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From Topless Bar To Biology: A Love Story
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From Topless Bar To Biology: A Love Story


It is Friday of an eventful week, and Friday is when we hear from StoryCorps. Today's story comes from Cody, Wyoming, just outside Yellowstone National Park; which is where biologists Philip and Susan McClinton live. They had their first date 40 years ago this week, but their romance has an unusual beginning. The couple sat down at StoryCorps, to remember how they met.

SUSAN MCCLINTON: I came into the topless bar that you were bouncing, to compete in Amateur Night because there was a prize at the end. And at the time, I had two children to support, so I needed the money. I remember at one point, you said, "I'll keep an eye on you."

PHILIP MCCLINTON: I thought, she doesn't belong in here. She didn't need to be in this place.

: And I think that was the beginning of our relationship. You said, "I'm going to take you rattlesnake hunting." I thought you were absolutely out of your mind, but I had so much fun. I thought hey, this is something I might want to do on a regular basis. And I remember at one point telling you that I had always enjoyed science and school. And you said, "Well, why don't we go back to school? And I said, "You're crazy."

: Neither one of us had anything but a ninth-grade education. I'd tried 10th grade three times, and I couldn't cut it. And we didn't think anyone would take us. And I said, "Call them and ask," and they accepted us on probation. We took all of our courses together.

: You didn't know anything about school.


: And I recall several times when you told me that you just didn't think you could make it anymore. And I would always tell you, "I'll get you through it."

: And we were both working on biology degrees.

: Remember cell biology - I drew a diagram and taped it up in the bathroom on the mirror. So in the mornings, you'd have to look and learn it from there.

: Without your help, I'd have never gotten through this because a lot of it, I just plain didn't understand. But I think the thing I'm proudest of is that you finally did things that you never dreamed you could do, and you did them so well. You turned into a fine field biologist.

: I guess I learned for the first time that I really was a person of worth. You know, after my life started out so bumpy, I never thought we'd get a college degree. And if you hadn't come into my life, I think I would have ended up in a very bad place.

: Yeah.

: It was a rescue romance - is what we called it, because we saved each other.

INSKEEP: Susan McClinton, with her husband, Philip, at StoryCorps. Philip is assistant curator at the Draper Museum of Natural History at the Buffalo Bill Historical Center. Their interview, like all StoryCorps interviews, will be archived at the Library of Congress. And you can watch StoryCorps' newest animation - by the way - at

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