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Out in the country

Life Story Club Contributor

It starts off in 1999. This lady asked me to drive her to North Carolina. Coming from the city, I had never been in the southern states. So as I went down, you know, the closer we got out of New York City and down past Jersey and Philadelphia and all of those states, we went out in the country and now we’re changing over and you see all the country. And I was, amazed when I seen a cow in a field, because coming from here, the only time I ever seen a cow was in the Bronx zoo or someplace! So, we drove down, and the land and all of these trees and vegetables, and I got a chance to see how they had a tobacco field and a cotton field/ I loved it so much that, before I left, I got me an apartment, and I moved there and I lived there from 1999 to 2007. I quit my job here and I went there and got a job working in a convenience store.

I mean, I never seen the way people live so different. They had snap beans. I don’t know nothing about a bean, so I was cutting a been opening, taking out the little beans that come out and the people in the store were laughing. They gave me a bag of beans. I didn’t know what to do with them, so I took the scissors and I was opening them. They said, “No!” They shelled all the beans for me. When I would go home in the evenings some time, I would find sweet potatoes on the porch, and then there was one time somebody put two big things of collard greens and they left it on the porch for me. I thought it was tobacco, so I said, “I don’t smoke!” But the lady, they said to me, “No that’s collard greens!” I said well “I never seen no collard greens, the only collard greens I ever seen was on a rubber band, and that’s in New York.”

So it was just a time. And I sent my family back here… I went into the cotton field and picked up little balls of cotton and sent them back here so that they could see the refined cotton that come off the trees. And it was just a beautiful time that I had there. I had to learn everything, I had to learn how to drive there. I had to learn because I came from New York and I didn’t know anything about the southern states because I had never been there! So that was spectacular for me to be able to be in the state of North Carolina and to quit my job here. And I left here and I walked out on faith and I stayed there until 2007 before I came back to New York.

People would leave sweet potatoes and like I said they had collard greens out there and I didn’t know nothing about no collard green on no stem. The stem was about this big around and you have to take the collard greens off. And they were laughing at me because I told him I say well the only time I ever seen a collard green was in the store and it had a rubber band around it. They would laugh at me coming from here. It was just amazing. The people there are so different from New York people and they treat you so much different. The police officers at night. I didn’t know how to get to work and I worked from 11 to seven so the police would meet me at a certain place as was leaving, and he would make sure that I got on the highway every night! That police officer was right there to make sure that I got on that highway so that I may be able to get to work.

The living is different. The air is different. You can go in the grocery store and people just, I mean, families…being that I worked in the convenience store, families would see me on the street and they didn’t care about color, didn’t care about anything. They would run up and hug and kiss me. And these are the people who I see come into convenience store every day.

What made me move back was… I had already had two surgeries. I wasn’t working anymore. So there wasn’t no need for me to stay there. I came back here because I had family here. I didn’t have anybody there. I left here and got me a Penske truck and I worked like, let me see…I went down in September. So I paid rent September, October, November, December in an empty apartment. In January, I went and got me a Penske truck, put all my belongings in it and left here.

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Two Joyful Days

Life Story Club Contributor

Mar 10, 2020

The most joyful day that I can that I can remember was the birth of my great grandchildren. I was there when my granddaughter’s mother, when she had her, and I was there when my granddaughter had her two sons.

And I mean it was I was in the birthing when she had the first one to watch him crown in everything we went through the whole thing. I wasn’t able to be there for the second because I had to stay home to watch her two-year-old. When I was there three hours later and he is a gorgeous baby so now he has two. I have two great-grandsons and I was there for the birth of them. I told them, I said, “Make sure that you get my smell because now you can see me, but you’ll know me when you get a chance to know who I am.”


And the other joyful day is being on this computer. This was the best thing that they could have ever done: Connecting all of us together. And each and every day with each class that they give us, with each facilitator that comes on. It is such a joy and it’s such a pleasure to know that we are not connected by friendship.

We became a family. And each one of us love each other and we stay together and we have classes together and we respect each other and we look out for each other like if we don’t see Sarah, we ask about her. You just heard me asked about Janice. That’s mother Myrtle. That’s our Monarch. She’s our chief leader. And then we got Bea, you know. Each one of each one of them. Bea, Mother Myrtle, Sarah. All of them are pillars. We’re babies compared to them. So with us being their babies, they nurture us so that we can be able to know that they run our lives and they teach us. We just march behind them, just like the little ducks behind the mother.

And we just walk behind them because we know that we’re going to get something that we can eat off for that day when we see each one of these women that are pillars. Pillars to us. It’s such a joy and that’s the joy of being part of this virtual world.

Work Life

Life Story Club Contributor

I was armed security, I carried a gun. I started off working where I live, you know in the complex where I live, I would security there. And then in the daytime. I worked as a home health aide. It was so funny because I worked as a home health aide in the day and then at nighttime, or in the evening time, I’d change. I would put my gun in my uniform inside the car. And then when I left my home health aide job I went and put on my uniform and my gun, which stayed in the trunk in the back. So I carried a gun for about six or seven years, I carried for a company that was in Brooklyn and instantly my boss was killed. He was on Interstate 80 and it was him and another captain… He had so much confidence in me in order for me to be able to go and get a gun license… and the truck turned over on the jeep that they were in. Nobody knew they were under there. And the Jeep blew up under the van. They had a big funeral in Brooklyn, in Bensonhurst. And being that I was his captain and his armed security lady, they got me to bring the casket into the funeral, I led the casket in front of the family.

