Joe Lineberger and Mrs. Lineberger Interview

Special Collections and Archives, Georgia State University Library
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MRS. LINEBERGER: -- then they had a movie made about it later. That flying squadron was on its way down to my fathers mill when that happened that day. And they got to within about a mile of the -- the mill village there, and (clears throat) the people in the other mills turned them around and sent them back --


MRS. LINEBERGER: -- said not to come, there was going to be trouble. So they never got down to his mill and it was on their return back toward Kings Mountain that that lady was shot. And she was in a truck full of people when --

STONEY: Mm-hmm.

MRS. LINEBERGER: -- she was shot and killed. Nobody ever knew who shot her --



STONEY: Yeah. That was, uh, in -- in 29, yeah.

MRS. LINEBERGER: Thats right.

STONEY: Thats right.


MRS. LINEBERGER: And I was in Gastonia at the time.

JUDITH HELFAND: You were a little girl.

MRS. LINEBERGER: Not -- not all that little.

STONEY: (laughter)


MRS. LINEBERGER: Fifteen or something.


STONEY: Yes, look. Lifes been kind to her. (laughter)


STONEY: You ready?


CREW: Ready to roll.


STONEY: OK. OK. Uh, what was the role of -- of blacks in the mill, uh, when you first started working there?

JOE LINEBERGER: It was, uh, outside.

STONEY: Mm-hmm.

JOE LINEBERGER: And, uh, -- and, uh, like you say, some of them were driving trucks and hauling the cotton into the -- in, uh, the picker rooms. And, uh, working on the village. You see, we had to take care of all these houses. Wed have --

STONEY: Mm-hmm.

JOE LINEBERGER: -- men to go and do cleanup jobs and that sort of thing. But, uh, actually, there were very few that were in there, uh. Later on, uh, we -- we -- we tried it. But when I first started, there we-- there werent many in there. But we did -- the ones that would come and say theyd like to get inside there and learn something, if we thought they were able, and capable, wed -- wed bring them in and then -- and train them. We ended up with some in there.


STONEY: What did the other, uh, workpeople think about that?

JOE LINEBERGER: Well, it depended on the individual, uh, uh. This -- the blacks, some of them, were very friendly and they -- they loved them. But then youd -- youd get one that was -- that was opposed to everything and wouldnt give them a house on the village --

STONEY: Mm-hmm.

JOE LINEBERGER: -- and they were -- they didnt like that. They -- but we did have houses on the village we gave them, but they were in sec-- separate location --


JOE LINEBERGER: -- you see. But we gave them houses too.

STONEY: Mm-hmm.

JOE LINEBERGER: And it's where they wanted to be. And, uh, then later on, I think, they would let them mix up the houses. But thats just the way it started.

STONEY: Mm-hmm

JOE LINEBERGER: That was back in the Civil War, just...

STONEY: Mm-hmm.

JOE LINEBERGER: But it certainly -- it changed a lot --

STONEY: Oh, Im familiar.

JOE LINEBERGER: -- with -- it changed.

STONEY: Uh, it would -- in your and my lifetime.


STONEY: That has changed so much.


STONEY: It is amazing, isnt it?




JOE LINEBERGER: Now, theyve got equal opportunity --

STONEY: Mm-hmm.

JOE LINEBERGER: -- and theyre doing, Im sure they havent been around the mills in a long time, since we sold them and got out. I havent talked to many people about it. One of these days, Im going to go back into one of these mills and see. (laughter) So my -- my bro-- my son-in-law is -- is back working in -- in -- in Belmont now with the stone mill. He started there and he recruited other people, Textile Incorporated, and then he was out in Chattanooga. Now, hes back and hes working with them. And so one of these days, Im going to go over there and go through some of these old mills and see just what theyve done. Theyve really changed them.

STONEY: Well, youre going to be surprised.


STONEY: I -- when we were in this mill in South Carolina, just the automatic nature of the thing.

JOE LINEBERGER: Yeah. Thats what I'm saying.

STONEY: Oh, just, theyve got things --


STONEY: -- that pick up ends and tie things.

JOE LINEBERGER: One of these days, they -- I dont know where all these are going.


STONEY: Thats -- of course, thats the trouble, yeah.

JOE LINEBERGER: And Ill tell you, is theyre going to cut them out. Theyre going to end up throwing it in the -- in the cart up here, and youre going to have somebody else, all theyre going to do is ship it out and (laughter) they aint going to have anybody in the mill the way its going.

STONEY: I know.

JOE LINEBERGER: Its all automatic.

STONEY: Yeah, yeah.

JOE LINEBERGER: Its amazing. Just one or two places now that they dont -- one machine, just done put it in another, and go right on.

STONEY: And do you know that in that factory, I dont think there was a single machine made in this country.


STONEY: It was Japanese, it was --

JOE LINEBERGER: Swiss or German.

STONEY: -- Swiss, a German, or Italian.

JOE LINEBERGER: Yeah, yeah. Well, I bought -- started buying machinery and switch learning, and winders there in Germany way back. They were the best in aut-- automatic. And Whitin went out of business. Saco-Lowell, I know that theyre not still any business, I dont guess. And, uh, but they are the ones I used before. Whitin machine works was the one that dad bought all that 00:05:00-- his machinery from later. And then I got to use -- and then we used Saco-Lowell there. But then I-I-I went to Europe by myself a few times and went to these factories over there. We just didnt have it over here.

STONEY: Now, I gather you were well enough financed so that you werent in hock to these machinery companies?

JOE LINEBERGER: No. We paid cash for everything. Every -- thats the way my daddy wo-- worked. He believed in that. No, sir, he never wouldnt dare. And...

STONEY: Because weve heard -- weve heard stories about mill owners who were just in hock to the machinery manufacturers so much.

JOE LINEBERGER: We never were. We paid. Thats why he always got a good price is because he -- they paid for them. Paid for them when they came, as soon as the machinery got there. Yeah.


STONEY: How did you handle this thing of the very keen competition and then, of course, before long, it got to be foreign competition?

JOE LINEBERGER: Well, uh, we, uh, -- I was -- was opposed to the Japanese at the beginning because we helped them, as the textile industry saved them, you know, after the war, because they could to employ more people. And, uh, and they came over here and wed send them through our mills. And theyd go back and copy it and do a better job than we did, sometimes.


