Claude Ward and Harvey Michael Interview 1

Special Collections and Archives, Georgia State University Library
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GEORGE STONEY: -- pan off of this and over to us. And walk in.

JUDITH HELFAND: OK.

HARVEY MICHAEL: No, see, you don't want me in that?

STONEY: Yes, I would like to -- the all three of us.

MICHAEL: Oh, I just come along sort of to help (inaudible)

STONEY: No, that's right, and we'll all be miked from here. So when you talk, you have to raise your voice a little bit as I will. K, so let me know when you're ready, Judy.

HELFAND: OK, I'm -- I'm -- OK. You know what I'm going to do? I'm going to put (break in audio).

STONEY: Claude, tell me what happened out here on the railroad tracks.

CLAUDE WARD: During the strike, you mean?

STONEY: Yeah.

WARD: Well, see, the agent, they told him, this fellow that, certain fellow, you know, that tried to stop them at the barnyard, if you come out here and tell the 1:00switchman that they’s on strike, said he wouldn’t have throwed the switch where they could’ve backed in. But a lot of them hadn’t thrown the switch and backed in here, and the engineer hooked onto the boxcar that had the yarn in it. Then this fellow stepped up and told him, he said "Don’t move that boxcar, we’re on strike." And the engineer told him, said if (inaudible) for them to throw the switch, I’d be glad to cooperate. But we have to pull it out now. He didn’t like it very much. He had (inaudible) [Baumgardner?]. He just walked on into the mill anyway.

STONEY: Now, what were the strikers trying to do?

WARD: Trying to get the -- I think trying to get a little bit more money. See, when I went to work, I went to work for $13.75 a week, 55 hours. Then the wages went up and made $15 and -- only $15.40, I believe it was, for 60 hours. And 2:00uh, when it got to the super, he had to go in the plant to keep the paperwork up. (inaudible) quicker than the way it did. And uh, they went on in.

STONEY: Well now, what were they trying to do to keep this car out?

WARD: To keep pulling the car?

STONEY: Uh-huh.

WARD: They just told the engineer, said not to pull it out, and the engineer told them, said, I have to pull it out, he said. We hooked onto it now. Said, if you’d told me before I hooked onto it, and been down to the switch track and told them, he said, I would have been glad to cooperate. But he pulled it out just the same. That’s why they didn’t do anything about it.

STONEY: Now, what were they try -- the strikers trying to do there to -- why did they want the car not to come in?

WARD: See when you're on a strike that way and all, they keep you, the 3:00companies, from shipping the stuff, or doing the business. He, this fellow, he thought he knew more than anybody else about it. And I told him, I said, I told him (inaudible). I told him, I said (inaudible), I said, You can’t stop the super from going in. I said that if you (whispers) fuck around, till they threw that switch, you can’t stop them pulling the cars out. But he doesn’t want anybody else (inaudible). He thought he did.

STONEY: How long after the strike started did this happen?

WARD: I think about a week, actually, that actually happened. I was out on the strike with them. After I found out there couldn’t be nothing done about it, that’s when I went back to my job and went to work.

STONEY: Why did you go on strike?

WARD: We were trying to get more money, and trying to get a better situation 4:00here in the village and everything. Of course we went back to work the same [thing?].

STONEY: Now, Belmont was a big union center at that time.

WARD: Oh yeah, uh-huh, yeah.

STONEY: They had all kinds of big meetings. Did you ever go to any of those meetings?

WARD: I think I went to one of them. (inaudible) All they done is talk about what they’re going to do, you know, and just like all the big companies, they’re going to do so-and-so but they never get around to doing it. One of these mills in East Belmont, east part of town, that’s where the -- that’s National Guard, that’s where they (inaudible) that boy. Of course he was throwing rocks, I think at 'em (inaudible). I found out there’s a lot of people knew a whole lot more than I did.

STONEY: When the National Guard were here, why did they bring them in?

5:00

WARD: To keep down the trouble. Some of the union workers, they caused a lot of trouble, and the hands was too, you know. Just like they are in just about anything, you know, and it goes out like that to do anything, they want to be the know-it-alls and everything. They want to stop everything, want everything to go their way. Found out later that you can’t get it that way.

STONEY: Did you think that the union was -- made a mistake to --

WARD: They demanded just a little bit too much, yes sir, they did. I think Mr. Stowe that owned the Eagle down here, I think he was just about one of the lowest ones of them, you know. He was [an elderly man?]. I worked for him from 1926 till he turned over the business then to his sons, and I worked for them, 6:00and for him too, from 1926 to 1971. And I had to retire on account of bleeding ulcers.

HELFAND: Excuse me, George. [break in audio]

WARD: -- let them help me retire early. They were nice, they still nice (inaudible). Ms. [Dixon?] and old Mr. -- what is that man that works at the funeral home? I can’t think of his name (inaudible) live right across from [me?]. She told Betty that they were still keeping my life insurance at the mill, insurance.

STONEY: Did they give you a pension?

WARD: No, they didn’t give me nothing, only just give me time to get out of the plant (laughter).

STONEY: Now, when did you join the union?

