Caazena Hunter and Robin Hunter

Recorded October 25, 2019 Archived October 25, 2019 40:08 minutes
0:00 / 0:00
Id: MBY019318


Caazena Hunter (39) and her sister Robin Hunter (46) talk about their family, their work, and the next generation of kids in their family.

Subject Log / Time Code

CH talks about the happiest moments in her life happening during Christmastime with their mom.
CH talks about knowing who her support system is from having surgery, especially having RH there.
CH talks about wanting to interview her grandma, "Big Momma".
RH asks CH about her best and worst memories from high school and college.
CH talks about being laid off.
CH talks about how her parents taught her to be authentic.
RH talks about being an R.N.
CH asks RH how she got into nursing.
RH talks about starting to work at the Dallas V.A. hospital and says that's when she found all the other black nurses.
RH on learning patience from working at the V.A.
CH asks RH what she thinks the best characteristics of their parents are.
RH talks about the doctors telling her that her daughter Taamari had to have two open heart surgeries as a small child.


  • Caazena Hunter (b. 1980)
  • Robin Hunter (b. 1972)

Recording Location

Dallas Public Library, Oak Cliff Branch


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00:05 I'm causing a hunter 39. Today is Friday, October 25th.

00:11 Our location is Dallas, Texas and my interview part partner is Robin my sister.

00:23 Thank you cousin. My name is Robin Hunter. I'm 46 years old. Today is Friday, October 25th. It's a rainy day in Dallas, Texas.

00:33 And I'm going to interview my sister.

00:39 What was the happiest moment of your life and then tell me about the status?

00:45 Okay, so happiest moment in my life. I would say I think of Christmas time. So my mom makes a huge deal or our mommy to the huge deal about Christmas as you do she goes all out. She puts up a ridiculous amount of Christmas decorations like Christmas decorations in the bathroom Christmas decorations in the office Christmas decorations Christmas decorations everywhere in the house and stole Christmas is like the happiest time of year not because of presents and not just because of the decorations, but because I know we're going to spend a lot of time together as a family but the decorations definitely set the tone. My mom is the type of person that starts decorations 3 months in advance. So it's October now end of October. So she started doing her decorations about 3 months ago.

01:44 So we actually talked about the fact that wow, you're starting already. What about Halloween? What about Thanksgiving, but now we're already doing Christmas decorations. So I say Christmas is definitely one of the happiest times of year for me because I have that that childhood memory and present memory of mama doing those decoration all over the house everywhere is and she's throwing that early and so she's definitely missing. My birthday is December 7th. So tell me about the saddest moment saddest moment.

02:23 I don't know if I would say was the saddest but I would say the roughest life moment. I've had recently was last year. So last year when I had my fibroid surgery that was the hardest worst time of life ever. If you don't my first time ever having surgery first time ever spending the night in the hospital and just you know, having to deal with all the symptoms of a fibroid leading up to surgery then having to reconcile mentally with the fact that oh my God, I'm having surgery. They're going to like cut me open and remove this tumor. So that was really really really scary. So I'd say that was like the saddest most difficult time, but then I mean like after going through the surgery and then, you know the difficulty of the recovery, but, you know having my family is busy having you there, you know during my during my surgery you staying there with me?

03:23 Every day around the clock and I know it was rough like super super Rough Around the Clock here, but that was like the most difficult time because it's like, you know, like especially like when the surgery after the surgery and they would like, you know, she's losing blood. She's losing blood and you were like, hey, I'm not going to let my sister sit here and die and so just just really you standing up for me and being my Advocate during that time and taking care of me those five days. You know, what you do was the rabbits out of my life. So, you know, that was the saddest but you know knowing that I had you and Mama and Daddy and Curtis and just everybody just kind of being there for me as I recover during that long log recovery. It made it the happiest moment because I knew I had all that support so I say, you know happy moments being, you know Christmas time and family time, but sad

04:23 Almonds being you know that the health challenge, but it's turning into a happy moment because I had all our everyone support who has been the kindest to you and your life. I mean that that takes us right back to you.

