Dr. Elliott White, Bill Allen and Frances Allen Interview 1

Special Collections and Archives, Georgia State University Library
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(long beep)




M: All right.

WHITE: This is the office building, and the whole office was in this once place. There were [seven people in it?]. It was inside a high fence --

STONEY: Mm-hmm.

WHITE: -- which was much higher than the one here. And it went th-- on this side of the office.

STONEY: Mm-hmm.

WHITE: The main gate to the mill was right here. And, uh, that was the only way to get in from this side. But the delivering cotton (inaudible) on the other side. Now, they, uh -- people would come in and park in this area, and go into the office. Now, during 1934, the flying squadron, people had lined up out here. And outside the main gate, and they were a very loud I remember hearing them. They -- when the governor called out the National Guard after the plant 00:01:00mill was dynamited, the machine gun company -- I believe it was from [Widdleson?]. OK, now, the machine gun was set right here, in front of the office, right in front of the main gate. And they had tear gas, and the troopers, and live ammunition. And, uh, one of the, uh, flying squadron folks said, I'm not afraid of that thing. I faced a lot of them in the Argonne. And the trooper says, Well, then, you know what they can do, don't you? And he shut up. But there was never a shot fired. I got a whiff of tear gas over here on the steps. And they -- mill was closed down for about three weeks' time. And my father carried a .45 on his hip, and carried a .30-30 in the back of his car, all loaded, with soft-nosed bullets. And anybody had tried to do anything with him, that would have been all she wrote.

STONEY: OK. Now, let's [hold that way?]. Tell that again as we move over here.

WHITE: All right.

M: OK.

(jump in audio)

WHITE: This is the uh, office of the mill where we would come in through the 00:02:00main gate right here. Uh, there were perhaps seven or eight personnel in here for -- at any one time, including my father and his brother. The entry would come right through here, and parking was here. They -- in 1934, the flying squadrons came and picketed here. The whole mill, including the office, was surrounded by a high chain-link fence.

HELFAND: Excuse me. I'm getting a buzz of some sort.

(jump in audio)

HELFAND: (inaudible)

HELFAND: We'll work around that. I'll work around that. OK, gentlemen, when you're ready.

STONEY: OK, sir.

WHITE: Right. Th-- this is the office of the mill, and the main --

HELFAND: I'm getting it again, I'm so--

(jump in audio)

WHITE: --ice of the mill.

HELFAND: Start again, please.

HELFAND: No it's --

(jump in audio)

WHITE: This is the mill office right here. The main gate was right along where the sidewalk is, and the whole mill was surrounded by a tall, chain-link fence with barbwire on top. Uh, considerably taller than this fence is right here. 00:03:00Now, in 1334, the flying squadrons came and picketed the main gate here.

STONEY: Sorry. Just starting there, say in 1934.

WHITE: What?

STONEY: You said 1334.

WHITE: I -- I -- I said 19.

HELFAND: (inaudible)

WHITE: In 1934, the flying squadrons came and picketed in this area right here. And, uh, raised a lot of noise and prevented the workers from coming to work. Uh, my father would come to work, but he would carry a .45 on his hip and a .30-30 all loaded with soft-nosed bullets in the back of his car. He got through the picket lines. Now, the -- when the [plaid?] mill was bombed in Burlington, the government called out the National Guard, a machine gun company, uh, I believe from Wilson, North Carolina, came here. A machine gun was placed right here, in front of the office steps. There were tear gas canisters there, too. I remember getting a whiff of that as I came, uh, outside to see what it was like. I wanted to see what it smelled like and got too close.



WHITE: Uh, this was live ammunition, steel jackets. One of the flying squadrons hollered out, I'm not afraid of that thing, I faced a lot of them over in the Argonne Forest. And the troop [of their company says?], Well, then you know exactly what they can do, don't you? Uh, with this, the man turned his back, and didn't say another word. Uh, the picketing lasted for approximately three weeks. Uh, during the nighttime, mill workers, as volunteers, were armed with shotguns and buckshot, and high powered rifles, and were stationed around in the back, in the corners, in places where the machine gun -- where the machine gunners of the National Guard couldn't go. Uh, they were to protect, uh, against bombing from the road in the back. I remember getting up with my father many times at night, coming out and making rounds to check on the -- uh, the guards to make sure they were all right, be sure they had something to eat, or -- or that they were getting along OK. But it was a 00:05:00quite fearsome time. Uh, the whole thing lasted about three weeks. Um, at one meeting, which, uh, the flying squadron was called -- the -- they extolled the advantages of unionism, and told their workers that they were being exploited and not being paid enough, and had all terrible working conditions, etc., which was the union, uh, spiel at that time. And when they got through, one of the -- they said, are there any questions? One of the workers got up and says, Are you through speaking? He said, Yes. He said, Well, I'd like to say something. That back in the early part of the Depression, the three mills in this town, two of them closed down. This mill ran two shifts a week. Wasn't much, but it paid us enough to buy firewood, and corn meal, and fatback to feed our families. The mill didn't make any money, we made the cloth and stored it. And they took care of us when we needed it, and now we'll take 00:06:00care of them. Why don't you take your trucks and go back up to [Yankeean?] where you came from and leave us alone, and let us go back to work? And, uh, that was the end of that.

STONEY: Were there any, uh, employees of this mill who were on strike?

WHITE: I don't think there were. I don't know of any. Now, it's possible that it could have been. But I don't -- uh, I don't think so. I think this -- they felt that it was an imposition on them that they would -- people had come down and interfering with their way of life and their way of work.

STONEY: You say came down. Where did they come from?

WHITE: Uh, from the accents, they came mainly from, uh, [Joycee?], uh, Ohio, uh, someplace up North.

STONEY: So you actually heard them speaking?

WHITE: Yes. And, uh, it was a rather frightening time in this area, particularly since the dynamite against us, and that sort of thing.

STONEY: How old were you then?

WHITE: I was 12 years old.

STONEY: Must have been very vivid for you as a young man, then.


WHITE: Very. Very vivid. Very vivid.

STONEY: Yeah. (inaudible)

WHITE: I can see it today.


WHITE: And, uh, I can see my father. I'm sure his blood pressure went up quite a bit. And, uh, I've always said that that contributed to his death.

STONEY: What happened after that?

