Myra Heffner and Hardin Washburn Interview 2

Special Collections and Archives, Georgia State University Library
Transcript
Toggle Index/Transcript View Switch.
Index
Search this Transcript
X
00:00:00

HARDIN WASHBURN: -- might not be too good.

GEORGE STONEY: OK.

JUDITH HELFAND: And if you want to explain it a little more to your dad, you know -- after you read it in your own words -- thats fine, too.

WASHBURN: Go ahead and read.

MYRA HEFFNER: Sorry, hes changing it.

STONEY: OK.

CREW: OK, um, you want me to start on her?

STONEY: Yes, uh -- no, start on him.

CREW: OK, fine.

STONEY: What we have here is a document that we found in Washington that indicates that China Grove had a union local in 1934. Were you aware that they had a local?

WASHBURN: (coughing) I had heard, yeah.

STONEY: OK. Could you read it?

HEFFNER: OK. We, the members of Local number 1273, United Textile Workers of America, make the following resolutions. First, that the China Grove Cotton Mills Company recognize the body as an organization of workers.

00:01:00

WASHBURN: Id heard that, but thats -- thats all. I just heard it.

STONEY: OK.

HEFFNER: Second, that as soon as possible, all workers who live in the country and own farms be replaced with people who live in the mill village or nearby.

WASHBURN: That has a good bit of disputing over that. I know some of them had, I think -- Im not sure, but I think some of them had went and taken some of the union -- some of the -- the ones that had joined the union, they had taken their jobs. I think when they recognized the union, then the union -- thats when the union told that -- let them go, them that was -- they were on farms or outside of the -- the community. You go back, and they could put -- put the 00:02:00other ones back to work that lived there, in the -- at -- thats the way I understood that, what -- when I heard about it, but I hadnt heard too much about it. But thats what they were doing, I think. You see, when they first started to -- to join in the union, they -- they -- it took them some time to get enough -- enough power to, uh, make them -- force them to recognize the union. If a -- if a company hasnt recognized a union, a union doesnt have much power then. Well, it doesnt have practically -- it has practically none. And so the ones that were fired for joining the union, if -- if enough of them then joined, they could force them to take these back, 00:03:00and to do that after the recognizing.

STONEY: Now, they were -- evidently, the company, then, was going out of the mill village, where they had organized, and getting farmers to come in.

WASHBURN: Yeah, yeah. Thats -- thats what I understood, and that must be what was, because I was telling the -- aint that the way it said them -- lived on farms and...

STONEY: OK, next.

HEFFNER: Third, that no more people who live in the country --those who own farms -- shall be employed.

WASHBURN: Now, if they had all their -- the jobs in the -- in the -- I didnt know what it said -- the jobs in the mill, they already had help on them, or if they had hired everybody right close to around, then I understand that if they 00:04:00was forced to hire new -- new help, and thats the only place they could find it, maybe say on the outskirts of town, maybe theres a farmer or had a son or a daughter that was a farmer, they could have hired him after, after theyd taken care of the ones on the village and -- and surrounding. Now, I told you. My -- my ideas of this might not be all correct, but thats the way I understood it.

HEFFNER: Fourth, that no more work be added to those now employed.

WASHBURN: Now, thats -- thats where they had trouble in lots of places, but they finally got it. And thats what caused me to quit my last job that I 00:05:00had in connection with textiles. They hired a big old German to come in down at Piedmont Dye -- the dye -- dyeing department of Piedmont plant in Belmont. And he come in there to take -- to cut one man out of a three mans position. Cut one man out and make two men take care of it. Thats why I walked out down there.

STONEY: That was called a stretch out, I think.

WASHBURN: Thats stretching, mm-hmm. And, uh, during the -- one organization, the union, had a -- that was along about then, too. They had a fellow they called Six-Hour Red. He -- (laughter) he thought they was working him too many 00:06:00hours, eight hours. He wanted to -- he wanted to do four shifts -- 24 hours, four shifts, six hours each. And they called him Six-Hour Red.

STONEY: Now, I think Six-Hour Reds idea was that if you had four shifts, then you could em-- you had to employ more people, and he was looking for more jobs.

WASHBURN: Yeah, that was to get -- it was to get, uh, one third more people than what was already there.

STONEY: Because what was happening then was that so many people on the farms were having to move off the farms because of the boll weevil. And weve heard a lot of people say, If you didnt work, the foreman would say, Well, theres a barefoot, hungry country boy waiting at the gate to take your job.

