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Interview with Clara Carson

Carson, Clara
Cumming, Gabriel
Date of Interview: 
Day care centers; McKenzie's Campground; Community life; Catawba Child Development Academy; Smyre`s Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church; Catawba, NC
Clara Carson is a local entrepreneur who started the Catawba Child Development Academy in Catawba County. Her day care will have been in operation 20 years in August 2003. The academy was started in Ms. Carson's church, Smyre's Chapel A.M.E. Zion Church, and stayed there for 10 years until she moved it to it's current location. The academy has kept up with it's students and tracks their performance throughout school and also which colleges they attend. Her coordinator at CCDA, Mr. Sam Tate, was the person who encouraged her to start the academy. Ms. Carter talks about how much the area has grown and the changes she has seen over the years. She talks about the importance of the church and the camp meeting in her life and in the life of the community.
Catawba County, NC, 1940s-2002
Interview Setting: 
Interview took place at the Catawba Child Development Academy and includes interruptions by children and other visitors.
Catawba Lands Conservancy, Balls Creek Series
Collection Description: 
Gabriel Cumming conducted a series of interviews about values and land use with residents of rural communities in North Carolina's Southern Piedmont. The goals of the project were 1) to stimulate discussion of land use and values, 2) to increase region-wide awareness of rural attitudes toward land, 3) to enable the sponsoring conservancies to reach the region's diverse rural populations and 4) to challenge conservation and environmental groups to consider the cultural dimension of conservation issues.
Interview Audio: 
GC (Gabriel Cumming): OK. Well whenever you're
CC (Clara Carson): Well what do you want me to
GC: ready.
CC: talk about? What are we going talking about?
GC: Oh. Well let's start with our names. I'm Gabriel Cumming and this is--.
CC: Clara Carson.
GC: And can you spell your name just for our transcribers?
CC: C-L-A-R-A C-A-R-S-O-N.
GC: OK. [long pause] OK. Well if you could just tell us where we are and describe this place.
CC: OK. You are now at Catawba Child Development Academy. It's a day care center. We are licensed for seventy-seven children. At the present we have like fifty. The enrollment is down because of the economy and we hope to fill up through quality. And that's where we are.
GC: And have--? What's, what's the most you've, you've ever had? Have you had it up to seventy-seven?
CC: I've had it up to seventy-five.
GC: How long have you been doing this?
CC: Nineteen years.
GC: Nineteen years.
CC: It'll be twenty years in August the 8th, 2003.
GC: Wow. Are you going to celebrate?
CC: Oh yes.
GC: [laughter] Has it always been at this location?
CC: No. No. We started off in a church and matter of fact Smyre's Chapel A.M.E. Zion church. And we were there for ten years. We came here in 1993 and its--.
GC: So is it still connected to Smyre's Chapel?
CC: Oh no it wasn't connected then.
GC: Even then it wasn't?
CC: I rented. I rented from Smyre's Chapel and I felt it was my best interest to start off somewhere else to see whether or not, you know, we would move forward.
GC: Uh-hum.
CC: And we did. We're very proud of what we were doing because as I look across I have all the pictures from '83 until, well this year's picture's not up yet. We have to get it.
GC: But all the past years.
CC: Yes. Up to 2001 is up there. And--.
GC: Looks nice. I see the different sizes of groups.
CC: That top row, we do a lot of tracking. We track the children to see if they on the A/B honor roll, to see where they're in school, and to see how many go to college. And right now we have a large percentage that's in college.
GC: Right. It must--. Now that you've been doing it for nineteen years you can start to see them all the way through.
CC: Yeah. You can see--. Right. And I've had some in college. As a matter a fact one young lady working now she goes to A and T. This is her third year. She's going back in December. I had two that I taught in the summer and one is A and T and--. No. The other--. One's in Winston-Salem State and I the other one's in Wilmington. What's the name of that college in Wilmington?
GC: UNC-Wilmington?
CC: Yes. Yes. Somewhere in Wilmington I think.
GC: Sure.
CC: And he came by to see me today. "Hi." And they work with the public school this summer.
GC: Great.
CC: Most of them, I found out, the ones I've had in daycare, they know what my program is.
GC: Hmm. Good. Well pretty soon maybe you'll get your second generation coming through.
CC: Oh. Good. Yes. Yes. MM: How are you?
CC: Did you get your receipt? MM: No I didn't. [long pause] [children playing in the background]
CC: Ms. Morrison, here you are. I'm sorry that light is out. Hey! How you doing? Pretty as ever. Yeah. Thank you. [long pause]
GC: So what was, what was the, the need that you saw? That you were trying to fill by setting, by establishing this school? I mean what, what, what was the niche?
CC: I was the--. I was working for CVCC and my coordinator was Sam Tate.
GC: CVCC. What's that?
CC: Catawba Valley Community College.
GC: Oh alright. OK.
CC: And my coordinator was Sam Tate and so I went in to turn in my report and he said, "I'm getting ready to open up my radio station."
