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Interview with George Govan and Drucilla Govan

Govan, George
Govan, Drucilla
Young, Regina
Date of Interview: 
Relationships with people and places; Then and now; Cultural identification; Childhood adventures; Stories and storytllers
George Govan talks about growing up in Harrisburg during the Depression and his church.
Charlotte Narrative and Conversation Collection
Collection Description: 
Regina Young interviews Charlotteans to collect stories for a class project at UNC Charlotte.
RY (Regina Young): OK. Will you tell me your name please?
GG (George Govan): George Govan.
GG: George Govan.
RY: And how about your age?
GG: 84. Be 85 the 18th of July.
RY: OK. And how long have you lived here in Harrisburg?
GG: In Harrisburg?
RY: Uh-huh.
GG: All my life.
GG: I mean, my daddy moved to Charlotte when I was two years old. And I don't know whether you ever been up here at the race track, that's where I started school.
RY: Oh, oh at the, um, the Speedway.
GG: \\ Yeah the Speedway. \\
RY: \\ The Speedway up here. OK. \\
GG: I started to school up there, there's the phone, used to be a school down on the river they called Morehead School I started five years old. You can start at five then.
RY: Uh-huh.
GG: And I went to Morehead School after that we moved right in Harrisburg and I attend Oak Grove School there in Harrisburg. Then we moved over here and I was in Bellefonte, Bellefonte School.
RY: And how old were you then when you started? This was like a middle school? What were the grades?
GG: Hmm, middle school, well they, at that time, they went to the eighth grade out here Bellefontel, yeah. See what happened, I finished eighth grade, just got started when, after you finished eighth grade then you had to go to Logan High in Concord and, um, I just started to Logan School. We, we was on a farm, had a big two horse farm there, two mules and [Laugh] my daddy had to have two plow hands see. My oldest brother plowed his mule, he's older than I am, and he plowed his mule out to the end one day and tied him up to a tree, that was during the Depression and I was talking about, you know, people that are old enough, they know abut the Depression, that was during the Depression. You wasn't making nothing, couldn't make a living on a farm no how. Nothing but raise chickens and hogs raise chickens and hogs, far as money you didn't make no money on a farm. My brother plowed his mule out to the end one morning and tied him up to a tree and we didn't see him for 15 years. [Laugh] He left here and went right over here in Harrisburg. They used, they used to have those old coal burners on the track over there \\ freight, freight trains. \\
RY: \\ Uh-huh.\\
GG: And they come through Harrisburg just slow, you know. My brother went over there and caught him a freight train, hobo'd a freight train from here to Washington DC and that's where he died. He's up there nearly 60 years.
RY: Wow.
GG: And he died in Washington. [Laugh]
RY: Just [Laugh] tied the mule to.
GG: Tied the mule up. [Laugh] Alright now, when I, I came in from school, just started to Logan in the ninth grade and my daddy, my Papa said, "George you going to have to quit school," say, "Wes done left here. He's gone somewhere." [Laugh] All right, that was the end of my school right there. I had to plow a mule 'cause he was on that man's place, somebody was going to plow that mule or he had to go.
RY: So you were sharecropping?
GG: Yeah. You had to go. Somebody had to plow that mule. But my daddy pulled me out of school I was just in the ninth grade, had to quit.
RY: Huh.
GG: But I got a pretty good little, I got enough education to put me through life. Can't nobody fool me too fast. [Laughter] Sure enough, I honestly I think I, the education I have I, I, I look at these grands and all of them around me. I just ask them questions a lot the time, you know, I ask them different things and they, they can't tell you some of them now. Can't some of them finish, that's true, some of them finish high school can't tell you. I tell you back when we was going to school, first thing the teacher you had to get your tables, first thing. You had to know what nine times nine is 81, seven and eight is 56, six sevens 42, you had to know that stuff. If you didn't, she'd beat it into your head. [Laugh] We had a teacher out here at Bellefonte honestly, that colored woman would whoop you with.
RY: In school?
GG: Yeah. And with a hickory switch. A hickory, I mean long hickory switch. She didn't whoop with nothing but a hickory and make you sit on those little benches and buckle your legs back behind you. She'd whoop you right across the lap till the whelps rise. If you'd whoop a child like that now they'd put you under the jail house.
RY: Yeah you can't, you can't hit a child now.
GG: No, but they used to tear you up. They was three of us I never will forget, there were three of us in the fourth grade. All of us raised right around here. Two of the boys are dead now. But looked like every evening that woman, we would have to stay in and Lord she'd work us over. [Laugh] She'd beat us until she'd grit her teeth I'm telling you, with a hickory.
RY: A hickory switch?
GG: A hickory switch. She didn't want nothing but a hickory. Something that'd bend.
RY: Yeah, they bend and don't break.
GG: That's right. Old hickory'd bend but won't break. Boy she'd tear you up.
RY: When you were in school, I mean, how big was your school?
GG: Oh, just two big rooms, two rooms.
RY: And how many children, about how many children in your school?
GG: Oh, at that time, well I tell you at Bellefonte there's always been, there has always been a bunch of people around in the community and I figure maybe there was about a hundred and some children.
RY: Oh. That's pretty big.
GG: Oh yeah.
RY: Was that the main school in the area then?
GG: That was uh, the, uh, only one in this area. See but at time they had, every church, just about, there was a school. See, all through Cabarrus, Low Cedar Grove, Ebenezer, Bellefonte, Oak Grove over in Harrisburg, Morehead. Every little, every church had a little school.
RY: Now were these public schools or schools run by the church?
GG: Those were public schools, public schools. They were public schools. See they didn't cut out these public schools until, uh, they put transportation on the roads for the black children. The whites had buses a long time before we did. Man, we'd be walking the road and they'd pass us with the bus, dust all over us. All these older state roads were dirt they'd blow the dust all over ( ). We, [Laugh] we made it.
RY: Uh-huh.
GG: Yeah, we made it.
RY: Well, out here in this area was it, um, predominately black in this area? You said you did some sharecropping \\there\\. Were some big farms around?
GG: \\Right around here\\ right around Belafonte mostly was black. And now you get away from around Belafonte mostly sharecropping around.
RY: So the farms were further?
GG: Right.
RY: Further away.
GG: Further away. We always farmed. I farmed, I farmed more than half or the other up till 1946, till '46. I farmed and I got, I said I was gonna quit. I never did quit though. After I quit I got me a job at Plant One in Kannapolis, Cannon Mills. I got a job up there and I worked at Cannon Mills and I still farmed right on with small crops. I farmed after I left Cannon Mills. I left Cannon Mills right during World War II. I left Cannon Mills and they, the man didn't want to, you had to have a release, you know, to if you left a job during World War II.
RY: What kind of release?
GG: You had to have a release. You couldn't quit a job. See they was needing help they, they was needing help and you couldn't quit a job unless they released you. They had to give you a release card and if you didn't have a release, you couldn't go to another job. Wouldn't nobody hire you, see?
RY: Oh, OK.
GG: So, I asked them, they took all my riders and wouldn't give me gas either to drive. You couldn't get gas see we.
RY: Because of the gas rationing?
GG: Right.
RY: Shortage or whatever? Yeah.
GG: That's right. There was a shortage during the war. That was war hot, too. Well, you couldn't get gas unless you had a load up, you had to have a load, hauling a load begging your pardon. They took all my riders during World War I, World War II they took all my riders. Nobody but me, I was the only one and I'd a been gone too if I hadn't I had two children.
RY: Oh OK.
GG: I had two kids and see they exempt you for a while if, you know, if the things get hot. I worked up there and they worked me to death in Kannapolis. I was hauling all those sheets and pillowcases, man that's trouble.
RY: And what were they, just making like linen and like, you know, sheets and towels?
GG: Oh yeah. Sheets, pillowcases and towels but most of it was government. They shipping that stuff overseas, you know. During the war most of that stuff was government stuff. Man, I was (whole) I'd like to go back there and they didn't have nobody as soon as short manpower didn't have nobody hauling back on the third shift , third shift, they running three shifts in the mill.
RY: Um.
