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Monologue by Linda McCachren

McCachren, Linda
McCachren, Michael
Date of Interview: 
Then and now, Stories and storytellers; Childhood adventures
Linda McCachren talks about her grandparents' farm, picking blackberries, and her parent's attempt to buy and sell cars.
Charlotte Narrative and Conversation Collection
Collection Description: 
Michael McCachren interviewed Charlotte, NC residents to collect various stories for a class project at UNC Charlotte.
LM (Linda McCachren): Hi my name's Linda. Uh, I was raised in Charlotte, North Carolina and I lived, I live in Harrisburg now but they say there's not a lot of Charlotteans left but I don't know. All my aunts and uncles are still around. My mama was, came from a family of, with seven brothers and sisters. There was two girls and the rest boys. And my granddaddy and grandmother lived out near Beatties Ford Road in Huntersville and they [phone rings] had a farm [phone rings] but they raised vegetables and they had the big family so they had to work hard and the kids had to pick cotton growing up and uh, kids today don't know what that's like. But they picked cotton to make money and raised vegetables and my granddaddy used to make molasses. He had what was called a molasses mill. It was like a concrete structure on the bottom and then it had a big copper or brass pad or something like that and he would cut the molasses cane and he would put them in the pad somehow and boil the sugar out of them. And he would just like it cook 'til it turned into molasses. And uh, Grandmother churned her own butter and everything. And as a little girl I would go out there and spend summers and it was so much fun being out there in the country. And she would make butter with this butter press and it was real pretty looking. And my granddaddy would take the vegetables and the butter over to the Catawba River near the steam plant to a neighborhood over there and sell the produce and stuff. And I remember going over there with him for that. And we had a horse and we had what was called a corn crib and they would put the corn in the corn crib when the crops came in then it would harden. You'd feed that to your animals and things and um, of course we had our own chickens and I remember helping slop the hogs [laughs]. That's sounds kind of funny I reckon but that's the, you know they used to raise a lot of pig and stuff, they didn't have a way to keep the meat. You had a root cellar which was down under the house and, uh, kept their vegetables and things like that cold and in the wintertime and kept it from spoiling. And that's the way they kept that. And I remember an old ice chest that was one of the first refrigerators where they would bring a, get a block of ice and put in there. So our grandparents have really seen a lot of things happen, a lot of modernization and everything but, I remember that that was so much fun going out there. And they had a, just had a nice, you know my grandmother and granddad was real funny. He demanded respect and, uh, he had a certain chair he sat in and when he'd come in he would make you know, you got up from that chair 'cause your granddaddy was coming. You didn't mess with him. I remember in the wintertime it was so cold that, uh, they used to use hot water bottles and we used to put hot water in them. And the bedrooms were really cold and you'd run in there and jump under the covers and put your feet on that hot water bottle and cover it with a bunch of quilts 'cause man it was like sleeping outside. It was so cold. And they, in the earlier days they cooked their food on the wood stove. Of course later on they got modern appliances and stuff and everything. I remember we, a fresh crop of corn would come in and we'd eat biscuits and butter, tomatoes, and that good old corn was so good. Anyway, I live in Harrisburg now and I have three kids and they don't know what all this is like. I remember going blackberry picking and we used to wrap our arms, around our arms and wrists and ankles. We'd put on long pants and long shirts and we'd wrap them with kerosene rags to keep the jiggers away so the blackberries, and that was good eating. And uh, we got a blackberry patch in a field we live in now and the kids don't even care about going and picking it. We just, I guess got it so easy today. We don't know what hard times are like. But anyway [pause] like I said, times were hard when my mama and daddy were growing up. And after the war, people were going up north to get cars to make a profit off of buying a car up there, up north and bringing them down south and selling them. Well Mama and Daddy had I think three hundred dollars. They'd start out to fill it up in Pennsylvania to buy a car. And there wasn't telephones, weren't telephones on the roadside like there are today. They got up to Baltimore and went and bought a trailer hitch and didn't know they were going all the way to Philadelphia actually, but they got on to Philadelphia and they bought this car. And they didn't have much money left and so on the way back the car, one of them, the battery started going dead. So Mama and Daddy, one of them had to cut the light off and uh, was driving without lights on and following. And eventually had to buy a tow bar 'cause, 'cause of the battery. So back then you could stay with people at night and it would cost you a couple of dollars. People trusted people and you know, you, your handshake was you word and, and all that and so, uh, they were able to spend the night with people along the way. Anyway, one night they were coming through one of the towns up there and Mama was following Daddy and I think they were in, pulling the car then and they fell asleep. And so the car wrecked. So the policeman came on and thought they'd been drinking and he said no, they'd fallen asleep. So then they got the cars back up on the road and poor things, this was just a disaster from the beginning. They had wrecked one of the cars and one of the headlights was messed up and all that. And they were, didn't have any money left hardly and so they tried to sell the car and the, some guy told them he'd give them a certain amount of money for the car. Well it wasn't even what they'd put in it. And they stayed with the, a preacher and his wife. And they gave him, I think they had a couple of dollars left and they gave them a couple of dollars to spend the night. And they hadn't got in contact with their families. And I guess back then they send letter, letters to people to tell them where they were at because their mama showed me a letter that she had written telling him where they were at and, anyway, they tried to sell the tow bar and the guy told them he'd give them a certain amount for that. And uh, that wasn't enough for them so I think the guy wound up buying the tow bar and the car and all. Anyway, they, Mama said that she was so glad to be heading home. And so, they got to Raleigh, North Carolina and my mother's brother was going to NC State College at the time. He said he was, him and his brother was ready to come out looking for them if they hadn't of showed up. Anyway, they were so thankful to get home, and I think I was a baby then staying with Grandmother and Granddaddy. They came back with less money than what they started, no money, no car and it was just a disaster from the beginning. But that's what people were doing then. Poor Mama and Daddy just didn't have very good luck [laughs]. They were young and everything. But they talk about having to ride the bus, uh, back and forth from Charlotte. They didn't have cars back then. They had to get around, and they were thankful for that.