147 episodes

The Kitchen Sisters Present… Stories from the b-side of history. Lost recordings, hidden worlds, people possessed by a sound, a vision, a mission. The episodes tell deeply layered stories, lush with interviews, field recordings and music. From powerhouse producers The Kitchen Sisters (Hidden Kitchens, The Hidden World of Girls, The Sonic Memorial Project, Lost & Found Sound, Fugitive Waves and coming soon… The Keepers). "The Kitchen Sisters have done some of best radio stories ever broadcast" —Ira Glass. The Kitchen Sisters Present is produced in collaboration with Nathan Dalton and Brandi Howell and mixed by Jim McKee. A proud member of Radiotopia, from PRX. Learn more at radiotopia.fm.

The Kitchen Sisters Present Radiotopia

    • Personal Journals
    • 4.5, 1.1K Ratings

The Kitchen Sisters Present… Stories from the b-side of history. Lost recordings, hidden worlds, people possessed by a sound, a vision, a mission. The episodes tell deeply layered stories, lush with interviews, field recordings and music. From powerhouse producers The Kitchen Sisters (Hidden Kitchens, The Hidden World of Girls, The Sonic Memorial Project, Lost & Found Sound, Fugitive Waves and coming soon… The Keepers). "The Kitchen Sisters have done some of best radio stories ever broadcast" —Ira Glass. The Kitchen Sisters Present is produced in collaboration with Nathan Dalton and Brandi Howell and mixed by Jim McKee. A proud member of Radiotopia, from PRX. Learn more at radiotopia.fm.

    146 — French Manicure—Tales from Vietnamese Nail Shops in America

    146 — French Manicure—Tales from Vietnamese Nail Shops in America

    In honor of the many people who work in nail salons across the country who are struggling to keep their businesses from going under during these long closures, The Kitchen Sisters Present French Manicure —Tales from Vietnamese Nail Shops in America, a story produced as part of the Lost and Found Sound series on NPR.

    Currently it is estimated that more than 40% of the nail salon technicians in America are Vietnamese women. In California the numbers are estimated at more than 75%. The majority of these women are Vietnamese immigrants. Arriving in this country, Vietnamese immigrants, like those from other countries, have looked for a place to make their own economic niche. Many found one taking care of people’s hands and nails.

    The training is short – sometimes as little as three months. They not only acquire a new set of professional skills, but a new identity as well. Sound plays a part in merging into a new life—American TV and radio, language study tapes, naturalization tapes, the soundtrack of new citizenship and a new life. Then there are the lost sounds of home – music cassettes brought from Vietnam, Vietnamese videos from the Saigon bookstore in a San Jose shopping mall. These audio artifacts merge with stories from manicurists in Vietnamese salons. One such story comes from Shirley Nguyen at JT Nails.

    Shirley: I came here in 1983. Just by myself at 14. I escaped by boat to Thailand, to Philippines, then came here. Supposed to be a whole family come together but we separate to small boats. Some make it some didn't make it, get caught by the communists. We separate. And I was wondering, I asked "Where's my mom, where's my mom?" The owner say, "She will be here, she will be here." Gone.

    As she polishes, she tells her stories - how she got here - what to do about dry cuticles - how she learned her English from tapes - why French Manicure is better than silks - how she lost her family in Vietnam - about the "sad songs" of Vietnam and the sounds of Saigon streets. About how she got her name.

    Shirley: [In the U.S.], I lived with a foster parent. I have my own room and a TV she let me have it. Usually I watch a lot of Shirley Temple. I like Shirley Temple a lot. I watch a lot of her movie. She's happy. She's dancin' tap. And she's very pretty lady ... When I become US citizen I change directly to Shirley Nguyen. My Vietnamese name kind of like difficult to pronounce, Hang - H-A-N-G. I changed to Shirley."

    Contributors to this program include: Shirley Nguyen, Tina Truong and Jackie LE of JT Nails Salon in San Francisco; Betty Ha, May An Quang, Boi Ha and Tina Nguyen of Fancy Nails in Berkeley, Calif.; Dian Dinh of Cole Valley Nails in San Francisco; Tina Perry, Leonette Motta, Maria Elena Alvarado, Hien Hong and Nancy DeGroat of Hilltop Beauty School in Daily City, Calif.; Sophia Tran, Nhung Tran and Lan Xuan Thi Truong of Evergreen Beauty College in San Jose, Calif.; Alan Cox, Helene Luc Tran, Mrs. Nu and Mrs. Chu La of Hayward Beauty College, Hayward, Calif. Special Thanks also to: Ellen Sebastian Chang, Flawn Williams, Chris Tsakis and Janet Dang.

