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Monologue by Freida Harper

Harper, Freida
Harper, Shelley
Date of Interview: 
Relationships with people and places; Childhood adventures; Stories and storytellers
Freida Harper talks about her family, growing up, and some favorite things of her children.
Charlotte Narrative and Conversation Collection
Collection Description: 
Shelley Harper interviews Charlotteans to collect stories for a class project at UNC Charlotte.
Interview Audio: 
FH (Freida Harper): Hi. My name is Freida Harper, and, uh, I was born in, uh, Iredell County uh, in the town of Mooresville on April 6, 1949. My mother had told me I was born around lunchtime between twelve o'clock, twelve-thirty. Um, I come from a relatively, uh, small family. Uh, I have an older sister. Her name is Eurica Eileen and her nickname is "Rickie," which is what we call her. And, she's older than I am, of, uh, of about 13 months. Um, there was my mother, and of course there was my father. Um, and, we were told that we also had a, uh, brother who was actually the first born child. Um, after we were adults, we, uh, had actually checked the cemetery where he was supposed to have been buried and, um, uh, no one seemed to have had any record of a, um, newborn baby being buried at this particular cemetery. Uh, unfortunately, uh, my parents are deceased, as well as my grandparents. So, all of those details of long ago are, um, very hard to find answers to at this point. Um, my mother's name was, uh, Ruby Elizabeth Foster, was her maiden name. And she married, uh, Parks Jefferson Fox, who was my father. Um, my grandmother's name was Eula Moore and my grandfather's name was George Stewart Foster. Um, growing up, I don't remember a whole lot about, uh, my grandparent's family. I remember that my grandfather did have a brother by the name of John. Um, my grandmother actually, uh, was born, uh, out of wedlock. Um, she, uh, uh, it was just she and her mother, uh, whose last name was Slough. Uh, my great-grandmother later married a gentleman by the name of Charlie, um, Slough, and that be, naturally became my grandmother's stepfather. Um, there she had, um, one brother and one sister, um, from what I can remember. Um, on my father's side, um, uh, he had a brother by the name of John Fox, um, and a sister by the name of Rosalie Fox, who I have had some contact with in my, um, years after I have grown up. Um, most of my life, uh, was spent with my mother's family, uh, being that, uh, my parents, uh, had separated when I was younger and we did go to live with my grandparents at that time and lived with them until, um, um, I began high school. At that time, my mother remarried, um, uh, Charlie Monroe Creason and at that time we moved to Salisbury and my sister and I, uh, started high school at East Rowan High School. So, that was just a quick, um, um, story on where I was born and, uh, where I spent my time, uh, in the community of Enochville, uh, in the town of Kannapolis, and, um, then moving to Salisbury as I became a teenager. Um, I did attend Enochville, uh, Elementary School. I went to middle school at Corriher-Lipe, uh, Middle School where I was a cheerleader in the 8th grade. And then, as I had said before, I attended East Rowan High School. After I graduated from high school, I attended Salisbury Business College and received my junior accounting degree, um, from, um, Salisbury Business College. Um, later in my life, around 19, uh, 95, um, I did decide to go back to, um, college to get my BS degree, um, and began a, um, um, lifelong learning program at Catawba College, that I attended for about a year and a half. But due to health reasons, I was not able to complete that. Um, I was married in, uh, September, uh, 27 of 1968. Um, I married, um, Shelton Harper, who I had gone to school with and known for several years. We rode the school bus together, uh, as teenagers and I dated for, uh, about five years before we were married in 19, uh, 68. He actually graduated two years before I did and spent, uh, two years in the military during the Vietnam War, although he did not, uh, actually have to serve in Vietnam but he was stationed in Thailand for about 15 months, from what I can remember. Um, as a child, um, I guess I had, um, a wonderful mother. Uh, she did, uh, raise my sister and myself, uh, with the help of my grandparents, uh, which helped her very much. Uh, she worked, uh, second shift at, uh, Cone Mills. She was a weaver. And, my grandparents, uh, took care of us, uh, in the afternoons and at night put us to bed, um, and then my mom would come home around 11 when she got off