WASHBURN: Oh, Ive had them tell me over there at Cramerton in, uh -- in the 00:07:0030s -- old Kyle Martin, we werent getting enough time. And he said, If you dont like it, you can leave. Said, They walking the railroad up there, on the job right now. Rub it in. Oh, they know how to rub it in. Uh, theres some [good employers?]. Now, Ive said something several times about Cramerton. Now, Id like to say something good about Cramerton, and that was when it was Cramerton. Because its called Cramerton yet, but old man Cramer owned it then. He wasnt just over it. He owned it. And, uh, 00:08:00he would -- there was -- he had some overseers that thought they were owners. And theres an old lady Stackleather. Thats her name. Old Lady Stackleather, she was a widow, and she had two girls working there in the mill. And she couldnt find a house on the village, couldnt find a house -- working in Cramers mill, but she couldnt find -- so every time shed see one empty, shed go ask about it. And so some of the overseers would say, That belongs to Mr. So-and-so, another overseer, so I cant -- I cant 00:09:00give you that. And right there in Cramerton, where the bank in Cramerton is, that used to be a ball field. Right back in that little corner, it had bleacher seats on the bank of the railroad. The bank goes up to the depot, and Old Man Cramer loved baseball. And he was down there at the game one day, and they said that Old Lady Stackleather seen him. And said she went to him about a house, gets to him, says, Mr. Cramer, Ive got two daughters working in your mill, and I cant get any of your overseers to let me have a house. I said -- Ive talked to the ones my daughters work for, and hell speak about one, and then hell say, That belongs to another overseer. So she -- she 00:10:00said that. Old Man Cramer said, Ms. Stackleather, I expect if I knew as much about this place as you do, Id strike a match to it. Says, If you see one empty, move in. They all belong to me. And thats just about the truth to that. No, Old Man -- he believed in taking care of his help, and at that time, he, uh -- he paid better wages than -- than these mills in Belmont. I dont reckon theres a mill around here that paid any better wage than Old Man Cramer did. And he had two boys, George and Major -- well, they called the old man Major Cramer, and he called his older son Major. They were 00:11:00both majors in the, in the Navy when they were younger. George, I think hed served a hitch in the Army. When Old Man Cramer died, uh, George and -- and young Major, they sold out to, uh -- that bus terminal across the river.

STONEY: Stowe?

WASHBURN: Huh?

STONEY: To Stowe?

WASHBURN: No. Tommy?

HEFFNER: Are you talking about the person that lives in the Cramer mansion now?

WASHBURN: No, the -- the company that bought -- I ought to be able to think of it, but I think t-- the company that bought Cramer, the mill --

00:12:00

HEFFNER: Burlington!

WASHBURN: Yeah, Burlington bought it out. As I said that -- Cramer had already put in a sewer system across the -- across the South Fork River from Cramerton, because he owned a bunch of land there plumb down to the -- up Armstrong Bridge. And he --

STONEY: Do you wat to keep reading then here?

WASHBURN: (inaudible)

HEFFNER: Fifth, that spittoons be replaced in the mill at once, and those who have been discharged for using tobacco be reemployed. We cannot see where the mill is more sanitary without the spittoons, since people who have colds must spit somewhere.

WASHBURN: That was one good thing he done. (laughter)

00:13:00

STONEY: What was it like in the mill with --

WASHBURN: With the spittoon? They had a fellow thatd come around every morning. And -- and the ones -- well, in every mill where Ive seen them, they were iron -- cast-iron, about that big around and about that deep. Hed put -- fill that full of sawdust, place them so -- so many down a post alley and around different places. And you -- you better -- they better not catch you spitting on the floor, either. That was pretty good.

STONEY: Now, OK, next.

HEFFNER: Sixth, that the workers and management work together for common good of all concerned, and that a committee of three from the union meet with a committee of three of the management for a 00:14:00conference regarding these resolutions.

WASHBURN: Yeah, they had -- they had space for meetings, some from the union, some from the management. And -- and some of them got -- I understand what I -- what all I heard, I understood it, up there around China Grove. They got along fine after they -- they recognized the union. But there was so many smart alecks on both sides wanted -- wanted to stir up trouble.

HELFAND: What -- she should go to the next item.

STONEY: No, no, I want him to finish this.

HEFFNER: Well, that, this was adopted by Local number 1273 at a meeting on February 23rd, 1934, and it gives the signatures: A. C. Tate, A. Beaver -- A. 00:15:00U. Beaver, G. L. Caldwell.

