Charlee Lambert and William Hines

Recorded March 4, 2010 Archived March 4, 2010 40:13 minutes
0:00 / 0:00
Id: ATL000220


Bill HInes, 66, interviews his mother-in-law Charlee Kambert, 87, about her life, writing and the plays she wrote and performed around the country.


  • Charlee Lambert
  • William Hines

Recording Location

Atlanta Storybooth

Venue / Recording Kit


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00:10 I'm Bill Hines. I'm 66 years old. This is March 4th here in Atlanta where we are and I am speaking today to my mother-in-law Charlie Lambert.

00:29 My name is Charlie Lambert. And I'm 87 years old. Sometimes I say 78, but I'm 87.

00:40 It's March 4th night 20010 and Bill Hines is married to my oldest daughter.

00:53 Was there some where are we where in Atlanta, Georgia?

01:00 Okay.

01:03 Charlie we've been talking for about a week or more in preparation for today and the things we've discussed our conflicts in marriages that are caused by spouses having opposite personality types.

01:22 The importance in Life or even a necessity of placing proper priority on your own Needs & Wants

01:31 And the need to know who you are to be able to identify yourself.

01:38 So my question for you is this

01:43 Who are you?

01:46 I'm Charley Lambert, but I'm a woman and it off and have described myself to audiences by saying I'm a gorgeous sexy older woman. Oh, it's what I believe is important to me and not what it means. Tell the people. You don't have to believe what I say. I am it can be fantasy, but it is my definition of me and I'm a writer.

02:21 The differences in people that are married to each other. I'm divorced. I was divorced after 41 years of marriage. I was very sad did you didn't work?

02:35 We had six wonderful children.

02:38 We really had a good time together, but we needed more than that, and he really wanted somebody that took care of him and neither one of us were good caregivers.

02:55 I was going to ask you sort of went into it already. But how did you come to be this? 87 year old sexy woman writer it took a long time.

03:10 When I was young I did not feel good about the way.

03:16 I look at pictures and I see a pretty young girl.

03:19 Why did not feel good about what how I look I don't know.

03:24 But I did do something that I haven't talked to you about and that is I went through a program at Oakland University in Detroit on identification into identity. And it really helped me give a true perspective of who I was by the mirror at this program gave me I learned it I want dumb.

03:48 I didn't think I was very smart then I discovered. I'm about as smart as anybody else.

03:58 I had positive feedback from this program and there was a lot of people that went through it. It was started for the corporate wife.

04:09 The expected 35 people on a conference they had 350 in Detroit.

04:16 So there was a real need for the corporate wife to come alive.

04:21 And I live that car pretty life.

04:25 And then I gave it up.

04:29 And I'm glad I did and I lost incorporations. Maybe it changed a little bit but you were as much a part of the job as your husband was so we could not divorce.

04:45 Because we had to live a certain way.

04:49 I know I learned that is when I went back to college. I've been thrown out of college when I was young because I was pregnant.

05:00 My senior year, I was married and pregnant and asked me to leave and I was pretty crushed about that Florida State.

05:13 It was Florida State College for women and it was 19 3842.

05:23 Did they threw me out of college?

05:28 I went back when I was 48.

05:31 How to Kansas City

05:35 University of Missouri and Kansas City and majored in theater

05:41 And start a whole new world in my life. It was a wonderful experience being around 18 year olds, just out of high school and the gay community as it was the day I sat down in my history of theater class until young gay men sat down with me. I don't have much experience with it and they had a magazine. They were not listening to the teacher. They were looking at a magazine with a man in a black negligee. How was too it was

06:20 It was a dialed number and I learned to love those people just like I care about anybody else.

06:28 And I do care about people that it's been one of my I'm more interested in people and how they operate the most anyting.

06:39 Are you kind of jumped from being pregnant and getting kicked out of school to being a corporate wife? What happened in between those years?

06:52 Pictures of pretty busy life had five girls and one boy

06:59 They've all turned into their productive citizens, which I'm very proud of all of them live in Atlanta, but once he lives in, New Jersey,

07:10 At the foot of the George Washington Bridge

07:13 And I'm very proud of my children.

07:20 I did something right whenever they don't teach you how to be a parent.

07:28 So when did the writing start?