WHITE: Uh, after the flying squadrons left, the mill went back to work, and continued on like they had before.

STONEY: Was there any attempt to organize here, either before or after that?

WHITE: Uh, I don't know of any concerted attempt. I'm sure that the union organizers had -- had come by, and they periodically will make attempts to do so. And, uh, as far as I know, the company was never unionized as Tr-- as [Tregora?], and even after Cannon bought it, I do not believe they were ever unionized. Don't think Can-- Cannon is unionized today.

STONEY: No. I don't believe it is. You've mentioned going around with your 00:08:00father, uh, to visit the -- the -- the mills.

WHITE: Oh yes. And, uh, well, I'd usually hide and get up, go in the office, much to the dismay of the office, because I was rather he-- an office wrecker, playing with the machines and everything. But my dad would take me on making his mill rounds. He usually went once or twice a day, throughout the mill, visiting every department. He knew the workers by nae, and knew about their families, would ask about their -- uh, how their new child was doing, or whether their wife was -- was getting over their illness. Uh, we'd stop, and I'd play with the bobbins, and, uh, he'd go by and show me how things worked, and we'd watch the weavers and the carders, and once we -- and went by the machine shop where we'd get a lathe and Dad would turn out a -- a wooden gun for me to play with. And the, uh -- [Ruth Hano?], the machinist, was always, uh, glad to see us come around. Then we'd stop, uh, on that -- on the 00:09:00way over to the finishing plant, where -- at the store, that whole store. And I'd get an -- an Eskimo pie, and we'd continue on our trip to the finishing plant where they did the dyeing, finishing, and gluing. They were making gauntlets then for the gloves. And, uh, on up through the finishing. And then we'd come back to the office where I'd stay until it was time for Dad to go home. And, uh, it was a good experience. I enjoyed it. In fact, if I hadn't gone into medicine, I might have enjoyed going into the textile business.

STONEY: Mm-hmm.

WHITE: But my dad, uh, s-- sort of, uh, wanted to be a doctor all of his life, and textiles was his second choice. So medicine was my first choice.

STONEY: Thank you.

WHITE: All right?

(jump in audio)

STONEY: -- they knew the people, so that we'd get some idea of -- but, you know, he just didn't come in very s--

WHITE: No, no, [after the fight?].

STONEY: I think that -- we need that pr-- slight preamble.

WHITE: OK. All right.

HELFAND: OK. And you should play that to camera, right?

STONEY: Yeah. And then --


STONEY: -- then he'll show us where the machine gun -- all right, sir.

WHITE: All right. All right.

HELFAND: OK. When you're ready, sir.


WHITE: Uh, this is the office building. It was built in the late 1920s. And my father's office was at this window right here. My uncle Harvey's was the room behind that. They built the mill in 1901, and he stayed with it until he died in 1936. Uh, Uncle Harvey was more of the business part of it. My father liked to go into the mill and visit the people, and he knew them by name, knew their families, and would joke and talk with them as he visited around. He made rounds at least once a day, and if there were two shifts, he tried to make it twice a day. And, uh, with this, uh, he got to know people pretty well, and people thought an awful lot of him. Uh, you should have seen the church at his funeral. It was overflowing. The machine gun, during the strike of 1934, was placed right in front of the steps. The tear gas canisters were on the side, 00:11:00and I got too close to one. And the high fence of chain link with barbwire on the top ran along about where this telephone pole is on the edge of the street.

PAM BRAXTON: (inaudible)

WHITE: The main building, uh, main entrance of the -- to the building, to the mill was right here with a swinging gate. And, uh, this was where the flying squadrons, uh, did their picketing.

STONEY: Now, what did your father think of all that?

WHITE: My father was very upset about it. In fact, he was -- he had a, uh, pretty good temper, and would, uh, express himself in no uncertain terms. Uh, I think this kind of got him out of, uh, the Roosevelt camp. And since this apparently was, uh, encouraged, uh, at least, uh, endorsed by the administration. But, uh, he has never got-- forgot-- or forgiven Roosevelt for this. But, uh, he was -- he was very upset about the whole thing.



(jump in audio)

STONEY: Do you remember that?

BRAXTON: No. (laughter)

WHITE: Machine gun was right here.

BRAXTON: Who are y'all with?

STONEY: We are doing it for PBS.



BRAXTON: (inaudible)

STONEY: (laughter)

WHITE: Now, my dad used to own the mill.

BRAXTON: Uh-huh.

WHITE: And, uh, so we're talking about this in 1934, when they had that big strike.


STONEY: How long have you lived around here?

BRAXTON: Uh, well, all my life, 38 years. But --

STONEY: Do you remember anything about this?


STONEY: Your parents never told you anything about this?

BRAXTON: No, they didn't -- no. No. (laughter)

STONEY: Did -- did they work in the mill?


WHITE: What's -- what is your name?

BRAXTON: Pam Braxton.

WHITE: Braxton.

BRAXTON: Uh-huh.

WHITE: You ain't akin to, uh, Theo, and -- and Drusilla, and E.A. and Darnell?

BRAXTON: E.A., yeah.

WHITE: Uh, what kin?

BRAXTON: Well, my husband's side. They're all --

WHITE: Yeah. What -- what, uh --

BRAXTON: He -- his cousins.

WHITE: OK. And, uh, they were -- they were in school with me when I was in school. Yeah.

BRAXTON: Oh really?


WHITE: And, uh, there was a bu-- there was a bunch of -- in fact, Theo lives in Charlotte now, I think.

BRAXTON: Oh, yeah. Yeah, there's a bunch of Braxtons around.

WHITE: Oh yes. Oh yes.

BRAXTON: I mean, you know, y'all might want to talk to our plant manager. I don't know, he would know all this stuff.

WHITE: Would you like to do that?


BRAXTON: He's not here right now. [13:13]



BRAXTON: Y'all want to -- y'all want to wait a while?

STONEY: We're going to go get some lunch and then we may come back.



BRAXTON: Thank you.

STONEY: Thank you.


STONEY: OK. Let's go eat.

WHITE: All right. OK.

M: So the town is like that, where everybody knows everybody's cousins, and --

STONEY: Everybody -- (laughter)

WHITE: Oh yeah.

STONEY: That's great.