JOE LINEBERGER: And off the record, I told them one time -- they came over here and we -- right after the war and I said -- asked if wed let them come over here and see our mills, and I did. And boy, theyd go in there and take pictures of this and that and that. (laughter) And then they stated making machinery (laughter) and competing. And the next time they came, I said, This is your last trip. I wouldnt let them come back in the mill again. Because they would -- thats what was going on.



JOE LINEBERGER: They were copying what we did and doing a heck of a job, and started building their own equipment. And they still [tough?], I imagine.

STONEY: Let me -- I can top your story.


STONEY: Day before yesterday, we were in the Loray Mills, which is now owned by the Japanese --


STONEY: -- and you know what they said? They said, You can come in here and photograph, but not on any of the floors where the machinerys going, because --


STONEY: -- its skoke -- the -- the tire business is so competitive. (laughter)

JOE LINEBERGER Yeah. (laughter) Thats what I told them 40 years ago. (laughter) When they would.

STONEY: (laughter) I mean, yeah, the Japanese...

JOE LINEBERGER: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know it. We sold -- you know, well, we sold, uh -- I was on the board when we sold [Town and Crow?], sold it to Dixie Yarn. They sold it -- turned around and sold it to the Japanese; they own it now.


JOE LINEBERGER: And theyre -- and that was -- we were all on thread yarns and [its up our linen?], and they decided theyd have to spend too much money to do it. And they sold it to Japanese and they tell me, now, they go into 00:08:00town, we didnt have a lot of property around it and houses and all. But they own that. Theyre going to end up owning too much in this country, Im afraid.

STONEY: Well, its interesting. We were over at the Loray and asking what was going to happen there. As you know, theyre going to move the big plant outside of town.


STONEY: And nobody knows whats going to happen to the old mill --

JOE LINEBERGER: Loray Mill. That was the biggest one.

STONEY: Great, big. Have you ever been in it?

JOE LINEBERGER: Yeah, a long... The guy that started it, was head of it, was Grade, was -- worked at my grandfathers mill in the shops before he came to Gastonia. (laughter)

STONEY: Well, now, Jake --


STONEY: -- Jake Grade. You know Jake?

JOE LINEBERGER: Yeah. Oh, yeah, I know Jake. Now, Ive -- and Jakes father and I knew his -- Charlie Gray and his father played golf with those old guys in those days. Sure, I knew them all. And Charles Senior just died about 00:09:00a year ago. He was 90-something, 95. Yeah.

STONEY: Well, Jake gave us a very good interview.

JOE LINEBERGER: Uh-huh? Is Jake still living? I havent seen him in years, probably.

STONEY: Uh, hes had a stroke --


STONEY: -- and it was a little difficult --


STONEY: -- his pronunciation. But he was very, very, uh, good.

JOE LINEBERGER: It was his father or grand-- it was his grandfather that came over here and got --

STONEY: Thats right, yeah.

JOE LINEBERGER: -- interested in the Loray. But I say he started out working for my grandfather over there, in that mill. I heard Dad talk about him. Before he came over here, he was in the machine shop or something. And then they --

STONEY: Yeah. Yeah. Well, that -- that was such an interesting thing, that -- to hear the Japanese are doing -- (laughter)


STONEY: -- exactly the same thing. Yeah.

JOE LINEBERGER: And theyre going to -- they bought a lot of other mills. And Ill tell you, I dont know. We -- I dont know -- (laughter) were going to have to do something about imports or were going to have to be more 00:10:00competitive in a lot of ever-- its everything and not just textiles.

STONEY: Yeah. No, its not just --

JOE LINEBERGER: You saw what it did in automo-- see what it did to automobiles and everything else. But --

STONEY: Now --

JOE LINEBERGER: And were coming back.

STONEY: -- one other thing, when you were county commissioner, you were party member of the chamber of commerce and were you --

JOE LINEBERGER: Nah. I stayed right where (laughter) county commissioner. Thats as far as I wanted to go.

STONEY: Were you ever a part of this -- these trade associations?

JOE LINEBERGER: No, I dont remember. I dont.

STONEY: We have a lot of material with, uh, Donald Comer and, uh, uh, the Calloways, and those -- those people who -- who were working in the Southern Ca-- uh, Cotton Textile Association.

JOE LINEBERGER: No, I was on that board, the Southern combed yarns one time. And we used to meet. American Textile Institute. Oh, Id go to those 00:11:00meetings. But yeah, we -- we were running on that. Yeah, I didnt know what you meant, yeah.

STONEY: And so you were part of a kind of a national association?

JOE LINEBERGER: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. We belonged to it, yeah.

STONEY: What good do you think that did you, having a national association like that?

JOE LINEBERGER: Well, I -- at the time, I never was big in it, but I could see that if we could get it together and agree on what we were going to do, and try to agree on prices, more or less, or what we should develop. Or not on prices -- you cant do that -- but we would talk about what we were going to do in order to keep the mills going and compete with the outsiders and all.

STONEY: The reason Im asking about it is it seems to be such a competitive business with so --



STONEY: -- many operators. You see, it wasnt --


STONEY: -- like steel or coal --


STONEY: -- or -- or -- or those big -- or automobile evens.

JOE LINEBERGER: Thats right. And no, we had a lot of people and it was a -- it was that kind of a business, it was done by hand, (laughter) mainly and then it -- its changing now and it -- some of them, the only ones that are going to survive are the ones that are going to be automated, I think. More and more automation, theyve got to be to compete with the Japanese and the other people.

STONEY: Well, the thing Im trying to see if we can get a statement on is that in the early 30s -- by the early 30s, the biggest industries in the country were steel, coal, automobiles.


STONEY: And they were pretty well in the hands of just a few operatives. Textiles, there were 00:13:00hundreds of textile --


STONEY: -- manufacturers. So the competition was much greater.

JOE LINEBERGER: Between -- yeah, between the mills, between our people, yeah. We knew that. We had a tough time. Wed say, well, What are they doing over there? Theyre taking our customers. They cut the price. Yeah. (laughter) Thats the way it was; it was very competitive. And even then, it was the mill that could, uh, have the best price, you know, to have the lowest price on the yarn, theyll still make it.

