In April 1946, Theodore Lustig was discharged after serving three years in the army in World War II. Heading home on a train to New Jersey, he had grand plans for his new life. First, he bought a white shirt: a symbol of his return to a normal routine. The next step? Finding the girl of his dreams: his high school crush.
In his very short piece — “What If?” — he writes:
We got on the same bus — hers — and sat together reminiscing about the past and talking about the future. I told her of my plans and showed her the shirt I had bought — my first step toward making my dream come true. I didn’t tell her that she was supposed to be step two.
“What If?” is just one story among the 180 true stories in I Thought My Father Was God: And Other True Tales From NPR’s National Story Project, a compilation of the best submissions to Paul Auster for this story project on All Things Considered. Each tale is a small window into one stranger’s life: a glimpse into the American mind and heart. The stories are grouped into broad themes: animals, objects, families, slapstick, strangers, war, love, death, dreams, and meditations.
I’ve been a fan of NPR’s National Story Project since it began, and each story they aired always made me cry. You heard their voices, felt their emotions – and now you can read their stories! This is definitely one that I’m getting for myself!