Judith Blake and Caroline Denham
DescriptionCaroline Denham (25) and her mother Judith Blake (65) have a conversation about Caroline’s childhood and Judith’s parenting choices.
Subject Log / Time Code
- Judith Blake
- Caroline Denham
Recording LocationMobileBooth West
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00:01 His name is Caroline denim. I'm 25 at today's date is October 30th, 2010 or recording in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and I'm interfering with my mother.
00:17 My name is Judith Blake. I'm 65 years old today's date is October 30th, 2010 and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and I'm having a conversation with my daughter Caroline denim.
00:42 Can I ask something? Okay, I don't know if this is good starting point of this is the only thing I highlighted so I'll start with it mom. Do you remember any of the songs he used to sing to me when I was a baby. Oh, yes. We used to sing Tura Lura to you and Home on the Range and mercy Stormy Weather and I ain't got to
01:17 What was that travel along something side-by-side and and used to say trailer of me Mommy too early for me. And the other one. I remember is You Are My Sunshine probably than that and I was thinking about that because now I'm so interested in folk songs and learning about old folk songs, and I just kind of remembered we didn't listen to that much of that when I was younger, but you did say all those songs that you're talking about are like, you know, cowboy songs and kind of country folk songs and sort of wondering did your mom sing this to you or why did you choose those two things to your kids, you know five songs that you sing all the time why those 5 songs, I guess.
02:17 Maybe cuz I remembered a few of the words. I don't remember my mom singing songs ever my dad like to dance and then we see the Reset Program Lawrence Welk, and he like to listen to that out or watch that on television. He would sing a little bit and the Tennessee Waltz.
02:49 I don't remember being a Christian mom went to church all the time. So she might have think she would have sang Rock of Ages or something like that. Yeah, but what about Aunt Sammy when you would got to the farm in Perryton, did she ever sing songs up there? No idea. Why isn't that funny? I know we listen to the radio a lot. I don't even remember if they had a television then but out in the country.
03:16 We listen to the radio and play games. I can't remember any music being a part of any of that. They didn't play any in there with a piano course as well to piano lessons.
03:32 Did you ever think about playing anything besides piano like guitar? Did you ever kind of Imagine playing any instruments? Yeah, I don't think I'm very musically talented but we did try to take piano lessons. And then later on when I was living in San Francisco. I bought a guitar and practiced all the time Hank Williams songs. Jambalaya and heartbreak was thinking about heartbreak some of those songs that that you might know and down in the valley and things like that.
04:10 At but I I I was never very good at it and you guys both either either you all worked a little more at it, which is probably the case and perhaps you were a bit more talented.
04:34 Because both of you excelled in music Diana played piano, beautifully and you played well and and you didn't you played you both played violin and it's cool and
04:52 I was sad when you wanted to quit taking violin when you went to high school. That was too bad. But I remember when the when you were in Alicia's Oklahoma music associate music Teachers Association, omba Education Association, and they had a tryout you were in the fifth grade and you could match pitch and your music teacher called me and said Caroline can match pitch and we want to take her to Tulsa to this convention and she'll place you're singing this big choir and I said, I thought that had to do with baseball or something. But anyway, so we were quite happy about that had a good time and then I picked up from the violence he can I leave things when you pick them back up and get today.
