January 25, 2013


This week we look at people who see themselves in others and try to live out their lives through stand-ins — including the story of what one father saw in the convicted murderer he decided to adopt. And the proxy battle over a woman’s honor that became a presidential obsession.

An old Cigar box lid depicting Margaret (Peggy) O'Neale.


Host Ira Glass visits Claremont Middle School in Oakland, CA — a school with two principals. Principals Reggie and Ronnie Richardson are also twins. Sharing the job provides all kinds of advantages ... primarily, they can stand in for each other when the other is not around. (10 mins.)

Act One

Petticoats in a Twist

Producer Sarah Koenig talks with historian Nancy Tomes about a presidential scandal known as The Petticoat Affair. It involved Andrew Jackson and the honor of a woman who he didn't sleep with. A woman who reminded him of his deceased wife. (19 minutes)

Act Two

Maul in the Family

Amity Bitzel was a teenager when her parents decided to adopt a 27-year-old man. And that wasn't the strange part. The man they adopted was an ex-con who had killed his previous adoptive parents. Amity tells the story of this time in her life, and producer Brian Reed speaks with Amity's father to find out why he decided to call the man his son. Amity published a version of this story on XOJane. (26 minutes)