GC: Uh-hum.
CC: I said, "Wow!"
GC: [laughter]
CC: And he said, "Oh. I just got my two or three hundred thousand loan." [inaudible speech]
GC: [laughter] Yeah. That's good.
CC: He said, "What would you like to do?" I said. He said, "Really what would you like to do?" And I said, "I always wanted to open a center." And he said, "Why don't you do it?" I said, "I don't know. I--." He said, "You can do it." I said, "Oh but look at that--." He said, "That doesn't matter. Doesn't matter to you." He said, "Before you come back up here. You make one step toward a daycare center." I have to come back up here. It's my job.
GC: [laughter]
CC: So anyway. I did. And I called Raleigh and it started from there.
GC: Great. So that was the opportunity that came along.
CC: Uh-huh. God was in the niche that day. And I've been going.
GC: So what, what was your job up there? CVCC before you--.
CC: I was activity director to--we would go in the rest home and nursing homes and do activities for people, which was very unique. Hi there. And--.
GC: You mean students would go? You would bring students in there?
CC: No. No. We would go into the nursing homes and rest homes. They should have activities directors in every--. Your mom here? Is she? Do not--. Philip. Oh no. Well I'm going to have to take you with me. I'm going to have to go in the classroom. They're too little to be in the hall. You too small to be in the hall. [child's voice]
CC: I'm going to have to go in the classroom with them, with them because they're too small. Your ride here?
GC: That's just--. We just--. I just wanted to get a little bit of you know background on your, on your work and how you came to be doing what you're doing. So that's good. Now, and, and your church is Smyre's Chapel? Is that right? I mean do you attend church there as well?
CC: Uh-hum. Oh yes.
GC: Did, did you grow up in this area?
CC: Yes I did.
GC: Where, where did you grow up? In what like, specifically?
CC: Here. Yeah.
GC: On this, this road?
CC: Yeah. Uh-huh.
GC: Oh. OK. So this is, this is your neighborhood.
CC: This is home.
GC: Wow. And, and so your family attended Smyre's and you attended it since you were a child.
CC: Yes.
GC: And you also went to McKenzie's all the way along?
CC: Uh-hum. Oh. My father died out there. He was a church (T) and he just slept away. His heart was real bad. And I--. He went to bed and he just slept away. [background noise]
GC: Hmm. Out at the meeting?
CC: No. He was in bed at--.
GC: Well yeah, but on the, at the-
CC: At the time.
GC: camp ground.
CC: On the, on the grounds. You know in the tent. OK.
GC: Well that's a nice place to pass, I guess.
CC: Yes he liked it.
GC: Good. Good. So have you ever missed a year? You ever--?
CC: Oh. Yes I have. I've lived in California. I missed a year then when I lived there and--.
GC: Oh really? Wow.
CC: Let me see. Where else did I live? [pause] I was in D.C. and I missed it. I've missed camp.
GC: So you've moved around.
CC: It doesn't--. It hasn't--. Matter of fact I missed last year, a lot of it. I had a sister that was sick.
GC: But most of the time when you can you, you go.
CC: We were there.
GC: And what do you, what do you remember about it from, from being a kid? [telephone rings]
CC: Oh. The cooking.
GC: Yeah you.
CC: How about that. [laughter]
GC: That's impressive. [laughter]
CC: It is impressive. And she and her husband, well it's really her husband, he is planning this anniversary down to the penny. Uh-hum.
GC: Wow. Good for him.
GC: So. Right. So you're talking about camp meeting as a child and what you enjoyed about it.
CC: Well mostly, you know, your mom, my mom cooked and she always had a special dish for all the children. You know, what they liked. And with elev--, out of eleven children, she would always fix what each child liked.
GC: Did she do that all the year or just at meeting time?
CC: Well no. She would do that whenever we'd come home. She'd always do that. If I was coming home, she would fix what I like. I have a tendency, I do the same thing with my children.
GC: How many do you have?
CC: I have three.
GC: Well, (not that many). Yeah.
CC: That's my son. That's my sister that died last December.
GC: Oh dear.
CC: And that's me, my daughter, her husband, her two grandbabies, my youngest son and my oldest son.
GC: Oh sure. I, I know your youngest son. [laughter]
CC: You--. Son.
GC: Sure do. He was down there preaching.
CC: Yes.
GC: And he's in New York.
CC: Yes both of them's in New York.
GC: Oh OK.
CC: My daughter's in Boston.
GC: Wow. But were they born down here?
CC: They were born down here, but Judy went to school at Suffer University where she graduated. Alfred went to Liverstone and (Rallo) went to A and T. And, I've been blessed.
GC: And then they--. Wow! So far away though.
CC: Well they have to go where the job is. If they stay right here, they not going to hire them, you know. And so they have to go where the job is.
GC: Do you find that many people from the community around here have moved into the city, in the city areas?
