On July 28, 1945 an Army bomber pilot on a routine ferry mission found himself lost in the fog over Manhattan. A dictation machine in a nearby office happened to capture the sound of the plane as it hit the Empire State Building at the 79th floor.
Fourteen people were killed. Debris from the plane severed the cables of an elevator, which fell 79 stories with a young woman inside. She survived. The crash prompted new legislation that – for the first time – gave citizens the right to sue the federal government.
The Dropped Wrench
Every day, we go about our lives doing thousands of routine, mundane tasks. And sometimes, we make mistakes. Human error. It happens all the time.
It just doesn’t always happen in a nuclear missile silo.
This story was produced in collaboration with This American Life.
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Prisoners of War
During the war in Vietnam, there was a notorious American military prison on the outskirts of Saigon, called Long Binh Jail. But LBJ wasn’t for captured enemy fighters, it was for American soldiers.
These were men who had broken military law. And there were a lot of them. As the unpopular war dragged on, discipline frayed and soldiers started to rebel.
By the summer of 1968, over half the men in Long Binh Jail were locked up on AWOL charges. Some were there for more serious crimes, others for small stuff, like refusing to get a haircut. The stockade had become extremely overcrowded. Originally built to house 400 inmates, it became crammed with over 700 men, more than half African American. On August 29th, 1968, the situation erupted. Fifty years later, we bring you the incredible story.
The Working Tapes of Studs Terkel
In 1974, oral historian Studs Terkel published a book with an unwieldy title: "Working: People talk about what they do all day and how they feel about what they do." This collective portrait of America was based on more than a hundred interviews Studs did around the country.
Studs recorded all of his interviews on a reel-to-reel tape recorder, but after the book came out the tapes were packed away in boxes and forgotten for decades. A couple years ago, Radio Diaries and the organization were given exclusive access to the tapes. On this episode of The Radio Diaries Podcast, we're bringing you eleven stories from Studs' Working tapes. There's the telephone switchboard operator, the Chicago police officer, the private eye, the hotel piano player and many more.
Stories from a Vanishing New York
Today on the podcast, we pay a visit to Walter the Seltzer Man, and also remember Selma Koch, the iconic bra fitter in the Upper West Side's Town Shop.