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Monologue by Stephania Sarvis

Sarvis, Stephania
Weatherford, Arin
Date of Interview: 
Overcoming obstacles; Relationships with people and places; Cultural identification; Childhood adventures; Then and now
Stephania Sarvis talks about tobacco farming and the disappearing lifestyle in eastern NC.
Charlotte Narrative and Conversation Collection
Collection Description: 
Arin Weatherford interviews Charlotteans to collect stories for a class project at UNC Charlotte.
Interview Audio: 
SS (Stephania Sarvis): My mother's from the eastern part of the state. She's from, um, a small town called Tabor City, um, North Carolina. And my grandparents were tobacco farmers. And I can remember, um, especially now that it's around Thanksgiving, um, and we have always gone down there for the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays when my grandparents were living. Um, it just reminds me of that part of the state and especially now during the holidays. And I can remember going, um, down east when I was young to visit my grandparents and I can remember during the summer months going out onto the fields and they were, um, cropping tobacco. And I can remember the process of, um, the tobacco as far as the leaves coming out of the field and, and being placed on assembly line and they were inspected and, um, eventually they were, um, roped together to put into a tobacco barn. And I can just, I can just remember that part of life is just, is nothing like it is here, um, as far as outside of Charlotte where it's just a fast-paced life and down east it's just so laid back, it's so much slower. And as, my husband's from that part of the state also, so as we go down there to visit my father-in-law, I just want, I, I see, as we go down, I see tobacco barns and I see um-. We went down a few months ago and I saw where a lot of cotton is replacing, um, the tobacco fields. And it's just a shame that it, it seems like a lot of the tobacco barns aren't being used anymore, so they're, um, starting to deteriorate and falling in. And that's just a way of life that will eventually not be known by, to a younger generation. Children will not experience that part of life or see that, um, that that's how tobacco was grown or other crops were grown and, and how it was processed and that people did it actually for a living. My mother tells stories that when she was younger, about them getting up at like four in the morning and, and there were 12 children, well 11 children, in that family and they were all required to get up in the morning and they would go out in the field and start working, um, in tobacco. And, and a couple summers me and my brother both, which I did not enjoy it at all, um, worked in just helping tobacco fields. And as far as it being so hot down there and, and I mainly, my brother would go out in the field and work and help them but I just mainly sorted leaves and stuff. But it's, I mean that is a hard way of life. And you look at, and there's people who don't realize today, someone said the other day how the younger generation is so lazy and expects everything for nothing. And that is so true because, and when I heard that statement I just thought back to when my mother was younger and how hard they had it. I mean, getting up at four in the morning, going out working in the field, and doing manual labor. I mean, that would just be such a hard way of life and, and that your income would depend on how the weather was or how the crop did and it just would be really, really scary. I think that would be very stressful, especially to raise 11 children that way. Um, but especially through the holidays I just see the leaves turn and it's just like it brings back memories of me going down there when I was younger and just hate that that's, you know, that that's not the way of life anymore and that it's changed so much. That's all.