James “Jim” Anderson and Alice Ferris
DescriptionAlice Ferris interviews her friend, Jim Anderson about Jim’s grandmother, “Grandma Daisy” and the influence she has had on his life.
Subject Log / Time Code
- James “Jim” Anderson
- Alice Ferris
Recording LocationMobileBooth West
- craft, skills, and procedures
- family characters
- family expressions
- family heroes
- family naming and nicknames
- Family Traditions
- family trips and excursions
- Flagstaff, Arizona
- memories of former times
- memories of growing up
- personal experiences
- political beliefs and practices
- religious beliefs and practices
- social beliefs and practices
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00:03 I'm on 46. My name is Alice Farris. I am 39 years old as I was reminded a couple times this weekend. It is January 25th, 2010. We are in Yuma, Arizona and I am with my friend Jim Frederick Lee and her mom took bone. Melee Kelly Kelly Harrison Kelly lawyer.
00:35 I'm 46 years old today is January 25th, 2010. We're in Yuma Arizona and I'm with my friend Alice before I asked you the first question because I know you're going to be talking for the next so I don't know 40 minutes. This was my only opportunity to get a word in edgewise. So I wanted to quickly explain how we met and you and I started working together at janaf you and it was one of those days where I've been on the job for I think six weeks and half of my sales staff had left for various reasons and one more person walked in the door and said I'm leaving and I was sitting there thinking how am I going to do this on my own and my boss walks into the room and says I have this phone number for this guy who is a friend of a friend who's looking for a job, and we're not hiring anybody, but I just thought I'd tell you that. I had this number just as a courtesy. I'm just going to get rid of this number.
01:36 And I looked at him and I said Niles just quit.
01:41 And he said I'll go get the number and I called and I left you a message and we talked on the phone and you came in for an interview the very next day and within five minutes. I realize more sales experience than I would ever have in my entire life and I had to hire you immediately, but I couldn't because you wouldn't stop talking and so I think it was 15 or 20 minutes later. You managed to take a breath and I interrupted you and I said Jim are you going to stop talking long enough for me to offer you this job? But I remember you looking for a moment to see if I was being serious and smiling and saying, I'm sorry. I haven't interviewed in a very long time.
02:26 Well, it's so over the last what almost five almost five years very close to 5 as well over the last almost five years. I've gotten to know you a little bit better than I did in the first 20 minutes of our existence together and and we're now business partners as well as friends and I think one of the stories that I hear frequently about little bits and pieces about is Grandma Daisy and I was hoping that you could share a little bit about who Grandma Daisy was
03:01 This is tough. You have to pick something that's going to make me choke up.
03:11 My grandmother is I knew her.
03:16 I basically spent my first five years.
03:22 Living on her sharecropper
03:26 She didn't know she was a sharecropper.
03:31 And I didn't realize it until a lot later, but I spent those first five years there because my mom was
03:40 She was a single mother.
03:42 I guess for those first five she really wasn't but I guess she was working. I spent a lot of time there continued to spend most of my Summers there until after I was I guess probably run 12 years old.
03:55 Once kids start to lose the Romance of the farm.
04:00 But I
04:01 We've grandma lived out there with Grandpa Jake.
04:05 Although we weren't supposed to know that they weren't married for a very long time.
04:10 Jake cassar, what was her second husband eventually, but that wasn't until I was in my teens they live together for a very long time the two of them live there on this is just outside of Ashley, Illinois.
04:26 I'm small town. I think at that time maybe out of population of 400 500 people and no spending time there with with Grandma was I mean it with my formative years. It was it was not developed to my character.
04:45 She was
04:47 One of three, I think I think she had three other brothers two of which had died may have these numbers wrong, but I know one thing, it's Uncle Sammy had the had been in World War II and was shot out of a tree over a river in Italy by a sniper when he yelled all clear.
05:10 But I'm the only sibling of hers that I ever met was her her brother Rodney a junk dealer much like their father Jim Bell.
05:23 A junk dealer
05:27 And so
05:29 Living out there with Grandma was great. She was she's one of those type of people that when I try to describe her I explain that, you know,
05:37 Every I walk down a country road was an adventure with her.
05:41 That you don't shoot. She would explain a tremendous amount provide all types of information and some of it was true.