05:46 Which I was really happy that you're doing that and I'm happy that you like such a variety of Music. How do you think you learned how to like so much so many different kinds of music I don't know is I think it always really compelled me I think as a kid and I'm just hearing things in different places it always kind of I guess I always noticed music like, you know, it wasn't ever really background to me and I think you dragged me. What kinds of things like the you know, the musicals that we used to go to I guess a lot of little young girls really like musicals. I remember watching a lot of those videos and then
06:31 Somewhere along the lines, you know really liking some of those Marilyn Monroe kind of songs and stuff like that and then somewhere along the lines someone telling me that that's Jazz basically some of those have old Jazz and them then, you know asking you to buy this like $5 compilation of you know, fabulous ladies of jazz, I think so too is called and then from there Ella Fitzgerald and all that stuff, you know, I don't really it's not what most like 5th graders were listening to but you know, I guess it's kind of a natural route really if you kind of pick up on those things and then
07:10 I know other things I guess now I'm more into folk music and I remember us you dragging me in protest to the Woody Guthrie Museum, which was that the traveling Museum or a it was an interim and or they were under construction or something and I remember insisting that you go with me and you when you protested the whole time and I didn't really realize how much you liked it until later on. I think just recently you were telling me that you remembered it. Yeah. Well what I was remembering as reading at Bob Dylan's Chronicles recently and I had this really vivid memory of actually the first time that I heard Bob Dylan was in that Museum and that's I mean you guys listen or we listen to a lot of that 60s music in the house growing up, but it was more like
08:10 Remember your Beatles records Diane and I both really love those and out of that stuff, but not really about Dylan that wasn't one that you and Dad really had in the house. And so I remember at the Woody Guthrie museum has been listening to a bunch of his songs and this song came on and I don't know how old I would have been then but and it just like really blew me away. I really didn't notice it above all the other songs. And remember I kind of having this like Vivid experience with it and then asking you to buy like every CD that was for sale all those I think Ash recordings and staff everything that they had we came home with all that stuff and I just going to Port over those and I could never find that song and it didn't sound like that song and then I realized a lot later that it wasn't what he got three that had had that impact on me is Bob Dylan and it was song To Woody and a lot later on have to figure that out somehow and
09:10 Then that was the first Bob Dylan, you know music that I bought was him. Really when he was trying to sound like Woody Guthrie and that songs on that first Harley album. So I remember that but in the process of pouring over all those Woody Guthrie songs, I also really came to love those and the stories, you know of all the time in history that you don't get another ways. I guess, you know, not textbook history and sort of I think that was important and you know being kind of proud of Oklahoma and and really trying to understand Oklahoma. Has Woody Guthrie songs and about migrant workers and you know, I mean we had family that went, you know, during the desk wall to California and did the same stories yet. It's part of that Heritage that had a really big impact on me, even though when I listen to those CDs, I wasn't looking for him, you know, but it had a big impact on me later later on.
10:10 Definitely, I think maybe you were in middle in middle school and maybe there was some something you all were studying and that that exhibit was in town or in Oklahoma city was prompted by something. I don't think it had anything to do with school because I definitely didn't know any other kids that were going to it. We're talkin about definitely wasn't the thing to do what I think is so funny is how I had to drag you to see Byron berline with me and it was like a violin fiddle lessons and his in his workshop for shop in Guthrie. I just think that is so funny. It's like I know it's apparent you always wonder if you're when you take
11:10 It's the things that they don't want to see or they don't want to go to they'd rather hang out with your friends like Diana when she didn't want to go to a birthday party. She want to stay home and what she wrote. You know, it's like no one but you always wonder what effect is going to have on on your kids, you know, where they going to go up to hate Byron Berlin and and Fiddle music or you're going to eventually turn around and say wow. That was really cool kind of like all the
11:40 All the food that I used to feed you guys. You know with those Time Life International cookbook said I experimented with cooking all the time and you know where you didn't we never went to McDonald's or any fast food places at all. And you know, I think sometimes you guys resented that there were no coax in the house. And and but I remember what you were about what age 9 and you said Mom. I think this has too much cardamom minute, but you know, when you're young you you want to be cool and you want other you want to be like your friends because that's the you know, you're all trying to conform to each other as are we getting to be a social being you know, and I think we always like when I remember some of us just thinking why can't you just make like a chicken casserole with Ritz crackers?
12:40 Like all my friends moms and then I'll have them over and he'll think that I'm normal like that mean it and you know getting kind of that Early Education like this is what my friends parents do and this is what my parents do and it's different and what does that mean he now is that okay and definitely like fast food, I mean Wednesday and I would go eat at like Wendy's or something with our friends. We thought that was a big tree in O early on but we definitely both came to appreciate the kind of food that you making with that's what we make now. I mean, we don't eat fast food and we don't eat me up drink soda. I mean there's a lot of health things that I mean we might not be as healthy as we are if we didn't grab that way indefinitely is interested. I mean, we're both really interested in food, and we definitely got that from you.
