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Monologue by Jennifer House

House, Jennifer
Intercom Female Voice
Clarke, Kevin
Date of Interview: 
Relationships with People and Places; Stories and Storytellers; Childhood Adventures; Tolerance and respect
Jennifer House tells stories about being separated from her father in Kmart, receiving a "Barbie head" for Christmas, her brothers jumping into a river, and celebrating Christmas early one year. She also remembers a summer storm.
Charlotte Narrative and Conversation Collection
Collection Description: 
Kevin Clarke interviews Charlotteans to collect stories for a class project at UNC Charlotte.
Interview Audio: 
JH (Jennifer House): This is Jennifer House. Um, some remembrances of growing up in the Charlotte area. Um, I'm going to share a few little stories I remember, uh, happened at Christmas time. I remember my dad telling a funny story about my brother, my oldest brother, and they had purchased this huge like little general store type thing that had all these, um, boxes and cartons and stuff that you would put together, and, um, it was actually like a little store-front thing. Well they lived in a really small, tiny, little apartment. And they had spent all night with a couple of friends of theirs [laugh], assembling all of these toys and boxes, and, you know, the stickers on the boxes. And then, um, Christmas morning my oldest brother woke up and was sick and my younger brother had the, um, measles, and was sick and screaming and crying, and they had the house full of all these little boxes and things from this, uh, toy store that had been put up. And it was so miserable and the house was so crowded and the kids were so wild that by Sunday by that Christmas afternoon they had taken everything down and boxed everything back up again just to get it out of the way just because they, uh, were so miserable that Christmas because my brother had been so sick. Um, another time, this was for the, um, other brother, um, the one that had been sick as a baby, they bought him, one year, all this um cowboy and Indian stuff, and again all this assembly was required, and, um, the same friends that had helped put together all the boxes a few years earlier for my other brother, um, had come over and they had to put all these decals and stickers on everything and then had to individually dress all the different Indians, and, um cowboys and you know the tiny guns and the little itty-bitty tiny holsters that they had to put around the waist of all the different cowboys, and, uh, then, you know, all the little, um, suits and headdresses and everything that had to go on all the little Indians and the horses and the saddles and all this kind of stuff. And Dad said they were up till like four o'clock in the morning getting all this stuff put together and were just exhausted and about dead. And then, um, of course, you know, both of my brothers woke up about five A.M. or something [laugh], so they just absolutely didn't get any sleep at all. Um, and it was just another miserable Christmas, I think, because they were so tired. And, you know, I think by the end of the day my brother had lost half the toys, and, you know, half the little pieces and all this kind of stuff and, um, it was very frustrating, um. Then I remember, um, one Christmas for me, um, I had been begging and begging for like this, uh, Barbie-head thing that you could, you know, put makeup on and style the hair and all this kind of stuff, and, um, my dad worked, uh, for a textile company. He was an engineer, and he, um, had to travel around to lots of different mills and stuff, and so, um, everywhere he had been he just could not find this Barbie-head thing, you know, and it was just you know getting closer and closer to the time and he was starting to panic. And so finally, you know, some little town that, you know, he had had to go to, um, he found one, um, in a store. And so that was my big Christmas present well when I put makeup on her, um, it just wouldn't even rub off, I mean it was just like this, you know, permanent stuff that you couldn't even smudge off or wash off even with soap and water. It just absolutely would not come off, and so it was like one time and you were done and that was it. And I remember being so disappointed and my dad was just furious. I mean he was ready to kill me because I, you know, didn't play with it anymore the rest of the day. And I kept trying to tell him, "Well," you know, "The makeup is not coming off." You know, "Nothing is smudging off and I can't redo her makeup because it's on there and," you know, "It's not coming off." And, oh, he was just furious. [Laugh] He probably would have sold me to the highest bidder at that point or maybe even the lowest bidder to just get rid of me. Um, and, um, I remember another time, um, being told about a time when the family was up in the mountains. We had this place that we would go to and they called it our rock. But it was near, um, on the way to Chimney Rock, I think, and it was just off the side of the road and, and where the river was and there was a great big old flat rock that sort of jutted out into the river and, um, we would go up there, you know, occasionally on the weekends and have like a picnic and stuff on the rock. And, um, to the side of the rock there was like a little pool where the water wasn't too swift and you could, um kind of play around.
FV (Female voice on intercom): [intercom] Classes, may I have your attention?
