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Interview with Hazel Quinn

Quinn, Hazel
Male Voice
Walton, Candace
Date of Interview: 
Overcoming Obstacles; Relationships with People and Places; Cultural Identification
Hazel Quinn tlaks about how her grandparents fared as they migrated from South Africa to Zimbabwe.
Charlotte Narrative and Conversation Collection
Collection Description: 
Candice Walton interviews Charlotteans to collect stories for a class project at UNC Charlotte.
Interview Audio: 
CW (Candace Walton): This is Candace.
MV (Male Voice): Hi.
CW: This is Candace Walton. I'm interviewing Hazel Quinn on 11-24-1999 and she's going to tell us a story, um, that she heard during childhood or that she remembers to this day. Hazel?
HQ (Hazel Quinn): OK. Um, my name is Hazel Quinn. I came originally from Zimbabwe and I have lived in Charlotte now for 15 years. Um, I basically have a story that is one that was handed down in our family about how, um, my grandparents moved in, from South Africa to Zimbabwe in the very, very early days. They were almost pioneers but not quite. Um, my grandfather went up from South Africa to Zimbabwe, at that time it was called Rhodesia, and, um, he found some land there, um, quite a vast acreage, and, uh, decided to settle his family. He, um, was able to build just a small hut, a roundhovel, as we called them, and, uh, then he sent for his family. Uh, they came up by train, uh, again very early days in the country and very primitive, and my grandmother, uh, had one small child aged about a year old and, uh, another one just a little bit older than that and a third one on the way. So she was real pioneer stock and, uh, put up with all sorts of hardships, uh, in raising three children and being pregnant while doing all this travelling. Um, they settled in a part of the country that was, um, very wide open, uh, not a whole lot of trees but lots and lots of grass and, uh, the favorite part of, of the story as far as I'm concerned is that my grandmother was absolutely terrified with two small children because the grass was so tall she was afraid she would lose them and never find them again because they just got lost in the grass. Um, they moved up there, um, and had a really hard life, but, uh, living in just that one small hut and trying to work the land and, uh, go on living. Uh, there were quite a few German neighbors in the, in the area and they all helped them and, uh, they were able to build a small house. So instead of the whole family being in a hut they had two rooms now. [Pause] Those early days on the farm were very hard and there was no such thing as electricity, no such thing as running water, and certainly no such thing as any type of vehicle. Uh, my grandfather was a good horseman and he had wonderful horses and they had donkeys and they used to ride these donkeys all over the neighborhood if they needed to go anywhere. Uh, as the children got older, uh, they had a school built in the neighborhood and the children used to ride donkeys everyday to school. They had to ride about four miles. Uh, my grandmother taught at the school while her children were there and she was honored by having a horse to ride instead of a donkey. Um, I think the thing all of us learnt after hearing the story many, many times was the fact that, um, this family came up from South Africa and had absolutely nothing. They didn't have any of the conveniences that we have and they put up with all sorts of problems but they were an extremely happy family and even as civilization encroached upon them, they used to look back on those days as their happiest times. Uh, I think we, in this day and age, could learn a lot from that because we're so materialistic now and this family had nothing but they were, I'm sure, happier than most of us are today.
CW: Hazel, thank you very much for letting me interview you. Thank you.