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Goat on a Cow

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Producer and gumshoe Laura Starecheski brings us along on a hunt that traverses the country, and time. The mystery to unravel? A box of old letters found on the side of the road by Erick Gordon. Git your teeth ready for a nail-bitin' chase through clues and suspects--a Manhattan middle school teacher, homesick WWII soldiers, Rte 101, an estranged wife and mother from the past, Bob and Carol, unfriendly landowners--that all revolve around, yes, a goat standing on a cow.

Comments [36]

Rosemary V. from PA

Just like MK from Wisconsin, my husband & I also just heard that story, and ended up sitting in our car in the driveway, mesmerized(at least I was!!)until it was over! It's truly wonderful to feel a part of a past life if only for 15 minutes. I'm somewhat of a book hoarder, and whenever I find books at yard sales or flea markets that are inscribed, I cannot leave them. It makes me sad to see them sitting on a table or thrown in a box. Imagine opening the front cover to "Dear Dad, I hope you enjoy this book as much as I did. You are my inspiration" With Love from your daughter, Christmas,1955 Anyway, kudos to NPR...Love your shows!!

Oct. 18 2016 01:09 PM
MK from Wisconsin

Driving home the other night I started to listen to the story of Goat on a Cow. I was mesmerized by the story. I wanted to hear more and more. I ended up sitting in my car inside the garage listening to the end. My husband and I recently had to go through my father-in-laws personal items only to find letters like these and his own stories. I am drawn to another time and place in which people wrote with beautiful handwriting and gentle prose of what we think are mundane items much like FB today connecting with family and friends. There words back the were counted on to be received on the other side. I wanted to know more but sadly the stories and letters were few. We all could learn more from the past if we keep digging. Kudos to Laura and Eric for taking the time to care about someone out there maybe wanting to cherish the letters as much as they did.

Oct. 16 2016 02:07 PM
Kate Harrah from Oakland, CA


Think if all those "driveway moments," add them all up, and you'll come to the same shocking conclusion: the polar ice caps are melting because Radiolab is putting out some of the most quality narrative radio content--ever.

So in the interest of Mother Earth and her inhabitants, turn off your radio and your mind, and give the polar bears a fighting chance!

Sep. 14 2014 01:20 PM
Michael from Sarasota

My wife often has NPR driveway moments. As a logical rational scientist I never did......until this morning that is! The story The Goat on the cow was irrestible and I finally experienced a driveway moment, well ten minutes. Thank you so much.

Sep. 14 2014 12:03 PM
Joe Bellacero from NY

By the way, hooray for people like Ella Chase who turn their pain into concern for others; for people and teachers like Erick who see the humanity in old letters and photos and turn it into deep and interesting learning; for writers/producers like Laura who find a way to present a great story, and be present in it without getting in its way; for Radio Lab for seeing that science and sentiment can easily co-exist; and for those who support WNYC/NPR and make radio like this possible.

Sep. 13 2014 08:52 PM
Squirrelly Girl from Elko

I'm listening to this on NPR at this moment. So interesting.

Sep. 13 2014 03:35 PM
Joe Bellacero from NY

Great to hear this story again. I worked closely with Erick for three years and he is every bit as interesting as this story suggests. Told me he gets photos and pictures of goats on cows from all over the world. Pace University turned the whole broadcast into a dance. Take a look--

Sep. 13 2014 02:15 PM

Is there somewhere I can read the letters? This is an amazing story.

Jun. 06 2014 10:54 AM
Greta from Flagstaff AZ

What a great cow.

May. 31 2014 02:51 AM
Owen from NYC

Something amazing just happened:
I'm an 8th grader in NYC and my teacher, Mr. Gordon (a different "Gordon"), had left to teach children in Nepal for a week. His substitute was none other than Erick Gordon, who I did not know off the top of my head. So he started telling us his story, which I thought very familiar. I then asked him if he had been on the radio show, "RadioLab," to which he proudly responded, "yes." He even showed us some of the pictures he found on the side on the road and had us analyze them. This was very exciting.

Apr. 23 2014 08:39 PM
Eden from nyc

amazing to find this. Erick Gordon was my eighth grade english teacher. I'll never forget hearing about the goat on the cow's back.

Feb. 02 2014 06:29 AM
Anni S from New York

This moving story reminds me of my sister's experience in the 1960s: her boyfriend had a summer job cleaning a park in Syracuse NY. Under a bush he discovered a clump of pages torn from a diary written in the early 1940s.It was kept by an unnamed young woman who was in love with a local young man,and struggled with her resulting pregnancy. My sister became obsessed with the diary and spent many years trying to locate the writer and figure out who threw the pages into the park.

Jun. 09 2013 12:16 PM
Shannon O' from Oahu, Hawaii

Goat on a cow...what a wonderful story.
Just amazing, I was so glad Bob called her back!
Just a joy to wake up and listen to such a story unfold.
Mahalo for such devoted research.