13:33 And all your friends, I mean, I definitely I think about my family, you know, my extended family during of I think about the you know, we call women who eat this is a funny thing for Outsiders I guess but that's you know, your parents support group that you joined. When you move to Norman when we were kids and you've continued to do is it monthly or bi-monthly something like that but you know potluck dinner and I think about women bringing food into my house talking to me very that you know, really Lively storytellers really funny smart women pretty much all of you. I remember the last time that you all met at our house. I was being kind of passing through and saying hi to everybody and I was realizing that you know, they're all either teachers Librarians. I'm half those women are Librarians in the library and then I don't know what else but you
14:33 All of your mother's and that's kind of who I think of is my aunts and my cousins are there kids, you know, definitely closer to those people but all of us people really valued food is like food is the social thing and all those women cook hippie food and big there and bread and all that stuff like you guys do I mean like you do so, you know people say that they can't afford to live on one income and when your dad and I moved back when Diana was just a year old and we moved from San Francisco to Norman. I didn't want to go to work because I just think that the way you treat your children your babies until you know, kindergartener sometime in middle school. I think it's just really important to have somebody in your life that thinks you're just the most wonderful thing in the world and
15:33 Think parents moms and dads and grandparents can reaffirm reinforce that with children and it gives kids I don't know a confidence or something and I always with both of you all. I always had so much confidence in you guys and I have no idea where that came from. But even when you were little and we made the time that we spent together centered around food and parks and things that didn't cost any money and I take our society now everything has to be bought, you know kids have so many things electronics and stuff from early on instead of playing with boxes and sticks and you know running around in the backyard and
16:27 By the pond and the things that we were interested in didn't cost any money or didn't cost very much for sure. I remember kind of really really not liking any games like the electronic type of games that were set up for you and I think maybe that came from cuz Diane and I would go play in the backyard or play with like, you know a doll or something in our rooms for like long. Kids and you know, it's so when if you know, then it's totally up to your imagination and you can do whatever you want. There's no parameters set for you and I remember like some games that is all set up for you and you play this one thing this one way. I always hated those and I guess that's what that comes from and Diana's like that to we're never really drawn to like the new I don't know electron thing. I just never in our house anyway, but I never remember wanting that stuff or liking it very much as I like playing with other kids some and I like playing by myself. You know, I like that.
17:27 Books and stories are always so important when you know, Diana was two days old we came home from the hospital. I told your dad I sent okay go over there and sit down and rocker and read a book to her and he said why why am I so she's tweeted. She's 2 days old. Why do I need to the Cadence in the voice and the vocabulary and it's all different than just conversation. And so you you and your sister were always read to me from day one and I think that's one reason why you both appreciate not only language and sound but also because you have it, you know, because sound in stories, are you tell them in your imagination from the from the sound from the words you create the pictures in your imagination.
18:27 And I think both of you all have really wonderful imaginations.
18:33 And it makes it that just makes life so much Fuller as opposed to opening a box and reading the instructions and saint of this is the way you have to do it. Well, that's somebody else's idea of the way something should be done and you guys create your own ways of doing things. So how do you know when you're kind of making decisions like that is apparent like okay. It's really important to read to these kids are bored. And I know you always asked us like, you know, what we thought about things really early and I know some people kind of disagree with that like, you know, don't ask your kid what they want for dinner, you know, you put something on the table to eat it and you were never like that with us it you know, and that's just the kind of parenting choices that I just kind of wonder where that came from like how you became the kind of mom that you became. I don't know why I know your dad always hated it when I ask you.
19:27 For breakfast. I just put it in front of everyone has to learn to think for themselves and
19:38 And so you got to start early. What do you want to wear? What do you know you make the choice and and I don't know where that came from. Maybe I've had a streak of Independence and I didn't want someone asking me but but I remember when we used to take you shopping that little store called a look and in Duncan where where granny lived and we walked in and I think you were told you can buy one outfit or something and you walked over and you found something on the rack and try to. And you said it down next to you and said this is it don't you look around you made your choice and both of you all have made your choices about what you wanted to wear much. You know what that's how people learn you learn from your mistakes. So you if you wear pink shorts on a 30 degree day, you're going to figure out that you'll probably get really cold and won't want to do those next time. Do you think some of
20:38 You know letting your kids going to do do what they wanted to do a little bit. Do you think that has to do with the fact that you're a little bit older as a parent and I don't know where any of those other decisions you think that has to do with being your 35 when Diana was born. So right I was 36 when Diana was born in 40 when you were young.