CC: Oh yeah definitely. A lot of people. Most of my sisters and brothers. I have five, it was five girls and six boys. And all five girls finished college but all of us, with the exception of one, we moved. We had to move. You have to move in order to get a job.
GC: Right.
CC: And you know its sad but its true and we had to do that.
GC: And, and you found a way to move back, but
CC: I came back because my parents were very si--, ill. They both had heart conditions. And I came back to take care of my parents. And which my father died September of '64 as I said at the camp ground. My mother died four months later in January '65. And my sister, the one that I was talking to, her youngest son (Rock) went to college up there with them. And he always called me his sister. And he was fifteen years old, had an abscess on the brain and he died in '66.
GC: Oh dear.
CC: And Alfred, my youngest son, was born in '67 so that let you know who God is. He is over life and death.
GC: Uh-hum. But, has, has-the, any of the other siblings move back?
CC: My sisters and brothers move back?
GC: Yeah.
CC: Yeah I had one from Chicago. My brother moved back just before, when he retired, but for working, no.
GC: Now the previous generation before yours was out here why? Because they were doing farming or they had--? Or what were they-they had some kind of livelihood that was local, right?
CC: Well, yes. It was farming.
GC: Uh-hum. Everyone was farming.
CC: Yeah most--. Yeah. It was farming.
GC: But by the time your generation was
CC: It was still farming.
GC: it was still farming. So some people could farm, but you're saying most people had to leave for work.
CC: Well if you go to college you, when you finish college
GC: You don't want to farm.
CC: you would go get you a job, it was--.
GC: You're not going to farm anymore.
CC: Well--.
GC: Is that what you mean?
CC: Why sure.
GC: Yeah. I knew that.
CC: You've got to make a living. [laughter] That's to, you know.
GC: Well now you have a professional training so--.
CC: Yeah.
GC: Right. Right. So it was just basically that people were getting a different level of education and therefore were going to do a different kind of job.
CC: Well it was time to move on to a different level of education.
GC: Uh-hum. Sure. Sure. But you feel like the community around here is still--? I mean the community that you knew as a child, is it still strong or did it sort of get weakened by the fact that people had to disperse?
CC: What you mean when you say strong?
GC: Like unified and is--, I mean is there a community here? Is it still here? I mean, in other words, people living together, people living in the same area as each other who know each other.
CC: For most times here I see, a lot of them have died out.
GC: The older generation.
CC: The older generation has died out. You have some men--. The Bumgardeners are really new because it used to be the Mars and they still own some of that property up there. And Earl Bumgardener bought it. Then you, what you call it--? ( ).
GC: Yeah. So, so, so a lot of people--.
CC: So you don't have the same people and so you don't, you don't have the unity.
GC: And it--. So are there just fewer people living out here or is it new people?
CC: It's mostly new people living out here.
GC: Where--? What do you think they're doing? Are they mostly like working in Hickory, this area?
CC: Well right now, nobody's working anywhere. [laughter]
GC: Nobody's working at all. [laughter] Well where would they like to be working?
CC: Well, I, I just don't see too much. I don't know. They economy is not that good around here.
GC: Yeah. It's been hit hard around here, hasn't hit?
CC: Yeah. Definitely. It has hit hard. People don't talk about it, but they need to talk about it.
GC: Well anyway about, back to the camp meeting. So how, how has it changed in your eyes since when you were a child to now as an adult? Is it still basically the same or have some things changed about the camp meeting?
CC: I think the fellowship has changed and I think we're coming back to that though. I see a trend of coming back because I see as we build up the spiritual side of the campground and which was the purpose of it from the beginning. Other things going to come back to it. I really do. I think more people will be coming in later years. I think they will be coming. I really do. I think it can be worked up to beautiful resource place.
GC: So did it-you feel like it sort of dropped off sometime in the middle and now it's coming back?
CC: I think it's going to come back up. I really believe it will because I think you have a lot of good minds on, on board and you have thinking people, you have thinking people on the district, you have thinking people as leaders and when you have people that, that's able to think and press their way, I think it will move up.
GC: What do you think is--? What's driving it now? I mean, what, what lead to this renewed interest? Why, why are people coming back to it now?
CC: Well it's kind of like the Israelites; people come back to God. When you come back to God you grow. Until you come back to him, you don't grow in any parts or anything.
GC: So people--. You think people had gone away--?
CC: Not--. I think it, it was just kind of a little drift there for a little while, but lack of leadership, but I think it's coming back.
GC: And, and, is that at the same time or more people like yourself moving back and getting back involved with, with the community or, or not? Or are they sort of, or is the board, like the board, do they live in--?
CC: Well people's dying out and others coming in and it moves on. You know you have somebody here and things move on. Different ideas, different strokes.
GC: But people, people are--. I mean most of the people who are, who are taking leadership now are local or are they doing it from a distance? I mean like, people who only come back once a year or people who live in the area.
