s "Bombshell" Mind Behind Secure WiFi, GPS And Bluetooth 35:00 - They're One of the Youngest Couples in Their Community and Doing Aerobics... at 90?! See omnystudio.com/listener https://omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

38m
Aug 12
The Transatlantic Cable: How ONE Underwater Cable Changed the World

On this episode of , historian John Steele Gordon tells the story of how the telegraph went from Samuel Morse to winning WWI and how one man spearheaded the effort to connect America to Great Britain and, in doing so, the rest of the world. Former CEO of 7-Eleven, Jim Keyes, tells the story of how their company has led countless immigrants to the American Dream. Support the show https://www.ouramericanstories.com/donate (https://www.ouramericanstories.com/donate)   TIME CODES: 00:00 - The Transatlantic Cable: How ONE Underwater Wire Changed the World 35:00 - How 7-Eleven Has Helped People Pursue Their American Dream See omnystudio.com/listener https://omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

38m
Aug 11
A Store Named "Piggly Wiggly" Created the Modern Supermarket

On this episode of , meet Ron Brown, a man who grew up in a rough area of Chicago, was practically abandoned by his father, and would mend their relationship later on in life. Clarence Saunders developed “self-service” grocery shopping in his Piggly Wiggly stores at a time when store assistants usually collected products for their customers. By introducing checkouts, clearly priced goods, and itemized receipts, he set the foundations for the supermarkets of today. Support the show https://www.ouramericanstories.com/donate (https://www.ouramericanstories.com/donate)   TIME CODES: 00:00 - Reconnecting With My Absent Father Who Was Presumed Dead 23:00 - A Store Named "Piggly Wiggly" Created the Modern Supermarket See omnystudio.com/listener https://omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

38m
Aug 11
The Woman Who Stood Up To George Washington

On this episode of , during the Revolutionary War, ESTHER REED decided the Patriot troops needed a morale boost. Reed, along with other Patriot Women began a campaign to raise money for the cause. When she brought her idea to General Washington, he had another idea of what she should do with the money. At a time when women were only expected to fire up the oven, ANNIE OAKLEY fired her way to fame as the world’s greatest sharpshooter. In her personal life she was a sharpshooter as well. She was devoted to both her marriage and to her faith. Support the show https://www.ouramericanstories.com/donate (https://www.ouramericanstories.com/donate)   TIME CODES: 00:00 - The Woman Who Stood Up To George Washington 23:00 - Annie Oakley: The Woman Who NEVER Missed Her Shot See omnystudio.com/listener https://omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

38m
Aug 10
Stalin’s Daughter: American Citizen, Wisconsin Cheesehead?!

On this episode of , entrepreneur, philanthropist, and America’s Cup winner Bill Koch doesn’t like being cheated. TOM ACITELLI, author of Pilsner: How The Beer of Kings Changed The World https://www.amazon.com/Pilsner-Beer-Kings-Changed-World/dp/1641601825, tells the story of how America's favorite drink came here and stayed here despite a world war and Prohibition. When 85-year-old LANA PETERS passed away in 2011 from complications due to colon cancer, the nation seemed to have forgotten the woman who had become a sensation during the Cold War.  THE HISTORY GUY recalls the extraordinary life of the woman whose defection to the United States represented a seminal moment in history. Support the show https://www.ouramericanstories.com/donate (https://www.ouramericanstories.com/donate)   TIME CODES: 00:00 - The Man Who Spent $35MM Fighting A $400k Fake Wine Fraud 10:00 - How The Pilsner Arrived, Survived, and Thrived in America 35:00 - Stalin’s Daughter: American Citizen, Wisconsin Cheesehead?! See omnystudio.com/listener https://omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

38m
Aug 10
One of the Last Navajo Code Talkers Remembers WWII’s “Unbreakable Code”

On this episode of , many Americans have heard of the famous Navajo Code Talkers who used their traditional language to transmit secret Allied messages in the Pacific Theater of combat during World War II. This story is told to us by one of these Marines, PETER MACDONALD, the President at Navajo Code Talkers Association. Support the show https://www.ouramericanstories.com/donate (https://www.ouramericanstories.com/donate) See omnystudio.com/listener https://omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