GG: Nobody, all that stuff be setting out there in the floor and I'd go in there in the morning seven o'clock I had to start moving the third shift stuff, carrying it back stacking it and my stuff coming down all the time. I tell you, and by time I get off from there in the afternoon at four-thirty, I'd have the floor just about clean, have all of it. Go back there the next morning, its the same way. I worked there, I got mad one morning and I said, "Shoot. I ain't going to let them kill me. I just as well go, go in the service and get killed there than to let them kill me here." [Laugh] I got mad and asked the boss man, I told the boss man I say, " I haven't got any riders," I say, "Can you give me a release," I say, "So I can get me a job close to home?" I say, "I'm driving 38 miles a day." "Oh no. I can't let you go. I can't let you go, man we need help now." "All right." I got mad and I went on back to my job. I worked about a, I worked about 30 minutes. I took off up to the third floor that old super, the superintendent of it up there on the third. I went to him, he told me the same thing, "No we can't let you go. We need help now." I told him, I say, "Well hey," I said, "I ain't got no riders." I say, "It cost me more than I'm making," I said, "To try and get back and forth to work." "No we can't let you go. We'll see that you get gas," that's what he told me. "We'll see." Well, that was against the law for them to let me have gas with no riders. That was, that was against the law but they was going to give it to me, see. They'd give it to you, they'd give it to you. So, I come on back here and I ( ) I worked a little while longer and I pull right out of there and, "Shuh. I'm leaving this place." I went out of town, the main office is out of town, I went out of town and A.L. Brown, I know you heard of A.L. Brown, he the superintendent I mean the super, you know, of all the plants. I went out there and I asked him, talked to A.L. Brown, you know. Woman said, "Do you have an appointment?" I told her, I say, " No I don't have an appointment." She said, "Well, you have to have an appointment to talk to Mr. Brown." I say, "I just want to say a few words to him." And she said, "Well, sit down over there and I'll see if I can't work you in." So I sat over there and the man didn't even talk me at the time. Well, in a little while she came out she said, "All right you can go in there now, but you can't stay but a few minutes." I say, "All right." I went in there and told him I was driving 38 miles a day and I didn't have any riders and I had a family and I couldn't support my family with what I was making at the plant.
RY: They weren't paying, I mean they were short of help and they weren't paying anything?
GG: Wasn't paying nothing. You know, when I started working at Cannon Mill let me tell you, two weeks, see, now lot of people may not believe it, you had to be here to know it, what I'm talking about. We worked for 50 cents a day on the farm and you didn't get a job back during the Depression.
RY: Huh.
GG: You couldn't get a job. You might, man might give you a couple days work, "That's all boys," but you do and that's all. And you couldn't get a job for 50 cents a day. I worked, when I did work, I got 50 cents a day from sun to sun, I mean you was working from sun to sun. And right over here in Harrisburg, my daddy was living there in Harrisburg back then and I worked there, that man had a big barn there right side the rail road had a bunch of cows and I had two uncles. We was all living in the house together: two uncles, my daddy and my family. And, um, the man got us to haul manure [cough] and back then you had to fork it with a fork, load the wagon, take it to the field and scatter it out, out there on the farm field, scatter it in the field. And it was 50 cents a day. All right, he was running the store right there at the rail road track they had a little store there he was running. Dinner time we'd come up take the mules out, let them eat and we'd go to the store and eat. We'd get a can a sardines and, uh, big boy every time I look Scilla had some sardines here. [Laugh] Every time I look I think about those days. And, uh, we'd get a can of sardines and they'd give you all the crackers you could eat. They'd give you the crackers and they had a big drink there they called Big Boy Grape or Big Boy Orange in a great big bottle. It wasn't but a nickel, nickel. The drink cost you nickel, the can of sardines cost you nickel [Laugh] so that's what we've have for dinner. They'd give you the crackers. See, everything was loose then. Used to be, uh, crackers used to come in a big cardboard round container like this, you know. It'd just be full of loose crackers and you could just go in there and get you so many, you know, everything was loose. Well, back then there was sugar, you could buy sugar or lard-.
RY: Flour, everything.
GG: -Flour and everything. You can go there and get a dime's worth of flour. Well, you could get 10 cents worth of lard at that time. Back then you could get 10 cent worth and had old trays to put it on. He'd reach in there with that old paddle and man stack you up a stack of lard that high there for a dime. Nickel worth of sugar, be a big bag of sugar. [Laugh] Those were the good old days though, I' m telling you. But, um, is that what you say over there at, um, we was hauling, hauling manure and, uh, he would charge us a nickel for the sardines, nickel for the drink and Saturday clothes cart come. "Well boys, you know you got your dinner here. 10 cents for your dinner." So that was [laugh] that was [laugh] we was working for 40 cents a day. [Laugh] That's what we got, 40 cents a day, 10 cents for lunch, that's what was making. I've had my kids tell me, "I wouldn't work for that. I wouldn't work that." I say, "What you talking about? You'd work or you'd starve." That's right.
RY: Well, you know, I think things are different. I mean people, you know, like now people have jobs, you know, there are jobs that people won't do.
GG: Right.
RY: You know, now.
GG: Oh, lot of work they won't do. No, they wouldn't work for that no. I know they wouldn't work for that now. They would back then they'd a work for it or else you if you were a fellow wouldn't work, they wouldn't give you nothing. Wouldn't give you nothing and then anyway, my daddy was on welfare. My daddy's on welfare. And I'm telling you, they built a high school over here in Harrisburg 1928, '28 and '29 they built that school over there. I drove a pair of mules, they wasn't no bulldozers, I drove a pair of mules over there. I was just a young boy. I couldn't load the dead scoop bands. Those bands had two handles on them, and you know, and that's what they grade that ground over there with scoop bands and they had everybody in the community around was working over there. Oh man everybody went over there to get a job, you know and I drove my daddy. My daddy wasn't able to work so he got me a job. I was under age I was about 12, 11 or 12 but when you was nine years old you could plow a mule back then. But anyway my daddy was on the welfare, he's on welfare. My daddy spoke to them about me working here. They give in for me to work over there on welfare. I was under age but I couldn't draw my pay, wasn't no pay. You got a bean check.
RY: A bean check?
GG: A bean check. What you and, and we was on 10 hours a day city shifts. Used to be they just changed, uh, I don't know, they changed to eight hours sometime in the 30s I think.
RY: Uh-huh.
GG: But used to be 10 hours here. And you work over there 10 hours a day. Back those mules over there, the man that was driving his mules was giving him a dollar a day for his mules. That's what he was getting, a dollar a day. And I was getting, I was getting a dollar a day for, for driving but, now he was getting money for his mules. My daddy on welfare, he didn't get no money. They give him a bean check for seven to 12 dollars he'd get a bean check and had to take it to the store take it down there to the store and trade it out. Ain't allowed him to get no tobacco, no snuff or nothing. My daddy chewed that old snuff tobacco. [Laugh] And he, he would get [laugh] the man, by the man knowing him see-.
RY: Uh-huh.
GG: -He'd let him have tobacco and set it down maybe as beans or rice something like that. Mama had so many beans-. [Laughter] -You know, stacked up in the corner kitchen. I'm telling you, no fib, those big rats in the house, you know.
RY: Uh-huh.
GG: Old rats cut the beans and just ate them all. [Laugh]
RY: So they would give you beans and rice?
GG: You get beans rice and meal, flour, anything, anything to eat.
GG: But you didn't get no nothing to smoke. You couldn't get nothing like that on there unless now, being man just like my daddy, they knew my daddy and he let him have tobacco and set it down beans or something like that, you know. But that's what, you didn't get no money when they built that school and that was a high school up till, uh, they built the Central Cabarrus though. When they built Central Cabarrus then they turned that into a middle school over there but the old school I helped to build, I look up I helped to build, I, I help to grade the ground turn around and help to, uh, make mortar, to, to lay the bricks on the thing and the old school they tore it down last year.
RY: And what did they put up there?
GG: Nothing. Ain't nothing there except they put the, the property there for sale now.
RY: Oh.
GG: Right there in Harrisburg, it's for sale. I imagine it's so high to ain't nobody bought it yet. It's still up for sale.
RY: Um. Well property values are probably going up around here.
GG: Oh, oh yeah, property's high now, its high. Yeah. Well I tell you there's, there's 70 acres right behind me back there. They was talking about developing that. There's two guys come here wanting to buy me out here. I got the whole front of the whole thing all the way up the road up there to Reverend Johnson and my wife's cousin's place there, up the road there. He's dead now but he did live there. His folks still live there. But anyway, mine, my property runs up there, there's like 50 feet between me and him, just enough for a driveway. That's all that back place back there that's all the outlet that they have up there.
RY: Uh-huh.
GG: But they want, they want this whole front to the road back there through they come here trying to buy it. I go, "No that place not for sale." You know what he told me? He say, "You sell it for enough money on it." I said, "No money don't excite me." I say, "I ain't selling one foot of it." He say, "Well you think about it. I'll be back to talk to you, you think about it now." He say, "I'll even put you in a real nice house look here, I can put you in a real nice house and you'll have enough money to last you from now on until you die." I told him I'm in a nice house. I say, "The houses they build now ain't, they ain't build them out of nothing. Just throwing them up." [Laugh] I told him, "I know good and well they don't build house like this no more." Uh-uh. Not like this and I know what's in this one 'cause I built it and I know what's in it.
RY: Oh you built this house you say?
GG: I had it built, I had it built. "No sir," I told him, "It ain't for sale."
RY: Have a lot of people been coming? I, I suspect, you know, since the development you know, all around here-.
GG: Oh yeah.
RY: -People have been coming by a lot?
GG: It's a sight. In the afternoon, I can't go to the mailbox 'cause the cars have, they be lined from that light way back up there by Govan's house, you know. When people getting off work, see they comes all the way out to keep from coming out, traffic's jammed on 27, Albemarle Road, goodness. 74, Monroe Road, traffic's just jammed. There's people come out on 85 and 49 what comes through Harrisburg, a lot of them come across from 77 across there and this the main route here from, from 85 to Albemarle Road.
RY: Oh this, um, Robinson Church Drive?
