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Monologue by Laura E. Ragonese

Ragonese, Laura E.
Parrish, Sarah
Date of Interview: 
Childhood Adventures
Laura Ragonese recounts a roadtrip that she and her sisters took to Florida.
Charlotte Narrative and Conversation Collection
Collection Description: 
Sarah Parrish interviews Charlotteans to collect stories for a class project at UNC Charlotte.
Interview Audio: 
LR (Laura E. Ragonese): Um. Hi, I'm Laura Ragonese, and I'm currently living in Huntersville, North Carolina. I've been there for about two and a half years, but I grew up in a small town in Connecticut and I basically came down here um, just first for the University, but then I landed a job, so I've been staying here working. Um, and I happened upon Charlotte and Huntersville area just on the Internet. I was looking for a city down south and I kind of wanted an idea as to something new, something upcoming, and from what I understand, Charlotte is a quite growing city. So, it seemed like a really good place to come to, and so far I really like it. Um, I'm going to tell you a story about a trip I took with my sisters. Um, I have four sisters and we're all about a year and a half apart and we're going to visit my grandmother who lives in Cape Coral, in Florida. So, I think it was maybe four years ago, four, four, or five years ago and um, we left, actually just three of my sisters and I went. And um, we left Connecticut and we were driving down, we were driving in my sister Diane's um, Ford Escort, which she'd had for about a year and a half and uh, we were driving and everything, anticipating good weather and I think we were just about right outside of Savannah, Georgia and I was driving the car and her car is standard and um, the clutch went out on the car. So, I was driving and I said to my sister Diane, "Di, I don't think, I think something is wrong with the clutch," I said, "Because it seems to be on the floor," meaning it, it wasn't, didn't feel like it was connected. And I um, she said, "Pull off the side of the road," so I pulled off into this um, I guess it was like a rest stop. But, there weren't any pay phones, a lot of truckers, few people, whatever, so we stopped and definitely the clutch was broken. So, my sister has a CB and so we tried to radio some people, that didn't work. This woman came through with a cell phone, so we called for help and this [pause] honky-tonk kind of guy, [laugh] I don't know where he was from, he was operating basically his machine shop or his repair shop right out of this truck. He didn't have a license plate on his truck [laugh]. He didn't have a decal saying where he worked or anything. So, it was kind of shady. But, so, it was about three or four o'clock, anyway, so we sat on the curb and waited for this guy. He comes first and assesses the situation and said, "I think that your clutch cable snapped and it's not really a big deal, we can rig it up, so you guys can get to where you got to go, you just have to get it fixed." So fine, so he leaves. And we flag down an officer and he comes and he tries and tells us, he proceeds to tell us there was a black belt, wait the murder belt? I don't know [laugh] this guy was crazy, this cop, he said that we were in a really bad section of where people were like murdered and killed and like thrown like behind like the rest stop. So my sisters are sitting on the curb thinking, "Oh, my God, we're going to die, right?" And not to mention it's getting later in the day and it was about, I think it was late March, early April, it had to be. But anyways, so the sun had started descending, going down. Anyways, this guy comes and he fix, he must have left about four times, I don't know where he was going, but I don't know where his shop was, but every time he comes back with some crazy thing and he eventually fixed our car with some uh, chicken wire, I think he rigged it up with. We have no idea [laugh]. Anyways, we got in the car and it got us to Savannah, Georgia. And we arrived in Savannah, um, it was Mardi Gras, was it Mar, no it was St. Patrick's Day and let me tell you there were some crazy things going on. The woman, the desk attendant, the hotel we checked in well, first we couldn't find any hotels, because it was booked, apparently Savannah is like really crazy around St. Patrick's Day. So, um, we got there and this woman had long green nails on, it was kind of crazy. Um, she was like, "Oh, you guys came for the perfect time, it's um St. Patrick's Day and we're having parties and parties," and all this stuff. So, I couldn't go out, I think I was like 19 years old and you have to be like 21, uh, 18 in some clubs and 21 to drink, and we decided not to go out, considering everything that had happened that day. So, we woke up the next morning, we went down and we drove down to Florida. I think it took us in all about 23 hours, maybe 24, because she, Cape Coral is on the west coast. So, we got there and my grandma is of course excited to see us and we unpacked our stuff and everything and we proceeded to lay out in the driveway, and my younger sister Nancy, um, being her first time in the sun, decided she didn't want to use sunscreen, because she really wanted to get a good suntan, she got a good suntan, she got a sunburn. After we yelled at her for about three hours she decided to slap some sunburn on the back of her, suntan lotion on the back of her leg, and it left a nice white print, like hand print on the back of her leg, and the rest of her got sun burnt. So, then we basically um, we visited with our grandmother and I have some step family that lives down there, so one night we went out with our cousin Teddy [laugh] and we uh, went out to some clubs with him and everything. Um, and then we went to, let's see For, I want to say it's Fort Myers Beach, FL I think, the beach is on the west coast, we went down, it's about an hour from my grandma's and uh, it's a really nice beach, it's uh, was pretty warm that day. I think, we all got some color, but they were having an epidemic of red tide and so all the fish were washing up on the shore and um, luck be it, since we were having such a good time um, Allison, Nancy, and I decide we are going to take a walk along the beach and there were fish strewn everywhere so we were careful not to step on them. However, Allison wasn't paying attention and she stepped on a fish and it got a barb, which is one of it's defense mechanisms, stuck in her foot, so it was really painful and her foot swelled up and everything. So, we go to this gas station and they tell us we have to go to the hospital, so we go to the hospital in Cape Coral and I think we were there for probably ten hours.