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Interview with Janet Phillips

Phillips, Janet
Phillips, Julie
Date of Interview: 
Relationships with people and places; Stories and storytellers
Janet Phillips tells stories her parents told her when she was a child.
Charlotte Narrative and Conversation Collection
Collection Description: 
Julie Phillips interviewed Charlotte, NC residents to collect various stories for a class project at UNC Charlotte.
J1 (Julie Phillips): My mom will share with me some stories told to her by her parents when she was a little girl. I am now 26 years old. It is September 21, 2002.
J2 (Janet Phillips): OK, when you told me that you wanted an interview, I thought right away about when I was a little girl, and some of the things my mom and dad had told me. I thought it would be nice to share with you because I don't know if you heard all of these stories. The first one that came to mind [laughs]. The first one that came to mind was that my mother had said when she was a little girl she promised she would never marry anyone with the name of Ed or Eddie. Did you ever hear that story? She said when she was very little there was a little boy in the neighborhood that played with her and he was not nice to her. And sometimes they used to get dressed up, all the kids in the neighborhood would get dressed up and they'd pretend to have a wedding. My mother got to be the bride, well her little friend Eddie got to be the groom. They went down some stairways leading to a basement and that's where the wedding was going to take place, and they had a minister who had a bible and it was a little boy of the neighborhood and some little girls, I guess were dressed up as bridesmaids. And after the, the um, minister pronounced them man and wife this little Eddie kissed her and it really upset her and she ran home and she was very upset and said from that day forward she would never marry someone named Eddie and she ended up marrying my dad, named Ed. [Break in recording] Um, a story my father shared with me, and he shared fewer stories with me than my mother, was one I remember so well and I've shared it with a lot of my students in my class because it relates to a story I've read to them and they love it and have asked me to tell it over and over again. He and his twin bother would go to, um, Wisconsin up to a little lake for the whole summer. His father owned a restaurant, which at the time they called a tavern and his family would take a train up to Wisconsin and his mother and the rest of the children would stay up in Wisconsin and his dad would come up for weekends. Well apparently one summer they took their friend, Roy with them and my dad, Ed, and his twin, Fred, and their friend Roy got into all sorts of mischief. One of the things that they had planned for some time was to do something with the water tower in the town that was just a few blocks away from their house, which they rented on the lake. [Cough] So they had planned this the previous night I think and they got up really early before sunlight. And they got up on the water tower. And with them they had taken a dummy that they had filled they put old clothes and they and they stuffed um the old clothes, with I guess straw and things. And then they were up on the top and it was just turning morning, daylight and a few people were moving about in this little town. And they threw this dummy off the water tower and screamed, "Help," as it went all the way down to the ground. And then they hurried down the back of the um water tower. I don't know if they got caught or not. But um, they were pretty silly and I think they tried to scare a lot of the people in the town and apparently they did, there were several women that were screaming. [Break in recording] Um, another story about my dad and I believe Roy was involved in this one too and his twin brother, Fred. This was back in the city of Chicago where he lived and they were out playing in the street and apparently the ball had gone down into a manhole and so they lifted the manhole and there was, there was a ladder. I guess that you could go down on the ladder and my dad went down to retrieve the ball and as he was coming up and put his hand on the ledge to get out, his twin bother dropped the manhole cover on his hand. And, um, I remember my dad used to show me his bent finger forever and he told me that was because Uncle Fred had let, dropped. [Break in recording] Speaking of Fred, um, my father claims that he had a temper when he was younger. I never saw it when he was um an adult. I just adored him and never saw that side of him. But apparently as a young man, and a child he did have a temper. And it was my fathers job to wake him up in the morning to get to school or Sunday school or where ever they were going or maybe to a job as a young adult. Um, my dad never had any trouble getting up, he used to get up at 5 o'clock, five thirty in the morning without an alarm clock. But Fred was really difficult to get up. So my father had um gotten my uncle up and he didn't like it one bit, my uncle, and so he went to find my dad's hat, which apparently he liked a lot and cost some money, and stuck it in the dresser drawer and slammed the dresser drawer, on the, on the hat and then opened the dresser drawer and continued to do that until he destroyed it. And I think it was called a Fedora. And it was a, a man's hat that they wore. I don't know if they still wear Fedoras. They wore them a long time ago.