STONEY: Would you have any idea what percent of the final cost of yarn was represented by the cost of labor?

JOE LINEBERGER: No, I never... I dont know. It was certainly (laughter) the biggest, of course. I dont remember. Oh, I remember we used to say we knew 00:14:00how much it cost us per pound. We knew. We figured that. I dont remember but we had a cost basis on how much it cost us for each yarn.

STONEY: Mm-hmm.

JOE LINEBERGER: And then wed try not to undersell it (laughter) at that price, but sometime we would. (laughter)

STONEY: Mm-hmm.

Q2: OK, Ive got a question. How much -- when you retooled and brought in new looms and new machinery, how long would you get before you had to replace the machinery? How long would it last before --


Q2: -- youd have to update?

JOE LINEBERGER: Well, we didnt -- we werent in -- not talking about looms. Ours was --

Q2: Im just (overlapping dialogue; inaudible) --

JOE LINEBERGER: Yeah, yeah. I say, no. Uh, it -- we would do it gradually. We would start -- if we were going to put in new spinning frames, wed have so many shipped in every two or three months or whatever it was. And wed take one machine out and put the other one in, and run them all together. And, uh, 00:15:00so it would -- itd just depend on what you were going to do. If you were putting in new combers, wed do the same thing. It would -- we would, uh, have them ship in -- if Im buying 12 combers, Id say ship us in three right away, and we would take the others out. So we wouldnt lose production, you see. The new ones would produce more and wed -- itd take the place of two old combers, maybe, you see. And so wed put them in like that and it never would stop our production.

Q2: But how long would that comber last or -- before you would have to update --

JOE LINEBERGER: Oh, well, it did --

Q2: -- to more modern piece of --

JOE LINEBERGER: -- it would depend on how modern a machine you could get. We could make those old ones run forever. Wed repair them and keep going on them. But when somebody came out with -- I remember when aco-Lowell came out with another comber, it was doing three times as much as we could get on the old 00:16:00ones, then we would go to the new one. And it would -- I dont know, it would last maybe eight or ten years before theyd come out with another one, and it was even better than that. We couldnt depreciate them in, you know, so many years. I forget what it was. You had so many years, but youd depreciate them and then it wouldnt -- uh, theyd be through.

STONEY: Mm-hmm.


STONEY: And the -- the people who were putting those in, were you able to train local people?

JOE LINEBERGER: Yeah. Oh, yeah. We used -- it wasnt -- it wasnt that much difference. It was our -- they would send somebody down and then our people that have been keeping ours up would go right in there and work with them. And, oh, then, by the time they get them running, our people could repair them, keep them up. There wasnt that wasnt that much difference. It just... Hmm.

STONEY: Now, uh, you had mentioned that you want to go back in the mills sometimes.



STONEY: Uh, have you ever gotten interested in the history of textiles, or the history of the museums and that kind of thing?

JOE LINEBERGER: No. People have told me that when (laughter) I start talking about Gaston County, (laughter) and what I knew about it, having been in the -- all the mills, having been a county commissioner, having been on the train with -- who was that running [that voice?]? Uh, it was President Johnson. I got on the train with him when he was coming through.


JOE LINEBERGER: And I still got a picture of him he gave me, uh, a ring, and I mean, uh, something. And he was a Democrat, see?

STONEY: Yeah. (laughter)

JOE LINEBERGER: But anyway, I was working (laughter) on that and somebody said, You know, said -- and then talking about the farm and the slaves. I -- my daddy told me how the Yankees came through there and stole a lot of stuff. And they said, You ought write a -- you ought to write a history of Gaston 00:18:00County. I said, Well, thank you, but Im (laughter) not a writer. And Im not interested in doing it. But I do -- I did know a lot about what went on from the Civil War on, just from being there (laughter) and what my daddy told me.

STONEY: Uh, Mr. Ragan has helped us a bit.


STONEY: And you know, hes interested in the museum.

JOE LINEBERGER: Uh-huh. Thats in Dallas?


STONEY: Yes. Thats right, yeah.

JOE LINEBERGER: Down here. Weve given some things there.

STONEY: Mm-hmm.

JOE LINEBERGER: That piano, there, is -- came from our house, our old farm. It was the only piano -- first piano in Gaston County. We gave that years ago to the museum. Its still there now. And weve helped them a little --


JOE LINEBERGER: -- in -- moneywise. Our foundation has, I think.

STONEY: We saw them the other day and, uh, some of the people that work there have got their eye on the Loray Mill.



STONEY: But I dont -- I think its going to be too much for them to try to swallow.

JOE LINEBERGER: Shoo. Itd be... It would be...

STONEY: A huge place.

JOE LINEBERGER: Yeah, I dont know [what that would do?]. You meaning to leave Dallas? Or, I mean...

STONEY: Well. They want to set up --


STONEY: -- some of them who work there -- this isnt the management --


STONEY: -- thinking of taking over Loray Mill, but thats just such a big place.


HELFAND: You know, George?


HELFAND: Weve heard so many (clears throat) stories about what it was like to live in the mill village from the perspective of the workers who lived in the houses --

STONEY: Mm-hmm.

HELFAND: -- but I wondered, Mr. Lineberger, could you tell us a little bit about --

STONEY: Good idea.

HELFAND: -- keeping a village and what it -- all that it entailed?


HELFAND: Socially and --

STONEY: Weve talked to a lot of --


STONEY: -- the people who lived in the village and they told us, uh, how they lived and, uh, looking after each others kids and all that kind of thing --


STONEY: -- but you must have looked at it from the standpoint of somebodys got to manage the mills. Could you -- uh, manage the village. Could you talk about that?


JOE LINEBERGER: Well, (coughs) we had -- of course, we had -- we wouldnt call them inspectors, but we had people to go around -- outside people, and the head carpenters, and that kind of thing -- would check on things. They had to. And the people -- and anything went wrong, theyd just come in the mill and say it. So-and-sos just not working at my house now, and we would immediately send somebody out and fix it up.

STONEY: Mm-hmm.

JOE LINEBERGER: And then every few years, we would -- we would paint all the houses, keep them up. And when one group would leave, we would paint the inside, and, uh, for them. And sometimes, if they wanted to do some little things themselves, and paint or whatnot, wed let them do it. But, uh, it was -- in those days, it was -- we needed the homes and most of the people appreciate it. A lot of them did a lot of planting outside themselves, would put grass out there themselves, and consider it, really, this their home. And, 00:21:00uh, I dont know whether theyve ever sold them. Some of the mills, I think, have sold them to the people that lived in them.