WARD: I don’t know exactly what year it was I joined it, but I was about, I 7:00was about middle ways (inaudible) a lot of them had joined it, then he got asked to join it (inaudible) tried to be a little bit more than what I was too. And I went ahead and joined the union. They put me in this, I guess you’d call it the overseer of the union (inaudible) mill there, and then I told him I didn’t want it. And uh, (inaudible) was looking after it then.

STONEY: Who was the local organizer?

WARD: I don’t know, even know that. It was -- I believe it was a CIO union, though.

STONEY: No, the CIO came a good bit later.

WARD: Oh, it did? I didn’t know that.

STONEY: CIO came in ’37. This was, we’re talking about ’34.

WARD: I forgot who -- what they called that union.

8:00

MICHAEL: Well, some of them were communist. If you recall, what was his name, Uncle Claude? Red Beals, I think, organized the people up in Gastonia, the Firestone. And he had been trained, of course, by the communists in Russia, and this was during that time that, I think they called them the Wobblies, were organizing all over the country. So if the communists had got a good foothold here, it might have changed our history considerably. But this is the Bible Belt, and on one occasion they tore up a Bible, you know, the opiate of the people, and said, "This is what’s holding you back." I think that’s what caused a lot of people to drop out of supporting the unions at that time, like saw them as being kind of a godless, totalitarian people, which is, of course, what they turned out to be as international communism gained a foothold around 9:00the world.

STONEY: So that was the picture of unions you grew up with.

MICHAEL: Yes. And my father hated unions. He was working here at the same time Claude was working here, and before. He said the reason he didn’t like unions was that he didn’t want anybody talking for him. He said, "If I’ve got something to say, I’ll say it." We had a union election when I first went to work in the mill, I was 16. He didn’t give me a choice, he told me how to vote: against the union. Strong independent feeling, I think, pervades a lot of people in this part of the country, and they just don’t want someone else doing their arguing for them or their protesting for them.

STONEY: Well now, you had told me about your father having an argument with the manufacturers. Could you tell that story again? (break in audio)

10:00

MICHAEL: -- the mill village.

HELFAND: Could you s-- would you mind starting that story one more time? Talk to George.

MICHAEL: All right. On one occasion my father reported the owners of the mill because septic tanks were running over. Well, the state health department would come out and inspect, and of course they would send him a notice well in advance, and it gave him an opportunity to go out and cover up the evidence of leaky septic tanks. So my father said they ought to come unannounced, which they did, and it created a problem for the company, because they had then to make a substantial correction in the problem rather than just covering it up with sand. And on another occasion he cited the company, or had them cited for unfair labor practices, they were not -- or payroll, I suppose. They weren’t making the proper pay to the people for overtime. So naturally he wasn’t well 11:00liked after that, and slowly he was worked out of his job. He wasn’t fired, but he was made uncomfortable on his job enough that he left and went to another mill.

STONEY: How did they make him uncomfortable?

MICHAEL: Well, for one thing, he was put outside to work with the local groundskeeper, the mill groundskeeper, a black man, which my father accepted with good grace, because the black man just happened to be a good friend, they got along fine. But there were a number of other things, too. He didn’t want to stay where he wasn’t wanted or liked, and so he moved down the road. Which is the story of the mill villager, is to move down the road to another job.

STONEY: Rather than having a union.

MICHAEL: Right. Don’t take anything from the company. If you don’t like what’s going on, go to another company. My dad said that one time during the 12:00month of February, that his family, with his grand-- my grandfather, all of them moved about six times during that one month because of disagreements with the company. Every time they’d move, they would load their chickens on the back of the wagon and take their cow and tie it to the tailgate and move to another village, and he said they’d tie the chickens’ legs together. And this is before I ever heard of Pavlov. My father said when they came home from the mill, the chickens got on the back of the wagon and crossed their legs. They moved quite often.

STONEY: Now, Claude, you didn’t move. You were there for all your life.

WARD: (inaudible) I stayed here in Belmont longer than --. See, my dad, he was type of fellow who thought that the grass was greener in another man’s pasture. He moved one time, I think, twice in one month. But as he got [past?] work, was working over here between Gastonia and Kings Mountain, there was a 13:00little mill over there called Crowders Mountain, they’ve got, I think -- they got a national park over there now at the mountain.

MICHAEL: I believe there’s a state park at Crowders Mountain.

WARD: State park. His dad was a fixer out here at the Eagle, and Mr. John Lang, he was another fixer. And I worked in the spinning department that time, over there. But they wanted me to move to over here, where my -- his mother could help take care of Papa and Mama, I actually got extra work. They persuaded (inaudible) to move. Just like I tell a lot of Belmont, still, the gorgeous part of the world to be.

STONEY: Now, you were talking about what happened to the older people when they speeded up the machinery. Could you tell me that again?