CC: Oh. It has to be the leadership of Smyre Chapel because it's under the heading of the trustee board of Smyre Chapel so we wouldn't be far off it this year.
GC: Yeah because there are people who attend Smyre's every week?
CC: Yeah. And when I say leadership I'm thinking about the Zionel. I'm thinking about the pastor. I'm thinking about the people that come in and support, like you saw a lot of people come in and support during the week and, and when you build up you have more things going.
GC: So it'll build on itself?
CC: It will build on itself. Not by itself, people going to have to work.
GC: Well I mean--. I meant build, build on itself.
CC: Yeah. Right.
GC: Like once you start it, it'll,
CC: It'll grow.
GC: it'll increase. It's like once you water it; it will start to come up. And, and you feel like the, the way that began is to build up the spiritual aspect of it and then the rest of it will come around it. And is that the way you feel like it was when you were younger, when you were a child?
CC: Oh yes. Uh-hum.
GC: I mean, 'cause it's, it's spiritual alright but it's also everything else, right? Family, and, and food, food and all that.
CC: Yeah. You have to cli--,you have to kind of lick it in, lock it in. I think it's coming back up.
GC: That's nice. Good for you. I mean it seems like Mott's and Balls Creek and all those campgrounds are doing pretty good. I mean lots of people are coming down so. I mean do you think there's a renewed interest all over the area?
CC: I think you have to motivate it with some things, people need to come together, and get together. And I see Mott's Grove has done a lot of that motivation, so we, everybody got to, need to do that.
GC: So you need the leadership, you need people to take you there?
CC: You need the leadership. You definitely need leadership.
GC: When did you join the board of trustees?
CC: [pause] I'm thinking on that one. Hum. I think it was in the 80s, I'm not sure. I'm thinking.
GC: So it's been a couple of decades?
CC: Oh it's been a little while. When first of the 90s. I'm trying to think when I moved here. When was that? I, I really, I, don't quote, quote me on that because I'm not really sure. It's been a while though.
GC: But it was soon after you came back to the area?
CC: No.
GC: ( ).
CC: No. I was with my mom and dad. I didn't attend church that much because they were sick.
GC: And, and as you said your dad used to be on the board, right?
CC: Oh yeah. He was the chairman of the board when he died.
GC: Are most of the, of the people who are involved--?
CC: Families or on the board?
GC: Families?
CC: Yeah.
GC: And it's been the same families basically all the way along?
CC: Well it's just so many families in the church [laughter] right now. So that's what you, you know, really.
GC: But I mean has it been the same families?
CC: But we, we--. Yeah. Now I think we have some grandchildren that their grandparents were probably on the board, young man that's teaching down here at intermediate school in Catawba, and you know, like that, when I say families, it's families that has come along. They've gone, they've come back and stuff you know.
GC: Oh yeah? So there's a lot of going and coming back?
CC: Well.
GC: On a personal level, on a group level.
CC: I'm saying go to school.
GC: Sure, sure. People go away for some reason, they need to and then they, they come back when they have a chance.
CC: Uh-hum. ( ).
GC: So how do you get on the board? I mean is it elected or appointed?
CC: It's elected. You're appointed by the pastor and elected by the church.
GC: By the congregation?
CC: Uh-huh.
GC: And how many members?
CC: I mean nominated by the pastor.
GC: How many members are there?
CC: In our church?
GC: No. On the board of trustees.
CC: Oh. Good question. [laughter] (now really). Let's see. You have to ask the Reverend Mead that one. Let me see. I don't feel like counting.
GC: Well approximately.
CC: I guess about twelve, ten, let me say eight. I don't know.
GC: And, and can you stay on--? I mean do those people stay on for a long time?
CC: No. You're only elected each year.
GC: Oh OK. So you've been doing it for--.
CC: That's the United, that's the way the Methodists. You serve only one year and you have to be elected again.
GC: So you have to be elected every year?
CC: Yeah.
GC: And you've been doing it since the 80s.
CC: I think. I'm not--.
GC: Well for a while.
CC: Well at least for the first 90s, I think.
GC: So I guess they think you're doing alright.
CC: I hope so.
GC: [laughter]
CC: Now what we do in our church sometimes they, they move you from the trustee board to the school board back to the trustee board, kind of in a tic-tac-toe. Kind of depends on the pastor. [background noise, papers ruffling]
GC: So is the trustee board of the church the same as the trustee board of the meeting?
CC: Uh-huh. Uh-huh.
GC: OK. I see.
CC: That's the way you elected.
GC: Now other churches, members of other churches also attend the meeting? Is that right?
CC: Oh sure. Uh-huh.
GC: And do they also have camps?
CC: Oh yes. Uh-hum.
GC: And they, have they been involved all the way along too or is it always been like, a, a, a group thing?
CC: It's, it's, it has always been a community more or less. That's why we have community pastors that come out and preach during the week because it's community thing. They involve everybody.
GC: Yeah. What is, what is the community? I mean if you described your community, what's, what's--?