05:51 A lot of it was just entertaining a kid on the middle of the country.
05:57 Could you just described her like a picture with words of what she look like?
06:05 She looks a lot like this Hopi woman in a picture up in.
06:13 What's the village in your pocket? They were were Victors from?
06:17 Arriving. Anyway, it'll come to me I say that because I pointed this picture out of this but he'll be woman explained. That's my grandma. She was probably 5:00 6:00, maybe most of the time I knew her she was a rather big woman.
06:44 In fact, I referred to Grandma Daisy is big grandma when I was a kid and Grandma Anderson was little grandma.
06:54 And it seems as though the only outfits I can ever really I never recall ever seeing her wear pants. I think the only two outfits I ever basically saw her in was a sleeveless sundress of some sort.
07:09 Guardian floral and pretty cool
07:13 Aura sleeveless sundress with an apron over it.
07:17 That's mostly remember and I think a lot of my memory is clouded by this little bit of video that I shot of her back in the summer of 84 July 84. I think a lot of my memories are informed by that video and block some of the other stuff. She had very thin salt and pepper hair always tied back in a in a bun.
07:40 As I said, she was rather big she lost a lot of weight in the later years due to illness and and so you don't her skin fit Loosely honoring those years.
07:55 A lot of the time when she talked to us. What I noticed is that she didn't always stereo right in the eye. She was telling stories and there was a lot to it but a lot of times she was looking down brush and a hair from her eyes swatting at flies petting the kittens.
08:15 Baton stories
08:17 You mentioned that she had quite the impact on your character.
08:29 Well, you know how some people say what would Jesus do?
08:34 I'm more concerned about what would Grandma think so when I'm faced with a decision about
08:41 What's the right thing to do? It's frequently informed by would you be proud?
08:54 Would you be proud if she sought to do it again.
09:04 Well, I know that.
09:07 You made quite the transition quite the life transition when shortly before I met you.
09:17 What were you doing before we met?
09:20 I was swimming with sharks.
09:24 I have been in sales essentially since I could toddle.
09:30 I've always been involved in some way and sales are management.
09:34 After High School I had went off to try to make a living decided that I would want to take a semester for college, but no my family with blue collar. I mean green color, I guess and not green Environmental Green Grass.
09:54 And so when I thought about going to college, I remember my stepfather who was my third stepfather saying why would you spend good money to go off to college when you make good money out there out there working. So I did that for quite a few years finally decided that I wasn't making the wage that I was going to be satisfied with that. I didn't have the life that I was going to be satisfied with so I went back to school did so with a Vengeance got the opportunity to go out to New York and had started working for a national research company and we we sold local market consumer research across the country to everybody to radio stations and TV stations and cable companies in newspapers and magazines and advertisers an Asian seasoned politicians everybody. My forte was broadcast TV and I spent the better part of ten years working with that company.
10:51 A transition through a couple of others through
10:55 Through mergers and Acquisitions and I had decided after I was told for the third time that I had to move that I wasn't going to.
11:10 And I decided that I was going to try to do something different.
11:13 That I would no longer shovel coal into anyone's machine that what I was going to do had the matter.
11:22 And I see where you're going.
11:24 Add a motor to Granville days.
11:28 So how long was Grandma Daisy alive during her a shark ears?
11:36 Not really.
11:40 She died 1989.
11:43 I was doing Resort work between Colorado and Arizona that was that window between high school and going back to college and she
11:56 And she loved what I was doing.
12:00 Because I was doing what I was always doing. I was on having a blast. I was having fun and making enough money to get by and be happy.
12:12 It kind of feels like what I'm doing now.
12:16 I'm in a lot of money swimming with sharks.
12:21 So you've told me before what were the things you decided you were going to do after you left the shark infested waters?
12:33 Unless I'm going to be homeless destitute and hungry.
12:38 There's only one two three things at all to
12:42 I'm either going to become engaged in politics because I figure you're in politics have a chance to implement change. You have a chance to affect things that make a difference. I thought maybe I would try my hand at teaching which I have enjoyed teaching college students for the same reason help inform these young people about things that they can think about opportunities. There are not going to tell them what to think but to make sure that they are. Thank you.
13:14 And then the third thing being that I was be interested in working for some organization that's involved in social change, you know somebody doing something for other people.