WARD: Well they doubled up on them. They put another machine on them. They had 14:00to, they had to run it or leave out one. And some of them left, they wouldn’t take it, but I toughed it out and I stayed right with them. I done some of the hardest jobs out there that there was to do. They did have a -- out this -- where this big cement warehouse is, they did have a wooden warehouse, and it had a plank -- they had a [hollow?] machine in the warehouse that cut the hard waste, you know, helping mix it in with cotton. I walked that plank more than one time, you keep -- they sucked it in, you know, in a big pipe. I walked that plank many a time, brushing the lint and stuff off of this, you know. Nights it would leak out. I worked a lot up in the top of the mill, they had two 2x6’s 15:00that was put together on each side of what they called a skylight. And then another one of the section hands would have to get up and walk them planks and brush the lint out of the (inaudible). The last time I was up there, I like to fell out and I got swimmy-headed, and the (inaudible) overseer, he come out and tell me that on the next night and told us, "Well, hit the skylights, Claude," and I decided then it’d be the best for me to stay out of the skylights. I told him, I said, "Nope," I said, "I’m not going up there." I said, "I’ll have to get my job up, I said, before I go up." There’s another one of the section hands standing there, he said, "You go ahead, brush down overhead." Had flaps, you know, you had your flap down overhead, "brush down overhead and I’ll go up." So he took my place to keep me from being fired. (inaudible) Fred, uh, who was -- [Hollyfield?], Fred Hollyfield.

16:00

STONEY: Well now, when they speeded up the machinery, what happened to the older workers?

WARD: Well, they stayed on till as long as they could hold out. They got to where they couldn’t keep their jobs up, they had to replace them. I know we had a section hand, after his father had left, a section hand that was bad to drink, and he’d get drunk sometimes (inaudible) at that time. He’d get drunk and he’d stay out weeks at a time. Stayed out one time seven weeks, at one time on a drunk, getting over it and everything. And all I had to do my job and his, too. But I toughed it out. They didn’t give me no more pay, though.

STONEY: You were in the village, both of you lived in the village. Did the company have anything to do with how you lived in the village?

MICHAEL: Well now, they did see to some of our needs. For example, we were provided toilet paper free.

WARD: Yeah. And scouring powder if we wanted to scour our houses out.

17:00

MICHAEL: And of course there’s a logical reason for giving us toilet paper, to keep people from using things that would really mess up the septic system.

WARD: Newspaper (inaudible). Corncobs (laughs).

MICHAEL: Also we were -- there was some subsidized rent. The rent was low. Fuel was inexpensive, we got wood and coal through the mill company. And they painted the houses. As a kid growing up here, I thought I had it made. This was heaven to me, because I didn’t even know anything about the Depression even though it was all around us. I thought I had caused it, because it started a year after I was born. This was a happy place to grow up, and for the adults, like Uncle Claude and my father, I know it must have been a real struggle. A great place to be a kid, though.

18:00

STONEY: Now, in some places people have told us that the -- if you got drunk, they would make you move, or if people got in -- had moral problems, they’d make you move. Was there anything like that in this village?

WARD: No. You could fight --

MICHAEL: We had gunfights. I witnessed a gunfight one time. It’s a lot of fun. My father was involved in several escapades with people, but ordinarily we ended up being friends later. And of course chicken stealing was a way of life here. People stole from each other, in a good-humored sort of relationship, though.

STONEY: But there was no kind of supervision of your deportment.

MICHAEL: None that I can remember. My kid brother was picked up for breaking --

HELFAND: Excuse me, can we wait till the train --

19:00

[Train passes by]

STONEY: OK, we'll just -- talking like this. Good. OK. Oh, that's great. Yeah.

WARD: (inaudible) up by the little coal chute, that’s done away with now. They knocked the bottom out of that with them doors, you know.

STONEY: It’s a great train. Southern, Southern, Southern.

MICHAEL: Every now and then you’ll see Pennsylvania or something on the car. Southern Railway hauling Pennsylvania and West Virginia coal.

WARD: It’s a long one. (inaudible) with over 100 cars on it.

STONEY: I didn’t count. Remember during the Depression when you could look in through and see the guys riding the rails?

WARD: Yes, I -- yeah.

20:00

MICHAEL: In fact, they would stop off here in front of our house, the hobos, my mother would always feed them, but she’d never let them come in the house. They sat on the steps, and they always used the same -- the hobos always used the same dish to eat out of. That’s before anybody ever heard of AIDS or --

STONEY: We’re going to have to get that story again.

WARD: I know from living in Kings Mountain, they had an [old policeman?] in Kings Mountain. There was another fellow that come in and got a job (inaudible). There was two boys (inaudible) they hobo'd, (inaudible) through Kings Mountain, just to see if they could, you know. Come to find out, one of them’s daddy was a doctor, and the other’s daddy was a lawyer. That was when the hobos (inaudible). 21:00And now they’re (inaudible) on the side --

[Break in audio] WARD: -- but I didn’t know where to stop them. He said, "This’ll stop them," bam, and he shot one of them in the leg. See, Kings Mountain ended up putting him a special car and sending him back to Spartanburg, paid his hospital bill, paid his doctor bill, and his daddy, I believe, he was the lawyer’s daddy. I believe he did not sue the town of Kings Mountain for it, but they I think they got it settled.

STONEY: You want to tell that story about your mother and the hobos?