07:32 Star

07:37 64 to 68

07:42 And metal woman Glenn Memorial Methodist Church, who was a writer.

07:51 And I have talked about being a writer and my mother always talked about me being a writer wanted to be a dancer singer and actor and she would add a rider and I ran into this woman who was a writer and she became my first mentor and she mentored me and you being a writer and actually submitted the first thing I sold.

08:21 I give her a lot of credit Ruth Gray.

08:24 Her father was so I can get off on the other subject easy. Her father was one of the first 10 faculty members at Emory University.

08:34 So your mother encouraged and nurtured you to?

08:44 I don't think my mother ever nurtured me into anything. She read didn't read children's books to me. She read classics.

08:54 From the time I can first remember she read she's all children's literature was trash and so she read me Count of Monte Cristo and Three Musketeers lost Horizons on things like that. And then for my father every once in awhile, she threw in a Zane Grey Western book to Amazon. I never read the only time I could read children's books was when I went to the library on Saturday afternoon to her way of entertaining a child to take them to the library.

09:31 And I went to the library and I went to the children's section and I read all those things that were not she considered trash and then is a teenager. I revolted and read magazines and not many people even know what Pulp Fiction is.

09:52 Movie Pulp Fiction was cost $0.05 with magazine. It was written on Pulp paper, which was real rough and not white.

10:05 And they have wonderful crazy stories and I'm sexy and violence and all the stuff that was

10:15 True Detective and those kind of maggot true story came out of the Pulp Fiction will before this Revolt. It sounds like you and your mother were very close know my mother was

10:30 She did not want a baby her father husband died before I was born he died on the 4th of July. I wasn't born until November and she was just mad she was angry.

10:45 And she didn't take care of me for the first four years.

10:50 Either in a hand or my grandmother took care of me.

10:55 But she did say that I was educated. She did see that I was taking care of and I always admired her. I like her as a person that she just was not Sammy bonded with

11:07 I bonded with my grandmother.

11:11 That was a great loss when she died.

11:16 So you became a writer understood you went to school after.

11:23 Raising your six children

11:35 And I had to buy a bus ticket to Tallahassee.

11:39 And it costs like $0.67 to ride public transportation.

11:45 And I had my trunk and I didn't know whether they'd let me stay or not and I got there and I discovered a scholarship program. I'd taken part in when I was 11 for Montgomery Ward had paid the first semester.

12:04 But I am not a nickel to spend that whole semester.

12:09 And after that I was always a semester behind in my fees.

12:14 And then I worked in the dining room waiting tables probably cost you a lot more money than that to send your own children to college.

12:27 All 600 6mm to college and I didn't go into dead and they didn't go into debt. Something's wrong with the system today where you go these young people are getting out of college with so much debt.

12:41 I really feel for him. That seems apparent in the universities are in debt to us.

12:54 Text message go to colleges days. Well, I'm interested in your writing. What what form did that take?

13:05 The first thing that I had publisher Ruth Grayson and was a play that I did it Glenn Memorial Methodist Church here in Atlanta and

13:19 I tried writing just

13:22 Essay, types things send them off got a lot of rejections and one day I sent one off to the Baltimore Sun and I got a letter back and say we like your style. This is what we're looking for and he sent me an article out of their magazine section.

13:44 And it was like a reminiscence type thing and I sat down bad afternoon wrote the article send it back and they published and paid me $50 well and they bought several pieces and then I wrote when I was in Detroit, I wrote several things over published in the Detroit news.

14:08 I'm pleased about.

14:11 And that is kind of the writing I do it has a point.

14:19 It's memorabilia type things that why does early and social issues the writing that you're known for was actually done here in Atlanta was after I moved back to Atlanta from Kansas City and a friend of mine who was one of our state legislators and she was determined. I was going to get a job in theater of some sort.

14:50 And she finally heard about a place it was that time. It was child service and family counseling center now known as Families First.

15:01 I got the job of director of their place for Living Program.

15:08 And after I'd been there about a year the Crittenden home for unwed mothers, which is long gone. There's not a disgrace now to be pregnant.

15:22 They hired me and they asked me if I could write a play on teenage pregnancy and I did I wrote that play and we probably did 200 performances of it. I did the whole Fulton County high schools and junior high schools with it. And I would go in the 30-minute play Fallen by discussion and I was very explicit DeKalb County would not let me in.

