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Compilation of Interviews from Reid Park
26 Jul 2017
Published To


Q: Hello, how are you doing today?

A: I'm fine.

Q: My name is Alijah and I will be your interviewer today. Um, how did you end up living in Reid Park Community, and how did you get here?

A: Well, I usually drive the bus from my house up here, but what happened was that they cancelled the Steel Creek area for Sterling and now I am just vacant. *laughs*

Q: How did you get to Reid Park?

A: How did I get here? Ricky Hall brought me.

Q: Okay. How did you end up living in the Reid Park area?

A: Well, I have been in Reid Park area since 1958. I used to live down 49, but I got married and moved in '58 here.

Q: Wow, that's amazing. What are some activities you or children did when you grew up in Reid Park Community?

A: Well, I wasn't in Reid Park community in my growing up time. I was down 49 down Young Blood Rd. I worked a farm. I had to pick 200 pounds of cotton by 12 o'clock and then the man would come and weigh it, and then I could go home.

Q: How much did you get paid?

A: $1.25

Q: Oh. *Laughs*

A: *Laughs*

Q: What is one thing you would like to change or improve in your community, and how would you improve it if you had unlimited resources?

A: How would I improve the community?

Q: Yes.

A: You mean where I live?

Q: Yes, ma'am.

A: Well, I would love to do it. In '58, Mr. Harris -- Robert Harris, we signed up for speed bumps down 49 and we never did get them. And it needs some help in Reid Park.

Q: Can you tell me who is Mr. Harris?

A: Mr. Harris is? He's deceased now.

Q: Who was he?

A:Robert Harris.

Q: Who is the person who had the most influence in your life? What did you learn from him?

A: Well I learned a whole lot from my mother. She taught me everything that I know.

Q: Can you tell me some things that you did learn from her?

A: *Laughs*

Q: Did you learn how to cook from her? Like, did you learn how to speak properly from her? Did she teach you like manners or anything?

A: Yes she did. When we had company, we weren't allowed in the house with our mothers. We had to be in a room somewhere by yourself because they weren't our friends -- they were my mama's.

Q: So when you had friends, would you be able to come out?


A: If I… Oh yeah!


Q: My name is Ashanti, and I am a 6th grader, and I am 12 years old.

A: My name is Freddy Wydell. I'll be 64, Sunday coming. My birthday's April 27th and I was born in 1950. I live here in Charlotte. Been in Charlotte 64 years.

Q: How did you end up living in the Reid Park Community and how did you get there?

A: My grandmother. We had a house uh, down on Walkers Fairy Road, so when my grandfather passed away, his people came from Virginia sold the property, but thank God for my grandfather that had the - the sense to buy property. So he bought, what would you call it, an old army barracks. And the army barracks are still up to date. And thank God to Habitat - we were able to move. Uh, I was 13 years old so that's a long time ago.

Q: What were some fun activities you or your children did when growing up in the Reid Park Community?

A: Right there on the corner of Amay James and Sherrill Street. That was our baseball field. Almost on the corner of Ridge and Sherrill Street where the Church - where the Mexicans have a Church there now. And that's where we used to play football. We used to call it the football field - Go for Hole Stadium because it had plenty of holes in it. *Laughs*

Q: So did ya'll create that yourself when… the football field? Did ya'll create it yourself?

A: Well we had nowhere else to go, you know. We weren't allowed to come to the school. Now you still can't. You couldn't ride bicycles. You couldn't ride Go Carts on school property. So now you have to improvise.

Q: What is what thing you would like to change or improve in your community? And how would you improve it if you had unlimited resources?

A: If I had unlimited resources, I would put street bumpers, like when you go over the hump -- in certain parts of the neighborhood because on the corner of Sherrill and Walter street, you need at least one bump, one bump right there. But if you notice, if anybody notices -- there are several bumps going down Amay James toward school. So that's a cut through from - from over to Reid Park where the school buses come in at, and that's a short cut. They come Sherrill Street and Walter Street… and come up to Amay James, but I've already requested that. But they say that it was not enough traffic for it to be improved. And if I had the resources to improve anything in Reid Park, is to help the elderly and make sure that their houses are weather proof and that they have enough to eat.

