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Interview with Carmen Stack

Stack, Carmen
Smith, George
Date of Interview: 
Relationships with People and Places; Stories and Storytellers; Then and Now; Childhood Adventures
Carmen Stack talks about how her dog became blind, family gatherings at the beach, and a high school confrontation that she and some friends had with a Monroe, NC police officer.
Charlotte Narrative and Conversation Collection
Collection Description: 
George Smith interviews his friend to collect stories for a class project at UNC Charlotte.
Interview Audio: 
CS (Carmen Stack): OK. My name's Carmen Stack and I'm just going to tell a little bit about myself. Um, I was born in Charlotte, North Carolina and I moved to Monroe, um, which is about forty-five minutes east of Charlotte, um, when I was about three. And I've grown up there pretty much all my life. I moved back to Charlotte to go to college and stayed there for four years and am still there. But, um, OK, but I live with my parents right now. I moved back in after I graduated college and I have a sister, she lives there, too. She's in high school. Her name is Ivy and she's going to turn seventeen in a couple weeks. And my grandmother lives next door and my grandfather works across the street from where we live so, we're all really close and pretty tight and, um, I'm real, I'm closer with my grandmother, um, which is my mom's mother, and, um, we do a lot of stuff together, go shopping, and go to lunch, and stuff everyday. So, um, but anyway, I guess I can tell a story about when I was little. I, OK, I, um, I have a lot of cats and I have a lot of dogs and so I love animals a lot. And, um, when I was probably about eight years old my mom and I, um, well we had two dogs, one was a Russian wolfhound and one was just a little mutt-dog. But, um, we left them there by themselves with, uh, well like a bowl of food out, which usually we don't do, but we were going to go get some lunch and, um, we were gone for probably about twenty minutes. And we came back and, Mongoose was the little one and Tanya was the bigger dog, uh, but when we came back, we saw that Mongoose, uh, was bleeding from her eyes. Tanya had ripped her eye out, had bitten her eyeball out, um obviously over the food that we had left out on the floor. And so, obviously I was totally devastated and my mom was, too and so we rushed her to the vet and, um, they, everything was OK. Like they were able to save her but they couldn't put her eye back in, so they just kind of sewed it up and eventually it grew hair back over it. [Laughter] And, uh, she just had one eye with hair covering the other side. So it was pretty, it was funny, but she lived for another six years at least. So, but she was a good dog. And, but she did fine after that with just one eye, but, um, let's see I guess--
GS (George Smith): Do you have any memories about many trips you used to take when you were little? Like to the beach or something?
CS: Um, yeah, well, um, we, my aunt Bebe had a beach house. Well, they always had like a condo that they had rented, or they owned a couple, um, when I was little. And, this was on my mom's side, and we would always, it would be like my aunts and my cousins and my grandmother. My, my grandfather died before I was born. Uh, he died when my mom was probably about eighteen so I never got to see or meet him. But, um, all of us and my mom and my sister and my dad and everybody would go to the beach and, um--
GS: What was it Myrtle Beach?
CS: Yeah, we'd go to Myrtle Beach. And, um, we would stay for probably about a week and we just had, we all had the best time. We, all the cousins were just really close, like we all were probably about the same age except for my sister, she was, she's seven years younger than me so-, and everybody else is older than me. I have a cousin that's, um, 31 now and Tara is, Rachel's 31, Tara's 28, Michael's 24, I'm 23 and my sister is 17. So, but, anyway, um, we all, we all got along really good and it was just, it was like one of the better times that we all had, that we all spent together for the year. And when it was time to go to the beach together it was just like, it was like great! We couldn't ever replace it. So, but, uh, I guess that's the--
GS: What would you do when you were at the beach? What was your favorite place?
CS: Well, we would all, well our favorite place, I mean we were pretty young, so our favorite place was like the Pavilion or going to walk on the strip or something. But, um, we, you know, during the day it was always the beach, going to the beach and playing on the beach, and laying out and then going shopping at the, um, like Broadway at the Beach or, um, Barefoot Landing. And we'd usually shop during the day and then at night we'd sit, well, food is like the main thing for our family. We center everything around eating dinner so, or eating a dinner, breakfast, dinner, or lunch. So, but, um, at night we'd always go to dinner and, um, to the Pavilion or else to go to the Grand Prix or, is that what it's called? And, um, stuff like that. Like the adults would always take us places and let us go and ride rides and stuff like that and we'd all go together as a big group and it was just a lot of fun. We were all really close and we still are. But, um-
GS: Was it, your, your grandmother does she, she sort of, you said, she kind of heads up the whole thing?
CS: Oh yeah.
GS: Sort of the matriarch?
CS: Yeah, she definitely is. She's like, she heads everything, like--
GS: Is she from Charlotte?