38m
Aug 09
When Shooting Weddings And Chasing Storms Collide

On this episode of , DR. JOHN MARSZALEK and EDDIE RANGEL of the Grant Presidential Library tell the story about how Grant went from selling firewood on a street corner, to leading the US Army to victory in the Civil War. MIKE OLBINSKI is an Arizona based photographer. He takes family photos, shoots weddings and also... chases storms.  Support the show https://www.ouramericanstories.com/donate (https://www.ouramericanstories.com/donate)   TIME CODES: 00:00 - A Presidential Sized Comeback: The Story of U.S Grant 35:00 - When Shooting Weddings And Chasing Storms Collide See omnystudio.com/listener https://omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

38m
Aug 09
The WWII Attack America Chose to Forget

On this episode of , because of the devastating nature of the attack, the U.S. government chose to keep the details of the HMT Rhona hushed. Grove City College PoliSci professor PAUL KENGOR brings us the details through the eyes of Sergeant FRANK BRYER. T.J. STILES tells the dramatic story of Cornelius “Commodore” Vanderbilt’s humble birth during the presidency of George Washington to his death as one of the richest men in American history. The Commodore helped to launch the transportation revolution, propel the Gold Rush, reshape Manhattan, invent the modern corporation, and create the modern American economy. Support the show https://www.ouramericanstories.com/donate (https://www.ouramericanstories.com/donate)   TIME CODES: 00:00 - The WWII Attack America Chose to Forget 10:00 - The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt See omnystudio.com/listener https://omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

38m
Aug 08
The Greatest Fighter Pilot in American History, Dick Bong

On this episode of , after the United States pulled out of Vietnam, their allies in Indochina were all alone. Faced with the prospect of slavery, torture, and death at the hands of the Communists they fought against, many asked to be resettled in the United States.  ROBERT RAY, the governor of Iowa, stepped up. Here again with his reoccurring series is ANDREW THOMPSON as he continues to share another slice from his ultimate guide to understanding these baffling mini mysteries of the English language. RICHARD “DICK” BONG was a hero in an era of heroes. Here’s the History Guy with the story. Support the show https://www.ouramericanstories.com/donate (https://www.ouramericanstories.com/donate)   TIME CODES: 00:00 - Robert Ray: "The Good Governor" 23:00 -  “Knock on Wood & Kick the Bucket” and the Wonderful Origins of Everyday Expressions (Pt. 11) 35:00 - Dick Bong, Ace of Aces: The Greatest Fighter Pilot in American History (History Guy) See omnystudio.com/listener https://omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

38m
Aug 08
A Crooked Cop, An Innocent Man, And An Unlikely Journey Of Forgiveness And Friendship

On this episode of , here again with his reoccurring series is Hair of the Dog to Paint the Town Red: The Curious Origins of Everyday Sayings and Fun Phrases author, ANDREW THOMPSON, as he continues to share another slice from his ultimate guide to understanding these baffling mini mysteries of the English language. It all went down in the city of Benton Harbor, Michigan, in 2006. ANDREW COLLINS was a narcotics officer. Jameel McGee was a new father of a baby boy. This is a story about forgiveness, brokenness, and true reconciliation from two guys who should have been hardened, bitter enemies. Support the show https://www.ouramericanstories.com/donate (https://www.ouramericanstories.com/donate)   TIME CODES: 00:00 - “Peeping Tom” and the Wonderful Origins of Everyday Expressions 10:00 - A Crooked Cop, An Innocent Man, And An Unlikely Journey Of Forgiveness And Friendship See omnystudio.com/listener https://omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

38m
Aug 05
Ilene Hall Joined the Army to Search for Her Husband During WWII

On this episode of , when ILENE HALL enlisted in the Army WAC in 1943, she was following her husband, Edward “Ken” Hall to war. When her husband, to whom she was married in March 1943, finished his training and was about to be shipped overseas, the young Canton, Ohio girl decided not to put an ocean between them. ART BURTON, author of countless books on African Americans in the West, tells the story of one of the most feared outlaws of the Indian Territory...and the story of his side-crossing father. Support the show https://www.ouramericanstories.com/donate (https://www.ouramericanstories.com/donate)   TIME CODES: 00:00 - Ilene Hall Joined the Army to Search for Her Husband During WWII 23:00 - "I Came Here Not To Talk, But To Die": The Story of Cherokee Bill See omnystudio.com/listener https://omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