STONEY: Most of them seemed to have.


STONEY: And in fact, weve talked to a lot of textile workers who are living in the houses where they -- that they bought.

JOE LINEBERGER: That they bought, yeah.

STONEY: Yeah. Mm-hmm

JOE LINEBERGER: Mm-hmm. Thats good.

STONEY: Now, uh, what would happen if you had people in the houses who didnt behave themselves?

JOE LINEBERGER: Well. Id give them a chance. And thats what we used to do. Wed say if they were not doing the right thing -- drinking too much or not -- wouldnt come ready to work -- wed give them so much time to move out. Then wed move them out. I mean, we had to do it. I remember one time, one place, at South Court, we had to -- they wouldnt move, they wouldnt 00:22:00pay the rent, they wouldnt work, they wouldnt do anything.

STONEY: Mm-hmm.

JOE LINEBERGER: And the police just came up and moved them out.

STONEY: Mm-hmm.

JOE LINEBERGER: Moved the furniture out to the front yard. Then they had to move.

STONEY: Mm-hmm.

JOE LINEBERGER: But thats a terrible thing, but what could you do?

STONEY: Mm-hmm. Its interesting that -- did the people look to you to do that?

JOE LINEBERGER: Oh, the other people did. Other people, they were -- I mean, I never had that happen but one time. But youre just saying if it came to that, theres nothing else you could do. The people all around were complaining what was going on. And what could you do? You had to do it. We -- we couldnt -- cause of those people, cause of the neighbors. The neighbors in that particular case just said, Youve got to do something about this. I said, Well, what are you going to do? Theyd say, Put them out. We cant live beside them. I only had one situation that came to me like that. But other than that, we would try to take care of them. 00:23:00And if they got sick and couldnt work, they still stayed in the house for a long time, until they could come back.

STONEY: How long did you have a company store?

JOE LINEBERGER: We never did. Uh, I remember my grandfather had it.

STONEY: Im sorry, could we say that again? Sorry, I -- we never had a company store.

JOE LINEBERGER: No. Mm-mm. Now, they did there, in Belmont, when my daddy went over there to Stowe's, thats the way they started. They had a big Stowe Brothers store there. And, uh -- and, uh, when I went to work there, they -- it wasnt connected with the mills but they would charge -- let them charge stuff and then they could go down and -- I think theyd let them take it out of the payroll. But the mil itself had nothing to do with it except they had an agreement that, uh, -- where they could collect from a paycheck. (laughter) But 00:24:00that didnt last long. That was just a few years after I was there.

STONEY: To document what youre talking about, we were in Cabbagetown in Atlanta, and theyve sold all those houses off. And an old fellow was standing next to me and he was missing the mill. (laughter) Because he hadnt worked then -- and the mills all closed down. And he was complaining about his neighbors. And he says, You know, back when this mill was working, that wouldnt have happened. He says, If you get noisy neighbors like that on a weekend, you just go in to tell your supervisor on Monday morning, and hed straighten them out.

JOE LINEBERGER: Thats right. (laughter) Thats right.

STONEY: He missed that. (laughter)


Q2: Ive got one other question.



Q2: In terms of looking at the mill village as an investment for the mill owner, in terms of supplying housing, and he got a rent of $0.20 a day per room, do you 00:25:00think that --


STONEY: A week.

Q2: Oh, $0.20 per room --


Q2: -- per week.

STONEY: Yeah, yeah.


Q2: So you figure a dollar, dollar and a quarter.



Q2: Did you feel that you broke even or lost money?

JOE LINEBERGER: Well, I think we didnt make any money, but I think it was -- we just considered that as what we had to do as sort of part of the pay, you know? It was -- we had to have them, and, uh, and I think that it more or less was enough to keep the houses up, what we charged them, at that time. As I -- we never did go into detail about it, it was because we had outside men that were doing other things too. But I think they figured that was enough to maybe break even. And we never went into it.

Q2: And routine improvements such as running water, and --

JOE LINEBERGER: Yeah, yeah. We did all of that.

STONEY: Weve got a beautiful interview --

JOE LINEBERGER: And didnt charge them anything for it. We charge them for electricity for a long time.



JOE LINEBERGER: Yeah, thats right.

STONEY: Weve got a beautiful interview with a woman who came from the country. And she said, We moved in -- and we had running water and electric lights.


STONEY: She says, The little old -- one little old bulb comes on, we just knew we was rich. (laughter) We just knew we was rich. (laughter)

JOE LINEBERGER: Yeah. (laughter)

STONEY: But the interesting -- they all still talk about how much they miss the country.

JOE LINEBERGER: Yeah. Really. Hmm.

STONEY: I mean, they come into the mill --


STONEY: -- but they miss the country.


STONEY: But a lot of them had gardens, it seemed.

JOE LINEBERGER: Oh, yeah. Wed have -- a lot of them would have room in the backyard where theyd have gardens and raise a lot of things. Yeah.

STONEY: Weve got a very nice interview with a fellow (audio starts to get very distorted here: 00:26:49) (inaudible) who still has a big garden in the back of the mill village house which he bought.



STONEY: And a spectacular garden.


STONEY: But that was his -- still had the connection with the country.


STONEY: One other thing -- and this, you may not have any remembrance of this -- but you talked about those people coming from the mountains and weve got --


STONEY: -- a lot of people talking about that, My daddy came from the mountains. [James Grey?] talks about bringing people down from the mountain and his father bringing people down from the mountain and so forth. But by the middle 20s, the boll weevil was so bad that a lot of other people around were having to come in to look for work.


STONEY: And (audio goes back to normal here 00:27:34) there was really no shortage of labor.

JOE LINEBERGER: Mm-mm. No, I dont remember it either. I just remember when the mills were originally built and my dad was telling me they had to do that later on. Of course, people came down that, uh, kin people and other people, they were -- we didnt know at that time where they were coming from, but we knew they were there and knew somebody on the mill village and were looking for 00:28:00a job -- visiting them or something. And we needed more people. And wed hire them if they -- if we thought they were the right ones. Thats the way we did it.