21:00 Maybe you know, I think maybe sometimes when parents when people have kids when they're older they are over but they're more protective and I was in terms of driving Transportation was not a strong suit for me for letting you guys learn how to drive but in other ways I just felt like you have to find your own path and at that starts early on I mean not that I you know
21:30 Let's do dangerous stuff. But but that you play by yourself. You didn't have somebody entertaining, you know, the television was not your babysitter. And I think that made it I think that made a difference in how
21:45 In the choices that you will make your both very, you know, bright Independent Women and and you know, people are constantly asking me how did you raise such interested in daughter's I think they think I'm a little bit of a screwball and that maybe we didn't give each other.
22:18 I think people think that I'm kind of a little bit nutty and and and I didn't give you guys as much stuff as they gave their kids. You know, I mean, I hated your birthday parties. I'm sorry. I just hated him. It was like cramming for a college final, you know, Olga go to Runa putting the bags. What are the gifts going to be for all the little kids who, who's going to be? No bake a listen they're going to do and it's put all the decorations and it was I hated those gift bags. I hate to make it look like at 6, BC.
23:00 Think that's one thing that I noticed some sometime along the way and it was some of my friends are in Pierce their parents seem like they were at like 100% parent if they have kids and their whole identity was parenting and it's like, you know, what the goodie bags and stuff like that. So we kept getting like in Tober seniors in high school for soccer and stuff and like I reveal iCloud maybe my mom could get excited like all these other ones are about like putting stickers on something for me. I don't know if she's not excited. I'll do it myself for the team. Whatever and Elsa's that's their mom do it, you know, everything's like that at a time. So it was probably like, I wish my mom would just be more like that, you know, just but you know, I definitely noticed that you guys kept your own identity and your own interests and I really admired that you no more. So as I as I got older and I definitely do now because
24:00 You and Dad are both. I mean you have groups of friends not all parents. Really. I mean a lot of parents I think socialize that you know, their kids are there soccer parents or other whatever their kids do wishes and there's nothing wrong with that at all. But I mean you guys really had just interesting groups of people in and interests that were your own and I think I mean you guys did a lot of stuff for us and took us where we needed to be but it was like occasionally. Well, I've got this other thing to do that's important to me, you know, it wasn't like you were only parents, you know, you do your video working you both really like to travel and you know, you'd like to go hear music or go to place or you know, continue learning and enjoying other things that aren't just about being a parent and I don't know I think that's something that definitely has influence Diane and I cuz you're both such curious people.
24:56 And that hasn't faded with age and it didn't go away with and the kind of parenting that you did. I guess I would guess that there have been times that I have embarrassed you like when I bought the trican. Oh, yeah my first year of teaching you were coming to and my first day of middle school your first year of middle school. So you're in the 6th grade and it was my first year of teaching and I was teaching speech and drama and your book of see your butt teacher, but that wasn't the year was it I think it was when you were in the eighth grade that I bought the trike and I wanted to ride the trike to school and you wouldn't let me or had you already gone to high school. Maybe you'd already going to high school, but you knew I was right in the first year I was still there and that's why I said, you know, I'm not coming home again.
25:56 She said the shape physically there was like no conversation to be had with that. And then maybe when I got to high school, then you did start doing it. I had just you know, a little tiny ounce of distance Boise 1807 continue surviving socially all that but I think yeah, I mean, I've certainly been embarrassed of you and Dad really but I mean, you're both kind of out there and you both are very social like chalk to a wall kind of people, you know, and I mean that's good ever people like you guys a lot you know, and
26:37 And you're interesting people also, I mean, I wouldn't change anything but definitely there's been some embarrassing moments. Like when I was there, I would see I was playing music with my like, you know trying to be cool in Indie band in high school at this like events at all these anyone who's in the band outside of school Awards was playing there and you were like on your way to a wedding and like you had one like pearls like heels and you're like, oh I'm on my way to a wedding and it's a nice day. So I'm just going to try to this wedding cuz that makes sense for everybody and and then I'll just stop by and hear the stand and the great so I just remember like sitting at these people that I definitely thought were cooler than I was and then like up trikes my mom.