15:55 But I've been blackballed in workplaces.

16:00 The black community had a hard time accepting me that I could write for the black community.

16:07 We all speak the same language and after a battle with the black caucus, I was very well accepted and didn't nearly every black church in Atlanta. It was something

16:24 PBS program in our program if Wheat Street Baptist Church on Auburn Avenue when I did a role playing program on Aging

16:39 It was

16:41 I've lost my copy of it, but I thought it was a good show.

16:48 So you were writing plays and directing plays for plays for living what happens?

17:02 The American Theater wins project to help the war effort and after the war they went to social issues.

17:11 And I did a bunch of their place out that came out in New York and know before I really started writing a lot. Somebody wanted one on domestic violence and I wrote that what we talked about that one driving into my metaphor for that one was Peter Peter pumpkin eater and the Pumpkin was

17:35 About domestic violence

17:40 Oh, I I told somebody the other day that before you started writing and directing your own place that you had Direct did about 800 plays for plays for living. Did I did I imagine that or did you tell me that?

17:59 They did that many performances. I was doing a lot of performances at how to play on parenting had three women and it was I used every actor in town in that play eventually. We all knew everybody's lying. So are we going to play tonight? Are we going to play this afternoon, but we did a lot of churches and schools and

18:31 Civic groups that kind of thing also did wonton. I just launched one on the death and how we deal with death thinking maybe churches would use it and they didn't know it was a hospital and a lot of these programs in hospitals in Atlanta change their thoughts on what it meant to die.

19:00 I thought it was an important subject.

19:04 Was that one that you wrote?

19:09 So at some point you quit just directing other people's plays and started directing and producing plays that you wrote. What happened to plays for living?

19:29 I don't believe Families First headed at now.

19:34 I started writing my own place before I left place for living.

19:41 I think I wrote it play on domestic violence before I left place for living. Anyway, I finally quit cuz I really thought I could do a better job and keep more up-to-date subjects. I really like leading-edge subject what right on and I like doing the research.

20:02 Research was almost as good as do you like the one for domestic violence. I spent there was only one shelter in the state of Georgia at the time and it was here in Atlanta. And I spent days talking to those women. It was very little written in the literature about the subject is that time? We're talkin 78 or 79 1979 that I think I wrote it in 78

20:38 Things are not going on.

20:41 And I did a lot of small towns in Georgia where there were no.

20:46 There was no place for a woman to go or a man after I got into elder abuse men. We just have to be abused and I think they're less apt to report it.

21:02 But I started I left about 8.

21:08 I think I stayed with families first probably six years and then I've got out.

21:15 Then I run into my second mentor.

21:19 Who was working at Atlanta Regional Commission and she called me up one day and said I want you to put my name in your telephone number down and keep it there and I will keep in touch with you cuz I'm going to find some money to hire you.

21:36 Well, I thought I did what you asked me to Endeavor through 4 month. I get a call from her and then one day she says I've got some money to do a program. Will you meet me at 10th Street Methodist church at a meeting? Not that sure will I walked into the meeting?

21:56 And there was I was like cuz I knew that I was going there to meet her and I wasn't interested in the meeting.

22:02 And there was one vacancy there was next to this white haired woman sound asleep, and that was Camille Jeffers.

22:12 That was her that was her and that was who I

22:19 I spoke at her funeral. I use that story. She submitted them every meeting. She had been sent to Atlanta with the Bible studies project.

22:32 After an owner about a year-and-a-half, somebody says you do know me Camille is black. I said, of course I didn't I had no idea. What race you was.

22:45 And as far as race issues, I wish you would get that way that it never occurred to me whether she was or she want you mentioned as a domestic violence play seems to be the oldest. Did you write that of your own Initiative for the I'm kind of thing?

23:06 That one

23:08 Some butt

23:11 So maybe I know what I wrote it for.

23:18 Domestic violence that they held at Mercer University out here in Atlanta off I-85 the Atlanta branch and

23:28 I did the play and got National coverage. I was on national television with it.

23:36 They stole my food plots.

23:39 4 years people would call up. Did you look at sewing so last night? I use one of your scenes let somebody the news.