CC: Take in Catawba, Claremont, Brown's, we've been invited Tucker's, Sherrills Ford, Newton, Conover. So it's a wide community.
GC: So it's a wide range.
CC: You can broaden it or.
GC: Sort of like a network of communities.
CC: A ( ) it. [long pause]
GC: Spencer Graham, you know, you know Spencer Graham? He goes to Mott's Grove. Anyway. He, he likes to describe the camp meeting ground as holy ground. Do you agree with that?
CC: Well it had, it was consecrated, just like you do your church. And if your church is consecrated then it is holy ground.
GC: How--? When was it consecrated? Do, can you--?
CC: Oh. That's a good one. I wasn't here. [laughter]
GC: Well right.
CC: I don't know.
GC: But I mean at the begin--, very beginning?
CC: Very beginning I'm sure 'cause every, if you in the Methodist church, AME Zion Methodist Church you all ( ) church ( ).
GC: And, when, when did the campground get started? Was it after the civil war or was it?
CC: I don't know.
GC: OK. Because I know Mott's Grove started, it was like don-the land was given right after the civil war to the African American community of Catawba County.
CC: Oh really?
GC: And I didn't know if it was something similar?
CC: Similar to that? OK. I really don't know.
GC: Well that's alright. We'll find it.
CC: Yeah. You can find it.
GC: What does, what does it mean for it to be holy ground? I mean--.
CC: What does it mean?
GC: From, from your perspective, I mean what, how is that different from everywhere else? What makes it special?
CC: When you--? Are you familiar with church?
GC: Well, socially to some extent, but I mean--. But it explain it from your perspective.
CC: Well, what it is, you have a church discipline, which I have here and, I have two, and then read the laws and bylaws and when you bring these things, ( ) do that. [inaudible speech] You take this little book here, it's the book of our discipline, the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church and it goes on back and when you have property, land or church they have a article in here where they consecrate the church, the property or whatever. They do. They dedicate it to God. I had this school, it, I dedicated it to God. Now I just had it dedicated Friday. I didn't consecrate it because it's not a church.
GC: It's not a church, right. So the camp meeting--.
CC: But the camp meeting ground it holy, is church. And that's where it's founded from, the arbor. And that's why I say it's connected with the tents and people would go there. Years ago I understand that it had cotton and between the times of the hoeing cotton and the picking cotton they would go out and worship God and fellowship together. They didn't have telephones and all that then.
GC: Right.
CC: I guess now people do resorts places. They go around and do vacations and different things like that. You know, similar, I don't know.
GC: But in those days, this is, this is where they went.
CC: Not where they went. This, that was all they had, you know.
GC: Yeah. And it was an arbor? Was it really, I mean the term arbor?
CC: Arbor. That's where is. That's the term.
GC: It came from an original, like a brush arbor?
CC: I guess so. Uh-hum.
GC: Before there was a building there?
CC: I'm sure it was 'cause that's where your church is standing.
GC: Uh-hum. Well that's neat. So it was, it was always a, I mean holy ground makes it like a special place in the heart of the community, I guess.
CC: Well it should be. If it's been consecrated by God, then certain things you wouldn't go in a church and do.
GC: Uh-hum. And you--.
CC: You wouldn't go into a church and pick up a can of beer and drink it would you? You wouldn't, to me, you wouldn't go in a church grounds with a cigarette. You know. I'm just talking about things, some things you just wouldn't do. You just respect.
GC: Uh-hum.
CC: You honor. What, what else you want?
GC: And you honor the place.
CC: You should.
GC: Uh-hum. So you treat the place with respect and take care of it and so forth.
CC: Sure.
GC: And, and do you find that people do take care of, sort of take care of it, bring that respect to it?
CC: Sure. There's, that's meaning of it. Most people do. Most people do.
GC: So it is, it, it, it's like an outdoor church?
CC: It is.
GC: But on the other hand you can do some things there, right, that you couldn't probably do in a church building, in the sanctuary, like eating and--.
CC: That's right but you do it in the fellowship hall.
GC: Uh-hum. So it's like the different parts of the church.
CC: Different segments of the church.
GC: And how, how--? Do you know anything about why it's particular location was chosen, like you know for, to be holy ground? I mean was it something about the landscape of it or just where--?
CC: To be holy ground?
GC: Yeah.
CC: I think when it said camp meeting and had a arbor on it, that's what made it holy ground.
GC: But why did they put the arbor there I guess?
CC: Why would they have it? For people who come out and worship and worship God.
GC: Was it just that it was close to where, where people were working anyway so it was ( )?
CC: They came by wagons I understand and horses at that time. Was it close to where they lived?
GC: Yes.
CC: I think it was just kind of in the middle of communities.
GC: In the middle so every, maybe people could reach it from different directions.
CC: From different areas. That's the way it look to me.
GC: Because it's not right next to the church. So, I mean, like my, Mott"s Grove they just put it right next to the church. But Smyre"s is a little ways away.