Jun. 08 2013 04:43 PM
Fred Butler from Soviet state of Washington

Yea it's the " nonshalant cow" that is odd, goats always climb

Jun. 08 2013 04:41 PM
Andrew Caplan

You bang the gong that makes the Om. Yes please and thank you. <3

Jun. 08 2013 04:36 PM
Pauline Rumor from New York

I love this story ! As a New York'er I have a habit of salvaging an item whenever I see what seems to be an elderly persons life put to the street side after their death and what looks like the apartment being emptied .
Even sometimes the local thrift store will have remnants of people's lives.
I just bought a mug that exclaimed "Happy Birthday Leonard" 60th Birthday, dated 1993, which would make him now 80, at what I figure is when he passed away. It has pictures of him through his life, one of which has him with his mother as a young child. When ever I use the mug I think of him , and what his life may have been like , just the thinking of him as a human being, letting him on .

Jun. 08 2013 12:52 PM
MTPesa from Livingston MT

I found myself wanting to know more about Ella Chase from this RadioLab podcast my daughter gave me, how fascinating. What about the public office she held? She had children, what happened to them? Bravo! RadioLab!

May. 31 2012 07:41 PM

This is definitely my favourite Radiolab story. I can easily (and have) listen to this more than once.

Apr. 18 2012 07:42 PM
Bonnie from Attia, Indiana

Love this story and sounds like something my husband and I would do. Could tell some stories like this.

Apr. 10 2012 09:25 PM
Alison from windham, ct

goat on a cow

Feb. 14 2012 11:31 AM

If I were a goat I'd rather stand on a cow than on an orange globe.

Oct. 23 2011 03:08 PM
Steve from The Gorge, Wa

I think I know why the goat stood on the cow's back. These are grazing, prey animals, always on the look out for predators. The goat has a better vantage point from the cow's back.

Oct. 23 2011 11:39 AM

I heard this story years ago and I've never forgotten it. I can't believe I found it! Thanks for having these available!

Oct. 17 2011 10:17 PM
Laurel from American in India

I live in India and I have definitely seen a goat taking a nap on top of a cow, who is also taking a nap. I didn't think it was that weird until I heard this.

Aug. 13 2011 04:13 AM

Maybe I misunderstood, but I got nothing out of this story but sentiment. Thats fine and good, but its not what I was looking for on radiolab.

Thumbs down. Give me meat and potatos, not some over emotional voices repeating again and again how exciting their minor inconsequential discoveries were.

Aug. 04 2011 04:46 PM
Robert from Ormond Beach, FL

This is why NPR should by on the air forever!

Jul. 27 2011 12:25 PM
Thad Hagwood from Powell, TN-Louisville, TN

I can't listen to this without crying, and I do it at least every other week. It's one of the most positive things in my life. Jad, Robert, please keep doing what you're doing. I really appreciate it.

May. 16 2011 09:36 PM
Brian from San Francisco, CA

I was driving up through California when I listened to this episode, and I was mesmerized the entire time. Between this and another episode, I didn't even notice the last two hours of my 10-hr drive.

Apr. 18 2011 03:52 PM

I recently discovered radiolab (and ask myself, where I was all the years). And now I'm listening from the beginning mostly every issue.

This one is thrilling, fascinating, and as a non-native speaker I just cannot find the most appropriate definition to describe the awesomeness of Radiolab as whole and this issue particularly. The looking for past is one of the most interesting - and solvable - mysteries. Thank you for solving this one.

Feb. 05 2011 03:39 PM
samuel from Baltimore

Interpretative dance version of this story.

Jan. 07 2011 05:41 PM
Mortsen from Oslo, Norway

I saw a goat on a cow in India:

The rest of the story is pretty funny too!

Sep. 20 2010 09:55 AM
Christian Vegas from Branson, Missoura

After over 3 years from first hearing this story it remains my favorite story I've ever heard on the radio.
Must listen!

Feb. 12 2010 07:48 PM
R. Oller from Colorado Springs, CO

I sat in my car for 20 minutes outside of my house to finish listening to this story. It was amazing and I wasn't about to miss a bit of it. I am passing this along to many of my friends. It's one of those stories that you experience not just listen to.

Jan. 23 2008 03:12 PM
M. Werner from Milwaukee

This was an amazing story. How the teacher didn't look any farther into this womans life becasue he was satisfied with how he was using the found letters in such a creative way.... amazing. For him the story never ends because his students can forever keep creating new stories for him. It nearly brought tears to my eyes.

Jan. 16 2008 04:04 PM
Hilde from Oslo, Norway

I had listened to this program only one time when they had a special on the NPR station in South Florida. I never got to hear radio lab again, but I enjoyed the program so much that I have looked it up on the internet. I shared the story about Ella Chase with some of my Norwegian friends. I am huge fun of the way the show is produced and its entertaining subject matter. Thank you.

Oct. 25 2007 01:07 PM
Patrick Beard from Berkeley CA

Stock picture of goat standing on a cow:

Sep. 12 2007 03:31 PM

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