There was no way to include every volunteer I met nor all the audio I heard in the radio documentary. But some stories beg to be shared. In this space I will be posting a few brand-new stories from voices you haven’t heard on the radio as well as some “from the cutting room floor” stories that I just couldn’t squeeze into the hour program.
First up: A Peace Corps Two-fer! Peggy Winnett worked as a Peace Corps volunteer in two very different countries. She turned 50 during her service in Jack’s Hill, Jamaica and four years after her close of service there, she joined up again and went to Thailand. Here’s my conversation with Peggy at her home in Leeds, Massachusetts (in two parts).
In Jamaica, Peggy made several cassette-tape recordings of the people in Jack’s Hill. Here’s her dear friend Miss Adassa Wright singing a hymn.
And next: Oceania at last!
Several island nations in the South Pacific have hosted Peace Corps volunteers for decades. The country of Tonga is located where the international dateline takes a jog east, landing the collection of islands on the Australia/New Zealand side of the line, rather than the Hawaii side. In 1976, Tonga became the site of one of the Peace Corps’ first devastating crimes. A volunteer was murdered in her hut one night and the murderer turned out to be another Peace Corps volunteer.
Terry and Charles Contant served in Tonga at the time and they happened to have a Super-8 silent movie camera. Some of their footage got digitized by CBS News some years ago when the network’s 48 Hours program produced American Taboo, a feature about the Peace Corps murder. Terry and Charles spoke with me about their time in Tonga, their films and the murder of Deborah Gardner. The couple, who were married when they entered the Peace Corps, arrived in-country with a tape recorder but fond they wanted to record movies as well.
Terry and Charles Contant returned to the United Statesand lived in Houston,Texas for a long time before moving to Niantic, Connecticut, where they live now. Thanks to their daughter, radio producer Heather Contant, for recording the conversation.