Eva Harvey and B.J. Harvey

Recorded November 19, 2019 Archived November 19, 2019 40:03 minutes
0:00 / 0:00
Id: atl004203


BJ Harvey (41) has a conversation with his Mother, Eva Harvey (69), about her childhood in India, coming to the United States, marriage and motherhood.

Subject Log / Time Code

Eva Harvey (69) says she always knew she would have a family. She remembers growing up in a three room house in India, 1 of 10 children. She says her family lived on a compound with several other families and that, for the most part, girls did not play outside.
Eva remembers arriving in the United States on September 11, 1970. She talks about being in New York for college and meeting her future husband.
Eva says getting married was the one decision she made on her own. She says she had always thought she would go back to India. She remembers missing home and crying at night.
Eva talks about being raised Christian while having Hindu and Muslim friends. She says she was not allowed to attend religious services with these friends nor eat food from their houses.
Eva talks about her 5 children, who are all close in age. She says it was hectic, but she loved being with her kids.
Eva remembers her husband attending all of their children's parent teacher conferences. She says he would skip his lunch if necessary to be there. Eva says her husband wanted to ensure that his kids did well in school, as his own father did not have the opportunity to learn to read or write.
Eva talks about respecting God's hand in your journey. She talks about trust and forgiveness, saying God is more powerful than what you are going through.


  • Eva Harvey
  • B.J. Harvey

Recording Locations

Atlanta History Center

Venue / Recording Kit



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00:06 My name is PJ Harvey. I am 41 years old. Today's date is Tuesday, November 19th, 2019. I am at storycorps Atlanta. I am here with Eva Harvey and she's my mommy.

00:26 My name is Eva Harvey and I will be 70 years old in two days. Today's date is Tuesday, November 19th, 2019. And I'm at storycorps Atlanta and I'm here with my number one son, PJ Harvey.

00:48 So Mom, I brought you here just to talk to you. I want to first ask about your introduction. It was quite nice and that you mention number one son. How long have I been your favorite child?

01:05 Are where are and will ever be my favorite number one, that's fine. Did you?

01:22 When you always want a big family.

01:27 I never thought about it. I always knew that I would have a family one day because I come from a family of 10. I had nine siblings. So when I started having the five children, I was content and I was happy. I love growing up in a big family.

01:52 Who has five kids you?

01:58 Was it a shared decision to stop having kids?

02:02 Was that more your decision that was with that more dad's decision. I believe after the fourth one of my doctor recommended maybe but the fifth one came nevertheless who happened to be the easiest delivery really and she was a bundle of joy also. So there they are that five children after that. I think it was best for my help that I stopped. So life growing up with nine other siblings. How is that?

02:40 We actually lived in a three-room house when there was seven of us.

02:47 And dumb in India was a very small house and we didn't know any different they were no arguments or things like that just little brother sister things that would lived in a big compound with several of the families and we could play Outdoors when we were younger, but the girls weren't allowed to play outside once they got older but growing up with nine siblings. We had fun. We had to create our own entertainment mostly on games within the household but the boys could go outside and play but sometimes we would sneak out and play marbles with the boys and a lot of books we read and some of the books my father didn't allow us to read like the romance books are so we had to

03:47 Do it when he was in the wrong, but it was a very strict family. We just had to do what we were told to do even coming here to the United States. My father told me that I had to go and I went so it's not a decision that I made that I am. So very thankful that I did that way I could meet you.

04:17 Did you did you?

04:20 You when you were going to be said you played marbles tell me about marbles. How did you play that last ones? And I mean brightly colored glass ones in the world metal ones that were like valued more than we call them Chara and there is smaller than the glass ones and we take that and then hit the mount marbles with it and move just keep hitting it until where we were it was supposed to go and then we'd learned the marbles to get them from buddies be like brothers Brothers. They would give you some

05:06 That's really neat. Did you?

05:09 When does you were growing up you your older siblings were some of them already had gone to the United States kiss. My older brother went in 1968. And another brother went in 1969 and I came to the United States on September 11th. 1972. Go to college here in New York. So I studied the three years.

05:41 And I got married.

05:44 And dumb

05:47 Well your father when he showed interest I had to tell him that he had to get permission from my father in order for me to give him an answer. So he wrote several letters to your father, you know, introducing himself and explaining that he would like to marry his daughter. So several letters later after my father sent out different people in the United States do kind of check his background and see what he's like things like that then he gave his approval and so

06:27 They met him the day before our wedding your parents my parents. Yes.

