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Interview with Cliff Hebard

Hebard, Cliff
Hebard, Melissa
Date of Interview: 
Overcoming Obstacles; Relationships with People and Places; Childhood Adventures; Stories and Storytellers
Cliff Hebard tells stories about family vacations, including a camping trip, a trip to Disneyworld, and a skiing trip.
Charlotte Narrative and Conversation Collection
Collection Description: 
Melissa Hebard interviews her father to collect stories for a class project at UNC Charlotte.
Interview Audio: 
CH (Clifford Hebard): ( )
MH (Melissa Hebard): Yeah OK. This is Clifford Hebard with interview one.
CH: You're doing more than one interview?
MH: Yeah I have to do three.
CH: Oh. OK.
MH: All right, go ahead. Tell us about Disney World.
CH: All right, well thank you for asking Melissa [laugh]. Disney World. Disney World is, uh, is one of my favorite, favorite family stories, and one of the reasons why it's my favorite family story is because we had been there, I think just once, when you guys were real little, uh, no when you were two we took you back. You know this story?
MH: Yes.
CH: You do? Mmm OK, so anyhow, I remember it was really, really hot and it was real crowded. It was really crowded and, uh, and we got there and we didn't really know what to do, what to do first, so we sort of had different groups. It was sort of the crazy ride group. That was Mark and ( ) and Mark and Kim and me, and then there was the grandparents group that would sort of, you know, stay in the shadows and take it easy because it really was hot. And then there was the kids' ride group headed by you. So you and Mom spent a lot of time on the, uh, merry-go-round. I forget, Mom lost count how many times you were on that merry-go-round because you were too little.
MH: I thought I rode the Small World.
CH: You did. You did and this is what [laughing] you did the rest of the time you were at Disney World. So you rode the merry-go-round and we'd go back and meet you every once in a while and you were having a great time. We didn't care, and the merry-go-round was, uh, was as good as it got for you. You know, big smile, bouncing around. And then we started looking, uh, for other rides as we all got back together and we took you to, uh, I forget which other ones we went to, the little helicopters, I'm sure, and some of the other fun rides, the little boats and that sort of thing, and then we saw Small World and I had no idea what it was like because I had never heard of it, but this is a Disney classic, this is the best ride they have, in a sense makes, Disney makes Disney what it is. And we all climbed into this boat and I'm climbing into a boat thinking, "Who wants to do this?" We got in and there was lots of people around and we took, you know, we took a half an hour to get there because the line was really long, and finally, we were in the boat. This little two year old perched in the front on the boat, you know, on the bow just floating around, and I remember you were pretty quiet, you didn't really say too much.
MH: Dad I didn't say you could talk about me during the interview [laugh].
CH: Well hey, I'm in charge here. I'm the storyteller. I'm just getting started.
MH: Yeah OK good [laugh].
CH: Uh, so then we, then you go through all these passage ways and you come into this, um, this long stretch where all of a sudden it's this like this big long cave and it's all, there's stuff all around the walls and there are, uh, and there are all these little tiny action figures little dolls and so on jumping up and making faces and all that kind of stuff, and singing and the music is, uh [technical problem]. So anyway, along we came into this big cavern and there were these big dolls and bright colors and trains just kind of lurching through this, this water. It was really cool actually and I don't remember when it started because all of us were kind of looking around but somebody said, "Look at Melissa." And there's this little two year old just frozen. Your mouth was open your eyes were bigger than I'd ever seen and just staring at everything. And through the whole trip you never really moved. I mean once in a while, you'd laugh or you'd giggle and we stopped watching this great ride, just watched you. It was just so much fun, it was like, it was like the best that Disney could be, at just the perfect time for a little kid. We've been to Disney, I think three or four times total, but that's like my all time favorite one, a really good time. Probably a close tie with, uh, Space Mountain, who Kim and Mark, that was fun too, but, um, yeah those are our, um. OK so what else do you want me to talk about? [technical problem] So another story that comes to mind is summer family vacation, and one of my favorite was in, uh, Roger's Rock, up in the, uh, Adirondacks. How old you would have been? You was about, oh boy, gosh. I, I would say, your Mom and I were in our late thirties and you were um, um well anyway, it doesn't matter. Um, so we went to Roger's Rock, you know, family camping, and this is not your mom's idea of the ultimate vacation. Uh it kind of was mine, but, uh, your mom wasn't so sure, but we had really nice weather. And we were there for a week, and we had the old, uh, the old blue, the old blue tent, you remember? The huge one with the three rooms and the, the holes in the top that we fixed and everything, that, that your mom is keeping it. And we had a great time. We went to the beach, did some shopping, I think, and exploring, but then, uh, I think the next to last night, we decided to have a special like, a special camping, end of camping trip dinner and we got everything all going. We were going to be grilling and everything, making beets on the stove, lobster or something, and barbecuing and all that. And after three days of the best weather we'd ever had, the clouds just opened up and it started raining and it was raining really hard. I remember thinking, "Boy it can't rain any harder than this," because we were sitting there with rain pounding all around us, and, you know, everything we owned getting wet and the tent soaking through sleeping bags getting wet. And then it really started to rain. I mean that was just a warm up. You could barely see. I mean the air was white; it was amazing. And I remember your mom sort of sitting in the car looking at me, and I don't know what you kids were doing, probably sitting in the car with her and I'm standing out there in the rain. I just I didn't want to leave. I didn't want vacation to end. And so here everyone is in the car, I think with the door open or the window at least, watching me and I'm standing there in the rain hoping it would end, not wanting to give up on my vacation or yours. And I remember that it had rained so hard that the boiling water in the campfire that was cooking the beets had cooled down, and I really like beets, and I [laugh] I remember the beets were sort a floating to the top and I remember, it was sort of like this cave man moment, I looked at the beet, thought about it for a minute, reached in, kind of picked it up like an apple, and thought, "This looks good." And so I took, took a big bite, and I remember looking over at Mom, and I don't know what she did, but, uh, all of a sudden the signal got clear. I think the car we had was one of those old station wagons. The Vega, remember that one?
