ARI SHAPIRO, host:
Americans across the country are interviewing each other at StoryCorps. In traveling recording booths, they're talking about their lives. On Fridays, we hear some of those stories. Betty Jenkins went to StoryCorps in Cincinnati. She's 94 years old, and as a younger woman, she received a gift from her mother. It was meant to attract the attention of young men. But as Jenkins tells us, the attention she got was not the kind she wanted.
Ms. BETTY JENKINS: I was very skinny, and I didn't have any curves. I guess my mother got kind of worried because she didn't think I had enough boyfriends. So she bought me a bra that you blow up. I was real excited. So I blew and blew and blew to about a 32. I was quite happy with the looks. I got a few wolf whistles. Of course, at that age, you're very self conscious. That year I took a trip to South America. I proceeded to fly to Santiago. Soon, we were into the Andes Mountains, and it turned out that it was a non-pressurized plane, and I felt very uncomfortable. Things were getting very tight. This bra had started to increase in size.
As the thing got bigger, I tried to stand up, and I couldn't see my feet. The directions said it would go to 48 if I wanted to. I thought, what will happen if it goes beyond 48? And I found out what happened. It blew out. It was a loud, resounding sound and the co-pilot came into the cabin with a gun, wondering what had happened. The men all pointed to me. Well, it's difficult to explain to people in English that part of your anatomy just blew up, but to try and do it in Spanish, it's beyond hopeless. So they made a landing. I was taken off the plane and turned over to two women police, and they told me to strip, hunting for what they thought was the bomb. When I stripped down, I showed them the whole in the bra. And they chuckled. And I thought, oh, my, they've got the point. And I was allowed back on the plane. A month later, I got a bill from the airline for $400 for an unscheduled stop.
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SHAPIRO: That's Betty Jenkins at StoryCorps in Cincinnati. Her interview will be archived with all StoryCorps interviews at the Library of Congress. You can subscribe to the project's podcast at npr.org.