JH: Um, and so there was an area that you could swim in, you know, to the one side. But in front of the rock on, you know, the other three sides of this big rock the river was very swift. And I remember them telling me one time, um, that my youngest, well not youngest but the younger brother, the one in the middle, um, had just, you know, jumped off into this swift- moving river, and, um he was always quite the daredevil, and still is, even in his 40s, um but he just decided he wanted to go swimming in the deep water and he jumped off. Well, you know, he immediately was swept down the river. And, um, then my oldest brother he's the hero and the rescuer, and so, well, he jumps in. So now here's both his sons in the river getting swept down. So then, of course, my dad had to jump in and, uh, fortunately for them, no one was, you know, smashed against another rock or anything like that. Um, and they he finally caught up with the two boys and got them out.
FV: [intercom] Staff, may I have your--?
JH: And he caught, uh, he managed to catch both my brothers, and, uh they got to the side of the river, and so, of course, now, you know, my mother I think, um, was pregnant with me at the time. So here she's standing on this rock, you know, about to burst with a baby and, you know, screaming and crying because all three of her family members are getting swept away in this river. But they, uh, finally got out and managed to make their way back up to the rock. But that was, you know, a very traumatic event. Um, I remember another time, uh, being told, uh, about a storm that had come up that my dad had taken, um, my two brothers, and, um, I can't remember if I was with them or not. I think I was. I think I was around at that time. My brothers are quite a bit older than me, um, and I think I was young and, um, he had taken us, and I don't know, maybe a few other of the neighborhood kids, and my mother was at, uh, choir practice at that time at the church, and so he had the rest of us like at a little park that was down the street. And, uh, all of a sudden one of these, you know, really fast, violent summer storms came up and, um, everybody was just petrified. And he said somebody had like, I don't know, a little drum or a stick or something I can't remember. So he says, we ended up underneath one of the shelters and that was the only, you know, shelter in this whole park because it was all wide open. So we have all these kids and my dad underneath this big shelter and we were marching around the picnic table singing and, you know, marching and letting the thunder kind of be like the cymbals, you know, of a marching band. And just, um, he said he didn't, he didn't have any idea how many laps we did around that table but it was just through the whole storm [laugh], and we just marched and sang for that whole storm just round and round and round that little table, um, underneath the shelter. He said it was the only thing he could think of to keep everybody from crying and screaming and not just absolutely petrified of this storm, um, and I remember one other time when I was little, um, my dad, as I said earlier, my dad traveled a lot with his job, and, um, there were also times when he had to travel out of the country. And, um, when I was very young, um, you know, he would be gone maybe, you know, a month or two and then be home two or three months and then be gone again, you know, and so each time, you know, he came home there was a period of a few days or even a week or so that was a real adjustment period for me, you know, because he'd been gone and then coming back. And so, I sort of had to, you know, build my trust with him again, you know, each time. And we had gone to, um, a store. I don't know if it was like K-mart or something like that, you know, a big old, you know, store and I was with him it was just the two of us because my mom had insisted that I go with him, you know, to just have sort of some father daughter time, I guess. And, um, we had gone and he had he was looking at something and he told me he said, "Now stay right here," and, of course, you know, I'm only like three [buzz] or something. And, um, so, of course, a three-year-old is not going to stay right anywhere and I just kind of, you know, wandered down the aisle looking at something else or I may have turned the corner, I don't remember. And, of course, you know, after whatever it was lost interest for me I looked up. Well, you know, my dad wasn't in sight, and, of course, you know panic hit, you know, a three-year old and you know I start crying. Well a stock person or a worker or somebody found me and took me up to the, um, to the desk, and, uh, they were asking what my dad's name was or what he looked like and I remember saying, "He's just a bald-headed man named Ray." [Laugh] And so they, over the intercom they had to just say, "Would the bald headed man named Ray who owns a little red-headed girl please come to the service desk?" And so he had to come get me and was just absolutely mortified. Here, you know, he had just gotten back in from, you know, out of the country and, you know, takes his daughter somewhere, and then loses her, and I mean I wouldn't get near him. I wouldn't hold his hand, I wouldn't speak to him. And I remember getting home, and oh I mean I was just bursting in the door just crying wanting my mama. Well she happened to be in the bathroom at the time taking a bath and I remember just bursting into the bathroom just sobbing and just "Mama, Daddy lost me."
FV: [intercom] Good morning everyone.
JH: So anyway I remember bursting in on my mom and just you know sobbing and sobbing. And, uh, I mean it was like weeks [laugh] before I would go anywhere with my dad again ever. I mean I was just convinced he was going to lose me and every time he would ask me to go somewhere I would be like, "No you're going to lose me again," and, you know, it was just the longest time before I ever trusted him enough to even go anywhere with him. Um, and, I think that's most of like the little funny stories that I can remember. And, um, I hope they amused you.