StoryCorps: 94-Year-Old Man Reveals Lifelong Secret That Still Haunts Him An effort to cover up a schoolyard incident led to decades of regret for Joseph Linsk. "The event never left me," he says, as he reveals a secret he has been keeping since the 1930s.
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A Lifelong Secret: Can You Help This Ailing 94-Year-Old Man Make Amends?

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A Lifelong Secret: Can You Help This Ailing 94-Year-Old Man Make Amends?

A Lifelong Secret: Can You Help This Ailing 94-Year-Old Man Make Amends?

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

It's Friday morning when we hear from StoryCorps. A couple of weeks ago, we told you about StoryCorps' Great Thanksgiving Listen, an effort to collect thousands of interviews over the holiday. Now one recording from that project coming up next here raises the question is it ever too late to make amends? Joseph Linsk, a retired doctor, was interviewed by his son at home in Atlantic City, N.J. He's 94 years old in failing health and has held on to a secret since he was a child.

(SOUNDBITE OF RADIO DIARY)

JOSEPH LINSK: When I was 8 years old, I was running in the school yard, and my arm struck the eyeglasses of one of the students. And he began to cry. He was going to tell his father. It would cost $2 to fix the glasses. And I was frightened to death. Where was I going to get the $2?

We had a cleaning lady by the name of Pearl, a black woman. And I knew that every week she gets $2 for her services. On this particular day I was so terrified, I took the $2 and took it to the teacher and settled the problem of the broken glasses. When Pearl finished her day's work, she went for the $2, and they weren't there. And my mother said there was no question that Pearl took the $2 and didn't admit it. And my mother was so angry, she told Pearl not to come back anymore.

And then the word leaked out that Pearl was a thief, and Pearl couldn't get another job. And she had several children. I was the only one who knew the true story. And I didn't tell anyone, and I was smitten with grief at what I had done. I kept that secret 'til the age of 94 which is hard to believe, but the event never left me.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

INSKEEP: Joseph Linsk recorded by his son Richard. This is only half the story because Joseph doesn't remember Pearl's last name, doesn't know what happened to her or her family, which is where you come in, ladies and gentlemen, because Joseph Linsk grew up on Atlantic Avenue in the uptown section of Atlantic City in the early 1930s. And maybe you have some knowledge that can help. If you think you know who Pearl was or know someone related to her, contact StoryCorps at npr.org/storycorps.

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