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Interview with Gordon Little

Little, Gordon
Little, Carolyn
Blocker, Cary
Date of Interview: 
Stories and storytellers
Gordon Little talks about his childhood, reading, baseball, and hiking stories.
Charlotte Narrative and Conversation Collection
Collection Description: 
Cary Blocker interviewed Charlotte, NC residents to collect various stories for a class project at UNC Charlotte.
CB (Cary Blocker): Interview number one Gordon Little. So, so when you were a younger kid, right, what was, um, what was some of the first experience you had with people telling you stories? Can you remember being in a certain room with people telling you stories or?
GL (Gordon Little): Stories, such as?
CB: Before you went to bed or night time stories?
GL: Not, not, not really, I came from a split family-.
CB: Uh-huh.
GL: -And so never really had a grandfather, you know, my grandparents died. Um well, I never met my grandparents I, well ex-, excluding my grandmother of course. Um, my father was, was an engineer. He wasn't a good storyteller. Likewise I'm an engineer, I'm not a good storyteller either. [Laugh] My early days in my childhood like when I was born until maybe six or seven was with my original family. I had three other, three sisters and myself. As a result we really didn't have a lot of time for stories, um, so I didn't hear a lot then. Uh, then when it when the family split up and it was my sister and I and my dad, um, you know due to whatever reason, uh, the, the father parent was, was never, never there to do the stories.
CB: Really?
GL: And, I'm, I'm sorry, not that he wasn't there he just was not like I said earlier he was not a good storyteller, and, and, uh, he was more concentrated on you know working, etcetera.
CB: Where did you guys grow up? You and your sister and your dad?
GL: In Charlotte.
CB: In Charlotte?
GL: Yes.
CB: Did you live out in, you know, the woods or what, what part of the city?
GL: [Laughing] The woods. We lived out towards, um, Albemarle Road.
CB: Uh-huh
GL: Towards, uh an area called, uh, Will Grove which is, uh, between Mint Hill and Hickory Grove, if you can, can find those areas on a map, // uh. //
CB: // Yeah. //
GL: Uh, essentially Albemarle Road.
CB: Do you remember what your room looked like? Where you when you lived in that house.
GL: Somewhat yes, yes.
CB: What, what did that look like?
GL: They It looked like uh, um. In my early days I was a um into baseball a lot.
CB: Uh-huh.
GL: So I had a lot of baseball stu-, banners, um that was it as far as any type of artwork in in my room, was // baseball banners. //
CB: // What, // what was your favorite team?
GL: The Orioles.
CB: Ah, ok.
GL: The Orioles, only because the team that I played for, the elementary school on Monroe Road, as a matter of fact, um was the whatever Orioles, so likewise my favorite team was the The Orioles.
CB: What, what position did you play in baseball?
GL: Um, shortstop and pitcher.
CB: Do you remember like one particular game or or series you guys had that was that stands out?
GL: Um-hm I remember I remember two that stands out. One was, uh, um, a game where I hit three homeruns.
CB: Um-hm.
GL: That stands out a lot. Um, I was voted most valuable player that year, by the way. [Laugh] Uh. The other, the other game that stands out was when I struck out four times. [Laughs]
CB: [Laughs]
GL: [Laughs] So I.
CB: From high to low, right?
GL: Yeah, yes yes. // One extreme to the other. //
CB: // Did you // That year you won MVP did you guys did you have like a championship or something like that? Or-.
GL: Um.
CB: Did you guys have like a playoffs?
GL: You know, I really don't remember. That was that was a probably like 1969. I, I really don't remember if we, uh, had tournaments back then.
CB: Um-hmm. So as you, um, started elementary school did you notice um did you notice books a little more? Did you start picking up books? Or were you read to by any of your teachers?
GL: I was not read to by any teachers that I remember. Um, but by elementary school. Uh, despite the fact that I was not read to you know by my parents I actually joined a book club, I remember joining a book club and ordering paperback books, um, probably like the only book I read in childhood was
. Um.
