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Interview with Kenneth L. Stanford

Stanford, Kenneth L.
Stanford, Kevin
Date of Interview: 
Relationships with people and places; Cultural idenitication
Kenneth Stanford talks about growing up in Alabama, his Cival War interests, and regional dialects.
Charlotte Narrative and Conversation Collection
Collection Description: 
Kevin Stanford interviewed Charlotte, NC residents to collect various stories for a class project at UNC Charlotte.
KS (Kevin Stanford): OK, hello. First I want you to tell us a little about your demographic background. First, where and when were you born?
KD (Kenneth D. Stanford): Uh, I was born in Augusta, Georgia in August of 1947.
KS: OK and you've lived in North Carolina area how long now?
KD: Ah, we moved to North Carolina in 1980 and except for the years of about 17 months in 1985 and 1986 we've lived in North Carolina for the past 19 years. So subtract that we've lived in North Carolina for about, little over, over 17 years.
KS: OK. And, ah, what is your occupation?
KD: Ah, I'm in healthcare and I'm a consultant.
KS: OK. Can you tell, can you tell anything about what led you into this field?
KD: Ah, the first job I got after I finished college was in healthcare and I decided to build a career in it.
KS: OK. Growing up, can you tell a little bit about your family life?
KD: Ah, growing up, um, we lived, ah, mostly in, ah, Georgia and Alabama. Um, I moved, moved, um, a couple of times as a small child. Um, and then, um, basically I, my first remembrances of a place, ah, when I was a child was, ah, in Macon, Georgia. And I remember that we, ah, lived in some, ah, ah, apartment, apartments or that were duplexes that were built in the Macon area, uh, probably not to, as a consequence of World War II, the kind of housing you would expect to see for a lot of people, um, re-assimilating back from World War II into soci-, into society. And uh, I remember playing ah, in the, ah, green space area between the, ah, duplexes. Um, and ah, then we lived there for about a year and then we moved to basically about three blocks from downtown Macon, which is the city at the time was a city of about, ah, 150,000.
KS: OK, well um, well, what was probably the biggest historical event that you remember witnessing and feel lucky to have been alive during?
KD: Oh, is there a time period, time frame for that historical event?
KS: No, just, just you, whether you were a kid, you know, whether it was the when walking on the moon or something that you remembered vividly.
KD: Well, the walking on the moon was a big event but, ah, I was already in college when, when that occurred. Ah, when I was in high school, the ah, assassination of John F. Kennedy took place and there are a lot of people that can still mark exactly where they were when they heard about the, ah, the assassination or heard that he had been wounded and then later where they were when they heard that he actually died. And I do remember exactly where I was and when that happened. Um, thinking back, ah, a little bit further, I know when I was in high school, ah, we were very much in, very much in another thing that seemed to be in the news and seemed to be followed, was the first, ah, unmanned and first manned space flight, uh, but and, between, between both the United Sates and Russia. The Cold War, ah, the Berlin Wall, I still remember a lot, a lot about that.
KS: Well, I know, I do know that you are very interested in history, and in specific the Civil War. Can you, ah, explain how your fascination with the Civil War came about?
KD: Um, it probably just initially came about by, by just simply living in places like Georgia and Alabama because, \\ ah, a lot-. \\
KS: \\ So it was a heritage \\ thing?
KD: Well, it was a heritage thing but you have to keep in mind that a lot of the, the activity, and events and battles and skirmishes and marches and everything else that occurred in the, ah, War Between the States, occurred in, in the South, not in the North.
KS: Mm-hmm.
KD: And ah, if you except, ah, you know a part of Maryland, and a part of Pennsylvania, and a small part of Indiana and Illinois, ah, just about all the events took place so you kind of grew up around it. Ah, it was everywhere and, and ah, so I think as a result you, you, you tended to have a natural curiosity, ah, about it. So I probably just initially reading books and reading, ah, I, I think probably the history of the War Between the States was taught more in the schools and more, more attention and focus was put on it than, than might have been in, in other states.
KS: Right. Well, um, what is the most fascinating fact or story about the Civil War, that you learned that might pertain to this area, the North Carolina area?