38m
Aug 05
When Pride Still Mattered: The Life of Vince Lombardi

On this episode of , more than any other sports figure, VINCE LOMBARDI transformed football into a metaphor of the American experience. DAVID MARANISS (author of "When Pride Still Mattered https://www.amazon.com/When-Pride-Still-Mattered-Lombardi/dp/0684870185"), captures all of Lombardi: the myth, the man, his game, and his God. Support the show https://www.ouramericanstories.com/donate (https://www.ouramericanstories.com/donate) See omnystudio.com/listener https://omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

38m
Aug 04
City Grazing: The Landscape Management Company Powered by Goats

On this episode of , ANNE CLARE tells the story of a nurse who served in the Philippines during World War II, and shares the experience that she and others like her went through after the Japanese invasion there. GENEVIEVE CHURCH, the third "Goat Lady of San Francisco", is executive director of City Grazing. She shares about how this sustainable land management and fire prevention non-profit organization came to be. At the start of the 1948 election cycle, PRESIDENT TRUMAN was down and out in the polls. His opponent, THOMAS DEWEY, turned down an invitation to appear at the National Plowing Match in Dexter, Iowa. TRUMAN would instead go and eventually win the state and another term in office. Support the show https://www.ouramericanstories.com/donate (https://www.ouramericanstories.com/donate)   TIME CODES: 00:00 - The WWII Nurses who Cared for their Fellow POWs 10:00 - City Grazing: The Landscape Management Company Powered by Goats 35:00 - How the National Plowing Match in Iowa Won Truman the Election See omnystudio.com/listener https://omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

38m
Aug 04
The ONLY Time You Want Just One Lawyer in Your Town

On this episode of , what started as a quest to find black fans for a brother-in-law morphed into a lifelong mission to find anything small, electric, and an appliance. Here's the story of "The World's Largest Small Electrical Appliance Museum" in Missouri, and the man behind it all. Some people don’t have the highest view of lawyers, but not every lawyer is an ambulance chaser. At least, BILL BRYK isn't. STEPHEN AMBROSE tells us a very unlikely World War II story about George McGovern, the liberal, antiwar Democratic presidential candidate from South Dakota who was soundly defeated by President Nixon in the 1972 election. Support the show https://www.ouramericanstories.com/donate (https://www.ouramericanstories.com/donate) TIME CODES: 00:00 - The Largest Small Electrical Appliance Museum in the World 23:00 - Bill Bryk Puts His Lawyering Skills to Good Use 35:00 - The Unlikely WWII B-24 Combat Pilot-Hero See omnystudio.com/listener https://omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

38m
Aug 03
"You Can Change Your Story": Why I Wrote a Book About the Death of My Mother

On this episode of Our American Stories, DAVID LABELLE'S last memory of his mother was seeing her washed away in a raging flood when he was a senior in high school. She would never be found. It took David years to wrestle with the loss, and eventually he decided to write a semi-fictional book about the event called Bridges & Angels as a therapeutic exercise.  No woman figured more prominently on the Yukon and Alaskan frontiers than BELINDA MULROONEY. She gained international fame as the richest woman in the Klondike and made and lost more than one fortune. She became a character in novels and her dog the inspiration for "Buck" in the Call of the Wild. Support the show https://www.ouramericanstories.com/donate (https://www.ouramericanstories.com/donate)   TIME CODES: 00:00 - "You Can Change Your Story": Why I Wrote a Book About the Death of My Mother 23:00 - Belinda Mulrooney: The Richest, Toughest Woman of the Klondike Gold Rush See omnystudio.com/listener https://omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

38m
Aug 03
Why a Prisoner of War Forgave the Enemies Who Tortured Him

On this episode of , CAROL, the Daughter of Doolittle Raider Jacob DeShazer, shares the story of her father being taken captive by the Japanese as a prisoner of war, and how he chose to forgive the torturers. Support the show https://www.ouramericanstories.com/donate (https://www.ouramericanstories.com/donate) See omnystudio.com/listener https://omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