MICHAEL: Well, the railroad was an important part of life, and that was one of them because of the nearness. The hobos would get off when the cars would stop, you know, to unload coal or pick up cotton or something, and they would come over to the house -- we were right on the railroad tracks, so maybe 50 yards from the railroad tracks -- and ask, "Can I work in your garden? Clean your yard? Split some wood? For a meal." And my mother would never turn them away. 22:00But she would always feed them on the bottom step, and we had about 15 steps up the back of the house. They’d sit on the bottom step, and she made them drink out of a pint jar, and she had a plate that the hobos ate out of and silver that the hobos ate with. We didn’t touch it. She was just very careful. Because you’d heard of germs, she knew about germs. But that was an important part of our recollection. And also, hearing the workers on the railroad early in the morning, driving rails. They used to do it all by -- driving spikes, you know, used to do it all by hand. It was an interesting time to be around the railroad.

STONEY: Now, those fellows driving the spikes, were they mostly black?

MICHAEL: They were black, and a lot of them were Gullah, from down in South Carolina, because I couldn’t understand them. We’d come over and we couldn't understand anything they said. They spoke a strange kind of patois 23:00that was different from anything here. Even though we talked funny, they talked funnier.

STONEY: Could you tell us about your relationship with the blacks in the village?

MICHAEL: We didn’t have any blacks living in the village. We had a black lady who came and cooked for us the noon meal, also she’d cook for the people up and down the street. She’d have beans cooking in several pots, peach cobblers in several ovens. And she brought her son with her, and he and I were good friends. I took no note of the fact that he was black and I was white, we simply played together. You remember Mary [Sarratt?], don’t you --

WARD: Oh yeah.

MICHAEL: Well, that was Mary.

WARD: (inaudible)

HELFAND: Could you tell that story one more time, because the meter was a little low.

MICHAEL: OK. You were asking about our relationship with the blacks. Well, there were no blacks living on the village, but we had black domestic help, poor 24:00as we were. Of course the blacks, being on the bottom of the social ladder, at that time there was no place they could work except -- they couldn’t work in the mill, by the way. They couldn’t come past a bale-breaker, I don’t believe. But the black ladies could come and work in the homes, and Miss [Sarratt?] would come and cook for us and the other people up and down the street, cooking beans, making beans in pots all up and down the street, and peach cobblers in pots all up and down the street. Her son would come with her, and we would play together. But I did notice the system, because when we ate, Mary would always sit in a corner of our kitchen and eat, and her son had to sit on the back steps and eat. I was aware of that, and I simply accepted it, I didn’t know that’s just the way it was done. Even though I realize now what an injustice it was.

25:00

STONEY: Were you conscious of that at --

WARD: Oh yes, I was. In 1926 to 19-- (inaudible)

STONEY: Were there any black fellows in the mill when you worked?

WARD: Oh yeah, they had, I think it was four. Then they had these big, I guess, mops, bristle mops, they kept the floor scoured. And I know when we moved out there, we were next to his dad’s house, my sister’s house, they called it the unlucky house. Don’t know whether you ever heard tell of any [chinches?] or not, but we moved there, I take (inaudible) and my hammer and went all around my baseboards in my rooms, all of the four rooms, and tore the molding up. All the molding, the baseboards, was just about that far from the wall, and I told one of the colored fellows one day, I said, "There’s a certain kind of 26:00disinfectant (inaudible), see how the floor (inaudible). I want you to get me a jar of that disinfectant," I said, "some of your scouring powders." He said, "What you gonna do?" And I told him I’m going to scour that house. So he brought it up. I told him, when you start home let’s get one of the mops and take it with you, a big stiff bristle. And my mother, she had one of these old-timey wash pots. I take the scouring powder and put them down in that wash pot and filled it full of water and built a fire and the water’s just a rolling. And I went all around them baseboards with (inaudible) bucket, and poured the water down in behind them. The chinch bugs and things that washed out from under the bottom of that thing, you could’ve held it in your hand like that in all the rooms. His daddy, he married my sister, he told his wife one day, he said, "I do that just about every Saturday. I got rid of them." He 27:00told his wife one day, he said, "Claude and Mrs. Ward must be two of the nastiest people," said uh, "in Belmont." And boy, my sister, she flew right in his face. Told him, said, "(inaudible) Mama and Claude’s not nasty." He said, "Well, they must be. Claude carries everything out of the house. Said he scours it every Saturday." I got rid of 'em. That's about the only way you can get rid of them.

STONEY: Well, I’m fighting the same battle with roaches in New York City, if you want to know that.

WARD: Oh, well just get you some scour--

STONEY: Now, when you were talking about the black servant coming in to your house, what was your mother doing?

MICHAEL: She was working in the mill. She worked in the spinning room, and they’d go to work at what time, 6:00, and get home at 2:00.

WARD: Get home at 12:00 for lunch.

MICHAEL: Well, yeah. And uh --

HELFAND: George, that car is really bad.

STONEY: OK. So could you tell me about your mother and the black servant?

