Accessibility Navigation:

Interview with Ingrid Antree

Antree, Ingrid
Davis, Daniel
Date of Interview: 
Cultural identification
Ingrid Antree talks about her family's past during slavery, books she likes and strong African American traits.
Charlotte Narrative and Conversation Collection
Collection Description: 
Daniel Davis interviewed Charlotte, NC residents to collect various stories for a class project at UNC Charlotte.
IA (Ingrid Antree): I'm a physical education teacher at J.T. Williams Middle School. I'm here today because Danny asked me to be. Now what are some of the things you wanted to know Danny?
DD (Daniel Davis): Um, I was wondering, uh, what types of books or stories, uh, were you, were you read to as a child?
IA: Um, some of the things that come directly to mind were some of the, um, Bible stories that was read to me and also, um, Alice in Wonderland, uh, Peter Rabbit, and One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish and different stories by Dr. Seuss. Um, other than stories read to me I was also told different stories by my, um, my grandparents.
DD: Mhm.
IA: And some of them, you know, really stick in my mind. I think I learned a lot of history from some of the things that they told me, and they also gave me some advice about life, such as, do unto others as you would have them do unto you, and one very famous thing that, well maybe not famous thing I do remember is my grandmother saying to me is when one door is closed another one always opens.
DD: What, um, going back to the, uh, the stories that you were read, what, what was it that you liked about them? Like the uh, the Bible stories and the Alice in Wonderland, what in particular, uh, did you enjoy about those stories?
IA: Um, with Alice in Wonderland it was so many different things that were happening and um, they were so exciting and it wasn't like reality because you know that things that happen in Alice in Wonderland really don't happen in reality and real life, but the Bible stories, the Bible stories were real interesting because they taught you about life, and some of the things that you would learn from the Bible stories, stories excuse me, you could use in real life. Um, there's so many, many different ones, the one about the, the little boy that threw the rock and killed the, the giant, David and Goliath, I think that-.
DD: Mhm, David and Goliath.
IA: Yes, that's it. So that tells you that even though you're one person and there's so many things that can be going on around you and big things that's happening, don't ever give up. Never give up. If you never give up, you can never be defeated because you'll always keep trying.
DD: Mhm.
IA: Um, and then the Red Fish Blue Fish that taught me my colors and also how to count, and also how to read, and I really wanted to read, to, to learn different things from being read different stories.
DD: The, uh, these stories that you read, uh, now, did you read these or were they read to you, the Bible stories and-.
IA: The Bible studies, stories in the beginning were read to me and then I read some to myself.
DD: Where, um, do you remember, like, I mean, the, these types of stories conjure up memories, uh, as to when they were read, like, like, were they read at night, um, like before you went to sleep or-?
IA: Yeah, now that you mention it, after I had my bath we'd go get the book and sit down on the steps or the porch and the stories were read before going to bed. And sometimes they were read in the bedroom, but most of the times they were read in the afternoon or evening after we got out of the tub and we'd just sit outside and it was just one of the things that we did and it's very memorable and actually we do it with my children also.
DD: Really? Now do you read, do you read those same stories like Alice in Wonderland, or um, David and Goliath, do you read those to your children today?
IA: Yes, as a matter of fact my, all my children have their own Bible. They have a children's Bible, and they read the stories to themselves now, but before they could read they learned how to read from the Bible and reading different Bible verses. That's how they learned their ABC's and I think that is so wonderful and I've also learned so many things from them from the Bible, from the way they learn their ABC's.
DD: Mm. So now they're, you know, they're reading the stories and they're sort of telling you about it too?
IA: Exactly.
DD: What um, now you mentioned your grandparents were good story tellers or you remember them telling good stories, can you tell us, uh, specifically, uh, some of the stories that they told you?
