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Interview with Cyndi Honaker

Honaker, Cyndi N
Lovell, Nicole L
Date of Interview: 
Overcoming obstacles; Relationships with people and places; Childhood adventures; Then and now; Tolerance and respect
Cyndi Honaker talks about her family and traditions they practiced.
Charlotte Narrative and Conversation Collection
Collection Description: 
Nicole L. Lovell interviews Charlotteans to collect stories for a class project at UNC Charlotte.
NL (Nicole L. Lovell): This is Cyndi Honaker for the Charlotte Narrative Collection, interviewed by Nicole Lovell. Are there any traditions you particularly remember from growing up?
CH (Cyndi N. Honaker): [Laugh] Well, we had some traditions, I don't remember a lot of traditions. Uh, one in particular, now that it's the holiday season, we always had the tradition of-, I had two brothers, we all had to go upstairs, uh, and let my father come down and light the Christmas tree and then we came downstairs in descending order, we did that every year, even after my brothers and I had our own children. All the children and grandchildren had to go upstairs and [laugh] come downstairs and, uh, see what Santa Claus brought. Uh, and everybody saw it at the same time or almost at the same time while my dad got to be downstairs and see everybody's facial expressions when they [laugh], when they saw the tree and all the gifts. Uh, we had a tradition of, people were always stopping in at our house, uh, not only at the holidays but all the time. They always felt welcome. Of course I think, uh, back then they had more time to stop in and visit where as we don't today. But particularly on Christmas Eve, my mom would always fix, uh, munchies, ham and turkey and, and everything to go with it and, and you just never knew who was going to be stopping by the house. Uh, it, it was lots of fun, um, and something that, that my mom still does today. But me being out of town do not get to participate in that as much and, and having another, um, set of family with my husband's family, uh, so we're celebrating in different ways. But that was still a tradition and, that we had. As far as other traditions, I mean, I don't, OK, another one, uh, we would always go to Sunday school and church. Afterwards my mother would have a full meal, we would sit down at the dinner table in the dining room, or else we would go out to eat at a, at a very nice restaurant. And that was family time. And another tradition that we always had, that I think is being missed now, we always had dinner, and everybody was there, um, and it was just, it, I didn't look at as a tradition, that's just what you [laughs], that was life-.
NL: // [Laughs] //
CH: // -That's what // you were supposed to do. Um, but those are the, the main traditions that we had, and I know earlier you asked me to talk about some of the things that I did when I was growing up. Um, uh, we traveled a lot. Um, I, I got to, to do and see a lot while I was growing up. My brothers and I were very, very fortunate. My parents taught us family values. Always to try to help people. I know that, uh, I, at times, thought that we didn't have that much, but then I look back on what, my, uh, mom and dad were doing for other people. We, we helped them, or mom and dad helped them out a lot and I wasn't aware that that was happening at all. And they did it in the most discreet of ways. And we would have people even come to our back door, one person in particular comes to my mind, and, and he even did it recently with my mom. He needed help and my mom hadn't seen him in a long time because he had moved away from the neighborhood. But he came to my parents' house, for help. And, [laugh], and Mom helped him as, as best she could in that situation. But it was, you, you try to do unto others and, and you, you give a lot. And you're going to get a lot in return for that. And I think by seeing them do, it wasn't like somebody telling me that's what I needed to do, it was, that's the way I was raised. Uh, you, you help as much as you possibly can. I wish I could do more of it than I do now. Uh, and maybe as I get older I'll be able to, to do more of that. Uh, one thing that, I would also say has changed in my life has been the fact that, and, and I've talked to you about it, is the fact that I loved math and, and math was something that was, uh, al-, always came easy to me. But when I was growing up I was told that as a girl I could not go into that profession because the only thing that I could do would be a teacher. And now that I am a CPA and a CFP, I have gone against that trend and started at an early age, uh, to pave the way for, hopefully, a lot of other females in the in-, in the industry. Uh, I took their advice when I was in junior high and high school and even college and didn't follow a math career, but picked up on it later after I had a family. And I'm, I am very pleased that I did it and that's the way should have gone to begin with. But you always try to go the way that your peers, or not your peers, but your counselors, um, suggest that you go. Other things that I remember, growing up, we had a lake house, uh, that we, uh, went to every summer, that we would, uh, live there and that was lots of fun. It was back to nature and, and I used to love to fish and swim-. [Laughter] -And do all those things. Uh, I, I, I was fortunate enough, uh, to be able to, uh, see a lot of the, the different ways of life, to, to be given the opportunity to, oh, what, what word do I want to use? Uh, uh, to live a, a, um, to see, to see all different kinds of [pause], wa-, ways to live, in other words we also, uh, had an opportunity to visit a farm. And so, we, we lived a city life but had access to a farm as well as to a, a lake environment and a lot of people didn't have that opportunity and I was glad that I had it. Uh, my brothers and I fought, um, now we're very close. And, I guess that's just natural for, for siblings to fight. Uh, what else? Uh, I'm, I'm trying to think of some of the things, oh, eh, memories. Uh, one thing that just happened recently with Kennedy's assassination. Where was I? Uh, I was working in the office and it was my responsibility to go around in junior high school and tell everybody that the president had been killed. And the reactions, it was just like yesterday, I, but everybody else has those same memories. It was, uh, something that I shall never forget. Um, I'm trying to think of some of the other things that, uh, in my childhood, we were just a very close family, um, brought up with good strong values and the traditions, going back to the traditions, um, I guess I haven't looked at the definition of a tradition-. [Laughter] -To see what it would be. Um, [pause] you, you just help each other out as much as you possibly can. Um, and I'm just rambling here [laughs]. What else do I need, uh, to say?
NL: Why don't you talk about your dad a little bit, I know he's had a big impact on Meghan's life and // ( ). //
CH: // OK. // My, my dad, uh, grew up in the house that he was born in and he died in that house. And I obviously lived there, uh, while I was growing up. He, um, he was a very personable individual who, uh, was in politics and, and dealt in, in real estate management and development. He was a very unusual politician in the fact that he really, truly wanted to represent the people and he would not mislead in any campaign. And from him, I think I got the, the, the drive to, to help as many people as, as you possibly can. My dad did not go on, and he was asked to go into higher political career, but chose not to because he said that he would not, he needed the money from other people in order to succeed, but he couldn't promise that he would vote the way that they wanted to, so he did not, he chose not to go in that direction. As a matter of fact there was somebody in one of his campaigns that gave him a contribution, he didn't know where it came from, and it was never spent, uh, because he did not want an anonymous campaign donor, after the election, saying, "I gave him so much money." That money was still in the campaign after the election.
NL: A lot of-. // ( )// [Laughter]
CH: A lot of-, well, and there, I think there are very few people like that in today's society. I mean, you can't, you need the money to, to win. And I'm sure that there are a lot of good people out there, uh, but I think in today's world it's becoming more difficult for the good, uh, qualified, honest people to, to run, uh, because of the media, the cost, the, to run a campaign. And it, very few people have that kind of personal wealth in order to participate. There are a few-.
NL: Uh-huh.
CH: -But not many who can, who can do that. But, no, because of his honesty, his desire to help people, uh, personable, uh, he did have a significant impact on my life. And at the same time my mom had an equal impact in the fact that she was the one that who was always saying, "You can do this," and "You can do that." And, when everybody else would say, "You can't do this," my mom found a way for me to know that I could do it. And that's very important as you're growing up.
NL: Uh-huh.
CH: So that you would always be able to have confidence that whatever you strive for, as long as you do your best, that a lot of times you're going to win. Uh, but if you don't try then you'll never know.
NL: Was that confidence what led you into a career that wasn't typical for women?
CH: Yes. Uh, and I think that, that my mom gave me a, a lot of that. Um, so you can see a little bit if both mom and dad in me. A little bit, a lot. And I've probably been a little bit independent and obstinate, too. [Laughter] No, but uh, no. I, I, I base all of my success on what I learned as a, um, as a young child from my family. And I'm very appreciative that I had that opportunity because there's a lot of people then, and today in particular, that are not given the opportunity to, to be raised in such an environment. And we were just very, very fortunate that, that we had the means and that they were given those values, as well. Um-.
NL: And that upbringing ( ) has allowed you to balance your family and career?
CH: Right. And my family has always been number one, and there are a lot of things that I could have done in my life, things that people have asked me to do that I have said no to, uh, because my family came first and I knew that I didn't have the time to, uh, dedicate to a particular job or situation. And if I did something I wanted to do it right, and I couldn't do it, uh, then I, then I wouldn't try. Um, any-, and it was just like, um, I feel like s-, I helped initiate the flex program for a lot of females because when I started working after my children, um, were born, I didn't work full time, as a matter of fact, I didn't work at all out of the home until after a few years. But then I worked on a part-time basis even out of my home, um, because my family was so important to me and I still wanted to maintain a career. But it was before the time that, there wasn't even, flex time wasn't even a word back then. I mean it just, it, it has evolved and I have watched it evolve over time. But I was given again, the opportunity. And at the same time you can say that I sought it out. Um, I said, "Here's what I want, and here's how I want to do it. Do you have a need for this?" And they said, "Yes." Um, not a lot of organizations back then could see the possibilities in flex time and now it's, it's a way of life. You just, that's, that's it [laugh]. Also, when I had my children, when I had my babies, um, I quit the day that our oldest daughter was due. But back then, you had to take it in sick leave, your maternity leave.
NL: You did?
CH: And I had just worked for two years, so I didn't have a lot of sick days left. I mean, I didn't have any sick days [laugh]. I hadn't accumulated them. But, eh, from that perspective things have changed significantly, also. But I knew that I wanted to be at home with my family. So, therefore the day that, that I left to have her, was, was my last day. Um, so that I've been able to see, and I don't consider myself old, but I've seen a lot of changes in my life and am anxious to, uh, see what other changes I think that the world has, that there's a lot of positive things, uh, that, uh, can impact how the future of, of the world is going. I think we've had a few blips of negativity but I think that the positive always, always wins out. And I think we're headed in a positive uptrend now and I think we're going to be going back more to family values, more to traditions and I think the traditions can help mold and pull families and friends together. Uh, so that it, it gives us something to have, uh, faith and, and strength from in good and bad times.
NL: Um, what about college? What about your college days [laugh]?
CH: [Laughs] College days, OK. Well, first of all, I went to, I graduated from a high school in a class of 1,100 people. I went to a college that had a total of 600 people. [Laughter] And it was a girl's school [laughs]. Um, and, eh, I, I was fortunate enough to go to some good schools and to have the opportunity to meet people from all walks of life and from all over the country and the world. College was a fun time, um, it was the first time away from home. I missed it, I, and at the same time I met a lot of new friends and people who are still very, very close to me. College wasn't easy, um, and I look at it compared to today, I think a, a long time ago it was anticipated that you would go to college and graduate in four years. Nowadays, that isn't necessarily the case. Things, things have changed from that perspective and that's not bad. Um, I did a lot of work, I, I worked in the summertime and I think that in order to grow and mature and know what you're wanting to do in life, you almost need to, to work a little bit just to get a flavor of where you're going. And my goodness, I had a career planned for me ever since they told me that I couldn't go into math, and I, and I went into political science and, and French, uh, and then went back and got my accounting degree. But, but I look back now, if I had worked in an accounting field or area, just to even to answer the phone, in an accounting office to, to know that I needed to buck the system and say that, "This is still what I want to do." But you don't look back. A lot of things wouldn't have happened had I gone into accounting immediately. I wouldn't have met my husband. I mean, he was getting his Masters in Public Administration, like I. And, so, you, you don't look back and if you make mistakes you, you learn from them, and so therefore, I just went ahead and got my accounting degree. Uh, college was fun. I was lucky enough not to have to work to put my way through college. I say lucky, I'm not sure if that's lucky or not because sometimes you appreciate your education more if you have to work for it. Uh, or else if, if you really want to go, then you're going to find a way to do it. Uh, but there were, there were good memories. I, I look back and over, over my entire life span, I mean, it's, it's been a good life. It hasn't been perfect but it's, it's been a very good life with a lot of strong support from, from family and friends that, that a lot of people wouldn't necessarily and, and don't necessarily have. Um, bottom line, uh, the family and tradition and the strength of, of those individuals, uh, helps mold me and my family and hopefully, future generations.
NL: Thank you.
CH: OK. ( )