Bruce Graham and Thelma Massey Interview 2

Special Collections and Archives, Georgia State University Library
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 GEORGE STONEY: (inaudible).

THELMA MASSEY: Yeah, it’s just -- just suddenly, it’s --

GEORGE STONEY: (inaudible).


GEORGE STONEY: (inaudible) OK. Well that’s not bad, that’s going to help us out behind.

MASSEY: It stays here cool when it’s hot anywhere else in the world --


MASSEY: -- I’m always coming down here to sack out (inaudible).

GEORGE STONEY: That’s true, yeah.

JUDITH HELFAND: (inaudible) true.

GEORGE STONEY: Yeah. OK, let me know when you’re ready, Jeremy.

JAMIE STONEY: We’re rolling.

GEORGE STONEY: OK. Boy it’s cool down under this tree.

GRAHAM: You think so?


GRAHAM: You enjoying it?

GEORGE STONEY: It must be 15 degrees cooler than when we were out in the field.

GRAHAM: It’s more than that, I felt like it was 100 up there, down there (inaudible).

GEORGE STONEY: Uh, you know, we first got to know about you, Mr. Graham, when we 1:00found this sheet of paper in the archives of the National Recovery Administration in Washington, it has your signature on it. Uh, I wonder if your niece has seen that. Maybe she could take a look at it and read it to us.

MASSEY: Can this (inaudible) document, January 5th, 1934, it’s from the Eagle Yarn Mill, Belmont. And they say the name of complainant is Bruce Graham, Route Three, Gastonia. And the nature of the complaint is I am an inside employee, number one, I work -- I’m required to work more than 40 hours a week, oper-- operate three machines, the waste feeder, the waste beater, and open, and am paid less than 30 cents for an hour’s work. My employer due me extra compensation from July 17th, 1933 up to the present day. And (inaudible) they 2:00just want to know, do you remember almost exactly why you signed this piece of paper, other than somebody asked you to, do you remember what lead up to it? Was the employees complaining, or did somebody come to you and say Bruce, you know, we’re not making enough money? And uh, we should do something about it.

GRAHAM: I (inaudible) Wallace done that.

MASSEY: Wallace came to you and --


MASSEY: -- and said that you probably wasn’t making enough money? And you agreed with him?


MASSEY: And he asked you well then, if you don’t think you are, are you willing to sign this piece of paper? And that’s what you did? And I know that’s your signature, because I’ve seen it. (laughter)

GRAHAM: That’s about right.

MASSEY: And then, when they asked you if -- if they could use your name when they presented this piece of paper, were you afraid to -- to say yes, or it didn’t bother you? Why did you say yes?


GRAHAM: I -- why did I say yes?

MASSEY: I don’t know, because it is a complaint. Did you know it was a complaint? And that it would go to the head of the mill? Did you know where it was going to go? Or you just did it because he said to?

GRAHAM: Oh, it would go to the head of the mill.

MASSEY: Yeah, it would go to your employer, and you’re -- you’re complaining about your employer. Did you know that then? You did know? OK. And uh, that’s why you told them yes, and so, if it meant that you lost your job, you still believed what -- in what this piece of paper said?

GRAHAM: Mmm-hmm

HELFAND: What do you think about that?

MASSEY: I think that was brave. I mean, especially then. I mean, I even hesitate now (inaudible). (laughter)


HELFAND: (inaudible) witness.

MASSEY: Oh, then Charlie McClain. You -- right there, there’s a space for an 4:00authorization, (inaudible) that’s the Charlie McClain that we know? Is that Charlie, your cousin Charlie?


MASSEY: That’s who that was that -- that signed it? And so, he signed one of these too?

GRAHAM: Charlie did.

MASSEY: Yeah, that’s Charlie McClain’s name. Did he sign a paper like this, too, over here?

GRAHAM: I reckon yeah, I don’t know.

MASSEY: You don’t remember?

GRAHAM: No, but that’s Charlie McClain, (inaudible).

MASSEY: Yeah, your cousin Charlie?


GEORGE STONEY: OK, uh, uh, we made a copy because I thought you would like that for your family.

MASSEY: OK. All right. I took -- you, yeah you had given me one of these, but I’ll leave this one with them, and I took it to work and I showed it to a couple people, and uh, and when I started talking about a Phyllis Ferris, she’s white though, she’s the plant nurse, she knew all about it. She remembers the strike, or she remembers somebody talking about -- that’s when she gave me the name of the book, (inaudible) Heritage. She said, it’s all in there about the strike, the shooting, the killing, the everything. You don’t 5:00know about that? When two people were killed during the strike?

GEORGE STONEY: That was about the ’29 strike.

MASSEY: The ’29 strike.

GEORGE STONEY: That’s right, this is --

MASSEY: Before this, that’s --

GEORGE STONEY: -- that’s what -- see, that was just in Gastonia.


GEORGE STONEY: But this was all over the country.

MASSEY: Oh, yours was the -- the um, strike that happened to all textile mills.

GEORGE STONEY: That’s right, yeah.


GEORGE STONEY: Yeah, all over the country, yeah.

MASSEY: So, but I don’t know what [Chandler’s heritage was?], because I didn’t read it, but she told me about it, because she took a copy of the newspaper clipping that you gave me, she said I’m going to (inaudible). And then I was talking to William, he’s black, he’s the supervisor at Freightliner. And he had -- he was telling me the name of a book, and he said that he had -- he said he would bring it to me, and it talked about the times, and he said, I don’t know, what he said (inaudible) but when he comes back to me and gives me the book, I’ll tell you the name of it, and maybe you can get something out of it.