27:34 In this like really fancy outfit and like trying to make sense of all that and I think me and all my friends always knew you cuz of school and they all got a huge kick out of you and they could you know, I would not have any other strings because you weren't there mom. So I think they always really greeted you and enjoyed you and and gets definitely character-building you note to relax and cuz otherwise you're just going to suffer if you're not a little relaxed and there's lots of things that you know, and I know we have your guys's parents. So that's one thing out there people and then, you know, we never had like the cool car like the cool, you know, like I mean, we always have less money than our friends in that always, you know, kids noticed that in certain ways because it means you don't have something that they have or you don't look at, you know, you wouldn't dress like our friend's moms.
28:34 Or whatever, but I'm so glad for that because I mean I think my whole set of values would be different and I wouldn't have questioned any sort of.
28:46 I don't know. It's systematic kind of things that privilege certain people or other people and I wouldn't have questioned any of that probably if it had always benefited me, you know, like, you know, if I grew up with a lot of money and everything is really comfortable. I wouldn't have probably seeing that it's not really fair. If you know, some people don't have that in some people doing that we treat them differently, you know, things like that. I think it's obviously had a huge impact on day and I do to correct that way I guess cuz energy stuff in in the United States where
29:29 Where success is thought of as as
29:36 How how much stuff you have which implies that you have money to buy a lot of stuff and and and that's never what we valued. I mean, we always had enough money and we've always traveled we've we've had we've been able to afford the things that we wanted that were important a new book, you know, we have plenty of clothes and who cares how old a car is like, I always think that's so funny that people talk about cars and how
30:20 How how the kind of car that people drive is important and I think about all these people who are in debt and it it just money kind of screws things up. I think that's what I that's sort of the way I feel about it and we are I think I used to say we we better than people who have you know, lots more money than we do and and we talked about more interesting things and it was I as I look around sometimes and I see the kinds of trinkets that my students have that that are expensive and they just aren't that
31:05 I don't know. I don't know that they are making their life richer and I think the things that the choices that we made have enriched all of our lives and we were happy, you know, and we're interested in we are comfortable with other people and we're not put off by anybody in society and we aren't bigoted or racist or you know, we look at the I think we're all very open. And and I think that's wonderful. And that's that's my if anything that I look at you and Diana and I think wow you guys are you you really are the best part of your dad and me and you know, because you you really will help to make the world a better place and and that's are that's what I'm most proud of I guess.
31:58 You guys are pretty darn swell kids.
32:07 So what do you think you want? Let me see your 25 years old and what do you think you want for yourself in these next few years?
32:20 See you right now. I think the most important thing to me.
32:24 Just for myself as I want to keep getting better at playing music and make me sick that I like and be able to play music that I like. Well, you know with with other people who who do that, you know, it's not don't have any goal of like you're trying to make money off of something or I really even playing in front of that many people. I mean by have more music to share, you know, I'm happy to do that. But I just really want to want to play well and and learn keep learning more, you know, folk songs and and write better music keep writing better music. So I think that's the most important thing to me. I think wherever I live and whatever else I do that's going to be, you know, a source of joy and and a way to be creative and a way to experience Community. I guess. I think those are really my fav.
33:24 When I think it's like my favorite college memories are the best and you know nights. I've had since I've moved back to Norman from Connecticut and the past couple years or even you know, going down to Sulphur Oklahoma for that weekend a few weeks ago and you know, Noah getting his guitar out and Kate and Jack girl singing in a cell signal here. When you come across a few songs that you all know and then you can sing together. That's so at joyful, you know, and I think there was a night in college. I guess that Holly's dad was in town and he's a Bluegrass player and and he and I was like, okay, let's play Let's play together. You know, I've always said everything so much by myself. It was kind of one of those first time there were a couple songs that you know, we actually I knew all the words to and could sing with him and stuff and within there were so many that I knew parts of and not all up and it was like cash. This would be such
34:24 Better night if we all need to suck so since then that was one of my goals leaving College to just learn the words of learn how these sounds goes so I can play with other people and I think just continuing that is is probably the most important thing to me and I do I'd like to travel, you know around this country for an hour right now in other countries, maybe later. I'm just meet people and
34:53 Cb&i, the amazing Landscapes and you know discover the art and kind of people are living in different places taking a road trip is probably the most recent goal as those are the things that I'd like to find something right now. I'm kind of have a day job and I don't feel like it's really the most for me. You know, I'd like to find something else that is more. So for me that I feel like I'm good at and is beneficial to other people and is more than just paying rent so I can keep playing music and I'm trying to figure that out.