13:27 And I guess where you've led me is that now that's what I'm doing now to that working with the company. I get to work the politician I get to teach college students when I get to work a lot of incredible organizations that are really making a difference.
13:49 If you had to put yourself in Grandma Daisy's shoes right now if she were still with us.
13:55 What would you tell her about your life now when you went home for Christmas and Southern, Illinois?
14:07 I would talk to her about the people.
14:10 Because she'd understand that.
14:14 My grandma was one of those people who will everybody around me. When I was young were racist many most of the people in my family still are.
14:25 Most of them are uneducated most of them have no interest or aspirations to be anything more.
14:33 And Grandma was one of those people who?
14:36 She said and did racist things.
14:41 But not because she was a prejudiced person.
14:46 There were things. She just didn't have the words for.
14:50 Or her language and her ideas were informed by her life experience and when you grow up in a sharecropper farm with a lot of Migrant workers that you don't always get along with
15:04 Or when you think of Native Americans only as those caricatures on television.
15:10 You think of African-Americans as no criminals?
15:16 Because you never get to experience being around anyone.
15:21 Then you use say and do things that are ignorant not racist not hateful, but so I think
15:30 Knowing who I've developed into.
15:35 She would have learned to understand how far I'd moved away from that.
15:40 And I would talk to her about the the Native Americans that we work with I would talk to her about you know, that the Hispanic good good friends. I have about the scary homosexuals that are okay some of my best friends.
16:00 I'm not gay play Seinfeld would say not that there's anything wrong with that.
16:07 But I would talk to about the people that I help and about the difference it would make and the things that I would be most proud of his is I would talk to her about the work that we do with the Hopi. I would talk to her about helping build the health care clinic for uninsured and underinsured people North Country Healthcare. I would talk to her about a lot of different organizations that we work with them about really trying to make that difference.
16:34 She asked me if I was making enough money. I tell her no, she asked me if I was happy. I tell her yes, and she told me that probably enough.
16:50 Are there things that you think Grandma Daisy would wish for you now that are different?
17:00 She would never miss a moment to pester me because I'm not married.
17:05 Would be very important to her that I wasn't alone.
17:12 It would come back to the well.
17:16 I tell her as much as she needed to know.
17:19 And she said well as are you happy and say yeah, I'm happy.
17:23 The bike she would already have learned that that often repeat a joke that make as well. I'm so she'd understand that. There was no point in in a pushing the issue too far because as as you understand when it comes to marriage, I view marriage much like I view golf. I will do both of those things when I can't do things that are more interesting.
17:47 Because I have done my time being married.
17:53 But yeah, she would she would she would talk about that and she would talk about my kids and and she would be she was always very accepting. You know, she was never really terribly judgmental even when they are really not going away.
18:08 So she wouldn't lean on me too much. She don't have too much fun sharing stories with me.
18:14 You know, I've said before that the reason that I think I enjoy travel so much as my dad once said boy you got itchy feet.
18:23 As I'm told people repeatedly that it became from watching television. It came from watching, you know, National Geographic and on Sunday night and Jacques Cousteau, and and you know, whatever that nature shows were on Disney.
18:39 I register that was being about 12 years old or so in those type of things.
18:44 Sticking in my head, but just setting here now.
18:49 I think I'm realizing that.
18:52 It had a lot to do with the fact that some of my favorite stories that she ever told me of the was of the one trip. She made out west. She had never traveled with 50 miles away from her home as she was growing up, but she traveled West took a train across country to California to to visit one of her brothers and I guess you did have two brothers. It was still alive because there were two there was one that was still in Illinois. But anyway, and she told me stories of being snowed Inn in Flagstaff Arizona where I live now and Grandma, I'm sure the storm you experienced was nothing like the five feeder almost five feet that we just got this past week, but it was her telling those stories that Adventure
19:39 About picking up the the Sand Dollar on the beach about the Pebbles that she brought home and she had this shed that she called a rock house. It had all these strange Little Treasures should collect it. And so when she was around I always brought her home, you know, when I came back from my trips cuz I moved when I was 16 at West to Colorado First in Arizona on when I was 18 almost eighteen. I was brought her back rocks, and I tried to make them bigger than the last Rock and sometimes my truck did not appreciate how big the Rocks were there brought home.