    • 25 min
    145 - Louis Jones, Field Archivist, Detroit

    145 - Louis Jones, Field Archivist, Detroit

    Louis Jones, Field Archivist, is a Keeper. For 27 years he has worked building and caring for the largest labor archive in North America—the Reuther Library at Wayne State University in Detroit. Home to numerous union and labor collections from around the country, the Reuther Library also actively collects material documenting Detroit’s civil rights movement, women’s struggles in the workplace, the LGBTQ Archive of Detroit and more.

    Born in New York City, the grandson of a Pullman porter, Louis Jones takes us through the archives with stories of the UAW, Cesar Chavez, Utah Phillips, A. Philip Randolph and the Civil Rights Movement, the 1967 Detroit uprising, and how archivists are examining and re-imagining their roles in the midst of Covid-19 and the Black Lives Matter movement.

    Special thanks to the Reuther Library at Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan; Nancy Beaumont and the Society of American Archivists (SAA); Paulina Hartono; The National Endowment for the Humanities; and supporters of The Kitchen Sisters Productions.

    • 22 min
    144 - 95,000 Names—Gert McMullin, Sewing the Frontline

    144 - 95,000 Names—Gert McMullin, Sewing the Frontline

    In 1985, Gert McMullin was one of the first San Franciscans to put a stitch on the AIDS Quilt, the quilt that began with one memorial square in honor of a man who had died of AIDS, and that now holds some 95,000 names. Gert never planned it this way, but over the decades she has become the Keeper of the Quilt and has stewarded it, repaired it, tended it, traveled with it and conserved it for some 33 years now. Gert knows the power of sewing.

    In 2020, when COVID-19 hit, Gert was one of the first Bay Area citizens to begin sewing masks—PPE for nurses and health care workers who were lacking proper protection—masks she makes from fabric left over from the making of the AIDS Quilt. The comfort, outrage and honoring of an earlier pandemic being used to protect people from a new one.

    In January of 2020 The AIDS Memorial Quilt, now part of The National AIDS Memorial, returned home to the Bay Area after 16 years in Atlanta. It took six 52-foot semis to get it there. The over sixty tons of quilt, is made up of about 48,000 panels, each 3 x 6 feet, the size of a grave. The extensive AIDS Archive, which Gert gathered, collected and protected since its earliest days, is now part of The American Folklife Center at The Library of Congress in Washington, DC.

    The story of Gert McMullin and the AIDS Memorial Quilt, the Gay Rights Movement in San Francisco, Harvey Milk, The White Night Riots. With interviews with LGBT Rights activist Cleve Jones who worked with Harvey Milk and conceived of the AIDS Memorial Quilt, and John Cunningham, Executive Director of the National AIDS Memorial.

    • 31 min
    143 - The McDonogh Three—First Day of School

    143 - The McDonogh Three—First Day of School

    November 14, 1960, New Orleans. Three six-year-old girls, flanked by Federal Marshals, walked through screaming crowds and policemen on horseback as they approached their new school for the first time—McDonogh No. 19. Leona Tate thought it must be Mardi Gras. Gail Etienne thought they were going to kill her.

    Four years after the Supreme Court ruled to desegregate schools in Brown v. Board of Education, schools in the South were dragging their feet. Finally, in 1960, the NAACP and a daring judge selected two schools in New Orleans to push forward with integration—McDonogh No.19 Elementary and William Frantz.

    An application was put in the paper. From 135 families, four girls were selected—Leona Tate, Tessie Prevost, Gail Etienne and Ruby Bridges (who attended William Frantz Elementary). They were given psychological tests. Their families were prepared. Members of the Louisiana Legislature took out paid advertisements in the local paper encouraging parents to boycott the schools. There were threats of violence.

    When the girls going to McDonogh No.19 arrived in their classroom, the white children began to disappear. One by one their parents took them out of school. For a year and a half the girls were the only children in the school. Guarded night and day, they were not allowed to play outdoors. The windows were covered with brown paper.