GG: Yeah. Straight across to Albemarle Road and man, they be so much traffic here I can't even go to the mailbox in the afternoon, have to wait till the traffic ease up. [Laugh] They'll be lined up from trying to get through that light up there, way back up the hill up there.
RY: When did the development start around here? When did they start developing this property around here?
GG: Um, I'll tell you, it's been, uh, they really start building around here. I'd say about 20 years. Then about 20 years, they just start sticking up a house everywhere they get a lot to build. 20, 25 years they did all this building. You can go by a place you go by a place this week, I went by a place the other day, I went down to Midline and I went by there and I noticed they were grading this thing, had it all level off and graded off. I went back down there (I go down there and have feed ground for my hogs) and, uh, I went back through there and now they was done put up a bunch of houses. Doesn't had the roof on them [laugh] though. I said they just throw them up there and don't take long. Those little Mexicans, they work though, I declare. They, they, they really get something done now. Yeah, they'll work. That's one thing about them, they'll work.
RY: Well, you know, I think a lot of the housing developments around here are using, uh, Mexicans, you know, immigrants as you know, labor.
GG: Yeah.
RY: Do you think that's because there's a shortage of labor in Charlotte or it's skill that \\people\\ don't know or do they pay them less?
GG: \\No. I mean. \\ No, they won't work. You take our people, our people won't, they just won't get out there and work. Like I heard a man say in Florida, he said, "These American people will not get out there in times." See when they have, um, when that vegetable coming off down there, tomatoes, carrots, all that stuff, you got to get it out of the fields, you know. You can't let it set, it ain't going to wait on you. You got, he said, "You can't get these American people to do it." And that's true. Even if just piling tomatoes you see those Mexicans get out there and you see them and you look on the TV and see them out there. They'll be out there by the bushel. They'll get that stuff. And these folks here walk around and say, "I ain't going to work for that. That's minimum wage, you know [Laugh] I ain't going to work for that."
RY: Why do you think this happens, that blacks won't work for, you think?
GG: Nothing but sorry. The biggest thing is sorry. I worked for minimum wage a long time. I was supervisor when I quit work, but I worked for minimum wage on the same job a long time. I retired in Charlotte Pipe and Foundry Company. I worked 36 years there before I retired. Let me tell you when I started to work at Charlotte Pipe Foundry, I started working there for 82 and a half cents an hour in 19 and 46. I started working there for 82 and a half cents an hour and when I retired 1980 I was making $9.20 an hour when I retired, and now them boys making $17 and $18 an hour now. Now see I've been retired 21 years now. Now I go down there every Christmas and get my Christmas, see? They're making $18 and $20 an hour. So that's the difference. Now let me tell you something else. I'll take you, come on, I want you to look through the house and I'm going to ask you then what you think I paid for this house [Laugh] up here.
RY: [Laugh] Oh OK. [Break in recording]
GG: Come on. Ask you what the ( ).
RY: Let's see what year did you build this house?
GG: 19 and 56.
RY: Ooh. How much?
GG: And I know, I know what's in this. This floor is hardwood floor all the way through the house.
RY: Uh-huh.
GG: And I got a sub-floor under there is oak under that.
RY: Oh. You have oak floors under this?
GG: Yeah there's an oak floor under that and then hardwood floor \\ on top of it.\\
RY: \\ On top of it.\\ Well, I would think, what? You paid back in 1956?
GG: '56 just ( ).
RY: For a house this size, \\good foundation good floors.\\
DG (Druscilla Govan): \\ Now, now that wasn't on over there\\ when he first built it.
GG: No that room wasn't on.
RY: Oh OK \\ you added. \\
GG: \\ It didn't cost. \\
RY: OK. You added \\ that on.\\
GG: It didn't cost but $2,000.
RY: OK let's see if I can remember what I learned in history what things cost. Now so maybe about, let's see back in the '56 $6,000
GG: '56.
RY: 6,000?
GG: Ah 6,000?
DG: $5,600, that's what she's saying.
GG: No. $4,200.
RY: $4,200? [Laugh]
GG: That's right.
RY: Now imagine, now get it, you can't, what can you get for $4,200? You can't even hardly get a used car for $4,200.
GG: No.
DG: That's another thing. He did, he put paneling and all that stuff been done since then \\ cause we had sheetrock\\ on the walls.
GG: \\That's sheet rock under there.\\
DG: Sheet rock was under there.
GG: That paneling, when I had this paneling put in here, this paneling didn't cost but $2,000 to put it all the way through the house. $2,000.
DG: And then the house was white with siding.
GG: Yeah, I'll tell you now, this house [pause/lapse on recording] if you know what tongue and groove?
RY: It's, oh yeah, when you fit together?
GG: It fits together got a, got a groove it fits in.
RY: Uh-huh.
GG: Well, that's the kind of roof, the guy put a roof on there. He put the, he recovered this house here a couple of years ago. And he said "Man," he said, "You don't find a roof like this now." He says, "You walk across the top of these houses, they're shaking." [Laugh]
RY: Well definitely. Those new houses you get it's, um.
GG: You ain't got nothing but that there ply board on the top, three inch ply board and put the roofing on top of that and that's all there is up there and then it's shaking when you walk across. \\ But they don't.\\
RY: \\ They don't, \\ they, in one place, um, that I was reading about in the newspaper, they are having problems like with fixtures like door handles and stuff.
GG: Uh-huh.
RY: They, on the new houses, after about say five years they just start falling off.
GG: They start, they the foundation gives away on a lot of them. Well they go down there in the hollow anyway and fill it in and pack it down and build a house on it. Next thing they start giving away under there and your foundation give away and your house gone ramshack.
RY: Do you think that's happening around here?
GG: Yeah a lot of it. It's a lot of it happening \\ when-. \\
RY: \\ Because\\ I saw some signs that these houses been going for you know, starting at like a 120 \\ 150.\\
GG: \\ Oh yeah. \\ Yeah. All right now, the houses now, they build these houses and let me tell you something they build these, they're building the houses now and they're giving you 30 and 35 years to pay for them and lot of people, there's a whole lot of people, and do they ever get them paid for? If they get them paid for, they'd be so old they won't even get to enjoy them. [Laugh] I'm telling you. They won't. Won't never enjoy and, and, and paying folks 20, 25 years, he's going to be patching on it.
RY: Uh-huh.
GG: The most of them you see ain't do nothing but putting that siding on there and you can take your hand hit that siding.
RY: You can bend it
GG: Bend it in.
RY: You can just push against it a little bit.
GG: Yeah. Push it and it ain't built out of nothing.
RY: Now how do you think all of this development are affecting the people who've been here for a while? I mean, how is that affecting them?
GG: Well, don't bother me as long it ain't in my back door. As long as they, [laugh] I got them shut off they can't get but so close.
RY: Yeah, 'cause you got land back there.
GG: Yeah.
RY: So you got a, you know.
GG: Yeah, so they can't get but so close to me. I ain't never wanted to live up under nobody and I don't intend to.
RY: But do you know anyone who has had problems with this new development you know?
GG: Oh, different ones I know in the past problems with. I hunts with a boy right now he, they built up, he was living in, uh, he had a nice little house down here at Garner's School down here and a man come in there and built, he just had a lot there on the street, there on the front. They put trailers all the way around him, trailers all the way around him. Come up went around his back and come right up side on both sides. He said he couldn't stand that. He left out of there.
RY: So he sold his property?
GG: He sold his property to the man put, putting up trailers. They pushed the house down or tore it down something. Moved it. So, but they, they, uh, they got a trailer where he was sitting. There's a trailer in there now. And he said he wouldn't, couldn't stay there with all them trailers around him like that. He went down there on the Plaza and bought a house, bought a nice house down on the Plaza. And now we, I hunt with him, we hunts together and he said he wished thousand times, whenever he say his neighbor down there, him and his neighbor can't get along, [laugh] he says his neighbor complains about something all the time just, just anything. He said he don't even want you to walk on his [laugh] lot. He said he wished, if he'd a known that, he never would of moved in that house. He said he is grumbling about something all the time and that's the way it is when you up right up, jammed up under somebody most.
RY: Yeah. These houses now, they're just so close together and you know whatever you do in your yard you know the other person can see and what they do in their yard-.
GG: Yeah.
RY: -You can see and.
GG: But a lot of people really don't want you to walk on their lawn you know and all.
RY: Oh no. 'Cause your daughter, when I was coming, I was like I saw you know, I parked on the side to begin with, so I just came around the walk all the way around-. [Laugh]
GG: Oh no. [Laugh]
RY: -And I was like, well, you don't know.
GG: You don't.
RY: Because a lot of people-.
GG: That's right.
RY: -Don't want you walking on their grass.
GG: A lot of people raise hell if they catch you walking on the lawn. Some of them don't want you to turn around. This is a turn around place here. They'll come here, people they're confused this road here'll confuse you if you come in from Albermarle Road. See it's called Harrisburg Road from Albemarle Road, coming this way that is. To get this race traffic 'cause see all that race traffic coming out from down east is coming come right through here and it's called Harrisburg Road when you turn off Albermarle Road and when you get up here to, there's a big church up here they called Robinson Church, when you get there, from there on in to Harrisburg it's Robinson Church Road, see? And when you get to, uh, Robinson Church up there, the road forks, one road goes back into Hickory Grove where Robinson Church Road forks and goes into Hickory Grove. And it's called Harrisburg Road from there, this other side, Harrisburg Road if you're coming in from Albemarle Road, you turn on Harrisburg Road coming this way. But you don't hit Robinson Church Road until you get up here to Robinson Church.