IA: Yeah, one that comes to mind right away, uh, is my about my grandfather. He used to work for the Springs they're, uh, own companies and land down in Fort Mills, South Carolina and their daughter, I don't know her name right now, but she's here with, uh, Duke Power and they own Spring Made Mountain. They're very well to do people and they were very nice to my grandparents, and because of them my grandparents were able to vote-.
DD: Mhm.
IA: -And my grandfather learned how to fly a plane back in 19, oh wait I think it might have been 18 something-.
DD: Mhm.
IA: -He was actually flying one of the Springs' planes, uh, and he was also a chauffer. Um, it's so many things, so much history that we were taught, and that, that's, that's just in m-, that's in me from them telling stories. They were telling us stories about their lives and also reading stories to us at the same time. And from the memories that I didn't even know were still there.
DD: Mm. What, uh, as far as like, uh, what were some of the uh, stories in particular just about, about their lives?
IA: Yeah, about their lives, because they were slaves-.
DD: Mhm.
IA: -They were actually slaves, and they worked for the Springs. They worked up in the Big House-.
DD: Uh-huh.
IA: -And my grandfather was a chauffer for them, and my grandmother she cooked for them, and um, sewed for them, and did different things for them and they were really good people. To this day they will let my family go to Spring Made Mountain and stay up there in their cabin or stay in their home, you know, what they call the Big House down in Fort Mills, South Carolina because they really are good people. They um, loaned my mother money to go to college. They really did help my family-.
DD: Mhm.
IA: They did. Even though my family were sl-, their slaves they did so much for my family.
DD: Were there, uh, were there any stories that were passed along th, that came from during those times, you know, when they were slaves, that you know, maybe they got from, you know, from their grandparents, or any stories that had been passed through the family that you can think of?
IA: I'm sure there's some there but I, right now, I can't think of any. I really can't, but I'm sure there are some there.
DD: I got to rest my thumb and then I'll start back to the stories that, um, you were talking about, um, that were read to you as a child, Dr. Seuss was one of them, what, uh, what in particular did you like about, uh, the stories of Dr. Seuss?
IA: I, they were very fun. Um, I liked Green Eggs and Ham the, the way the words were used, um they were very easy to read, um Hop on Pop, uh, Mr. Brown is Upside Down, um, there, there's and then they have movies. So not only could you read the book you can actually see the movies, so that helped out too. Um, and the way the words were written, written, excuse me, the way the words were written, it made it fun, and it made it easy to read because when you were able to pronounce one word, uh, you were able to do three or four more words because of the way they just changed a couple of consonants around.
DD: Mhm. Do, uh, uh, about what age were you when, when you were reading these stories?
IA: I would say maybe first and second grade.
DD: Do you, uh, now was this in the library you did most of your reading or did, would you check these books out?
IA: Well, some of the books were brought home to me, and some of them I did get from the library, but they were always available to me.
DD: Were there any particular books, um, when you were younger you used to have like the book fair were there any particular books that you remember buying that you just couldn't wait to, uh, get to the book fair to buy?
IA: Um, actually I don't remember book fairs.
DD: Oh really, when you were in school-.
IA: We didn't have book fairs. No, we didn't.
DD: So most of the, the books or reading material you got from the libraries?
IA: From the library or my parents and teachers brought them home to me.
DD: Oh, OK. Um, what types of uh, stories are your children reading today? Other than the ones you've already mentioned.
IA: They're reading different magazines now. They have magazines that, um, that are mailed on a monthly basis, adventure, I know one of them is reading adventure magazines. And my daughter, now she does go to different book fairs, and collects books. She reads, um, different levels and different types of books, where as my middle child, he's only reading about sports and different activities. My oldest child he reads any and everything, um, and reading is so important. I didn't know how important reading was until after I had my children because there is so much knowledge that they can acquire through reading without even having a teacher available to them. It's remarkable.
DD: Mhm. What, are there any, uh, books or stories that you're reading today?
IA: Oh I read, yes, I read now more than I've ever read. I actually, uh, have a library card, but not only that, I'm friends with the librarian so as new books come out I get them. I'm basically reading African books, um, I'm learning so much about, uh, my culture-.