Q: Who is the person who had the most influence on your life? And what did you learn from them?

A: The person that had the most influence in my life is my grandmother. When I talk about her I get emotional because as of today she is 102 years old. She raised me from a baby. My mother got married in 1956 and moved to New York, so they left my sister and myself for my grandmother for her to raise us. And I… like I say - through school, two marriages, and Vietnam -- I'm still with my grandmother. That's my heart.

Q: So she's still living?

A: Yes. She's 102. Right there on the corner of Sherrill and Walter Street. 102. She was born January 26th, 1912.

Q: And you represent for your hat? Like, it - that's what you came from?

A: No. That's what I served. I am a Vietnam Veteran. I served in the Marine Corps. I was honorably discharged and had to have been able to serve my country as a Marine Corps.

Q: What have you achieved in your life, and what adversity have you had to face?

A: Two marriages. Four/five beautiful children. Four grandchildren that I got out of foster care that I love dearly. And that's what I do. I live to take care of them. Not for them to take care of me, because sometime down the road the tables will turn; and I hope that they will appreciate they Granddaddy.

Q: Thank you.

A: You're Welcome.



A: Davison is another street that they built the highway but the black people had cafes and different things, kind of up, off of, what was that... it was kind of going around Morehead, down the other side over there. And they tore all that down, going between that Martin Luther King place. And they had that. There were Cafes where people would go down there and eat. But now they changed all of that and you'd be surprised on how many people that got pictures of that. How many people got pictures of that. And see the old people is one, that if you could get to -- they have forgotten so much. You know there is so much that they have forgotten, nobody kept records of what we used to do. Right, what you was doing. See they had so much stuff. I think I remember my grandmother going in, what would she do -- I think I had a sprained leg, and I remember her going to get some weeds and something else that they grew, and ventica, and put it on a sprained leg and wrap it up. You know, I guess the indians knew stuff we didn't. And uh, they did a lot. Doctors now won't tell you because they will take and use that for medicine. But now, I appreciate Dr. Oz coming out everyday with different stuff. Like, your supposed to put your feet in Epson Salt Water and all that and do all that. And if you have fatty cells, he showed the brush, he said - which I thought you used to scrub your back, but you take and rub your leg up and rub those fatty cells up, and it causes some of the skin to fall off because it's dead. And then it uh, makes the cellulite flatten out, and then your blood do better. But he said do it every morning you get in the tub. And then he had a picture today where it was all lumpy and all like this, and when he got through rubbing it, it slapped out with a brush.

Well here, if you just um.



Q: How did you end up in the Reid Park Community and how did you get here?

A: I was born in the Reid Park Community. I was born in 1962 and I have been here all my life. All my life to 2007, I left the neighborhood. All around the neighborhood, the hills on Amay James we ran up and down the hills. We would play softball. We would just act crazy, but it was a good neighborhood back then. It was a good neighborhood. Where everybody knew everybody.

Q: What is one thing you would like to change or improve in your community and how would you improve it if you had unlimited resources?

A: Help to change some of the houses. Build up the houses, improve some of the houses, uh, improve some of the neighborhood. Open up the neighborhood center for the kids, so they can go back and play and have fun. It's all about bringing the kids back to the neighborhood.

Q: Who is the person that had the most influence on your life and what did you learn from them?

A: Uh, their name is Reverend Willy Harris and Mary Harris. They was my inspiration. They lived up the street from us. They put me on the bus, they took me off the bus. They put my daughter on the bus, and took her off the bus. Everybody looked up to Reverend and Mrs. Harris.

Q: What have you achieved in your life and what adversity have you had to face?

A: I achieved, I - I'm a teenage mom. I graduated from high school in 1980. I worked for CMS for 15 years. And now, I came a long ways -- put it like that.

Q: Thank you for answering for answering my questions and thanks for being here.

A: Thank you.



Q: So what is your name?

A: Alonda Caldwell.

Q: K, let's start on the, um, how did you end up leaving in Reid Park Community and how did you get here?

