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Donna Meador Cotton

Name: Donna Meador Cotton

Date: August 2, 2018

Circumstance: Phone Call. Ms. Meador was at her home in Louisiana. I called from Silver Spring, MD.

Details: The first thing Donna Meador Cotton told me in our pre-interview correspondence was that her father was “el jefe”—the boss—in the camp she grew up in. We talked about adolescent life in the camps. I am very grateful for her time and candor in speaking to me.

Recording: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1lbjqszDfW5rTK7LnLpfobxp5gdrfflLC/view?usp=sharing

Donna Meador Cotton (DM): I was born in Maracaibo in 1955. My parents waited until I was out of high school until my dad retired and that was 1972. When you grow up there, it’s just home. It was great. I thought we had really good teachers. I always did pretty well in school; I applied myself. Most of us went away to boarding school after we graduated from eighth grade. I thought that Creole paid part of the tuition, but I’m not 100% sure about that. Being kids down there, we didn’t think too much further than what we were going to do that night. But as an adult, I can look back and see how some American influences might have developed in a negative way. If you’re asking about the current government, how American influence has affected that? Is that what you’re asking?

Trent Kannegieter (TK): Most of my work is before the Chavez era. My particular research starts in 1937 so I’m more interested in generally the environment, especially the camp, that you grew up in.

DM: Ok. The camp was great. Especially that country club that they put together; it was really really nice. I wish I could scan more pictures in; my dad had a whole lot of slides. When we were young, we had these little mopeds, Honda P50s; you were just free to go anywhere in the camp. It seemed real big when you were a child, but when I look back, it was really small. In the teenage years, you start driving and you get out of the camp and get to places where you can get in trouble. I think there were times when we could have got ourselves in a bad situation, but it always seemed to turn out. It was the 1970s. When we would go back for the summers as teenagers and we could go anywhere we wanted, I can see how it might have caused resentment, looking back as an adult. That’s really too bad. I’m sure today they’d give anything to have that back.