WHITE: Oh yeah. (inaudible) Nobody's business, you -- if, uh, somebody got kissed goodnight on Sunday night, Monday everybody in school knew it. (laughter)

(gap in audio) [13:45-18:38]











FRANCES ALLEN: -- no offense to women, I thought, what [in the world?] (inaudible).

WHITE: Oh yes! This is Mr. Stoney, this is, uh, Frances Allen and Bill Allen.

FRANCES ALLEN: Frances Allen, and this is Bill, my husband.

STONEY: Hello. Pleased to know you, Mrs. Allen.

BILL ALLEN: You got a whole lot of people waiting.

STONEY: Hello. How you doing?

WHITE: Hello. Glad to see you. Haven't seen you since our last, uh --

BILL ALLEN: [Go on, go in the house?] --


STONEY: No, we're -- we're going to stay right out here.

FRANCES ALLEN: (overlapping dialogue; inaudible) living room, [it's comfortable?].

BILL ALLEN: [If you sit better there?] than you can out here.

STONEY: We're -- no, we're -- we're here. We're here.

HELFAND: So, uh --

BILL ALLEN: [Who are these?]?

FRANCES ALLEN: Y'all want to go in the living room? It's dirty out here.

WHITE: These are the folks -- this is [another?] Mr. Stoney, uh, [his junior?], and this is Judy.

BILL ALLEN: (inaudible) Hello.

STONEY: This is Judy.

HELFAND: Nice to meet you.

WHITE: And they run -- they run the -- the cameras and things, and they want to talk with you a little bit about the -- about the mill back in the '30s.

FRANCES ALLEN: Is y'all going to want to go in the living room?

STONEY: No, we're here -- fine right here.

WHITE: Fine right here.

FRANCES ALLEN: Well, me get some chairs, then.


FRANCES ALLEN: Let me wipe that one out.

WHITE: Can I help you, Frances?


BILL ALLEN: No, you can't. That wouldn't do nothing.

WHITE: I know. I know.

STONEY: (laughter)

WHITE: She's a -- she's a whole -- she's stubborn. It comes normal. (laughter)

BILL ALLEN: You said it.

WHITE: (laughter)

STONEY: You worked at -- you worked in the mill with this gentleman?


STONEY: You didn't?

WHITE: (inaudible) I thought you did.

BILL ALLEN: Not with you, I worked with your --

WHITE: No, no, no, with my dad. With my dad, yeah.

BILL ALLEN: -- yeah. And Will.

FRANCES ALLEN: I don't have time to sit on this front porch.

BILL ALLEN: His daddy, and his -- his daddy's brother, we went [high wired?] to the best, man. And they had [Seymour Hope?] up there with their boss man, 00:20:00and oh, the whole thing, he was good.


BILL ALLEN: He was plenty good.

FRANCES ALLEN: I'm going to get one on --

WHITE: Yeah, he was a -- Seymour was the superintendent.

STONEY: What -- what did -- you were -- what did you do in the mill?

BILL ALLEN: Well I went to -- [hauling rope?]. I mean, spool, and put him up on the spool, from the women have put it on -- I don't know what [he's doing?]. Put it on -- (inaudible). [Picked all of them?], bu-- and they, uh -- a little of the [stains come off a?] spinning frame.

WHITE: Put them on the bobbin.

BILL ALLEN: Put it on the bobbin, and they pick it off the bobbin, that damn thing here, and they put it on the spool running around this way --


BILL ALLEN: -- and they put that in the [warp mill?], that made the [warps?]. And they took the [warp?] to the [warp mill?], and they put it on the thing here, and it went down in a sack, [daggone?] paper sack. Now, not paper, but a tote bag or something.


BILL ALLEN: And they'd haul that. I don't know who did carry it from there, but they carried it to the dye house --

FRANCES ALLEN: [David?] you want to sit up here?

WHITE: No, I'm fine, I'm fine.


BILL ALLEN: They'd dye -- they'd dye --

FRANCES ALLEN: Y'all want to sit down?

BILL ALLEN: -- they'd dye them things, and they come out on a great old long thing like that. And that went on the loom --

FRANCES ALLEN: Y'all going to leave me out here, I'm going in here. (laughter)

BILL ALLEN: And the loom was, uh, the devilest thing I ever seen.

FRANCES ALLEN: Can I get y'all anything?

BILL ALLEN: I would -- I would reckon I was six years old when I went in Glynco. And at that time, when you got eight or ten years old, you was ready to go to work, [ease the work?]. But I went in after my daddy. My daddy was a carpenter and a miller all his life. And we got to Glynco, I don't know how I g-- I come about that, but he was down there cutting the -- the stuff off these ro-- uh, these bobbins --

STONEY: Mm-hmm.

BILL ALLEN: -- that stayed on it. Didn't come off. It was (inaudible). He down there, cutting that off, and I'd go down and help him cut that off. So while I was down there, had one woman with a -- with what I thought was friend of mine. She let me run the loom. Now, she had five -- four or five -- four, maybe six looms. There's two together, and one right in front of the other, 00:22:00which you put the -- had two or three bobbins over here. And that -- that loom knows when to switch that bobbin, you take another color. And that's what makes [checkered-y?] cloth, like that. You have a different thing here.

STONEY: How old were you when you first started, uh, working in the mill?

BILL ALLEN: I was -- I was about seven, eight years old then.

STONEY: Seven or eight years old? What --

BILL ALLEN: When I wasn't working, I was helping my daddy then.

STONEY: Yeah, yeah.

BILL ALLEN: But, uh, I could go down there and help him. You could go help your folks if you had to, and I had to.

STONEY: About what year was that?


STONEY: When were you born?

BILL ALLEN: I would say it was around 1914. (laughter) Long time ago.

STONEY: Yeah, yeah.

BILL ALLEN: And, uh, now that was my first work in the mill, first time I remembered. My daddy used to run a -- uh, engine that fell out on me. That was great [on a long engine?]. You had a belt as long as (inaudible) that road, bank [out there?], and a great, big old wheel, uh, but y'all didn't have it. 00:23:00Y'all got -- that -- that got electrical stuff up there. But, uh, he'd run that, and his daughter married, and he turned all the running [with that?] -- that engine in the mill, they run that, they had -- they had the -- the weaving room. The weaving room, and the spinning room, I believe the Carolina run off of water. But they got other motors to put upstairs. And, uh, that was when I went to work over there. They had motors upstairs, but still run that engine. But anyhow, it was something else. It -- it's just something. See, that a weaving room -- or to me, it was. I never did weave. But that thing, go back over here, and the right bobbin would be in the right place, and that thing behind woUld hit it, stick them. We had a long [stick?]. You remember [up for the mill?]. That thing, we hit that thing and knock it through yonder, and come back. 00:24:00And it -- the color of that what made the -- the, uh --

WHITE: The plaid. Yeah. Yeah.