A: Um, I ended up in Reid Park Community just about three years ago. Um, and how I ended up here was um, I stayed in um, apartments called Seagull Point and I only had 5 years to stay there at Seagull Point and I had a counselor there that was counseling me through a lot of um, different opportunities. And one of the opportunities was to come to come to go and sign up for Habitat. So I signed up for Habitat and after I signed up for Habitat I went through the whole orientation thing for Habitat and Reid Park was one of my picks to move here. So I did a little research of Reid Park and the street actually that they gave us a choice to move on was Ridge Avenue. And I knew that a lot of the residents on Ridge had been in their homes over 20 or 30 something years. So after that I decided to pick a lot to move my family to Reid Park.

Q: What were some fun activities you or your children did when growing up in Reid Park Community?

A: I can say this. We didn't grow up in Reid Park; however, we grew up and um, my children and I grew up in a small city. Well, it's not a small city, but a small town that is actually um, outside of Charlotte and it is called Kannapolis. And um, the things that we did and my children did was they did a lot of softball, a lot of basketball and a lot of baseball. So they continued that as we came and moved into the community at Reid Park. So very, um, my daughter she plays outside at a league, which is a fast pitch league. Um, and she plays there just about all year around. So she continues to be doing that. And she also made her first year to play for Reid Park High School. So that was just about, um, what I did. And then my childhood, as I said, not in here at Reid Park, was um back in Kannapolis, as I said, my hometown. Um, Lord knows we did um, throwing rocks at cars, sitting on the walls, going and picking apples and plums out of neighbors' yards and watching them hollering and yelling at us to get out of their yard. Um, climbing hills, throwing rocks off of hills into the little lakes and ponds that are over there. And you know, also playing a lot of football and basketball and um, softball with my neighbor -- with the kids in the neighborhood, my growing up time.

Q: Who is the person who has the most influence in your life and what did you learn from them?

A: It has to be my grandmother. My grandmother at the time of me and my three sisters - two sisters, I'm sorry, my two sisters, like I said back in our hometown, she actually did wonders for me and my other two sisters. So we actually was under my grandmother's wings so we was staying with her and going by her guidelines, we were taught a whole lot of independencies. Um, had to go to school and really had to not depend on anyone but yourself because if anything goes downhill, or anything is at fault -- you should be the only person to be at fault at anything that you do or anything that you come in contact with. So um, that was a lot of challenges that me and my sisters had was just being independent. And you had to, had to go to school and you had to go to church. So in all said, I can say that the same thing my grandmother installed in me, I have installed in my three children. To be independent and not dependent on anyone; and getting through school.

Q: What have you achieved in your life and what adversity have you had to face?

A: My biggest goal that I achieved in life. Three years ago, thinking that I could be a homeowner never in a million years would I have thought of doing that. But I have really achieved that is owning a home before my first child went off to college. And that's about it. Um, and to this day it is still a wonderful feeling that, you know, that I am owning something that is, you know is going to take time to pay for, but still I am owning it and it is mine and it is mine and my children. And where I worked hard to get for me and my children. So that uh, that is a one in a million dream. To owning something and having something that is called yours - that you call yours.



Q: Hello I'm Russia, it's happy to be back with you again and this is the final question for Mrs. Janie McClean. What have you achieved in your life and what adversity have you faced?

A: In my life, I have seen like I took night and aid class, and then I too help people with my job. And that's what I have seen. And I love people and I work with kids and elder people too. Uh, how long have I been in work? I worked for 23 years during that in Concord. Still doing it.

Q: That's a lot of work. That is great. So have you seen any adversity in your life?

A: When first started to take home care, when I went to this president for this interview, his wife was sick and he wanted somebody that he could trust and they talked to me coming through for him, and when I went there he asked me what I know about it because I have been doing it for over some 20 some years. Then he said, I would love to have you, but he seemed like he was doubting me so I went home and I told my folks. They said how did the interview come along and I said this man don't trust me. And I was in the kitchen -- I'm a Christian person, you know, and I was talking to the Lord and I said, "Do I go back to those people, or do I not?" But God spoke to me and said, "Go because they need you." Then I went to him and took care of wife for 9 years before she passed. And now he is still my friend and he comes to see me and tells me I was the best thing he has ever had.

Q: That was a fantastic answer. It was nice having you, hope we see you again. Thank you ma'am.

A: Thank you.