04:39 So so kind as I mean making that you know, you and Mama kindest cuz Mama fry my chicken fried chicken is my favorite food one of my favorite foods and stuff like that always says you just love your mom or cuz she fries your chicken. Well between you and Mama. Yeah, I have been the kindest biggest supporters ever for me, you know, always always being there like through the health stuff last, you know last year, but you know haven't lost my job and that part and just you know, nobody like you going to get a job with some what's the job situation nobody like constantly hounding me about that. But you know, I think like a strength in the structure of our family and always supporting each other no matter what we're going through, but I think you and Mom

05:36 Kind of really rise to the top in terms of you know, the people that have been the kindest to me and then not a distant third for everything because I just remember big mom has always been the best cook the nicest person, you know, if you have questions or if you need support or you know, if you want if if you want somebody to give you advice that you don't want it's like big mama. So top three kind of swimming in the world my mom or my grandma and my sister. Thank you. You're welcome. If you can interview anyone from your life, who would it be and why if I could interview anyone in my life that will go back again to Big Mama. And so I stayed so big mama died in like going to die.

06:33 She died in.

06:37 1996 now have to be long 2000-2001 you think so and so like big mama will be the person I will interview like I I look at it. Like, you know, I had I say like 20 21 years with my big mama, and I remember

07:02 I just remember her like really working hard and really supporting her kids and she is a person I'd want to interview like if I knew about a storycorps Bagby and she probably would have been the person I would have brought to a storycorps so I can ask her all those questions about what was her childhood like or you know, what was growing up like for her because she was in the twenties. So she was almost in slavery because I know they had time to picking cotton and stuff like that. But I mean she would be the person that I would want an interview in like, you know, we know the stories about okay, her name was cream ale but you know, she changed it from cream Lucille to cream ale and so, you know, just really, you know, if I would have known then at like 19 or 20. Hey, you should be asking your grandmother these questions. I probably really would have taken advantage of that and she will be the person that I would interview I do.

08:02 Do you know Big Momma? What were your parents like, you know, which kid is your favorite, you know just different little things that I'd want to know also maybe you know getting those recipes that maybe some people don't have I can't make them but I could share the recipes with you. You could definitely write them but my big mama would definitely be the person then I would I would

08:27 Okay. Okay. So you asked her which kid was her favorite since you don't have any kids in which niece or nephew is your favorite man? I hope they never go back and listen to this. I figured that honestly, I don't have a favorite but what I will say, is there certain things that I like about each and every one of them so starting from top to bottom Portland, like what I would consider my top so starting with Curtis Junior, I really like that he is willing to just do things like he's willing to just try things and if if it don't work he don't work but he tried it and he tried to do it and he tried to make it work if it didn't it didn't but at least he can always say he tried when I think about Rick I I think about her sweet smile and her baby teeth and how she always you know, she has a comeback she has a good sense of humor.

09:27 Is a cute little giggle and I also think of her willingness to do things maybe that I wouldn't do like, you know, so so I think about that in terms of reply because I feel like I live a really like this really structured bubble. And so so both of them their willingness to kind of step outside of the lines and do different things is what I really like about them when I think about Egypt I would think about I think about Egypt is like adamant about what she likes what she doesn't like what she wants to do when she's not going to do she's really adamant about that and she's only 11 and she reminds you of yourself. She's very hot water. Please believe she let you know it some Mari is the sweetest. So I always got to be the sweetest. You know, she's the she's probably the nicest thing I've heard it.

10:27 Is the nicest tomorrow is the one that'll give you a hug give you a kiss ask you. How is it that all of that? And so that's tamari Chase what I like about Chase is I'd like to I like his creativity is Anaya. She's really got to speak up and stand up for herself Jalen. He's like the cool kid really fun to be around and then the little ones, you know, they had their personalities haven't developed yet thinking about like Cannon and Emma what I like about AJ is he's really artistic and he likes to draw but he also has that that other side of being scientific Papa, you know, he's the life of the party Chelsea, you know her makeup nice that she has a good personality and she's really likeable also she has those

11:27 Skills as well. So they are all you know, I like them all so I can't pick like the top.

11:36 What are your best memories of high school college and then what are your worst memories?