BILL ALLEN: -- color -- color the hair -- the yarn, of --

WHITE: Yeah. Yeah.

BILL ALLEN: -- of cloth, they'd make it. Yeah, I miss a whole lot of words because I'm 84 and had two strokes, and one passing stroke.

WHITE: Yeah.

BILL ALLEN: That made three. And I got better doctors, and I -- I -- I'm just all appreciative for doctors. [You don't even talk about?] --

STONEY: (laughter) Well -- well, this doctor right here --


STONEY: -- has been -- has been telling us about when he was, uh, 11, 12 years old.

WHITE: Yeah.

STONEY: He was remembering a big strike up here. Do you remember that strike, in '34?

WHITE: Yeah.

STONEY: Tell us about it.

BILL ALLEN: We didn't have no strike at [Hull River?]. [That's Charlottewood?]. (laughter) But --

STONEY: (laughter)

BILL ALLEN: But you remember Big Joe Phillips? You don't remember him? He was the superintendent or something, he'd come here, he'd go and do wonders. (inaudible) he was here during that strike.

WHITE: Yeah. I don't remember. Seymour Holt was a -- was a superintendent.

BILL ALLEN: Well, he was -- Seymour Holt was still there, but this old man come 00:25:00down here, well done, he'd learn what he'd learned in Greensboro. But [come the mill?], he was hell.

WHITE: Was he down in [Trollingwood?]?

BILL ALLEN: He -- he'd come down here and stayed here a little while. But, uh, he was here during that strike. Well, i-- it was dangerous. We had one fellow that -- uh, I don't know where he lived, but he worked at [Needmore?]. Now, one of them (inaudible) Burlington. But anyway, he went up fine. They were throwing some kind of bombs over the fence. And he got -- I don't know how he got hurt, but he lost one arm on account of that. And it's getting bad, and so we just didn't go to work that morning. Big Joe, he'd come down, and, uh, told us that, uh, you remember Willy Phillips?

WHITE: Uh, vaguely, vaguely.

BILL ALLEN: He was a spinning room boss, [but then he?] finally got over to be all of it. It was his brother, but he wasn't like Willy Phillips. Unh-unh. But he come down there and he come out at the store and told them all out there, 00:26:00I wouldn't even have that. And they told them all. So they didn't go to that mill to work. At dinner time, the ones that lived in company housing, to get out of them at the end of the week. And I don't know who done it, but somebody called Seymour, so I called up there and talked to Seymour about it. And, uh, so Seymour [was down in] 15 minutes from the mill. He told him, said, We ain't got these guards out there, the doors was men with guns to guard y'all. So that ain't what we got them for. I said, Y'all don't feel like you're safe. Don't go in there, and said, If you get hungry, come on up to office. Said, We'd give you some-- something to get some -- something to eat with. And, you know, you don't go in there if you don't feel safe. You know, that made everybody feel a whole lot better, but Big Joe never did come back no more. He was gone. He never come back. Oh, a lot of things. He had in mind he was going to do -- but just wouldn't work at [Trollingwood?]. He -- uh, one of the things was we'd have 00:27:00to -- I was running, uh, like a mar-- I went there, they was running-- uh, not to run nothing, but to work a day or two until, uh, [Chuck Gaines?] come back to work. He's hauling rope. And that's what I'd done, Old Man [Bob Bane?], he was boss man. So I worked three or four days, and he'd come in there, and said, Bill, said, uh, how about it? Said that, I ain't going to fool with Chuck no more. Said, I don't even know where he's at. Said, I ain't going to fool with him more. And his mammy and daddy was both working there, but, uh, so, I said, Well, I ain't got a job. I -- I was loking for one, but I ain't got one yet. I can do this. They said, Yeah, I know you can. And that time, it was different for what it was that first one. I mean, when I got into it later on working the mill. If you got your job caught up, and although -- you just don't know where I sleep, or in the bo-- box sleep, (inaudible) [real work?] come back, and he's a damn good hand. He'd keep is [jawbone?] sleeping half the time. But when Big Joe 00:28:00come in, he tried to do something about that. And it -- and it was right. But that's the way they call us. If we were setting -- setting over in our sleep, and our job was up, that was all they expected.

STONEY: Well, now, uh, who -- who caused that strike?

WHITE: I don't remember. (laughter) It just kind of went over the country.

HELFAND: Excuse me.

BILL ALLEN: And it cut the cotton mills.

HELFAND: We're having some disturbances.

BILL ALLEN: You want a chair to sit in? She set one down --

HELFAND: No, I don't need a chair.

(jump in audio)

BILL ALLEN: Um, and they'd have it next Christmas, (inaudible) stored up. (laughter) And [then Mama says?] (inaudible) you broke our iron horse. And I remember -- my first Christmas, I remember, wasn't a -- I didn't have no c-- no brothers, all sisters. And they'd brought, uh -- Santa Claus brought two of my sisters -- younger sister is a-- uh, who was it? I don't know what kind of a doll we called it -- what they -- kind of like what they call Barbie dolls 00:29:00now, but it was -- had a -- a stuffed body. The whole body was stuffed with, uh, sawdust or something. And you bought -- at that time, you'd just buy the head. You could buy the head for I don't know how much. [Prettiest black?], lay it high. Oh, it was beautiful. My mammy had to buy me one before I was happy at all. She got me one. And I was -- I foo--

(jump in audio)

BILL ALLEN: -- when I was about 13 or 14 years old. And believe it or not, I had been served some time in Carolina Mill, uh, working on slubbers. But, uh, he'd got sick. And, uh, I had to quit school, because I'd been -- went about a month in the seventh grade. And, uh, I had to quit school. He'd run a gristmill down in Snow Camp. Dixon Mill. And, uh, I had to quit to run that mill at 13, 14 years old. And I'd tell them -- I told them, I -- uh, it was 00:30:00the proudest thing I'd ever had happen to me, that I could quit school and run that gristmill, and -- and flour-- make flour and cornmeal, and -- and, uh, we had a -- a thing down there, we could take -- take corn. First (inaudible) it seemed, they'd take corn, and throw it in the cob and all. And they'd crush it up and throw it in this other thing, and make cow feed out of it. I had never seen one. But I -- I could run it. And I told them, I said, I was just goddamn proud of myself, because I was able to be in when I could leave that mill and go [hope?] (inaudible) -- I mean, leave school and run that mill while my daddy was sick.


