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Interview with Pheng Vue

Vue, Pheng
Saunders, Anne
Date of Interview: 
Overcoming Obstacles; Relationships with People and Places; Cultural Identification; Childhood Adventures; Stories and Storytellers; Tolerance and Respect
Pheng Vue tells a number of stories about his family, including an historical account about his grandfather during the Vietnam War.
Charlotte Narrative and Conversation Collection
Collection Description: 
Anne Saunders interviews Charlotteans to collect stories for a class project at UNC Charlotte.
Interview Audio: 
AS (Anne Saunders): OK. Tell me who you are.
PV (Pheng Vue): I'm Pheng Vue.
AS: OK. And where were you born, Pheng?
PV: I was born in California.
AS: Born in California. OK. And when is your birth date?
PV: Um, Au, August 27, 1987.
AS: August [pause] OK. 27th? August 27th?
PV: Uh-huh.
AS: 19, what?
PV: 1987.
AS: Eighty-seven. OK. And you were born in California?
PV: Orange County.
AS: And you're Hmong, right?
PV: Uh-huh.
AS: Do you know, how long have you lived in this area? How long have you live in, where you are now? \\ Remember how long- \\
PV: \\ [Starts counting mumbling] \\ Probably like, let's see-.
AS: Remember what grade you were in when you came here?
PV: Um-hmm.
AS: What grade?
PV: I was half year in my second.
AS: Half in your second? You're in sixth grade now? So you've been here, uh-.
PV: Four years.
AS: Four and a half years, maybe? Four and a half years, good! OK. Four and a half. OK. Let's see I just need to adjust the volume on this thing a little bit [pause]. OK. Tell me a story. Tell me a story that you have either read, that you've had told to you, uh, that you liked, or a story you like to tell. Anything that comes to your mind.
PV: First one I'm going to tell is like, back then when we were, like when my dad was smallish like, there were no cars for my dad, nothing. So, he only had like, like, my dad had two brothers, right? And like, they, his, the younger brother, which is , he stayed home so, um, ( ) that's my, that's the, um, my other uncle's name.
AS: Uh-huh.
PV: They, when he was little, and when my dad was little, they used to go out and like, to like a garden which is about like, two or three miles long from their house.
AS: Uh-huh.
PV: And like, [pause] the horse, they didn't ri, they didn't get to ride the horse because that horse was for getting cabbages and stuff on the horse. So like, they didn't know how to tie up the horse so like they went over there and like there was somebody over there to help them tie up the horse so after that guy helped them they just like go pick, pick up cabbages like that and put it on the horse and go home. Once they like knew how to tie stuff like that, my dad know, knew how to, my dad, my dad would usually stop at, at like a pathway and tie the horse and go out and play and, and stuff.
AS: Good. OK. So the horse was more a beast of burden, right? You know what I mean when I say that? It was used to work, it was a workhorse. It was used to carry cabbages from the garden to the-?
PV: House.
AS: To the house? Or to the, did they sell them at the market? At the marketplace? OK. Good!
PV: Some of them they used it to eat.
AS: OK. Some of it they ate, of course. Of course. So, um, they made, did, tell me about cabbage. Do you like cabbage? Do you like to eat cabbage?
PV: Not that much.
AS: You don't like cabbage that much?
PV: I like broccoli.
AS: You like broccoli? Good! Tell me some other favorite foods. What did you have for lunch today?
PV: I had lettuce with, um, lettuce with, um, Chick-Fil-A.
AS: OK. Lettuce with Chick-Fil-A. OK.
PV: I hate tomato!
AS: You don't like tomatoes? Hmm, I don't, I don't like them that well. I like them better, anyway, I like them better in, in salads or on a cold sandwich or something. Tell me another story. Have you got another story you can tell me?
PV: It went to my mind but I lost it.
AS: You lost it?
PV: Let me think about it first. [Pause] Oh, yeah. You want to hear the story of how my grandfather died?
AS: Sure. Tell me about that. I would love to hear about that. This is very cultural. This is the kind of things I want to hear. This is great.
PV: My dad, my grandfather probably didn't die in a war, in the war in Vietnam. You, my dad told me he was selling food, he was like a government-.
AS: Uh-huh.
PV: And he was selling food at a, at the market, and like these Vietnam just came and like dragged him away and I don't know what happened to him.
AS: He just, he just like, never came back, huh? He just-.
PV: I think \\ he was killed, probably. \\
AS: \\ You think, \\ your dad-.
PV: Because he was in the war, too.
AS: He was also in the war? Do you know, did he have rank? Did he, do you know what his position was? Was he like a high office, did he have a high office in the war? Do you remember what your dad's told you about that?
PV: Um, he was probably a soldier.
AS: A soldier, yeah.
PV: Or a general. Something like that.
AS: You think he was a general? You think, was he in command, did he command other soldiers? Did he? So he was pretty high.
PV: He had a pack of soldiers.
AS: A pack of soldiers that he was in charge of? OK, OK.
PV: And I think that's probably why that he, the Vietnam came and killed him because he o, he often go to Vietnam and sell stuff.
AS: Uh-huh.
PV: I think that's why.