RY: Uh-huh.
GG: Then it's Robinson Church on into Harrisburg. And that get a lot of people confused. They come through here on Harris, know they're on Harrisburg Road and then get down here and see they done got on Harrisburg, on Robinson Church Road. And a lot of them will turn around. They pull in here and turn around. Like I said, and a lot of people, a lot of people don't. I know a man throwed a brick one time [Laugh] throwed a brick and hit a man's car.
RY: 'Cause they were turning around?
GG: Turning around in the driveway.
GG: Don't like you turning around. A lot of them just that crazy. [Laugh] They turn around, people come here and turn around, somebody's turning around all the time here if they ain't cropping up to that other house up there and turn around there come here and turn around here. Sometime I be sitting on the porch and I don't say a word. I mean, it's all right with me. They ain't bothering me. [Laugh]
RY: If you got to, you know, if you're lost you're lost \\ what can you do? \\
GG: \\ That's right, yeah.\\
RY: Well, how has all this affected your church you know because your church is you know, just a little bit down the road and I saw there's a lot of development going on around that I mean, what affect has that had on your church?
GG: Oh, not any. Well, to tell you the truth, right there there's a little development this, this that develop, development below the church there.
RY: Uh-huh.
GG: But, um, just right there at the church, that big bark place, where they have bark you know, to put around flowers that there Bark Place, Barkham.
RY: Uh-huh.
GG: That place is right there below the church but it don't affect the church at all. Don't bother us at all.
RY: So it hasn't really gotten down on that far yet?
GG: No, but now I don't know what will happen if they ever get done what they planning on doing. I assure you one day we all going to be in the city limits 'cause they planning on building 800 houses. Now my daddy-in-law, he owns 12 acres right across the road there in front of me. But from that point back of there, all the way back of the church belongs to the other road down there. That's Hickory Reed's Road on down about a mile down below the church. All that land, they're planning to develop, oh, 800 houses is what they talking about.
RY: 800?
GG: 800 houses and a shopping mall right up the road here.
RY: A mall?
GG: Yeah, a mall. It would be, if they get done what they planning. A mall'll be on this right Rocky River Road after you turn up here at the light.
RY: Right, uh-huh.
GG: It will be on the left, going up there, a shopping mall. So you see if they ever get all that done, 'cause I may not be here to see it but ( ) but [cough] now what happened, there was, uh, I was at the meeting over there at Harrisburg when they was talking about that, is, uh, see the man that owned the land, old man Hayes, he's out of Concord, Hayes donated UNCC 200 acres up there. And UNCC sold it to some real estate, so they said there was three businessmen going to do all that building you know, three businessmen.
RY: Uh-huh.
GG: And after the, those men backed out. So now I notice they put a sign up there now. It's up for sale again. See, they was going to do all putting all them 800 houses out there and a shopping mall, so they backed out. Now I see they got a sign up there now, 365 acres is up for sale. I don't know now what, what will happen now.
RY: Uh-huh.
GG: But they was planning to put up 800 houses but they backed off it for some reason.
RY: Um.
GG: So, I don't know what they'll do with that land. But some real estate out of Charlotte has gotten hold of it.
RY: But it hasn't affected your church yet, hasn't gotten out that far yet.
GG: No.
RY: Well that's good.
GG: And see that, [cough] if they do, if they build it, they probably will sometime if things pick up, if they build that up, they will come right around our church there. We have about, um, well that church really has about three acres right there where the church sit. Have better, a little better than three, maybe around close to four, acres in that place and, uh, but they come all the way around the back of the church. So, but they will, if they do that they will change the road. The road will be changed and the church will be sitting on that road to itself over there but.
RY: Uh, uh.
GG: 'Cause that way, the way its planned, to take the curves out, you know, right there at there at the church. You, you come there around yesterday.
RY: Uh-huh.
GG: All right they're going to take those curves out [cough] and come straight. They'll be behind there, the roads will come across behind the church and come out straight over there, straight to the light. When they take those curves out that they, they all lot of people has gotten killed there.
RY: On those curves, \\ yeah\\ it's a curvy road you know, some deep curves.
GG: \\Yeah,\\ yeah there's folks that's got killed there. I don't know how many times that fence sitting there, I put that fence up there years ago and its been tore down I don't how many times. [Laugh] Fellows hit that fence, oh, a couple of months ago. I just had it, just got it fixed. And I just got it fixed before he ran into it again.
RY: Oh no.
GG: He come around that curve too fast and-.
RY: Yeah.
GG: -Lost control.
RY: Yeah.
GG: Right into it.
RY: Well, how long have you been a member of the church?
GG: Of Bellefonte?
RY: Uh-huh.
GG: Oh, about 65 years I reckon. Been a member 65 years yeah, getting on towards 70. I married when I was 18 years old and I joined Bellefonte right after I married.
RY: Your parents were a member of that church, too?
GG: No, no my parents all were Baptist. I was a Baptist to start with. I married one of those Presbyterian girls.
RY: Oh. [Laughter]
GG: And I had to [Laugh] I had to get with it. I was living right in front of it. The church used to be a big two story house right across the road there right in front of the church.
RY: Uh-huh.
GG: I lived right there for 14 years. I lived there with my daddy for, uh, 14 years right in that old big house. And, uh, after I married, I farmed and then I moved back there, in that house. But I stayed in that house 14 years and I was having kids then and every time one of them get old enough, my wife would have them baptized right there, you know.
RY: Uh-huh. [Giggles]
GG: She'd have them baptized there. And she, I belonged over at Oak Grove, over in Harrisburg I, I was putting in all my time over here, anyway. I was playing ball over here and I was living in the community, playing ball with the boys over here. I just took a notion I'd join. I joined.
RY: And the church was a, like a, I mean like then, you know, I know 'cause I've listened to my grandparents and my parents, too, like the church was really a central part of the community you know.
GG: Uh-huh.
RY: Then, you know. I'm, like it is today where you only go up there on Sundays or Wednesdays, you know or whatever.
GG: That's right.
RY: You always had lots of different things going on.
GG: That's right. So we, like I do more for Bellefonte than I was my own church 'cause I was playing ball, every time somebody died be the first one they want to help dig the, see, back then we digging graves you know. All they come to me first 'cause I could use a pick and there I'd be one of the first ones they'd come to, to help with digging graves. I was over working over here, they'd use me just like they was the members, so I joined Bellefonte. I, I was, I was about 19 years old.
RY: How many members did the church have then, about how many members? Was it a big church or?
GG: Yeah, they have had a pretty good congregation out there all the time. We have about 200 and 50, I'd say around 250 active members. And now they, we got a whole lot of them on the active list cause we have about 250 that attend pretty good.
RY: Hmm.
GG: Yeah, I been everything in the Presbyterian church. I told Rev one day, I said, "I've been everything in the Presbyterian church that a man can be," I say, "Outside to preach." [Laugh] I say, he said, "Well, I'm going to give you a Sunday if you want to preach." I told him, "You give me one, I'll preach." [Laugh]
RY: So you started off just helping out and you were 18 and 19 and then what else have you done?
GG: See when, it used to be, they'll take a member in the church right now if you'd come out there right now and get on. Next thing they'd, they'd have you on the Elder Board now. And that's one of the highest offices in the church, outside of preach.
RY: And what's the Elder Board?
GG: Elder Board is, is offices in the church. See, you have Trustees-.
RY: Uh-huh.
GG: -Deacons and Elders in the Presbyterian church. And, and then you have a Clerk of Sessions. That's the Clerk over the State, over the Elders.
RY: Uh-huh.
GG: And, uh, he has the ( ) and, um, if you, back when I joined, you had to start, they'd work you up. You'd have to start as a Trustee, see. They'd start, they wouldn't put you on the Elder Board. You start as Trustee and if you work that all right, then they set you, they set you up for the, uh, to the Deacon Board. Then after while several years, they'd move you to the Deacon Board, to the Elder Board. And then they got to have a Clerk. See they rotate, Presbyterians rotate you know.
RY: Oh, so you only hold that position for so long then you \\ move \\ back down.
GG: \\ Three years.\\ Three years you rotate the office, then you have to be off a year. Now, no let me tell you, three years if they let you back again, they can elect you back again. If they do, you can go another three years but after six years you got to come off then and be off for a year. So what I have three years I rotate, they rotate, I went on up to the Elder Board and next thing I wind up, I was a Clerk of Sessions. That's one job I said if I ever get off of that, that must have been years ago, I say, "God help me to get off this thing." That's a job. It takes a elderly person to somebody that's not working, that don't have to work.
RY: Takes a lot of time.
