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Conversation with Gina Thomas

Thomas, Gina
Smith, Kelly
Date of Interview: 
Relationships with people and places; Cultural identification
Gina Thomas talks about life in Charlotte, NC.
Charlotte Narrative and Conversation Collection
Collection Description: 
Kelly Smith interviews Charlotteans to collect stories for a class project at UNC Charlotte.
GT (Gina Thomas): Alright I first came to Charlotte about six years ago. I moved down from Hendersonville, North Carolina from the mountains and when I first got here I was most impressed with all the big buildings. I thought they were so pretty we don't have tall buildings back up home. One of the things that I think are the, the biggest difference is the traffic here. There's, there's a lot of um, [pause] there's a lot more red lights. [Laughs]
KS (Kelly Smith ): [Laughs] Not like little mountain roads.
GT: No, we just have curvy roads back up in the mountains. Here you sit through a red light two or three times sometimes in rush hour waiting to go though it, but um that was probably the biggest problem is it just to-, took so much longer to get such a short distance. But um, back up home I didn't know, I don't know hardly the names of any road signs because or names of roads because I've lived there all my life and knew my way around. And down here I noticed the first thing I did was try to look at road signs to find my way around because that was about the only way I could get, you know, across town. And it was a lot easier because down here it seems like the roads were laid out in more of a grid type style and, um, you know, you can, you know a few of the names of the few major roads around town you can get where you're going. Back home its just curvy, windy roads that can go up a mountain or, you know, to another town or just nowhere. [Pause] [Break in tape] Uh, when I'd first gotten down here I had went downtown to the, um, Omnimax Theater at the Discovery Place and I noticed that, you know, there weren't a lot of people downtown and there weren't a lot of cars down there and it was kind of, you know, empty and desolate and, you know, so it was pretty scary I thought, you know, having to walk up to a big dark parking garage to get back to your car. And on the way out we heard, um, ambulances and by the time we got in the car we, we drove up about a block or two and there were two men laying on the side of the road [laughs] that looked like they'd been beaten up or something like that and to me that was one of the most scary experiences because, you know, back up in the mountains you don't have to worry about, you know, robberies, things like that as much because it seems like, you know, even though a lot of times you ran into people, you know, out in town you just felt like, you know, it's a much closer community but down here it's just bigger and, you know, I worry more about things like getting mugged or, you know, robbed than I did up there. [Break in tape] One of the things that I like about Charlotte after living here a couple years now is I finally figured, figured out my way around and so I can get most places in town but one of the things is the shopping here is so much better. Um, you've got instead of just one little tiny mall that didn't have a lot of good stores in it now you've got several huge malls with all kinds a designer stores in it. Um, I like to go shopping I think, you know, there's a lot more selection prices are better down here, um 'cause there's more competition. My friends and family, they like to come down now to go shopping and to the malls and stuff. Um, there's more restaurants to eat at, you know, you can choose your pick if you want Mexican back up home there's one little Mexican restaurant, down here there's several different kinds and so I like that about living here in Charlotte, there's just a lot more variety when you want to do something. There's also, um, there's a lot more different kinds of people here as far as the culture goes. So I think that adds to it. Um, back up in the mountains there's primarily just, um whites, African-Americans, and Hispanics that come in to do the apples. But down here, um, it's not so much you have a migrant type community that moves in and moves out, you've just got a wide variety of cultures that live in here which I think adds to the diversity of the area. [Break in tape] When I was living back up in Hendersonville I worked at a, a small little eye doctor. I didn't make a whole lot of money and I noticed that when I came down here to Charlotte, um the, the pay was probably more than twice what I was making up home and so that's another one of the benefits that I like about living in a big city. The cost of living is a little higher but you also, the pay is higher as far as jobs go and there's more job opportunities. [Pause] [Break in tape] When I moved down here I, I wasn't real enthused about living within the city limits in a neighborhood type setting. Back home I lived out in the country and, you know, we had houses were, you know, within walking distance, close but weren't right next door. So when I moved down here I found a little house right on the other side of the county line and its more out in the country and its more type of land that's back up home and so I thought that'd make me feel more at home when I came down and I'm glad, I'm still glad now that I moved out in the country because that's just the kind of living that I was used to and grew up in and as much as I have become accustomed to Charlotte and the city and all, I still don't think that I would be, um, happy living in the middle of all the hustle and bustle of things. [Break in tape] Another one of the big changes that I made when I moved to Charlotte was, um, I went to a bigger church than what I had originally grown up in back up home. My original church had, you know, probably about two or three hundred members and maybe 50 or 60 people came on Sunday mornings. And when I came down here I thought I'd go to one of the bigger churches and go to Hickory Grove now, which has several thousand members and-.
KS: 13,000.
GT: Yeah about 13,000 and I like that because they, they offer a lot more activities. As far as things to do they have a, a school so there's a lot more young people I think at least through the school that do get involved in church. Um, they awful, um offer more plays and um so-, social type functions. There's more, um, classes as far as, you know, where you are in school or just out of college or, you know, newlywed, young adult classes. Um, they offer a larger variety of mission trips that you can go on and um I think, you know, it's probably a little more easier to get involved in a bigger church like that because, you know, there's so many different things you can get involved in they've kind of got something for everybody. And um, it's a lot, it's a lot different from Locust Grove because up there, you know, we didn't, um, it's mostly older people in church as opposed to just having a wide variety of ages, um, it's more family style churches up there. Down here you know it's kind of just people from the community and all over. They even drive good distances to get to the church but up there it was just a real local mountain community, um, the majority of people were related. So, so it was, it was different in that aspect. And then there wasn't, you know, the amount of money coming into the church for us to, you know, have as many functions and outreach programs, um missions and there just, there just weren't the young people to get involved as much. But, um, but the last, the last thing I guess that I miss about being in the mountains is up there, um, you could depending on, you know, where you were, there were at least several things you could walk to. Growing up I had a little store just, you know, right up, you know, from my house and, um, church we could walk to church and, you know, you could still live in the country but walk, you know, places to get to where you were going. And down here it seems like, you know, you can walk, walk somewhere if you live right down town, you know, or if it's right near your neighborhood, but down here I just feel like, you know, there's so many different things that, you know, you'll be going out to do and you'll have to drive across town sometimes which, you know, when you drove across Hendersonville it'd take ten minutes at the most to drive from one end to the other. And down here it can take you know 20 to 30 minutes to get across Charlotte. So I, the driving I don't like down here. I miss the short drives or the short little walks somewhere. But um, overall I'm, I'm glad I've moved to Charlotte. There's, um, a lot more opportunities here. You know, for things that you like to do for hobbies and then for jobs and, you know, my family from the mountains likes to come down and, um, do a lot of the things that they aren't able to do up there, like go to a lot of the stores and shop, or they even have their favorite restaurants down here that we don't have up in the mountains so it, it's got a good variety of things to do for everybody.