STONEY: Routinely, how would somebody get a job?

JOE LINEBERGER: Well, youre talking about way back then?


JOE LINEBERGER: (laughter) Well. Theyd -- theyd walk, come in the mill and ask the overseer of the -- of the spinning department, for instance, if they were interested in that. Theyd come in. And, oh, we had them coming in all the time. We had offices at each mill. Theyd come in there and say theyd like a job. And they theyd get them all -- wed get all -- get all the information from them -- whered they worked, how old they were, what they had done -- and put their name on the list. And then we would ask other people if they knew them, you know, thats what theyre doing there. And if we needed them, then wed notify them. But theyd come by every week or so to see if 00:29:00there was still -- was there any opening yet, and that sort of thing. We didnt ad-- we didnt have to advertise to get people.

STONEY: During the Depression, uh, you know, that went on long after you were in the mill --


STONEY: -- were there lines of people waiting around the mill to get work?

JOE LINEBERGER: No, I dont remember being in lines. They would still just come by and -- the ones that wanted to work -- and, uh, put their names on the list, the way we did it.

STONEY: Did they -- did you look to the supervisors to make the selections?

JOE LINEBERGER: Yeah. Yeah. We didnt have another group or anything like that to go into it. Their supervisor was there and they kept the records of them, and -- and find something about them. And most of them were local people, you know, or at least North Carolinians. (laughter)


STONEY: But they, uh -- you didnt have an employment --


STONEY: -- office, then?




STONEY: Thats just checking because --


STONEY: -- so many people said, Well, howd you get the job? And they all, Well, I knew the supervisor.


STONEY: Or, My dad knew the supervisor. (laughter)


STONEY: Or, My dad worked in the mill and he talked to the supervisor.

JOE LINEBERGER: Well, thats the way it was done in the old days.

STONEY: Mm-hmm.

JOE LINEBERGER: Yeah. And now theyve got employment agen-- departments and everything else, I guess. I dont know.

STONEY: Well, that hasnt changed too much. Because I teach at a university.


STONEY: And I think I spend maybe one day in five writing letters of recommendation. (laughter) So --


STONEY: -- so its -- its kind of the same thing.

JOE LINEBERGER: Yeah. (laughter)


JOE LINEBERGER: Yeah. I think so.

STONEY: Uh, lets see. Some of the things wed like to get now, Id like to see -- and photograph, if we can --that, uh, does -- uh, 00:31:00money that your --

JOE LINEBERGER: Oh. (laughter)

STONEY: -- grandfather photographed. I mean, made.


STONEY: Id like to get that first paycheck that -- I mean, pay envelope.

JOE LINEBERGER: I know, I was trying to find that and la-- I was asking my wife and the boys about it. And when we moved over there, good Lord, we had, you know, --

STONEY: Yeah. Sure.

JOE LINEBERGER: -- how you live someplace all of your life. And -- and you didnt know what to throw away. And I remember taking those paychecks. I mean, they was written on it and the hours, and it was paid inmoney, you know. And before I came up here, I looked all around my office over there and I couldnt find it.

STONEY: Oh, too bad.

JOE LINEBERGER: Now, but Ive got a, uh, -- I framed that dollar --


JOE LINEBERGER: -- and its in my room. Its in a glass frame.

STONEY: You mean, uh, not here, but down --

JOE LINEBERGER: No, down in Charlotte, yeah. (laughter)

STONEY: Yeah, OK. Well, now, what wed like to do is get -- Judys going to be around. When you get back, shed like to come over and -- and photograph some of those --


STONEY: -- things [for the?].

JOE LINEBERGER: I -- if I -- I-I dont know what happened to my, uh, pay 00:32:00envelope. And if I can find it, Id be glad, you cant believe. I finished college and (laughter) I was working 55 hours a week. (laughter) And there he was. Thats Joe Linenberger, paid. It was either $12.50 or $13 for 55 hours.

STONEY: Uh, Judy, do you have any more questions?

HELFAND: Yeah, can we take a break first?

STONEY: Sure. Lets take a --

HELFAND: OK. (overlapping dialogue; inaudible)

STONEY: You. You mind taking a break?



HELFAND: Id like to take a quick -- (break in audio)

STONEY: One of the things were doing is, uh, trying to follow up on these letters. And in the letters, the people kept talking about if they lose their job in one, uh, mill, they got on a -- they got blacklisted so that they couldnt --


STONEY: -- go around to other mills. Uh, what did they mean by that?

JOE LINEBERGER: Well, the mills that, uh, there, that worked together -- I mean, we were all separate mills but they were controlled by, well, same group -- and 00:33:00the superintendents, they worked together. And if they had an unusual, uh, trouble with -- with certain, um, people, (clears throat) theyd tell the others about it.

STONEY: Mm-hmm.

JOE LINEBERGER: Theyd say, uh -- thats the -- wed say, Why did he leave? Whyd you let him go? Theyd have to tell him what the trouble was. And so I dont know whether theyd call that a blacklist or not, but-but, uh, they certainly wouldnt hire him across the street in the mill (laughter) if they had a trouble over here, Ill tell you that.

STONEY: Yeah. Yeah. Its interesting to -- with tracing some of these people, weve been able to find them in another place because they had to go over there.


STONEY: And then wed say, Howd you get a job here? He said, Well, we went back to my supervisor and he said, Look, I dont want to hold it against you personally, so Ill sign it. But I cant hire you here. But they can hire you over there.

JOE LINEBERGER: Yeah. (laughter) We didnt -- we never did get into that when 00:34:00I was there. Wed -- we would naturally -- we would know the ones that were the best and the worst, and the word gets around, you know. (laughter) You dont have to publicize that. Yeah.

STONEY: Did you ever recall any experience with negotiators, uh, Department of Labor negotiators from Washington or anything?

JOE LINEBERGER: Uh. (laughter) They -- they came down to see me one time. About, uh, I think it -- somebody -- it had to do with the union, where theyd send people down here, and they said that we werent fair to them or something like that. And then theyd send a man down. And I -- I had a lawyer in Charlotte to represent me, and we met. And then, uh, theyd go there to a Charlotte courthouse somewhere. And I -- I didnt get put in jail. 00:35:00(laughter) No, we agreed that there -- went over the whole thing and... But, uh, at that time, you know, they were looking into everything, they -- that, uh, Washington group. And they sent somebody down and -- and went over all of these things. And I just had the lawyer and he had the records of everything. And nothing came out of it.