GG: 'Cause it used to be when they had that old, ( ) old Catawba Presbyterian they used to call it Black Presbyterian. It was, they'd call it over here ( ) you know and, uh, at that time, those preachers was a mess. They would have, they would have three days Presbytery. They moved from church to church every year, be at Bellefonte one year and somewhere else the next. They'd have three days Presbyterian and those preachers would get up, they wouldn't do nothing but argue the whole time. Some of them want to fight, arguing, trying to make the others set down and all that.
RY: About?
GG: Just arguing over stuff. Some of them just wanted to run the whole thing. I was so glad when they did away with that old Catawba Presbyterian. Now they got them all, ain't got nothing but this one Charlotte Presbyterian, whites and blacks and all and you don't her that mess at all.
RY: Oh, OK. So oh, oh. I understand now. So then it was a separate \\ Presbyterian-. \\
GG: \\Yeah it was separate.\\
RY: -Organization for black churches.
GG: Yeah.
RY: And separate for white churches, OK.
GG: Blacks used to have, we used to be the Catawba Presbyterian. When I joined they changed every, everything now to Charlotte Presbyterian.
RY: When did they change? \\ What, when\\ was that?
GG: \\Well, its,\\ oh it's been years. About I say about 18 to 20, maybe 20 years ago.
GG: Longer than that. It's all Charlotte Presbyterian now, white and blacks. When you meet a Presbyterian, you meet whites and blacks at all those Presbyterian churches all that. And you don't hear that mess. No they just pass they votes on things to and get it over.
RY: Uh-huh.
GG: Blacks used to stand there and argue half a day and then want to fight and all that that stuff. One preacher did knock the other one down. Kick him and all that mess. [Laugh] Yes, I tell you they got rid of that arguing stuff and when they put the General Assembly in New York and they passed the law down to the Presbyterians, they pass the law down. Got them all now, whites and blacks, all the same. Charlotte Presbyterian so we, they gets along now.
RY: Uh-huh.
GG: You don't hear that arguing and that's the reason I say the Presbytery they run the Presbyterian Church and you can put a Presbyterian, just like you hear Reverend Davis say, "I'm going to be here, I'm going to be here. If they have to roll me in here in a wheel chair." [Laugh] He'll be here. You can't, if they wanted to get rid of him, they can't get rid of him, Presbytery has to move him.
RY: Yeah have to \\ ( ) \\.
GG: \\ Now \\ if he get to doing things he don't do right or something, people can sign a petition against him.
RY: Uh-huh.
GG: Then the Presbytery will look over it, look through it and if he ain't doing right they'll move him. But you can't move him. Now I know one time they had a preacher out here once they, oh. They just fell plum out with him you know, 'cause he was, he's after every woman he could see you know, just ripping and running. [Laugh] Those old folks got out, older people, older than I was-.
RY: Uh-huh.
GG: -They got him. Oh, they going to get rid of him. "Let's quit paying him." Then they quit paying him. He just come right on there every Sunday. Come every Sunday and talk to them. Talk about his money. That's the biggest thing he talked about was his money, you know and they wouldn't pay him nothing. People quit paying in the church in order to quit paying him.
RY: Uh-huh.
GG: And he just come on there. But you cannot, now you can go he can come there every Sunday and talk trash if you ain't paying him. He can come there and talk trash and you going to pay him for it, for that Sunday. You going to pay him as long as he coming there. They ain't going to put no other preacher in that pulpit. You can't put another preacher in that pulpit till you pay him up. Till the Presbytery moves him you can't put another preacher.
RY: Until you pay.
GG: You got to pay him and even if he just talk nothing but junk. [Laugh] That's true. You got to pay him. So it pays you not to get behind with it. Pay him every Sunday. One thing we, we got, we are a self-supporting church though. We pay our preachers, we don't owe him money, don't owe nobody nothing. Not a dime. Pay him every month. ( ) The Presbyteria don't help us either. They used to pay, they used to help you pay a preacher.
RY: Oh. If you didn't have it, you couldn't meet the salary.
GG: Right, yeah. They had a, you pay a pension. Presbytery, you had to pay Presbytery a pension. It still have that pension thing but they don't go toward the preacher now. They used to, you pay your pension, Presbytery help you out paying the preacher. But they quit that. Now you see if you can't if he self-supporting you got to get a supply of something to get through the best way you can. That's the way they is now they, they stop that.
RY: Huh.
GG: So we don't have no help. We're self-supporting. Pay all our bills and everything, we.
RY: And you say now you got about 250 active members?
GG: I think about 250, close to 250, may not be quite that many. But we have in all something about 300 members, but, uh, you know how it is half a bunch only come once in a while. They love to say, "I'm a member of Bellefonte," that's all, "I'm a member." [Laugh] Yeah, just a member, too. [Laugh] Used to be a member.
RY: But you said it was always a pretty large congregation even when you joined when you were like 18 or 19 it was still a pretty big congregation.
GG: Oh yeah. It was a big congregation when I joined. And this is a family church. Now if you want a wife or looking for a, a, a husband you got to get away from Bellefonte. [Laugh]
RY: Cause a lot of people are relatives here ( ).
GG: Everybody kin around here. That's the truth. Everybody's kin right around here. You get started go on up there round the crossroads, all below the church, you wait, most everybody right here is around Bellefonte is kin.
RY: Huh.
GG: That's right. They're kin. That's the reason I had to come over here and get a ( ). [Laugh] I was a Baptist. I had to come over here and get a Presbyterian and then I got tired of it. Now you see, all my kids my kids all kin, kin to everybody around here. [Laugh]
RY: Everybody around here is still a relative.
GG: My wife, my wife was kin. And well, I had a, I found the one for me, a good woman. I with her 46 years till she passed. Yes, sir. And if my wife had lived, we'd been married 66 years.
RY: 66 years.
GG: If she lived, we would have been married 66 years but we was together 46 years before she died in 1980, '82. She died in '82. Sure did.
RY: That's a long marriage.
GG: Well, got 11 children. So, I look at it, that girl there look as much as my wife. Look just like my wife did. She's more like my wife than any of the rest of them. [Laugh] Looks more like her than any of them.
RY: Well, now you know, have people started moving away here? You said basically it was like a lot of family, every church is a, you know, everybody, you know, was related to one another. What about now do you have any younger members coming in, you know, from the area?
GG: Oh yeah. We take in quite a few members since we built the church, see.
RY: Uh-huh. When did you build this church?
GG: We built this, we've been in this church about, oh, Scilla. How many years been in this church? Eight or nine years? She don't know, but I think we been in this church about eight years.
RY: And the other church was still at the same place you just?
GG: Right in the same spot. We just tore it down. It was a frame church. We had them tear, they tore that church down here at Bellefonte. But we were in, we've been in this church, I'd say about eight years. We built that church and paid for it in four years.
RY: Oh.
GG: Sure did.
RY: And you say you're self-supporting so the congregation actually paid for the.
GG: We paid for everything. Yes. We built that church and paid for it in four years. Yes sir that's what Davis did since he been out here.
RY: And how long has he been?
GG: He been here about 11, 11 or 12 years he's been here.
RY: Um.
GG: He been here, but that's the first thing he, when he, Reverend Davis came here, we [cough] we told him not to think trying to get a church in here like he wanted he had a old big guy out here they call him ( ) great old big fella, [Laugh] ( ) "Oh we going to build a church, we're going to build a church," and just kept lying and lying and I never did do nothing. Finally he got mad one day, he got mad one day, "I ain't going to let you build no church out here. I ain't going to let you build one." [Laugh] Can't, people been done got mad and we quit, start slowing down saying can't, couldn't hardly pay him.
RY: Uh-huh.
GG: If you can't pay a preacher you can't, ain't going to build no church here. By George he got to be such a mess until they Presbytery moved him. They knew about him, they got him out of here. [Laugh] That's when Reverend Davis came after that and he, Davis stepped right on up and I tell you, wasn't but a few, just a few months and he had things going. He had things going cause I mean we got along. Well, we had, ( ) I am the treasurer and, yes, yeah we have a bunch of money in the treasury so we had more than enough to make the down payment in the treasury. Man, we got, they give us a loan, wasn't long we was putting up a church. [Laugh] Building a church. I give him credit for that. He, he went to work on that. And we got that church there, well, as long as he's the man, let him stay there. He did something none of them other preachers didn't do.
RY: And was that the original building you had before this, um, the new church? 'Cause the church was started in the 1800s.
GG: Yeah, that's the old original what was tore down.
RY: Uh-huh.
GG: Yeah this was a, now before my time, when they first came out of slavery this church came out of Rocky River Church down there, on down the road there, during slavery. They got the old balcony around in that church where the slaves used to sit up over.
RY: Uh-huh.
GG: They still got it in the church down there. And when Bellefonte, when the blacks came out of Rocky River Church, they, they built a little log church, they tell me, up there right on the hill there where the church sits now. That's before my time.
RY: Uh-huh.
GG: My daddy-in-law knows about it, but he said a little, they had a little log church there and it caught a fire and that burned down. And that's when they built the old church there. We was in that church 127 years, the one we took down. RECORDING PAUSES THEN RESUMES We have a right nice church. It's not the best, but it's nice.
RY: Uh-huh, yeah. It is a nice church.