28:00

MICHAEL: My mother worked in the mill on the first shift, and of course she didn’t have an opportunity to fix our lunch, and Mary would come in and have lunch ready. And they’d come home at 12:00, and we would have our, we called it dinner. That was our main meal. Then she’d come back to work and work until 2:00. Then on some occasions they’d work right through dinner, as we called it, and wouldn’t come home until 2:00, and that’s when we ate. So that’s the way we utilized inexpensive labor. And of course Mary was glad to get the work, and we were glad to have the help.

STONEY: Do you have any idea what she got paid?

MICHAEL: I have no idea at all. Do you know, Uncle Claude, how much they may have paid Mary?

WARD: No. No, I don’t.

MICHAEL: But I remember she was a colorful, interesting character, because she 29:00could tell us stories that kept us entertained, and she carried an ice pick with her and told us that in case somebody attacked her, she had the ice pick. But her son and I were playmates, we had a lot of fun together.

STONEY: Claude, could you tell us that story about the -- what happened when the strikers tried to stop the train?

WARD: Well, they tried to -- you know, at first they tried to stop Mr. Baumgardner, the super, from going in the plant, but he went on in anyhow, the fellow with the broom. They were going to stop him, but he -- and there wasn’t no trouble. I actually found out that he couldn’t stop him Mr. Baumgardner (inaudible) in the plant and he didn’t do nothing. At that time I told them, I says, "You fellows wait, I said, till they hook onto that boxcar, I 30:00said, they’re going to pull it out." Ah, so we’re going to strike, so the railroad company said back us up. Well, they backed in there, they told the engineer that they was on a strike, and he told them "Well, I'd have been glad to cooperate with you." Said if he’d been out to the switch track, said told the switchman that they was on a strike, said when you come in. But now we have to pull it. Well, it did belong to the railroad company till they got it to where they're going if they had stopped it at the railroad company would have got in trouble. He pulled it out. There wasn’t no trouble, though. There wasn’t no [licks passed?].

STONEY: Tell us what happened when the National Guard came in.

WARD: Well now, the National Guard didn’t come here. They come to one of the mills at East Belmont, a little part of Belmont. (inaudible) the strikers, some 31:00of them, were throwing rocks, just like they do at all the demonstrations, and one of the National Guard just up and shot him, killed him, right there on the street. They was about to get the National Guard (inaudible) for such as that. I was in the National Guard -- I was in the -- they didn’t call it the National Guard, I forgot what they --

MICHAEL: The militia.

WARD: No, they called it something else, when they assigned me to the 45th Division. It was an original National Guard outfit. After Pearl Harbor was bombed then, they mobilized it into combat. So that’s when we -- I used to -- that’s when they told me, You’re gonna do it or else. So I done (inaudible).

[Train crossing bells]

STONEY: Do you think this is going to be another train here?

32:00

MICHAEL: I believe so.

STONEY: Oh, good. That’s good. I’ll get it then.

WARD: Yeah.

STONEY: Claude, why did you join the union?

WARD: The union?

STONEY: Yeah.

WARD: I thought that would be the very thing to get my wages raised and get better facilities here at the mill, but I found out later that it wasn’t.

[Train passes]

MICHAEL: You remember when they used to be on steam engines?

STONEY: Oh yeah.

33:00

WARD: In Oklahoma, when the [firemen?] were having trouble with the hay, the hay was short, he brought a load of hay from the West out here on a flatbed truck.

[Break in audio]

MICHAEL: -- bales of cotton, warehouses right there beside the track. Did you ever know a Bobbie Mason at New York University? She did her doctorate, I think, there.

STONEY: I didn’t know her, no.

MICHAEL: She’s a writer, a well-known writer.

STONEY: Claude, could you show me where the mill is?

WARD: The mill is right up here.

STONEY: Right up here.

WARD: Yeah.

STONEY: Oh, we can see it, yeah.

WARD: Yeah, you can see. That’s the warehouse there, and the mill’s all on that side.

STONEY: And they were bringing that car in on this spur?

WARD: The car was parked up -- it was loaded with the yarn (inaudible) they got 34:00to bring it down here to hook it onto the other cars.

STONEY: Well, when the strike began --

HELFAND: George, could you ask that question when the truck goes by?

STONEY: OK. There’ll be another one coming in just a moment.

MICHAEL: There’s one of your big textile --

STONEY: Boy, that’s a big one, yeah.

HELFAND: And George, if you could move just a tad that way.

STONEY: Claude, when the strike began, do you remember that day, what happened?

WARD: No, I don’t remember the exact day, but that was, I believe they started that on the weekend, and we failed to go back to work then on Monday after that.

35:00

STONEY: Now, there was a big Labor Day parade in Gastonia, and a lot of people from Belmont went over. Were you in that parade?

WARD: No, I wasn’t in it, no sir. It was after the parade, I believe, that they come back down to these little one-horse towns. We all call it the ghost town now, Belmont, a lot of the stores, many of the stores closed up and all the mills closed down.

STONEY: And then that’s when they decided to close down the mills.

WARD: Yeah. No they -- it ain’t been too long since -- about a couple of years, ain’t it?

MICHAEL: I think so.

