Emma Bowman

There's no crying in baseball. But for Kay Johnston, there's crying when you can't play.

In the spring of 1950, in upstate New York, 13-year-old Kay Johnston wanted nothing more than to play Little League baseball. But in those days, that was out of the question. Girls weren't encouraged to swing bats and throw balls.

As families around the country search for answers in the wake of school shootings in Parkland, Fla. and elsewhere, parents and children are having conversations that would've been almost unfathomable a generation ago.

Dezmond Floyd is a 10-year-old student in Houston. At StoryCorps, he and his mother, Tanai Benard, 34, talk about the active shooter drills in his fifth-grade classroom.

Vince Cantu and Joe Galloway, both aged 76, have been friends since they met as third graders in the tiny town of Refugio, Texas.

After their high school graduation in 1959, Joe left town to become a journalist. Vince stuck around Refugio where he fronted a local band, until he was drafted into the Army in 1963. Naturally, the two lost track of each other over the years.

But the two reunited in a most unexpected place: in South Vietnam, where the U.S. was ratcheting up its involvement in the war. Joe and Vince recounted the moment during a StoryCorps interview.

Ashley Judd was one of the first women to publicly accuse Harvey Weinstein of sexual harassment.

When John Banvard, 100, met Gerard "Jerry" Nadeau, 72, in 1993, neither of them had been openly gay.

"When we met, we were sort of in the closet, and I'd never had a real relationship. Now, we've been together almost 25 years," Jerry tells John during a StoryCorps interview.

"What would it have been like if you didn't meet me?" Jerry asks John.

"I would have continued being lonely," John says. "I'd been absolutely lost."

Most people familiar with "face-swapping" know it as an innocuous social media feature. An algorithm captures a person's face and pastes it onto someone else's. The result is rarely seamless and often funny.

A favorite pastime for April Gibson and her teenage son, Gregory Bess, is simply talking to one another.

"I think I learn more from those conversations than school," says Gregory, who turned 17 on Thursday.

But during a recent StoryCorps conversation in St. Paul, Minn., April, 33, knew he wanted to talk about a subject the two hadn't really explored.

April invited her son to ask about what that time was like for her, as a young black mother. "Now you can ask me the hard question," April says.

"What did you feel like when I was born?" Gregory asks.

Rickey Jackson spent nearly four decades in prison for a crime he didn't commit.

In May of 1975, when a shopkeeper at a small Cleveland grocery store was slain during a robbery, Eddie Vernon, then 12 years old, served as the main witness in the case. Eddie — who, in fact, hadn't seen anything — says he was pressured into testifying by police.

It was Christmas of 2001, and Thompson Williams' family was struggling financially. "That year we used all our money just before Christmas so that we could pay the bills and buy groceries — at least we'd have something to eat," he tells his son, Kiamichi-tet at StoryCorps.

Thompson was teaching students with special needs, and his wife was selling handmade Christmas ornaments. They lived in Edmond, Okla., with Kiamichi-tet, then 11, and their daughter AuNane, 14.

If you usually ring in the holiday with a freshly cut evergreen, your reality this Christmas could very well be a scrawny Charlie Brown tree instead — or you may wind up paying more for a lush Fraser fir.

This year, there is a tree shortage. Most growers blame the tightened supply on the Great Recession, says Valerie Bauerlein, who covered the story for The Wall Street Journal.

Pages