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Monologue by Shannon Shell

Shell, Shannon
Hasbini, Majida
Date of Interview: 
Relationships with people and places
Shannon Shell talks about her grandfather's illegal activities that lead to his imprisonment.
Charlotte Narrative and Conversation Collection
Collection Description: 
Majida Hasbini interviews Charlotteans to collect stories for a class project at UNC Charlotte.
SS (Shannon Shell): My name is Shannon Shell. And I am 31 years old, originally from Benton, Arkansas. I, um, was born there. It was just outside of Little Rock. I've moved 25 plus times in my life living all over the South, Southeast from Texas, Louisiana, to Mississippi, um, again I say I was born in Arkansas. I've lived in Georgia, VA and Baltimore, Maryland. I am going to tell you a little bit about my grandfather who had an interesting time in his life that resulted in him ending up in federal prison. He is the father of my mother. He was born, gosh I'd say back, he's 80 now so it was in the 20s maybe the 30s. No, no be in the 20s. He, uh, was, uh, of Native American descent Blackfoot Indian. He, uh, his grandfather and grandmother were full-blooded Blackfoot Indians whose father was very mean from what I've been told and when my grandfather was very young there was an altercation and he stabbed my, I guess great grandfather, um, but didn't kill him. So he did run away from home a very young age after that incident his mother thought it was best that he leave, and he was raised and befriended by a woman named Busby. See he was with her until he was old enough to go into in the Marine Corps. He joined the Marines and was stationed at Ocean Side, California where he married my grandmother and had three children, including my mother who was the oldest. After several years, maybe a couple of decades of volatile relationship they divorced and he moved to Mississippi. He, I guess I was 11 till I was 12 or so, and we were moving again we moved quite often growing up. And we were told we were going to be moving to Jackson, Mississippi from Arkansas another little rural town in Arkansas called Jonesboro and that my father was going to be buying a grocery store. He is a, was, he is deceased, a grocer by trade and he always wanted his own store. So we, we got a grocery store in Jackson and suddenly in, uh, walks my grandfather who I wasn't terrible familiar with growing up until this age he was not around much. He was married to a woman named Shawna who was only four years older than my mother. [Pause] And he had a big house. They bought, it's actually out by the Jackson, a town called Storm, Mississippi. Storm, Mississippi is where is from. And he bought the country club in that area and converted it to a home. At that country club there was a runway, an Olympic size swimming pool. He had a softball field. He had huge pasture with lots of cattle and horses. There was a pond and, um, I think he put a couple of trailers out there for a couple of his sons. And he had a house in the Cayman Islands he acquired. Um, he had a plane. And there was a golf course out there as well. So I again this man I who hadn't known for very long, um, when I was younger comes up with all this, uh, wealth if you will. So we start spend very weekend with Grandpa, and Grandpa and Shawna, which was great for me because I loved it as a kid every Friday night going out there and spending the entire weekend riding the horses and playing in the big pastures and swimming in the pool was a, always what I looked forward to. We were living our life in Jackson, doing our own thing. And I can remember once my daddy used to fly to, um, the Cayman Islands with my grandfather and back then there was lot of partying going on at that county club. So everybody, all the grown-ups I should say, they spend a lot of time drinking and having a good time but we, uh, we'd wait for Daddy get on the plane and you know go to the Cayman Islands and when he'd come back he always brought back really neat stuff life big conch shells and things he found on the beach and my mom and dad took some time at their house at the Cayman Islands. Later I found out that my father was going to the island with my grandfather to bring money back into the country. Um, I guess probably about two years of this went by and my mom and dad sat us down and said that we wouldn't be seeing Grandpa or Shawna on the weekends any longer because Grandpa was going to have to leave the country. And I was all excited thinking, um, they told me he was going to be going to Greece. So I was so looking forward to visiting him there but I wasn't sure how long he would be gone. About a year or so later my mom and dad sat us down again and said we have good news we are going to go see your grandfather for Christmas. And this is when my sister and I were so excited we thought we were going to get to go to Greece, and I've always wanted to go to Greece. So we're in anticipation listening when my mom said we would actually not going to Greece we would be going to a minimum security prison in somewhere Alabama. Well what had happened was in my grandfather's exciting life he was quite a character. He had purchased a trucking company and instead of hauling and transporting material and products across the country, he actually was transporting drugs. And, uh, he was caught by a narc who was posed, to go back to the good times I guess we all flew to Las, uh, New York. He sent us to New York for a weekend or so and we were chauffeured around in a limousine. And the limousine driver was quite, um, quite a character, very interested in everything that was going on, very personable. Come to find out the limousine driver that was hired in New York was actually a undercover federal agent and he was able to befriend my grandfather, um, through this, him chauffeuring or chartering a limousine for us. And he worked his way into my grandfather's empire, if you will, and was eventually the downfall. And of course you hear all the tall tales and the stories about what happened after that. But I know that my grandfather did lose everything. I was told that the, the boat that he had that he put on the lake he kept on the lake and that he had at the Caymans this was the second boat was boarded out on the water who knows if that's going to be trueor not, while they chased him, I think some of that could be little bit of exaggeration. But the grocery store ended up going south and, uh, after wondering where my mother found out where the money came from for the grocery store. She did swear to pay back every dime and as far as I know paid all the money back to my grandfather for the grocery store since she didn't want it to be from illegal money. And we moved away again, we moved on to Atlanta and-.
[Break in recording] SS: We lost touch with, um, my grandfather and Shawna for a while. My mother has a way of um alienating people from her life. So for a while we didn't see other actually I guess I was 15 when moved to Atlanta and I didn't see them again for four years. Um. When I went back to Mississippi to go back school and they've got a neat little house out in the suburbs of Jackson. But, um, I mentioned Faith Hill earlier. Faith Hill did actually perform in their county club for his wife's son's wedding back before she was a big star. So that was kind of neat. But, um, they, um, live a quiet life now. He does drives trucks back and forth, short hauls just a few hours at a time. And I think that somewhere they've got some stuff stashed away, money not drugs, because they don't do without anything and they don't work very hard for it. So they're living a pretty decent life and they're getting ready to buy their second house. And I love them to death, especially his wife, she's my favorite and we're really close now and I'll be seeing them at Christmas, but not in prison, they have their own house. Thanks.