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Conversation with Randolph "Randy" F. Sorrell

Sorrell, Randolph F.
Sorrell, Courtney
Date of Interview: 
Relationships with people and places; Then and now; Childhood adventures; Stories and storytellers
Randy Sorrell tells of how he played, as a baby, with a boy who, years later, was his college roommate.
Charlotte Narrative and Conversation Collection
Collection Description: 
Courtney Sorrell interviews Charlotteans to collect stories for a class project at UNC Charlotte.
Interview Audio: 
CS (Courtney Sorrell): How are you?
RS (Randolph "Randy" F. Sorrell): I'm fine and how are you?
CS: Just fine, what story are you going to tell me today?
RS: I'm going to tell you a story about how we're all destined to have relationships that cross our paths later in life and, uh, you're just always surprised when it happens. The year was 1944 and I was born, and I lived in Washington, DC. My father was on the Pennsylvania Railroad as a conductor. And, um, we lived in a little town called Suitland, Maryland which is outside of Washington, DC. In fact, I was actually born in Washington, DC because they didn't have a hospital in Suitland, Maryland , so they had to take me in there. We lived in a, um, apartment complex and my mother and dad's best friends, uh, owned that apartment complex, and across the hall from them was a couple named Arthur and Tess Mack. And, um, he was a pilot during the second World War and flew out of Andrew's Air Force Base at that time. Um, but when I was a little boy, uh, Tess had a sister from North Carolina that came to visit and brought her little baby boy, and his name was Artie. And, uh, they stayed for about two weeks and we played together and we had pictures of each other in the playpen together and that sort of thing. Anyway, um, they went back to North Carolina and, uh, probably about two years later, we moved back to North Carolina, then we moved to Ohio, and, um, back to North Carolina. And I went to high school in the town of Gastonia and graduated from high school and had to decide about school, where I'd go to college, and, um, I went to the University of North Carolina. So the day that I went down for the first day there, we had gone down the day before and spent the night in Durham with my grandparents and that next morning we went over to Chapel Hill and had our car full of stuff, like everybody else did, and started unloading the car. And I was standing out there talking to Dad and this boy walks up and says, "Hi, how are you?" And I said, "Fine." And he said, um, "Are you a freshman?" And I said, "Yes." And he said, "So am I." And he said, "Are you going to be in this dorm right here?" And I said, "Yeah, I'll be in that dorm." So anyway, we struck up a conversation and we were just talking, and, uh, he was real friendly so we got to be pretty good friends. And, um, so then the, um, first semester we, in fact we dated together and he came home with me and I went home with him and we just really got to be real real good friends. Well the second semester, we decided we were going to room together, so we moved, I moved in with him and we roomed together. And one night it was during the, probably in February, we were sitting around in the room talking and, uh, just talking about places we'd been and that sort of thing. And, uh, we were talking about different parts of the country, and, um, I said, "Well when I was 16 I had gone to my mom and dad, we, my dad had a job out in Long Island and we went up and spent the summer in Long Island." And, um, he said, "You know, I have an aunt and uncle that live in Long Island." And I said, "Really?" And he said, "Yeah." And, uh, I, he said, I said, "What, what, where did they live?" And he said, "I don't remember where it was they lived," but he said, uh, "He's a pilot with American Airlines." And I said, "Really?" I said, "I have, uh, my mother and dad have some friends that live out on Long Island and he's a pilot with American Airlines." And he said, "Well his name was Arthur Mack." And I said, "Really?" And he said, "Yeah." And he said, "Well I'll be darned," he said, "That's my, my mother and dad's best friends." And he just went crazy and we started talking about them and he said, "I've just got to tell my mom." So we went out in the hall and he got on the telephone and called home and told his mom that I, he had met me and that, um, I knew Arthur and Tess. And she said over the phone, "Well I can tell you something that'll even make it more interesting to you. When you were a little baby, I took you to Washington, DC to spend two weeks with Arthur and Tess, and we had a little, they had a neighbor named John and Eleanor Sorrell and they had a son named Randy, and you played with Randy in that playpen for two weeks with him." So eighteen years later, one night in a dormitory in Chapel Hill, I met the boy that I played with when I was just a little baby.
CS: Oh, that's neat.
RS: And he, and he has been a friend of mine for a long long time, but I think it's always funny how you meet somebody and later in life your paths cross.
CS: Well that's a really neat story, thank you for sharing your story with me.
RS: Well, thank you Courtney, I appreciate it.