Claude Ward, Betty Hinson, Bessie London, and Bill Norris Interviews

Special Collections and Archives, Georgia State University Library
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0:00

 STONEY: OK, we have here a letter which was written by somebody named Bruce Graham in 1934. Did you know Bruce?

WARD: Oh yeah, first colored man that worked at Eagle. Yeah, he’s a good friend of mine.

STONEY: Tell us about him.

WARD: Well, Bruce is a fine fellow. He -- first one to work down here, went to work, trekking in, trotting in, and [Belgian?] and opening it up in, what do you call, a picker room, and uh -- and later, I believe Bruce got to -- that’s -- that’s all that Bruce did, (inaudible) Bruce had, was trucking and cutting and opening it up, and then, uh -- he did that till he retired, I believe.

STONEY: Well he was telling us the other day about, he’s living on a farm.

WARD: Mm-hmm.

STONEY: He was talking about bringing produce in. Do you remember that?

1:00

WARD: Yeah, yeah. Bruce -- yeah. Bruce used to bring, uh -- uh, tomatoes, and -- and, uh -- I don’t -- don’t think he ever brought any watermelons in. But he brought in tomatoes and I believe brought in -- brought in eggs every once in awhile, fresh eggs. But I didn’t know very much about Bruce till he went to work in the plant, down in, uh -- he was a fine -- he was a fine fellow. Last account I had him, he was -- he was still the same old Bruce he was when he worked.

STONEY: Betty, did you know Bruce?

HINSON: Yes, I did.

STONEY: How did you happen to know him?

HINSON: Well all the children would play in the road, and around, you know, and we would see the men that worked at the mill. Some of them worked in maintenance, and we knew them by their first names, you know, and we would always wave at them and -- you know, say “hey.” But I mean, that’s how I knew Bruce and his brother, and some other. Or cousins, I think it was.

2:00

STONEY: Are they going to be coming to the museu-- uh, to the, uh --

HINSON: Reunion?

STONEY: Reunion.

HINSON: Yeah, uh well, if -- I think Bruce said he -- he would come if he could get away. He doesn’t drive anymore, because of his age.

WARD: Jake’s dead, isn’t he?

HINSON: Jake?

WARD: Uh-huh.

HINSON: Yeah, Jake died.

WARD: His brother.

STONEY: And has -- has he come to the reunion in before?

HINSON: Yes, he came here before last. But last year, he wasn’t able to come because of a diabetic condition that he had.

STONEY: Do you know an engineer named, uh, EN, uh, Wallace?

WARD: Wallace.

HINSON: We knew Ernest Wallace.

WARD: Yeah.

HINSON: Yes.

WARD: He was -- he was a mechanic down at Eagle for awhile.

STONEY: Well we have a letter from him. Uh, he’s protesting the fact that he wasn’t gotten as much pay as he should have gotten, and he finally took the -- 3:00Eagle to court. Do you know anything about that?

HINSON: I didn’t know about, uh, the legal action, but I knew that, um, he left the mill, uh -- I mean left the mill hill, moved off rather suddenly, because I played with his son, Jackie, who lived across the street. Once I went -- went to their house, and uh, the back door was open, and I went in, and nobody was home. And Ms. Wallace had polished Jackie’s shoes, and had them in front of the fireplace to dry. And sat down and put Jackie’s shoes on, and then I went back home. And mother looked -- looked, and she saw I had ’em; she said, “Well where did you get those shoes?” And I said, “Over at Jackies.” And so, she made me take ’em back, but they all laughed about it. I was only about three or four.

STONEY: What did you remember about Mr. Wallace?

WARD: Well, not knowing that he was a mechanic down there, he seemed like a fine 4:00fellow. Well I -- [clears throat] -- but I kind of followed, you know, spare time, and made butcher knives, I think, out of old saws. And I wouldn’t say nothing, I’d go in (inaudible).

STONEY: Did --

HINSON: In the machine shop.

WARD: In the machine shop.

HINSON: He worked in the machine shop.

STONEY: Did you know the reason why he left?

WARD: No, I do not. I don’t know the reason why Mr. Wallace (inaudible).

STONEY: OK.

HELFAND: Did he leave suddenly?

STONEY: Yes, she said he left suddenly.

HINSON: He did, and what, uh, sort of shocked all of us, uh, Mr. Wallace, uh, we thought maybe made a little better pay than some of the others, because he was in maintenance, and he seemed to have a pretty good education, and --

WARD: Oh yeah, Mr. Wallace had a good education, yeah.

HINSON: And, uh, he bought some property on Wilkinson Boulevard, and built a little ho-- a very small house, uh, about two or three rooms --

WARD: Mm-hmm.

5:00

HINSON: -- and just moved off suddenly, you know. We never knew why.

STONEY: Well, are we going to learn, why, from, uh, Bruce Graham, he told us why.

HINSON: Really?

STONEY: Yeah.

HINSON: Well I’ll be darned.

STONEY: OK.

JAMIE STONEY: Get some tone, I’m going to just keep rolling some tone here.

STONEY: OK.

HINSON: Yeah. They had a daughter, [Verty?], too, and uh, Jackie’s still living, their son. But I hadn’t been able to locate him. Somebody told me he was in York, and I’ve been down in York looking around to see if I could find him down there, and hadn’t been able to find him.