35:33 I think we are a lucky family because for one thing I think all four of us are happy. And I mean this morning I went for a walk around the duck pond and the sun was beautiful white reflected off the water and the wind was blowing the branches of the trees and the colors were beautiful. And I thought wow is this is Venus of a day now, it's just a glorious fall day and and I
36:06 Think about how lucky I am to be emotionally or innerwise happy, you know, there's this inner happiness that when I get depressed and sad and all those kinds of things and I see that happiness in you and in Diana, I didn't your dad and I think we are so lucky because because I teach I see so many kids who are who just don't have that. Happy Jean, you know, and I don't think we're sort of goofy about it. I think we're just genuinely genuinely
36:46 We Embrace Life with such Gusto and such passion and I think we're really lucky. So however, you know things got shaken up and and tossed out we all.
37:04 When were all pretty darn lucky? I think it's I definitely feel lost sometimes and kind of aimless and kind of like behind on things even though I'm only 25, I think I should have already done this or I should you know in like, how am I going to like save the money to do this thing or like, you know, get back in school for something or whatever, you know, I just feel aimless are overextended a lot. But I never I still always appreciate things and I think they like you said like an inner happiness. I don't know I guess, you know, I worry a lot but it doesn't really make me unhappy I guess and I don't really know what that's about what the differences but and when I call Diana, you know, I mean, she always sounds chipper, even if she has like, you know a lot to do or or not. You know that she's not in the not upset by something ever something but
38:04 I don't know the kind of things that she'll mention about her day. And I know I was walking to of the campus and this happened and it was really nice to know just
38:13 I don't know. I think we notice things that are worth appreciating definitely feel like appreciative of the world around me a lot of the time in small ways. So and that's really good. It's really good to feel grateful. Yeah, we're didn't press key has so many people who you know, if drugs have affected their lives and all kinds of things. They're depressed. They have to deal with sadness and nothing nothing. We don't have those things happen to us in our lives. There are it's not like everyday is Holly Golightly or something. But but we we handle things well, and we're mostly happy and we have one minute left.
39:05 Well, I've enjoyed talking to you enjoy talking with you.
39:20 Or why you decided you wanted because I lived near that spot and I hadn't been on a bicycle in a long time. And so I wasn't positive that I could balance on a bicycle and somebody had a trike and had a nice basket so I can put my lunch in my stuff. And and so I wrote it to school all the time. I have to say when time I have little purple horned so I can honk at people and I came home one day and the horn was gone. And I remember using it only the day before and I said somebody stole my horn from my trike and Caroline had this very deadpan look on her face. And I said this terrible and I started searching around and I mean like four days I was searching for this horn and wondering who's invaded my trike property.
40:20 She just couldn't tolerate her mother riding a trike and beeping this little purple horned. She was just too embarrassed. It was just one state, but I will say it so she doesn't ride the track anymore very often because you've got this really not that you didn't know how to ride a bike. I don't know what that insecurity or sit out for that. But anyway, but there are occasionally times when you're going to like shopping or something that you need, you know, well I guess need is it really the word you opt for your tricycle still and there's the day the other day. It's just like you were like my bicycle ride. This is a great day for bike, but I wanted to go pick up a 12-pack.
41:15 I told my boss at the The Cheese Shop that I work that way really love working. I told her that and she said anyone who says I'm going to go pick up a 12-pack of my trike have a fan of that person road to try because it's environmentally better, you know, you aren't using a car but I remember writing it to the grocery store one day and I bought like $80 worth of groceries and it came out and looked at the basket and I thought I don't know if I can get all this stuff on there and I piled it all up and I thought well this is not going to be a very very very very very environmentally sound if I have to call someone to come pick me up and carry my groceries. So but as it turned out, I got them all nicely with my bungee cords Center Hampton there so many good Story 4.
42:09 Advance to a very fast bicycle