06:34 Well, we never dated we just went out on one day to a junior senior banquet until we were engaged the junior senior banquet. This was in college in college. Yes. Yes. He used to wear sarees all the time when I came to New York, but then the winters got really cold. So I had to start wearing slacks and I had to give up my sorry sir. But your father loved the stories. He always wanted me to wear the salaries. So you told me specifically to wear certain sorry for this banquet and all this so we didn't he used to impress me a lot with all the information he would read about India and would come tell me how I didn't even know enough about India, but he knew more things like that. So we talked a lot like that.

07:35 So the junior senior banquet you use this was on campus and you guys went there and was it like it was like a small evengelical Christian College. There is no dancing. It was just dinner, but he did buy me up when they called corsage and put it on and and I went think we kind of mostly argued that just irritated and because he would always think he knew more about everything that yes, so that was that and a few months later.

08:21 Are we got married on December 8th 1973 the Roberts Wesleyan College in Rochester New York. And when he brought the ring to propose to me, well actually already had gotten the permission. So you got the ring and it was at the doors of the church was on the steps of the charge that besides and he had a bad cold and remember and he gave me the ring and need tell me how much it cost. I wouldn't I mean that you've cost a lot a lot of money. I never found it didn't matter.

09:10 I like to talk a lot. Did you know that he was going to ask you to marry you?

09:17 Kid already asked me to marry him. That's when I told him that you have to talk to my father. Yes you were you excited.

09:27 That's one decision that I made on my own in my entire life because all the other decisions were made by my parents every little one. So it was kind of hard for me to to explain to them. Yes, I like this person. And so they agreed to what were your dreams when you came to the United States. Did you have any expectation of what would happen next or I mean did you know I always thought that I would go back. I never dreamed that, you know, this would happen that. At the end up marrying somebody here. And the reason my parents were kind of disappointed is because they thought I would never come back home. You know, that's why they had a lot of fun questions and things like that.

10:19 But a my dreams were actually I had studied biology and art and I wanted to do some research but then I knew back in India girls weren't allowed back in those years to go much further into the studies. So I just studied because I was sent here to study.

10:47 The went what was some of the things that you remember being very different than they were back home in India. I guess the public affection in the United States that I had not like witnessed it firsthand and so that was different and in the way people are friendlier, you know, and of course they spoke with such a different accent and

11:22 It was not like if you had friends but

11:26 It was different didn't quite understand how you grew up in things like that. Although I made quite a few great friends. I still missed her almost cry at night and in when I came I used I was so excited to see my brother and I started talking to him and in my language and then you told me not to do that and you know because we were in front of other students, I remember feeling so bad and crying and that night and wanted to go back home here. I thought I was so excited. I could spy Lee speak to somebody in Canada, but he said no it was rude thing to do now. I understood later what he meant by that.

12:17 But

12:19 To all the types of home. We're always put aside because I had to function in a different Society speaking a different language.

12:30 Living in their ways

12:35 Now, do you know there's a lot of how many grandchildren do you have? I have sixteen grandchildren and love every one of them and I have one great-grandchild and another one on the way. Yes. What's the oldest Grand weather is great or not oldest Grand and then the youngest the oldest grandchild name is Horace. Jambalaya was named after my father Lawson in the youngest is

13:12 Bow Lazarus Harvey both named after your dad.

13:20 So those two are the oldest and they wait. No, it was a new one that came recently.

13:32 Harvey I'm sorry now the compound that you lived on when you were growing up you was it a big compound was it?

13:52 There were like twenty families there 20 houses there and there was like fields in between we shared the Outhouse kind of and we were able to go outside and sit on the tree you going to fields and eat sugar cane catch dragonflies butterflies things like that. So it was like a more like a Countryside setting just the three rooms and we lived all seven of us lived in there and we're happy you're happy and then we moved to the city on three of my younger siblings were born there in the city. So there that made 10 of us are there in the city we lived in actually two big rooms all nine of us for 10 of us.