JAMIE STONEY: (inaudible) a little bit of --

STONEY: Yeah, mm-hmm.

JAMIE STONEY: We just want to -- Judy, let’s just roll 30 seconds of general noise.

HINSON: Well I sure did -- [tone]

6:00

HELFAND: Betty, can you just talk a couple quick for me?

HINSON: Uh, yeah.

STONEY: Would you people mind being very quite?

HINSON: Well now, I can -- something like, I don’t know where in the world I could be. But I know it’s in here.

HELFAND: OK.

HINSON: You know, the picture is in here somewhere, I’m not -- I don’t know what I’ve done with it. Or what has happened to it. (inaudible) through 7:00these. But it was a real good picture, of, uh, Mr., Ms. Wallace, and their two children, Jackie and [Verty?].

JAMIE STONEY: Sit down on the [bed?].

STONEY: Oh these -- these are some of the best ones we’ve seen. You know --

HINSON: You saw that.

STONEY: -- so many people had, uh, Kodaks at the time.

HINSON: Uh-huh.

STONEY: Took snapshots.

HINSON: Uh-huh.

STONEY: But they very seldom showed what the mill villages looked like.

HINSON: Uh-huh.

STONEY: Uh, but some of these have houses in the background, that make it -- makes you know pretty well what -- what the mill villages look like. This one for example, you see.

8:00

HINSON: Uh-huh.

STONEY: And where were those others with -- let’s see. Here’s one.

HINSON: That were -- that wasn’t a millhouse.

STONEY: That wasn’t a millhouse, uh-huh.

HINSON: What did we do with those, that showed the millhouse. Have we put them up already?

STONEY: I’m not sure.

HINSON: Here’s one that shows --

STONEY: Yup.

HINSON: -- see in the background?

STONEY: Oh that’s right, yes.

HINSON: That’s a good one, isn’t it?

STONEY: From our clothes, when would you say that was made? Look at that short waist. Oh that long waist.

HINSON: Uh-huh. I would say, um, late ’20s, or early ’30s --

STONEY: Uh-huh.

HINSON: -- wouldn’t you?

STONEY: Yes, she’s still got long hair.

HINSON: Uh-huh.

STONEY: We got that funny waist, white stockings. (laughter)

9:00

HINSON: Uh-huh. Well what did we do with those that showed the millhouses? This is a millhouse here.

STONEY: Uh-huh.

HINSON: That’s definitely a mill.

STONEY: Yes.

HINSON: Oops.

STONEY: And that’s about the same time, in the middle, late ’20s.

HINSON: Mm-hmm.

JAMIE STONEY: You have to hold them a little steadier, OK?

STONEY: All right.

HELFAND: Talk about Mr. Wallace while you look through them.

HINSON: OK. Now I’m looking for Mr. Wallace’s picture, with his wife and his two children; his daughter [Verty?], and his son Jackie.

STONEY: Now Mr. Wallace, I believe at the --

HINSON: Right.

STONEY: -- at the plant.

HINSON: I remember he had a -- a car; I don’t know what kind it was, but it was a new car, and it was green, and he had his initials on the door in gold.

STONEY: (laughter)

HINSON: ENW, you know.

STONEY: Well we have this letter, a series of letters that he wrote to the people in Washington, uh, complaining that the factory wasn’t paying him what 10:00they were supposed to pay him.

HINSON: Mm-hmm.

STONEY: And that’s why we want to have a picture of him.

HINSON: Let me see in here. OK, here’s one of him. That’s not the one I’m looking for, but that’s Mr. Wallace there.

STONEY: Uh-huh. With, uh, a tie on.

HINSON: Uh-huh.

STONEY: Yes. Well --

HINSON: And I think that might be his brother-in-law, that he’s with. Maybe a couple of his brother-in-laws that didn’t live on the hill.

STONEY: Mm-hmm.

HINSON: Uh, I think they had business-- businesses of their own, in Gastonia. Small businesses.

STONEY: Mm-hmm.

11:00

HINSON: Oh, I just knew that was it, but it’s not. Now I don’t think I’m gonna find it. I just don’t believe I’m gonna find that one, what I was looking for. Over the years, I’ve taken pictures out, and I’ve taken them to the reunion, and sometimes didn’t put them back, you know, in the box or something. Maybe that’s why I hadn’t been able -- now this was a millhouse. You see how high the underpinning was?

STONEY: Oh yes. You could play under there in rainy days.

HINSON: Yeah, I’ve had a playhouse under there. And Grandpa had a meathouse, where he hung his, uh, hams, you know?

12:00

STONEY: Mm-hmm. Oh, that’s -- that’s one with the old car, yes, mm-hmm.

HINSON: Yeah, me and Larry. That -- even that’s an even older one.

STONEY: Ah yes, look at --

HINSON: That’s -- that’s the model T, isn’t it?

STONEY: That’s -- looks like the model T.

HINSON: You know uncle Frank, when he drove the model T, up Hickory Grove Road and back, he turned over, on a curb. (laughter)

STONEY: (laughter) Well they were so high.

HINSON: One time.

STONEY: They were so high, you see --

HINSON: Yeah.

STONEY: -- that they went down pretty easily.

HINSON: And they weren’t heavy either, were they?

