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Interview with Donald Wells

Wells, Donald
Toth, Rose
Date of Interview: 
Relationships with people and places; Stories and storytellers
Donald Wells tells stories from his father and uncle.
Charlotte Narrative and Conversation Collection
Collection Description: 
Rose Toth interviewed Charlotte, NC residents to collect various stories for a class project at UNC Charlotte.
DW (Donald Wells): Pretty much did a number on this guy. [Laugh] And then like afterwards I was like, of course I had to ask, "Well, what about the cop, you know? What was the deal with him?" He was like, "Well, he was alright," or whatever, you know. And afterwards. ( ) "You alright?" He was like, "Uuuuh." [Laughs] He wasn't quite back in the land of the living. So, it sounds like a tall tale, but [laughs] it was probably true. Then another one, which is my favorite, is like he went into this house [clears throat] to arrest this guy. And the guy's like, "I know Kung Fu." He starts striking a pose and so my dad whipped out his .357, pointed at his head and said, "Yeah? Well, I know Smith and Wesson," or something lame like that. [Laughs]
RT (Rose Toth): [Laughs]
DW: And the guy was like, "Oh." [Laughter] So, I swear those have to be, it sounds like something, I mean like again, something that would be in a movie or something.
RT: You want to give me 10 more minutes?
DW: 10 more minutes? Good Lord. \\ I don't have enough stories. \\
RT: \\ Just 10 minutes. \\ Oh, I'm sure you have plenty of stories. How about the one where you and your family are on the highway and the guy and-.
DW: Oh, yeah. That's another about my dad. My dad must have cut this guy off or something, uh, because he started driving up alongside, and flipping us off, and honking his horn and like, my dad was like, "OK. Well, whatever." But he kept it up and he kept it up and finally my dad motioned him over like he should pull over and so the guy pulled in front of us, and stopped, and got out of the car. And he must have been, you know, 6'2, 230 pounds, he was a big guy but he didn't look muscular, he looked kind of fat, and, but you know, big sort of guy. So they got out and my dad got out of the car and of course, my mom's like, "Oh God, no." And, uh, and he just punched my dad in the face really hard. I mean like, you could tell he pretty much put everything he had into it. And my dad went, "Alright. Let's go." [Laughs] And the guy's like, "Alright. I'm going to catch you on the next exit." And like he jumped in his car and drove off like he was going to catch us on the next exit or something, like, he was afraid we might be hit by passing traffic but, uh, he wasn't at the next exit. Of course my mom's like, "What were you thinking? What were you doing?" [Laughter] Oh, jeez.
RT: Remember the Uncle Lee story about-.
DW: Oh, yeah. Uncle Lee had a good tale about. Now everybody thought it was an orange drink but he insists that it was an orange and it wasn't him. Uh, apparently he and his friends, in high school, they were pulling out of this place, there was some guy in a Thunderbird or something, and this friend was eating an orange so he threw the peel out, and it like hit this guy's windshield or something. So he got so pissed, he proceeded to follow them all on a high-speed chase throughout Charlotte. [Laughs] And like, there was one point he was along, driving alongside of them, beating on their car with a lead pipe that he had. [Laughter] And, uh, and uh, and at one point he pulled right out in front of them and stopped suddenly, and then he got out of the car with the lead pipe and he was coming towards them so they proceeded to try to run over him. [Laughs] And he threw the pipe at the car and they got away and you know and Lee was like, "Yeah, well, we sold the car a couple of weeks later." [Laughter] And so that was probably a good thing. [Laughs] But, uh, for some reason my grandparents thought he, he, uh, that it was an orange drink that somebody had thrown which-.
RT: There was something about his being a retired Vietnam vet.
DW: -Yeah, this guy's probably a retired Vietnam vet or something.
RT: Yeah.
DW: You know, he was a little, a little shell-shocked or something. I don't know. [Clears throat] Thought he was in a war zone. It's a good thing he wasn't packing like a machine gun or something, [laughs] nothing more dangerous than a lead pipe. Uh, any more good stories? I don't know.
RT: Well you could tell me-.
DW: There was these-.
RT: -Any, any, uh, any stories, your parents used to read to you?
DW: Oh, God, I don't know. I don't know any stories. Oh wait a minute. No, this isn't a story that was read to me. I don't know.
RT: Or told to you?
DW: Well, OK, there are some stories about, you know, when I was younger. Like there was a, there was a famous story about, we used to live in a trailer park until I was like three or something, so I must have been about two, [clears throat] and I had blonde hair at that age and, uh, it was kind of long and I wandered, wandered off one time and they didn't know where I was and they were so worried. So finally they got this call from someone, you know, way, like a mile down the road that I had apparently wandered in their place and was playing with the, their children and they said, "Your little girl's here." [Laughs] And Dad's like, "What? It's not a little girl." [Laughter] Oh, man. And, uh, and then there was another one about apparently there was a time my mom got her paycheck and I took the money and went out and started giving it to all our friends. [Laughter] "Here, yeah." Spreading the wealth. And she managed to get it all back except for about 20 dollars. [Laughter] Yeah. Spreading the wealth. There's apparently a tale about when I was born. The doctor said, "Congratulations. It's a boy." He said, "Nope. It's a man." [Laughs] He would often tell that story. I don't know why he liked it so much. [Laughs] That would be the point where Mom would roll her eyes. I'd say, "Did that really happen?" She's like, "Well, I really don't know. I wasn't there at the time so-." [Pause] Oh, God. Anything else good? Anything else good happen in my life?