STONEY: Mm-hmm. We have, uh -- we have some reports of that. Remember that, was it -- we found it on the stationery this morning?

HELFAND: Um, from Acme?

STONEY: Yup. Mm-hmm.

JOE LINEBERGER: Was it about me? (laughter)

STONEY: No, it wasnt about you. (laughter)

HELFAND: No, it --

STONEY: We havent seen your name in it. But it was about (coughing) the Acme, wasnt it? (overlapping dialogue; inaudible)

HELFAND: It was -- yeah, it was Mr. Tolifera -- Tolliver, in regards to a guy --


HELFAND: -- well, here. Ill give you that.

STONEY: There was a -- there was a very active, uh, one of those negotiators --



STONEY: -- who was, uh, uh, Tolliver. And, uh, so here it is.

JOE LINEBERGER: Mm-hmm. Yeah, this goes back. Thats 35. Old mans, uh, still living there. Mm-hmm.

STONEY: Uh, do you remember J.J. Duncan?

JOE LINEBERGER: Yeah. Julius Duncan.

STONEY: Uh-huh. But he just --

JOE LINEBERGER: Was he a superintendent? Who was Duncan?

STONEY: Uh, he was a --

JOE LINEBERGER: I dont know, yeah.

STONEY: He was superintendent.


STONEY: Thats what it says there.

JOE LINEBERGER: Yeah. Yeah, I remember him.

STONEY: You see, now he was responding. You see the --

JOE LINEBERGER: Yeah, he was old. Mm-hmm.

STONEY: Heres the last line here, he says, uh, On numerous occasions, my overseer, Graham [Hofsteller?], talked with me about the matter in which George H., uh -- George W. H-O-L-T-Z-C-L-A-W.


HELFAND: Holtzclaw.


STONEY: -- Holtzclaw did his work. This was a case that they were investigating. And they respond, finally. They were saying that he didnt do his work right, uh, and that he had -- and finally, they said, We have never made any distinction between union and non-union members.


STONEY: But -- so that this was being handled, I suppose, by your lawyers, probably. But --



JOE LINEBERGER: Yeah, and Harvey Suggs. Thats right. Yeah.

STONEY: And we have a --

JOE LINEBERGER: Looking in there.

STONEY: -- number of these here. Heres another one.

HELFAND: George, hes reading.

STONEY: Yeah. Mm-hmm.

JOE LINEBERGER: Mm-hmm. Thats our guy. I didnt -- I didnt remember this going on. Matter of fact, I was-I was down at the old mills. I didnt come up -- up here, you see. I didnt go up to Acme and then from Perfection 00:38:00until 1954. Yeah.

HELFAND: So this was -- so your father was dealing with all this?

JOE LINEBERGER: Oh, yeah. And -- and there -- he was -- he was in -- he was the president.

HELFAND: How do you think your father felt about this period of time and-and-and what he had to do to address these workers, either wanting to unionize or other workers coming down to try to organize them?

JOE LINEBERGER: Well, I think he was just like I felt. I mean, my father, though, he was deaf. And, uh, he wore -- he didnt -- he-he heard better in the mill (laughter) and he -- and the people in there knew him and they liked him. I remember, uh, they all did. And I remember when I was superintendent down at Climax one day, (clears throat) these fellows were sitting around doing nothing. And then they -- my dad was coming in the mill and I was sort of 00:39:00coming up behind him. And one of the guys says, Aint no use in jumping up and going over now. Says, Mr. A.C.s already in here. Hes already seen you. (laughter) All pull across the room I said, Dad said. No use in you jumping now and going over there. He said, Mr. A.C. is already in the room. (laughter) But that... But he was that way. He knew the people and the people knew him, and they liked him. And he -- as long as -- he never worried about, uh, people in the unions or anything --


JOE LINEBERGER: -- like that. Hed just never thought about it. He was... That was their business, but... But everybody had to do their jobs, just as they were supposed to. And they knew it. (laughter) He was something.

STONEY: Well, I grew up in Winston-Salem, which was certainly, I think you could say, quite frankly, an anti-union town.


STONEY: And so I know that. You know--


STONEY: -- I grew up with that feeling.


JOE LINEBERGER: We really never had that much trouble with the unions. We, uh, like you say, some of them tried to organize, but just that one time when... And that stopped that. And then others like the Imperial, now, I can remember, they had -- they had somebody. They had a superintendent that wasnt popular or something. But we had, I remember, that's before I got into it. But they did have some trouble because -- but, uh, the other mills, and even there, they (laughter) -- they never were unionized. Because they -- they were, yeah. But it -- thats one of the things we didnt ever -- never worried about.

STONEY: Do you think that made the difference between the North and the South? That is, the North quickly losing the textile industry to the South?


JOE LINEBERGER: I never... I dont remember. Were they in unions at that time or not? There was -- yeah.

STONEY: The North wa-- had, uh, a great many unions in the North.

JOE LINEBERGER: I just think it -- that we, uh, we built our mills -- we built newer mills and then had better equipment, you know? And probably the wages were lower, I dont -- I imagine so. Because they didnt -- you know, they lived in cities and outside of the cities and all. And I think it was just the South was growing at that time. And, uh, people were willing to work. And -- because they needed the jobs. They werent farming anymore. (laughter) They weren't doing other things. And they really appreciated the job.

STONEY: I read the other day about, uh, a something written by a New Englander. He said that the big differences he saw between the -- the Southern mills and 00:42:00the Northern mills was, the first thing, they could get many more women who were willing to work on the second or third shift down here.

JOE LINEBERGER: Thats right. Mm-hmm. A lot of them wanted to work that way. We-wed ask them. The spinners were all ladies, you see. And we had to have them on every shift. And that was their job. They had better hands and they could put up the ends and do that better. And they were always -- and winder hands too, they were all women.

STONEY: Did you ever have a woman loom fixer?

JOE LINEBERGER: I never -- we didnt have any looms.

STONEY: Oh, of course. Im sorry. (laughter) I keep asking you about that. Im sorry.