A: And you know I gained a wife and I gained a house. You know, and one time I was tied up into drugs and stuff like that, but the older you get you push that to the side when you accept the Lord. And he blessed me through it and he's still blessing me.

Q: Thank you for that answer, that was a great answer. Thank you for your time and I hope to see you next time.

A: No, I would like to say I'm proud to say I'm a resident of Reid Park because I believe I can live anywhere in Charlotte where I wanted to, but I chose Reid Park because it's been my home.

Q: Thank you Mr. Greer. And I want to thank you for coming to Reid Park and everything you have done for Reid Park Community.

A: Thank you. And it's nice talking with you and I'll see you tomorrow.



Q: How did you end up living in the Reid Park Community and how did you get here?

A: Uh, my journey started in 1951. I was born at the Gus American Hospital which was the only hospital in Charlotte area for blacks. My grandmother, my mother, my father -- they all shared a four room house on Donald Ross, right now it's called Donald Ross in 1951. And we stayed there until 1955. And in 1955 we moved to the area named third ward, which is on the corner of Summit Avenue and South Tryon. We stayed there until 1966 and then we moved to an area called Small Wood. I graduated from Harding High School and later I married and moved from Charlotte to Marshville. In 1993 I went to prison. I stayed in prison for 8 years and 15 days. After I departed from prison, I left prison and moved back to Reid Park. Before going into prison I would say my wealth was gained to 2.5 million dollars. When I left prison I had only 68 dollars. The reason why I went to prison uh, I was the one that was beating Michael Jordan, the Michael Jordan, out of all the government was saying it was drug money, but it wasn't. And but I had a choice -- not to go to Prison or either tell a lie and I chose to go to Prison. And now that's how I returned to Reid Park.

Q: What are some fun activities you or your children did when growing up in the Reid Park Community?

A: Well, my children never grew up here. I was the only one that grew up here. But the fun activities that we had back in the '50s. Uh, you got to understand that we didn't have parks. We didn't have swings that we could swing on. We didn't have bridges that we could walk across. We had an imaginary park which is you know, we had our dogs. And the main concept to a child was that taking long journeys through the woods, understanding nature and getting a feel of nature. And we didn't have a protector. Uh, the fear element wasn't there because times have changed. And we, as a young boy, my playground was between West Blvd. and Wilkinson Blvd. adjacent to the golf course, Carolina Golf Course, those wooded areas going up West Blvd. And the creek banks, and fishing for craw dads and stuff like that, which was our childhood pleasures. And one thing that we had in our household was love and understanding. We gained responsibilities and respect. The attitude that I had from a child was that I had a loving family which was guided, spear headed by the grandmother, then handed down to the father and the mother. And that is why I gained responsibilities. Now I want you to understand that during those particular times we didn't have no electricity -- no lights, no water, not even a bathroom in that house. We had to, uh there was a thing called an ice box. Today you would call it a refrigerator. And back then we didn't have no -- like a said no lights, no water, but the main element in that household that we had was love. And like I said, the love and the togetherness, I mean be bonded together as a family. And we didn't understand what was rich or poor. I know we had a meal everyday. And you know when it rained we had shelter. And I guess, that’s where, my grandmother -- like I said, she was the spearhead of the house. And she taught me, as an individual -- responsibilities, respect, and the will to survive. I mean, we picked cotton, berries, and greens. Anything to bring in some type of income to that household.

Q: What is one thing you would like to change or improve in your community, and how would you improve it if you had unlimited resources?

