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December 11, 2016

Atlantic City man, 94, spills lifelong secret on storytelling podcast

When Dr. Joseph Linsk was growing up in Atlantic City in the 1930s, he did something that he would carry with him for the rest of his life.

At 94 years old, the retired oncologist revealed his secret to StoryCorps, a national project that hopes to record and archive stories told by Americans during its Great Thanksgiving Listening initiative. The short 2:50-second broadcast was aired by National Public Radio Friday.

Linsk – interviewed by his son in an episode that explored the question, "is it ever too late to make amends?" – said that when he was eight-years-old, he accidentally broke a boy's glasses at school.

"He was going to tell his father," Linsk said during the interview. "It would cost $2 to fix the glasses and I was frightened to death. Where was I going to get the $2?"

Linsk said that his family employed a woman named Pearl to clean the house. Pearl would get compensated $2 every week.

The way he tells it, Linsk took the money to give the boy to repair his shattered glasses, but never told his mother what he had done. She wasn't too happy.

Linsk's mother fired Pearl, who she thought took the money. Word spread around town that she was a thief, causing her to lose work.

"I was the only one who knew the true story and I didn't tell anyone," he said in the interview. "I was smitten with grief at what I had done. I kept that secret to the age of 94 which is hard to believe but the event never left me."

Since Linsk doesn't remember Pearl's last name or know her other family members, StoryCorps is now asking for the public's help. Anyone with any connection to Pearl is asked to contact the program at

Listen to Linsk's full interview below: