Accessibility Navigation:

Interview with Stuart James

James, Stuart
Patel, Amit
Date of Interview: 
Overcoming Obstacles; Relationships with People and Places; Stories and Storytellers; Cultural Identification
Stuart James talks about his family and his grandfather's storytelling.
Charlotte Narrative and Conversation Collection
Collection Description: 
Amit Patel interviews Charlotteans to collect stories for a class project at UNC Charlotte.
Interview Audio: 
AP (Amit Patel): Interview number two. What is your name?
SJ (Stuart James): Stuart James.
AP: What are you from?
SJ: Charlotte, North Carolina.
AP: Where were you born?
SJ: Charlotte, North Carolina.
AP: How many years have you lived here?
SJ: 22.
AP: [Pause] Where is your family from?
SJ: Scotland.
AP: Where are your mother's parents from?
SJ: Boone, North Carolina.
AP: Where are your father's parents from?
SJ: Greensboro, North Carolina.
AP: Who told the most stories in your family?
SJ: My grandfather.
AP: What type of stories did your grandfather tell you?
SJ: The stories that my grandfather liked to tell the most were the stories of growing up in the South. My grandfather moved to Boone, North Carolina at the age of 15. He grew up in South Carolina in a small town outside of Sumter. When he moved to Boone at the age of 15, he decided to become a barber. So he went to school for six months to learn how to cut hair. While my grandfather was enrolled in barber school, he met my grandmother, Marie Wilson. A year later, they were wed and settled in Boone, North Carolina. A year later, he was drafted into WWII. However, before he left, my grandmother became pregnant. When my grandfather returned, he had a three year old daughter, my mother, Judy Wilson. Growing up in Boone, North Carolina, my mother had many memories. The memory that she recollects the most [clears throat] is sitting and eating ice cream with her father on the stoop in front of their house. My mother spent most of her time, besides eating ice cream with my grandfather, playing with the children in front of their neighborhood. [Sigh] Growing up, my mother went to high school as well in Boone, North Carolina. She was a cheerleader and also was a part of the Chess Club. My mother tried to teach me the game of chess; however, it is not something I'm very interested in. After graduating high school at the top of her class, my mother enrolled at Appalachian State University, where she received a Bachelor's degree in Communication. After undergrad, my mother went to grad school, as well, at Appalachian State University. During grad school, she met my father,Alexander James. My parents dated for almost two years while my mother was completing grad school. My father was working full time as an accountant as well, in Boone, North Carolina. Once my mother completed grad school, they moved to Charlotte, North Carolina, where they settled, and my father got another job as an accountant and my mother worked in public relations for a bank in Charlotte. After living in Charlotte for almost two years, my parents had one child named Michael. Deciding to move out of Charlotte, they moved to Monroe, North Carolina, where they built a home in 1976. Soon, however, my parents were tired of commuting everyday from Monroe to Charlotte, so both of them got jobs in Charlotte and put my brother in daycare. Four years later, they had another child, me. Deciding to be a stay-at-home mother, my mother left her job at the bank. Deciding to become a stay-at-home mother, soon my parent's finances were in very big trouble. So my mother decided to go back to work, two years later, at the bank. However, once my mother did return to the bank, financial problems still placed a heavy burden on my parents' marriage. Soon afterwards, they separated and my mother moved to Charlotte and I stayed with my father in Monroe, North Carolina, because I did not wish to leave the school that I was enrolled in. A year later, my parents were divorced and my mother decided to move back home to Boone, North Carolina, and I stayed with my father in Monroe, North Carolina. My brother graduated high school in 1994and went to college at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke. I graduated high school in 1998 and attend The University of North Carolina at Greensboro. I often visited my mother and grandfather in Boone, North Carolina. My grandfather loved to tell stories of growing up in the South and attending barber school and when he married my grandmother. He also liked to tell stories of WWII. One of his favorite stories that he recounts is the day that he came home. He had been gone for a few years and was very surprised when he returned and saw his two year old daughter. He was a little upset that he had missed [clears throat] her when she was born, her birth, and when she was a small child, however, he was very happy to be home with his wife and his new child. He also likes to tell the story of the first house they bought. The first house that they bought was a mere two-story house with one bedroom downstairs and two bedrooms upstairs. Unfortunately, last year my grandfather died at the age of 98. My mother was extremely upset for a long time because [clears throat] her and her father were very close. However, as a few years have past, she's learned to just live with the memories that he shared and often likes to tell the same stories that she, that he shared with her. My grandmother, however, is still alive, and my mother, and my grandmother often sit around and tell the stories that my grandfather told us, to me and my brother when were small children. It always brings a lot, back a lot of memories whenever I visit my grandmother because I always think about the stories that my grandfather used to tell me and my brother, when, much like him and his daughter, would sit outside on the front porch and eat ice cream and listen to his stories about the past. I don't remember all of the stories that my grandfather told us because I was very young at the time. However, I do, I will always cherish the stories that he did tell us and I will tell them to my children. This concludes the story of my grandfather and my family.