GG: Yeah. It didn't take us no time when people, everybody, we got the shoulder right to the wheel I'm telling you. Paid for it. [Laugh] Sure did. Yes sir. Presbytery told us, "Build if you want to. We ain't got no money, we can't," the Presbytery, they just ( ).
RY: Uh-huh.
GG: I think we get along so well because they got shame.
RY: And they did give you some?
DG: This is the Charlotte Presbytery, this is the local, the regional-.
GG: Yeah.
DG: -The regional not the national but the local.
GG: That's right.
GG: They give us, uh, it was $20,000.
RY: But still.
GG: Yeah, they give us $20,000 that's, I was surprised, I believe it was $20,000. I believe it was $20,000 in that deal. 'Cause I tell you, they didn't give us nothing till they seen we was going on, had to do something. [Laughter] Had to do something. But they, they helped us out some.
RY: Well, sounds like you do, you know, you've had a good relationship with the Charlotte Presbytery.
GG: Yeah and lot a, and we had various other help from other, such as like you said, like I tell you about Abe what donated this land up here across the street up here, they give us several thousand and Cannon over, Cannons they donated-.
RY: Uh-huh.
GG: -Several thousand, so we had we got help from a lot of different people. They gave us, we soon get, we soon got it paid for.
RY: Well, it sounds like you know this church it's been \\ here for so long \\ it's such a part of this area right here.\\
GG: \\ Oh yeah. That's right.\\ Everybody knows the old church they know it's been there every since slavery. [Laugh] So they come in and helped us out. I know now we all, whites in Concord we have a once a year, twice a year, all the white and black churches in the Presbytery, we come together and just have a big day you know. And they take all the money and put it, they put that money in a special treasury for the help the all the poor people. That's what they do with it, they take that money and help the poor people. They help. It's, it's really for a good cause. I know they put the roof on people's houses that have to have it, you know, put a roof on. They paint your house if you have to have it, get somebody to paint it and pay for and they take in money, they take in good money. See now we all as one, whites and blacks all come together. We was over here yesterday, went over there to Harrisburg yesterday go to, what you call, uh.
RY: Oh, was that the announcement in church about-.
GG: Yeah.
RY: \\ -The, the child care center.\\
GG: \\ Yeah, the child care center.\\ Yeah they made that announcement yesterday. We went over there yesterday after they dedicated that place for the afternoon.
RY: And that's a predominately white church?
GG: Yeah. ( )
GG: We went over, we all went.
RY: Do you have any mixed congregations churches with mixed congregations white and black?
GG: Yeah.
RY: Here in Charlotte?
GG: We don't have it here. We haven't, we haven't got it here, I mean Bellefonte. We did we got this, this one white girl in our church. But, um, over there now the Baptists over there, they got several of them whites in their church. But we only have, we have little white girl in the church, she married a black boy.
RY: Uh.
GG: Yeah Frank married one my nephew's, my brother's boy and she's, she's a right nice girl. I mean, it's just like she's, just like she's one of us and actually, this church, I think she enjoys it.
RY: You know that's what they say, you know, one of the most segregated hours or times every week is Sunday morning you know, when people-.
GG: Yeah.
RY: -When you don't find people, you know, at work it's one thing, when you're going out doing other stuff it's one thing, but church is still very.
GG: Church is different, isn't it?
RY: Yeah.
GG: Well, ain't but one way and that's the right way. ( ) I don't care. It's just so. It's whites marrying blacks, blacks marrying whites, but I wouldn't. [Laugh] I know what a time, hey I know what a time. When we was coming up we had better not look towards one, boy. [Laugh]
RY: Yeah definitely a different time.
GG: Yeah I got I, I, I don't bother me, don't bother me at all. Just nothing excite me now. [Laughter] Oh. Oh, Lordy. [Yells] Scilla you want to get in on this?
RY: [Laugh] Yeah, you can bring your daughter in on this one. [Laughter] She may have something else to add to this, too. [Laughter]
DG: Get in on what? [Laughter]
GG: I told her, I told her, we talking about mixed, mixed, um, whites and blacks. I tell, I told her didn't bother me about whites and blacks. I said don't none of them excite me now. [Laugh] Be black or yellow or green. [Laugh]
DG: Do you want water to drink or what?
GG: They don't excite me. [Laugh]
DG: Hmm? You want water?
RY: Water, water. [Laughing]
DG: Tea, soda?
RY: Water's fine. I know I heard you know, that what the Methodists had done they were going you know, they were going, you know making an effort to like put black ministers in white churches.
GG: Oh yeah.
RY: And white ministers in black churches.
GG: Yeah.
RY: You know to integrate.
DG: Each ( ) you should have seen ( ) coming up, they change congregations, pastors over the years, I guess.
GG: Yeah. But you know we had a, we had a white minister once.
RY: You did?
GG: Yeah we had a white minister out here once.
RY: And when was this?
GG: He, he stayed. Scilla, Scilla, do you remember? Were you old enough that you remember, hon?
DG: ( )
GG: You were small.
DG: His name was.
GG: I done forgot his name now.
DG: He was from Germany, wasn't he? He was German or something.
GG: He was out here about what? A.
DG: He was out here a good while.
GG: Year or two wasn't it?
DG: It might be. I don't remember. [Laugh]
GG: I never did get used to him. [Laugh]
DG: I forgot his name.
GG: I never did get used to him.
DG: But anyway.
GG: I never did get used to him.
RY: But he stayed for two years you say? About two years?
GG: Yeah, I expect he did stay, might have stayed longer.
RY: Huh.
GG: But he was out here a good while. Yeah.
RY: Well, you said you've been a member for like 65 years now. How has the church changed? What changes have you seen the church go through in the 65 years?
GG: Oh. It's fast now. [Laughter] Yeah it's fast. Man, that like that stuff we used to do, man that, you can forget about that, that when.
RY: Well, what kind of stuff did you used to do?
GG: Huh? Oh, we had, just like I was telling, you had to start as a Trustee and work yourself up. Now man, forget about that now. We take them in today and tomorrow you an Elder. Huh, it's shame to say but that's how fast the time is.
RY: Why do you think that's changed? Why do you think you do that now? You don't have to go through, you know, the levels?
GG: No, you don't have to. No, you don't have to work yourself up, just say you're qualified. [Laugh] You can be right or wrong, [Laugh] you make a, I tell you, that any, anybody comes now makes a good Elder if you just get up there and all you got to do is qualify.
RY: What do have to do to qualify? Um, what kind of qualifications?
GG: Just say you're a Christian. [Laughter] If you say you're a Christian-.
DG: There you go.
GG: -If you say you a Christian, you can go to the Elder Board. [Laugh]
RY: Surely I think it's a little more than that.
GG: Not much more. [Laughter] Not much more. You had to prove to those old folks back then that you was right before they'd, before they'd promote you. You had to prove to them you was right. Yes sir, if you wasn't right. It used to be the same way when you was getting married. Sure. You'd have to be, come up to a certain standard before you get that's man daughter. Now anybody just walking down the street, just anybody keep you the three weeks to keep the gal. [Laugh] Yeah. What you know? When I was fixing to get married, I thought I was a pretty good fellow, you know. Now I never praised myself. [Laugh] I was getting ready to get married. Here some old guy, they guy told my daddy-in-law don't let me marry his daughter. "Don't you let him marry her." See, I didn't have nothing. "He ain't got nothing. He can't feed your daughter. Don't you let him." You know what my daddy-in-law told him? I'm, I'm, I'm so glad today. He was a man that had a thinking mind and a man who used his mind. My daddy-in-law told him, he say, "Doc. Now I ain't call no names now," he said, "Doc, I don't pick no man for my daughter." He said, "'Cause if she wants him, that's her business. If she makes her pillow hard she'll have to lie on it." That's what he told him. He told him I wasn't able to take care of his daughter, I couldn't feed her. I could have kicked him. I could have been ( ) [Laugh] and I had, he had money. Same guy told him that he had, he had money but if he was he was laying in the house you can look out and see the birds flying over the tape. He needed to put some of that money he had, he need to put in a in that old house and laying up there in a bed with an old black blanket on it. Old quilt just as dirty and wood, wood bark over the floor. If he'd a cleaned up his house and put a roof on his house, he wouldn't have had, he wouldn't have had no money. He's there holding his dollar and looking out up there at the stars. [Laugh] That's true. And telling don't let me marry his daughter 'cause I didn't have nothing. Now he swore he was sitting in a mansion, sitting up there looking out at the birds flying over the house.[Laugh] That's true. He didn't think I'd ever find that out. I found it out, I found it out. And one thing I, I thought about here telling him about it and I said no. I let the thing go, let bygones be bygones. I let it, let it rest. But he told him that ( ) I didn't have nothing. [Laugh] That's true, back then I didn't have nothing. But I had as much as most as anybody else. Didn't nobody else have nothing.
RY: Everybody was in the same boat then?