from work. Um, looking back I remember that, um, I don't know if I could have done all of the things that she did for us. Um, she always had time to do whatever we wanted to do. Um, she would work, like I say, uh, uh, second shift. She would come home. She would look at our homework papers and review that to make sure they looked OK. Uh, she would even roll our hair, uh, of course she did this while we were sleeping and in the following morning then of course, we had our hair to look nice when we got ready for school. Um, my mom may, um, go to bed twelve or one o' clock in the morning, and then at seven o'clock in the morning, she was up and ready, uh, helping us to, uh, get ready to go to school and get our books together, and, um, eat breakfast and, uh, drop us off at school. Um, the way we spent a lot of our time growing up was, um, we went roller-skating, uh, which it was sort of a ritual. Every Saturday night, uh, my mom and Monroe Creason, my stepfather, um, would take us to the skating rink and we had friends of course, there and had a great time. We also would go swimming at Frye's Lake, which is, uh, in, or was in Concord at that time. I'm sure it probably doesn't exist right now. But um, we would go for walks through the woods. We loved to do that on Sunday afternoons. We would play softball and, uh, regardless of how tired my mom had to have been raising my sister and myself, she was never too tired to do anything that we asked her to do. Um, she saw that all of our needs were taken care of. Um, she would do without to be sure that we had the things that we needed. Um, she was a very special lady, um, very determined, um, um, in her, um, decisions in life. She wanted the best for my sister and me and worked very hard, uh, so that we wouldn't feel like, um, we were different from other kids, uh, being that, um, she was raising us as a single parent. Um, I did not attend church regularly, uh, growing up but my grandfather, uh, did attend church. Uh, my grandfather, George Foster, was a very special man. He was a very kind man. Um, he belonged to the, um, uh, Foursquare Gospel Church and, uh, he was, uh, very religious. I remember he read his Bible every night, um, before he went to bed. Uh, and, he was a, was a good man. He worked hard. He had worked in, in, uh, Cannon Mills since he was six years old. He had to work to help support his family. Um, my grandmother never worked. I don't ever remember her working, uh although she did take care of us when we were little and while we lived there. Uh, as a second job, my grandparents also, uh, raised, uh, little chickens until they were about six weeks old. So, there were two large chicken houses that was on the property where my grandparents lived. Um, I never remembered my grandmother, uh, attending church. Um, her life was focused, uh, toward her family, she did all the cooking, uh, did the grocery shopping, and just made sure that her family was taken care of. Uh, she did have some, uh, medical problems, um, uh, but medication helped to control a lot of, um, things that she would imagine and, um, um, but she worked very hard. She and my grandfather both worked very hard. Um, they always had a garden and, um, when the vegetables started, uh, uh, getting ready to be picked, um, we were expected to sit in the yard, of course there was no air conditioning back then and we'd be sitting under the trees and we would, uh, help break beans. Uh, and, that was just something that we were expected to do. I also remember, um, a tree that my grandfather would, um, uh, when he would kill a chicken, he would hang, uh, the chicken up in this tree while it bled out, uh, before my grandmother then brought it into the house, uh, uh, to clean it and then we would have it to eat for Sunday dinner. Um, I also remember, uh, having little pigs and can remember when it was time for the pigs to be eat, uh, my grandfather would have someone come in and, uh, kill the pigs and then they would be cooked over an open fire, the, the liver, uh, liver pudding. And, the liver would be cooked and, uh, sausage would be made and then the, uh, uh, pig would be frozen and put in the freezer for us to have later. Um, another thing I remember, uh, is our Sunday dinners was always very special. Uh, typically we always had a chocolate cake. We had fried chicken. We would have spare ribs, always had homemade biscuits, uh, which my grandmother would be sure that would, it was fixed twice a day. We had biscuits for breakfast and we had biscuits for dinner. Uh, but, Sunday was always special. We always had dumplings with our, uh, with our meal and, uh, um. [Alarm