WARD: That the mills started closing down.

STONEY: But I mean at the time of the strike.

WARD: Oh no, they didn’t close down no mills at that time. They just -- most of the mills, they just kept right on running. Most of the help went in, and the help that didn’t go in, they put somebody else on their jobs.

36:00

STONEY: Did any of your friends who were in the union get blacklisted?

WARD: Uh-uh, no. They (inaudible) they come back, they went back to work. (inaudible) put him back on the job.

STONEY: We have lists of a lot of people who were in the union who then got blacklisted, and there were protests in the archives in Washington, that’s why I was asking that.

WARD: They did that at a lot of the mills, but this mill here that I worked at, they was awfully nice to you. They understood about it. Of course we didn’t win out, that type of thing. I guess that’s the reason why they were so nice to me.

STONEY: Why do you think you lost?

WARD: Well, I tell you, there’s a lot of them wanted to jump it too quick, you 37:00know. If they’d have held out, we might have -- they would, of course they would’ve put somebody else on the job. That was their privilege and we couldn’t have done nothing about it if there was a union. I can’t think of the name of that -- it wasn’t the CIO, it was -- I forgot now the name of it. It, I think it mostly, the union just started off as just a small union, but.

STONEY: You were saying last night something about the people being kind of foolish if they thought they could lick the big man.

WARD: Uh-huh, yeah. They thought they could, but they found out they couldn’t. You know, that always talks. And of course, they were nice about it after, after so long a time, they begin to -- actually those minimum wages come in, they got stepped up to the minimum wage scale.

STONEY: Do you think that -- oh, I’d better wait for the plane. I’ll tell 38:00you, Judy, I think we’d better break now, and we’ll do some back at the house when you feel like it.

HELFAND: OK. You don’t want to walk a little bit --

STONEY: No, I’d better not.

WARD: Might be some snakes out there, too, sister. And ain’t but one good kind of snake, and that’s a dead one.

STONEY: Come on (inaudible). I know, we had -- black snakes? You know, my gosh, they get rats, they get --

MICHAEL: That’s what I told him. We have one that lives in our attic, and I find his droppings up there sometimes, and it’s full of mice bones.

[Break in audio]

STONEY: -- that’s that county that’s way up in the Appalachian, you know, part of the Maryland, way up in the hills, and the star of the film was 103 years old.

WARD: Oh my goodness.

STONEY: And he was still walking to work. Old Man Naylor.

MICHAEL: Naylor?

STONEY: Naylor. He’s a very smart businessman, and he had turned over his hardware business to his sons, and they turned it over to the grandsons, you know, all this tax --

WARD: Funny-looking stone, ain’t it?

39:00

MICHAEL: That’s a piece of glass.

WARD: Is it?

STONEY: He turned over -- but he says, I still got some mortgages out.

WARD: That’s something about turning it over to his son. The man that I first went to work for, he turned the business over to his son. He brought his sons in down there, and one of them in particular, he lived down on that section joining us. Alfred (inaudible) Alfred Stowe. I told him, he asked me one day, he said, Claude, said, have you seen any snakes up there, since you built up there. The week or so before I’d killed a big copperhead, and I guess that, well that copperhead, it was every bit of that long, it was that big. In fact, I didn’t know what kind it was. And I told him about that. I never had heard him say a vulgar word, much less a cuss word I said, you know (inaudible) kill 40:00them damn things. I looked right straight at him, I said, "Alfred!" I said, "as long as I work with you," I said, "around here, never hear you say a vulgar word, much less a cuss word. He said, "By God, (inaudible) dead or alive." I'm kind of like he was, I'm kind of scared of them, dead or alive. They have invited me to come up to their office there in the bank building, a couple of the boys did, to sit and talk with them a while. I just never -- I went up there one time, sat and talked with Alfred and Ben, his brother, and James. It’s very pleasant. They’re awful nice to me. They meet me, they'll stop and talk with me. Just like if I was a big shot too. (inaudible) just to fill in between the sandwiches.

41:00

MICHAEL: You’ve probably heard a lot of good snake stories. My father said when they were building this mill, there came this black -- (break in audio)

WARD: Watch it, lady, there’s a cable behind you.

MICHAEL: -- said this old black lady showed up and just took over, and she told him to go out in the woods and get certain herbs and leaves and so forth, and had somebody put a pot of water on the boil, and she made a poultice and put it on his leg and said -- after a while he said it turned the same color as his leg was, green and blue and yellow. He said in a half an hour, he said, he was up asking for a biscuit.

WARD: Watch it honey, there's a t--

STONEY: We’d better walk around. You shouldn’t try to get over that.

42:00

[Road noises, navigational conversation]

MICHAEL: I understand you’d like to maybe to go talk to my mother-in-law. She’s 84 years old, and she was involved in the strike, and she tells an interesting story about that.

STONEY: We’ll go over there when you’re ready. We’ll take Claude home and then we’ll go over there. But we’ll also check and see about lunch.

MICHAEL: Yeah, I think Betty’s going to have lunch maybe about noon, I’m not sure. Whenever it’s convenient.