BILL ALLEN: There wasn't none of the boys in my class, like, hardly ever, that worked that much. They was plowed, and done what had to. And, uh, we had four acres of land that I plowed for it. But nevertheless, that's -- that ain't a cotton mill story, but it's a story of what I've been through, what I'm 00:31:00more proud of than anything else. But I went on up there, and -- and run that mill. And I was proud, because I thought I was doing something that was real worthwhile, and I was raised that way. But Daddy died in about eight days, so I didn't need to go back to school no more. And I told them [up there at Graham?], I said, this is goddamn stupid. Damn proud of that, that -- that was that they had done. (inaudible) But, uh, that's the way that goes. But anyway, uh --

STONEY: Now, you worked for his daddy?



BILL ALLEN: His daddy and h-- and Harvey was the one that owned, uh, both mills up here. And Seymour was their boss man.

STONEY: Tell us about his daddy.

BILL ALLEN: I don't know nothing about him, but he was [a catbird?]. I said, Mr. White, I got a .22 rifle up yonder. And it -- it's in --

HELFAND: (inaudible) I can't -- I couldn't hear any of that (inaudible).

STONEY: Yeah. Uh, tell us about his daddy.

BILL ALLEN: Well, that's it. I said, I got a .22 rifle up home, and it goes far back at them. If you were to shoot far, you know, I'm going to cut 00:32:00that thing off and make it fit again back in and put it back in. And I was wonderin' if I could come up to your shop up there, and, uh, get one of them fellas to let me have it, nobody had drill bits. They'll me have a drill bit, uh, to drill -- so [far in that?] for another cottage to go in there. And I had to make a little place -- I -- my son still got it. Had to work a little place in there for the things that roll the thing out with. He said, I know what you tell them that you want to do. He said, I don't know whether you can do it or not. I said, That sounds like a job. I said, It's hand work [all with that?], I think. He said, I'll tell you what to do. When you get ready, you come on up, and you go on down there, and you tell (inaudible) shock [them down there?]. I said, You tell [Banes in there?] what you got, and said, he'll help you fix that. He -- he'll fix that for you. You -- you -- you can get it just like you want. I said, OK! And so I did. And you know what. I hadn't had got -- hadn't hardly got any 00:33:00shot back there. Here come (inaudible) wheel in there. Said, You brought it? I said, Yeah. And he took a look at it too. Said, You ready to do it yet? I said, I'm going to do it. I got to do it. But in a way, uh, I thought he was about the nicest man I ever seen. Just take (inaudible). He -- he was a whole lot more than Harvey was on something like that. Harvey -- Harvey just didn't fool with that. And he sent me one time, after he got sick, and he -- he, uh -- well, he -- he was still sick, but he was laying down, taking a nap. And I went to the door, and knocked, and his wife come in the door, and I told her, I come to see Mr. White, if he's so -- that I could see him. I want to see him, just talk to him a little bit. She said, Well, he's laying down right now, said, uh, I don't want to wake him up, said, I -- I -- I -- He's laying down, says, I just don't want to wake him up. I said, No, I don't want you to wake him up. I just want to know if he's doing all right. And I thought if he would, 00:34:00I'd talk to him a little bit about everything else. And, uh, he said -- [I don't want to name what he called?]. I heard it when he called it. He said, Bring Bill on in here. (laughter) I went on in there, and he's getting up on the couch, he was laying on -- on the couch. He has his coat, his necktie, and everything on. He had -- he had just laid down there, he said. Laid down there to rest a little bit. Said, What you doing down there? What's going on around here? And I -- I just went on, we talked together. He seemed to be -- he seemed to be genuinely interested me too, and my wife, and my two little young'uns.

HELFAND: (inaudible)

BILL ALLEN: I thought they was good.

HELFAND: He seemed -- to be what, George?

STONEY: I'm sorry, could you say that again?


HELFAND: He seemed to be --

BILL ALLEN: Genuine. That's the name I used. You don't may know what it was. Uh, but anyway, I thought they was too good. I used to work -- the first work I done was when [Bird Paylor?] was the superintendent. And, uh, he had two 00:35:00or three of his young'uns was overseeing that. And that's where he used to work. You never did know?] Pa-- Pa-- [Paylor?], did you?

WHITE: No, no.

BILL ALLEN: I don't think you did. You ain't old enough. Bird Paylor.

WHITE: I've heard of him, but I never --

BILL ALLEN: We used to (inaudible). We used to be, uh, overseer with Carolina Mill, and the one they had over here at Graham. The one going out towards Burlington on the Main Street -- or not Main --

WHITE: Ni-- [Oneida?]. Or sorry, Sidney, which -- Sidney, I guess, it was on Main Street.

STONEY: Well, letme ask you once again, uh, who do you think brought that strike here?

WHITE: He'd come from somewhere out of town. I don't think it -- I just don't know. Uh, [that mill trip?], while they was striking -- that's what I've always had against the unions. They run things just like the Highway Patrol, that I'm -- I'm dead on the Highway Patrol in North Carolina. I'd 00:36:00just about as soon as shoot them as I would [be sign?]. And I don't know who give them that much power that they shouldn't have. They took my license. Now I'm only allowed to drive 10 miles from this house. Where will I go? I can't go but 10 miles from this house.