CS: Yeah well, yeah. She's from Charlotte. She was born and raised in Charlotte. And, uh, so, you know, she had all her, she had three children. And, um, my grandfather was, he's from Charlotte, too and all his family. And, um, but yeah, my grandmother, she's like the head of everything. She makes sure that we're all together for Thanksgiving and Christmas and Labor Day and New Year's Day and everything. She just always wants everything to be at her house and kind of be centered around her. So after she's gone I don't really know what we're going to do. It'll be kind of hard for us. But, ah, she's 74 and she's still going strong but actually yesterday she had a small stroke but she's, she's OK. She's better today. She's been in the hospital, but, um, she, they're just kind of giving her some physical therapy and stuff right now, just to kind of make sure she'll do OK. But she's strong. She'll make it through.
GS: You said, uh, you were telling me, she's, uh, got some funny sayings that she says and stuff?
CS: [Laughs]
GS: She's got some funny, like when--. You tell it!
CS: [Laughs] Oh wait, I'm trying, I think. I can't remember. Um, like--
GS: It's not worth something, something-
CS: Oh, um, yeah, but my grandmother she, yeah, she's got some funny sayings. Like she'll, well she, when she's referring to my cousin Michael, he's kind of like, he's kind of the, I guess, the black sheep of the family. You know, just, he's my cousin and he's a year older than me but he can't, he can't keep a job and he's just got a--. He fails a lot at pretty much everything he does. But she always says that he's not worth the powder to take to blow his ass away! [Laughter] So, But, um, you know, it's pretty funny, of course, he doesn't, he doesn't think it, it's funny but she, that's her favorite thing to say. But she, she'll about anything to anybody and it's kind of embarrassing sometimes.
GS: Straight shooter?
CS: But, yeah, she's just, she's straight on with you. She'll tell you like it is and if you don't like it then that's just too bad. But we've come to realize that's her and that's just the way it's going to have to be. But, um, um, so my next story, I guess I want to talk about, uh, I guess I'll move on to kind of high school era. Um, we were, it was, I guess there were probably about maybe seven or eight of us, but I was the only girl. I hung out with a lot of my guy friends. We were always out kind of doing "boy stuff," and I guess I wasn't really like a tomboy but I did like to go fishing and hang out with the guys and stuff. But anyway, um, we were riding, um, there were probably about eight of us, and we were riding in the back of the truck. And I, I was in the back. And, uh, you know, I just kind of, it was Andy's truck and he was driving. And, um, we were going to Lake Twitty, and I kind of just got volunteered into going with everybody. So we were going cat fishing, but, and the guys had some beer. And, um, so anyway, we were just riding along and we pulled into, uh, and, oh! Something that I left out, Daniel had a light that he had, would, like a big flashlight that he was shining, and, um, not a flashlight, a spotlight and it had a blue light in it, and he was kind of flashing it around and just playing around with it. And, um, we pulled into the road that takes us to the lake and all of a sudden we, a car followed us, uh, followed in behind us and it was like a 300ZX. And, um, we pulled in and we stopped and he got out and but, just he was just kind of, we couldn't see him because he had, he had his lights on, his brights. And, um, he said, "Why don't you, why don't you point that thing over here to see what I got?" And, uh, he had, he had a gun. And well, come to find out he was a police officer but he was off-duty and he was in an unmarked car. And, uh--
GS: Monroe? Monroe police?
CS: Yeah. Monroe police. And, uh, so he had pulled us over because we were flashing the light. And, um, so, you know, Daniel said that, you know, he was sorry. He didn't realize that we were causing any trouble. But, um, he had told us that, um, [pause]. So, he says to us that, um, he shows us his gun and he said that he had, he almost shot us. And he acted really nervous and jittery and he acted like, he came up to the car kind of close and he acted like he did want to shoot us. And, um, he, but he didn't really care that we had, that we had, um, beer and he didn't mind that we were all under age or he didn't even know because none of us were of age. And so, you know, he didn't act like he really wanted to fill any papers on us or anything. It was kind of, you know, it was just like it was really scary. We didn't really know, really know what to expect from him. We didn't know that he was a cop. We didn't find this out till probably about 10 or 15 minutes later, until he was about to leave. But, um, he just was really nervous acting. He, he was definitely scaring me because he acted like he wanted something to happen. He was really mad at us for doing that. But yet he wasn't calling any backup or anything like that. And he was alone and he just seemed kind of scary. But we found out probably about a year later, or we saw on the news that was a year later, he had been arrested for, um, murdering a girl, um, in, in Monroe. And he pulled her over and murdered, and found out or got arrested for murder. And, uh, now he's in North Carolina State Penitentiary. So I guess we were lucky that night. But--