    The story of integrating the New Orleans Public schools in 1960 told by Leona Tate, Tessie Prevost Williams, and Gail Etienne Stripling, who integrated McDonogh No.19 Elementary School, and retired Deputy U.S. Marshals Herschel Garner, Al Butler, and Charlie Burks who assisted with the integration efforts at the schools. We also hear from archivist, historian and pastor of Beecher Memorial United Church of Christ, Brenda Billips Square and from Keith Plessy, Co-Founder of the Plessy & Ferguson Foundation.

    We produced this story a few years back. We want to put it out there again a because it seems critical, particularly now, to remember and pay tribute to the many Keepers of the archives, the stories, the truth about our past and the long fight for what is fair and just.

    • 18 min
    142—From King Henry the VIII to the Rolling Stones on Eel Pie Island

    142—From King Henry the VIII to the Rolling Stones on Eel Pie Island

    Eel Pie Island, a tiny bit of land in the River Thames has a flamboyant history involving King Henry VIII, Charles Dickens, The Rolling Stones, Pete Townshend, Rod Stewart, Anjelica Huston, Trad Jazz, Rock and Roll… and eel pie—a disappearing London delicacy.

    The story goes that Henry VIII in the 16th century would be rowed up the Thames on the Royal Barge and would stop at the island for an eel pie. Charles Dickens immortalized it in his novel Nicholas Nickleby. In the 1950s a jazz club was started on the island featuring Skiffle and Trad Jazz with people like Ken Colyer, Acker BIlk, and Lonnie Donegan.

    “Eel Pie Island was where they used to fish out the eel up through the 1960s. The eels would be sold in the front of fishmonger shops, big, fat, some as thick as your arm, lying around on the marble slabs,” remembers actress Anjelica Huston who grew up in London in the 60s and made the pilgrimage to Eel Pie Island, an early rock and roll mecca.

    Eric Clapton did a lot of his early playing on the island. “When I was a beatnik back in the early 60s, that was the only thing there was.”

    “The hotel stood alone, I remember it a little bit like a Charles Addams drawing,” recalls Huston. “It was a time when a lot of the old ways were meeting new ways out of the rations and the hardships of WWII and the blitz, and the hunger. Eel Pie Island, the eels that had been cut up on the white marble slabs since the days of Henry the VIII were suddenly meeting the Youth Quake.”

    Ronnie Wood, who would later join the Rolling Stones, called it a great melting pot. “You might bump into Mick Jagger in the bar, Pete Townshend came by, Ray Davies, Keith, Bowie…” Paul Jones who played in the 60s band Manfred Mann said, “Any band that was worth its salt had to play there. Till you ticked off that one on your itinerary, you hadn’t really arrived.”

    The place was proclaimed a health hazard in 1967 and forced to shut down. Squatters immediately came into the space and the UK’s largest hippie commune was born. The building eventually burned down and eighteen townhouses were constructed in its place. Today, Eel Pie Island has a couple of hundred inhabitants. Artists and craftspeople maintain studios on the island along with some boat works.

    “Eel Pie Island, it’s a very specific little place in space and time,” says Huston. “A little point of liberation on the Thames. But very alive, just like the eels.”

    • 22 min
    141—Pati Jinich's Mexican Jewish Table

    141—Pati Jinich's Mexican Jewish Table

    An intimate, inspiring, hopeful conversation with Mexican chef and cookbook author, Pati Jinich, host of the James Beard Award winning PBS series Pati's Mexican Table and resident chef at the Mexican Cultural Institute in Washington D.C.

    On a walk through Oaxaca's Enthnobotanical Garden, Pati tells stories of her Jewish grandparents immigration to Mexico during WWII, her upbringing in Mexico and her move to Texas and Washington D.C. as a young mother. She shares her thoughts on immigration, The Wall, life choices and how she found her way into the kitchen.

    • 18 min

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5
1.1K Ratings

1.1K Ratings

jmangelo ,

Gets Better and Better

At one point I listened to most of the offerings of Radiotopia. The Kitchen Sisters is one of their best. I have been with the Kitchen Sisters from the beginning. The episode content is always interesting and production quality is outstanding. These podcasters love what they do and it shows.

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Enriching information beautifully shared❤️

Sooo glad I discovered this podcast!

RosyF50 ,

Music Too Loud

Tried to listen, but I couldn’t. The music is so loud. It’s very good, but the talking is too loud to really focus on it, and it’s way too loud to hear the talking.

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