23:51 Well, I guess that's a compliment but well, I tried the money.

24:02 Play used to by Lil Bebe almost word-for-word.

24:07 So was that typical then someone would have a need and asked you to write a play for them things. I really don't wear Leading Edge topics domestic violence was not accepted. I did child abuse before anybody knew about it.

24:29 And then I got into aging and elder abuse.

24:37 Thinking it was things like teenage pregnancy shoplifting shoplifting Aids on age in the state of, Georgia.

24:51 But I did a

24:54 With the public health department of North Dakota did the whole Northeast quadrant of North Dakota without playing every High School in every Junior High School Long Way Off was a long way off. We went for a week and the public health nurse went with us and I learned a really speak explicitly down. We were very explicit about what cause stains and it we need to learn to accept it and prevent it.

25:25 What was wrong with Georgia? Why would they let you do it?

25:32 I see I didn't want to format isn't talk about it. It's not something to talk about. I did do the national Planned Parenthood.

25:42 Conference

25:45 And there was a woman that came and brought her own children and for neighbors children to that play and she thanked me profusely. She says they need this education.

25:57 The place where all the educated and tell you that I was a slice of life that I presented all the plays were plotted.

26:07 Head metaphors

26:10 Careful and directed

26:14 Nearly every actor in Atlanta went through because I paid them.

26:19 I never used an actor without paying them at least $5. That's not much but it's tokenism.

26:26 And I believe performer should be paid.

26:32 Will you keep mentioning elder abuse? What what's that all about?

26:41 Neil Jeffers

26:45 Was murdered by her son on drugs.

26:49 I was waiting for on Peachtree from meeting when I got word that she was dead and it was a great loss cuz the ones out of us that work closely with her did not realize.

27:03 This seemingly nice young man.

27:07 Zone drugs

27:09 Play anyway, Camille wanted me to do a program on elder abuse.

27:15 The first money she got from it was Federal money. She got to do on elder abuse.

27:24 It was a role playing program that I took all the senior centers in the Metra in the Atlanta Regional area.

27:32 And Oxford picked out for five subjects that I saw that might occur.

27:40 And

27:42 I was pretty much on Target and on that I did the role-playing and that was when I did leave the PBS program with the role-playing program if Wheat Street Baptist Church and work for dr. Borders there.

28:08 Anyway after we did the role-playing I wrote the first play on elder abuse call the last candle.

28:21 Then she got some more but this time I had Incorporated so I can get Federal money to write this place. I was your own company. Yes, it was educational Playmakers Inc.

28:39 501 c 3

28:41 Program

28:44 It was not taxable.

28:48 But anyway, I did the second play on elder abuse that the first play after the role playing the last candle then I did the second play one of the things I thought that was causing elder abuse was dementia. So I did a play on

29:09 Dementia

29:12 I'm not one the federal project. That was Southern Belle.

29:17 Funded that one. I did all the Southern Belle and AT&T.

29:24 Installations in Atlanta, the president of the company came to my last performance I did for them.

29:33 The third play with the one that got Federal money and it was on Mega on keeping healthy as you grow older.

29:42 Because I thought that might be part of the answer.

29:47 At the end of this one then I write I don't think I wrote another one on elder abuse. I wrote several on Aging but not a known Elder business for women came to me and said we want you to be the director of the elder abuse program.

30:06 I know.

30:08 I thought they were crazy. I'm 63 years old. Why would anybody hire me?

30:15 But anyway, I am I agreed and they gave me an office and legal aid in Decatur.

30:24 And I work for 9 years as well call in place for elder abuse cases still doing the place understand. I never stopped but I did the last play on Medicare fraud.

30:40 And that was another Federal project.

30:44 So you spent a long time employed then in the field of AG can elderly that consider me an aging professional and I do keep up with with people in the age and commit community.

31:07 I was very well accepted and I have a wildlife during those nine years. I work because of cases are so bizarre that nobody believes them.

31:21 And they media followed me around trying to get me to tell stories and course I couldn't tell him.

31:28 Because they were you were trying to both educate the public and help people who are victims of elder abuse.

31:38 And they came from

31:45 Who is her parents here and no?