STONEY: OK, we may want to do right after that, then.

MICHAEL: And it’s only a 10-minute drive.

STONEY: Let’s do after lunch, then.

MICHAEL: After lunch, that’ll be fine.

STONEY: OK.

HELFAND: Bye-bye.

STONEY: Thank you very much.

MICHAEL: Enjoyed it. Well, I’ll see you back over at Betty’s.

STONEY: OK, right.

WARD: You gonna go by the house? Yeah, you can have lunch with us.

MICHAEL: -- stay for lunch.

[Crosstalk]

WARD: (inaudible) you better stay for lunch.

MICHAEL: I’ll sit in the corner of the kitchen.

STONEY: OK, good. OK.

[Break in audio]

43:00

MICHAEL: -- this is a story about my grandfather, an interview, and of course Mr. Abner was his son’s father-in-law. And they interviewed my grandfather, and this is the story of that interview. So Betty made a copy for you to keep.

STONEY: Thank you.

MICHAEL: And this is a cover letter from my aunt Lucille that explains something about the project itself. It's -- I’ve read it, and I’d say it’s a bit romanticized. In other words, he didn’t talk the way he’s quoted as speaking in there, but that was the style back in those days. They weren’t after realism, but I’m sure it’s accurate.

STONEY: Well, it’s interesting that a great friend of mine, Leonard Rapport, who’s just retired recently as the assistant archivist for the United States, wrote an article about these -- this Federal Writers' Project for the Journal of Oral History, and made everybody mad, because he had worked for the project and 44:00he showed the difference between what it might be if you had tape-recorded it as against what the writers put down.

MICHAEL: Yeah, because it’s filtered through that romantic imagination.

STONEY: And he showed what several writers, and who their favorite writers were and how they were copying their styles. Well, I can tell you, the young professors didn’t want to hear this, because they were taking all this stuff as gospel.

MICHAEL: I ran into the same thing, where I would have an assignment where students would do an interview, and the way they would quote someone, they spoke precisely, they didn’t use any contractions, and they used words that wouldn’t even be in their vocabulary. And I said, No, that’s not the way it is. So you’re right, you compare a tape and the representation of it, you can see quite a contrast. But I’m sure that that’s what happened in this case, 45:00when Mr. Abner interviewed my grandfather. I remember my grandfather very well, and he didn’t talk that way.

STONEY: But do you see, this is particularly important when they take this evidence and then build up ideas of education and concept and so forth on it, particularly, for example, a lot of the people who were illiterate.

MICHAEL: This is my grandfather, my great-grandfather --

[Break in audio]

HELFAND: Could you say that again?

STONEY: This is your great-grand--

MICHAEL: Great-great-grandfather, and this is my great-grandfather, and this is my grandfather. This is something that my aunt put together, copies from Bible records and so forth, of the family. Of course this is of general genealogical 46:00interest to us. I found in his trunk some things that I thought were interesting, these old documents. My grandfather must’ve been a very careful man keeping records, because he kept all his records. I saw this impressive note and mortgage, and I thought that must really be something, and so I went through it, and I thought, did he buy a piece of property? What is it? It’s a cow. One cow.

STONEY: And he mortgaged the cow?

MICHAEL: Right. Purchased by me. Well, he had a mortgage on the cow from Mr. [Kuhn?], and this mortgage is given because of the balance and the purchase price on the same. The color of the cow is dark red.

STONEY: And is there any price mentioned?

MICHAEL: Sixty-five dollars for the cow. That was in uh -- March 13, 1919. Was that a good price for a cow, you think, Betty? And that might’ve been the cow, I don’t know, because that was in the same box.

47:00

STONEY: Oh, it must’ve been, sure. That’s fascinating.

MICHAEL: But he had kept so many things, and I got this box a couple of years ago, an uncle had kept it -- had it in safekeeping. He kept records -- this is the way mill people financed everything, they all had a little book, and when you bought something on time, of course it’s the common account keeping method.

STONEY: Now, this buying on time -- Edgar -- do you know who Mr. Fairley was?

MICHAEL: Fairley? No, I think that was in Danville, Virginia. He bought a pistol one time, and paid five dollars a week. It was $24.50 for a pistol. Bought it all on time. Just a --

STONEY: Do we know which year this is?

48:00

MICHAEL: It looks like -- no, I don’t see --

STONEY: You see they have the month, but it doesn’t have the year here.

MICHAEL: No, I don’t see a year on it anywhere. But some of these documents went back into the 19th century. This is a receipt for monzonite, which he mentions that they mined in South Carolina. People come down the mountains did all sorts of things. Of course this is my great-grandfather. And this was 1906 that he sold 248 pounds of monzonite that was being shipped to Germany for some reason. It may have had some value for the war industry. I had a time envelope somewhere. I was going to show it to you, how they got paid. I don’t remember now what I did with it. I thought it was in with all this stuff. I 49:00must’ve put that --

STONEY: Judy? We have to get a Xerox of this for -- I’ve never seen this. This is amazing.

MICHAEL: On the other side of it, it tells where it came from. Let’s see, that must be in here somewhere in this envelope.