GEORGE STONEY: Good. So it --


MASSEY: There’s a lot of people that remember, um, from talking, because see, they’re not even as old as I am, and I don’t know anything about it. I don’t even remember it, well I wasn’t born until ’43, but I don’t remember (inaudible) even hearing anybody talk about it. It’s like you said, it was a secret that was well kept. (laughter)

GEORGE STONEY: Yeah. Now once again, tell me what happened to Mr. Wallace afterwards.

GRAHAM: After what?

GEORGE STONEY: Yeah, we’ve got Wallace -- Mr. Wallace was also writing to Washington, protesting his own pay. Tell us what happened to Mr. Wallace.

GRAHAM: Well, when he got his -- when he got that money back, well they told him they didn’t need him, they didn’t need him anymore, shame. And --

MASSEY: In other words, he got fired.


MASSEY: Or they eliminated his job, they didn’t fire him. They eliminated his job so he had to go.

GRAHAM: And they wouldn’t harm nobody doing the machine shop. They couldn’t 7:00harm nobody (inaudible) there. They just get bribed, from Gastonia do their work when they (inaudible) things, (inaudible). Right. And (inaudible) all up until when I left them, there wasn’t no machine shop then, when I retired. But they done sold the mill now. Yeah.

GEORGE STONEY: When you retired, did you get a pension?

GRAHAM: No. Wasn’t no pension for me, not when I started (inaudible). That’s what killed the mill, and getting no money now, they paying more than they did the big pension thing now. Back in the -- my age, don’t get nothing but hard times. (laughter)

GRAHAM: That’s right. Hard times.


GEORGE STONEY: Do you think it’s going to get better? Uh, you’re 88 now, do you think it’s going to get better before you get to be 100?

GRAHAM: I don’t know if I’ll make 100. (laughter) Doctor about two weeks ago said I might make 106, 126 years. He said he knew a person that lived that long. I wouldn’t live no 126, yeah. (laughter)

HELFAND: I wonder if uh, Mr. Graham could describe the jobs that he was doing, that it said on that letter.

GEORGE STONEY: Yeah. Yeah, let me go over that again. The diff--

HELFAND: (inaudible). Maybe she could ask him.


MASSEY: What is -- what is the waste feeder? What did you do at the waste feeder?

GRAHAM: The little stuff break off the cotton, (inaudible). It brings you -- [that then came?]. And then, and they got a waste machine and run it through 9:00there, and make it back to cotton, you see. Mix it with the cotton. (inaudible) where it go.

MASSEY: And what’s the beater? What was the beater? You had said waste feeder and waste beater. I know what an opener is.

GRAHAM: Well a waste beater, it’s all the same.

MASSEY: Oh, when you put the waste back into -- it beats into cotton, it makes it into cotton?

GRAHAM: Yeah, it makes it -- it gets it (inaudible) they don’t put all that at one time, they get a little bit mixed with the cotton. And don’t throw away nothing.

GEORGE STONEY: Hold it, hold it, wait for the plane.

GRAHAM: It’s like a little (inaudible) they get full, the fellow brung it right there to me, and then put it in there. Do that all night, and I had to grind it --

GEORGE STONEY: (inaudible) see, we’re waiting until the plane gets -- and I want you to start over and tell me that, exactly the same thing again.


HELFAND: But, you know, when he describes it, maybe he could sort of talk about it --


HELFAND: -- in a more -- not just the machinery, but where he was, and what he felt like.

GEORGE STONEY: OK, OK. OK, just tell us about uh, what it was like.

GRAHAM: (inaudible) shame. (inaudible) and break off that end put it in the can. It’s cotton, too, you know, (inaudible). And they get that can full, the sweeper brings it back there, and puts it where I can get it to dry. The same way with this. (inaudible) that machine.

MASSEY: What did it do?


GRAHAM: Uh, (inaudible). It did the same thing, it -- menfolks around here, (inaudible) womens can’t -- they run it when I left, and they -- all the men first, when I went there, were running this spinner.

MASSEY: Spinners?

GRAHAM: Spinners, yes, spinners. Yeah. They run that, and it break off and they’d put it in the can, bring that in, and I had to grind it up. (inaudible) to the picker man. They wouldn’t like to put it all in there at one time, just keep mixing it little bit at a time, get it all in there. Sometimes they wouldn’t have too much weight, it wouldn’t break off, over sometimes, have maybe 30 hours it was running. [But it don’t crack on that?], (inaudible).


MASSEY: The part that you did was what was excess of what they were working with, so that they didn’t have to throw anything away, and they could put it back and rerun it again.

GRAHAM: Oh yeah.

MASSEY: That’s what you -- that’s what it was. So that’s why they called it waste.

GRAHAM: (inaudible) yeah, grind that back up, mix it -- you understand, you’re like (inaudible) third thing there, that -- that machine was (inaudible). That was going, way to cut that (inaudible) stick it in, start to running, take that little thing and put it in the can.


GRAHAM: Bring it back (inaudible) and get it full. Sweeper do that when he come in and that sweeper do that on the third shift. On the first shift, he’d do it, second he’d do it, third shift he’d do it.

MASSEY: What did they do with what -- what you were working with? After you finished with it, what happened to it?

GRAHAM: To what?


MASSEY: The -- the waste, yeah.

GRAHAM: They’d take it to the picker man, he’d put it in the -- with (inaudible) pick up my cotton, get it off the off the bale of cotton put it in there, make that, and it’d go back into the picker. You don’t know where the -- you know what the -- you ever been in the picking room?


GRAHAM: Where they make that big roll, like a --

GEORGE STONEY: Yeah, it’s -- it’s all automated now though, it’s -- it’s very different.

HELFAND: Can you describe the picker room?

GRAHAM: Uh-huh.

MASSEY: What did the picker room look like?

