Robert Griffo was living the high life at an investment firm on Wall Street when the stock market crashed 25 years ago on Black Monday. Along with the Dow Jones industrial average, Griffo's life tumbled.
Griffo tells StoryCorps he worked with the investment company for 11 years.
"I was making a lot of money," he says. "I used to walk over homeless people at Grand Central Station when they were begging for money, and I'd say, 'You need to get a job.' But I lost myself on Wall Street."
When the market crashed on Oct. 19, 1987, Griffo thought he would be let go.
In 1957, Joel Healy witnessed one of the largest nuclear tests ever conducted on U.S. soil.
Healy was in the U.S. Army, stationed in the Nevada desert north of Las Vegas at Camp Desert Rock. He was 17 years old and a private first class at the time.
Healy drove dump trucks, moved materials, and built structures, like houses, that would be destroyed by the explosions so the Army could study the effects of a nuclear blast. He also helped build the towers where many of the bombs were detonated.
Ken Rensink's path to special education teaching began when he was 19, just one day after he completed his training for the U.S. Army Reserves. He fell asleep at the wheel of his car, hit a telephone pole and nearly lost his life.
"I was paralyzed from the waist down," Ken told friend Laurel Hill-Ward, a Chico State University professor who trains special education teachers. "My left arm was so weak, I could barely hold a plastic cup of water."
In 1939, Jessie Lee Bond died. His death certificate says he drowned accidentally, but his family has always maintained that he was lynched after an argument with white shop owners — shot and thrown into the river.
No one has ever been charged with his death.
Decades later, his now-91-year-old brother, Charlie Morris, told StoryCorps in Memphis, Tenn., that he was at school when he was called down to the office and told that his brother had been murdered.
When Tierra Jackson was in high school, she was struggling. She kept getting yelled at for being late to school.
What most of her teachers and administrators didn't know was the reason for her tardiness: Jackson was homeless. Her mother was in and out of prison. She and her brother were living with her aunt and cousins. All seven of them shared a single room in one of Chicago's homeless shelters, a long bus ride from her school.