DD: Mhm.
IA: -That was not available to me earlier. Um, and it's still something that's not taught in school. I don't know whether you want me to expound on that or not but-.
DD: Sure.
IA: OK. With black history, I didn't learn anything about it until I was in college.
DD: Mhm.
IA: And I think it's a shame that we only have black history just one month. It should be twelve months a year. But even in junior high school and high school one month, well not even the whole month, just one week is it uh given to the children-.
DD: Mhm.
IA: -But, I learned so much in college and I think it should be taught to everybody. Uh, different inventions that the black people came up with and I really do think that they came up with these different things because they were the ones that had to do the manual labor. And so to make life easier for them, and to make their work easier for them, they invented different things, and I think they should be given tribute to because-.
DD: Mhm.
IA: -All of the different things that they did. There's so many people that don't know where things came from, who made them, who invented them-.
DD: Mhm.
IA: -And I think it should be more than just one month.
DD: Are you, uh, now, the information that you got about your family, was this something that you already knew about or is this something that your, your, uh, sort of investigating right now? You know, into the background of your family?
IA: As a matter of fact, every time that I'm with my, um, my aunts and uncle I'm learning more. More and more about what happened to them, and what's going on with them as far as where they came from and why they are where they are today. And, it had to do with their parents pushing them. They had to read, they had to do these things because their parents were not able to do it. If you don't learn to read there are so many things that will not come to you.
DD: Mhm.
IA: That will be closed off to you, so reading is very important. And I am so glad that my children are as interested as they are in reading today because, I was, I was interested but not as interested as they are. And so many things that are in books, that can be, that, it's just unbelievable, so I would advise everybody to pick up a book and read.
DD: What, uh, going back to the books that you said you're currently reading, what are some of the titles of those books and what in particular are they talking about?
IA: Black women. The strength of black women and how black women don't need a man-.
DD: Mhm.
IA: -To make them strong. That's basically what's going on in the books. There's so many people that think that they have to have a man, but you don't.
DD: Now are these, uh, are these true to life about women or are these, uh -?
IA: Um, the ones that got me started were the Terry McMillan books, so they are true stories. They're about her life. Um, go ahead.
DD: Uh, could you expand on her 'cause I, I really don't know much about her.
IA: Well, she has a couple of books out there, um, How Stella Got Her Groove Back. I'm sure mostly everybody's familiar with that. An older lady goes to Jamaica, find a younger guy, and has fun, leaves him there, comes back to America, and then he comes back over to America and the two of them, they're still together to this day. They're not married but in the book they don't get married either. In the movie, they get married, but I don't think they're married today. Um, another one of her books was Mama, and that has to do with her and her mama. Um, and then there's a couple of other ones. And then, some of the other books that I've been reading are by J. California Cooper, uh, the titles are Satis, In Search of Satisfaction, The Matter is Life, Some Soul to Keep, um, just to name a few. It, it, different, it's about the family basically. It's about women, their struggle, and their family, and survival.
DD: Mhm. [Pause] Going back to your uh, your grandparents that you mentioned that used to work for the Springs-.
IA: Mhm.
DD: Um, tell, tell me a little bit a more about them as individuals, and uh, what was their name?
IA: Um, my grandmother's name was Irene Barns Patterson and my grandfather's name um, Willie Patterson, and um, they did, they worked for the Springs, and because of their, because the Springs gave them land, because the Springs gave them land they were some of the first blacks to vote in Fort Mills, South Carolina. So that in itself was history, and also there was a street named after them.
DD: Oh that's great, that's great. Well, I really appreciate it Miss Antree, uh, you taking the time out to do this interview. And I, I've learned a lot, uh, uh from you and I'm sure it's conjured up some memories, and, uh, I hope that they were all good memories.
IA: They were.
DD: Thank you // have a good day. //
IA: // You're welcome. // Thank you.