GRAHAM: Oh, nothing but the -- and then, ain’t nothing but machine would make -- make the picker, and they’d take that picker and take it to the (inaudible), after the picker gets through it, back to the comber, comber get through it, they take it to the winder, and the winder get through it, they take it into the spinning room. You see?


GEORGE STONEY: Now did you ever go into the spinning room, and all of that?

GRAHAM: Sure. Take that, the picker man, the picker man get through with it, I’m going to tell you how they do it. Picker man get through with it, take it to the comber. They turn the -- you see that can right there, what’s sitting at my well? That’s what -- that would get full. And they’d sit there [with a card?] and have it running, maybe that wide, (inaudible) wide, it’s like a sheet when it come out. And it go in the can, it would be like -- like your finger. Around, around, around. And then, you take it off of there, take it to the -- (inaudible) [further along?]. (inaudible) [lap machine?], take it over 15:00to the lap machine, then take it to the comber. Comber get through with it. Take it and put it on this machine, and you’d then go to the spinning room. In that room, then it be ready to ship out. You --

MASSEY: (inaudible).

GRAHAM: Yeah, yeah.

GEORGE STONEY: So you went all the way through the factory, did you?

GRAHAM: Oh yeah, I knew everything in that mill.

MASSEY: But you never actually operated any of the machines?

GRAHAM: No, I -- I run the cart, and picker, I wouldn’t run that -- they tried getting me to run the picker, but uh, I would never -- that’s too hard work. Um, the boss man tried getting me to quit, take (inaudible) but I told them I didn’t want to do it. Too much picking up, can’t [never last?]. But I had 16:00to change that, because (inaudible) they put that lap on it, rolled it in there. Like you (inaudible) when they wanted me, they (inaudible). And they took all the old machines out, took half of the carts out, and half of the cart would make as much as -- well they took half of them out, and them other half would make as much as all them others, run fast.

MASSEY: What happened, they took it out and made a little more modern machinery, did they ask you if you wanted the job then?

HELFAND: Can we wait a second? You ask that job -- you ask that question one more time when the plane --

(break in audio)

HELFAND: You're doing fine.

GEORGE STONEY: OK, (inaudible).

MASSEY: OK. After they made it more modern and they put in the automation -- automatic, uh, equipment, did they ask you if you wanted to run the spinners or run the new jobs?

GRAHAM: No, no.

MASSEY: They never asked you then?


GRAHAM: Yeah, they get (inaudible). You see, (inaudible) that cotton, you see, and I don’t make cotton, you couldn’t let that bag, and lay it on that cotton. That’d be the (inaudible) well, (inaudible) take every one of them, watch that (inaudible) and I’d lay that bag on. Had a little streak go through there, it (inaudible) doing here.

MASSEY: But if uh, if they had asked you then, would you have taken the job?

GRAHAM: No, I wouldn’t take it.


GRAHAM: I was getting too old then.



GRAHAM: I was getting too old, I was 50 years old back then, when they put these [line?] machines in there. Oh, they put a whole lot of machines in there on -- well, one man could run what six men would run, they took them old ones out, and one man could run it.

GEORGE STONEY: Well now, we’ve talked to a lot of people who went into the 18:00mills about the same time you did. And they said when they first went in, it wasn’t -- you didn’t have to work too fast.

GRAHAM: Oh no.

GEORGE STONEY: But after a while, they kept speeding up.

GRAHAM: Speeding up.

GEORGE STONEY: They called it the stretch out.


GEORGE STONEY: Do you remember that?

GRAHAM: Yeah, sure. Yeah, I remember that. When I left the mill, (inaudible) man, them winders run so fast, you couldn’t hardly see it, they was going through there. And winding be that tired that come out of there, they couldn’t hardly walk. They was paying them good money, but cut out half of them. Put it all on two or three.


GRAHAM: They had a machine, they would put them, and get full, dump it all out, 19:00and put it in (inaudible) automatic. And then put hands on it.

MASSEY: Wait a minute.


MASSEY: Here comes the airplane.


(break in audio)


GEORGE STONEY: Those dogs.

MASSEY: Your dogs, he says that the dogs would think that was a -- a rabbit or a squirrel or something.

GRAHAM: Oh (overlapping dialogue; inaudible).


HELFAND: You want to pet it?


HELFAND: Pet it.


HELFAND: (barks).

MASSEY: (inaudible) squirrel? Hell no, a squirrel is bushy.

GEORGE STONEY: OK. OK. Um, OK, Mr. Graham --


GEORGE STONEY: -- you had uh, let -- let me repeat my question. We’ve been talking with a lot of people who were in the mill about, got into the mills about the time you did. And they said at first, it wasn’t too hard, but then after a while they started speeding up. Do you remember that?


GEORGE STONEY: They called it the stretch out, could you talk about that?

GRAHAM: Well now, when I first went to the mill, well it was hard on your back 20:00work, but you didn’t [no one’s stealing?] your job. And everything like that, then they went to stretching it out, speeding the machines, everything. So you (inaudible). Yeah. And then, they just kept on speeding them up, (inaudible) little a bit, (inaudible) white, we didn’t -- we didn’t get any black men, a black man didn’t get that. Went on to get that. When we first went to the mill, we cut out at twelve o’clock, shut the whole mill down, shut it down, take an hour for dinner. Had an old whistle they blew. Blew. (laughter) The heat in the mill [would stay in there?]. Blow that, go back to 21:00work. Some of us go to sleep, had to wake up. I wasn’t (inaudible). (laughter) I would just sleep.

HELFAND: (inaudible).

GRAHAM: (inaudible). Well, then they went there. I don’t know what year they put the -- like, put that eight hours on, what year they --

GEORGE STONEY: Nineteen thirty-three.

GRAHAM: Thirty-three.


GRAHAM: That’s a long time ago, yeah.


GRAHAM: (inaudible).