WHITE: And they stopped me -- they stopped me to start with, because I couldn't see. Well I went and had my eye operated on, and -- and when I come back down there to try for my license again, a girl said, uh, Read line two. And I read line two. I said, Now, do you want me to take these glasses off and read the top line without them? No, no, you -- that's all right. You're all right, ain't a thing wrong with that. And then said, I have to give you the driver's test," and I said, "I didn't fail the driving test. Said, I know, but I'll have to give you one. And then when it started, I worked on [was this?] highway (inaudible). I'm still driving with that license. I got this restricted license to go, uh, 40 miles an 00:37:00hour. And not on the superhighway. Couldn't drive without my glasses, couldn't drive at night. I don't know what all, but I've done along with that for about a year. And I went back to try to get my license. That's when I was back trying to get it. [That old two girls?] gave me a driving test, and they turned me down, and told a, uh, sergeant up here at this place up -- where I was referred to by the man in Raleigh to go up where he was a safety sergeant. And, uh, he told me who he was, but he wasn't there. And them two girls gave me the damn driving test. And one of them just said, You just scared me to death!

STONEY: (laughter)

BILL ALLEN: I said, Well, I wasn't supposed to take it anyway. Y'all just took this on me. I done took this test. But the second one, she -- she -- she's [going forty-five?]. And she come back, she said, I'm going to give you another driving test. I said, You think you will? She said, Yeah, I'm going to give you another test. So she took my record that 00:38:00she had gave me, and the other gal had give -- been given -- this sergeant was there setting up [with me there?]. I went over there, and he done looked at it, and he said (inaudible). "Well," he said "Mr. Allen," said, I'm going to tell you this, I'll tell you something. Said, I'm going to give you a driving test, and if you don't do [no better?] than what you done with them two girls. Said, I'm going to have to take your license. I said, Well, let me ask you a question. You can answer me, you don't have to. I said, Won't it do just a little -- a little bit of good if I go down to Raleigh and talk to the men down there that's over all this thing? No, sirree! Said, You can't do nothing down there. Said, uh, You've got to get all you going to get in right here. And I never told him, but I had a thing in my pocket with a name and address on it, and the lawyer's name, and the whole thing, said, Give him $250, he'll bring you 00:39:00your license, your full license. I didn't tell him I had that, and I ain't gone yet. But since they cut me to 10 miles from home, that's bad, but I wasn't allowed to drive on the super. And my wife can drive, but she don't want to, unless she wants to go.

STONEY: What about -- we're still interested in this thing that happened back in the '30s.

BILL ALLEN: Yeah. Th-- that's happening now, though.

STONEY: Did you see the, uh -- the National Guard come here?

BILL ALLEN: I don't remember them coming to Trollingwood. But we didn't have no trouble down there, just -- we just left out because we were afraid they was going to come down. That's what -- that's what caused the fence around the mill, I think. They put a fence around the mill and had [to open three gates?], but they didn't ever open but the one up at the front.

STONEY: And that fence went in -- when did the -- they build the fence?

BILL ALLEN: They built the fence right along about that time. They went to get the fence built, because -- I don't know whether they had one up yonder or not either. But that -- that -- that strike, I don't know what -- I just don't 00:40:00know. I don't know nothing about -- never have been in a strike. I always was raised, if you didn't like it, get out and go somewhere else. So that's what I done, and I did. I got tired of this state, one time. And I went to Atlanta. I had an aunt that lived down in, oh, about 15 or 17 miles from Atlanta. But I went to Atlanta and got a job. Guess what? In the third biggest flour mill and corn meal mill there was in the United States. The third one, Atlanta Flour Mill. It got so big that, uh, that they had to go to work in two shifts. And so I -- I come home then. I didn't stay for long. I used to pick a banjo. And, uh, the, uh, boy, uh, step in -- slept in the same room that I boarded in. He played the guitar. Me and him, we'd go up there and try 00:41:00them -- [Hawaiians?]. We may come over beyond there, go up on the rooftops, and practice. And we'd go up there, and half the time we couldn't play nothing with them. But they wo-- they then -- they wanted to play with us. Tried to. But, uh, after -- I wasn't married then. That was before. (laughter)

STONEY: Did you ever play baseball for the team, for the -- the mill?

BILL ALLEN: Unh-unh. Unh-unh. I told somebody the other day up yonder I went to the ballgame. My daughter worked in, uh, banker shippers up here at Bur-- Burlington. And they -- somehow or another, I don't know how they do it, but they give them people up there a ballgame, ticket, whatever they ask for, and see all these -- she got two for us, two for her and her husband. And I told them, I -- I knowed how to play [roll a bat?], but [bounce a bat?], I don't know much about. I never did play baseball. I reckon I couldn't catch (inaudible). 00:42:00And I don't remember Trollingwood ever having a ball team. You?

WHITE: No, I think, uh, they had one up at, uh, (inaudible) -- [Trevora?], up in Graham --


WHITE: They have a park right out back of the mill.

BILL ALLEN: Yeah. I didn't know (inaudible). When I got that -- down here, oh, [well Nell?], I was living there when my wife died, and she died in 1942, I believe it was. And, but I'll tell you what, that whole bunch of there, Willy Phillips was a man up there, and old man (inaudible). And they -- they would just work with anybody, especially if they had sick. And they -- they worked with them like that, do anything they could for them. But, uh, well, I used to. When I was little, ain't nobody got sick at any cotton mill, [they nearby stuck together?] pretty good. Well, I'll tell you one thing. I -- I noticed here. This here is not very nice. But we have been -- uh, (inaudible) Glynco in Carolina and Hopedale Mills in White Oak [Earl Langer?]. Uh, but what -- 00:43:00what strikes me most is nearly ever cotton mill we went to, the young'uns all was full of lice. That -- that's not nice at all, but that's the way it was. And my mother had a fine comb, and she helped -- kept that fine comb right where she wanted in a little, uh, saucer there. And she had -- every day, when we come from school, she'd set us down there, (inaudible) whether at all. But she'd set us down and dip that fine comb and then comb us. She hardly ever would find the lice, but she would. They'd get on your head when you was with the young'uns. The young'uns is going to play, don't [give a darn?] what it is. But here lately, I hadn't heard (inaudible) oh a few years back, and got them down here at school. She was working down there in [kitchen den?] when they had it. And -- (inaudible). They took out the school. But it got 00:44:00straightened out, told them what it was, and they'd sent the county eople about to show them how to take care of the young'uns. But that was something was -- that they'd come out of in the cotton mill [now?]. But I don't --

STONEY: Well, the -- the doctor's been telling us about his father coming around the mill to visit, uh, all the workmen. And d--

BILL ALLEN: Look like a tramp? Did he tell you that?