STONEY: Nineteen twenty-three.

MICHAEL: Journal of poetry and literature. I don’t know where that -- oh here, there is a time, where they got their money. And I have a feeling from that amount of money that it must’ve been from my father, my uncle, and my grandfather. Perhaps all of them were paid in the same envelope.

STONEY: Twelve dollars and 40 cents.

MICHAEL: Well, apparently the total must’ve been --

STONEY: The total is $20. Oh, here --

MICHAEL: Oh, that might be a year’s total, I don’t know.

50:00

STONEY: No. You see, that’s $4.20 for rent, $2 for wood --

MICHAEL: Or coal. And $2, I don’t know what that inscription is there, but apparently they had $12.40 leftover out of $20.60, and they misspelled my father's name -- grandfather's name. So I don’t know what mill it is, but --

STONEY: Yeah, so you see this is -- so they -- from the $20.60, they withdrew this.

MICHAEL: And of course they have a little message on the back: Careful workmen always make good and are seldom injured.

STONEY: That’s interesting.

MICHAEL: So it’s a little admonition. Well, if you’d like to take that and get a copy -- of course that’s a Xerox copy, and my aunt has the original. As far as I’m concerned, you can just keep that copy and I’ll just get another from her someday.

51:00

STONEY: Judy, I think before your arm wears out, we’re good. Let’s go down to the village first, if you don’t mind, while we’ve got this good weather. Can you do that?

[MRS. WARD?]: I was telling Daddy while y’all were not here about, in my mother’s handbag, you know, when I was getting her things up and putting them -- because I wanted to keep the handbag, so I was getting it ready to go in to see her to open it up, and there was a pay envelope of my dad’s, back in heavens knows when, $7. Seven dollars. You know, we used to get paid in envelopes. Do you remember that?

MICHAEL: Oh yeah, yeah.

MRS. WARD: Not checks, now, but envelopes.

MICHAEL: Well, you know, Cramerton paid in silver dollars.

MRS. WARD: Yeah, mm-hmm.

MICHAEL: And let’s see, now, Aunt Pearl was your mother, right?

MRS. WARD: No,no, no. Aunt Mary.

MICHAEL: Aunt Mary was your mother. Aunt Pearl was your aunt.

MRS. WARD: Well listen, now, they were sisters, and their husbands were brothers. So we were closely connected.

52:00

MICHAEL: But Aunt Pearl’s the one that delivered all of us.

MRS. WARD: Right, right. She delivered the babies.

MICHAEL: Right.

MRS. WARD: But her children -- her children and our children were double first cousins.

MICHAEL: Oh. And who were Aunt Pearl’s children?

MRS. WARD: [Nell?], Lee and Lucille.

MICHAEL: I think Mama told me one time that I got my middle name from Lee.

MRS. WARD: Well, I wouldn’t doubt that.

MICHAEL: But that’s something, you know, when Fred was born, he was a set of twins, and I think Aunt Pearl was the only person there in attendance.

MRS. WARD: She delivered them anyway.

MICHAEL: It seemed like Mama said one time that there was nothing wrong with Ned, but it was just that she didn’t have enough hands to take care of both those newborn infants, and one of them strangled.

MRS. WARD: Right, right.

MICHAEL: While she was taking care of the other one. But I remember Aunt Pearl and Dr. Presley, they were our whole medical program.

MRS. WARD: They surely did deliver the babies. And she has delivered without a 53:00doctor being there.

F1: And I’ve got on the front of my house the family doctor (inaudible)

MICHAEL: You know, they’re doing that now, they’re going back to that, the midwife, and they’re using them. And they can deliver babies, I think a lot of them --

MRS. WARD: That’s right. That’s right, the way we used to do. My mama used to have to.

HELFAND: We’ll be back. I mean, we’re going to want to talk to you. Today just got a little fouled up because of my car.

MRS. WARD: We were sorry on your account that you got (inaudible), not ours, but yours, because I know you were upset.

HELFAND: Well, I’m just fine. But I do want to come back and talk with you. We’ll see you later.

MICHAEL: OK, y’all.

STONEY: We’ll be back.

BETTY: Do you want me to call Myra and tell her not to come down for y’all to follow her to Stanley to interview --

STONEY: His mother-in-law’s house, and then we can be back -- around when was she planning to come down?

54:00

BETTY: She was going to be here about 4:30.

STONEY: Could she stay till 5:00 maybe?

BETTY: Yeah. I'll keep her.

STONEY: OK. We’ll be back then. Thank you. OK, Judy, we’d better go in two cars, should we?

HELFAND: Whatever you want.

STONEY: Come ride with us until we get to the village, and we’ll all be together. Because it’s just a hop, skip, and a jump from here.

MICHAEL: And then you can just drop me back by here. If you want to all get in the back.

HELFAND: George? Do you want to drive or should we let Mr. Michaels drive and then he can show us around a little bit?

MICHAEL: Well, if you’d like.

HELFAND: Does that make sense?

STONEY: Yeah, let him drive.

MICHAEL: Where’s the key --

(Audio ends at 00:54:41)