MASSEY: And when they cut you back to eight hours, they also speeded up?

GRAHAM: Speed the machines up, what they could, them old machines --

MASSEY: So what you were actually doing in 12 hours, they cut you back to 8 hours, and they wanted the same amount of production?


GRAHAM: Yeah. But you take them old machines like they had -- first had in the mill, they couldn’t speed them too much, they didn’t have nothing to set them up to run fast. But they had so many men on one job. And they had two on all the carts, that were running the carts, two men were running that. And after they put the new carts in there, they put one man on the cart.

MASSEY: Well how did you find out that you didn’t make as much money as everybody else?

GRAHAM: I found out about that, it was on my check.

MASSEY: I know, but how did you know what the other people were making?

GRAHAM: Well, let’s see how did that work now. Well didn’t they announce what they’d have to pay an hour?

MASSEY: Minimum wage.



MASSEY: And you knew you weren’t making that.

GRAHAM: That’s right, that’s how I found out. So, (inaudible) an inside machine, make more than the boys on the outside, they was -- well that’s (inaudible).

HELFAND: Excuse me. We’ve got a --


HELFAND: -- we have a plane.

(overlapping dialogue; inaudible)


JAMIE STONEY: Why don’t I just get (inaudible)?

GRAHAM: When I found that out, I --

MASSEY: Wait a minute, wait a minute, wait until it’s gone.

HELFAND: (inaudible).

GEORGE STONEY: Yeah, that’s -- that’s the way I understood it, yeah.

HELFAND: (inaudible).

JAMIE STONEY: No, as long as you’re not hearing it. (inaudible).



GRAHAM: And I went to the overseer, and I asked him why they wasn’t giving me that five cent raise. He said well, he didn’t know. And I said, well, if you don’t know, I’m going to have to (inaudible). I quit the mill there, for two months on that job. Went to another one, went down to [the Crown?]. And uh, hired another fellow that got so bad on the yarn there, he was picking stuff off (inaudible). And I said, sat there, colored boy there, a black boy down there told me to come back, they’ll give me the five cents. So, I went back to work. I had (inaudible) I just quit on them, on account of a five cent raise. I (inaudible).


GEORGE STONEY: OK. I think we got that before the --

HELFAND: Um, why don’t --

(break in audio)

GRAHAM: Yeah, (inaudible) like four more years, then four more years, (inaudible) this year. I can’t (inaudible) five, I told them, that don’t worry me at all, told them to get (inaudible) my life, start [driving?].

GEORGE STONEY: Uh, tell us the story about uh, not getting that five cent an hour raise.

GRAHAM: (inaudible) -- well, superintendent (inaudible) told him, I told him I quit, and I quit.

MASSEY: (inaudible). Sit up in the chair. Just sit up now.



GRAHAM: I quit (inaudible). I was on second shift, I really didn’t like the second shift, but uh, I’d have rather been on third shift than second.

MASSEY: And what happened after you were there, at the Chronicle, they came and got you?

GRAHAM: Oh, Charlie come down there, and he [still told me?] to come back, and they’d give me that five cent raise. Yeah, Charlie come down and told. (inaudible) the [yarn?], the yarn come back on. They was stricter back then, yarn, (inaudible) selling it. You know what they baler, cotton, (inaudible) gin, you put that bag on there, and that (inaudible) still, they were particular about that. But they got this other machinery, it wouldn’t take it all there. Still, they had a man (inaudible) open that cotton there.


MASSEY: Is that -- is that why you was so willing to sign this piece of paper after you found about the five cents that time? So when this piece of paper came along, you were willing to sign it because you knew that you had been shafted before?

GRAHAM: Yeah, I reckon so. Yeah.

MASSEY: You felt like the only way you would get -- could get results was either sign the paper or quit?

GRAHAM: Well, five cents wasn’t much, but it was good in them days, at the time.

MASSEY: Yeah. Right, but when you’re making 30 cents five cents was a lot.


GRAHAM: Mm-hmm. And that’s about all I know. And then, yes, (inaudible).

HELFAND: Mister --

GEORGE STONEY: Yes. Could you tell us about the -- did you uh, sell your -- your crops out here, what you grew in your garden, did you sell it at the mill, or in the village, and where’d you sell it?

GRAHAM: Oh, understand, I just laid it on the truck. And people come there, I 28:00guess see, I didn’t have no machines running on this, grinding away, I (inaudible) right then, somebody come, want to get (inaudible). I go out and get them -- sell it to --

MASSEY: Did you have to do it on your lunch hour, or you could just go out there any time?

GRAHAM: Oh, I’d go out there. Now we had a good superintendent, he -- we had a good superintendent, he wasn’t -- he wasn’t hard on black people. He seemed to be a Christian man, too. But he helped me, when I built this house, I couldn’t borrow money, building loan, wasn’t no road cut in here then. The state didn’t have no road, we just had a little wagon road in here. And I couldn’t borrow no money, (inaudible) told, didn’t have no money. And if 29:00you (inaudible). I give him credit on that, he was good to me back then. At the time, come on, and built this house, this place was -- oh, it was just going to (inaudible) nothing. See now, when I was first married, I stayed over there at my dad in laws house, another little house over there. And that (inaudible) and he [hadn’t cut?] enough lumber to build four houses, I believe, for the wrong house, I had to cut for the wrong house. Stuck it up, and I (inaudible) street, and he felt (inaudible). (inaudible) I said, can you? I said, (inaudible) tell me what he do, and (inaudible). Well, I cut the frame and 30:00everything, put it up. He said, I’ll lay the stone for $175. So, I did all the stone work. (inaudible).

GEORGE STONEY: Now, when you found -- tell us the story again about uh, the five cents.

HELFAND: Could he tell us about how he heard about the NRA and everything?