AS: Uh-huh. Do, does your dad think, or does your dad know, was your grandfather, could he have been a spy for the, the Laotian, for the government? \\ Do they think-? He wasn't a spy? \\
PV: \\ No, he wasn't a spy. \\ He just he'd just go to sell stuff over there so he could get money. And, that's only, the only place where they, where he could sell stuff, so he started over there. And then the Vietnam knew he was a general, they captured him, and I think they killed him.
AS: Hmm. So how old, how old was your d, d, how old was your dad about when this happened? Does he-?
PV: He was about my age.
AS: He was about your age? OK. How long after that did your family leave Laos?
PV: Um.
AS: Or how old was your dad when he left? \\ When he came here to the States? \\
PV: \\ He was about \\ 15, 16.
AS: How did they get here? How did they get to the, the US?
PV: Probably by flying [cough].
AS: They were able to fly?
PV: Or sail across the ocean.
AS: Uh-huh, uh-huh. They didn't, did they, I've heard or read about many families trying to get out in like, homemade like homemade boats, little boats like. Did he come over that way? Or he was able to, you know-.
PV: On the war, in history, did you remember where like, I, I think it was President Nixon, he, he retreated all the, um, soldiers?
AS: Um-hmm.
PV: And that's why, um, the South Vietnam and the North Vietnam was united?
AS: Um-hmm, um-hmm.
PV: Well, I think my dad came back with those soldiers.
AS: You think he came back with those soldiers? Uh-huh, uh-huh. Um, so your dad was, you think your dad was a teenager when he came to this country? OK?
PV: He didn't get to fight in the war, but most of them did.
AS: A lot of them did. A lot of boys that age did fight, but he didn't have to?
PV: Huh-uh.
AS: Well, that's good. That's really good, that's really good. OK, um, tell me a little bit about, so, tell me about your parents. Did they live in California until, for how many years? How long did they live in California? OK. Tell me where your dad met your mother. Can you tell me a little bit about, about that? Where did your dad get to meet your mother? I assume it was, was it when they got here to the States? Was your dad already married when he came over here?
PV: Nope.
AS: Nope, OK. Good.
PV: He was still single.
AS: He was still single? OK. Do you know a little bit about the story about, do they talk about they met, your mom and dad?
PV: Uh-huh.
AS: Can you tell me about that, a little bit about that story?
PV: OK, how they met. It's kind of hard to explain. Like my uncle ( ), you know how they like, they go search out for women and stuff?
AS: Uh-huh. They court, yeah.
PV: He, he, he was trying to get a wife and then he like, went to my mom's house and he saw my mom and like, he went home and tell my dad, "There's a pretty girl over there!" And this, my dad wanted to know who she was, so my dad went to, um, my mom and that's how they met. They date, they probably date for a couple weeks or so.
AS: Did they, did they? Uh-huh.
PV: Probably a year.
AS: That's good. Great!
PV: Then after my dad and my mom passed high school, they got married and first children was Yangand he, he, she was born in San Diego. All of us was born in Orange County.
AS: OK. You were all born in Orange County?
PV: But my, Yangwas born in San Diego.
AS: Uh-huh, OK. San Diego? Oh, that's great! That's great! You have done a wonderful job! Can you think of anything else you want to tell me? I'm, we've still got, we've been going about ten minutes or so, and that's about how long I'm supposed to talk, talk with you. But you have just done a terrific job! \\ I love \\ your stories!
PV: \\ My-. \\
AS: Listen, my, my professor is going to be so excited to hear these stories! And I hope this thing is working! I believe it is. But, uh, we'll, we'll see. If it doesn't, if it's not working-.
PV: My mom and my dad always used to joke around with us, like, you know, tell us fake stories.
AS: Um-hmm.
PV: But one of my grandma was like one, like over in Laos, they had this like kind of like, it's, it's like a tiger, but like it's black and it's like bigger.
AS: Uh-huh.
PV: My dad called him blee.
AS: Blee?
PV: They used to like come and eat chickens and stuff. Like steal, steal your chickens and stuff.
AS: Oh, so it's a real animal? Like a, like a tiger? Ooh! OK.
PV: Like, one day my grandma and my, and her father, they went, they went and like, they had to sleep at the gardens because like, because they wanted to, to protect their stuff.
AS: Uh-huh.
PV: So like other people won't come and get them. So like, they slept overnight over there. Like, they had chickens, too. And like, when it got really dark and they was about to asleep, they heard something like, "Shhh, shhh, shhh, shhh." And like, my, my grandma, she was so scared and she asked her dad, "What was it?" But my dad, my dad said, said it was a blee and like, she tried like, it was, it was just getting closer and closer!
AS: Uh-huh.
PV: Like my dad said if she, if it gets any closer, I mean, my grandfather said if it gets any closer, he'll, he'll, he'll take and he'll grab his hair and throw him, throw him, but my grandmother's father didn't really do that. He was afraid, too. That, and so, my dad just scared, the, the blee away, so, so they could get a good night and like, it came back once, but my dad shooted, shooted, my grandma's dad, shooed it about three, a couple of times and it died and it went away.
AS: OK! Right. So your, your family was out trying to protect their, their stock?
PV: Chickens.
AS: Their chickens and stuff. OK. Well, this is, this is wonderful! This has been just-.