MH: Uh-huh.
CH: So we threw open the back of the Vega and took all our camping stuff, everything. We didn't even pack it we just wadded it, just mushed it all up running around this incredible torrential rain, shoved it into the back of the car and, uh, went home one night early. So I don't think it was a huge concession. Yeah, well we got, we got rained on enough that it could have been worse. Uh they say this skips a generation too, so this could be your future.
MH: Oh really.
CH: Yeah Grandpa and Grandma Hebard, whenever we went camping, every single time it rained, it rained hard. The whole time I was growing up I can think of one sunny vacation and that's it. So that's a vacation story. That must be about 10 minutes right?
MH: Almost.
CH: Almost, OK, so what else would you like me to--.
MH: Whatever you want.
CH: Oh golly. Other, other stories. I'm trying to think what else I could tell you about. Well I could tell you about my worst skiing trip ever.
CH: OK, this was in the summer because ski trips in the summer aren't good.
MH: No.
CH: This was in a place you may see some day called Zoar Valley it's in, uh, where is it? Cattaraugus County, which is the next county down from Erie County, which is where Buffalo is. And so, that was the place where Andy and Mom and Saul, the guys and I would all go in high school on weekends and usually we would just go to, uh, to walk along the path because it's a huge, uh, it's got Cattaraugus County Creek down at the bottom of it, it's got great big shale cliffs with lots of really loose shale on it and usually we'd walk along the stream bank and go swimming and jump off cliffs, that sort of thing. But once we decided to climb it, it didn't look too tough to climb up, so we thought, "What the heck, let's give it a shot." Andy and I did this, and actually, I think we climbed down from the top. It was fairly shallow, a fairly, uh, fairly shallow angle for about, oh I don't know, two or three hundred yards, and then we couldn't see over the edge down to the creek which was like way down there. This little ribbon of water. So we climbed up part way down and it was like walking in, uh, in a, in a great big pile of ball bearings, you know? It was like really loose. It was like, almost like it was snow. It would crunch under your feet, it got really dusty, you know, it wasn't like earth at all. And because it was slanted, you'd slide on it a little bit and about 15 steps into it we looked at each other. We both like skiing and went skiing, "Let's ski this stuff," and in a little while we went, "Yeah, you can probably see what's coming here." Uh, I didn't go over the edge by the way. So we both started skiing, and we're pretty good skiers. We were jumping up and down and pretending we were parallel skiing back and forth and leaping up in the air in big clouds of dust, and it was really fun, and Andy finally quit. He got tired and I thought I'd go a little farther and I skied a few more steps and somehow one of us had dislodged a fairly good size rock, which I had no idea was bouncing down the hill toward me. And I'm skiing away having a great time and once when I came up, I remember, I can still remember I came up in mid air and I was as high up off the shale as you could get making my next turn, and "Wham." This rock smacks right into my hip. It didn't hurt, I wasn't injured, but it hit me in just the right place so that it knocked me right over and all the sudden I was like running, like I had completely lost my balance and I'm running down this shale as fast as I can, which is fine normally. The problem is, uh, you can run forever because you hit this drop off and the drop is a sheer, probably a hundred feet or more straight down to the creek. [laugh] So I was running down as fast as I can to get there so I could drop off the end. And I remember thinking, "I can't do this." [Laugh] And on and on we went and all I remember is it was getting closer and I really couldn't figure out a way. I would try and fall down and I'd sort of bounce up again and, uh, you almost didn't get to be my daughter because of this, this was really close.
MH: What?
CH: I was kind of, well I this was really dangerous as it turned out, and I wasn't sure what I was going to do. I would fall down and slide and somehow get bounced back up. I didn't have an answer, and little did I know, the answer was right behind me. It wasn't Andy, he was watching all this thinking, "This is it." So, I was getting pretty close. Another rock that we had knocked loose up above was bouncing down behind me and it caught me again. It just smacked me right down into the shale like a big hand just pushing me right down into this loose dusty shale and hard enough so I sank in a little bit. I was dug in with my fingers and my toes and began to slide on my face instead of running and slide down more and more, and I stopped and as the, over the years, I think the distance from the drop off where I stopped gets closer and closer [laugh] in about eight inches, approximately. I don't know, it could have been 50 yards, it could have been 10 feet, but it was too close whatever it was. And I remember sitting there and kind of looking down at the edge for a moment going, "Whoa. That could have been it." That's, I think that's the closest I ever came, the most dangerous thing that ever happened to me, but the good news was it was easy to walk to the top. It just took a while, so turned back around, sort of crawled through this shale listening to Andy yell insults from up above.
MH: What's shale?
CH: Shale is a really loose flat rock like you see next to streams sometimes. Um, you can like break off a layer of it, sort, it's like stratified.
MH: Oh.
CH: You know, the skipping rocks you can kind of break up? It's, it's like that. It's a metamorphic rock, so it's made out of mud and it sort of gets created by the pressure of the water over thousands of years, so it's really kind of a loose kind of rock, and the shale, that huge shale that we were skiing over had broken off up above on the shale crest and sort of collected. And so we were skiing in big piles of loose rock, was what it came down to.
MH: That's crazy.
CH: Yeah it was great, so. But happily, you, the fact that you have a father, you owe to a rock.
MH: Yeah really. All right well that's probably enough that's about 15 minutes.
CH: Is that 15? OK you sure?
MH: Yeah thank you very much.
CH: You're welcome.