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Interview with Lisa Boomgarden

Boomgarden, Lisa
Leahy, Janet
Date of Interview: 
Overcoming Obstacles; Relationships with People and Places; Cultural Identification; Tolerance and Respect; Then and Now
Lisa Boomgarden talks about her life growing up and some differences between the northeastern US and the south.
Charlotte Narrative and Conversation Collection
Collection Description: 
Janet Leahy interviews Charlotteans to collect stories for a class project at UNC Charlotte.
Interview Audio: 
JL (Janet Leahy): And go.
LB (Lisa Boomgarten): My name is Lisa Boomgarden. I'm 40 years old. Um, I've been in Charlotte for 11 years. Um, I grew up in upstate New York. I am one of seven children. Um, my parents were of French-Canadian descent. Um, growing up one of seven was, um, interesting because you had to vie for your position in the family and I was the middle child so, um, that was a interesting place to be, not on top and not on the bottom. Um, my, I can remember, um, my mother being pregnant for my little brother and, um, I can remember when she went away to the hospital to have him and asking her if I could have that dress that was hanging in her closet 'cause I really liked it. Um, my grandmother Dubrey, my father's mother, came and stayed with us, um, she was a, uh, widow. Her husband, my grandfather, died in 1952, I believe it was. Um, he was killed by a steam shovel, um, working in a construction site that he was running. Um, my mother was born um, to a very strict Catholic family and she met my father, um, while working in the convent, I'm sorry, the rectory of the church, and, um, her father-in-law, her future father-in-law, my grandfather, is actually the one who introduced them. My mother used to clean and cook for the priests in the rectory. I think it was my grandmother's, um, hope that she would become a nun and working in the rectory would lead her there. But it actually led her to my grandfather, or to my father. Um, meeting my gran-, meeting my father through my grandfather. Um, I remember stories of, um, my mother and father dating through my, through my parents. Um, my grandmo-, my mother lived in a, um, farmhouse. And across the lake, Lake Champlain, there were, um, some houses on the lakeshore and my father lived in one of those houses. And in the wintertime, when the leaves were down off the trees, they would, um, [pause] uh, after their dates in the evening they would, uh, say, "Good night," by my dad. My mom would stand in her bedroom window and look out across the lake and when my dad would get to his house, he would back the car into the yard and flicker his lights, um, and that's how my mom knew he ari-, arrived home safely. Um, times were different then and, um, my parents in dating. My mother and father often found that their parents were, um, not far behind them, um, chaperoning them but they, they were not aware of that until leaving. Um, going back to growing up one of, um, seven kids, I had, um, an older, two older brothers, and two older sisters. Um, there's about eight years between, um, my oldest sister and I and my youngest brother and I there, um, probably about four years, four or five years. It seemed like my mother was pregnant every two years or gave birth every two or three years. Um, gosh what else? [Long pause] Um, I can remember my little brother [clears throat] and my oldest brother Stephen was, uh, riding his bicycle and my little brother Timmy was riding on the handle bars of the bike. And we lived on a gravel road and, uh, Stephen lost control of the bike and Timmy paid the consequences. He scraped the side of his face and I can remember going in and looking at him his little face raw as he laid on the bed and, uh, uncomfortable. Timmy had a rough, uh, upbringing. He had to stay in the hospital after he was born and when we were little I can remember, um, going to the hospital. My dad would load us all up into the station wagon. We'd go to the hospital and wave to my mother who was standing up in the window of the hospital holding my brother Timmy, um, because he was unable to come home due to a lung condition. And, um, we would just wave and wail and cry because we wanted to see our mommy and, and hold her but she was up in the hospital with our little brother. Um, it was interesting growing up with, uh, all the older brothers and sisters and then the younger brothers and sisters. I never really had to baby-sit very much but I can remember my sister having to baby-sit us. And, uh, she and one of the neighbors would tie us to the chairs and baby-sit for us and, um, force us to eat black licorice, raisins and crackers all mixed together with water and that was our, our snack [dog barks] while they baby-sat us. I didn't mind it too much because I liked the black licorice. I didn't care for the mushy crackers though. But I can remember her, um, doing a lot of good things for us, too. She, uh, made us Christmas stockings and, since she was about eight years older, she, uh, got a job sooner and every once and a while she would buy things for us. And that was kind of, a, um, fun thing to have 'cause my parents didn't have a whole lot of money raising, uh, seven, seven kids. [Dog barks] Um, I can remember my birthdays. At, um, my birthday is in April, and I can remember my, uh, birthday hoping that it would be a beautiful spring day and not a cold snowy day. Because up in the northeast you could have snow or you could have, um, spring-like weather and, um, I always used to hope and pray for, for a nice spring day. I can remember my eighth birthday was really a warm, sunny day. And I had, um, a big polka dot, green and white polka dot tent dress on and, um, I had relatives come visit from Massachusetts and they brought me wonderful gifts. And my grandmother made my birthday cake every year and, um, she had this frosting that she would make that you had to boil the frosting. And then it, once you, it came to a peak, you frosted your cake and it, it was just the best frosting. And, um, she would often top my cake with a, um, chocolate Easter bunny because my birthday was often around Easter time. And, uh, I would have nifty extra Easter goodies because I'd either have a cake with an Easter bunny or, um, jellybeans or some, some sort of decoration on it. [Pause] Uh, I can remember, uh, the winters, up north as a kid were, um, the snows were just incredible. And I grew up in a very close-knit family. And all my aunts, and uncles and cousins and, ah, everyone kept in touch and we had a great aunt, Aunt Gert, um, who lived to be 98, um, came to stay with us in the wintertime or at, well, year round. Sh-, and we would, uh, share a room with her. And, uh, one particular winter we had a snow that came up to the window sills of my parents' home and we were out in the back yard, uh, sledding and tobogganing in our back yard down the hill into our neighbor's yard. And I can remember my aunt and my mom watching out the window. And I would go stand at the window and talk to them through a crack in the window, um, and being at eye-level and that was probably about seven feet off of the ground, eight feet maybe off the ground. Um, and that's how high the snowdrifts would be against our home. [Long pause]
[Break in recording] LB: The contrasts that are, to growing up here, in the Northeast and living here in Charlotte, is, is, um, is quite different. [Birds chirp] I don't notice the, uh, close connections and maybe that's because I don't have a lot of family here. But, um, I don't see the close connections in families, um, the extended families here. And that may just be a, uh, a product of our time. People are, are so mobile now that families are so spread out but, ah, we've grown to like it here in Charlotte and we like the temperatures better and that's for sure and, um, and have a family of our own now and, uh, really have grown to like it here.