A: Well, I have always wanted, and within my heart I have always thought about creating a center. A center which would be like a home light study for the homeless, for the ones that give them a second chance, that really want to turn their life around because I always feel like, if you give a person a second chance, everybody that walks through this world -- that goes through this world, you are going to make a mistake. Nobody is pure. Nobody is perfect. And if I had the unlimited resources I would buy like an old hotel and I would create it into a dormitory atmosphere and bring in teachers -- skilled people, that would teach the trade that they know to the homeless and to the ones that want to get back into the work field, that want to get back into the family -- the union. And that's what I would do. And the kids, when I was a kid, on Christmas Day you would see kids riding their bicycles, their skates, their outdoors, they are meeting each other. Today you don't see that. The computers, the tv's, and the fear of pedophiles. We didn't have that coming up as a kid. You can take a journey on any other holidays, and most people are inside. Most people don't even know their own neighbor. And it is because of the fear and the way things are happening right now. Uh, when they took away paddlers out of schools, discipline, I mean with the power, you all go home or be suspended. There was no such thing as a suspension. You get ten paddlers, then when you go home you get some more. Then you respect your teacher and you respect your individuals that come in and sit beside you. And you try to learn the best you could. Then, like I said, we didn't have the resources your young minds have today. But I have to understand that times are changing. And when times bring on the change, then there is a change that revolves around an individual, and the learning process. Kids now 4 or 5 years old, they can work on computers, you know? We didn't have computers, we didn't even have a radio. First tv show I seen back in 1961 and it was Roy Rogers. It was black and white. There was no such thing as color. Now, what you know progress is going to make a change. Progress is going to bring about a change. You know I pray to the Lord that we give back the basics, you know? A pair of tennis shoes cost 7.25 and that’s the best kind of tennis shoes you could buy, which were converse. Now, 200 dollars, kids fighting each other, killing each other, for a coat, for a pair of tennis shoes. I don't understand it, but I just pray that the lord will bring on the change.


Q: Who is the person that had the most influence on your life and what did you learn from them? 

A: It was my grandmother. Like I said in the beginning, I learned responsibilities, I learned respect, and I learned what the Lord meant for us to do. I mean the religion and um, you know that she instilled in us -- we didn't have the proper transportation to go to Church like most people have today because the churches were so far away. My grandmother come from... you know where Lake Whiley at? McDowell Park? Anyways, about.. it's below Carowinds. And the travel from Carowinds -- to here without any transportation, you had to walk. Can you imagine that? Walking that far just to come to town, just to go to church? That's a long walk ain't it?


Q: What have you achieved in your life and what adversity have you had to face?

A: Well like I said, uh. The Lord gave me a challenge. He gave me the challenge to play golf. And I have went from an outhouse, to a penthouse, to a jailhouse, with that challenge. I have always felt in the need to give back because if you give something back in life, you will be blessed. Take your hand and close it. Close your fist. Your fist is closed. I want you to continue to close it. If I hand you this pencil and your fist is closed, nothing can come in, right? Nothing can come out. In order to.. the lesson I'm about to say is, in order to give and receive, you have to have open hands and receive a blessing. The lesson is: if you don't receive one or give one -- how do you know what the Lord wants you to do? And like I took the game of Golf, uh, it kept me out of trouble. It learned me respect. It gave me determination. And you've got to understand... when I came along, I was the only black kid that played golf at Harding High School. That's during the segregation time. And a lot of golf courses.. now I'm on your high school team that I couldn't participate on because they didn't want a black man on their golf course. Only thing that we could do was put the bag on our shoulders. And that gave me the drive to make me feel like, you know -- I got to be better to prove myself. And that would gave me the courage; it gave me the inspiration; And it gave me the three things that I have always lived by -- get yourself focused. Focused meaning, knowing what you want to do with your life. Get yourself on track. On track meaning, following the lines that will get you where you need to go to reach your goal. And the third thing, you never have to look back. The only time you look back is to reach down and pick someone else back up.

Q: Well thank you for letting me interview you, and it was nice to meet you.

A: It's a pleasure. I hope you have learned something from this interview. I hope you take this interview, and the questions that you asked me -- look in the mirror and tell me who do you see. Can you fool that person in the mirror?

Q: No.

A: Well, that's the way life should be. If you could fool -- you could fool me, but the person in the mirror you can't fool. I mean each and every day you should ask yourself, how can I better myself? Get down on your knees and say, "Lord, what do you want me to do? I am a godson of you. Now, I want you to understand -- I had all the gold and silver that any poor man would want. Coming from a house with know electricity. Remember the three little pigs?

Q: Yes.

A: One of them build their house out of straw. One of them build their house out sticks. One of them build their house out of stone. Right?

Q: Yes.

A: That was for a reason right? The sticks, the straw, was week. But the stone stood there. Your foundation was standing. Your legacy will carry on if you do the right things. Like that? That's alright?


Q: Mhmm.

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