31:50 She called Washington and said who do I get to help in Atlanta to have you talked to Charlie?

31:59 So she came to me we could not keep the man from being murdered.

32:05 We tried.

32:07 Well, I think being 87 years old qualifies you of

32:15 For being in the category of people who are victims of elder abuse. Is there anything that you taught people that you've employed in your own life to protect yourself?

32:37 Home

32:40 Not big deal mobile. There's no quick fixes, and I'm more content with my life because I feel like I did the best I could I gave the most I could.

32:54 I think I've got six children to give the best of them whatever they do.

33:00 I don't know. I'm proud of that life.

33:05 And I'm very content playing on my computer and playing my pin on reading books on tapes and this rather than I missed the reading I do not drive anymore.

33:22 Things go wrong as you get older and you don't get out a lot and your vision is is his vision blind as I can be.

33:32 I know that's adaptable. I've learned from my mother. She had the same thing and she was adaptable I can get around. I can see the big picture. I just can't clean a major so far.

33:49 It's really.

33:51 A real handicap, but I have other handicap site. I have some pulmonary problems. I can't walk outside. I'm allergic to the air. So I have a handicap sticker so I can get into a building.

34:10 But it seems besides age that you have a lot of things that would make you very vulnerable or unable to protect yourself. And I think what you said is that your your family your children are normal and and and happy and and that you are leading a full active life and keep in your mind alert, and I've got three young people living with me.

34:43 They're also very protective of Me Okay bodyguards.

34:51 Do you have somebody that takes care of your money?

34:55 No, don't let anybody know about my money.

35:00 That's mine. I do all my banking online. I check it every day.

35:08 And the computers wonderful for that.

35:12 Cuz I don't have to drive anywhere. No one.

35:16 And it's what I'm doing is called shared living so I'm not alone.

35:23 Do I have friends that are 25 and 26 and 30 is a wonderful experience and they're racially mixed.

35:33 And your other activities right now, you're not just sitting home playing with the computer Monday night.

35:42 On Tuesday and Thursday nights and Wednesday night. I watch Criminal Minds watch TV.

35:54 Also watch NCIS. I think it's one of the better shows on television. The riding is better. Can you see the TV? It's kind of blurry.

36:05 But I can see enough to get by but I am content with my life and I wish people would learn to be content as a lot of depression in old age.

36:16 I'm also on living visery Board of the Fuqua Center for late-life depression and have been since it was started. The feud was did a good job getting that going.

36:28 I give them a lot of credit. So how old do you have to be to be in late life?

36:35 Would I qualify?

36:38 Really?

36:40 Going to get a little bit older and wiser there.

36:49 Love the people of got no one.

36:52 Still young and as I said, sometimes I switch numbers and say I'm 78.

36:58 And table if you're dyslexic people believe that I believe the how are you doing? What you are being 87. How much longer are you going to go?

37:24 Or it's Turner or the possible. My doctor I do not want to be resuscitated success rate of resuscitation is 0 after about 65.

37:39 Well back to more pleasant. It doesn't sound like anybody is going to be calling me either of those numbers on you for quite a while things out I do it that happened with his elder abuse thing. If I got enough time to tell one more little story.

37:59 A man called me from Nepal.

38:03 He did call the World Health Organization. They gave him my name.

38:09 And he says I want to get into the University of Tokyo and they say you have Japanese connections.

38:17 And my daughter is married to a Japanese man, and I thought

38:24 Know anybody at the University of Tokyo, that's a prestigious University.

38:31 And I was running through my name's and I finally thought of. Kennisha ballora it that taught it.

38:40 Oglethorpe for a while. I knew he won their I thought of toshio to tari who was in Washington that probably wouldn't remember me.

38:51 But he did and he got the guy under the University of Tokyo good person to know.

39:07 Working elder abuse

39:11 That's pretty prestigious and you ran the the program or are you started the elder abuse commission here written material at the time? Well time went by pretty fast and we're out. Thank you for opening up and talkin as freely as you have and let me drag you over here to record it. We've been doing a lot of fun things lately and I suppose we'll keep on keep the video camera running at home. What is the things that I am which I didn't say is I am a Storyteller and that's what my writing is storytelling.

39:58 I would agree.

40:02 Well

40:05 Will continue at home