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Interview with Elbert Branch

Branch, Elbert
Lynip, Bryan
Date of Interview: 
Then and now; Stories and storytellers; Childhood adventures
Elbert Branch talks about stories from his grandparents in Stanly County in the 1950s.
North Carolina, 1950-1959
Charlotte Narrative and Conversation Collection
Collection Description: 
Bryan Lynip interviewed a variety of people residing in North Carolina for a class project at UNCC.
Interview Audio: 
BL (Bryan Lynip): Elbert Branch. Elbert, I just want to ask you uh, some questions about your experience with uh, stories. The first stories that you remember, um, stories that were read to you or told to you and who told them. What, what are some of the first stories you remember?
EB (Elbert Branch): Um, the one that really sticks out a lot is uh, before my parents had TV, [pause] their, [pause] I want to say it's their aunts and uncles who lived a mile up the dirt road had the first TV in the whole family and so after all the farm work was taken care of and everybody had dinner and that evening everybody would walk up the dirt road.
BL: How far away?
EB: It was a pretty good distance. I would say about a mile. Um. They were off up the hill a little ways. And in between the houses you had this pasture where they kept the cows and bulls. And on this particular night, it was night, they, they had a bull out there that was pretty mean and would charge the fence at people. And um, Grandma, my grandmother, their mother, was walking with them that night. She was going to watch TV. And uh, it was dark, they really couldn't see. And uh, they were walking up the path and Grandma accidentally stepped in something [laugh] that was really soft and her foot got to sinking and instead of her pulling that one foot back out and shaking it off to keep going, she stuck both feet in there and she started to holler. [Laugh] And my mother said all the kids took off running and left her. Because they heard the bull coming. The bull start making his noises and all that other stuff. [Laugh] And they said somehow, someway Grandma was with them when they got to the aunts and uncles house. So, but uh, [pause] mom would always sit us around at home at the evenings, um, and tell us about her days growing up. They walking to school in the rain, sleet, and snow, five miles and all this other crazy stuff--
BL: Uphill both ways.
EB: Yeah, uphill both ways. And how they use to take their lunches to school and some of the things they took for lunch like fatback meat biscuits and--
BL: I forgot to ask you. Where is, where was this? Where did they grow up?
EB: They grew up in Lewisburg, NC, which is a little small town it's [pause] east of Raleigh. About 40 miles east of Raleigh.
BL: On a farm.
EB: On a farm and uh, she has some wild and crazy stories that she sat and shared with us. And um, they talked about how a quarter could buy them so much candy, cookies, drinks, and that stuff, and talked about some of the things, wild things that went on, on the farm, some of the ghost stories, the hankses they called them. They didn't call them ghosts. It was the hanks that they seen.
BL: These are dead people that are--
EB: I, at that time I, [pause] she just called them hanks. They wasn't ghosts. Yeah.
BL: Hanks, I never heard that.
EB: Hanks. Granddad had seen something one night. It was about seven or eight feet tall. He kept shining his light up. He never did see the head of it before he took off running so [laugh] and uh, something that jumped on the back of the horses. She said it was a panther. You know, at that time I was like you, panther here in North Carolina? So jumped on one of the horses back. But it was a bunch of wild and crazy stories.
BL: Now where did you, when you were hearing these stories, your mother was telling them to you, where were you living at the time?
EB: We were staying here in Albemarle.
EB: We grew up here in Albemarle. Myself, and my brother and sister. We moved from down there up here at a very young age and we don't remember a lot about the old as they call it their home. We call this our home because this is where we were raised at. But uh, we hear a lot about home and how it used to be and like I said walking five miles to school and--
BL: So don't complain Elbert.
EB: Yeah, don't complain. Um, the first book I guess I really remember is she bought us a Bible stories.