14:44 My father's sister helped us out to get started in the city. So we moved a lot and went to a lot of schools. But we always had siblings. I would go to school with us because there were so many of us right now. So

15:06 What were some common occupations that you thought you might like to do when you were younger? I thought I would be good at teaching. I love to draw a mean. I still dream of just drawing right now. I mean drawing just helps me relax. I don't do it enough. But so many of them were teachers many of my father was a teacher my mom went to a teaching school and my two older sisters are teachers and two younger ones and there's just a lot of teachers one was an accountant the ol

15:50 Got you. Did you your grandfather?

15:57 Name kattappa Yes. Actually my maternal grandfather's name is kattappa who you're named after he and also my paternal grandfather.

16:11 They were both Hindus. They went to a missionary school and they became Christians and that's how I was born into a Christian family and thank God for that and they were disowned by their families because they converted to become Christians. We were at we were growing up. We were we would study Hindu scriptures because that was part of the school curriculum.

16:41 Things like that, but and then I had a lot of Hindu friends Muslim friends and we just didn't know any difference. We were just friends and but what was taught at home, we believed not what was given to us by friends or Outsiders.

17:02 There's a lot of diversity.

17:05 As you Grew Older when you were living in India, did you start to kind of hang out more? So with Christian friends or or did you still keep the same friends were already know there's like less than 2% of all Christians in India, I think so. No, I did not transfer friends. They were not even enough to go lean toward the Christians are friends were friends and you would never go to their religious Services. Although you know, we were not allowed to go into their homes like and take food. So is offered to their idols and things like that. So we knew that was not something we were supposed to do but now

17:56 Girls weren't allowed to visit too many friends. Anyway, we were supposed to just go to school and come back. That was your job.

18:05 Have you thought about what would have happened if you just lived in state in India married somebody that my parents chose for me without any question. I would have married them. And so whether I would be happy or not. Nobody would know right? All right. All right, so I know here when my grandchildren ask about that. I can you marry somebody that you just met but can't you just accept the parents some?

18:33 Advice, I guess. Choice.

18:39 This is one thing that's always been interesting. You told me one time that you believe you can learn to love someone or love anyone on which I thought was very

18:52 A view of Greeley great

18:54 I D I never kind of thought about loving that way. I thought that you but you

19:01 I guessed that she'll challenge me to think differently about just relationships in general because

19:09 Yes, because you're you're in the Bible meaning of people they arranged for marriages. They learn to love them. I guess, you know and I believe that if God is put someone or send someone in your life to be a partner. Yes. You can learn to love them with God's help you had five nuttzo kids what was life like with all of us cuz we were all small at around the same time.

19:44 You guys were Angelo is shoes. Look at the oldest when she was 7 you were five.

19:56 Jonathan Lewis

19:58 Three Daniel was too and Elizabeth was one doll clothes together and it was a very hectic life.

20:12 But I just

20:15 Love two guys a lot. You know, I would hear people say uno summer's coming kids are going to be home when am I going to do but I just loved hanging out with you guys need to me. I felt like I was so far remote from home to me home was still in India that these little creatures are my flesh and blood so they're mine. Like I could be related to them really closely and I could call them my own and just hang out with them, you know, so to me that was the precious time and you guys were awesome. Just awesome or some of your friends when you were

21:03 Raising us when we were younger.

21:06 On the roof few ladies from church that kind of help me out that mrs. Smith. There was Miss Bingham and I found it for another friend, Charlotte.

21:18 And she was my friend and then I'm at least I Shavers she actually dated your uncle my brother-in-law and then they broke up. Will you remain friends? So today? Yes today very very good friends and friendships, and I don't really go out cuz I didn't want to leave you guys. You know, it just always was there, you know, whether you wanted me to be you went to an Al Green concert. Tell me the how did that even I didn't even know there was such things and you was a baby in on Helen was coming should come to stay with us and your father.. What would he would take me to another Al Green concert? So it got all dressed up and went

22:18 Pat tinnell that and we went there in the minute the music started. I just jumped to my say that I said, oh my God, I did not know how loud people can get in the music. I was so scared. You said that was his people singing along musical instruments and everything and in the crowds, of course, I started getting crazy and I looking at your dad like who I think you know, this is like the way it is. I was not prepared for that. It was an experience in Cleveland, Oh, yes, you know all of you were born in Cleveland, Ohio

23:12 Yes. Now, what did you do? What did you think about Bedford Heights where we grew up? Nice place?