I had about six different guys that worked under me and I used to make their schedules and things. Then I left them there and I worked in clubs, but it was all for the same company. I had training. The company that I carried for, my boss made sure that I got my gun license, he gave me a gun, he took me to the range. I carried until after he died.

We were close. I had a real nice boss. He did that for me. I never would have thought about being armed, you know? He wanted me to fill out the papers, paid for the investigation, and when I got my license, then he was so proud. I was his captain. I manned one of his sites for him.

I never used my weapon. I never even had to pull it out. It’s heavy carrying a 38 special, 3 in barrel with a black handle. Yeah, he said, I’m going to give you this gun. I’m gonna let you use this gun because you will be able to handle it in case you have to. You’ll be able to hold it and it won’t slip out of your hand. People want a pretty gun, but a pretty gun is not going to get you what you need. I’d tell them, “Listen, these here, these are not a chest protector, I have children at home.”

As a home health aide, I had a man, he had his leg amputated, and I took care of him. His name was John Terrell. And when that man passed away, I was the one who had to make the funeral arrangements for him. Then I took care of a lady. She had some kind of lung disease. I mean, I had several people I took care of, but those stand out. Mr. T stood out the most because I was with him for long hours. I cared for them, with Mr. T I took care of all his personal needs. All his banking, we used to go around…I had a hispanic man, his name was Georgie and I took care of Georgie. He used to live across the street and he used to call me Mrs. OTTS. I used to go there and I was always close with his family. I used to take him to church on Sunday, and we used to go out some places during when his family would give a gathering, I would make sure that Georgie was there. That was my life story when it comes to what I I do for living.

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Greatest Historical Event

Life Story Club Contributor

Feb 25, 2020

Well, I think about when the World Trade Centers were bombed. And how it affected so many people. And even today, it’s still affecting people and I was sitting…I remember I was sitting outside and I live in Far Rockaway, so I was sitting outside and someone came in, said that the you know the World Trade Centers had been…and it was so funny because a couple of days earlier I had went there for job interview! And it was so coincidental that at that particular time that I went to, you know, for the job interview and then to come to find out that these things had happened. And now all the people, and even up to today, the people are still affected by that tragedy that happened. So that’s my remembering and how it affected people, everything, and downtown… ohit was horrible here in Manhattan. The air was so thick and it was just so sooty because of the buildings. And not having them there to be able to look out over the East river not see them there anymore. We all lived through that one. But even the firefighters and police and even the pedestrians are still suffering from diseases from that, from that situation. Everybody in my family was safe. Except for the smoke, but other than that everybody weathered that storm.

I think of the World Trade Centers, but I think about Sandy more, because I was sitting right where I’m sitting right now and I could see the water raging, coming towards… And that was another one that took up the Rockaways. Tore up the boardwalk, tore up everything and it was so funny because they had asked me to evacuated the day before. And I was like, no, I’m not leaving my cats in here. So, the Coast Guard or Red Cross or somebody came to the door and they wanted me to leave. And I said, “No, I’m not going. I’m staying here.” And we didn’t have electricity for almost, almost 30 days. We didn’t have no light no electricity and my stove had broke, maybe a week prior to the storm. So it was freezing in here. It was like the waters came up to the basement apartment. I live on the second floor, but the mildew… and the next day, when the water receded, it was sandy, I guess that’s why they called it Sandy, because it was sand everywhere. And people were looking for their, especially the people that live down in the basement apartments were looking for their family members to make sure that all of them had got out. And we didn’t have no telephone service. We didn’t have anything. The Red Cross came and would give us ration meals and we fair weathered again through that storm, but it wasn’t nice out here in the Rockaway..and I was looking at the water coming. I said, “Oh, God. Here we go.”

Childhood Friend

Life Story Club Contributor

Feb 18, 2020

My best friend is a lady named Pearly. She and I have been friends for over forty-five years. And we still communicate. Recently she had a mild stroke and she came back pretty good. She doesn’t remember a lot of things, but she remembers our friendship.

We didn’t go to school together or anything but this was somebody I met when my son was five years old and now he’s fifty. So we’re still friends and we have gone through some good times, hard times. I mean, her husband got killed. Her daughter-in-law passed away. And she still stands strong, even though her little illnesses. She’s still standing.

It was funny because my son was coming from school and Pearly was picking up her son and his hand was cold and she told me, this lady walked up to me and she said, “Put some little gloves on his hands and and that keep his hand from being cold.” And he was four years old and her son was about six or seven. And our friendship flourished. She went through the death of my mother with me. I mean, we’ve been through some times together. And that’s how we met, her telling me to put some gloves on my son’s hands when they was cold.

A lifelong friend. My son is fifty. She’s been friends with me since my son was four years old. And this lady just walked up to me and told me to put a little pair of gloves on my son’s little hands and our friendship just went from there.

I was there when she lost her son, I was there when she buried her husband. She was there for me when my mother passed away. Pearly has been there for me.

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