GEORGE STONEY: No, no, yeah.

GRAHAM: The five cents?


HELFAND: We have a plane, George.

GEORGE STONEY: OK. Just a moment.

GRAHAM: I’ll tell you about it, I’ll tell you, they sent down to the mill and told me they’d give me the five cent raise if I’d come back.

MASSEY: How did you find out that they had given everybody a five cent raise?

GRAHAM: How’d I find out?

MASSEY: Uh-huh. Who told you? How did you know that everybody had gotten a raise but you?

GRAHAM: Well, that -- they (inaudible) bet on the -- what did they do? The --

MASSEY: Radio, or?


GRAHAM: Something that said we were to get someone, (inaudible) I just don’t remember how they did it.

MASSEY: Was it the fact that minimum wage going up, you know, what --

GRAHAM: Yeah, (inaudible). Minimum wage was being a law, and five cents, they couldn’t --

MASSEY: An increase of five cents?

GRAHAM: That’s right. Five cents.

MASSEY: And you didn’t get an increase at all?

GRAHAM: I didn’t get -- no, I didn’t get nothing, no. Nobody was in the inside, (inaudible) that five cents. If they was on the outside, well then they didn’t get it. And Charlie and them didn’t get it.

MASSEY: Charlie worked on the outside also?

GRAHAM: Yeah, they was outside. And I was on the inside. But then, with the waste machine, if it wasn’t a machine running, I don’t know what it was. I told them, that’s what I (inaudible). I told them not on a machine, running a 32:00machine. I was due five cents. And they wouldn’t give it to me.

MASSEY: So you quit.

GRAHAM: Oh, I quit.

GEORGE STONEY: What did you do then?

GRAHAM: I went down -- I went down there on (inaudible), yeah I was (inaudible) $4 and something more a week down in there.

MASSEY: Because the people down at the Chronicle, they got the five cents.

GRAHAM: Oh, they paid more, at the Chronicle, hear that though, made a little bit more than Belmont. They treated nice, black, they just (inaudible) thing, go up, (inaudible) go and get anything, you would get it, they wouldn’t try to hold it off the blacks, but they were dirty. They smelled, they’re saying like they was just holding it off to the blacks.

MASSEY: And why’d you go back? Why’d you go back if they were dirty and they were better at the Chronicle? You liked working at the [Eagle?].


GRAHAM: Oh, that second shift. You see, you couldn’t get -- man, you know, that -- on that second shift, you couldn’t hardly go to Gastonia back in the afternoon, getting ready to go to -- go to work.

MASSEY: (inaudible).


GRAHAM: And that --


GRAHAM: Oh, yeah. You know, you couldn’t hardly go to Gastonia back then.

MASSEY: Oh, so the reason you went back to the Eagle, because you didn’t like working on second shift?

GRAHAM: No. I’d rather have the third shift.


GRAHAM: I didn’t -- I’d rather have first shift anyway, but I’d rather have the third.

GEORGE STONEY: Now the third shift was from what, from --

GRAHAM: Ten to 6:00.


GRAHAM: Yeah, you come in ten o’clock, and I’d go in at 2:00 and get off at -- at uh, 10:00. Oh, that -- say, that money was good, I had a good boss man down there. He really hated to see me go. I just couldn’t stand that second 34:00shift job, I wasn’t getting no sleep. Couldn’t even hoe my gardens or nothing. Nothing.

MASSEY: How long were you at the Chronicle?

GRAHAM: Two months. (inaudible) stayed there for long.

GEORGE STONEY: And you retired from the Eagle, then?


GEORGE STONEY: Could you tell us what the Eagle village was like back then?

GRAHAM: What do you mean?

GEORGE STONEY: The -- the Eagle village where most of the people -- uh, who lived there, and what was it like?

GRAHAM: Who lived on the --

MASSEY: Who lived on the Eagle mill, yeah. The Eagle.

GRAHAM: Wasn’t nothing but whites lived on the village. Rented houses,(inaudible).


GEORGE STONEY: Now we were talking the other day with a Mr. Michaels, and he was the one who looked at this letter that you signed, and said they were good friends of mine, you and your brother.

MASSEY: [Jake?].

GRAHAM: I just did my -- my name, he did it [with Joe?]. He’s -- Joe’s dead, Joe’s my -- Michael, what’s the last name? That’s the first name of the last name?

GEORGE STONEY: Uh, that was his last name.

GRAHAM: Michaels.

GEORGE STONEY: Harvey Michaels.

GRAHAM: Oh yeah.

GEORGE STONEY: He was a younger man, but he had uh, several brothers.

GRAHAM: I just can’t -- I reckon I’d know him if I seen him.

GEORGE STONEY: And his daddy was, uh, I think a loom fixer or something like that.

GRAHAM: In Belmont?

GEORGE STONEY: In the Eagle.


GRAHAM: In the Eagle? I just can’t -- I just can’t get it right. He knew me, and I reckon I’d know him if I see him. I knewed a Michael what was dead. He’s dead now. He was a (inaudible). And you say his name was what? Joe?

GEORGE STONEY: Michaels. Uh, Harvey Michaels.

GRAHAM: Oh. Oh, (inaudible).

MASSEY: What was the Michaels’ first name that you knew, that died?

GRAHAM: George.

MASSEY: George?

GRAHAM: George.

GEORGE STONEY: There was another fellow who remembered him.


GRAHAM: George Michaels (inaudible).

GEORGE STONEY: Yeah. Do you remember a fellow named Claude Ward?

GRAHAM: Yeah. Yeah, he’s still living. Michael, (inaudible) his sister [went up to?] (inaudible). Yeah, and (inaudible) forever.


GEORGE STONEY: Did you work with him?