23:22 The area was just being integrated so they had some challenges there, but we were good neighbors to allow their neighbors and they were good to us and you were exposed to diversity these and then lot of foam opportunities like swimming baseball-softball on things like that. And that's how I act I actually met some of my friends through your friends, you know, and their parents all these meetings and things like that that's really need. Those are some of my Fondest Memories growing up is it seems like we spent a lot of time at church a lot of time at the fields in the rec center.

24:11 And and I remember home days. You never home days.

24:19 Carousels are really really I just remember I actually found one of those t-shirts in my garage or something from 1988 and I just thought man. I remember that so much.

24:35 Good schools

24:37 Your father is very very interested in getting you guys through high school because his father could never read it. Right. So he wanted to make sure that he came to all of your parent teacher conferences. He would skip his lunch from kindergarten of through senior year of your high school all of you. He come to the gym. I mean a parent-teacher conference and want to know what's going on there in like that you wanted you all to do well.

25:08 He felt bad that his father was cheated out of his education. So he wanted to make sure that you guys knew.

25:18 Do you ever

25:20 Did you ever worry about us?

25:27 Meaning in what way like a normal mother way everybody all mothers do that. Yeah.

25:34 Like growing up or now or purchase. I don't know which is interesting cuz like now that I've got kids, you know, I feel

25:46 Different feelings than I ever thought I would you know, there's that was you want the best for your kids and there's times when you see the maybe not taking the path you would want them to and you just like I would know I don't know, you know, but I'm afraid a lot. Sometimes you cry a lot as a parent and you just get to know God more when you have kids talk to him more. So when you cuz I am sure that at least I'll speak personally that there were things that maybe I was doing or did or weren't in line with what you had hoped. How would you

26:33 How would you deal with that as a parent? I would talk to you about it. But I always knew that I would forgive because that's what God does for us, you know and always say before you do anything wrong. I've already forgiven you because that's what God does for us every day. He shows us new mercies. So tell it dealt with it was hoping that you would know to not do that again. I do better when growing up with you and Dad, you know there you get to have all the beautiful memories and then you get to remember things that weren't so beautiful and all that stuff to what what would you say because certainly you and Dad were very very different people.

27:22 But what would you say would be one of the keys to a successful marriage is?

27:27 For some of the city's yeah, I'd say for some for my sis is God you'll both have to trust God and you had to learn ways to cut overcome your differences because I believe truly believe that Jesus breaks all the barriers, you know in many things we came from different worlds that we had to adjust to in so many ways, you know, like he would burn incense in the house and to me that was like that's offered to God in India. So that's a No-No in the house and to him. It was just an incense. Do you know so different things like that? So we have to learn to understand more communication.

28:17 Absolutely, you know.

28:20 Not to be angry at the same time is one of the keys you take turns to apologize and

28:37 You know and know that you know, love is always you know, love doesn't end like even I know your father passed away doesn't mean that marriage ended his life and did you know so

28:55 Life is precious. Do you have to you know, enjoy every moment make the best use of the time you have, you know love now forgive now be generous now, you know be encouraging now, you know when you have another chance to do it, so everyday do that no matter how old are young you are. You know, that's God's way.

29:24 Do you I

29:29 With my own kids sometimes

29:34 M.

29:37 Anxious for them to get through the tough time that they're going through because I feel like sometimes I like man and I know what you even though you may not believe me. I've been there and I and I know where you're going and then to that road is maybe not where you want it to be and that's what I find are some of the most the top things for me is respecting the journey that they have to go on. That's every part parents tough situation. You know, it's the waiting. Like when are you going to get it together? You know, don't go there. Don't do that. Then we're actually trying God's hands.

30:19 That's working in their life when we get frustrated or want it brush guard out of there, whatever they're doing. That's not right, you know, so just stepping back and then just trusting God more, you know, sometimes we let what happens to a speak more than what God is already told that it's going to be okay and that he's going to be with you walk with you help you through things, but When Storms Come, you know, a lot of times we're shaking but we cannot be shaken our faith must be strong at all times.

31:00 Yeah, it is difficult. But we have to get stuff as you grow. Older. You see the more you hang on to God the more you spend time with him that he makes you stronger. So all these things that come at you the worst things can happen. Like, you know, somebody gets killed somebody hurt somebody and just craziness happens in your life. God is there to strengthen you you know, where human we feel things but God's word should speak louder than what we go through at the moment.