38m
Aug 02
Sports Were Taken Away From Him in High School... So He Became a Coach

On this episode of , World War II history buff, ANNE CLARE, tells the story of how World War II impacted a small Navy town on the West Coast. RICHARD HERZOG shares the story of an unlikely relationship formed between himself and his high school teacher, which became abusive and caused him to surrender the one thing he loved most: sports. After years of confusion and shame, he became a head football coach and led his team to win 3 state championships. Support the show https://www.ouramericanstories.com/donate (https://www.ouramericanstories.com/donate)   TIME CODES: 00:00 - America Builds Up: WWII and the Bremerton Naval Yards 23:00 - Sports Were Taken Away From Him in High School... So He Became a Coach See omnystudio.com/listener https://omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

38m
Aug 02
John Newton: From Disgrace to "Amazing Grace"

On this episode of , BRIAN EDWARDS tells the story of America's most popular hymn that actually didn't come from America. It was based on the life of English slave trader, John Newton.  Support the show https://www.ouramericanstories.com/donate (https://www.ouramericanstories.com/donate) See omnystudio.com/listener https://omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

38m
Aug 01
The First Radio Broadcast of a Parachute Jump

On this episode of , ROGER BRUCKER shares the story of radio pioneer, "Skeets" Miller, and the surprising story of the first time a parachute jump was broadcast on live radio. MATTHEW DENHART and TRACY MESSER of the Coolidge Foundation tell the story of America's 30th President, a man molded by his rural hometown of Plymouth Notch, Vermont.  Support the show https://www.ouramericanstories.com/donate (https://www.ouramericanstories.com/donate)   TIME CODES: 00:00 - The First Radio Broadcast of a Parachute Jump 10:00 - From The Farm House to the White House: The Story of Calvin Coolidge  See omnystudio.com/listener https://omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

38m
Aug 01
The Story of William Wilberforce and His Campaign to End Slavery

On this episode of , ERIC METAXAS tells the story of the man who, perhaps more than any other, stirred the conscience of the world to see the horror and evil of slavery, William Wilberforce. Support the show https://www.ouramericanstories.com/donate (https://www.ouramericanstories.com/donate) See omnystudio.com/listener https://omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

38m
Jul 29
The Surprising Origin of Pinball

On this episode of , JEREMY SAUCIER of the Strong Museum of Play shares the history of pinball--from its origins in French parlor games, to its prohibition, and then to its emergence as the immersive and popular game that it is today. LIZ WILLIAMS, founder of the Southern Food and Beverage Museum, tells the story of whisky, bourbon, absinthe, and pink elephants... done Cajun style. KELLY and DONNA MULHOLLAN tell the story of their friend Ed Stilley, a poor Ozarks farmer who managed to create some of the most inquisitive folk art guitars out of what he had laying around, in an effort to please God. Support the show https://www.ouramericanstories.com/donate (https://www.ouramericanstories.com/donate)   TIME CODES: 00:00 - The Surprising Origin of Pinball 10:00 - The Stories Behind Whiskey, Bourbon, And More 35:00 - The Poor Farmer Who Created Folk Art Guitars to Please God See omnystudio.com/listener https://omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

38m
Jul 28
The Time a Kid Sued Pepsi for a Harrier Jet

On this episode of , SEAN KERNAN of Medium tells the story of Leonard v. PepsiCo Inc. (which is now a law school classic that helps kids navigate the curious world of contract law). NELL CHENNAULT CALLOWAY shares the story of her grandfather, Claire Chennault, who was the leader of the "Flying Tigers" in WWII. Support the show https://www.ouramericanstories.com/donate (https://www.ouramericanstories.com/donate)   TIME CODES: 00:00 - The Time a Kid Sued Pepsi for a Harrier Jet 10:00 - The American Fighter Pilot Who Fought the Japanese in China See omnystudio.com/listener https://omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

