283: Remember Me
Stories about people who are remembered very differently than they'd wished. The ghost of a kindly, distinguished philanthropist supposedly plays pranks on guests at a Ramada hotel in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. A dying mother makes a tape for her developmentally disabled daughter, hoping she'll watch it someday, knowing she might not.
Host Ira Glass talks to Laura Mayer, editor of the New Trier Township High School yearbook, about the renegade student who jumps into as many club photos as he can. And contributing editor Jack Hitt explains how this impulse—to be remembered as someone you're not—can be traced back to Benjamin Franklin. It turns out even the man who invented bifocals padded his resume for history. The key on the kite story, for instance? Probably not true. (9 minutes)
Act One. Thinking Inside the Box.
David Wilcox tells the story of how his mother, who was dying of lung cancer, made a short videotape for his sister, who is severely developmentally disabled. She hoped the tape would become a daily part of her daughter's life, like the other music and movies she liked to play, that she would watch it and remember her mother. But she also knew her daughter might never even see it. (9 minutes)
And we hear two stories from people who recorded their own memories in a booth in Grand Central Station in New York, as part of the StoryCorps project. The first is Don "Moses" Lerman, a champion eater who's thought a lot about what he'll be remembered for. The second is Ronald Ruiz, a bus driver, who's never forgotten one of his passengers. StoryCorps funders include the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, National Public Radio, the Ford Foundation and the Open Society Institute. (3 minutes)
Act Two. Where's Walter?
Starlee Kine rents a room at a Ramada hotel in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, where a ghost supposedly plays pranks on the guests and staff. The ghost's name is Walter, for Walter Schroeder, the guy who originally built the hotel in the 1920s. It turns out Walter was a successful businessman and a kindly philanthropist who threw great dinner parties. So why would he bother haunting a Ramada? Starlee originally wrote and read a version of this story for The Little Gray Books Lecture Series. (14 minutes)
And...two more stories about remembering, from StoryCorps. The first is a conversation between Ralph Tremonte and and Donald Weiss, who were in mental institutions together as kids, and are reunited after 40 years. The second is Brad Skow talking to his mother, Mary Lou Maher, who gave him up for adoption when she was 17. (4 minutes)
Act Three. Giving Up the Ghosts.
Writer Shalom Auslander reads his short story about how he decided to start forgetting the dead, even though his job required him to remember. Shalom's book of short stories is called Beware of God. (15 minutes)
Song: "Live and Let Die," Guns N' Roses