GRAHAM: Mm-hmm. Yeah, (inaudible). Good times. He’s in bad health. Now I ain’t seen Claude in a long time, and I ain’t read if he’s dead, and I ain’t seen him in a long time.

GEORGE STONEY: We saw him the other day, and --

GRAHAM: Who, Claude? He knows me then.

GEORGE STONEY: Oh, certainly. Yes.

GRAHAM: (inaudible).

GEORGE STONEY: We mentioned uh, your name, and his face light up. Oh yeas, I remember him.

GRAHAM: Yeah man, Claude come over here, Claude’s a fine boy. Man, he lose his wife years ago. He’s still by himself, yeah.

HELFAND: George, I wonder what, um --


GRAHAM: Did you know anything about um, Fred Holyfield, or his name (inaudible)?

GEORGE STONEY: Fred Holyfield. That name’s familiar, but I don’t remember, no.

GRAHAM: And he was a good friend of mine, he’s dead. If he was (inaudible) he come from Georgia. He’s a good friend.


GRAHAM: (inaudible) he died. Now all them people’s dead I knew, old people.

HELFAND: Um, I wonder what Mr. -- I wonder --

JAMIE STONEY: (inaudible) tape change.

HELFAND: Yeah. Could you ask Mr. Graham what he thought about the control that the white people had to live under in the mill village, and the paternalism?

GEORGE STONEY: OK. Now, we’ve talked to a lot of the people in the Eagle, another mill, and they say that if you lived in a mill village, you had to do 39:00what the boss said, in your private life as well as in the mill. That if -- they gave you a house, but you had to behave. Do you remember anything like that, about people getting kicked out of their houses if they didn’t behave?

GRAHAM: I don’t know, I never did saw nobody get kicked out, but I know if you didn’t work, wasn’t able to work, you had to move. The only thing I know.

MASSEY: But as far as in the community, you don’t know what went on, because (inaudible) we didn’t -- you know, like I guess then, you weren’t allowed to -- did you ever have to -- did you ever take your truck and go peddle? You know, sell your produce in the mill village? Did you ever --

GRAHAM: Yeah, I had went through there, taking things, getting (inaudible) paid for, and I’d get off work and drive through to the houses like that. But that (inaudible) I don’t know about -- but I knew if I didn’t have the work at 40:00the mill, well I went to this other mill. If you was able to work and didn’t work, you didn’t have that house. They were mad, (inaudible) tell them to get out, if you didn’t come to work, get out. I seen them talk to people like they were talking to dogs, I wouldn’t talk to a dog like that. (inaudible) I don’t know how them houses are now, another man bought that mill, it ain’t running now, (inaudible) down there.

GEORGE STONEY: Do you remember a fellow named Woodrow Wright?

GRAHAM: Yeah. Yeah. Sure.


GEORGE STONEY: He was a guard down there at the mill, the night watchman at the mill.

GRAHAM: Sure. And the other fellow there right over here was this -- he watched it too, he was a -- what is his name?

HELFAND: Listen, George --

GRAHAM: Michael. (inaudible).

HELFAND: He -- he said that they talked to them like dogs. Could you get more in--

GRAHAM: Yeah, Woodrow, I knew, he used to run, used to run double shifts, he worked at the [Chronicle?] on third shift, come there and work eight hours at the mill, work double shifts. (inaudible).

GEORGE STONEY: Uh, now you were saying that these people, they talked to them like dogs. Could you tell us more about that?

GRAHAM: I just -- so I worked down there at the Chronicle. This overseer was tough on the people, them two months I worked there. And people was bad about 42:00(inaudible). And he’d tell them if they didn’t come in, empty house. (inaudible) empty house.


MASSEY: If you talked to him out in the public, he wouldn’t bring them aside, no matter, just wherever they were, he would just --

GRAHAM: Oh yeah, he’d just tell them, empty house, you know what I mean? Come in, if you was sick, he was all right. But if he wasn’t sick, oh boy. If I were that way, if I worked at -- well, I never did (inaudible). It’s hard to work, I knew the man depended on me, and I’d go in and work.

GEORGE STONEY: It sounds to me like there was some advantage in having your own farm and your own house.

GRAHAM: Oh, it’s good, it’s good when you’re retired, don’t have to get up and go to your job, (inaudible) be your own boss. I’m enjoying that. 43:00(laughter) Really enjoying that, you know, thank the Lord I’ve lived to see that. So, got no -- got no money, but I’m enjoying. (laughter) You know, you ain’t got no money and you go to the hospital, now you know that. The little man ain’t got no money, he go to the hospital and get sick, and the drugstore, doctor, he ain’t got no money, you know that, and you a rich man I reckon, you -- you could stand it, but I can’t. (laughter) She (inaudible) with the money, and --

GEORGE STONEY: Well I’m lucky, because I teach at a university where we have in-- we have health insurance.

GRAHAM: Boy, I’d like that. But I got -- when I come up working at this job, got good insurance, but she work -- she work in a --

MASSEY: I’m just trying to make it six more years though, I can retire with full medical benefits.

GRAHAM: She work -- she work in the office in over there.


MASSEY: The rest doesn’t matter.

GRAHAM: See, when they come up, young people come up, y’all come up different, man.


MASSEY: But you done good, if you look around here, you know how blessed you are.

GRAHAM: That’s right.

MASSEY: Because you have some that don’t have anything at all.

GRAHAM: I know a fellow who quit, I’m retired, Charlie Reed and drawed $48,000. That’s what he got when he quit, $48,000.

MASSEY: I bet he don’t have two cents now. I bet he don’t have a dime of that.

GRAHAM: Charlie Reed. Oh, he – went buying more land. What in the world he want with --

MASSEY: Well that’s a good idea, you can’t go wrong there.