11:45 Okay, let's start with a worse. Okay, worst memory of high school, you know, I went to private school private school and do you want to share which private school you went to so I went to Greenhill School in Addison and my my class at Greenhill was the hundreds of which there were eight blackstad and soul.

12:16 Ben the biggest challenge was I went to public school up until of until ninth grade. So public school and private school in terms of what you're learning is for me was totally different. And so when I got to private school the material was a lot more advanced and so before I got to Greenhill, I hadn't really had an academic challenges and so for me it was like, oh, I'm not the top of my class anymore. This is a shocker. So I think that was like one of the worst moments was realizing OU not there anymore. So, I mean that was that was a great learning opportunity. But also the fact that there weren't that many African American kids that was definitely a challenge for me because the schools I was coming from where are mostly African-American and Hispanic. So it has definitely a lot of diversity but I mean it was like, oh my God is still there are there were not enough black people. They're not enough black people there at all during my time. So I'd say

13:16 I'd say that was like the worst thing and I have enough black people there but also, you know the challenge level of the material which was you know, the best thing and the worst thing all of the same stop because it essentially you don't put me in a place and gave me a challenge. So those were the best things and worse things are the best thing about green hose that I felt like I had an opportunity to experience a lot of different things that I wouldn't have experienced if I would have been in public school because I had access to more things biggest challenge. I got my first DUI Green Hill in Spanish and then you know that inspired me to go ahead and be a Spanish major major in Spanish in college thinking about my best memories in terms of college. I met some of my best friends at College friends that I still have to this day. I graduated college in 2003 and I still have some of my best friends from college to this day.

14:11 Okay, any worst memories in college and College?

14:18 You know, this was pretty good for me. I think the worst thing would be like, you know, the challenge of some of the material again. I've never been like a big science buff. And so I just remember physics being really challenging that was probably like the most challenging class and in college. Also, I think with college trying to like I wanted to get into my four years and get out and saw the first first few years. I was undecided that was a challenge because I'm pretty decisive about things in life and soul not knowing what I wanted to major in for 2 years and then Mom and Daddy basically said, hey you been at College two years hanging out in the art department. Where you going? What are we doing with was going to be your major? Stop being a meeting with my advisor at and telling them. Hey, you know, I have to get out of here in four years. I really like you do my Spanish classes. I reload my art class that we like my sociology classes.

15:18 And so, you know just being really really drawn to Spanish and sociology and and taking that route but I think one of them may I guess that will be worst memory to is that I really like, I guess one of my regrets from colleges that I didn't like continue with my art immediately after collagen really stick with it, even though I mean, I'm really passionate about Spanish in sociology and always have and always will be but I really I really should have stuck with my heart and I and I think I'm actually going to start doing more with my art nowadays. What listens has has your work-life talk to you? Okay. So so, you know, I just got you know, I just got laid off like

16:04 3 and 1/2 4 months ago so you don't haven't been with with wings for so long for like seven and a half years and then getting laid off due to funding I mean that with the biggest challenge, I've never been laid off in my life. I've never been unemployed before so, you know, this is I think it's it's like, you know when I say things are gift and a curse, so it's like a curse if you know, I don't have that rigidity that you know, I like, you know, I like having things in order. I'm doing this on this date and this is my schedule. I don't have that right now and for me, that's a challenge. And so I think

16:43 A my work life has really taught me that you have to you know, keep your work life. But also having that work and life like actual life and having that balance between the two so but being at Wingstop me so much I say about myself in that you don't have any and you know about the challenges that I experienced while there and really really Banning together with my co-workers and when there were things that we didn't agree with or the things that we saw that were wrong or things that I felt that were wrong or incorrect standing up to you know, so the people that that we're doing things that I didn't feel were correct and you know calling them to the carpet on it and really addressing it and really holding people cancel the fire to make sure that the issues get resolved. And so I mean, I think work has really taught me that you always like I mean I'd say work hasn't just taught me this.