STONEY: I don’t think so, no. But the center of gravity was just so high --

HINSON: Yeah.

STONEY: -- they needed them that high to get over the rutty roads at the time.

HINSON: But, uh, he -- and my grandpa that was riding in the car, they got out and turned the car back up, come on --

STONEY: (laughter)

13:00

HINSON: -- come on home, to the Eagle without a scratch on ’em.

STONEY: Here’s one -- who’s this?

HINSON: That’s Claude, and my aunt, [Nettie?], his wife. This -- this one shows the millhouse, this --

STONEY: This one does, very definitely show the millhouse, yes.

HINSON: Uh-huh, sure. And this was my grandmother.

STONEY: Uh-huh.

HINSON: It shows the millhouses.

STONEY: Absolutely.

HINSON: These were so old, some of them.

STONEY: So Judy?

HELFAND: Yeah.

STONEY: We’ve got to make sure to make copies of some of these, because they were -- they’re rare. Lots of people had cameras at the time, but they didn’t often take pictures that showed the surroundings the way these do.

HINSON: Look at that one.

HELFAND: Betty, how is it that you had a picture of Mr. Wallace?

14:00

HINSON: Well I -- uh, we lived across the street from them, and we always played together, you know, Jackie and I. And Verty, his sister was a little bit older than we were, and when she got old enough to drive the car, she would take us to school. And he -- the Wallaces were the -- were about the only -- well there was one other family that had a small swimming pool. He had a little swimming pool in his backyard, and it wasn’t much bigger than a bathtub really. But -- but Mr. Wallace had cemented it, you know, and we’d play in that little pool. They were nice people, very, very nice people.

STONEY: Well here are three pictures -- four pictures that I want you tell me about. [Timmy?], you want to move around here and we’ll see if we can get the picture -- I’ll hold them and you tell me about them.

HINSON: OK.

STONEY: Tell me when you’re ready.

JAMIE STONEY: Hang on. Hold ’em still. Go.

15:00

STONEY: Who is this?

HINSON: OK that’s -- that’s a black lady, Aunt Eliza. She washed for my grandmother, when my grandmother’s children were small. And then when my mother grew up and had a -- had me, a family, she would come over and wash for us.

STONEY: So even --

HINSON: Actually for two generations, she washed for us.

STONEY: So even though your folks worked in the mill, they had, in effect, some black servants?

HINSON: Uh-huh.

STONEY: OK.

HINSON: Yeah, she worked many years.

STONEY: Now here’s one with an old model T behind it.

HINSON: Mm-hmm. I don’t know who that woman is there, though. But I don’t recognize her.

STONEY: This is an extraordinary picture.

HINSON: And I don’t recognize that child.

STONEY: But do you recognize the village?

HINSON: Um, yes. I think that’s the little girl that used to come to my mother’s house, at Cramerton, when they lived over there, and then asked her 16:00what she had to eat for breakfast, and she’s say, “drits and dravy.” Mother always liked about that, you know. They’d say, “What did you have for breakfast?” And she’d say “drits and dravy.”

STONEY: Mm-hmm. I certainly want to get a large part of that, and about this one?

HINSON: That’s my aunt, my mother’s youngest sister, and that’s Uncle Claude. And that picture was probably taken on a Sunday afternoon, because we used to -- that used to be the only thing we -- we could do on Sundays, really, was get out and take pictures, and people had Kodaks, you know, and we would take pictures.

HELFAND: Could you say that again; we had a moment of disturbance.

HINSON: We -- we had Kodaks.

HELFAND: The whole sentence.

HINSON: Oh. That’s about the only thing we had entertainment, we had, was on Sunday, outside of church, was to take pictures, maybe go up to the cemetery, or out in the mill yard and take pictures with the Kodak.

STONEY: How old was Claude at this time?

17:00

HINSON: Uh, I would say about 20 -- 27, because this was -- or maybe even younger than that, because he didn’t go into service until he was around 33.

STONEY: Mm-hmm.

HINSON: And that was many years before 1940, as you can see.

STONEY: And this one?

HINSON: That one’s -- that’s my grandmother.

STONEY: And I --

HINSON: When she -- when she was in her ’70s, and my stepdaddy, Floyd Miller.

STONEY: And where was this taken?

HINSON: That’s at the Eagle.

STONEY: OK. And this one?

HINSON: That’s a family that lived at the Eagle. Mrs. Gattis, her son-in-law, uh, Mr. [Libran?], and this is Jessie, his wife, and their children.

STONEY: And --

HINSON: And -- and his mother, Mrs. [Libran?].

STONEY: And you see the high houses --

HINSON: Uh-huh.

STONEY: -- on the brick pillars over there.

HINSON: Yeah.

18:00

STONEY: Uh, this is one of my favorites.

HINSON: Yeah. I never -- I don’t know who she was, but I think she was a girlfriend of my -- of my daddy’s, uh, brother, I think so.

STONEY: Mm-hmm. And?

HINSON: And that’s Mr. Wallace.

STONEY: And his family?

HINSON: I think these might be his brother-in-laws, but I’m not sure. And I -- that looks like a [Cloneger?] boy who lived at the Eagle. But I’m not sure about that either.

STONEY: Mm-hmm, OK. Oh, this is wonderful.

HINSON: Are these the ones you want to keep out?