RT: Tell me more about your dad.
DW: Um [pause] well let's see, uh, apparently there was a, apparently my sister saved his life because he had his heart attack when he was working on the roof. [Laughs] And, uh, of course, I was off somewhere playing with Lindsey or something. And, uh, and April was like 12, no not 12, God, she would have been about seven or eight, and noticed something was wrong. [Laughs] Dad's like, "Go get your mother." [Laughs] She runs in, ran in and got Mom who called the hospital or whatever, sent the ambulance out, so, yeah, that was a good one. I think she was one of the ones that, like, flushed his cigarettes down the toilet or something. I might have done that, too.
RT: I think every kid did that.
DW: At one point, I think every child has done that to their smoking parents at least once. [Laughs] Oh, man. [Clears throat] Let's see, are there any other good stories about old Pops? Let me see, let me see. Yeah, [laughs] he had, he had a gross one about, uh, about one time, one time he, uh, [laughs] this was when he was younger and his dad was still alive who was an abusive, alcoholic scumbag sort of guy and, uh, and somebody farted. And, uh, and so he demanded to know who it was and everybody denied that it was them. So he lined up all his children and proceeded to walk down, sniffing each of their asses, until he came to my dad [laughs] and like, "It's you." And my dad insists to this, you know, insisting that it was like, "Well I, I guess it was. I mean, I don't know." Well, it was like, "Well, did you lie?" "Well, I don't think so." And of course, he got a sound thrashing. [Laughs] Oh, brother. I just, but the image of someone moving down like, [Sniffs] "Yeah. You're clean," just-. [Laughter] Oh, brother. Yeah, there's, there's Well's blood in that particular maneuver, I'm afraid to say. [Laughter] Oh, man. Yikes. A combination of logic and real strange [laughs] obsession. "Well, we're going to find out the truth about this one. You better bend, [pause] bend over." [Laughter] "It wasn't me." Oh, God. "Did you see an elephant run under there?" Yeah, I didn't care much for the old Well's household. [Laughs] Oh, God, let's see. Yeah, there was another one where my uncle James, [clears throat] apparently, uh, my oldest, uh, my dad's oldest brother, um, and old what the hell is his name, my Uncle Fuckboy or something [laughs] was, uh, was, uh, after his dad died was pretty much figured, "Well, I'm the father figure now." Of course, that meant he had to clobber everybody and like, you know go to work and earn money and of course my dad's, uh, other older brother, James really didn't much care for that much by that point because he was about, you know, whatever, 16, 17 years old. So, uh, one day, after had, he'd had all he could take, he stole, he stole his brother's paycheck and his car and drove to California and has been living there ever since. [Laughs] Oh my, last I heard from my dad he said that, uh, he said that, uh, he didn't think that, oh, Leon, that, that's his older brother's name, he didn't think that Leon ever forgave him for that. [Laughs] There was one point where they all got together for a, a, a portrait, uh, and this was, like, maybe six years ago. So, they got together for that but like James didn't come to my dad's funeral because it was like, he didn't want to be around, uh, his mother or his uncle or, not, not his uncle, uh, my uncle Leon and so there's just bad blood there. [Laughs] Holy mackerel, well, plus his wife was sick and he couldn't leave her but, uh, [chuckles] but that was, but, but he insists that was the main thing, "I don't have anything to do with them." [Laughs] Oh, brother. And, yeah, he was, I think James was the funny one, although, uh, [laughs] one of those, kind of, strange wits. Well, that makes sort of sense.
RT: One last story.
DW: Oh, God. OK. Name another good story, anything else you want to hear.
RT: What's something you tell yourself-.
DW: OK. Here's a good story about Mom, which I was not, which I was not aware of. Apparently, uh, apparently when my dad was first dating my mother or, uh, or pretty early on, he was cheating on her with some other woman and you know, they were having sex at his apartment or something like that, uh, or they had had or, or something like that. Mom knew about it. So, she like, took his favorite sweater and she left a note saying if you want your sweater, you better come to such and such a place or whatever. [Laughs] And like, my dad found, you know, found the note and was like, "Holy shit," and threw this other chick out like, went to find her and Mom was crying, like, "I'm sorry I stole your sweater." And he's like, "Oh, my God." [Laughs] But, uh, and he's like, after that point he's like, "Damn, OK, it's a good woman. Better stick with her." [Laughter] "I've had enough of this playing around." And, uh, not long after that I think they were engaged, well, yeah, like a couple of months after, yeah, like a couple or few months or whatever. So that was apparently a definitive sort of, uh, sort of, uh, sort of moment. Of course Dad always insisted that Mom married him because he had a blue Corvette and it was a bad ass ride so-. [Laughter] -I apparently have a lot, my existence has a lot to do with a blue Corvette. That's probably why I always liked Corvettes even if they are a total redneck car. [Laughs] That's probably where I was conceived. No, I'm kidding. [Laughs] OK. I think that's it. Those are some good ones.
RT: Thank you.