17:43 But our family has taught me that you know, right is right and wrong is wrong and when you see something that's wrong, you have to stand up weather is happening to you or having someone else you have to be an advocate for yourself and you had to be an advocate for others and it's important to me what lessons has your family taught you that plays into the other one in terms of you do standing up for yourself. You know when something is right or when something is wrong really standing up to people in and having a boy and I mean, I think Mom and Dad have always taught us to be authentic and and be true to who you are, being a strong Southern Baptist and daddy being a strong Southern atheist. It really just creates this Bond and really forces you decide you don't

18:43 They were you following this mix and really, you know for me trying to figure out where am I falling in this mix and really thinking about that and thinking about you know, what are your beliefs but I think they're really encouraging us to be authentic and be who you are. So, you know, I always bringing my total self always saying what I mean from the heart and I know that you know, it doesn't always land. Well, it doesn't always maybe come across the way of the way I think it does but I always feel like, you know, I'm going to tell you my thoughts and you know, everybody that's what I always want to hear that accept that but I I consider myself to be you no pretty authentic and usually people know know with me you going to get your you you're you're going to get the same cousin day every day.

19:40 And so, you know what? I mean, it's always a matter of you. I always feel like you can be more and more authentic everyday and so as I grow in my authenticity as I get older and now even as I'm looking for a job, it's like, yep. I'm checking his black box. I'm checking his African American box. I want you to know who you were getting and if that's not who you want. That's not who you want. But this is what you're getting.

20:18 My babe, babe talk taught me that basically the same things have called you, you know be who you are and starting to stand firm in it.

20:32 Black Ops, all right, so so thinking about so so what are you do for a living?

20:41 I'm just a nurse. So I'm just a registered nurse. Okay, and

20:50 What did you when you were growing up when you were little girl? What did you think you were going to be?

20:55 You know what? I really didn't know my parents never even asked me, you know nowadays. I asked my kids. I don't care what you want to be when you grow up back. Then my parents didn't ask me mom and dad even ask me what you want to do when you grow up. I just I just never thought about it.

21:14 I didn't think about it until I got older.

21:18 And then I figured oh I want to do something in computers. And that was it. That's all I know when I was in high school you have computers back then see that's what I'm saying. I wish I would have stuck with it. Okay, and I Robin / Gatesville anyway.

21:44 No, we did because we had a computer we had an old IBM computer and it had a floppy disk and that's what got me interested in it. And so I was like I want to go to school to be a computer analyst because that was the only terminology they had then they told us so you can go to school for computers, but you have to be a computer analyst that's all you can do. Okay, that's what I want to do.

22:11 But needless to say I didn't do that. Okay, tell us about your first job.

22:19 My very first job. Oh my God, so I got my first job in the summertime my first time job consisted of actually two jobs. It was through the Dallas summer youth employment. And the first part of the day was from 9 to 12, and I would walk down to the elementary school San Jacinto Elementary School and at the park I gave out free lunches.

22:51 And so we would give out free lunches from 9 to 12. All the look. He is in the community will come there. We will issue free lunches and write their names down and I did that every day and after 12 from 12 to 4, I would go into the school and work with the custodians and I was like I got to do what so I had to go in and clean the school. They basically had me wiping disks off and you know getting them ready for the next school year. So all the markings on the dead so I had to sit there and scrub it off. You know that next school year I can tell you that. I had a different respect for the distance that I didn't write on it. Okay.

23:38 I forgot all about the fact that used to be the custodian in the lunch lady. I forgot about that part of your life was the Summer Youth Employment Program.

23:53 Okay, so so tell me so you're a nurse now. I know your nurse. So tell me about how you got into your got into nursing. Oh my goodness. So account fell in my lap. I would say.

24:12 My mama your mama she says you're not doing anything for the summer you going to come and work at the nursing home with me. I was like work at a nursing home do with old people. Oh, no, I'm good. I'm not working there and this particular nursing home was it was called Golden Acres Dallas home for the Jewish stage now, I'm 20 plus years with no, I wasn't even 20. I was 19, maybe 19th about to turn 21. Anyway, my grandmother work there.

24:46 A big mama, my aunt Allie work there.