STONEY: Yeah, mm-hmm.

HINSON: OK.

STONEY: I think so, yeah. OK, thank you very much, Betty.

HINSON: You’re welcome.

HELFAND: Did you find -- did you find the one that you were looking?

HINSON: Sure --

HELFAND: We’re like turning on and off. I don’t know --

JAMIE STONEY: No we’re not.

HELFAND: Oh, (inaudible). I know you have it; my sound is, that’s --

JAMIE STONEY: Yeah, I’m just -- that may be a connection.

HINSON: Look how old that is.

JAMIE STONEY: I’m just doing a kind of a walking --

HINSON: That’s the one that did the Charleston I was telling you about, the little fat girl.

STONEY: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.

19:00

JAMIE STONEY: Hold it still, please. OK.

STONEY: I think we’ve got enough.

HELFAND: Can we have a long shot of --

JAMIE STONEY: I just want to get some shots. Hang on, I just want to get a shot of her hands going through those pictures, that’s all.

HELFAND: Still looking for Mr. Wilson, huh?

HINSON: No, Mr. Wallace. Some of these are not -- not old pictures.

HINSON: -- pictures was a pastime too.

STONEY: Mm-hmm.

HINSON: You know, we would take pictures of one another, and -- and then, you know, come to the house, and get out the shoebox with all the pictures in it. (laughter) And we’d go through ’em. That’s when it was made in the millyard, isn’t it? But I don’t know.

STONEY: Yes, it is.

HINSON: Uh-huh. I don’t know who it is.

20:00

STONEY: That again, is a very rare one.

HINSON: Oh.

JAMIE STONEY: Hang on to that so I can get a close-up of it.

HINSON: This one is -- you can see the bug -- a buggy or a wagon there.

STONEY: Mm-hmm.

HINSON: That’s got a millhouse in the background.

STONEY: Mm-hmm. That’s a very unusual one because it’s a -- it’s a side picture.

HINSON: Uh-huh.

STONEY: I wonder if that’s almost a mistake.

HINSON: I don’t know.

STONEY: (laughter)

HINSON: Mother was good at posing.

STONEY: Uh-huh.

HINSON: Sometimes we had to sneak the -- sneak away from her, because she wanted in all the pictures.

STONEY: (laughter)

HINSON: (laughter) And what -- this is Nettie and Claude, again there, with, uh, her niece, Nettie’s niece. This was the -- what we call the “standpipe,” it’s where the water was at the Eagle.

STONEY: Mm-hmm.

HINSON: Mr. and Mrs. Wallace.

JAMIE STONEY: Could you --

21:00

HINSON: -- at the standpipe, where the water was at the Eagle. And this is her.

JAMIE STONEY: OK.

HINSON: A side view.

STONEY: With the millhouse in the -- your house in the background.

HINSON: Yeah with -- with -- uh-huh, background. And I don’t know who this lady is, but this -- this is a scene in the background of the mill.

STONEY: That’s a very rare -- when we have all these big pictures of the shifts taken out in front of the mills, but I’ve never seen an individual picture like this. Would this have been taken on a Sunday, I guess?

HINSON: Yeah, probably.

JAMIE STONEY: OK, I think we got it.

STONEY: OK, good.

JAMIE STONEY: I’m just -- I’m just going to give you 30 seconds of toning here.

STONEY: OK.

22:00

JAMIE STONEY: Everybody be quiet and just breathe. [tone] Now could you rustle some pictures for us?

HELFAND: I was just going to ask her that. [rustling] Could also flip through them gently, like you were doing on the bed?

JAMIE STONEY: Just one, two?

HINSON: Oh.

HELFAND: No, on the bed, take them out the box, and then just --

HINSON: OK.

HELFAND: In your hand.

JAMIE STONEY: One after the other.

HELFAND: OK, and slowly. OK.

23:00

STONEY: OK.

JAMIE STONEY: We’re just getting some -- keep going. (inaudible) sound. OK.

HINSON: I have a picture of Mr. Wallace, I think in a box in the closet. This 24:00is a box of old pictures, made back in the ’20s and ’30s.

STONEY: Oh, these are some great ones. Look at that.

HINSON: That was a pen pal I had in Germany.

STONEY: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm. It’s an old model T.

HINSON: Uh-huh.

STONEY: Look at those skirts. (laughter)

JAMIE STONEY: OK, I think we got it.

[break]

STONEY: Could you talk?

LONDON: Yeah --

STONEY: -- come out, you’d just say, “Well let me tell you about a club we formed,” just -- just, you can --

M_: We’re on candid video.

STONEY: OK, when you’re ready.

JAMIE STONEY: Any time.

STONEY: OK.

LONDON: Let me tell you about a little club we organized at the village, a good many years ago. And it was the ladies of the village, you know, and we 25:00discovered there were things that we could do, to, um, be of service to the families there, so we organized. And we met in homes for a while. And then, one of the mill officials, the one who owned the plant, had us a little clubhouse built. So that served our need very well. So that was the grouped that formed the -- and we named it Faithful Aid Club. So this is two of the little children of the village, at that time. Wanted to hold the sign while we were, you know, organizing.

STONEY: Mm-hmm.

LONDON: And this was, um, supposed to be a dinner on the ground, you know, of the Faithful Aid Club. And this was some of the neighborhood boys. So that was -- that was our club.

