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LINDA WERTHEIMER, host:

On Fridays we hear from StoryCorps. People across the country are recording family stories with this project.

Graciela Kavulla shared one of hers in Houston, Texas. Graciela grew up close to her grandmother - a woman who had nine children of her own before decided to help others have their babies as the local midwife.

Ms. GRACIELA KAVULLA: My grandmother, Adelaida Garcarellas(ph), she was 44 when she started delivering babies. And before they would see a doctor, the families in the community would come to see her. And I remember the panging on the door. (Spanish spoken), which meant that the husband was there to tell her that she needed to come.

She immediately got out of bed and she took off her nightgown. She put on her little cotton dress. My grandfather was up making some coffee for her. And she said, (Spanish spoken) - I don't have time for the coffee. (Spanish spoken) -take care of the child. You will see me when you see me. And she left.

She never went to school. She was illiterate, and I didn't realize her literacy until I became a little older. One day I was in her kitchen and she was cooking, and my grandfather had this medical book and he was reading to her. And she suddenly said, (Spanish spoken) - I didn't understand, tell me again. And he repeated it.

And that's when it first occurred to me she has learned to deliver babies just by what he has read to her and he has taught her from these books. And she delivered babies 'til her late 70s, I would say. And I guess as a kid I never thought about what she was doing. She was so brave and so strong. And nothing was going to stop her.

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WERTHEIMER: That's Graciela Kavulla in Houston, Texas.

This interview is part of StoryCorps Historias, recording the voices of Latinos. It will be archived at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. You can sign up for the project's podcast at NPR.org.

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WERTHEIMER: This is NPR News.

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