20:18 And there was one time in particular. I think just one or two years before she passed away. So 8687. Maybe she had said that she wanted me to bring her a Colorado Snowman.
20:32 Because I had already brought her an Arizona Beach, which was basically an oatmeal cardboard oatmeal container that I had put for the beach. It was sand and it was crab shells from a dinner and and in a little little other seashells and things like that with a little jar of water and and instructions as to how to make your own Beach.
20:54 And when I needed to bring her the Snowman I took the snow stuck in the jar with some rocks in a few other two sticks and things like that. And by the time I brought it home, it was melted. She busted my chops for that and told me that she wanted a real one next time.
21:08 So when I was in Colorado, I packed a cooler with snow as tightly as I could sealed it up brought her home and made her a Snowman in front of her put it on her lap.
21:21 About two years before he passed away.
21:27 I will say that I've always admired your ability to find the perfect gift for someone.
21:36 Comes from listening and it comes from caring.
21:41 I think that it's about it's that difference is some people buy for themselves or by what they think somebody should want and I don't buy a lot of gifts, but if I care enough to give you one.
21:55 I'm going to put some thought into it.
21:58 But I wander down that path because I think that's where my Wanderlust came from. It was from hearing those stories and knowing that there was no way I was growing up with pants were too short and white socks that were too dirty driving that tractor or picking strawberries and that thing about the racism that overcame.
22:18 I think that has a lot to do with the fact when I was a little boy. I was in the strawberry patches with the Hispanic Farm Workers in Southern Illinois, and I was picking strawberries right next to him and they were the kids I played with so I never learn to see difference never learn to see the color.
22:36 So was was there a particular moment when you were living with Grandma Daisy worth at time of your life where you thought I can't live here. Absolutely.
22:47 Many of them I was a hard headed kid.
22:50 The one time that she sent me away, although she didn't intend to send me away. I have been a bored kid. Probably 9 10 years old or something like that and had went into the chicken house.
23:06 And was using a soft drink bottle to knock down swallow the swallow bird nests the mud. They're just like mud stuck up in the attic Tom of the chicken house in the chicken house is not even late fee talk and it was just sport to me to knock those things down with this with this soda bottle.
23:29 I had no idea or understanding that I was killing all the baby swallows. I was just I was just knocking down the the mud.
23:40 Anda and she told me that if I was going to kill her Birds, but I could go away and not come back.
23:46 And in the video she recalls the story and says and you know what he did he went away.
23:57 Not like that. Probably not like before that.
24:04 But I continued to go back and I just didn't spend time like I did I was getting too big to port and it was in that 10-12 range, but
24:15 You know, I remember times like that that I really regret now.
24:21 I remember when Roots was on TV and I threw the biggest fit because I had to go visit Grandma and couldn't watch roots.
24:31 I remember when she used to say.
24:35 There's more ways than one to skin a cat.
24:38 She said that I hated it because she said it all the time. It was like crime or can you not come up with a new saying there's more ways than one to skin a cat will how many other ways are going to skin the cat?
24:50 I later understood that she was teaching me about improvising.
24:56 I learned a lot from improvising.
25:00 I kind of like to hear say there's more than one way to skin a cat again.
25:10 Of the life that you're leading now.
25:15 What are the things that?
25:18 You would like to share with her.
25:23 When I first started traveling at did this when I started swimming with sharks I had enough at my job was traveling and I always try to bring my family with me so I can imagine that what I would have done was an extension of that when I travel to a different location.
25:39 I would bring back things of that place because what I was really doing was bringing back props to tell stories and when I would come home for Christmas each year all of these years invariably I find myself at a point in which I'm surrounded by people as I'm telling stories.
25:58 And that's one of the things that she did for me when we lived out there and there was a TV, but you got like one channel TV was 13 in long had that coat hanger rabbit ears sticking out of it because he and tan I didn't work. Why would you slow down to watch TV at all? The only thing I remember watching there?
26:17 Was The Lawrence Welk Show?
26:23 Lawrence Welk veteran we have here and Bonanza just like the only thing I ever remember watching.
26:31 And anyway, so it was her stories and I think that's my talk about her informing my character.