CC: Right. [yawns]
GC: So I wondered why they put it where they put it.
CC: Well I think, I"m not too sure, but I think Smyre"s started-different churches start from different places-so I don"t know if Smyre"s was, I think Smyre"s was once in Piney Woods. I"m not sure. I think I did a church history one time, and don"t hold me to that, this because it"s been a long, long time since I did that.
GC: I won"t hold you to it.
CC: I think it was original, the origin of it was, I think in Piney Woods. Out there you know near that where they call Piney Woods.
GC: So that"s what they call that community is Piney Woods?
CC: I think so. Yeah. I had this little girl in daycare and she was from out there. And I said, "Brittany, where you from?" "I"m from the Piney Woods."
GC: [laughter]
CC: And I thought that was so cute.
GC: Who was that you said?
CC: It was a little girl in daycare, a long time ago. She may be up on that picture. I'm sure she is on one of them. And I was talking to her and said, "Where you from?" "I'm from the Piney Woods."
GC: [laughter]
CC: It sound like you know a bear in the Piney Woods.
GC: Yeah right. So the Piney Woods probably what they called themselves in that little community?
CC: Yeah I think so. I really think so.
GC: Well that's neat. And what, what, do you have a name for this community? Where, I mean like right where we are now? Like, where you grew up? It wasn't the Piney Woods.
CC: Huh-huh. It wasn't the Piney Woods. It was just called Claremont. Claremont. We are really in this, what county in this area? We're between Com--, we get our mail from Claremont if we have a box route. We get our mail from Claremont but we vote in Claremont.
GC: Hum. Interesting. OK. And is anybody still farming, farming around here? Any of the land still, still in farming?
CC: Well, it's people farming. Guy had some corn in there last year. It was interesting. My grandbabies love walking through the cornfield.
GC: But, and, and your parents did when they were alive. They did, they did farm? And you remember--? I mean do you remember doing, did you do any yourself as a kid or have you, do you work in the fields?
CC: Yes I did. Uh-hum.
GC: What do you remember about that? I mean did people come and work together in one person's field and then go to another person's field?
CC: No. We worked, I think, I don't remem--. I remember working in our field. I don't remember going to anybody else's field. I remember working my parents' field.
GC: What--? But with the, with the rest of the family?
CC: With my brothers and sisters.
GC: What, what kind of stuff do you remember growing?
CC: They had cotton and--.
GC: Say there's no cotton in ( ).
CC: And corn. ( ) People used to hoe corn. They don't do that now.
GC: Except for that one.
CC: No they don't hoe corn anymore.
GC: Oh they don't hoe it. She, he grows it but he doesn't hoe it.
CC: He grows it but doesn't--. No they just plant it and reap it and all this kind of stuff. They don't do that.
GC: Don't work on the land in the same way.
CC: They have machines to do that. As a matter of fact, I learned to drive a tractor on a farm.
GC: [laughter]
CC: I was the only one in the family that got one.
GC: Really?
CC: Bought me one since I've been up here and kept it until last year, a couple of years ago. Bought me a little tractor and I mowed all my grass by myself.
GC: [laughter]
CC: I enjoyed every bit of it.
GC: Well that's good. Why'd you stop?
CC: My children.
GC: They wanted you to stop?
CC: They didn't want me out there.
GC: [laughter]
CC: I enjoyed every minute of it.
GC: [laughter] Are you leaving in the same place that your parents live, lived? Not in the same house. What happened to their house?
CC: We tore it down.
GC: It was getting old?
CC: Uh-hum. Should have been--. I guess it would've cost a lot to remodel, but you know when I think back it would be nice.
GC: Are there many of the old
CC: Homes?
GC: structures still around?
CC: No.
GC: I guess they were wood houses?
CC: Yes.
GC: But most of them I guess just got run down and then got torn down. [pause] So, most of, most of the land around you now how would you say it's being used? Is it just people using it for yards?
CC: Well people have started, they have moved on it. They have built houses. They would, you know, build homes and different things. It's been developed, housewise.
GC: So people, just private residence, yards and stuff like that.
CC: Yeah. That's what it is.
GC: Is there much subdivisions or is it just one house, one house at a time?
CC: One different, different one, uh-huh. Different ones.
GC: And do, do people in the community, do you think still own most of the land or do people from outside own it?
CC: I think the people from another town probably own most of it.
GC: Now in, in this area would you say that African American and white land ownership has been pretty equivalent or in th--, has the white community owned more large tracks of land? I'm just curious.
CC: Well right in this, in this area, when I was coming up, let's see, whites used to live over there in that house and we lived further down. So it was kind of mixed up the same.
GC: Mixed up.
CC: The Mars lived up there but it's been broken up to Mars and Bumgardeners. So when, if you're going by Ray Stowe's to Whites and then the (Lollies), they're black. Just kind of mixed up.
GC: So would you say in general that people in this com-in this sort of Balls Creek area, everyone, both white and black, most have been landowners in the past?