38m
Jul 28
How a UCLA Student in the 70s Saved the Marx Brothers

On this episode of , A man named PAUL shares the moving story of his older brother and some special prayers he prayed, in hopes of being just like him. BILL BRYK briefly recounts how New York City became the city it is today, as well as his love for its past. STEVE STOLIAR grew up as the ultimate Marx Brothers fan. He shares his story of how he led the charge to save one of their long-lost movies. Support the show https://www.ouramericanstories.com/donate (https://www.ouramericanstories.com/donate)   TIME CODES: 00:00 - When Prayers Are Answered 10:00 - A One Man (Abridged) History of the Big Apple 23:00 - How a UCLA Student in the 70s Saved the Marx Brothers  See omnystudio.com/listener https://omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

38m
Jul 28
Buck O'Neil's 15 Years of Rejection Before the Hall of Fame

On this episode of , CHRISTOPHER KLEIN tells the story of how our 18th President and Civil War hero, aided by Mark Twain, raced to complete a literary masterpiece that saved his wife from destitution. HOAT HOANG shares the story of his family fleeing Vietnam after Saigon fell to the communists' troops, and how it helped him become an American surgeon. Legendary baseball player, BUCK O'NEIL, was rejected for 15 years before making it into the Hall of Fame. You'll hear the story of how he handled that defeat and ultimately became the first African American coach in Major League Baseball. Support the show https://www.ouramericanstories.com/donate (https://www.ouramericanstories.com/donate)   TIME CODES: 00:00 - The Literary Masterpiece That Saved Ulysses S. Grant's Family 10:00 - The American Surgeon Who Escaped the Viet Cong 35:00 - Buck O'Neil's 15 Years of Rejection Before the Hall of Fame See omnystudio.com/listener https://omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

38m
Jul 27
They Trapped Polio Patients Inside of Tubes to Save Them

On this episode of , DARYN GLASSBROOK of the Mobile Medical Museum tells the story of the iron lung, a device used to keep people with advanced polio alive in the first half of the 20th century. HEATHER MCPHERSON, Curator of History at the South Carolina Military Museum, shares the story of why she chose her career to honor her great uncle. ROGER MCGRATH tells another "Hollywood Goes to War" story of American screenwriter, MERIAN C. COOPER. Cooper worked on various cinematic classics, including "King Kong". He also served our country in WWI as a U.S. Air Force and Polish Air Force officer. Support the show https://www.ouramericanstories.com/donate (https://www.ouramericanstories.com/donate)   TIME CODES: 00:00 - The Literary Masterpiece That Saved Ulysses S. Grant's Family 10:00 - The American Surgeon Who Escaped the Viet Cong 35:00 - Buck O'Neil's 15 Years of Rejection Before the Hall of Fame See omnystudio.com/listener https://omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

38m
Jul 27
The NBA: How a Regional Fascination Became an International Obsession

On this episode of Our American Stories, The History Guy remembers a truly extraordinary Civil War heroine, Mary Edwards Walker. She was the only woman in United States history to be awarded the Medal of Honor. Pete Croatto, author of From Hang Time to Prime Time, explains how the NBA became an 8.3 billion dollar entertainment and cultural icon. Support the show (https://www.ouramericanstories.com/donate) Time Codes: 00:00 - The Only Woman to be Awarded the Medal of Honor?! 10:00 -  How a Regional Fascination Became an International Obsession See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

38m
Jul 26
The ONLY Photographer Allowed to Photograph the Making of the Atomic Bomb in Oak Ridge, TN

On this episode of Our American Stories, Richard Cook tells us the story of how in 1943 the town of Oak Ridge, Tennessee was established and went from 58,000 acres of farmland to a town of 75,000 people to beat Germany to the atomic bomb. Support the show (https://www.ouramericanstories.com/donate) See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

38m
Jul 26
The Heavy-Drinking, Congress-Rejected Spendthrift Who Served America to the Fullest

On this episode of Our American Stories, Mary Stockwell, author of Unlikely General: "Mad" Anthony Wayne and the Battle for America tells the story of "Mad" Anthony Wayne and why he is remembered. Support the show (https://www.ouramericanstories.com/donate) See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

38m
Jul 25
The Story of America's Pastor, Billy Graham

On this episode of Our American Stories, Billy Graham took the role of evangelist to a new level, lifting it from the sawdust floors of canvas tents in small-town America to the podiums of packed stadiums in the world’s major cities. Support the show (https://www.ouramericanstories.com/donate) See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

38m
Jul 22