26:42 There was a lot of Justice in her she was a great Storyteller and those are some things are really really deep within me. And so the store I would be telling her stories when she told me if I was here. I would tell her the travel I would tell her the things I ate of the people that I met I would show her the pictures I would make videos for her.
27:06 I would do those type of things and you know, if she was around in this era she would be my Facebook friend and we would be talking everyday.
27:17 Is there a place you think that you wish you could have taken her that you've been to?
27:25 Places that are warm
27:29 More but not necessarily the sweltering humidity of Southern, Illinois.
27:35 But she would love to peaches she would love the mountains to but she wouldn't handle the snow that well. I mean there was snow when we were back there and it's not like she was weak or timid. I mean the woman use the Outhouse as long as I knew her until the last two years of her life, you know, and I'm on a freezing December morning or January morning in Illinois. It's gets pretty cold. I've told people, you know, I've lived in the hive lived in Phoenix, Arizona.
28:03 I've spent a lot of time in Yuma.
28:06 I ice I lived in Chicago. I lived in Gunnison Colorado. These are some of the hottest and coldest places in the country. And the truth is they're not there's no place hotter than my grandma's backyard in the summer.
28:23 There's no place colder than that out of a house seat in the winter.
28:30 But I would take her to the beach. I would take her places new places where she could she could do and see new things.
28:38 So if there was
28:40 One story about Grandma Daisy that you think
28:46 You think influences your day-to-day life the most?
28:53 What would it be?
28:56 One story about her
28:59 Or distinct memory
29:05 Alluded to a few that are really important.
29:11 But I think I have to jump through a couple.
29:14 So taking those walks with her out on those decent summer spring days are in the fall on those walks in the forest and Country Roads. Those type of things really were important about my curiosity really wants important about my understanding how things worked.
29:32 The one trip that I took with her.
29:35 Ever anywhere was to Tennessee. My mom's second husband had taken us to Tennessee. I would have been in the eight-year-old rain something like that.
29:45 And I distinctly remember the fact that even at that time that she had trouble getting through fat man's squeeze, which was a a a rock channel that you could go through up on Lookout Mountain in Chattanooga.
29:59 And I remember thinking at that time that I wouldn't let myself be physically unhealthy. She was less she was in her fifties at that time.
30:08 And that she ended up dying from complications of diabetes and had both of her legs amputated in those last few days had lost part of foot years earlier.
30:18 Had been on dialysis since at least 84 those things were important to me.
30:26 Important for me to understand how important was to be healthy
30:34 I've been called cheap white people.
30:40 Does it make sure I have it on the record but not by me.
30:46 I know I've been called shape and I guess in some ways I am but I can't tolerate waste, you know.
30:54 And there's a couple of things of that really brings home with me.
30:59 You know when?
31:01 When you're at the end of the month.
31:04 And you don't have much to eat in the house and there ain't nobody going to town because you got no money to buy anything with.
31:14 Can you reach that point where you hope that they're still a little bit of flour left? So Grandma can make you some white trash fry bread.
31:23 Which were those Skillet pancakes you would make.
31:26 And you know, there's nobody left but you'll be happy if there's just some Skillet drippings or lard that you can pour a little salt on and that's going to be what you're going to eat that day.
31:39 You find it hard to waste stuff.
31:43 And I told you that my grandfather my great-grandfather was a junk man. I remember going to the junk store and I remember going to the Salvation Army and picking through bins and bins and bins of old clothes looking for things for her looking for things with her.
32:00 Choice found a quarter $0.50 or something for me when we did go to the store.
32:04 But it wasn't that common.
32:07 And I know I'm jumping around but that that is one of the reasons that I think I'm so invested in philanthropic work is that my grandmother was a bell ringer for the Salvation Army for many many years. I can't walk by the bucket and not put money in it.
32:24 And almost to the nonprofit organizations we work with.
32:28 They just have a different type of bucket and they're bringing a different Bell.
32:35 The changing gears a little bit
32:41 Can I thinking forward?
32:44 About someone talking about you.
32:48 The way that you're talkin about Grandma, Daisy.
32:52 What do you hope people will say about how you influence them?
33:06 That's Tuff.
33:11 I would hope that they would say that time.
33:16 I taught them to treat other people.
33:23 Did I'm not just a practice the Golden Rule, you know, I'm not religious.
