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Interview with Kay Rudisill

Rudisill, Kay
Female Voice
Deatherage, Justin
Date of Interview: 
Relationships with people and places; Childhood adventures
Kay Rudisill talks about being scared by the traditions in the Church of God and making biscuits.
Charlotte Narrative and Conversation Collection
Collection Description: 
Justin Deatherage interviewed Charlotte, NC residents to collect various stories for a class project at UNC Charlotte.
JD (Justin Deatherage): You ready?
KR (Kay Rudisill): Ready as I'll ever be.
JD: Do you have a favorite childhood story?
KR: No.
FV (Female Voice): What's your name?
JD: Huh? You don't remember any? Oh you have to state your name.
KR: Yeah.
JD: Really?
FV: State your name and, ( ) think so. I don't know.
JD: Well, state your name.
KR: Kay Rudisill.
JD: OK, now.
KR: Quit smirking.
JD: You didn't, you don't, you don't have a favorite story that you learned?
KR: [Sighs]
JD: It can be any kind of story
KR: No.
JD: What about a favorite book?
KR: No, the only book I was really, had to buckle down and study was the Bible.
JD: The Bible? And how'd you feel about that?
KR: For about seven or eight years pretty good, after that no.
JD: Why not?
KR: I don't want to talk about that.
JD: OK. ( ) Who's the best story teller in your family?
KR: [Laughs] Oh, really there wasn't a lot of story telling in my family, but if anybody could tell stories good I guess it was my brother.
JD: What made him a good story teller?
KR: 'Cause he was our babysitter.
JD: Oh, so did he use stories to keep you in line or-.
KR: No, we'd clean up the house while Mom and Dad was working and he'd make us all go outside and if we had to come in and use the restroom or something like that we'd have to bow down and call him Old Black Master before he let us come in the house. [Laughter]
KR: -And usually nine times out of ten he still wouldn't let us come in. And we'd have to stay outside 'til two o'clock 'til Mom and Dad got off from work and he'd take off across the hill over at Grandma's house 'cause he knew when Dad come home that Dad's going to beat the devil out of him, which he did.
JD: [Laughs]
KR: This still happened every day.
JD: Do you remember any of the stories that he would tell you?
KR: Oh yeah, we'd get, see we had this one bedroom and there's three beds in the bedroom. And my two sisters were in one, and my other two sisters and myself was in one, Stew was in a half bed. And he would climb out the window at night. And he told us that uh if we told Dad what he was doing he'd turn into a werewolf and he'd come back in and get us all. So we all started having nightmares, and then, uh, I finally broke down and told Daddy and he sneaked in there and set between the beds and caught him one night when he come back in [laughs]. That was, um, he didn't do it anymore after that. [Laughter]
KR: Pretty much stopped that one.
JD: That's pretty good.
KR: But I can see why he did all that. I mean, he had to take care of five sisters.
JD: He was the oldest?
KR: Yeah, and he was the only boy.
JD: Wow. [Pause]
KR: You're laughing, you probably would do the same thing.
JD: Yeah, he, he used those stories to, to instill fear in you.
KR: Mhm. And he'd have to walk us to school and walk us all home, but we had to walk behind him. He wouldn't let us walk beside of him or anything. We had to walk a good ways behind him. [Pause]
JD: What about you? Did you ever tell any stories?
KR: No.
JD: You just told me one.
KR: What do you mean stories? Lies?
JD: Well not exactly lies. Just when you're telling anything. Um-.
FV: Make believe.
JD: Let's see.
KR: No, not that I remember.
JD: Did your um, ( ), did you ever have any, I don't know, did your parents ever tell you any stories like that traditional kinds of stories like we were talking about earlier about how hard they had it when they were younger and [pause].
KR: Not really. Neither one of them was around a whole lot because they worked.
JD: So your brother kind of took on the parent role?
KR: Pretty much.
JD: Where are you? Are you next in line or-?
KR: No, I'm next to the baby.
JD: Next to the baby? Hm. [Pause]
FV: What about when you were older?
KR: Older when?
FV: School 'cause you remember-.
KR: Oh, then I was, um, I cleaned hou-, I went to school, cleaned house and did all the chores and cooked and all that stuff. 'Cause Mom and Dad was divorced so uh everybody else was married except Shirley and myself. So I did most of all that stuff because there was just us two and Dad.