CC: I think so.
GC: I mean, and I mean like owning fields and stuff, not just their house, but owning the fields they worked on and stuff.
CC: I guess so. Uh-hum.
GC: OK. Yeah. I was just curious about that. What do, what do you see happening to this area in the future? Do you, I mean, what, what direction do you see us going in?
CC: It'll probably be developed into something. I don't know. I don't know. I see most places going to be--. If you really want to know what I think, I think, I think the lake area is coming on up. I think it's coming on up 16. And I think as it come up more houses will be built. And in Catawba, I don't know how much you know about Catawba, but it has a lot of beautif--, home with waterfronts, they have started this development. And I think this is where the trend of most things are going.
GC: What do you think about that? Is that good or bad? Both?
CC: Well, people have to have somewhere to stay because you have so many people in the United States. They need homes. They need schools. And so it has to be developed so I can't say it's bad because people need places to go.
GC: Uh-hum. But I mean will you be sorry to see the environment, like the natural part of the area change?
CC: Well it depends on, it depends on what you do with it. It depends on how it sound. It depends on the business part of it.
GC: So you mean if they do, if they do a sensitive job of it and don't destroy too much then that would be better?
CC: What you mean? Oh. Well if you do a development it's going to, it may look, it's going to probably look different, but this is life. It's going to be the change. You're not going to stay togeth--, you not going to stay the same. You just forget it you know.
GC: Right.
CC: People's not farming.
GC: Right. So it's going to change.
CC: He was just--. Most of them too lazy to farm.
GC: [laughter] Well also it's hard to make money on it anymore, right.
CC: Well you never really made any money so you know.
GC: It was just enough to survive.
CC: Right. Well I think sometimes people may make pretty good money. Now they have soybeans up here, corn. I think that they may do pretty good on that with the government's help.
GC: Hum. With the government's help. But you're saying most people just don't want to anymore anyway, don't want to farm.
CC: How many you know?
GC: Yeah. None.
CC: [laughter] Well.
GC: Well no. That's not true. I know a cou--I know a few, but most, no. Why is that? I guess people--. Why is that? Why do you think?
CC: Generation of people, lazy.
GC: [laughter] Is that it or is it--?
CC: I think it, I think they're lazy but I think it's the signs of the times. They have to learn a lot of things been given to people and they took them and they don't appreciate things that don't work for them.
GC: So do you think people have less knowledge about where their food comes from and stuff like that?
CC: Less knowledge?
GC: Yeah. I mean like if you were raising your own food I guess you knew
CC: Where it came from.
GC: where it came from whereas now--.
CC: I think people don't even eat right now. Well you know that. You know people are high on, they high on steaks, they high on pizza, hamburger. It's really killing me.
GC: [laughter] Fast food.
CC: It's killing people. I'm a vegetarian myself.
GC: Me too.
CC: And I, and I enjoy every minute of it and I feel better since I became a vegetarian.
GC: When did you become one?
CC: About two years ago. But my grandchildren, my daughter had them, they're born vegetarian. They don't know anything about meat.
GC: Hum. That's good. Yeah. You can eat well that way. You don't need meat.
CC: Uh-hum. I do too. I eat well. I might get me a little okra, get me couple of tomatoes, eat me some green beans, cut me some cucumber. Uh-hum. I'm hungry. [laughter] I'm going home too.
GC: I know I'm sorry I'm keeping you too late.
CC: I got to go. I've been up ever since 4:30.
GC: Right. Well
CC: I can go to Hickory.
GC: Well let me just ask you a couple more things.
GC: OK. So do you feel like people, just to follow up on that--, do you feel like people have, still have a strong connection to land in this area or do you feel like it's, that's changed, that people have lost that connection?
CC: What? To land?
GC: Yeah.
CC: I think people wants to be homebuyers. I think everybody wants a home. I really do. I, I, you know I think, if you find people that, that's interested enough to go to school four years of college and, and go on and get their masters and doctors and all this, of course they going to have a home. And--.
GC: So they still have a connection to a land as a home?
CC: Right. Right.
GC: But do you feel like the same kind of relationship to the land that people used to have? I mean around here?
CC: You see a long time ago they had acres, but most of these people when they build a home, you can take one or two lots or a acre or whatever you put it on and you take the house like down on the lake like 300,000 dollars and things like that. You have your, I'm not thinking well right now, the cost. What maybe fifty acres would cost a long time ago you could take that acre with 300,--. TAPE 1, SIDE B
CC: 300,000-dollar home and it's worth a lot more.
GC: So people had a different relationship to land when they could have a lot more of it.
CC: Well they didn't get that much for it.
GC: Right.
CC: Land's very, very expensive.
GC: Right. But I mean they knew, they probably--. Do you feel like people now know their land as well as people did then? I mean, in other words, people spend as much time outdoors?
CC: I don't know about that. [yawns]
GC: Do people--?