33:27 It's not about you know, it's not about because you know, what would Jesus do? Where is Jesus looking at about helping other people because it's the right thing to do. So, we hope that I informed that but I also hope that they would recognize this this deep-seated need for justice that I have and that they're mature enough to understand when it's self-destructive, which I've never quite gotten it with the ability to do. I can't keep my mouth shut.
34:00 I feel as though there's something really wrong going on. But I hope they understand and they would see the importance of Education the importance of travel the fact that you by going new places by experiencing new things by meeting new people and eating new foods that you become more of a human being.
34:22 And to understand that tongue.
34:26 If you aspire to nothing, you will succeed and there's no point in settling for something that isn't what you want.
34:35 Especially when it comes to relationships that you get involved in.
34:46 Got your sense of justice, and the fact that you're not religious was Grandma Daisy religious. Absolutely.
34:55 Absolutely. She was very religious a real bible thumper. The the thing that I'm glad that she isn't around to see.
35:05 Is how much I moved away from religion, but I remember asking her tough questions when I was a kid you not talk about Noah's Ark come on Grandma Noah's Ark 2 of every animal really be made from Adam's Rib. Come on Grandma. I mean I was asking her those tough questions early.
35:26 And sometimes she would revert to the God works in mysterious ways. But sometimes she would say maybe the story is just a little different. Maybe maybe maybe the story got changed a little bit.
35:39 And I think that's a big part of of how you know, you'll hear when people say that they that you tell somebody you don't have religion. One of the arguments that they throw up is the, you know, would it be better to believe and be wrong than to not believe and be wrong?
35:55 And in the way, I look at it is.
36:01 If you're going to do the right thing if you're going to to be a decent person, it shouldn't matter whether or not you're kneeling to somebody and I recognized it. That's not the way most people see if they're like well now, you know God it expects this and he demands this and
36:20 I'm not willing to believe in that God.
36:24 I'm not willing to pray to a vengeful and hateful and Prejudice cot.
36:34 And if that's what you really say that is and that's what you really say is being demanded by the Bible. Keep it.
36:41 And don't try to enforce your views upon me or on other people.
36:46 I'd be hard for me to reconcile but she would love me and pray for me anyway.
36:53 So are there things that you wish you could remind the rest of your family about Grandma, Daisy?
37:03 Think I think it was my mom who said to me at one point that one of the relatives.
37:10 Said, you know you're turning her into a saint and she wasn't any saint.
37:16 I see a lot of that in the family that they want her to be saintly.
37:26 But when I noticed this last year Christmas because I did something that I had no idea the impact was going to have
37:34 I sat in the middle of the living room floor.
37:37 On Christmas Day and I played those videotapes pieces of them from 1984 and watched the transformation that had with the family.
37:47 I don't think it's that they're trying to turn her into a saint after watching that and looking back on how people acted. I think what they're really trying to do.
37:59 Is to use her.
38:03 As that Central core thread between us
38:08 The only thing that most of us still have in common.
38:12 Was what we learn from her and who we were when we were with her.
38:19 I think I like them to realize.
38:24 We should never let go of this memories or what it was that she did and how she contributed to who each of us became.
38:35 But now we have a responsibility to each other.
38:39 And family is not about allegation family is about relationships.
38:44 You care about these other people in your family in fast in those relationships and don't take them for granted.
38:52 Because if you did
38:56 Grandma think
39:00 Well, I didn't know obviously Grandma Daisy and and I haven't even really known you for all that long when it comes down to us.
39:12 I think based on what I've learned about Grandma Daisy in the story that you told me in and what I see you doing on a day-to-day basis and the way that you invest in our friendship.
39:25 I think Grandma Daisy would be really proud of you.
39:30 I appreciate that.
39:33 Hopefully I'll have a lot of years to keep trying to get it, right.
39:41 Now she's there watching you. I think whether you believe that thing or not.
39:46 Now she's with me. I don't think she said not a cloud. She was a good musician. She could play the harp.
39:54 But I'm not I don't.
39:56 I know what you mean. Yeah, I carry her with her. I carry her with me everywhere.
40:04 Well, thank you for sharing the stories of Grandma days of gym.
40:09 Thanks for putting me in a very emotionally difficult spot.
40:15 I don't go here often.