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Monologue by Dawn Haynes

Haynes, Dawn
Leahy, Janet
Date of Interview: 
Relationships with people and places; Then and now; Stories and storytellers; Childhood adventures; Cultural identification; Overcoming obstacles
Dawn Haynes talks about her hometown and her family.
Charlotte Narrative and Conversation Collection
Collection Description: 
Janet Leahy interviews Charlotteans to collect stories for a class project at UNC Charlotte.
Interview Audio: 
DH (Dawn Haynes): Um, my name is Dawn Haynes. I'm 27 years old. I've been in Charlotte for about two years now. I was originally born in Lumberton, North Carolina my family moved to Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina when I was about one year old, um, and I grew up, um, from the time I was one until I went to college in Roanoke Rapids. It's right on the border of Virginia on the northern northeastern side of the state. Uh, it's about eight miles from the Virginia border. Ah, it's pretty small town, it was about 10,000 people. Uh, it only had one elementary, middle and high school so, you know we all went to, to school together from the time we were in elementary school 'til the time we all graduated. So we got to know each other and our families very well. We all had the same teachers and principals. So, you know, had an older brother of about eight years, so by the time I got there they all knew him, and um, you know knew his behavior and habits so expected the same thing of me and knew my family. And um, where I grew up my family ran um, three different businesses. We had a um, cafeteria which is kind of like, uh, I don't know, I guess it's a southern style cafeteria-type place, you know you'd go in and get your tray and walk down a huge line. Um, that was called Haynes Cafeteria. Then they opened up a, ah, skating rink called Skate World, um, when I was, I think, six or seven, so I grew up on a skating rink which is kind of fun. Um, you know I got to go skating every day and every week and you know I'd meet all my friends there and of course I didn't have to pay and I could, you know, go in the DJ booth and you know, eat, drinks and stuff for free. So it was kind of cool you know. It had its downfalls, too. If anybody got in trouble you know, they would come looking for me at school, because my dad had kicked them out of the skating rink. [Laughs] Um, and then the other, the other, um, thing they opened up was a miniature golf course called Putt-Putt that was behind the skating rink so in the summers my brother would run that and I would help out, you know basically all I had to do was, you know, take the peoples' money and hand them little golf clubs and, and balls and um, so that was pretty fun, too. That didn't last as long as the skating rink but it was pretty fun while it lasted. Um, then I went off to college um, to the big city of Raleigh. Um, it was kind of different you know where I grew up it was a predominately black community um, a mill town. We had uh, J.P. Stevens and the Champion Paper Mill is located the town I come from, um, Roanoke Rapids is also the hometown of Norma Rae, the movie that they had made. She's actually from the town of Roanoke Rapids so that's how, that, um, the unions got started and everything right around where we lived. So, you know we kind of just got use to having the, the mill town lower-class atmosphere. So when I went to Raleigh it was sort of a big change for me to go from that setting to a setting where, you know, I was in nicer communities and nicer houses and you know, not everybody knew everybody in the town. Um, my parents are both from, ah, Virginia, also the border of North Carolina and Virginia in towns called Martinsville and Roanoke. Um, my mother also grew up in a mill town her mother worked for, um, I can't remember the name of the mill, but it was more of a cotton mill right on the Dan River. They made towels and sheets and things like that. And when she was born, she was born to a very young mother, she didn't have a father and her mother couldn't afford to raise her so she was basically shipped off to different, you know, grandparents, aunts, friends whoever you know, could take her in at a certain time. Most of those people lived on farms so she has all kinds of stories of you know living in barns and um, she would live in the slave quarters that were still behind the houses. There wasn't enough room for her in the house she would stay out in the slave quarters and help with um, you know, just any kind of work cooking or sewing or making the meals, making the beds, the washing everything like that to do her part um of getting to stay there since she wasn't you know, one of their children. Um, she knew she stayed with, um, I think it was an Aunt and Uncle, uh, her, her, they all have really cute names for each other. She, she had an Aunt Nag, and an Aunt Nanny, um, and um, Uncle Jimmy and her, her, um, her name was Pumpkin, her mother's name was Bat. Her brother's name was Tootie, they call my father Reese, another aunt is called Nukie, so they all have little cute names they call each other. Still to this day they call each other that. [Laughs] Um, but um, she has all kinds of, you know, and one house she believes was haunted. Um, the one she would stay there there was supposedly a, a young slave boy that had died in that house. He had frozen to death, um, and his spirit was said to still live in that house and she could feel him at night and I think he had spoken to her a couple of times because she was around the age he was when he passed away so, um, she has very vivid memories of him. And there was also at a different plantation house, there was a, another women who had passed away I think she had in fact, um, had some disease or, or tuberculosis something like that, where she had passed away, um, and she remembers seeing her you know coming down the stairs. Um, so I think those are interesting stories to hear it from her. Um, another, another story she, she likes to tell are the tobacco stories. She used to love to be in the tobacco barns when they were curing. Um, she said that the smell was unbelievable and I guess maybe her grandfather used to smoke a pipe or something like that and she said that it, it always, the smell always reminded her of him. So, you know, on those days when they were curing tobacco she loved to be in there, um, you know of course the men hated her being in there and getting in their way but she said they would let her help. Um, she was small enough to where her hands, she, they could put her up on the top and she could help, you know push things because she was small enough to where her arms and hands could reach into places that they couldn't get into, so they would use her for things like that. Um, she and my dad went, met when she was fairly young. They went to rivaling high schools. And, um, were both skipping school one day and, um, met each other I think at a, um, one of those type of restaurants I guess back in the fifties where you drove your car up and you ordered and they skated out to you. They met at one of those places and, um, were together for probably you know another year and decided that they were ready to get married although their parents weren't ready for them to get married. So they decided to elope and ah leave, leave the town that they all grew up in and decided you know that it was time for them to make a life of their own. They had no money, nobody supported them, nobody even came to their wedding. They just, she said they went to a Justice of the Peace and walked in his front living room and his wife was the witness. And Mom said she was cooking bacon or something in the kitchen and she came out in a robe and signed the papers and you know that was, that was their wedding. So, um, pretty small affair and um, his father had just passed away within I think six months of that. He was a, um, a stock car racer back in Martinsville. He would run there and Danville and Rockingham and on the dirt tracks back then so, um, he didn't die on the stock cars. He also ran trucks back and forth, um, from, from northern, probably northern New York down to probably about South Carolina. That was pretty much his area. And he was unloading the trucks one day and, whatever he was carrying fell on him and that's how he got killed. Ironically he didn't get killed racing stock cars he got killed in a work accident. Um, so, I think that's about it.