beeps in the background] That is my fifteen minutes and I guess my stories are not completely, uh [pause] complete. But, I will continue just a little bit, and then if, Shelley if you want to edit this some, then, then, then, you can. Um, when I was married in 1968 to Shelton Harper, uh, we didn't have children right away. We waited until, um, I guess about three years. Uh, Shelley was born in, in January of 1972, uh, Joel was born in February of 1975 and Jeremy was born in February of 1982. Um, I guess one of the stories, uh, the first story, that, uh, Shelley ever read was Winnie the Pooh. Um, one of the stories that she loved for me to read to her, uh, also because it had pictures, uh, was Little Red Riding Hood. And, I would sit and read the book to her and when you would talk about, uh, the Big Bad Wolf then it would have a picture of it and it, when you come to that part of the story, then she always filled in those words. Uh, one of the favorite books that she an, and, uh, that her dad and I, um, would read so many times to them was, uh, the name of the book was Little Bear. Uh, that was one of their favorite, um, books. Uh, Shelley had reminded me several days ago, uh, how times had changed because, one of the books was that, uh, we always had read to us when we were little was, uh, Little Black Sambo. But, uh, in today's world, of course, that book would not be appropriate because it was about a little, um, uh, black boy, uh, being chased by lions, and uh, you know, going around and around in a circle and making butter. Um, but it is funny how times do change, um, um, how the difference in the way children occupy their, um, their time. Like I say, we, we rode our bicycles, we played, um, uh, softball, we went skating, we went for walks in the woods. Um, we also would play, uh, in the creeks and swing on grapevines across the creeks and would build, um, a little playhouse up in the trees, um, at the, um, uh, creeks where we would play and, um, find crawfish and little, um, minnows would be in the creeks so we had, always had a, uh, big time with that. And, um, the favorite toys for the kids were, um, I guess I would say Mrs. Beasley was Shelley's favorite toy growing up. And, and she actually found Mrs. Beasley at her Aunt Kickie's house, uh, when Aunt Kickie would baby-sit for her. Uh, Joel's favorite toy was Gonga. He was a, a little a, gorilla, uh, that sucked his thumb. Uh, Jeremy's favorite toy was Thumper. And, we had, uh, purchased Thumper at Disney World when Jeremy was about five or six years old. Uh, we went to Disney World with Shelton's mom and dad, uh, in a motor home and stayed in the campground at Disney World, which was lots and lots of fun. Um, there are so many things in, um, growing up as a little girl that I could talk about. However, um, we did, my mother remarried when, when, uh, we were, when I was in the eighth grade and at that time we moved to Salisbury, as I had said earlier and attended East Rowan. Um, I made very good grades. I ranked about seventh in my class at East Rowan and I was, uh, chosen, uh, during graduation for one of the speeches to give and I also won the, um, trophy for a good citizenship, which was such a surprise to me. But, I was real proud of that and I know, um, at the time I didn't see that my parents were proud but I know they had to have been because I was always so proud of, uh, the things that my children accomplished. Uh, I will add that, um, I did, um, retire in September of 2000 after working for Rack Room Shoes for many, many years. Um, so, typically my day is spent, um, resting as I see that I need to and, um, uh, just kind of enjoying the life that I have, uh, talking with my children, uh, trying to be sure that their life is OK and doing what I can if they need things to be, um, uh, errands to be run or just doing things that, um, they ask me to do. Um, I also spend my time, um, um, with my little niece Morgan, who is very, very special and we thank God every day for her. Um, she is, uh, two and a half years old will be three years old in June, and is such a special little girl. Um, I don't know if I have covered all of the stories, um, church activities, and school activities, that I needed to but, um, I hope I've done the best I can and if I need to, um, add more to this, um, little read that I have, I will be glad to. And, as usual, um, as I tell Shelley when we talk, I love you and I hope this, uh, uh, works out, uh, good for you. Uh, I am very proud of, of you and what you have accomplished in your life. And, um, just think you are a very special young lady and I do love you very much. Thank you.