CC: But I think people know their land because if they have to pay taxes.
GC: Yeah. Well they know it that way.
CC: [laughter] Yeah.
GC: They know it that way, but you know, you know what I mean. I mean like know it. I mean like go out there and take walks and like, I mean obviously they aren't farming it, but go out and garden. Go out and you know just spend time outdoors.
CC: Spend sometime out--. If people, people again you have the sign of the times. People--. Who has time?
GC: Right. So the people don't feel like they have time?
CC: Well, do they really have time?
GC: And people don't have time.
CC: You know. I've been at work since dark this morning. I'm going back and it's going to soon be dark. I mean this is just a backup everyday. It something goes on.
GC: Uh-hum. Right. So people had more opportunity maybe to be out when they--.
CC: They had more time because they were farming.
GC: Uh-hum. Right. And you personally, I mean how do you connect to, to the land? I mean, what do you, what do you do outside? You aren't doing your ride on mowing anymore, so?
CC: I have a garden.
GC: You have a garden. Anything else that you like to do?
CC: Oh and we walk. My daughter enjoys jogging and so forth. And walking. Yeah. That's good.
GC: Uh-hum.
CC: And a lot of people in this community walk.
GC: You walk on the road or do you walk--?
CC: Oh people walk on the road.
GC: Do you have any favorite place?
CC: To walk?
GC: Well yeah or just in general for anything. I mean, where, if you had to say your favorite locations in this area, where would they be?
CC: Well my job. [laughter]
GC: Well here's one.
CC: Where do I spend my time?
GC: [laughter] Well here's one.
CC: I go home to sleep.
GC: You just go home to sleep. [laughter] Well OK. So your job would be one. This, this place that you've built. Where else?
CC: Well of course my home and I walk back and forth.
GC: You walk back and forth.
CC: Nothing in particular.
GC: Nothing like any particular field or woods or anything like that?
CC: No, no, no. No I don't go up there.
GC: [laughter]
CC: It's not safe anymore.
GC: Why not? What's not safe about it?
CC: What you mean what's not safe about it?
GC: Well what isn't safe about it? I mean what's the, what's the, what's the, what's--?
CC: What's going on now that's not safe? It's not safe to be up here by myself at night.
GC: Oh just 'cause of crime?
CC: Oh sure.
GC: Has there been some crime in this area?
CC: There's crime everywhere. You know, you can, you ( ).
GC: Well yeah, but I mean--.
CC: A lot of people think they safe in certain neighborhoods. They may be but I don't know. I'm finding out ( ). Just last week there was that little boy was he fifteen, shot his eleven-year-old sister and so. You don't know. You don't, you just don't know. People are sick.
GC: Uh-huh. So, but I mean you don't have any places that have memories from when you were young?
CC: No
GC: Like places that you remember?
CC: No.
GC: None at all? The camp meeting.
CC: Well yeah. I remember that, you know, but I don't dwell on that.
GC: Hum. You don't dwell on the past?
CC: No. Not that much. I dwell on the past but not like that.
GC: You're not attached to it? Not attached to things?
CC: Oh yeah I'm attached to the past but I just don't, I don't know. There's a lot of places I think of but not like that.
GC: Well how do you think of them?
CC: I don't, really.
GC: Just when it comes to mind, when you pass by?
CC: Yeah.
GC: I mean, is there a family--? Do you have--? Is the family graveyard, is that at Smyre's?
CC: Yeah, that's up the road from Smyre's.
GC: So does that--? That, I mean, that's a place that has some memories associated with it. The meeting ground. What about where your parents' house was?
CC: Well, yes. That's my backyard.
GC: [laughter] That's your backyard now. Well that's good so you don't have to be separated from that. And you have a garden at home too?
CC: No, no, no.
GC: Just here?
CC: Yeah.
GC: Well, and do you, do you have--? What's your set up at home? Do you just have lawn and woods? Is it, is it--? Do you have a very large area?
CC: Not really.
GC: Just around the house.
CC: Uh-hum.
GC: Well, [pause]. Where do the people who come to, who leave their kids here come from? What's the area serve? Is it mostly people from Catawba and around?
CC: Uh-hum. Conover, Statesville, Newton, and have somebody from Hickory.
GC: Statesville huh?
CC: Well across the river. They call it you know like, you know, Brickyard it's nearer here than it is to, in downtown in Statesville.
GC: I see.
CC: Yeah. I'm going to have to go home and get some rest. [laughter]
GC: OK. I'm sorry.
CC: 'Cause I'm very tired. I don't mean, you know I don't mean to be rude, but I'm--. I am exhausted. I feel tired.
GC: Yeah. You're at that--.
CC: It's the end of the week and I'm tired.
GC: Right.
CC: I'm very tired.
GC: Well good. Well thank you.
CC: OK. Then--. 'Cause it's just that time. I usually go home about six o/clock, but it comes a time when the body starts shutting down.
GC: Yeah, I know.