26:00

STONEY: What kind of work did you do?

LONDON: Well, for instance -- you know, back then, funeral homes didn’t take a body and keep it overnight until time for the funeral, brought it back home. So, the natural thing for people to do was to let the family rest, and the people in the neighborhood would go sit up all night. And we would. We’d make coffee, you know, and do that. Maybe a couple at a time, and we might take hours, you know, you do this four hours, and the other two will do it -- so we did things like that. Then when we, uh, had a funeral, a lot of people there had no connection with churches whatsoever. But we would, uh, ask one of the, uh -- you know, ministers of Belmont to come and conduct the funeral, maybe -- just at home, because they didn’t belong, you know, to a church. Well, OK. They’d say, what about the music? Well the girls of the club would sing. You know, we had hymn books, you know, in our club, so the girls would sing. And 27:00that was our -- and the minister, you know, would finish the funeral, take them to the cemetery and bury them, mm-hmm.

STONEY: I’m just surprised that there were any people living in the village who didn’t have a connection with the church.

LONDON: Well there were, many of them then.

STONEY: There were?

LONDON: Mm-hmm, yeah, mm-hmm, mm-hmm, many of them that didn’t mm-hmm.

STONEY: Where did they come from?

LONDON: Well, just different -- came from different states, and different counties, and what have you.

STONEY: Mm-hmm.

LONDON: Mm-hmm. But, eventually, so many of them did join. They joined First Baptist, had a good many First Methodist, and some Presbyterian. And it got to be, every summer, the First Presbyterian minister, Mr. Curry, he would put up a tent down there right above the village, and run a revival for several weeks, you know. Then he would ask different ministers to come down, and you know, that got a lot of people in church.

STONEY: I bet it did.

LONDON: That got a lot of people in church.

STONEY: They got converted.

28:00

LONDON: You better believe it, and you know, that is -- really, I think that is where the [Four Square?] Church was organized, people who had never been in a church, they -- they -- as you say, they, uh, were converted, accepted the Lord, and they wanted a church.

STONEY: Mm-hmm.

LONDON: And they organized that Four Square Church down there. So that was one good thing that came of it. And then we had a -- uh, a lot in the First Baptist, and Methodist, Park Street, and some in the First Presbyterian. But, uh --

STONEY: So this was a -- this was a club that kind of united all of the churches.

LONDON: Right, right, uh-huh, mm-hmm. And if, uh -- if there -- a family there was having a little difficulty financially, you know, we -- we had -- you know we -- every month we gave a little -- you know, money. So -- cause we had officers. You know, we had president, secretary, what have you.

STONEY: What were you?

LONDON: Treasury -- well I think I was all of it.

STONEY: (laughter)

LONDON: But anyway, uh, we would gather a little money ahead, and if these 29:00people needed food, we’d go buy -- we’d go buy the food for them, mm-hmm.

STONEY: Now when did that -- was that started?

HINSON: Oh, I just don’t remember what -- I don’t keep years up that much, but uh -- it went on a long time, and then at the funerals, you know why, uh -- they had what they call “flower girls,” you know, that carried the flowers. Well, if the -- you know, we would go out in the village and get some of the younger girls. Of course, we’d perform ourselves, you know, to carry the flowers, you know, during the funeral. So we -- we did a lot of good, a whole lot of good.

STONEY: And it was called?

LONDON: Faithful Aid Club, mm-hmm, mm-hmm.

STONEY: Now did the manufacturers give you any help?

LONDON: Not financially. They did build us a club, but they gave us permission, you know, to do anything we wanted to, that would uh -- you know, aid the -- the community. They were real good about that. Had no problem with that, mm-hmm.

STONEY: Did they have their own, uh, welfare workers in the plant?

30:00

LONDON: Well I tell you how they worked there now. If a big problem came up moneywise, they would let somebody go around all over the plant on all three shifts and make up. They might not be able to a give but a dime, ten cents, or nickel, quarter, whatever, but in the final analysis, they got enough to buy groceries for that week, or to help them with their insurance or something like that. So yes, that was done. And the mill company would allow that.

STONEY: But would the mill company contribute to that?

LONDON: Well, uh -- not really. But, now they were good to us, and -- and, I maybe shouldn’t say that because I don’t know just, um -- you know, just what they would, you know, do in the case of a big, big difficulty, you know. But they were very kind to let us do that on our own, which we enjoyed doing on our own, you know.

STONEY: When did you start working in the mills?

LONDON: Oh, I was 14 years old. But now, I had to quit, you know, on account of the age, so I went back to school, mm-hmm.

STONEY: And when did you start again?

31:00

LONDON: Well I don’t remember just when I started again, but I went back to the plant, mm-hmm.

STONEY: And you worked for how long?

LONDON: A long time. And uh, after I finished with the textiles, I went with Hosiery Mill, worked at, uh -- [Vision?], Knict Product, Belmont Hosiery? right out here, mm-hmm. So I’m a textile girl, mm-hmm.

STONEY: Thank you.

LONDON: Uh-huh, you’re welcome.

STONEY: That’s great, OK.

JAMIE STONEY: Let’s get some tone here.

STONEY: Beautiful, OK.

JAMIE STONEY: I’m just going to stay rolling; we’re going to need 30 seconds of silent. Thirty seconds of room tone for the preceding interview.