KD: Well, the most interesting thing that I found out about the, ah, North Carolina area is that, ah, I have my great grandfather, ah, fought in the, ah, in, with the 42nd Alabama Infantry Regiment. And although, ah, he had been, ah, given a medical discharge by the time this happened, ah, the 42nd Alabama Regiment was surrendered, ah, with, ah, General Joseph Johnson's army near Durham, North Carolina.
KS: Mm-hmm.
KD: And there's kind of an interesting story that goes along with that. The actual colors, the flag, of the 42nd Alabama Regiment, ah, the color bearer took the flag and rather than surrendering the flag or turning it in to the, to the Union Forces, to the Federal Forces, he, ah, took the flag and, and a woman from Wilmington volunteered and they took and they put it inside her dress. They draped it around her and then you know she put her dress on over it to hide it from the Union Forces and she took it to Wilmington with her and, and as a result it was never turned in to the Federal Forces and, ah, was turned over to private collectors. So the, the flag of his regiment was nev-, never actually surrendered when his regiment surrendered in North Carolina. And I just found that out recently and just thought that was interesting. I didn't know there would be a connection to North Carolina.
KS: Yeah. Well, um, speaking of North Carolina, what is it, what is it that you like about North Carolina so much that you've made it your home for so long?
KD: Ah, well, initially the thing I liked about North Carolina was there was more opportunity in the career in healthcare that I wanted to develop because of developments that were going on in managed care in North Carolina that were simply were not going on in Georgia. Um, where I was in the healthcare in Georgia but not, not the area of managed care. It had not yet started and so the opportunities were greater in North Carolina. I had also ah, taken a trip up to North Carolina once, ah, to visit, ah, an acquaintance of mine at the, at a company in the Durham, Chapel Hill area.
KS: Mm-hmm.
KD: And I drove through Raleigh and I drove, ah, through Chapel Hill and Durham and I was so impressed with the area because I had never really been there before. Ah, that I just thought that it, it impressed me so well that I said, "Gee, not only might I have more opportunity here but I like this area of the country."
KS: Right.
KD: Now I didn't know it at the time but one of the things that we've learned since we moved to North Carolina is compared, compared to Georgia, the climate is much more moderate here-.
KS: Uh-huh.
KD: -For a, a longer period of time out of the year.
KS: Well, do you feel like North Carolina is a big part of your family's heritage now that a new generation of your family has grown up here?
KD: Well it is now. But the interesting thing is my ancestors who came over, ah, came over here around 1740, ah, farmed for, farmed for awhile in, in Virginia and then they came through North Carolina and then, and then, ah, obtained land, ah, from what was at the time the British Crown, at the time, in South Carolina. So they merely came through North Carolina but didn't actually stop and, and create a heritage there but my heritage's on both sides of North Carolina and east of North Carolina, west of North Carolina, so it's just sort, sort of like coming full circle.
KS: Right. [Laughter] Well, have, have you noticed any significant difference, differences in dialects between where you grew up and North Carolina?
KD: Where I, I didn't grow up in North Carolina.
KS: Well, where, I was-.
KD: I grew up in Georgia.
KS: I'm asking, do you notice a difference between the way people speak in Georgia and North Carolina?
KD: Ah, yes, ah, it's kind of subtle. Ah, I think sometimes their, ah, the, the accents on certain syllables vary, ah, from what someone from Georgia would put on it. I think, ah, the accents from Georgia are a little bit softer than North Carolina and I think the accents of North Carolina tend to have a slight, slight, slightly more of, ah, twang to it, um, than in Georgia. \\ Why I don't know, but I just sense that. \\
KS: \\ So you, so you, \\ so do you think that you'd be able to tell the difference if you heard a person from North Carolina talk and a person from Georgia or do you think that's too hard?
KD: It would, it would have, it would be pretty subtle. It would be, it would be pretty difficult for me to single them out but I, I think that I would be able to, I think that I'd be able to discern it if I listened to it, if I listened to it long enough. I probably, if I was in Georgia and I heard someone from North Carolina, I probably would just probably accept them as being from the South-.
KS: Right.
KD: -Without worrying too much about which state them were from. I could tell very quickly if they were from the low country part of South Carolina or if they were from the coastal area of Georgia or if they were from, ah, the coastal, low, the coastal area of the tidewater area of Virginia.
