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Interview with Paul Nelson

Nelson, Paul
Nelson, Amy
Date of Interview: 
Childhood Adventures; Stories and Storytellers; Relationships with People and Places; Overcoming Obstacles
Paul Nelson recalls his childhood in Minnesota and Wisconsin.
Charlotte Narrative and Conversation Collection
Collection Description: 
Amy Nelson interviews Charlotteans to collect stories for a class project at UNC Charlotte.
Interview Audio: 
PN (Paul Nelson): Hello, my name is Paul Nelson. I am 23 years old, I was born in Cleveland, Ohio, and I have lived in Charlotte for 11 years. The first story is about when I was growing up. We had this hill over at my friend's house when, when we lived in Minnesota, and it would snow. We were always told not to, not to go on the lake when there was snow outside because, even though the ice was really thick, it could crack and we would fall in the lake and we'd freeze to death and die a hideous death.
AN (Amy Nelson): [Giggle]
PN: Anyways, we disregarded that. We made this path, all the way at the top is this really sharp slope that was really, really long. And it was this curvy path that we'd make and down at the end we'd pick up speed and we'd just go all the way out and we'd get, probably even get halfway across the lake. I can remember just going over there for hours and hours on end, just making these huge courses go down on this hill. Just go sledding down and run all the way back up top and just run down and do it again and just do it over and over again. The second story is about when we lived in, uh, Wisconsin, and we'd do this in the summertime. And in the summertime we had a group about, I don't know, about five or six kids and we'd just get together and, you know, just do stupid kid stuff together with, you know, like, we'd build forts in the woods and all that kind of stuff and we'd play guns and play war and all that jazz. Well anyways, we just decided that we'd be hard core about it one day. We got all dressed up in our camo gear and we all got our weapons and we just divided ourselves into teams. We got up about 8 o'clock in the morning and we started playing at nine. And we had to make our own forts. Not only did we make our own forts, but we also made our own booby traps. We dug ditches around our forts and covered them up with leaves and dirt and sticks and stuff so you could not tell that, you know, there was a ditch around there. And we put, like, these little briar and prickly bushes with thorns in the ditch so when somebody stepped on it they fell on a bunch of thorns and stuff. We probably, it was probably mid-afternoon before we even got done designing all that stuff. And then it was even until the nighttime because there were these trails out behind our houses and we would just run around in and just have all kinds of fun in. And at night, we'd just go out and try to track each other down. Um, because we had prepared all day long for this. Um, when you got tagged, or you got captured, or whatever, and you took the other person back to your fort. I can remember just the sheer excitement of just looking down the street and seeing my friend Mike just out of the corner of my eye and just started, you know, running down and chasing him and going back to his fort and being the first person to discover, you know, where the other person was, where the other team was, and just, taking that place over, and it was just so much fun because we had spent all day preparing, it was in the woods, and we were kids and we were young and it was just a great day. Um, the third story, [laugh] yes, when we lived in Minnesota, there were a bunch of houses that were under construction around the area. Here I am-.
AN: //How old were you?//
PN: //In the evening-.// I don't know. I was eight years old maybe.
AN: Six or seven?
PN: I don't know, I'm just a little kid, I don't have a brain or anything, and it's after dinner and I want to go outside and run around and whatever, there's no one that I really know in Minnesota because we had just moved there and there are these big old machines, you know, that have, uh, yeah, it was an earth mover. Um, and I just got on it and pretend that I'm driving it or whatever and I see these keys that are in the ignition. So, of course I turn the keys and the whole thing just starts up [laugh]. And I was out of that thing like a bat out of hell because I just had visions in my mind of this earth mover running and destroying houses, and all these families suing our parents and we had to live in, you know, poverty the whole rest of our lives just to pay off debt because I started this thing up. And then I ran [laugh] and took off and hid in the basement. And like immediately my parents saw me take off and they knew something had happened, like, "He just doesn't run in here and run in the basement for no reason."
AN: [Laugh]
PN: So, I think it was them and a bunch of neighbors went over and turned the machine off and my parents came over and they just talked to me and asked me what happened and I just told them, like, "I'm so sorry, I didn't know what was going to happen." They weren't mad or anything. I think that they would probably laugh about it when I wasn't around. But it was an extremely traumatic experience for me because I just thought I was going to destroy the whole neighborhood with this, this thing and I had no idea. I was like, "Well, these guys are really stupid to leave their keys in there anyways, knowing a whole bunch of kids are going to be around," so-. That's about it.