STONEY: No, he didn't tell us.

BILL ALLEN: He didn't? Well, what'd you tell him?

WHITE: No, I just told him that he went around -- made rounds in the mill.

BILL ALLEN: Oh yeah. He'd come around there. And I'll tell you one thing, you -- I thought was nice, and neither one of them never did ask me what I was doing or how, uh -- oh, sometimes it was how are you getting along? But they didn't' ask you what I'm doing here, uh, are you work running that -- that doing, like, [in all?]. Uh, you -- you doing that right or anything. They never said a word about how you worked, never did. And that was on their side, because I thought I was doing the best I could. But when Joe Phillips come around there -- you know, they could have fired me for what I told him. He 00:45:00didn't fire me. He could if he would. He [came out and told me?] I have to stop every time I -- I, uh, doffed his work off. I was running, uh, [speeder then?], fine [speedings?]. And, uh, every time you doff them off, I want you to go around there and take all the little things off the top up here. Little, uh, [hang up our?] -- and e-- and go up there and clean all these [rollers up?]. It would take at least a half hour. I said, he didn't like me for a nickel because I was -- I worked from [a Gibson Mill?] when he fired it from up there. But I'd -- that'd been years ago. And, uh, I didn't -- "Big Joe! You know what I get paid for, don't you?" "What?" I said, By that damn hand at [front roll up?]. It ain't rolling, and I getting no pay, and I ain't going to clean them rollers out but once the week. Now, you can put that down and smoke. I ain't going to do it. And he didn't bother me about three 00:46:00times during the whole time he was down here because I -- I know Big Joe wasn't (laughter) going to stay with these folks down here. He -- he -- he just learned his, and but going to school somewhere. And, well, White Oak was one -- f-- first started sending to school. I don't know how he got into it, but -- and I don't know how Willy got into it, but Willy was a different man, altogether different.

STONEY: Where did you live?

BILL ALLEN: This mill up here, right at the end of the road on the right, the last house on the right. It's done been tore down now. (laughter)

WHITE: What school did you go to when you were young?


WHITE: What'd -- you go to [Horover?] school when you were young?

BILL ALLEN: Unh-unh. I -- I -- the last school I went to was [Sylvan?]. That's where I stopped, in the seventh grade. But boy, we had to get them grades at school wherever we went. We had to get them. My folks made them -- but they didn't -- neither one had no education. My daddy didn't have but -- he didn't go to school but one day. That was back in the 1800s. But, uh, 00:47:00he had something that other men don't have. He had one thing that I'm proud of that I learned to live with, but I forgot it, he could take a frame in skir-- frame in square and tell you on paper [care?] everything you had to have to put in there [that house to build?]. He could take that [square?]. They got letters all around there, and he could tell you how long, and how much [angle?] to cut on, but everything. He could do that. And he wrote everything he wrote in script. He never said he learned to read out of the Bible. And another thing that was stupid but -- it sounds stupid but it ain't -- he got interested in music, and he went to Indiana with so [much people?], they got him to go to a singing -- I mean, uh, a music school. And he learned to read and write music before he learned his ABCs. But he could sit down on the old organ, and he just [school that thing?] -- the first time he looked at it -- he didn't have to practice, he'd look at that thing and play the hell out of 00:48:00it. He could do that when he died.

STONEY: Was he a farmer?

BILL ALLEN: Most of the time, he worked in grist mill. But he'd done anything he got a chance to do. He was down there at the silver -- I mean, at the [Clean Creek?] church. They lived down there below that. It was in the same community, of when that Cornwallis come down there and kill some 60-some cows of them people out there that feed his army, where they left their guts. And the -- and the whole thing, laying in the church. Then he would take them out of the church, this Cane Creek church.

STONEY: Now, when did you -- your folks move into -- to work in the cotton mill?

BILL ALLEN: Oh, I went up there when we lived down there. I -- I went in there then, worked, I don't know, two or three years, until he got sick. I had to go home. So after that, why, I don't know what got happened -- wrong with him, I had to go home and run the mill. Had to leave my work, go down there. And then, uh, he'd beg me so bad to quit, because they back there, said we all 00:49:00get together until I die anyhow. He -- he was pitiful. But he was [locked up in the mill?]. (laughter)

STONEY: Did your children work in the mill?

BILL ALLEN: Unh-unh. I never did have none. I had two over there, and they never did get big enough, old enough to work in the mill. And [Betty Lee?] went to work at the telephone office, and worked all of her life. She went to work at, uh, one of the stores uptown. I got -- I -- I knowed the manager of one of them stores. It wasn't a -- it wasn't a dollar store, it -- it was another store right up on the corner there. But she went to work there, and she got a chance to go to the -- to the telephone company. She stayed there her whole life, then. And she married a boy that had done the same thing. He went to the 00:50:00army and come back. And they done pretty good, went down there this morning, got a bunch of tomatoes. And I'll bet they had four bushels so they could pull off them my -- vines now, they was ripe. But Norman don't do nothing, but he had two bad heart attacks, but he don't do nothing but his garden work.

STONEY: (overlapping dialogue; inaudible)

BILL ALLEN: But anyway, uh, we ain't talking about the mill. But some of us --

HELFAND: I -- I can't hear (inaudible). Those trucks are loud, boy, eh?


STONEY: (laughter) Those trucks are loud.

HELFAND: Those trucks are real loud.