31:38 Well

31:39 That's really powerful to hear you say cuz there's definitely been situations. I remember, you know.

31:47 With Angie that you I remember the day that you said.

31:51 You had forgiven and I just remember thinking.

31:57 How I know you know.

32:01 Our oldest Angie or sister her life was taken forcefully in such a brutal way.

32:14 But

32:16 I have to reckon with that because if I believe that I believe God and the Forgiveness that he gives us that I had to forgive the person.

32:29 They took her life at some point and it took me awhile, but

32:35 I have done it and I hope peace about it and we should do that.

32:43 Because God forgives us.

32:47 That's the Lord's Prayer and we say it all the time as if it means nothing but it was really comes down to forgive us as we forgive those. So do we really do that? So we must do that in order to move on so that your prayers can can be answered.

33:07 Have you ever ridden a roller coaster?

33:10 Once and never in my life will I go again? So insane to ride this thing? I was screaming the whole time whole time.

33:31 So you went out on roller coaster. And did you have a sorry on that day. Do you remember? I don't think I've ever seen anyone in the sorry riding a roller coaster. Yeah, I probably had padded nicely tucked in there again.

33:53 Did you know that I love roller coasters? You know that no one in my immediate family rides are roller coasters at all. So what up, when we go to self or I make the kids go and they cry the whole time another thing, you know, and you would mention sometimes it like, you know, you can't just raise kids you had to get to know them their personality what they're like, you know, so that's important to do. You know, he's just hurrying up like come on grow up. Let's get this over with let's get to know them what they're really like so many things like that. I'm finding out from you guys think that you didn't like that but I didn't have time to find that out when you were younger like, you know,

34:40 This one incident though that I like to talk about about trusting God that you used to get a lot of coughs and so I give you this cough medicine one day. I think you were four and standing in front of me and you had your head up and mouth open and to me I'd everything Stood Still. I just froze. It's like, oh my God. This child does not know what I'm about to give him, but he's completely trusting in me. And that's when I realized that's how Jesus said come to me as little children, you know to have complete trust, you know, so

35:25 That's been.

35:27 My way I want to live that way everyday completely trusted. It was a defining moment for me when?

35:36 The first night that you and Kayla's mom left the apartment that we lived in and we was just me and keelin dries and I just remember the first night. He was just crying in his bed in his crib and I just thought

35:51 I have a whole family right now. This is a whole family on here cuz I have a whole family is very it's an unwilling moment because you really start thinking about like am I doing in the junk I need to so that I can it can be so scary, but you have to have faith in God and it's in the moments where it's things are so rough is when you have to wrestle with God

36:17 To find out that to know that you know that you know that he's with you and he will give you that absolutely give you that feeling and then you won't have to worry about my kids do the craziness that goes on around you. I know you pray about it, but you stay strong.

36:41 Remember baby raccoon e

36:46 What do you remember where he came from came from a garage sale loved him? Oh my gosh, you were in middle school and you still slow. I was in Middle School. And I remember there was a play that I was in and during one of the rehearsals. He had a little foot that I was kind of extended out and one of my buddies grab the foot and was slinging them across the things and then and that's the last time I remember seeing him, but I just remember if you got the lost their baby raccoon.

37:26 I just remember baby raccoon me precious memories. I remember that we used to pinch Daniel's cheeks a lot. And I forget the nickname we called him. But he was I just thought he was just because I remember brown sugar. There you go. That's what his name was brown sugar. But but yeah, I also remember a time when the ambulance was called because I gave John a cup of alcohol.

38:07 You were four years old he was too and is rubbing alcohol and there's a cop next to it by I don't know how it got there. Right and you put it down and John picked it up and drank it like in the emergency room.

38:28 So should not have been where you could reach it by the road, you know things like crazy and it happens, you know, well now and I know that as life has progressed all the stuff that we have to do.

38:52 Just makes it a little bit trickier to organize time to just have time like this. So for your birthday, one of things I want to do is just take some time with you and just hang out. So this is very precious. It's very precious. I appreciate that. Yes, really appreciate that and I love all of you.

39:15 God bless you.

39:21 I've never I didn't even know what was happening when you called me and I'm glad we did this. So you need to have to do something like this and

39:41 Pass it on to her children, but I agree. I agree so much we can share.