Interview with Grandmother: Vanessa Smith


In this interview, Vanessa Anderson-Smith, remember their lives in South Philadelphia. This interview offers more information on the young life of Vanessa Smith as she grew up going to middle school, high school, college, and later onto the real world. She talks about how students of her skin color were treated in middle school, high school, and college. She also talks about her neighborhood friends, how she raised three children of her own and much more.


We drank water from the tap not a bottle and nobody knew about the dangers of lead poisoning so even cribs were painted with brightly colored lead based paint. Medicine and Bottles with tablets did not have child proof lids. No seat belts or air bags in cars, nobody knew or if they did told our parents smoking and drinking was bad for the baby, kids shared coke from one bottle, soda had masses of sugar and we ate real white bread and butter and everything else including full fat milk that we are now told is bad for you. Parents couldn't reach us ( no mobiles ) and most of the day we would be out playing with friends and parents knew we would be safe with hardly any weirdos wandering the streets. If we got caught doing stuff we shouldn't the cops would take us home and we may well have a got a hiding for breaking the law ( but no do gooders saying mustn't smack children ). And if we played up in school the same applied. While playing we got cuts and bruises and the occasional tear in jeans but it was just part of being a kid and no visit to the hospital. We had no fancy games but could play for hours making a Go cart or a new tree swing and for other games most times we would find a ball and whatever we could use as a bat. or in the summer all jump into the nearest place we could find and if the water wasn't that clean we just didn't swallow it. We rode our bikes with no helmets and doing whatever stunts we could ( bikes were so much heavier and hard waring) and always had punctures to repair or get dad to help with. If we didn't get in the team we were not good enough and that was that. But most of all we were allowed to be kids. To dream, to invent and to play. It's no wonder that the generation that grew up then created some of the most innovative and exciting technology we have today. Thanks for those years and all those "BAD THINGS" that is why we are who we are today.



Shaelin: 1. When exactly were you born?

GMOM: “January 25th, 1956”

Shaelin: 2. How old are you?

GMOM: “59 years old”

Shaelin: 3. What was it like in your generation when you were my age?

GMOM:  “When i was just starting high school, i was in a all girls catholic high school, uniforms had to be below our knees, no makeup, no hoop earrings, post back earrings.”

Shaelin: 4. When you were my age did you have white and black friends? just blacks? just whites?

GMOM:  “Yes because I went to a racially diversified school, black, white, hispanic, vietnamese, all types, so i ended up making many different skin color friends.”

Shaelin: 5. Did you go to a segregated high school?

GMOM: “Uh, no. All of the students collaborated with one another”

Shaelin: 6. Was everyone treated fairly?

GMOM: “I would say yes for the most part. We had black students that had a walk out, however I do not remember what for.”

Shaelin: 7. Do you think that high school prepared you for college?

GMOM: “It did to a certain extent because the big issue in college there was no one to tell you to do your work, the professor would give us a syllabus with all of our work and due dates but wouldn’t remind us when it was due.”

Shaelin: 8. After finishing college was it challenging to find a job?

GMOM: “Originally it was, I had a couple side jobs, first real job was at temple university. It was kind of hard, then chop and I worked there every since.”

Shaelin: 9. Did one of your jobs eventually lead you into a career?

GMOM: “I got my third job at temple for a year after I graduated, I then found a job at chop and worked there every since for 28 years which was in the field that I studied in college.”

Shaelin: 10. Was it hard adapting into the real world?

GMOM: “No, it was just hard finding a job in my profession.”