BILL ALLEN: Oh yeah. I was at, uh, Carolina mill one time, and a man come around there, (clears throat) he -- he comes from a (inaudible) company, and he come to re-- reclose the cards in the mill, and of course, you don't know what it is. But he had to have some help. And why they told me to go help him, I had to help him five or six months. And that -- that's what was done, and we 00:51:00got it done. And then, I done married and had the two young that I reckon, I had the two young'uns anyhow. And, uh, down here, when Rabbit -- uh, you don't know who Rabbit is, but that's Willy Phillips, the boss man, we call him Rabbit. But he come down, he said, Bill, said, We're going to have to take you off of these here. Well, I said, What's happened? Said (inaudible), said, We're going to do some change in here, and said The man that, uh, going to do the work, said He couldn't -- he couldn't work for nobody else but you. I said, Well, who in the hell is he? He said, He just come by here. Didn't you see him? I said, No, I didn't see him. Said, He knows you, [well it seems?]. (inaudible) told him, said I know that boy. But when I worked with him before, he wasn't nothing but a boy. First work in the mill, there. But anyway, he come on down, and we went down to the lower end there 00:52:00where there used to be lappers, and they change that all into one machine. You put the cotton, come in up here, they made a roll, and that roll went on back and got that down, and got that -- got another machine back in the same thing, to get -- you're gettin the stuff out of it, I reckon. Seed -- some seed that was left in it, whatever. But I work with -- and I know him after he come in and talk [with him?]. And, uh, that -- that's been, I reckon, at least 20 years 25 years. But me and him got along good there that time. And, uh, he, uh, got done with it, then Rabbit come back down there again after that. And, uh, he come back there again, and, uh, Bill said he was going up and taking all of this again. I said, What's the matter, you going to do some more work? He said, Yeah. I said, Who's going to work? He said, I sure am (inaudible). I said -- I said, What was his name? I know 00:53:00that fella's name good. (inaudible) But, uh, he said, No, no. Says (inaudible). And he'd be in in a minute, I'm going to show him. And he come in, a little fella that's [dolled up neck anyway?], and he told me who it was, and he said, uh, he just pushed the things all stop machine, said you can go down. And so I went on with [Mahafferty?]. And he got up there and he gave me a bunch of keys, a whole big ring of keys there. And I look at it, what's that?

(jump in audio)

BILL ALLEN: -- said ain't a thing in them but tools and bits and things. Said, you're going to be looking at, you know whoever you let have one, whoever you don't.

STONEY: Do you remember when Roosevelt, uh, got elected?


STONEY: What --

BILL ALLEN: But I don't remember much about it.

STONEY: Uh, what happened after that? You use -- you were working 12 hours a day, or 11 hours a day, and --

BILL ALLEN: Yeah. And went on eight hours. And, oh, we got a raise, too, before that. Yeah, we got a raise before that. But that's when we got Social 00:54:00Security. You know? I think it was 1935, I believe. But we -- but, uh, oh, well, I think most of the people enjoyed their evenings. I went hunting every evening, bird hunting. I loved it. But, uh, I think everybody liked that pretty good, and a whole lot of people didn't like Social Security, and I just didn't know whether I liked it or not. It was taking, oh, I believe it was 7 or 8% out of my time. You know, we didn't like that. When we got our time slip, it said Total down at the bottom, it didn't say Balance. (laughter) Everything you were getting there, it says Balance.


BILL ALLEN: They took out the damn word.

STONEY: What did you pay for rent?


STONEY: What did you pay for rent?

BILL ALLEN: Four dollars a month. And I couldn't pay that one time. That's why my wife would say, you know, I had to lose a whole lot of time. And the mill was running (inaudible). Oh, well some days, we didn't get but two days 00:55:00a week. And over in (inaudible) owned the house, and I owed him rent. (inaudible) ask me to move, but I didn't know what to do. But, uh, he'd come by there one day, I'd say, [Mr. Trotter?], I just got in today, and you building a -- you building a new [barn?], so I'll be up there in the morning and go into work. (inaudible) Yeah, I'm building. Well, I'll tell you, if you're going to come on and work anyhow, he says, you go up there, you see Mr. [Poe?] and he'll tell you what to do. He'll tell you what to do. And he went and told that old man that evening or sometime, I believe that was next morning. And said he's a good hand. (inaudible) so I did, and got the barn done. And I had to go back to work (inaudible) at the mill by then. And, uh, oh, help. But he'd come by when he'd come by after the [rent?], he'd come by there and said, Nice job, Mr. Allen. It look like I 00:56:00owe you some money this morning. And I said, Well, I don't know. How much do you owe me? He -- he looked, said, I don't know, I'll just have to count it up. And he counted it up, Oh, said (inaudible). [No, because you didn't pay your debt. Said, (inaudible). Hell, that's about three months, ain't it? He said, Yeah. I said, Well, you just mark me up for three months. I told you I was going to work to pay my rent. Oh, sure. Yes, sir, [Mr. Allen?]. And he -- he was a pretty nice old man. Never was married, but (inaudible).

STONEY: The -- was there a company store?

BILL ALLEN: No. He was a company house. He built it when he run the mill. Oh, before his daddy and them bought it.

STONEY: I see. Uh-huh.

BILL ALLEN: He -- he run the mill over in Montgomery, I believe, over yonder.

STONEY: Uh-huh. Well, Doctor, you were talking about them running the mills, so they had short time, but the --

WHITE: That's right. That was [story?]. That was in the '30s, after the depression.


BILL ALLEN: Yeah, that was in the '30s. This -- that was after his daddy and the other man had bought it.

STONEY: Mm-hmm.

BILL ALLEN: But, uh, Old Man Johnny [Trollinger?] built it and run it. And, uh, him and that Montgomery live across the river, over yonder on the right 00:57:00(inaudible). They used to own it.

STONEY: I believe you were talking about they're running short time, but keeping it going so that people could get -- could pay their bills.

WHITE: That's right.

STONEY: Could you tell about that?

WHITE: Well, the -- this was in the, uh, '30s. Of course, the other mills were not -- uh, I believe I'm right, ain't I bill -- are not -- uh, are not -- [Oneida?] closed, and Sidney closed. The mills up in Graham, Sidney closed, and [Oneida?] closed. And [Trevora?] kept running, but they were only running two shifts a week. And, uh, they -- uh, they did that primarily to keep the help.

BILL ALLEN: That was 12 hours, too.

WHITE: But just -- just two -- just two shifts a week.


WHITE: On Monday, on Tuesdays and Thursdays, on Mondays and Fridays, or whatever. But that was -- is enough -- make enough time to -- to buy food and pay rent.

BILL ALLEN: Yeah. Well, they done that here two or three times. I -- they didn't [leave that many times?] up here, not while I was working [on it?].

WHITE: That was just during the depth of the Depression.

BILL ALLEN: Yeah. But, uh, they used to be a Holt -- look a little bit like 00:58:00Seymour Armstrong Holt used to live in Graham. And he looked at the -- Carolina Mill, and that, uh, (inaudible) -- I know -- didn't know who owned this other mill out here on the railroad, next to the chu-- uh --