GG: Yeah. A fellow was talking about one day, talking about, "Man, people didn't use to break into houses like they breaking in them now." Say, "You know the reason they didn't break in them? They didn't have nothing in there they wanted." [Laugh] That's the reason. [Laugh] That's the reason, that's the reason they wasn't breaking in then back in those days. See my uncle, my uncle lived with us where we was raised up. My grandpa had four wives, see and these boys were out of his second wife. We was all about the same age as those two. Had two of my uncles, one of them lived with us, like stayed and my mama was out of his first wife and he stayed with us about all the time, stayed the house with us. Now we was, he even farmed with my daddy. He'd work one mule and I'll work another, had a two horse farm. And, uh, at night when it was hot, wasn't no screen door to the house, wasn't, man, didn't have no, didn't know nothing about a screen. Open the door, we'd open the door and leave them doors open especially if the, the air was circulating.
RY: Uh-huh.
GG: Blow all the way through the house, you know, at night. Leave the doors open. We'd take our mattresses off our beds, our beds, let me tell you. We just start sleeping on cotton and feathers here I'd say in the 40s, 50s. [Laugh] You just started, we'd sleep on these homemade mattress and stuff it full of wheat straw, that's what you slept on. That's the kind of mattress you had. You don't know anything about that.
RY: Well, I've heard about them I, I don't remember them but.
GG: Stuff that thing. Had a opening, you'd stuff it full of wheat straw then you'd sew that up. Sew it up so that straw didn't put it on a mat. That big old bed be setting up there look that high.
DG: [Laugh]
GG: You'd get in there, you'd get in there and sleep a couple of nights you'd go.
DG: [Laugh]
GG: You'd come down to the springs. That's right. You're, you're laying up in there man and thing full of wheat straw and that thing you sleep in it a couple of nights you'd feel the springs hitting your back through there. So we'd take that thing off the bed when it's hot in the summer and take it out on the front porch and that's where we'd sleep, out on the front porch. You go out there now and sleep on the front porch as this old lady say, "You'll wake up in the morning and won't have no head." [Laugh]
RY: You would think twice about leaving your windows cracked at night, you know sometimes.
GG: You don't leave them cracked now do you?
RY: No. You know maybe if you're up on the second floor or something you might leave them cracked but.
GG: [Laugh] You sleep on the front porch now, like old lady ( ) told her husband you don't have all [Laugh] old lady Kinard told her told Willie say [laugh] Willie say, "One day," say, "God going to pull the cover off you," say, "Your head going to be cut off." Say [Laugh] told him that, "God going to pull the cover off you," say, "You going to wake up and your head going to be [Laugh] cut plum off." [Laugh] [Laughter] Yeah, that was back then. Yeah that was the truth.
RY: It's a different time now. Definitely it's a different time.
GG: [Laugh] This is the whole different time. That's a man, that's old time stuff y'all talking Sometime that old time stuff works. It works. That old stuff works. Now it's getting so fast now, I'm telling you. Some people traveling too fast. That's the reason you see, the old stuff works. Back then men would stay with their wives. Now what's happened? You marry this week, oh man. I'm married. Putting up, spend $3,000 to $4,000 there right quick and getting married all the long dress they dragging behind them.
RY: Sometimes more than that, you know.
GG: \\ Yeah. \\
RY: \\ Yeah \\ it's a lot more than that.
GG: I see them right out here. I know those, those marriage cost maybe $1,000 or $3,000, $4,000, $5,000, $6,000, $7,000. All that money. And dragging that big tail down and the next thing you know.
DG: A dress-tail, Daddy? [Laughs] A dress-tail? [Laughs]
RY: [Laughs]
GG: Well, let me tell you, [Laugh] you know, dragging all that stuff behind them, the next few weeks, "You know so and so done left so and so? They done parted." Just a waste of money. If you had kept that money you'd probably been better off. [Laugh] Tell the truth been better off if they'd kept that money in the pocket. People thinks, now listen, they don't know, they don't realize. I married young, 18 years old, but let tell you, people don't realize that's something when you go, going into that, you're going into it for life. You supposed to be going in there and for life, until death separates you. You ain't going in there and say I'm going to stay here until the going gets tough. Ha. People now, when they get a little bit tight, now I know good and well, I had eight kids in school at one time. Eight kids in school. And I was scuffling. I'd work sometime in Charlotte Pipe Foundry when I was working, two pulled three, double-shifts a week to make ends meet, trying to make ends meet. I struggled sometime three double-shifts a week and I was working and had all them kids hung up here on me?
DG: ( ) Well, you put them there. [Laugh]
GG: I'd work, I'd work and come in here. I had a big, I had a big freezer, one of them big 25 cubic feet, 25 something, how you call it, big deep freezer.
RY: Uh-huh.
GG: I had a whole field over there in peas. I'd come in here in the morning, I'd get off 11 o'clock at night, go to work at three get off at 11, come in here and sleep and time, daylight in the morning, I'd be over there in that field picking peas. I had a big basket. Old great big basket, one of those cotton baskets you used to pack cotton in, I had you know what it is you come out of South Carolina. [Laughter] I had one of those old big baskets and a big tin tub number two.
RY: Uh-huh.
GG: Big tin tub. I'd go over there and pick that tub full of peas, green beans and pick that there basket full and bring them here to my wife. My kids in school when they come out of school, when they get home my wife put them to shelling peas. And when I come home at night they'd still be shelling peas, some of them sitting there half sleep shelling peas. [Laugh] But they'd shell them. I'd be like right in there and I wouldn't go to bed until they finish shelling. Get those peas, my wife come in the kitchen and she blanch them and she'd put them into bags. I had this big lawn and a long one I had this plum to the top and I had a field out there with nothing but lima beans. I'd have that thing plum to the top, fill that thing. I'd have that thing full of nothing but peas and beans. And I had tomatoes down there by the sack full.
DG: Eating peas, limas and beans.
GG: My wife, my wife made soup to eat. ( ) [Laugh] She had soup, okra, tomatoes, and corn. She'd can that in jars. Now that was good, too. That what she, she'd can that stuff. My wife put that stuff up and she, man, we had something to eat, have something to eat every day. We change up too, from beans to beans. [Laughter] Yes sir. But after my crowd all got away I quit, I quit gardening. I don't plant no garden now. I plant all my land I plant everything that field up yonder, there at the crossroads where you turn in up there at the light that, I have all that up there in corn. I plant everything in corn. All this down here, I plant everything I, everywhere I can get a row in, I plant it in corn.
RY: Now you do all this by yourself or \\ you have some help.\\
GG: \\Yeah. Nah.\\ Who's going to help me? Scilla ain't going to help me. [Laugh] Scilla be working but I, I take the tractor and I do all that work. That's right, I do it myself. I made over 200 bushels of corn this year. This last year, I had over 200 bushels of corn and I got out there and pulled everything down here. I pulled it myself. But when I got up on the crossroads got a little too much for me. I got a fellow to help me. He stayed up there and helped me pick. And man I , I raise my hogs to have something to. ( ) [Laugh] Whew. That's one things my kids can say, they didn't have the best but there wasn't a one that went hungry. They always had food and had clothes to put on their backs and that's something I didn't have when I was coming up. There hadn't been this old man we living on the place, I couldn't have gone to school 'cause he take his shoes off his feet and tell me, "Boy you going to freeze out here." I never will forget that old man. I'd have on old run over shoes, feet just as wet as they could be and that's back during the Depression and I'd wear them old shoes. [Laugh] \\ Scilla go ahead I'll see you. \\
RY: \\ All right.\\
DG: All right.
GG: I'd wear those old shoes. He'd take his shoes off and freeze and I'd wear them to school. That's the truth. Old shoes I had, my feet be so wet and in the wintertime. Its so cold.
RY: Uh-huh.
GG: Tell me, "Boy, you going to have pneumonia." I'd help him cut wheat, you know, and I'd carry wood for him. I was just a boy and he'd give me the shoes off his feet. That's right. And I'd wear them to school, man. I'd felt like, shucks, I had it made.
RY: Good shoes, eh? [Laugh]
GG: Good shoes, shuh. [Laugh] I'll tell you, people don't know nothing. The things we suffered. We had it tough. Now people just going around and wasting and wasting got two or three automobiles, two or three cars, sitting in the yard and all that stuff. [Phone rings, lapse in recording] No I believe he said Sunday, since he's going away, there won't be no class.
RY: Right, right. It sounds like, you know, a lot of, you know, you have a lot of activity going on in the church. I know he was, you know, telling people about, "You asked for them now come to them."
GG: That's right, that's right.
RY: You know, but, um, it sounds like you've got lots of different things going on for people.
GG: Lots going on up there about every night. Sure is, about every night.
RY: I would think, I know at some churches you, you said it's so easy to get married now, does you know, the Presbyterian Church, do they do like marriage counseling? Like before people get married? Do they do that there?
GG: Oh no.
RY: No.
GG: Uh uh.
RY: You know they bring people get two people in and you know talk to them.
GG: Yeah, I understand. No, they don't have any such thing as that now, man. You just tell the man you want him to marry you and [Laugh] he'll set your date up and he'll meet you there. [Laugh] He'll meet you there. [Laugh]
RY: Well, you know you have, what you say, the Disciples? What he said, the Disciples Meeting?
GG: Yeah the Disciples of Christ.
RY: Other things?
