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Faces of America as Photographed by Glenn Glasser

Photographer Glenn Glasser travels across the United States to meet inspiring locals.

Glenn Glasser for Reader's Digest

Meg Gardner

Boulder, Colorado
“I was playing a game and the person who was next didn’t know it was his turn. I was so excited for him that I called out his name and said, ‘It’s your turn!’ He told me later how much it hurt him because he wanted to come to it on his own. My enthusiasm is my strength, and in that moment, it was my weakness.” 

Glenn Glasser for Reader's Digest

Robert Unger

Boulder, Colorado
“I could be the most grateful person on the planet. Living here, in this community, just suits me. In New York, if you want to know the truth, I didn’t feel very adequate. People were so quick and so smart, and I don’t have that kind of mind that grasps the details and can really do that kind of power confidence thing.”

Glenn Glasser for Reader's Digest

Joshua Berman

Boulder, Colorado
“I’m a teacher, but the strangest job I’ve ever had was probably being a television fixer in Nicaragua. Television crews still hire me to smooth the way for them when they do productions. They’ll fly me down, and each job is different. At some, we’re eating strange foods, and at others, we’re dropping off Navy SEALs in the jungle and flying helicopters around.”
“And then I come back and get to be a teacher and get walked over by second graders!”

Glenn Glasser for Reader's Digest

Mike Janzen

Boulder, Colorado
What questions do you wish your students would ask you?
“Mr. J, could I bring you a latte? Mr. J, would you like me to take care of all those extra chores you have to do? Mr J, how are you doing today?”

Glenn Glasser for Reader's Digest

Nick Hilliard

Boulder, Colorado
If you were to do it all over again, what would you do differently?
“I would be less scared. I’d be kinder to myself.”

Glenn Glasser for Reader's Digest

Jamie York

Boulder, Colorado
“I”m a self-professed math missionary. I think there’s a misconception that mathematicians enjoy calculating things with numbers–there are a great many that actually aren’t very good at doing arithmetic and that sort of thing.” 

Glenn Glasser for Reader's Digest

Koen Widom

Boulder, Colorado
“A boy walks into an ice cream shop and tells the waiter he wants 24 scoops of ice cream, all different flavors. He wolfs it down really fast, and the waiter asks, ‘Why are you in such a hurry–I’ve never seen someone eat 24 scoops of ice cream that fast.’ The boy says, ‘If you had what I have, you would!’ And the waiter says, ‘What do you have?’ And the boy’s like, ‘Only 25 cents!’ and runs out of the store.”

Glenn Glasser for Reader's Digest

Bryce and Amber Widom

Boulder, Colorado
Do you two have any good jokes?
Bryce: Let’s see. This sandwich walks into a bar and says, ‘Give me a rum and coke.’ And the bartender looks at him and says, ‘Sorry. We don’t serve food here.’ That’s the best I can do!”
Amber: “The Dalai Lama walks into a pizza shop, and the pizza guy says, ‘What do you want?’ And the Dalai Lama says, ‘I want one with everything,’ … or, ‘Am I one with everything’? Is that how it goes?”
Bryce: We’re not the best at telling jokes.”

Glenn Glasser for Reader's Digest

Melissa Vargas

Providence, Rhode Island
“I’m a costume designer. For Halloween last year, my friends and I dressed up as sushi. I was a tuna roll. We had wasabi and ginger hats and little grass purses (to represent the grass they put in the box). We had backpacks made out of packing peanuts as our ‘rice’ and seaweed belts.”

Glenn Glasser for Reader's Digest

William Kirkpatrick

Docent at Mystic Aquarium
Mystic, Connecticut
“The thing that I find fascinating is watching the connection the guests make when they reach out and touch an animal that they would probably initially be squeamish with. Particularly with like ‘Oh that’s a shark, I don’t want to touch that.’ And to see a child’s eyes light up, to see an adult’s eyes light up, when they accomplish something like that for the first time and make that connection…for me, this is a rewarding exhibit.” 

Glenn Glasser for Reader's Digest

Laurie Macha

Mystic, Connecticut
Supervisor of Penguins and Pinnipeds, Mystic Aquarium
“I like to start some of our talks with kids by asking, ‘How many penguins does a polar bear eat in a single day?’ You get, ‘Fifty!’ ‘A hundred!’ And sometimes you get really smart kids who know that polar bears are found in the north, while penguins are in the south.

Glenn Glasser for Reader's DIgest

Kelly Matis

Mystic, Connecticut
VP of Education and Conservation at Sea Research Foundation and Mystic Aquarium
“Ironically, my husband and I have a fish tank with a few fish in it, but I never remember to feed them–it’s a good thing he’s here!”

Glenn Glasser for Reader's Digest

Durrell Rader

Docent at Mystic Aquarium
Mystic, Connecticut
“My daughter brought me here. She’s a marine biologist and the president of Southeastern New England Marine Educators, so my wife and I are members. I learned they were looking for somebody to be a docent for a period of six months. I’ve been here ten years now!”