JD: What kind of um, uh, what kind of like um parental figure or Richard, your nephew-.
KR: Yes.
JD: How, how long has that taken place? When he was real young or-?
KR: Ever, just about ever since he was born.
JD: Did you ever tell him stories?
KR: Probably.
JD: Can you think of any? Did you ever have to tell him one just to keep him in line or-?
KR: [Sighs] No, he's, Richard's a pretty good little kid.
JD: Hm. [Pause][Laughter]
JD: Yeah, real quiet. Can you tell me about survival.[Laughter]
FV: Your first spanking.
KR: Oh, my first spanking. [Sighs] Well you've got, if you've never been to a Church of God it'd be hard for you probably to understand, but they get really wild.
JD: Mhm.
KR: And they talk in tongues and they jump pews and they shout and all this kind of stuff.
FV: It's just the-.
KR: And um Mama always lined us up, usually on the front row-.
JD: Mhm.
KR: -At church. And uh, I was, this woman behind us, I guess got the Holy Spirit or whatever you call it, and she jumped several pews and her hair was real, real long and when she jumped over our pew, I remember hair was way, you know, out here 'cause Church of God people don't cut their hair or anything like that-.
JD: Mhm.
KR: It scared me to death. I mean I was crying, just pitching a fit. So Mama proceeds to beat the devil out of me because I was, I was crying and upset and after that, it still scared me after that and the tender part of the inside of your thigh, she would pinch it real good so you have to sit still. But I probably had a few nightmares of that 'til I got used to it.
FV: Did you think she was a witch coming over the-.
KR: I thought she was jumping the pews to get me, yeah. And then it wasn't just her. There was a bunch, you know, the one starts in a Church of God like that, usually the majority of the people in the church starts.
JD: How old were you at that time?
KR: Probably four or five.
JD: Four or five?
KR: Yeah.
JD: So then-.
KR: Then Mama got up and did it too, so that was really scary. [Laughter]
KR: Really.
JD: That's called going overboard.
KR: Yeah, true.
JD: So you would describe the, the scene in the church that day as-.
KR: Horrifying.
JD: I know that was rejoicing right?
KR: I guess. But you couldn't understand what they were saying. They were all so wild looking. Yeah.
JD: Would they be on the floor.
KR: Mhm.
JD: What would the other people-?
KR: Dancing around. Uh, just stand up shouting, hollering, "Amen." All this stuff and here you are huddled up in a corner just scared to death that one of them was going to grab you.
JD: How were the, uh, was there like the one single preacher or did people take turns and-?
KR: No, it was just one preacher. And usually when they'd get about halfway calmed down half of them would take their children down to the alter with them, but Mama couldn't prize me out of the pew. There was no way. 'Cause I didn't know what was going on anyway. I was too little.
FV: Why'd they take them to the alter?
KR: To get saved [sighs].
FV: Every time?
KR: Mhm. And to pray. Mostly just to pray after they got saved.
JD: Do you remember a prayer that you guys, did your family used to have a prayer that you'd say before meals or-?
KR: Yeah, it was just, um, usually it was different every time.
JD: That should be good enough.
KR: Thank you.
JD: Tell us about the first time you made biscuits.
KR: I was five. She stood me up. We had a, looked like a picnic table, which was a table with the benches on each side. I was so short that she stood me up on the bench, had a big bowl there [coughs] filled it full of flour, and you take Crisco or lard, whatever they called it back then, but get you a big old glob of it and put it in the middle, pour buttermilk in it and you keep kneading it with your hand 'til you get it in a big firm ball. And um, then you just pinch off some and roll it like its, make it into a ball like a little softball, baseball or something and just flop it down on the pan. And I, I stood there like that for hours 'til I finally learned how to do it. 'Cause see we cooked, we washed clothes, we did everything in the house. Mama didn't do anything but work 'til she left. So then we took over and did everything. 'Course we did everything anyway. But if Jennifer'd been there I'd have thrown the biscuits at her.
JD: [Laughs]
KR: 'Cause she made me tell that. [Break in recording]
JD: Um, we can do that question or we can do another one. This one'd probably be good. Uh, who was the best story teller in your family?
KR: My brother.
JD: Why? Why would you consider him the best story teller?
KR: Well, he could um-.