J1: How old were they?
J2: Well they may have been young adults, teenagers or young adults I would think. [Break in recording] All right, back to my mother, when my mother was a little girl her brother was um well three and a half years younger and she was very protective of him, would take good care of him. And apparently somebody in the neighborhood was a bully and they were bothering my Uncle Melvin and so my mother took it upon herself to get rid of the bully and my mother was such a little lady and all of her life. But she took care of that bully who picked on her brother.
J1: What did she do?
J2: I guess she beat him up, from what she said.
J1: [Laugh] That doesn't sound like Grandma at all. [Break]
J2: Um, I first talked about a story that my mother said she would never marry anyone with the name of Ed, from that experience when she was little girl, but when she was a young woman and had her first job a friend of hers was dating, her friend's name was Lois, and she was dating a young man named Charlie. And they wanted to fix her up with Ed. And mother was a little, um.
J1: Apprehensive.
J2: Very, yes. But then she saw him, he was outside the window of her office building where she worked and her friend Lois pointed him out and said, "Oh, there's Ed with Charlie." And when she looked at him through the window she said, "Well, I think I'd like to meet him."
J1: // Aww. //
J2: // And so they met and. //
J1: The rest is history.
J2: Right.
J1: Aww. [Break in recording]
J2: Well they met and um, my mother liked, liked him immediately. I think my dad liked my mom immediately too, but he had a little girlfriend up in Wisconsin. 'Cause like I said when they were children they went up to Wisconsin quite a bit and apparently they still did as young adults. And so he was.
J1: How old were they when they met?
J2: Well, my dad was six years older than my mother. Um, my mom was probably in her early twenties. 'Cause when they married, and it was a couple years after they met, my dad was thirty.
J1: ( ) He was that old ( ) then.
J2: Yeah, I guess so but um. Anyways, so he had, my mother was a little concerned about this when he would go up to Wisconsin occasionally because he knew this other girlfriend had been there. But um, that ended and mom and then mom and he got married. [Break in recording] Well, my father always liked Wisconsin from a child and so when I was a little girl we went up to Wisconsin and spent a lot of vacations up there. We used rent a house on a lake. It was very private, the lake we were on I think, it was called Sterling Lake and it had only seventeen houses on it at the time and it was several miles long, so it was pretty deserted. It was between some Indian villages. Laktaflambo was one and Manaqua and Wood Drift. Anyway, we used to go there and we'd fish and swim and the lakes were so clear. And my dad and I one time went out in a canoe and I was pretty little And my aunt and uncle were staying with us at the time. And they were, my uncle was on the pier as my father and I went off on the lake on the, in the canoe. And for some reason, I don't even know exactly what happened, if I stood up or whatever, but the canoe tipped over and we went under. And my dad had me, he grabbed me right away and the canoe was upside down and I, I remember my father getting hold of me. But my uncle when he saw what happened up ahead, he dove right into the water and um, got the canoe then and brought it back to the pier. And I was scared, I was about five years old and I remember I cried and I was a little afraid. And we all went in, into the house then that we were renting and um we all had wet clothes so we had to take our clothes off and change into dry clothes and I was still a little concerned. And my Aunt Annie was there and she knew I was upset and so she told me, said for me to come out to the yard with her. And I went out in the yard and she had hung up all of our wet clothing on the clothes line and she'd also hung up all the dollar bills and five dollars that my uncle had, had in his wallet. And I thought that was so funny seeing that money hanging up from the one the clothesline and I kind of forgot about my scare after that. [Break in recording] ( ) My Aunt Annie and Uncle Heck, when they retired, bought a place on a lake in Illinois and um it was great because then we could all go out to their house on the lake and they had a pier. And they had two boats. They had a little cabin cruiser and they had a rowboat. And they had a great big party when they first moved there. And they wanted to christen the boats. So my Uncle Fred, my dad's twin brother, had to draw straws and one of them got to christen the cabin cruiser and one got to christen the rowboat. And I remember, I was probably around ten years old, and my dad drew the short straw and he got to christen the rowboat and he christened it with a bottle of beer. And um, my Uncle Fred had a bottle champagne to christen the cabin cruiser with and I thought that was pretty cute and fun.