Glenn Glasser for Reader's Digest

Savannah Young

Odessa, Texas
“When I’m singing, I feel more comfortable. I’m kind of an awkward person in normal scenarios, but onstage I feel more comfortable that I would be talking to someone or doing everyday life things. It’s where I feel safe and at home.”

Glenn Glasser for Reader's Digest

Kolton King

Canyon, Texas
Do you have a girlfriend?
Kolton: “Yes.”
What’s her name?
Kolton: “Emily.”
Have you held hands?
Kolton: “No!”

Glenn Glasser for Reader's Digest

Tom Lagarde with daughter Hadden and son Holland

Snow Camp, North Carolina
If you were to pack a zombie survival kit, what would you pack?
Holland: “Weapons, food, a pillow…”
Why a pillow?
Holland: “Well, if you find someplace that seems nice where you think you could stay a while and get a night’s rest, a pillow would be nice.”

Glenn Glasser for Reader's Digest

Pat Marggraf

Berkeley Springs, West Virginia
“I was born without hip sockets. Growing up was hard. Children were cruel. But one of the reasons I can belly dance so easily is because my hip sockets are different!”

Glenn Glasser for Reader's Digest

Alexander Marte

Berkeley Springs, West Virginia
“My older brother played the piano. I used to love watching him and, when I was about three years old, I would put my back up against the piano so I could feel the vibrations.”

Glenn Glasser for Reader's Digest

Raymond Goodman

Berkeley Springs, West Virginia
“Lincoln never went to university—he was self-taught. He taught himself the law and became and lawyer and then president. He’s a man who rose up as an icon in American history because he personified the image of what Americans had aspired to be.”

Glenn Glasser for Reader's Digest

Sean C. Bruce II

Lancaster, Pennsylvania

“Don’t just make contacts, make friends.”

Glenn Glasser for Reader's Digest

John DeLorenzo

Ketchum, Idaho
“Fear. You just have to face it and move forward anyway. I’ve been charged by black bears, and you just have to keep your wits about you and deal with the situation—not let the fear overcome you.”

Glenn Glasser for Reader's Digest

Tiffanie & Harper Jackson

Saxapahaw, North Carolina
Tiffanie: “I said, ‘Oh, I’m never going to have a child.’ And the thing that I thought I would never want is the thing that is the most fulfilling!”

Glenn Glasser for Reader's Digest

Jeannie Ford (with husband, Bob)

Berkeley Springs, West Virginia
“My mom told me years ago, ‘Honey, there’ll come a day when he’ll love you more than you’ll ever love him.’ I kept waiting for that day and it finally came. Now I love my dog more than I love him! Don’t get me wrong, I still love him, but … it’s true.”

Glenn Glasser for Reader's Digest

Shahriar Anoushfar, DO, FACOS

Dexter, New Mexico
“I grew up in Maryland, and did my medical training in New York City. I was a city boy all the way through, so I’d never even seen a cow before. One day, I was watching a Western and thought, Looks beautiful—I’m gonna go out West and buy a ranch. I bought one before I even moved!”

Glenn Glasser for Reader's Digest

Joe Beene

Odessa, Texas
What was the darkest time of your life?
“When I had everything.”

Glenn Glasser for Reader's Digest

The Deiter Family

Lancaster, Pennsylvania
“If we can get all 13 of them to adulthood without any major issues, it would probably be beating the odds, but I think we’re on the right track. Plus, it’s pretty hard to get away with anything; there are too many people around to catch you!”

Glenn Glasser for Reader's Digest

Shari Kendall

Bridal shop owner, Lancaster, Pennsylvania
“I had my wedding dress preserved, but I’ve put it on a few times since the wedding. For my anniversary I made dinner in it one year—chicken-fried steak … my husband’s favorite dish!”

Glenn Glasser for Reader's Digest

The Millers

Bird-in-Hand, Pennsylvania
How long have you been married?
Erwin: Forty-four years, in about two weeks.
Linda: In a couple months.

Glenn Glasser for Reader's Digest

David Dietz

York, Pennsylvania
“The church I grew up in taught River Brethren where the tradition is for men to wear beards. Mine is not really for that reason. I just grow it because I want a beard … and my Mom likes it!”

Glenn Glasser for Reader's Digest

Mike Joy

Roswell, New Mexico
“When I was in high school, one of my old mentors walked up, put his hand on my shoulder, and said ‘Button’—young cowboys in this country were always called buttons—’how’s it going?’ I said I had hit rock bottom. He said, ‘Quit digging.'”

Glenn Glasser for Reader's Digest

Michael Long

Lancaster, Pennsylvania
“I never dreamed I would do this as a kid. This is the same spoon my father used when he was here 55 years. If you take a look, you can see the wear on it!”

