Schoolcraft, Michigan Phyl

Name: Phyllis Ann Campbell Matteson

Residence: Schoolcraft, Michigan

Age: 68

Profession: I just retired from forty years of driving a school bus. I still do some charter work for another company. I have driven big rigs and tankers along the way to supplement my income.

Are there any websites, twitter IDs, or other social media information you want to mention or promote? I posted an extensive file of photos from both the 1995 and the 2011 Phil Campbell Convention, here. Also, I want to mention my brother, who died in Vietnam. There’s a website dedicated to him here.

Favorite hobbies or pastimes. Why do you enjoy them?  I travel when I can, taking lots of pictures that I work with. And when I become passionate about a subject, I have been known to write ad nauseum. I journal. I wrote my brother’s biography. I lost him in Vietnam. Regarding both the photography and the writing, I guess I just hope so many things will never be forgotten. As for the travel, I’m a natural-born explorer.

When did you first hear about the town of Phil Campbell, Alabama? I was working as a receptionist at a plastics factory in 1963. I was single yet, so my name was still Phyl Campbell (I had been born when my father Phil Campbell was away because of the big war.  Maybe it was hoped I would be a boy, they never said it to me that way. But I was named for him). One day when the mail came, I became confused, because my name or my Dad’s was on the return address of a package. I knew I hadn’t sent anything to them and wondered why the world my Dad would have, but finally settled down enough to realize it was the name of the town from which the package was sent.

Were you able to attend the Phil Campbell Hoedown of June 2011? Oh, yes, but school didn’t get out in time for me to be there for the work day.

If you did go to the hoedown, what did you think of the experience? It is hard to explain how special it is to be a part of something so unique. Add to that such destruction and heartbreak as that little town experienced, along with the possibility of helping in a small way, and it turned into a life-changing event. Listening to stories from some who just barely survived stirred my being. Then to have these heroes treat us [Phil Campbells] like such royalty…well, how humbling yet exhilarating. We have such interesting characters with our name, from the world over, doing amazing things. We even have a planker. And now we have been able to help, to a small degree, a fellow Phil ["Big" Phil Campbell from La Farge, Wisconsin] who has fallen on sad times [his wife recently died of cancer, and some of the Phils and Phil Campbell residents, including "I'm with Phil" director Andrew Reed, raised money to help him pay his family's medical bills]. Some people go through life with little family. We have such a large interesting one.

You are a Phil Campbell. What do you think of that name? It has always been a source of pride for me, but now it has taken on a life of its own. How can I feel anything but awe that I carry the name?

Tell us a little about yourself, as many words as you would like. I’m on the other end of things at this age, slowing down some, but I’ve had a lot of quirky disjointed things happen to me along the way. I have to know someone well before I tell any of my odd experiences, because I’ve been called a liar by those who haven’t figured out yet that I just don’t lie. I guess I’m the type personality that attracts strange situations. I raised five kids, three of my own and two nephews for much of that time. I never really had much of a plan, just bumped along doing the best I could with what came along. I’ve had more than my share of wrenching heartbreak, burying loved ones who should not have gone so young. Those losses have in a very real way defined my life. I hope to stick around for another few decades, but am more and more conscious of what my kids would have to wade through if anything happened, so it’s time to muck out. That should take 20 years or so.  Mostly, it’s been a fine ride.

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