CB: What, what was that about? Do you remember?
GL: That's actually a musical that that's uh, um, that is produced on, uh, TV in current current times now. Um it's, it's about, uh, gang fare in say New York City.
CB: Mm-hmm, did you was there something about the characters that that you liked or were your rooting for one of the sides do you remember?
GL: Yeah, yeah, pretty, pretty, pretty much, um, I was, uh, uh, what, what impressed me about they, uh, uh book was well it inspired me to, to read about the uh characters that were streetwise, um, you know just hardcore I guess hardened street guys, you know, and you know had the chicks to follow them and, and you know what not it, it that, that inspired me a lot.
CB: So Eastside Story, was there any other one that you remember that-?
GL: There was there was something that I read probably half halfway, uh, Going Across the Mountain [aside] Jack, Carolyn, call Jack.
CL (Carolyn Little): All right.
GL: Um th-, it was one book that I read probably halfway through and I kind of dropped out of the book club because I found myself not reading the books was. And, and, and I don't remember it was like Going Across a Mountain about a boy and his dog you know going over the mountain of some sort. And I got about halfway through with it and got kind of bored and, and I guess maybe it was baseball season. I don't know.
CB: When, uh, when, when you like to tell stories now, um, what kind of stories do you like to tell? When you're sitting around with friends or family what kind of stories do you find yourself telling?
GL: Oh, typically uh the stories nowadays revolve around some kind of outdoor activity, um, hiking, climbing, um climbing they're good stories because the only person that that that knows what I've been through is the actual person that was on the climb with me.
CB: Um-hmm.
GL: Or the hike. Um, so you know the story is, is mine in all aspects, nobody else was there to, to experience it, or do they know what I'm telling the hundred percent truth or not, but um so I like those stories a lot, but, uh, kayaking, I've a couple of good kayaking stories, um, uh, other stories that I like are road trips that that, that my wife Carolyn and I take. We've got several good stories, car camping in, in the western United States, etcetera.
CB: Can you think of, of one in particular that that stands out that you like to tell? Um about, um, going outdoors or, or hiking?
GL: Um.
CB: That really sticks out when you look back.
GL: I, I got a couple of them, and it really depends on if I'm, you know, trying to impress women or trying to impress other guys in the in, in a party scene or wherever I am telling a so-story. Um, there was a, a blizzard that hit, uh, the eastern United States about two years ago and I, I. The forecast was for you know ten inches of snow, which is which is very good hiking and camping whether, especially along the Appalachian Trail, where the snow is typically beaten down. You got shelters to go to. Well, it ended up being about 36 inches of snow, and it was very epic on my end as far as, um, getting stranded out there. It was a battle, an all night battle to keep the snow off the tent, and, and you know the story goes on about how I didn't eat any food, didn't eat any dinner, didn't eat any breakfast, didn't go to the bathroom, couldn't get out of my tent. So, I mean you know, and here again, I was by myself it was a solo trip, what actually, which actually adds to the, the thrill of it, um and of course nobody was with me to verify this, so you know it's my objective to puff it up as much as possible.
CB: Does it change every time you tell it a little bit?
GL: No, not really, not really. What happened, happened and.
CB: Uh-huh.
GL: I mean I was pretty scared. I was in control the whole time, but I was, I was very scared and, uh, had another pretty serious epic, well I've had a couple of them climbing and I like to elaborate those, but, but really the, the only people that like to hear climbing stories are other climbers. Um, it's kind of like fishermen and fish stories, you know. It's, nobody else is really interested in, in how big a fish was. Um but I've got a good hiking story, just, just from last year that was, was, um, uh, very, very close being epic, and I do like to talk about that occasionally, depending on the company.
CB: Uh-hm, as far as stories you like to hear, what type of stories do you like to hear told to you?
GL: By people or books or, or what?
CB: Well, by people first. What kind of is, is there other interests you have?
GL: Well obviously, I like to hear stuff that interests me.
CB: Um-hmm.