JOE LINEBERGER: No. But I didnt have them -- any of them that worked on machinery, mm-mm. They were all men. Same thing in our machinery. But 00:43:00thats the way it was.

STONEY: The other thing that he said was that in New England, they -- the mills were old --


STONEY: -- and it was harder for them to modernize. That you could get -- you could come down here and get cheaper land, you could spread out, and it --


STONEY: -- was easier to set them up that way.

JOE LINEBERGER: Yeah, that was it, I think. And then, like you said, theyd be out in -- in little towns, or out in the country. I mean, theres always small town around where they could go. And it... And -- and building the houses for them. It gave themselves something -- the people -- place to work.

STONEY: Did you ever become reconciled to the New Deal?

JOE LINEBERGER: (laughter) Dont get me on politics. (laughter)


JOE LINEBERGER: Nuh-uh-uh. No, sir. Im --

STONEY: Maybe I shouldnt have asked you that.


STONEY: Im sorry. (laughter) No, no.

JOE LINEBERGER: Im not a -- Im not a New Dealer.


STONEY: OK. Because its interesting that all of these -- all of these textile workers we talked to, they think Roosevelt is God.


STONEY: Thats --

JOE LINEBERGER: Now, I know. Well. He started --

STONEY: Do you remember when you first --


STONEY: Do you remember when you heard him on radio?

JOE LINEBERGER: Mm, no. Yeah. I think so, first time we heard him.

MRS. LINEBERGER: His fireside chats.


JOE LINEBERGER: Yeah, Lord. (laughter) But he-he started a lot of things that I didnt approve of, dont yet, but I dont now. I dont know, Im -- Im sorry, I dont know whats going to happen to this country now.

STONEY: Yeah. Yeah. OK.

HELFAND: All right.

STONEY: I think weve got --

HELFAND: Did it -- did it feel like he was running your business -- did people feel like he was starting to run the business?

JOE LINEBERGER: Yeah. No. I dont know. He just -- he was just -- he was all the new laws and things hed started -- you know, Social Security and 00:45:00other things that we had -- yeah, they... I dont know.

STONEY: We were talking to a fellow the other day --

JOE LINEBERGER: Unemployment thing, you know, if it worked or didnt work, I told you about that. And a lot of them are getting spoiled. They say, Well, why work if were going to get it anyway? You see? And -- and we had some like that, that wouldnt come in. Weve had to work that extra day. Said, Well, hell, Id rather get unemployment.

M1: But do you feel that interfered with what we know as the Protestant work ethic?

JOE LINEBERGER: I dont know. I dont...

M1: The old days work for --


M1: -- a days pay sort of thing.

JOE LINEBERGER: Yeah. Could be.

HELFAND: Were just rolling.

STONEY: No. We were -- we were talking with a fellow the other day about the New Deal. And he was saying that, uh -- was talking about his father. And he 00:46:00said that his father came home after the NRA was declared unconstitutional, just bragging about it. Because he said, I knew it. I knew it all the time. And then the Supreme Court agreed with me.

JOE LINEBERGER: Yeah, it was great. My daddy -- he was a registered Democrat, of course, from the South. And he wouldnt be registered any other way. But -- and that second time Roosevelt came in there was the time I said, Dad, lets go down and vote. Lets go down and vote -- go down and change, and vote Republican. He says, No. I cant do it. He says, Ive been a Democrat all my life," mother and father before him. He says, I won't vote. But he would not register Republican. He said, Ive been Democrat all my life. But he would not go down there and vote for Roosevelt. 00:47:00He just says, I won't vote. But Im not going to change my party. (laughter)

STONEY: And isnt it --

JOE LINEBERGER: And he stayed a Democrat. (laughter)

STONEY: Boy, thats changed now, hasnt it?


STONEY: I never thought Id see a time when North Carolina would have a Republican governor, for example. (laughter)

JOE LINEBERGER: Got that clear. Yeah.

STONEY: And South Carolina, in the paper the other day, they said that Bush is ahead in South Carolina.

HELFAND: No, Clintons ahead.

JOE LINEBERGER: Clinton could --



STONEY: I think it was Bush in South Carolina.

JOE LINEBERGER: But weve always voted, uh, you know -- if they registered Democrats, but a lot of them vote Republican --

STONEY: Yeah, thats right.

JOE LINEBERGER: -- and thats why weve got a governor and a lot of other way. You can vote, cant you? You can vote any way you want in there.

STONEY: Well, let --

JOE LINEBERGER: And thats what they -- and weve always been conservative, this -- in North Carolina. And thats why weve got Republican senators and governors and everything else. Yeah.

STONEY: Well, let me ask you about somebody who wasnt always conservative, and thats Frank Graham.


JOE LINEBERGER: I know it. He was there.

MRS. LINEBERGER: He was a classmate of my fathers in (inaudible).

JOE LINEBERGER: He was a classmate of her fathers. I knew him and, uh, and, uh, he was pretty liberal. And I was there when he was made president. And, uh, I finished -- I know I had to go to him to stay in school. I finished in my junior -- I finished my -- at Christmas time I took extra courses and went to one summer school just to be down there. And I -- I said, Well, I graduated. And so I went over to -- I said, well, Ill get two diplomas. I went over to the businessschool and thought Id do that. I went over and that bored me to death. And you had to stay all afternoon in the labs and all. I just didnt go. I went to Pinehurst and played golf, get in my car and I -- (laughter) and so I got -- and boy, that -- you know, you had to make me go to classes then. And I got this letter saying, Call me. And he said, You 00:49:00have flunked out of school. I said, What are you talking about? I graduated. And then they said, No, you havent. You've missed all these classes. And I -- and so I went over, I finally had to go to Frank Graham. I says, Look. Heres my -- look at the record. I thought Id finished. Im just going to take this other... And he says, Well... Anyway, it came back, they said, Dont miss any more classes or you will be. (laughter) So I went on to classes after that. But I graduated and I -- but I didnt get another -- I didnt get a degree in that business there, B.A. or whatever it was. But I went to the classes. (laughter)

STONEY: Do you remember a fellow named Davey Clark?

JOE LINEBERGER: Yeah. Yeah, I remember.

STONEY: He was head of the Southern Textile Bulletin. Editor of the Southern Textile Bulletin. (coughing)

JOE LINEBERGER: Yeah. I remember.