GRAHAM: He’s nothing but a [holler?], what he’s good at. I got too much land with [85?] acres, we called (inaudible) there, but we called it [Ned?] -- (inaudible) now.


MASSEY: Yeah, but property’s still good to have, don’t knock.

GRAHAM: Yeah, he got $48,000.

GEORGE STONEY: Uh, did you have children?



GRAHAM: No. (inaudible) did, she seemed to be, uh, (inaudible) anything, she’d quit her job and come (inaudible).

MASSEY: I’ve been here since I was 11 months old, because when my sister that’s under me was born, my mom was sick, and they was going to help her with this -- this baby until my mom get better, I guess my mom never got better, because I never went back.

GRAHAM: (inaudible).


MASSEY: I had three brothers and two sisters. And I have two sisters that are dead.

GRAHAM: (inaudible) good job, good learning too. Good school and everything.


MASSEY: And my son was here also, he’s in Michigan now, he’s 30 years old.

GRAHAM: And what he done, (inaudible).

MASSEY: He’s an engineer, he has a good job.

GRAHAM: He’s an engineer, (inaudible). What do you do?

HELFAND: Um, I work with Mr. Stoney, I uh, I do -- I research, I go to archives like that, and I find those papers, and --

MASSEY: And she worry people on their jobs.


HELFAND: You said I worry people on their jobs?

MASSEY: Yeah, I was just kidding.

(overlapping dialogue; inaudible).

GRAHAM: What do you do?

MASSEY: Because you were calling me on my job, but that was just a joke (overlapping dialogue; inaudible).

GEORGE STONEY: All right, OK. Uh, I just want to walk around the house with Mr. Wallace, just to look at it. Yeah?

GRAHAM: (inaudible) you quit calling me Mister --

(break in audio)

HELFAND: (inaudible) use it. Is that OK, George?

GRAHAM: Mm-hmm.

JAMIE STONEY: OK, I’m going to flip over toward this way.

HELFAND: Mr. Graham, what’d you think of those people when they were organizing into a union?


GRAHAM: What was I thinking?


GRAHAM: Oh yeah, you just said the answer, (inaudible). I know, I don’t believe in a reunion myself.

HELFAND: I -- I said union, you know, those -- when -- in 1933, when the workers starting organizing into a union at the Eagle --


HELFAND: -- what’d you think about that?

GRAHAM: I don’t think I can answer that question. I don’t think I can answer that question.

HELFAND: How come?

MASSEY: Do you remember the union?

GRAHAM: Who me?


GRAHAM: Yeah, when they had a strike.


MASSEY: Why did -- why did they want the union?

GRAHAM: Oh, they wanted it, I reckon they wanted that union because they wasn’t treating them right, was what I thought.

MASSEY: And you -- did you agree with that, that they did not treat you right?

GRAHAM: Well, I’ve been treated right, I think, all my life.

MASSEY: No you’re not, because you quit working there because they wouldn’t give you a nickel, so that’s not fair treatment, so don’t say that. Now why did -- did you agree with the fact that you needed a union?

GRAHAM: Yeah, in a way, yeah.


HELFAND: So why didn’t he join?

MASSEY: Why didn’t you join?

GRAHAM: You say why didn’t I join?

MASSEY: Uh-huh.

GRAHAM: I didn’t join.

MASSEY: You -- you know, you remember why you didn’t join?

GRAHAM: Well, the reason I didn’t join is that I didn’t think they went in it right, they wanted to strike, right, they didn’t have -- they stopped too 49:00quick, they wanted to (inaudible) to have enough money in the treasury to stop work. Yeah, to stop. We had that union operating, I don’t know how long it was, then they could shut the mill down. I didn’t believe in that, we didn’t have enough in the treasury to do it.

MASSEY: So your thought was that if -- if -- if the mill’s not open, and if they strike, you won’t have a job, and that’s why you didn’t uh, didn’t agree to join?


MASSEY: Because you didn’t want to go on strike.

GRAHAM: That’s right.

MASSEY: You wanted to continue working.

GRAHAM: That’s right.

GEORGE STONEY: He told us that, quite --

(break in audio)

GEORGE STONEY: Brace yourself.


GEORGE STONEY: It’s a very modern movie.

JAMIE STONEY: Now you had said uh, when we showed you the paper (overlapping dialogue; inaudible). Right, and you said that you’d be -- you don’t know 50:00if you’d sign something like that today.

(overlapping dialogue; inaudible)

MASSEY: No, I didn’t mean -- I didn’t say I wouldn’t sign. Well right now, if you know unless it was an office union I couldn’t sign anyway, but I said even today, people are skeptical, because even when they were having the strike at Mount Holly, they were standing at the gate, outside the gate, at the Freightliner in Gastonia, and hand out the papers. I took the paper because I wanted to know what was going on, you could just take the papers, but I’m saying even today, you would be skeptical to, and not for some of the same reasons, but not for all of the reasons it was then, because it was not like it was then. But simply because today, the people from the unions and the people from -- they’ll kill you. I mean, you know, like they don’t care if you try to break their lines or if you trying to get to work, because they had a few scuffles at the Mount Holly plant, of the people that -- the office people that were working, and the ones that were on strike, they didn’t want them to come to work. So, you know, for different reasons you might not sign a paper like 51:00that, and to sign one, you know, as he did in 1934, being black and there’s only maybe five or six in the entire mill, that took guts.

JAMIE STONEY: Well we got a couple people tell us that a lot of the animosity towards Freightliner was they were paying people too much.

MASSEY: Paying too much? Since when can you pay anybody too much today? Paying them too much as in what?

JAMIE STONEY: Compared with what they pay at Firestone, what they pay at uh, any of the mills.

