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Interview with Betty Dorsey

Dorsey, Betty
Newland, Frances L.
Date of Interview: 
Overcoming Obstacles; Relationships with People and Places; Stories and Storytellers; Then and Now; Childhood Adventures; Tolerance and Respect
Betty Dorsey talks about how a stroke she had as a toddler has effected her life.
Charlotte Narrative and Conversation Collection
Collection Description: 
Frances L. Newland interviews Charlotteans to collect stories for a class project at UNC Charlotte.
Interview Audio: 
FN (Frances L. Newland): Hey Betty, how are you?
BD (Betty Dorsey): Just fine.
FN: I want you to tell me a story about growing up in Charlotte. About when you were growing up here in Charlotte, OK?
BD: Uh-huh. [Pause] Well, I was born in Charlotte and, um, I had a stroke when I was 21 months old. And it affected my right side. And also, uh, subject to having seizures when this stroke came on me. But it, I don't have them now, but I'm taking medication for it. So, I'm free to be on my, you know, to be on my own now, if I want to. I'm living alone now and I love it. But getting back to my stroke, um, it happened to me whenever I was 21 months old, like I said. And I was born during the Depression and things were hectic in every way. And what happened was that kids used to come by and pick me up and take me out and play with me. But one day they, uh, came by and picked me up and fed me some green, pan-, uh, peaches or watermelon. And then that night I went into a convulsion and my temperature went up to a hundred and three. And I stayed in the hospital 20, 12, wait a minute, 14 days and nights not knowing if I was going to live or not. But anyway, uh, I finally pulled through and my life never was the same as other people growing up to be my age. I was afraid to go anywhere, I was afraid that I might have a seizure and nobody seemed to know what to do for me, because they all thought that, well most of the time I did black out. But sometimes I wouldn't. But, uh, anyway, I was afraid to go anywhere, because people did not just want to try to understand my situation. So anyway, for a while I had to wear a brace on my leg. And then, finally, that was, I was able to quit wearing it and I kept having seizures. Well spells or whatever you want to call it. And, uh, I would just I wouldn't black out but everyone else thought I did. I would just lose my strength. And if there wasn't anybody around to catch me to know what to do, I'd fall. But by the time I fell I was over it and I was able to go get on with my life. But anyway there was so many, the least little noise would cause, bring on one of them, a seizure. And, uh, so therefore, I had to have somebody around me at all times. So it was really rough on me whenever I was trying to grow up. Wanting to go places and afraid to.
FN: [Long pause] Where did you go to high school, Betty?
BD: I went to Hoskins High School. I mean Hoskins Elementary School. It just only went to the 7th grade. And, uh, so when I had to start riding the bus to Thomasboro, well then I just quit school because there was just so much going on. You know how kids will stand around waiting on the bus and how they just can't stay still. They're just all over themselves. And, uh, so therefore, I quit school. And, uh, but later on, 22 years later I went to West Mecklenburg and finished my high school. And I was wanting to get a diploma and a ring. I really wanted that more than anything. And I was able to do it. So anyway, I was able to get both. And I tried to work. But, uh, people just weren't considerate for, of, of me at all. And, uh, they wouldn't hire me when they found out I was having seizures. So finally my dad told me to just quit looking and he would retire early, so that I could draw on him. And so that's what I did.
FN: [Pause] Thank you Betty.