Glenn Glasser for Reader's Digest

Paul Pearce

Lancaster, Pennsylvania
“Having a British accent in the United States, I find that people believe whatever I say!”

Glenn Glasser for Reader's Digest

Bryant Dunn

Ketchum, Idaho
“I lead fly-fishing groups to the Himalayas. I also service a number of private clients, but that’s not important. I stay very busy being a father and a husband.”

Glenn Glasser for Reader's Digest

Lisa Griffith

Ketchum, Idaho
“Everybody puts their pants on one leg at a time.”

Glenn Glasser for Reader's Digest

Peter Prekeges

Ketchum, Idaho
“One day we were skiing and I went down to Apple’s Bar & Grill, and it was me (a latte pourer), a dishwasher, and Clint Eastwood. We all just happened to be there after a great day of skiing, having bottles of Bud. I bought the first round, Clint bought the second round, and the dishwasher bought the third round while we were talking about skiing. No one really cares who you are here. That’s the Ketchum/ Sun Valley mantra.”

Glenn Glasser for Reader's Digest

Addison Rafford

Ketchum, Idaho
“I want to be a mogul skier. I did a 720 last year – which is when you do two 360s – so that’s the best I’ve done right now. But I’m hoping to get certified for backflips next year.”

Glenn Glasser for Reader's Digest

Lucia and Sebastian

Odessa, Texas
How do you define motherhood?
“It’s like your heart walking out of you—it hurts and it’s beautiful at the same time.”

Glenn Glasser for Reader's Digest

Julie Youngblood

Ketchum, Idaho
“Even if you don’t think you’re strong enough or if you don’t think it’s for you, there’s always something you can do. Don’t be intimidated.”

Glenn Glasser for Reader's Digest

Sean Sullivan

Ketchum, Idaho
“My day started off a little rough today—I made some quick changes, and it ended up being good.”

Glenn Glasser for Reader's Digest

Ross Flynn

Saxapahaw, North Carolina
“My parents were a lawyer and a teacher. One of my brothers is a lawyer and a teacher, and the other is a lawyer married to a teacher! And then there’s me—the butcher … I thought we had enough lawyers in the family.”

Glenn Glasser for Reader's Digest

Linda Pucci

Saxapahaw, North Carolina
“My son John asked me, ‘Mom, if you looked at women between 18 and 26 when you were growing up and compared them with women now, what difference would you see?’ The first thing I said was birth control. It allows women to make plans.”

Glenn Glasser for Reader's Digest

Betty Wilborn

Saxapahaw, North Carolina
“You asked me how I got through what I got through…because she instilled in us six kids that you’ve got to be strong. She’s just; this lady was the strongest, no doubt strongest person. She lived to be 98 years old and she raised six kids, when our daddy died, mama was making 98 cents an hour at the cotton mill. We had to be strong to survive and I’m not saying rich with monetary, you just have to be a strong person. There was a lot of changes that went on in our young lives.” 

Glenn Glasser for Reader's Digest

Andrew Zeman

Saxapahaw, North Carolina
“My wife, Nancy, got me a wine-making kit for our first anniversary, and it was just a hobby for 30 years. Then we were looking for an alternative lifestyle to the rat race, so we quit our jobs, bought ten acres of land, and planted a vineyard!”

Glenn Glasser for Reader's Digest

Tom Lagarde

Saxapahaw, North Carolina
You own a coffee shop, and I see that you always have a coffee in hand. Even this morning when I ran into you …
Tom: “That was a beer.”

Glenn Glasser for Reader's Digest

Suzanne Nelson

Saxapahaw, North Carolina
“I was a reporter in Washington, DC. Then my soon-to-be husband almost died from a flu shot. I became more aware of the medical system and how health is created and destroyed. You can’t spend long on that before you learn about the role of food in health.”

Glenn Glasser for Reader's Digest

Lillian Graham, 90

Roswell, New Mexico
“I’m a country girl. I was here before we had cars of any kind. When we went somewhere, it was in a wagon with a team.”

Glenn Glasser for Reader's Digest

Stephen Vollmer

Roswell, New Mexico
“What is the difference between a bastard and a hybrid? Attitude.”

Glenn Glasser for Reader's Digest

Mark Briscoe

Director of the International UFO Museum and Research Center, Roswell, New Mexico
“We’re the second-largest research center and library in the world regarding UFO phenomena. The first is the Vatican.” 

Glenn Glasser for Reader's Digest

Buddy Hale, teacher

Odessa, Texas
“My son was an All State player. He has been in prison for the past eight years for a DWI. I can tell you stories about alcoholism. I see it before it happens before they turn into a ghost. Have you ever seen a ghost?”

Glenn Glasser for Reader's Digest

Melissa King, with daughter Kenzie

Odessa, Texas
“In the race circuit, I’m one of the guys—unless I beat a guy, and then I’m the girl who beats the guy who needs to get taken out.”

Originally Published in Reader's Digest