[tone]

32:00

[silence]

33:00

[silence]

34:00

[silence]

35:00

[silence]

STONEY: OK, that’s really pretty.

JAMIE STONEY: Speed.

STONEY: OK, action it.

JAMIE STONEY: OK.

HINSON: Bill, what did you plan to sing tomorrow night at our reunion -- I mean Saturday night at our reunion?

NORRIS: I think I’ll sing that old song that I sand last year, “Last Railway to Heaven,” I think. But then again, I might sing some more.

HINSON: OK.

NORRIS: You know, I’m not sure, but uh, I think I’ll sing that one.

HINSON: OK.

NORRIS: That takes us back to the old days.

HINSON: Can -- can you do it now? Can you sing it for us now?

36:00

NORRIS: Yeah, I’ll try to do it now.

HINSON: OK.

NORRIS: Let me turn this thing on here.

HINSON: (inaudible) sing.

[music starts]

NORRIS: [singing]

Life is like a mountain railroad;

With an engineer that’s brave;

You must make the run successful;

From the cradle to the grave;

Watch the curves, the fill, the tunnels;

Never falter, never quail;

Keep your hand upon the throttle, and your eye upon the rail.

Blessed Savior, thou wilt guide us,

37:00

Till we reach that blissful shore;

Where the angels wait to join us

In Thy praise forevermore.

GEORGE STONEY: Cut. You have to try it again, sorry. [music stops] You’re watching the monitor.

HINSON: Oh, I can’t do that, oh, OK.

GEORGE STONEY: No. (laughter) You’re supposed to be listening to him.

HINSON: Oh, OK.

GEORGE STONEY: Forget about us.

HINSON: I’m sorry.

[break]

STONEY: Something about the reunion about how many people are going to be there and all that kind of thing, and then (inaudible) and go in and just ask him when he’s going to sing.

HINSON: OK.

STONEY: OK, go again.

JAMIE STONEY: Rolling.

HINSON: Bill, I think we’ll probably have somewhere between 125 and 150 people at the reunion Saturday night.

NORRIS: Probably even more. I look for about 170 this year again. I hope so.

HINSON: Can you -- you’ll sing for us again?

NORRIS: I’ll be glad to.

HINSON: OK.

NORRIS: If they can put up with me, I’ll (inaudible).

HINSON: OK, we’d love for you to.

NORRIS: OK.

HINSON: And what, uh -- can you sing the old song that you sang once before for us, uh --

38:00

NORRIS: I think, uh, I’ll sing the old -- the old song that we found about -- talked about the mountains and the railroads, uh, they seem to enjoy that, I always love to sing it anyway, so yeah I’ll -- I’ll try to do that.

HINSON: Can you sing it for us now?

NORRIS: I’ll try to do that, Betty. If I can get this thing started here.

[music starts]

NORRIS: [singing]

Life is like a mountain railroad;

With an engineer that’s brave;

You must make the run successful;

From the cradle to the grave;

Watch the curves, the fill, the tunnels;

Never falter, never quail;

39:00

Keep your hand upon the throttle, and your eye upon the rail.

Blessed Savior, thou wilt guide us,

Till we reach that blissful shore;

Where the angels wait to join us

In Thy praise forevermore.

You will roll up grades of trial;

You will cross the bridge of strife;

See that Christ is your Conductor on this lightning train of life;

40:00

Always mindful of obstruction, do your duty never fail;

Keep your hand upon the throttle, and your eye upon the rail.

Blessed Savior, thou wilt guide us,

Till we reach that blissful shore;

Where the angels wait to join us

In Thy praise forevermore.

As you roll across the trestle, spanning Jordan’s swelling tide,

You behold the Union Depot into which your train would glide;

41:00

There you’ll meet the superintendent, God the Father, God the Son

With the joy, a heart, a plaudit, “Weary pilgrim, welcome home!”

Blessed Savior, thou wilt guide us,

Till we reach that blissful shore;

Where the angels wait to join us

In Thy praise forevermore.

Where the angels wait to join us

In Thy praise forevermore.

[music ends]

HINSON: That’s beautiful.

NORRIS: Thank you.

42:00

STONEY: OK, we’ll do it one more time from a static position so we can cut into it, and this time, I’m going to be up here, and Judy, I’m going to take your suggestion.

HELFAND: Yeah.

STONEY: Uh, I’m going to sit up here. I’m off-camera.

HELFAND: Mm-hmm.

STONEY: But you can hear me.

HELFAND: Mm-hmm.

STONEY: And Betty’s going to be -- Betty’s going to introduce me, just, George Claude is going to be singing -- I’m sorry, Claude.

HINSON: Bill.

STONEY: Bill is going to be singing at the reunion. I’m going to say, “What’d you sing?” And, uh, I’ll ask you when it starts if you people can sing; I’m going to be singing along with you.

HINSON: OK.

JAMIE STONEY: (inaudible) hold master wide, or not?

STONEY: No, no, you --

HINSON: We don’t know the words.

STONEY: I think you can come in.

JAMIE STONEY: OK.

STONEY: No, come in and -- and go close on them. But, uh, I just want an inter-cut here. Uh, you can -- but -- both, very solemn.

HINSON: Oh, we’re being too solemn.

