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Monologue by Leslie Redford

Redford, Leslie I.
Zaidain, Samantha
Date of Interview: 
overcoming obstacles; relationships with people and places; childhood adventures; stories and storytellers; tolerance and respect
Leslie Redford talks about some memories of growing up in Kentucky.
Charlotte Narrative and Conversation Collection
Collection Description: 
Samantha Zaidain interviews Charlotteans to collect stories for a class project at UNC Charlotte.
Interview Audio: 
LR (Leslie Redford): Hi, my name is Leslie Redford. I am 25. I was born in Louisville, Kentucky. I've lived in Charlotte about a year and a half now and, um, I moved here for my job. I work for a division of GE Plastics, and I am in employee communications. I have one sister. She's older than me, um, three years my senior. Her name is Allison. And. then, um, our parents are Dale and Janet Redford, they're still together, um, and they live in Louisville right now. Um, I guess today I will talk to you about my Grandmother Redford, which is my dad's mother. Um, I never met my grandfather on that side of the family. My grandfather died when he was, oh, like 62, fairly young. So, um, most of the grandchildren on that side of the family, um, did not know him or meet him. Um, my dad has three siblings, he is number three in line. And, um, he grew up in a small, small town in, um, rural Kentucky called Uno, U-N-O. And that is a suburb of Horsecade, Kentucky, which is another small, small town. Um, so today my grandmother lives in Uno and some of my other family lives there as well. And, that's, of course, where my father and his siblings grew up. Um, my dad grew up on a farm. It was a tobacco farm. And, um, as my dad got closer to college they switched over into dairy, and had a lot of dairy cattle, and turned it into a dairy farm. Um, right as my father was graduating from college, my grandfather, uh, got ill and then died, and not, soon after my grandmother sold the farm, and moved, uh, down not to far from the original farm and, of course, still knows the family that owns the farm, um, quite a bit. So, um, she now just lives on, like, half an acre in, uh, Uno, but that's where we still go to visit her, and, um, you know, I only get there probably two or three times a year now, but I have lots of memories growing up and visiting her there and hearing her stories, as well as my father's stories, about working on the farm. Um, my grandmother is one of five sisters, um, and she married my grandfather, of course, when they were fairly young. I don't think either one of them finished high school. And her primary role in the family was, of course, to take care to the children, but to also feed all the farm hands. So, she would have a great big bell that she would ring at eleven-thirty, when it was time for lunch for the farm hands. Actually, she would feed them all breakfast. They would all come, and of course, she would always call them "the hands." The hands would all come around like seven, maybe six-thirty or seven in the morning and have breakfast and then go out to the tobacco fields and then they'd come back at eleven-thirty, when she rang the bell for, um, lunch. And, my dad had one sister, so as she grew up, part of her responsibilities were also to, um, work in the kitchen and help prepare the food. When my grandmother moved to her current home from the farm, she brought that bell with her because it had so many memories, um, of their days there on the farm and all the hard work that they had put in that she wanted to keep that, um, memento. Um, my dad, um, as I said, was number three in line so he had one older brother and then an older sister. Um, his sister would always be tormented, that's my Aunt Joyce, and they would always tell stories of hanging her dolls in the trees and, urn, just being mean to her, in general, and putting corncobs in her shoes and doing things. When my dad was 13 my uncle, who is the oldest, took my dad to get his driver's license, and he just kind of lied, and said that he was 16 years, and, of age to get a driver's license. And, uh, to this day he still is three years older on his driver's license than what he, um, really is. Um, what else? My biggest, my best memories, I guess, is of growing up and going down to the country, as we call it, to visit my Grandmother Redford, would be, um, going down and going fishing on the weekends. We'd go back to the farm, um, and you know, fish in the pond there quite a bit. Um, and then we'd play at some cousins' house. We have, of course, you know, in the country everybody is related to everybody else. So we have some cousins that own a funeral home and so I remember playing there, which is kind of an odd thing. And, then, I remember playing with dominoes, dominoes a lot, at my grandmother's house, we'd do lots of domino games, and then she had this green plastic dog that had wheels on it. It was like this green Snoopy, and was completely