STEVE INSKEEP, host:
It's a Friday morning, which is when we hear from StoryCorps. This oral history project is collecting stories of Americans across the country.
And today we will learn a little of the story of Roberta, Mona, Mary, and Leota Keys. They're sisters, quadruplets, all born in 1950. They were among the first quadruplets ever to survive to adulthood. And now Roberta has outlived all of her sisters. She recently talked with her daughter about the night 91 years ago when she and her sisters were born.
Ms. ROBERTA KEYS-TORN: It was in the middle of the night and I guess the word got out in a hurry because everybody in the town was excited. And there were some women, they opened up the dry goods store and got us little clothes to put on because my mother was only prepared for one. And we only have one birth certificate for four babies. So it has our names on one line and then it says all girls. From the time we were very young, I think nine months old, we were on display at the Oklahoma State Fair every year until we were in the third grade.
They built a kind of a little house for us with tall walls and then people spent 25 cents to come in and look over the wall. We just were on our regular little routine, we played with dolls and they handed out little postcards with our pictures. And later on, when we were growing up, some people would say, oh, we paid 25 cents to see you when you were little at the fair. And we'd say, you want your money back?
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Ms. SUSAN YOUNG (Daughter of Ms. Roberta Keys-Torn): Did they?
Ms. KEYS-TORN: No. They were afraid to say.
Ms. YOUNG: Well, I know too that you had chances to go into show business once college was over. What happened?
Ms. KEYS-TORN: Well, everybody else was making money so we had to think of a way. So we devised this little act where we sang and played our saxophones and told a little stories of our lives.
Ms. YOUNG: What broke up that act?
Ms. KEYS-TORN: Well, Mona announced that she was going to get married. Everybody thought it was wonderful, it had to be, but I was sad. I liked being a quadruplet and there wasn't anything else.
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INSKEEP: That's Roberta Keys-Torn with her daughter Susan Young at StoryCorps in Houston, Texas. All of the these interviews are archived at the Library of Congress. And today, by the way, we are starting today a StoryCorps podcast to which you can subscribe at npr.org.
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