GG: They have men's class and women have classes, adults I mean, uh, juniors.
RY: Was that always the case? When, even when you joined, you know \\ that 65 years ago? \\
GG: \\ Oh no. We didn't have nothing like that, no.\\ From one time to another we didn't give nobody classes one time or another we had to.
RY: Um.
GG: Then they finally start having choir service on Wednesday night. Now this man, he have something about every night.
RY: Well, did the church sponsor any other things that you said you'd go out and play baseball and stuff like that was that at the church or was that something else?
GG: We used to play ball out there. We don't play no more. Well, you know, I was thinking of the past they used to be ball clubs all over the country you know and had picnics and all that. And now we don't have.
RY: 'Cause my father used to do that \\ you know \\ he would just like get, get together and play baseball and stuff.
GG: \\Yeah.\\ Yeah. Now our ball field growed up in trees out there at Bellefonte. We had a field out there we used to play ball. I mean good ball games. There would be so many people out there.
RY: It was a community thing..
GG: Fourth of July, Labor Day, all those days we be playing ball. And man, there'd be so be so many people you'd have to ask them to get back off the ball field. They'd just come on down just keeping inching out until they get out to the way you know. We'd have to ask them back and finally its got so now, ain't nobody, nobody playing ball now.
RY: Well not baseball now.
GG: In Charlotte.
RY: I mean you, you got your basketball \\ but baseball. \\
GG: \\ Oh, well. Basketball \\ that's something inside.
RY: Yeah.
GG: But we used to, oh, we'd go down to Charlotte. We'd play, uh, all over Charlotte at the ball clubs all over Charlotte. We played everybody around. I played ball in Charlotte a long time. I played in Kannapolis, Concord, I played ball all around. I was third baseman. Hot ( ). All those days are over. You see now, that's something, everything's fast and done changed. Don't even have a ball club now in the community, nothing but American Legion, American Legion playing in Concord.
RY: Huh.
GG: That's the nearest ball club, American Legion. They play here in Concord. I went down to Atlanta to see a game down there and just last summer and shuh, I don't believe Atlanta was playing any, they wasn't playing a bit better than we used to I ( ). [Laughter] That's the truth.
RY: You don't think?
GG: Nah.
RY: They might not be.
GG: They wasn't.
RY: \\ There were some good players then. \\
GG: \\ I know there was. \\
RY: You know and then-.
GG: Last.
RY: -That was before you know blacks could play you know professional-.
GG: \\Yeah. \\
RY: \\ -You know, baseball.\\
GG: Yeah. Oh. We boys out here that would have made major league, they'd made major league. I would have made it myself and I'm not just talking. I'd made it myself 'cause, I felt like I could, I know I could hit a ball.
RY: Uh-huh.
GG: And I was a pretty good glove man 'cause I was playing base all the time and I, I was a glove man, but we didn't have a chance, see.
RY: Right.
GG: We didn't have a chance. And we had a guy out here pitch for us, and I'm telling you, he would have made just like a ( ). We'd play, we had a lot of times we'd played some farm clubs, good clubs passing through. I was playing with Concord. Now we'd have a [lapse in CD recording] well they used to stop when they traveling, they used to stop in Concord. We used to play them over there in ( ) field, we used to play them over there. But, we had some guys would have made major league if, if they'd had the chance. Now it's too late in the evening. [Laugh]
RY: And you say the Braves. [Laugh] Y'all played better than the Braves? [Laugh]
GG: Yeah, we played better than the Braves. They, they down there playing there, shuh, 44,000 people paid. That's what it is now, 44,000 paid. Man, don't you know, shuh. All you can see look like flowers the heads sticking up. All the way around there, look like flowers. People going to pay they pay that high price to go see a ball game.
RY: Yeah. I mean the Braves' tickets, I forgot how much they said, they said the tickets weren't.
GG: Regular was about 25 dollars.
RY: Right. But if you get in and you want something to drink or eat, \\ that's when they get you.\\
GG: \\ Oh, you don't,\\ you don't want nothing to drink. [Laugh] The boys.
RY: What was it? The hot dogs are like five dollars and something like that?
GG: Yeah. A whole truckload of us, I say truckload, a whole busload went down and, um, cost $125. Hotel and all, you know.
RY: Uh-huh.
GG: All that was taken care of before we got there, so.
RY: Was this through the church or through the?
GG: No that's just a.
RY: Just a group of you got together.
GG: Yeah, just got together. We get together every year but last year for the first time I went with them on the bus. Me and my youngest son we went, we went with them and, um, I think it was $125 took care of the hotel and all, everything. But anyway, except when you get in there and want a little old pack of peanuts about like that, was five dollars.
RY: Uh-huh.
GG: Little pack of peanuts and I see those, um, some of those boys on the bus they drinking beer you know. Just got down there and had a big cooler, big cooler packed with beer they were going to take in with them and told them, "Don't you carry that beer with you." say, "Man if you do, you going to leave it at the gate. You ain't going to."
RY: No, you can't take it inside.
GG: "They ain't going to let you take it in there."
RY: You have to buy it.
GG: Now they drunk that beer at the hotel. They drunk that beer at the hotel and we went to the game. They don't allow taking, taking any drinks in there. And uh, an old Pepsi Cola was three dollars, pack of peanuts five dollars, uh one of those little 12 ounce beer, they say there's beer in there, all they want. [Laughter] That cost you five dollars. I said shuh, I wouldn't drink, you would never get five dollars from me, not for no beer. Five dollars for a beer. And I ain't never seen peanuts cost that much money.
RY: Yeah.
GG: Good gracious alive. Little pack of peanuts, five dollars?
RY: Eew.
GG: Ooh, ooh. You know people, and people, they're buying that stuff, man.
RY: Uh-huh.
GG: This guy come through there with two big old platters up on their hand, each hand, like that. Set them down right on the steps, set them down right there and just as fast as he can hand out, people throwing five dollars on a can of beer like that. Now you know they take in some money.
RY: Uh-huh.
GG: And 44,000 paid people up there, sitting up there in the grandstand. [Laugh] They take in a lot of money now. That's the reason they pay them ball players so much and they don't, some them can't even ( ), they don't be as good as the one we used to play.
RY: Well I'm not surprised.
GG: See what they do, money rules the world. Money, everybody's after money. When they get a good player to really play ball, get a hit, they'll sell him, trade him off.
RY: Uh-huh.
GG: Get a big bunch of money out of him and take a chance at, at trading another man get a hold of somebody else and.
RY: Uh-huh.
GG: "Oh, he'll be good after we teach him a while," he, shuh, next thing they, Atlanta had a good club one time. Why the players don't care about nothing no more. The club wasn't hitting or nothing.
RY: Well, even when player wants to stay, cause Chicago wanted to trade Sosa.
GG: Yeah.
RY: And he didn't want to go and everybody you know the fans the people in Chicago were \\ like, "Why do you \\ want to trade Sosa?"
GG: \\ They would want. \\
RY: But they wanted to bring like three, they wanted to trade him for like three other people.
GG: Yeah.
RY: Or something like that.
GG: And , and see they, they, they, they can get three others for what they, Sosa they can get, he's worth three other players. And they take the three and put them all together and they still wouldn't make one. [Laugh]
RY: Really. And I mean, he didn't want to go.
GG: No.
RY: I mean he, I mean he could have probably gotten more money with another club.
GG: Oh yeah.
RY: But he didn't want to leave Chicago.
GG: I don't know did he go or?
RY: Uh uh. He's still in Chicago now.
GG: Yeah, I think he stayed. He said he's going to stay, he liked Chicago. Yeah, he liked Chicago. I tell you I played ball right now all the good clubs around, Kannapolis, Concord, Charlotte and all that, all them. I played ball with all these clubs but I never did leave home because all our games was played at night or either on Sunday.
RY: Um. So you didn't have to travel.
GG: Yeah and, and Saturday afternoon we'd be playing here at home so or either going somewhere to play. I'd come right in and if we were off somewhere when we leave there and go right to Charlotte or either go to Kannapolis to play with those boys at night. That's the way it was all the whole time but I would never leave home.
RY: Right.
GG: No I, I tell you, I thought lots of home.
RY: Because, was this after you were married?
GG: Oh yeah.
RY: Yeah.
GG: Yeah that's after I married. I was playing ball before I married and come on up. Well I played ball out here till I was 58 years old. [Laugh] Sure did. Played the out there till I was 58 years old.
RY: Well, now you're a young 84 because no one would think you were 84 years old.
GG: Yeah?
RY: No.
GG: Well, my health is good but I don't know, may be ready to kick the bucket now. But I feel like I'm in pretty good shape. [Laugh]
RY: Well that's important.
GG: Yeah we all know that's pretty good shape so.
RY: Well it's, um, you know, it's how you take care of yourself and-.
GG: That's right.
RY: -You know, your attitude.
GG: Yeah.
RY: All that has a lot to do with it.
GG: It certainly does.
RY: Well is there anything else you want to tell me?
GG: Oh no.
RY: 'Cause I don't want to keep you all day. I know you've got stuff to do, so.
GG: Yeah. Well that's about all. You, you, how often you got to come back?
RY: Well, um.