KS: Right, and plus don't you feel like, um, the bigger cities in Georgia like Atlanta and also Charlotte, you're having an influx of people from all over. So, um, as the cities grow in the South it gets harder to tell.
KD: Yeah, there is sort of a, a, sort of a Southern accent I think that grows out of, out of larger populations areas like cities where it becomes what some people refer to as sort of a, ah, country club Southern accent. It's sort of a, ah, smoother, more polished sort of accent. Ah, plus too, I think sometimes with people that have gone on to, ah, either obtain, ah, higher education and have studied more with people that are from other regions or they have taken jobs with countries that are in other locations, ah, you see some change in their accent, particularly I think how they pronounce their R's as opposed to how they would pronounce it they really had not gone out of this region or had not, ah, s-, ah, gone into, ah, higher forms of education than say just high school.
KS: Right. Well, that was actually leads into my next question I was going to ask. How significant do you think college is, having gone yourself, in introducing a person to the many different dialects in our country?
KD: Well depends on the, ah, depends on where the college is located. Ah, since I went to college in Augusta, a lot of the students at that college, ah, were, ah, individuals who were stationed at Fort Gordon they were in the army.
KS: Mm-hmm.
KD: And, or had, or had, ah, mustered out of the army and were going to college on the GI bill and for whatever reason decided just to stay in Augusta. Which is exactly what happened to my dad even though he was from Mississippi when he mustered out of the army after World War II, he was at Fort Gordon and he just decided to look for an opportunity in Augusta rather than moving back to, ah, to the rural area that he was from.
KS: Right.
KD: Ah, so, ah, I think to some degree, so a lot of these, these individuals were from other areas of the country and so there was some mixing of dialects and accents, ah, even at Augusta College. However had I gone to a smaller college in a, in a smaller area of Georgia, I, I don't think I would have seen as much difference in accents.
KS: Yeah.
KD: Um, it would have been more of a, you know, a Georgia rural to, to medium sized city's-.
KS: Right.
KD: -Non, non-Atlanta accent.
KS: [Laughter] Well, um, the final question I have is do you think that it is important to embrace the dialect of the region your from as opposing, as opposed to trying to shed it because of some form of upper society might think your less educated or sound funny?
KD: Well, that's kind of interesting because I think, ah, after having studied, ah, dialects, ah, ah, and accents and studied the history of a lot of countries, ah, I feel like to some extent there was peer pressure placed on me as I was going through the education system to change my accent and to try to, ah, urbanize my accent-.
KS: Right.
KD: -If, if you want to go up the ladder. And the interesting thing is if you look at various countries, the, ah, Irish always felt like in speaking Gaelic that the English looked down their noses at them because-.
KS: Mm-hmm.
KD: -They didn't speak, ah, Middle English or, or London English and the Scots likewise. And I think you always find numerous examples. It always seems to come to the point where people who speak a sort of urban, ah, mixed, ah, consolidated sort of language, ah, sometimes look down their noses at individuals who speak a more provincial type of, of, of thing. I've tried to come to, ah, a place of being comfortable with myself by speaking in, ah, ah, somewhat of a provincial tongue, ah, but, ah, at least trying to use, ah, correct English, ah, and, ah, and not, not using, ah, too much, ah, slang or I, I particularly try to stay away from things like "ain't" and-.
KS: Right.
KD: -Ah, and, and words like that that I think that are used a lot, uh, in the vernacular, although you see that in cities, too. But I think it's a sure sign of a lack of education more than having an education. [Laughter]
KS: Yeah. Well, um, \\ that was good. OK. \\
KD: \\ What I want to add by that \\ are I think some of the, ah, some of the most attractive, ah, accents that I've run in to are, ah, accents from people in countries like Ireland and Australia and England and Scotland and they're all very different from each other, they're from, they're very different accents when you compare them against each other, so I thought, well maybe a lot of people who hear a Southern accent, ah, in some cases, think it's kind of unique and if you've got something kind of unique isn't that what life's all about? To have something about yourself that's unique.
KS: Yes, it most certainly is. [Laughter] Well, um, that was very good. Thank you very much for your time.
KD: You're welcome.