24:50 And my mother

24:52 So my my big mama, she was a private duty sitter. My aunt Ali was a LVN. So she was a licensed vocational nurse there and then my mother was a private duty sitter. So I feel that the job application. Of course, I got the job. I was like, I gave me the job. So I got the job and I started working there and I was taking the nurse's aide training course they train you and they pay you when I was like, okay, this is cool. I can get trained and get paid. So after 3 days working there I was like, oh no, I'm not doing this anymore. I can't do it. I don't even know if that age we lived where we live. We I didn't know about Jewish people. I don't even know such thing. I'm like Jewish people. What does that mean? But once I started working there, I learned about the customs and traditions and the songs and you know, even in and I just

25:52 After three or four days, I was like

25:57 And after six months they was like yeah, we're going to make you Jewish and before I knew it. I was Jamal's is really loud Annoying Orange Drink levels the Ami. I was speaking in Jewish. I was singing songs in Yiddish. I was doing it all I was I was like, everybody wanted me to take their grandparents to their Bar Mitzvah by mitzvah for the girls. And you know, I just really enjoyed it. And so that's how I started my career. So I went from being a nursing assistant in watching the nurses and I'm thinking to myself I can do what they doing. So I went back to school and became a medication aide. So then I started giving out all the meds and after doing that I'm watching lvns and I'm thinking you know what I can do that.

26:50 So it was this guy he came in to visit his grandmother like he always did and he was like, you should come and work at Baylor and I was like, oh that's a big hospital. I don't think I want to do that. He was like, you know what I'm going to leave the application you fill it out if you want I was like, okay, so I filled it out and I got hired and I was like, wow, this is different. So I went to work at Baylor.

27:16 And then I decided to go back to school for LVN and I went back to school for LVN and I completed that and

27:29 I started working at another hospital. So I started working at the Dallas VA Hospital. Well before let me back up a second before I went to the Dallas VA hospital. My father got sick and he's a veteran and I took him there to the hospital and they was really nice. And so I was like, okay, this is cool much different from Baylor and he said you should fill out an application and work at the VA. I'm like at the VA. I don't know nothing about veterans. What does that even mean? And so he was like where you know, it's a different group of people. I think you should try it. I was like, okay filled out an application. I got hired. I was like, wow, I got hired. So like I said, I was used to the Jewish nursing home. I was used to Baylor.

28:21 Then I started working at the Dallas VA and I was like

28:27 This is where all the black nurses are.

28:30 I've never seen so many so I got there and I was an LVN and of course at the nursing home. It was a nurse there. I was giving report to me. I told her I was late, and she's like, I told her I had an interview at the Dallas VA hospital, and she was like, you know what I got to interview tomorrow, and we both got hard and we both start at the same time and on the same floor, and we've been best friends ever since and her name is Helen, and she's just she's just the greatest and so we started working at the VA hospital in working there with those nurses. They inspired me to go back to school and I went back and went from LVN to RN.

29:11 So tell us a little about Helen Helen Helen she is she is a hoot. She tell you how she feel right then and there and Helen works at the VA with me and she's also a veteran and so she is very down-to-earth. She's very giving she will give her last she give her last to any and everybody now the people she worked with she'll fuss at them and she will feed them all in the same day. But she just tell you she's just very straightforward she cares for her mother. She's just really sweet lady and she cares for my grandkids some tell the best.

30:01 I would say our kindness.

30:05 You know, we both have given Hearts, so she's always trying to give me something. I'm trying to tell her no, no, and I'm trying to give thanks back there.

30:14 Sound all right.

30:22 What lessons has working at the VA taught you?

30:27 It has definitely taught me patience. It taught me, you know, if it actually brought an understanding to me because my father is a veteran your father is a veteran and before I work at the VA, I didn't understand veterans. I didn't understand what my dad has been dealing with all his basically all my life the PTSD in high lays dormant and then it shows its ugly head and how it has went, you know untreated and you know, it just makes it has you know, I have really understood. You know, what our father has gone through by listening to other veterans that I have had to work with.

31:16 So I still had it the VA teach you patience.

31:21 Will just having the patient population that I have to deal with dealing with the veterans, you know, I learn to, you know, just relax a little bit more take a look easier because you know

31:39 You have to be patient with him.

31:42 Because there are diseases or not visible sometimes.

31:49 And

31:52 You don't know how to handle them. And so sometimes you have to pause and think about what your next move is going to be.

32:01 What has been?

32:04 What is when your most difficult situation in work?