STONEY: Too solemn. (laughter)

HINSON: OK.

43:00

HELFAND: Think about, like you’re introducing, you’ve been calling me up and saying, “Can you come over? I want to meet -- introduce Mr. Stoney to Bill,” and then, you know, how excited you get about --

STONEY: Yeah, yeah.

HELFAND: -- wanting him to meet us.

STONEY: Yeah. OK, I’ll sit down here, Jamie. And I think we can do without the wide angle this time.

JAMIE STONEY: Yeah. OK, let’s go.

STONEY: OK.

HINSON: Now tell me what to say again --

STONEY: Yeah. Are we on?

HELFAND: Say --

JAMIE STONEY: Did he rewind?

NORRIS: Yes.

JAMIE STONEY: OK.

HINSON: To whom, to Bill?

STONEY: To me. Yeah --

HINSON: Introduce him to you, or --

STONEY: Yeah, yeah.

HINSON: OK. “Bill, this is Mr. Stoney. Mr. George Stoney.”

NORRIS: Nice to meet you sir.

STONEY: And I -- I got a bill that you’re going to be singing at the reunion.

NORRIS: I think so.

STONEY: Uh, well, uh -- Betty, what are you going to have him sing?

HINSON: I’d like for him to sing an old song.

STONEY: OK.

HINSON: One that we’ve enjoyed in the past that he sung, and one that we used to hear when we were children.

NORRIS: Yes.

HINSON: Can you do that, Bill?

NORRIS: I’ll be glad to do that. It’s one of my favorite old hymns, anyway. 44:00We used to do this a long time ago, so, I hope you do enjoy this.

[music starts]

[singing]

Life is like a mountain railroad;

With an engineer that’s brave;

You must make the run successful;

From the cradle to the grave;

Watch the curve, the fill, the tunnels;

Never falter, never quail;

Keep your hand upon the throttle, and your eye upon the rail.

Blessed Savior, thou wilt guide us,

Till we reach that blissful shore;

45:00

Where the angels wait to join us

In Thy praise forevermore.

You will roll up grades of trial;

Spanning Jordan’s swelling tide.

See that Christ is your Conductor on this lightning train of life;

Always mindful of obstruction, do your duty never fail;

Keep your hand upon the throttle, and your eye upon the rail.

Blessed Savior, thou wilt guide us,

46:00

Till we reach that blissful shore;

Where the angels wait to join us

In Thy praise forevermore.

You will roll up grids of trials, spanning Jordan’s swelling tide,

You behold the Union Depot into which your train would glide;

There you’ll meet the superintendent, God the Father, God the Son

With a hearty joy, a plaudit, “Weary pilgrim, welcome home!”

47:00

Blessed Savior, thou wilt guide us,

Till we reach that blissful shore;

Where the angels wait to join us

In Thy praise forevermore.

Where the angels wait to join us

In Thy praise forevermore.

[music ends]

HINSON: We do better that time?

JAMIE STONEY: Yeah. OK.

HINSON: Mr. Stoney, this is Bill Norris.

HELFAND: One second.

HINSON: Bill --

STONEY: A-tat, a-tat. I’m sorry, Judy, I --

HELFAND: Start all over.

JAMIE STONEY: When you’re ready, go.

HINSON: Mr. Stoney, this is Bill Norris.

NORRIS: Glad to meet you, sir.

HINSON: Bill -- Bill and I grew up with each other at the Eagle Mill on the -- on the village, and I’ve been wanting you to hear him sing. He’s -- uh, 48:00hopefully, he’ll sing at our reunion Saturday night.

NORRIS: I think I’m gonna sing, Betty. Uh, you talked about, when we lived on the Eagle, uh -- I lived on the bottom street, and Betty lived on the street going up the hill. She was a little up higher on the ladder than I was. But, uh, this was an old song, that I hope I can sing Saturday night for, because it brings back old memories a long time ago, and it’s just, an old hymn called, uh, “The Last Railway to Heaven.” And you want me to sing that? I’ll try to sing that.

NORRIS: Yeah, sing some of it.

[music starts]

NORRIS: [singing]

Life is like a mountain railroad;

With an engineer that’s brave;

You must make the run successful;

49:00

From the cradle to the grave;

Watch the curves, the fill, the tunnels;

Never falter, never quail;

Keep your hand upon the throttle, and your eye upon the rail.

Blessed Savior, thou wilt guide us,

Till we reach that blissful shore;

Where the angels wait to join us

In Thy praise forevermore.

You will roll up grades of trials, spanning Jordan’s swelling tide;

50:00

See that Christ is your Conductor on this lightning train of life;

Always mindful of obstruction, do your duty never fail;

Keep your hand upon the throttle, and your eye upon the rail.

Blessed Savior, thou wilt guide us,

Till we reach that blissful shore;

Where the angels wait to join us

In Thy praise forevermore.

51:00

As you roll across the trestle, spanning Jordan’s swelling tide,

You behold the Union Depot into which your train would glide;

There you’ll meet the superintendent, God the Father, God the Son

With a hearty joy, a plaudit, “Weary pilgrim, welcome home!”

Blessed Savior, thou wilt guide us,

Till we reach that blissful shore;

Where the angels wait to join us

In Thy praise forevermore.

Where the angels wait to join us

52:00

In Thy praise forevermore.