MASSEY: Oh, well Firestone doesn’t know what I’m doing, so they can’t decide that they pay me too much. Have you seen an 18-wheeler roll down the highway? It’s a monstrosity and it just doesn’t build itself, and I can’t -- I see how we were being paid too much, but that was what the people in the other places were saying. Well it’s the same thing now, because if you go in any place right now, and they ask you where you work, if you say Freightliner, they’ll charge you more. (inaudible) we just say that, I mean, but it really 52:00seems like they does. But uh, if you ask me, they don’t pay me enough.

JAMIE STONEY: Because we -- we had a few -- one gentleman who used to be a merchant in a grocery store said that he started losing business when people started being paid by check, instead of in cash. And some people were embarrassed for people to see how much they make.

MASSEY: What, because it was too much, or too little?

JAMIE STONEY: They used to pay you off in hard cash.

MASSEY: Right.

JAMIE STONEY: And then, they started paying you off every two weeks with a check.


GEORGE STONEY: And people would -- he said people would go to a chain store and cash their check there, because they didn’t know anybody. So the people in the mill village or around it, they were only making (inaudible). So you were saying about Freight Liner, with, you know, they see your paycheck, you know, (inaudible).

MASSEY: And that’s just a -- what, and there was a deal, (inaudible) textiles, you know what I mean? And the other industries, because all of them have come 53:00to the South, you know, they were all there now, they’ve all come to the South, and so, in order for any of them to be competitive, they -- because I think Freight Liner has caused some places to raise their pays, because of it, but -- and some things, things will always be the same. You want to change it? I don’t care.

GEORGE STONEY: OK, Judy. I think we want to walk around the house.


JAMIE STONEY: I’m rolling.

(break in audio)

GEORGE STONEY: Let’s go this way. I want to get on this side, Mr. Graham. OK.

GRAHAM: (inaudible) good old home.

MASSEY: (inaudible) as you walk, just take it (inaudible). You’re not on tape, just tell him about the tornado.


GEORGE STONEY: OK. Yeah. What happened when the tornado hit this place?

MASSEY: It was (inaudible).

GRAHAM: Well, you take on (inaudible) nothing about tornadoes (inaudible).

MASSEY: Lord, it’s good. They were in that house, and there was a tree on top of the house right there. And it just missed falling on the whole thing.


MASSEY: And you couldn’t -- see, you couldn’t even see up here, that day. When I came up here, I could not -- and this is the only place, you know, like (inaudible). All those woods up there, I mean you -- you see (inaudible).

GEORGE STONEY: Yeah, yeah.

MASSEY: That’s not Hugo, this is before the -- the hurricane, (overlapping dialogue; inaudible). Hugo was nothing compared to this. It was a tornado that came through, came through a path, just like that, and just uprooted all the trees. And one fell on the house, and it was trees everywhere, I could not believe it.


GEORGE STONEY: Let’s go down (inaudible). You’ve got a nice place here.

GRAHAM: Thank you.

GEORGE STONEY: Yeah. Is this your garden out here?

GRAHAM: (inaudible) corn there, (inaudible) down there.

GEORGE STONEY: And your dog?

GRAHAM: Yeah. (inaudible) boy, right there. Yeah. Hey, my man, you got a tick on you, got a tick on you.

GEORGE STONEY: Yeah, yeah.

GRAHAM: Got a tick on your head.

GEORGE STONEY: Come on, let’s -- OK. Let’s go on up on the porch then.

GRAHAM: Tick on your head. (laughter) (inaudible).


GEORGE STONEY: OK. Oh, nice solid house. What do you think this house is worth now?

GRAHAM: I don’t know, what do you think about it?

GEORGE STONEY: I don’t know.

GRAHAM: Ask them, (inaudible).

MASSEY: I have no earthly idea.

GEORGE STONEY: Oh, the price of things now, you -- it’s hard to say. It’s ridiculous, isn’t it? Yeah.

MASSEY: Yeah, because (inaudible).

GRAHAM: Uh-huh.

MASSEY: (inaudible).

GRAHAM: Get off that, (inaudible). Get off, (inaudible).


MASSEY: Get off the porch. Get off that.

GRAHAM: (inaudible).

GEORGE STONEY: (laughter).

GRAHAM: You love it, don’t you? Huh?


MASSEY: Stay down, don’t come up here.

GEORGE STONEY: (laughter).


GEORGE STONEY: How old is that dog?

GRAHAM: I can’t remember.

MASSEY: (inaudible) two or three years.


MASSEY: He’s not that old.


MASSEY: (inaudible) dog.

GRAHAM: He’s born last snow we had went. You know, (inaudible). He’s about five years old. (inaudible) three years old.

MASSEY: Oh, I was thinking about that one (inaudible).

GRAHAM: Yeah. That one (inaudible). They’re brothers and sisters, they’re the same mammy.

GEORGE STONEY: Uh-huh. So they’re home raised.

GRAHAM: Yeah. They’re from (inaudible).

GEORGE STONEY: Uh-huh, yeah, yeah.


GRAHAM: Lord, he loves this porch. Man, you want to see (inaudible) run him off, (inaudible) he’s back up on it. He loves it. [Lady?] (inaudible).

GEORGE STONEY: OK. OK, I think we got that Jamie.

GRAHAM: We’re going to sit down.

GEORGE STONEY: Jamie, can you hear me? Uh, do -- let me know when you have everything you need, Jamie. Oh. You -- you go to which church?

HELFAND: (inaudible).

GEORGE STONEY: Well, the -- a lot of them are kind of coming out now, you see, these deer. And it’s kind of crazy.


MASSEY: (inaudible).

GEORGE STONEY: You’re going to -- you’re going to drive to the store?

GRAHAM: Mm-hmm. I drive to the grocery store.

GEORGE STONEY: OK. Uh, what I’m going to ask is that --

(break in audio)