GL: Um, you know for example if somebody wanted to tell me uh a story about how they painted a picture you know I mean, I could respect it but I don't know anything about it, so I can't really appreciate it to the fullest extent therefore I don't really want to hear it. I mean, not that I don't really want to hear it, I'm sorry, but um, I, I guess I can't appreciate it as much as something that that does interest me. So yeah, I guess I want to hear stuff that does interest me.
CB: How about the way they tell it? Is there anything that you like to is there a way that people tell stories that you like to hear, something they do?
GL: Oh format, format I think is everything. Uh the, the how the de-, the message is delivered is, is very important throughout a lot not necessarily stories but um, in, in the business sense, uh, how proposals are delivered to potential clients, uh, how a report is delivered, you know whether it's verbally or whatever, to, to a client, and um, yeah I think format is very important how it's delivered to, to the person.
CB: How about? How about stories or books you like to read now? Do you read do you read any stuff to kind of escape or to just forget about work or does most of the stuff you read have to do with work?
GL: Uh, no, I try not to read, read much about work because I do so much at work, um but yeah I do read a lot more now. Um when I say a lot more maybe, maybe three books a year, which is, which is a lot for me. Um, you know I've got a forty-year old house, two dogs, and a wife, I mean you know I don't have much time.
CB: Mm-hmm.
GL: Plus I like to climb and hike so that that limits my amount of time leisure time to, to sit around the house and do nothing, which is when I like to read. But the, the stories that I do like to read, when I do read, are factual stories. I guess non-fiction.
CB: Can you think of one in particular that you read that you liked?
GL: Well, the last book I read was Into Thin Air by John Krakauer. Which was which was his personal account of the uh, uh disaster on Mount Everest in, in a May of '95.
CB: // Oh yeah. //
GL: // Or '96. // But anyway '95 or '96, it was the disaster where those eleven people that died over.
CB: // Uh-huh. //
GL: // Over that weekend. //
CB: Did you did you see that Omnimax?
GL: I saw it twice, // yes. //
CB: // Yeah, it's pretty amazing. //
GL: It's great it's great yeah.
CB: What, what was there something about the, um the story that really got to you? Or was there one part that you remember that really got to you?
GL: Um. His story, um, you know not, not referring to the // Omnimax, which. //
CB: // Right. //
GL: You know is a different story. Was very factual I was, being a climber I can relate to a lot of it um nothing in particular jumps out at me as, as a you know solid piece of information, but the entire book is centered around climbing and, and, and hiking, which is both of the sports that I love, so I was extremely intrigued by the book in general, because of that um but t-, to being in this in this situation that they were in, um and doing what they do, I kind of have a semi-understanding, although I don't do mountaineering, I have an understanding of, of what they're going through.
CB: So you found yourself relating to it?
GL: So I found myself relating to it.
CB: How about, um, looking back, how will be your life the types of stories that you you've enjoyed, do you see a type of change or have you seen a trend is there a certain type of reading that you like.
GL: Um.
CB: Or stories that you like to hear.
GL: I think that the uh, the general trend has been pretty much the same it, it, it seems like as a kid excluding of course Westside Story, I was I was always interested in, or intrigued by stories of you know kids on mountains, or sports figures, and in either case, you've got somebody doing activity, and i-, it's a fine thread that matches the two, typically mountaineers don't have anything to do with, with athletes, but nonetheless if you look at the, the string that connects them they are people are active. So I was always because I played baseball in elementary and junior school, I was interested in sports and was uh always interested in, you know, stories of sports players, not, not that I read a lot of it, but I just you know made myself aware of certain, you know, sports figures.
CB: OK, that sounds good.
CB: All right, that's sixteen minutes.
GL: That was it?
CB: Yeah, yep, We just needed fifteen minutes // of uh. //
GL: // OK. //
CB: We're going to have to transcribe this.
GL: Sure.
CB: So. No, that was really good, actually.
GL: OK, well good.
CB: We hit a lot of a lot different areas.