STONEY: He and Frank Graham used to have the tiffs all the time.


JOE LINEBERGER: Yeah. (laughter) Yeah.

STONEY: But Graham -- Graham was one of my heroes. Yeah.

JOE LINEBERGER: Yeah, hes -- he did a great job.


JOE LINEBERGER: He visited -- came by and visited my brothers wife. And, boy, she was a good friend when he visited Annabelle what one time. Right, I remember he came by, they had a see.

MRS. LINEBERGER: (inaudible) [was a good friend of my?] (inaudible).

STONEY: OK. (break in audio)

HELFAND: -- the mills there.

STONEY: Yeah. Uh. I was born and brought up in Winston-Salem and, of course, it was mostly tobacco -- tobacco in the air, you could just breathe it -- but there was Hanes Knitting Mill and, uh, Arista Mill. And it was interesting that, uh, I -- we -- I lived in Salem -- you know, Old Salem -- our house has now been torn down, but it was an old brick house just right across from the 00:51:00cemetery. But for some reason, I cant figure out, we kind of felt that we were a little bit better than those people who were in the -- in the mill houses. I just dont know why. And its interesting that one of the things Ive enjoyed in doing this film is to meet so many of those people and -- and get a different idea about them than Id had before. Of course, you worked with them, so.

JOE LINEBERGER: Yeah. I knew them. And its amazing now. I used to visit back at the old -- I said, I was in school at [Smithrose?]. And...

HELFAND: Jamie, Im not getting audio. (break in audio)

CREW: -- give me that serious nod.


STONEY: (laughter)

CREW: Definitely not -- there we go. Thats exactly what I wanted. He always cracks up when I say that.


CREW: Its perfect. OK, dont do that. It makes your chin look scrunchy.

STONEY: OK, thank you.

HELFAND: (inaudible) you were in the same cla-- you werent in the same class?

STONEY: No, no. You see, I thought so, but he is four years ahead of me. He was in --

CREW: He was one of those upperclassmen you were always telling me about that was terrorizing the freshman?

STONEY: No, he left before I got there. (laughter)

CREW: Something to do with --

STONEY: We didnt have too much hazing.

CREW: -- beanies and stuff like that?

STONEY: No. Yeah.

HELFAND: And, George, what was the other thing thats been so fascinating about this -- about learning about this history coming back?

STONEY: Well, it just looks so different, you see, when -- when -- when I get here. Because Ive been -- you know, I live -- I teach at New York University now. And coming back, Ive made films all over the South for the last, oh, 30 years. You know, I come back in the summers and do that kind of thing. But 00:53:00its certainly given me a very different view of things than Id ever had before.

CREW: Well, thats [good?]. Now, Dad, if you could turn to your left like youre reading --

STONEY: Mm-hmm

CREW: -- when we were reading --


CREW: -- yeah, just pick something up. Oh, OK. Good.

STONEY: And of course, these letters have given me a different idea, too. Because I never -- somehow, I never thought that thered be this many textile workers who would write letters and speak out for themselves. So this has given me a different view.



MRS. LINEBERGER: (inaudible).

HELFAND: This one?

MRS. LINEBERGER: (inaudible) (coughing)

JOE LINEBERGER: Yeah, I was amazed that that 'cause -- we never -- we never had many -- we never heard of any letters or anything like that.

STONEY: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. Well, its interest--

JOE LINEBERGER: There was-- there wasnt many of those, I promise you.


STONEY: Im going to -- if you dont mind, Id like to give you this book.

JOE LINEBERGER: Well, (overlapping dialogue; inaudible) --

STONEY: Because I think youd like (barking) to read it.


STONEY: And youll see what -- you see what my concern is.


STONEY: This is -- otherwise, its a very fine book. (barking)


STONEY: Its a result of, oh, four or five -- you may -- you may have seen it -- four or five years of study there.

MRS. LINEBERGER: Lots of memories. (barking)

JOE LINEBERGER: I got it. (laughter)

HELFAND: You certainly do. Can you -- (break in audio)

STONEY: We filmed at the Eagle Reunion. There must have been 150 people there. And to a man or a woman, they got up and talked about how proud they were.

MRS. LINEBERGER: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. Thats right.

STONEY: Some of them in tears and so forth and so on.

MRS. LINEBERGER: We belong to a rather small church in Belmont and, uh, quite a few of the people there are textile workers. And a lot of them -- a few are 00:55:00retired -- a lot are still working at age 75 and 80. And, uh, its very interesting to hear their talks. And theyll say theyre very proud and theyre very frugal. And most of them have (clears throat) really done quite well there. One -- one lady in particular I can remember who is a member of our church there, her husband was a supervisor in the mill and she worked in the mill all her life. Still works there and shes about 70, 80, this point. And, uh, she always has had a big garden growing all of her vegetables, canned things, and every time we have a church dinner she contributes more than anybody (laughter) there from her garden, mainly. Shes a marvelous cook. And as I said, weve known so many of them quite well in that connection, as well as Joes connection as a supervisor in the mill there.


HELFAND: Well, thank you.


STONEY: OK, now I am going to need to get your signatures. (break in audio)

JOE LINEBERGER: -- (inaudible).

MRS. LINEBERGER: Yeah, George (overlapping dialogue; inaudible)

JOE LINEBERGER: Yeah, Ill tell you. Everybody appreciates what youre doing.

STONEY: I dont know -- one correction.


STONEY: You said you couldnt talk.

JOE LINEBERGER: No, Im not a --

STONEY: Youre wonderful, sorry to... (laughter)


STONEY: No, but plus, its so helpful. Because he doesnt go on and on. Hell tell a story and the -- thats it. And editors love that. Because so often, somebody will start, and then theyll say something this way, and then halfway through theyll go this way, and then this way. I was watching an editor recently and she says, Finish your sentence! THeyre all yelling.

MRS. LINEBERGER: (laughter) right now!

STONEY: No, to the monitor. (laughter)

HELFAND: Well, thank you so much.

STONEY: OK. Were [out of this?].

HELFAND: You know, weve been -- weve been -- weve been -- weve been able to talk to a lot of workers. Theyve been easier to find. (laughter) A lot of your contemporaries are not around. (laughter)

STONEY: Thats true. OK.


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