32:09 Well, my most difficult situation situation. I would say I don't think I have any difficult situations at work. I think, you know, I walk in the room and it's like I know.

32:22 I like they like they one of my uncles or one of my cousins one of my family members and that's the way I treat him. So I won't say I had I've had difficult times, but it's not something that I couldn't handle and I have to call to be a police sometimes but it's not something that I couldn't handle tell me about the last time you had to call the VA Police.

32:48 Well

32:50 I have to have the column every weekend to unlock the door. So I can't use that they have faith a birthday funniest funniest. I'm well I had to call in one time me and another employee got into it. It was a guy who's really tall and he was upset because one of us had to get pulled to another unit and he said he was going and I said I wouldn't go in and he started yelling and screaming and I told him if he stepped if he got in my personal space out how to be a police and so he started yelling and screaming out of my purse White Sox picked up the phone and call the police. And so then what happened to him nothing he got pulled he went to another unit.

33:37 Before we started tussling Soto thinking about our parents. What do you think is the best characteristic of Mama in the best characteristic GoDaddy? I've had the best characteristic of mother.

33:55 She is very understanding of our father. She's very patient with a father and the best characteristics of dad is dead.

34:07 He has a very mild-mannered but he follows his military rules and his military rule number 21 22 23. I don't know is it what is it? It's something like respect. Everybody be kind to everybody but be willing to kill everybody in the roll. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, you know, I just love both of them dearly.

34:40 Okay, who's your favorite mama date?

34:43 I don't have a favorite. They both have great characteristics, you know, both of them. I'm afraid my chicken in Daddy watch my kids. So, you know, it's a joint effort play. The thing about daddy is daddy. You know that I always got your back that is always got your bag and he is going to he's always going to be your ride or die like it was like, yeah, like if if if she get his stuff and you know, Daddy is the one that Mama is like a creative genius that can make anything work that can fix anything that has the solution to every situation and going to tell you how to do it when they do it. Where do it why do it before you ask? I totally agree with that. I totally agree with that.

35:39 Yes, yes.

35:48 Well, you have anymore questions for me. I was about to ask you the same thing. Do you have anymore questions for me?

35:59 I don't have a favorite. They all are something special to me. You know, they all have they they're little things like ricotta cheese. My my sweetheart. She is my baby. She is my eldest and I just love her with her baby teeth, you know and her like you said her little giggle and then I go to Egypt Egypt is my Mastermind. She keep us all organized and then there is tamari tamari don't have a care in the world. She is just nonchalant about everything tomorrow has had two two surgeries. He's had to open heart surgeries and she was like, whatever was okay challenging challenging time with Tamara and her surgery.

36:51 Just having her to understand what's going on, you know, when they told me, you know, she's got she has to have open heart surgery. I'm like as a nurse. I'm like what my nursing skills went all out the window, but of course, I went into Mommy Mode and yeah, we got it done is just her multiple health problems and she's a fine typical 16 year old but having to deal with all the doctors all the specialist and keeping up with it the past 16 years now, I feel like I'm losing grip but I'm starting to make her be more responsible. So thinking like 16 years ago. It's like time has really flown by it seem like 16 years ago. They took her away and took it out of ICU, and I'm like

37:51 What did you do with my baby? It was like, oh the doctor's going to talk to you. I was like no you took her you need to come and tell me and so I went to the ICU and they're the doctor of was and they told me that she had a congenital heart defect.

38:07 Insole with that

38:12 I was like, what does this mean and then they told me okay. She will have surgery at 6 months old if she lives and once we do that surgery, should I have another one when she's about 12 then she may have to have another one when she gets a bath 17 and 18. When did she have her last surgery at 12 years old 12 years old now. She's 16 and Oliver Instagram. Wait a minute. I think the back she had it at nine years old in about six years. So, you know since 6 months to nine years things had changed and so they created a process that's a lot easier. So she's doing well. Now you can just get her to clean her room. Then everything will be great. I guess I'm not going to accomplish that much will work on that.

39:09 This has been a joy just sitting here with you cause not fall under my sister. I appreciate you and what you you do and the way you push me.

39:26 Thank you.

39:28 You go hit me with that bomb if it.

39:31 The bank sister

39:46 I love you. I love you more.