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Interview with Charles Davis

Interviewee: 
Davis, Charles
Interviewer: 
Cleveland, Vicki
Date of Interview: 
1998-11-06
Identifier: 
LGDA0244
Subjects: 
Then and now; Relationships with people and places
Abstract: 
Charles Davis discusses work, family values, music, and life during the Civil Rights Movement.
Collection: 
Charlotte Narrative and Conversation Collection
Collection Description: 
Vicki Cleveland interviews Charlotteans to collect stories for a class project at UNC Charlotte.
Transcript:
VC (Vicki Charles): This is Vicki Cleveland. Today is November 6 and I'm interviewing Charles Davis. And Charles, where were you born?
CD (Charles Davis): Uh, Raleigh, North Carolina.
VC: OK. And how long did you live there?
CD: Lived in Raleigh until I was approximately 18 and then I went to the military.
VC: OK. How long did you stay in the military?
CD: Five years.
VC: Oh, // OK. //
CD: // Then // I came back to Raleigh and finished college and worked in New York until I was, until 1979 and then I moved to Charlotte.
VC: OK.
CD: So I've been here for a long time.
VC: OK. So you've been in the city of Charlotte-.
CD: Right, // since '79. //
VC: // -Since '79. //
CD: Right.
VC: Oh, that's great. What are, what are some of the differences that you've seen, um, over the years?
CD: Well, Charlotte is not the same city as it was in '79. It has really grown a lot since '79.
VC: Uh-hmm.
CD: I think IBM more or less spurt-, spurted the growth in Charlotte-
VC: Uh-huh.
CD: -'Cause, uh, as you know, um, I've been moved down, moving to Harris Boulevard, Harris Boulevard, it was a two-lane road back in '79, and look at it now.
VC: Uh-huh.
CD: And then I've been moved down, I think Harris Teeter food stores, uh, they didn't even have a computerized system.
VC: OK.
CD: And of course, uh, IBM was first to input the computerized system into the grocery stores in this area.
VC: I didn't know // that. //
CD: // Yeah. //
VC: I didn't know that. What other, has, did, does IBM do, um, or back then, did they do a lot in the community like they do now, uh-?
CD: Well, I think they did more in the community then they do now. IBM was much more structured back in 19, uh, 79 than it is today.
VC: Uh-huh.
CD: And in fact, IBM is the reason that North Carolina is on the map. It is because IBM moved into the Research Triangle in Raleigh, in the, uh, mid 50s and, uh, late, mid, between mid and late 50s.
VC: Uh-huh.
CD: And it really made Raleigh grow and this is just an offshoot from Raleigh-.
VC: // Uh-huh. //
CD: // -As // far as growth is concerned.
VC: OK, OK. When you went to college, did you, um, did, um, did you think that you were going to have the kinds of opportunities that you ended up having in your life?
CD: Of course, yeah. I always knew that I would be a corporate successful whatever. And that's basically, I just wanted to, uh, have a family, uh, a happy family life ( ) and mature some children, you know, uh, institutionalize some of my thoughts and I guess that's a big, that's the only way you can institutionalize some of your, um, beliefs is through your family-.
VC: // Uh-hmm. //
CD: -Through your children.
VC: Uh-huh. How many children do you have?
CD: Uh, three.
VC: Three?
CD: Yep.
VC: And how old are they?
CD: I've got, uh, a daughter about your age and I have, uh, I've got two grandkids by her.
VC: Uh-huh.
CD: And then I have an, uh, 18 year old boy and one that's 14.
VC: Uh-huh. OK. And what kinds of things, um, what kind of things did, did you learn as a young adult that you pass on to your kids?
CD: Um, I learned as a young adult, uh, basically my father taught me the importance of prayer-.
VC: Uh-huh.
CD: -You know, as long as you play, pray and believe, I mean, all things are possible-.
VC: // Uh-huh. //
CD: // -You // know. That's what I try to instill in my kids. So, um, not religion, but more or less a spirituality-type of, uh, being.
VC: Uh-huh.
CD: That's ( ) religion.
VC: Uh-huh. And you really feel that that's helped and, and you see it-.
CD: // Uh-. //
VC: // -And, // and you see it in your children?
CD: I think so. I think that's the key. Uh, is, uh, to make sure that you have some quiet time and get to know yourself. And, uh, my children, I think, compared to most of the other kids around, I think that they, uh, hold their composure pretty good and they are very confident in themselves.
VC: OK.
CD: And they know that there's nothing they can't do, you know. It's a matter of them doing it, putting forth the effort.
VC: Uh-huh. Now were your parents raised here in North Carolina // also? //
CD: // Right. //
VC: OK. So your family's, uh,conversations back a couple of // generations? //
CD: // Yeah, // into Raleigh, Cary and the Apex area.
VC: Uh-huh, uh-huh. They, um, do, did they pass anything to you, um, like, like I would imagine that they were alive during the Depression. Did that, did anything from their life filter over, in, into yours that, um, that you realize maybe now, or realize for a while now that you can put away, that you don't need to think about a lot anymore?
CD: Uh, the, yeah uh, the fact that, uh, I always thought that they offered a positive note. I mean, that's the key. Hand up a positive note, that's the key.
VC: Uh-huh.
CD: That goes back to prayers again, you start your day with a prayer and you end your day with a prayer.
VC: Uh-huh.
CD: And uh, every day is another challenge and uh, don't worry about the mistakes you made the, uh, previous day.
VC: Uh-huh.