[music ends]

GEORGE: Oh, that was --

[music starts]

NORRIS: [singing]

Life is like a mountain railroad;

HELFAND: Sorry, we have to stop, sorry.

JAMIE STONEY: No, it’s recording.

HELFAND: Oh.

STONEY: Yeah -- yeah, unfortunately. OK.

HELFAND: That’s really pretty, Jamie.

STONEY: OK, Betty --

HINSON: Mr. Stoney, this is Bill Norris.

STONEY: Hi.

NORRIS: Hi, nice to meet you sir.

STONEY: I gather you’re going to be at the reunion?

NORRIS: Yes. Looking forward to that. It’s going to be a great time. It always is, every year. We get to see loved ones, you know, from years back. Just a great fellowship. Very unusual to -- this is an unusual thing for, uh -- you can’t even get families together anymore, but we were all families there, 53:00and, uh -- it’s just -- just a great thing. It’s just a great blessing for us to get together. And I’m looking forward to it Saturday night.

STONEY: What’s going to be your part?

NORRIS: Uh, well I guess I’ll sing, uh -- usually try to sing every year. And, uh, I hope I’ll get to sing Saturday.

STONEY: Oh, let’s see what you’re going to sing.

NORRIS: This is a real old one. It’s older than you and I put together. That’s old, isn’t it?

STONEY: That’s really old.

[music starts]

NORRIS: [singing with George Stoney on backup]

Life is like a mountain railroad;

With an engineer that’s brave;

You must make the run successful;

From the cradle to the grave;

Watch the curves, the fill, the tunnels;

54:00

Never falter, never quail;

Keep your hand upon the throttle, and your eye upon the rail.

Blessed Savior, thou wilt guide us,

Till we reach that blissful shore;

Where the angels wait to join us

In Thy praise forevermore.

You will roll up grades of trials; you will cross the bridge of strife;

See that Christ is your Conductor on this lightning train of life;

55:00

Always mindful of obstruction, do your duty never fail;

Keep your hand upon the throttle, and your eye upon the rail.

Blessed Savior, thou wilt guide us,

Till we reach that blissful shore;

Where the angels wait to join us

In Thy praise forevermore.

NORRIS: Here we go again.

[singing]

As you roll across the trestle, spanning Jordan’s swelling tide,

56:00

You behold the Union Depot into which your train would glide;

There you’ll meet the superintendent, God the Father, God the Son

With the hearty joy, a plaudit, “Weary pilgrim, welcome home!”

Blessed Savior, thou wilt guide us,

Till we reach that blissful shore;

Where the angels wait to join us

In Thy praise forevermore.

Where the angels wait to join us

In Thy praise forevermore.

[music ends]

That’s a real old one.

STONEY: I haven’t heard it myself in 20 years.

NORRIS: Oh, yes, (inaudible).

57:00

STONEY: I used to hear it a lot around the tobacco warehouses in Winston-Salem.

NORRIS: Yes, yes.

STONEY: Where, uh, an old blind fellow used to come along with an accordion and two guitars, and a ge-- uh, a mouth organ.

NORRIS: Yeah.

STONEY: And I wondered how -- first I wondered how he could play all those things, and then I saw what happened, was that people would come by and stop and play. He’d have the instruments there.

NORRIS: Yes, yes.

STONEY: And, uh, he was let off the bus -- he lived in High Point, and I found out later that he was getting welfare over there. And if he was getting welfare, he wasn’t supposed to beg, and that’s what they called, “playing on the streets.”

NORRIS: Right, yeah.

STONEY: They didn’t know about street musicians at that time.

NORRIS: Yes, right.

STONEY: (laughter) So he’d live in High Point, collect his welfare check over there, but he and his girlfriend would lead him over to Winston-Salem, and they’d come by the tobacco warehouses --

NORRIS: Yeah.

STONEY: -- and start playing, and then other people would come along and pick up the guitars and play with him.

58:00

NORRIS: Yeah, I’ve seen that --

STONEY: Yeah.

NORRIS: -- before. Uh, the, uh -- a good friend of mine, years ago, when I was just a young little lad, uh, he played the guitar, and I didn’t -- I couldn’t play a guitar then; I was too small, but, uh, he -- he had a guitar when he was about, uh, maybe 12 years old, and he started playing it. He and I would sing together a lot, then as we grew up, uh, it was Dick Michaels. We lived on Eagle together, and -- and Dick, uh, would play and -- he and I would sing, and we used to sing on this, uh -- preacher’s radio ministry on Saturday morning in Gastonia. And it was just a great -- just a great thing, and I remember him, he passed away here quite a few years ago, and uh -- just like a dear brother to me. And he used to sing this, and I would have him sing -- I would sing on the chorus. He would sing the verse, and I’d sing the chorus. So I was minister of music at the First Baptist Church in [McCannville?], and they wanted an old song; they wanted somebody to come up with an old song on 59:00Sunday, so I was at the Baptist Bookstore, in -- in Charlotte, and I saw this song, and I remembered Dick singing song, and I hadn’t seen it in 20 years. And so I picked it up, and uh -- I was glad the way it’s arranged, because that’s the way we used to sing it. But it’s just really a great -- great old song that tells you about life, really, you know.

STONEY: Great, OK. Thank you.