hideous, but there was probably 12 or 14 grandchildren, and we would always fight over that green Snoopy, and who would get to ride it around the house, which was completely obnoxious. Um, one kind of weird thing that I remember about being in the country is going to church. My grandmother goes to a Baptist church and she is very, very religious and, um, a very devout Baptist. Um, of course, it was always kind of scary as a small child to be in these, um, services, these worship services because it was all hellfire and damnation. The ministers would scream and yell a lot. But, I remember one particular Sunday, and I don't know how old I was. I was, I would say, probably six, seven, or eight. And I remember just sitting in the sanctuary, you know, going through the, um, worship service, and the back door to the sanctuary opened up. And, of course, this is just like a one room sanctuary so you walk in, you're completely there. The back doors opened up and, um, four members of the Ku Klux Klan walked in, in like their entire garb, their sheets and their hats and whatnot, and just in the middle of the sermon, everything just kind of fell silent, and they walked forward and, um, put an envelope on the altar, kind of where the, uh, offering plates are, and made a donation to the church, and then they turned around and walked right back out. And the minister just went on with his sermon and just like nothing had happened. And, of course, being that young, I didn't know what is was or what was going on, why those men were dressed up like ghosts, and, you know, it's kind of hard to imagine what was going on. My mother, who grew up in the city, was quite disturbed by that but-. It was all just kind of weird as children. Um, one other thing I remember about my grandmother's house is that, this is actually pretty funny, is in the back she has this gas tank. I don't know if you all have ever, here I'm talking, "You all." OK, a lot of the houses in the country have their own, like, gas tanks right there on their lot, and there are these, like, round cylinders, they're really huge and they have like this weird thing on the front and they almost look like a pig. So all the kids would call it "the pig," and that would always be a big deal to go to my grandmother's house and be able to ride "the pig." So, I guess after you got to ride Snoopy you got to ride the pig [laugh]. I don't know. Um, and then we'd play dominoes and we'd dress up. And we would dress up in my grandmothers old church clothes, and that was our fun. Um, like I said at the beginning of this little interview, I have, I don't get down to see her very much now. Um, probably just two times a year, maybe three. But, um, we actually talk on the phone fairly often, and, um, I had an odd situation a couple weeks ago where I met somebody here in Charlotte that is from my grandmother's town, and actually knew a lot of my relatives, and it was just really odd to be in Charlotte and to meet somebody that came from that small town in Kentucky. And they could relate to so many of the experiences and the, um, the places and the landmarks that I knew. Um, so, she got a kick out of that when I got to tell her about that, and meeting this guy, and she was saying, you know, she wanted to know the family name. That's, of course, the first thing that they always want to say is, "What's the family's name?" Then they can relate tons of people back to that family. Um, I spoke with my grandmother a couple weeks ago. There's a big roadside market, um, on the farm next to her property now, and she was telling me that they have a little petting zoo up at the roadside market that's just different animals for the people that stop in, for children and sometimes field trips from the local elementary school go out to see the animals and farm, whatnot, and there are some roosters as part of that farm, or part of that petting zoo and the farm period. And the roosters have been coming to her back door every day now for the past two or three months, and so she's been feeding these roosters. And they're gradually letting, um, her feed them by hand and so, I was asking her if roosters could fly. I didn't even know if roosters could fly. So, she was making fun of me there and kind of being silly and everything she says starts with, "Why child, of course roosters can fly." And so she was telling me, "Why child, how do you think they get up into the coop?" [Laugh] So I felt kind of silly. That's OK, she's had a lot more experience with animals and farm life than I have or ever will probably. So, that is my little bit of country exposure, um, having grown up in the city I appreciate those experiences and, um, all the hard work that she has given through her life to the farms and, to the, um, lifestyle there where you have to work and raise so much of what you, you know, live on and eat. Entirely different life than what I was raised on and how I live today. So, um, I guess that's all, don't think there's anything else.