CD: Just take the day-to-day challenge, // and-. //
VC: // Uh-huh. //
CD: I mean, that has, uh, worked pretty good.
VC: Uh-huh, uh-huh. OK.
CD: And always have some music in your life, you know. My mama always played music. I mean, the radio was turned off, which was good, but she always had some music playing, you know, Miles, Coltrane and that kind of keeps you on an even tempo also, the type of music she listened to.
VC: Uh-huh, OK. That's nice to hear that she always played it and didn't have a lot of television going on.
CD: Right, yeah, exactly, // exactly-. //
VC: // Uh-huh. //
CD: -Keep you focused, you know.
VC: Uh-huh.
CD: ( ) For us to been happy.
VC: Uh-huh. Did you do that in your home also, when, when your kids were growing // up, the music? //
CD: // Yeah, oh yeah. // The music was always on. Oh yes, indeed, no doubt about that.
VC: Uh-huh.
CD: Yeah. In fact I listened to Al Greene before I came to work this morning.
VC: OK.
CD: Yeah.
VC: Uh-huh. OK. And, so do your, do your kids, um, um, and now, I mean, even your daughter and her kids, do they still have the same kind of-?
CD: Like my son, uh, took all of my Coltrane albums to college, // so-. //
VC: // Uh-huh. //
CD: -He is, he's on the right track.
VC: // OK. //
CD: // Yeah. //
VC: // Uh-huh. //
CD: // Yeah. //
VC: Now what about your daughter, does she, how does she, // uh-. //
CD: // Well, // you know, my daughter, she likes, she likes, uh, the Temptations, // the Miracles-.//
VC: // Uh-huh. //
CD: -And, groups like that.
VC: Uh-huh, uh-huh.
CD: She's not into jazz like the guys are. Yeah.
VC: Uh-huh.
CD: But she likes music, too-.
VC: Yeah?
CD: -She always has music playing in the house.
VC: Uh-huh.
CD: I think that's, that's real good. It keeps you from watching so much TV.
VC: Yeah [laughs]. What kind of, what kind of impact do you think, um, television is going to have on this generation?
CD: Negative.
VC: // Uh-huh. //
CD: // Yeah, // no doubt about that. There's nothing good for young people on TV, // you know? //
VC: // Uh-huh. //
CD: The TV has one purpose and that's to sell their products, you know. The program's not that important. It's the advertisement on TV that's really important.
VC: Uh-huh.
CD: They'll put anything on TV to get you to turn it on so they can sell their products, you know.
VC: OK.
CD: Yes, and, uh, once the kids learn that, you know, they are going to, I guess stop watching so much, I think.
VC: Yeah.
CD: I mean, once they learn, once they learn how the world works, I think they fit into about, uh, being, uh, doing the right thing, once they learn how it works.
VC: // Uh-huh. //
CD: // And // the TV is all about selling.
VC: Uh-huh. So do you have, if you, if you were able to reach 1,000 kids, what's one thing that you would tell them, // that-.//
CD: // Uh. //
VC: -You think that they could pass on?
CD: Um, one thing that I could tell them?
VC: Uh-huh.
CD: Trying to reach 1,000 kids? Is to make sure that they take time to say their prayers-.
VC: Uh-huh.
CD: -You know. It's very important to pray every day at least three times a day.
VC: Uh-huh.
CD: And sometimes, especially through a ( ) you'll be praying constantly-.
VC: Uh huh.
CD: -You know. It's very important that you, uh, stay in touch, with the Creator.
VC: OK. OK, that's cool. Uh, let's see, anything else you want to talk about, any, any, any, um, [pause] Um, any kind of memories that, // um-.//
CD: // There's-. //
VC: -From your childhood? 'Cause I know you went through quite a, quite a few, um, major, you were alive during quite a few major changes that happened in the United States. Um, in, in particular, maybe the Civil Rights, um, movement or-.
CD: Yeah.
VC: -You know, those kinds of things, that // helped shape? //
CD: // It, it, // the major thing is, uh, to constantly grow and to, uh, realize that, uh, you knowing part and your prophesizing part // and-. //
VC: // Uh-huh. //
CD: -That which is perfect ( ) is the only way.
VC: Uh-huh.
CD: So you have to be constantly willing to accept changes to grow.
VC: Uh-huh.
CD: And the only thing that is, that is constant is change. Things constantly changes.
VC: Uh-huh.
CD: And you got to grow with it, you know.
VC: Uh-huh.
CD: The Civil Rights Movement, that's just a change that, uh, it had to come, you know. And things are going to get better, no doubt about that.
VC: Uh-huh. Were you here during any of it, // like the sit-ins? //
CD: // Right.// I was, yeah.
VC: You were, you were in the sit-ins, // or-? //
CD: // No. // I, I was here during the sit-ins, but I didn't, uh, participate that much. I was, uh, more or less, uh, too busy growing myself, you know. I grew right along with it, you know, 'cause I was here during the sit-ins.
VC: Uh-huh.
CD: That's why I had to vote this past Tuesday 'cause my mom would have killed me if she knew I // didn't vote-. //
VC: // Yeah. //
CD: -You know.
VC: Uh-huh.
CD: Yeah, I had to get up and go vote-.
VC: // Uh-huh. //
CD: // -Because // a lot of people sacrificed for the rights to vote, you know. All the rights were, uh, all those changes came right on time, you know, everything was on time.
VC: Yeah.
CD: I haven't missed a beat yet.
VC: ( ) OK. Well, I thank you very much.
CD: Of course.
VC: And, um, thank you [laughs].
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