WASHBURN: Caldwell.

HEFFNER: Mm-hmm.

WASHBURN: Whats the name?

HEFFNER: G. L. Caldwell.

WASHBURN: I -- there was some Caldwells at the Eagle, but I -- I dont...

STONEY: Well, were interested in this because it showed that there was a pretty carefully worked out system of organization six mo-- at least six months before this big strike, at least in some of the mills.

WASHBURN: Yeah. Uh, where -- where they had sense enough to -- to, uh, pick a good committee. They didnt have no -- uh, what do they call the -- wildcat. They didnt have no wildcat strike, but there was some -- some where they did -- did have. But a good, well-picked committee and little officers that had 00:16:00some sense, they -- they tried to negotiate before striking.

STONEY: Now, we also have some letters that people wrote to Roosevelt and to people running the NRA, the Blue Eagle, and so forth, and so shes going to read one or two of the letters.

HELFAND: And this ones from your hometown. You might tell your daddy that.

HEFFNER: OK, this was written from s-- anonymous, from somebody at, uh, Imperial Yarn Mill in Belmont, August 25th, 1934.

STONEY: Just before the big strike.

HEFFNER: Dear Sir, Mr. Roosevelt, We know that you are doing everything in your power to help the poor people, but we know that you do not know what all is going on in these mills. And we thought we would let you know, for we think it is our place to do our part in helping you. We have to work so hard in this 00:17:00mill in Belmont, NC, that we do not get time to stop and eat our lunch, and if we do, our work just tears all to pieces, and they have to get the machine re-speeded up so fast that they make as much production in seven and a half hours as they would in 12 hours. And the second set of hands is not to go to work until one-thirty oclock, but they go in the mill from eleven oclock to one oclock, and I think some ought -- something ought to be done about it. These mill owners just put so much cleaning up on us that we cant get it done, and we have just worked in a sweatshop this summer, for they do not allow a window up in the whole mill. And the one that is writing this letter belongs to the union, but not -- theres not as many that belong to the union in this mill, for they are scared to join. They are afraid they will lose their job, 00:18:00and we would like very much for you to look into this. This mill is the Imperial Mill, Belmont, NC.

WASHBURN: What was the -- they didnt give the name.

HEFFNER: No, anonymous.

WASHBURN: Well, I knew a lot of them at the Imperial. And they -- she t-- she or he told the truth, that they did -- they did make it hard on them. And they did speed -- speed em up. You could move (audio distortion) over speed a space at a spinning frame. Thats what it -- what the end come down is this -- sometimes, itll tear up a whole half side before they get it stopping. They were rough on them.

00:19:00

STONEY: Does that sound like the kind of conditions that you remember?

WASHBURN: Yeah. Thats, um -- I can tell you some rougher than that. Why, before I was old enough to go to work in the mill, they -- Ill tell you -- Ill tell you a little story that an old fella told me it happened to him and -- and show you what they used to do to a doffer, a doffer or a girl spinning or a doffer. He -- they were you-- that the spinner and the e-- the doffer were usually the youngest in there. And now this -- this didnt happen. This happened before any union was up organized down here and I -- before I was old 00:20:00enough to work. They would -- a second hand would take a little old doffer if -- if he didnt think he was doing things right and he got a little sassy with him, hed catch that little fella and kick his hind end. Thats right. Hed kick him. And, uh, they would slap em around. If they had -- if they would have done that to -- to me after I went to work, they wouldnt have to fight me. They have had to keep out of my dads sight or fight him. And I -- now, this old fella that told -- told me about a lot of this, he-- hed get to telling you something, and hed get so earnest about it, youd see his -- 00:21:00his, uh, face quiver like that. He -- and his voice would quiver. He -- he said he worked at a place one time, and he wore a hat, but he was not allowed to wear it inside. He had to go hang it up. He said, Ive been sweeping. I -- they just swept over and over. Hed put -- take his broom, pull stuff out from under the spinning frames, and push it along to the end. And he said, I have been sweeping like that, and the second hand come by and chewed tobacco. Said hed, Like he didnt see me. You know, hed turn and spit like -- he spit on me and said -- I was afraid to say anything to him, because he said hed slap me or anything. He said, Well, one day, he 00:22:00said, It was about time for the whistle to blow for dinnertime, and said, I come around, and I looked at the clock up on the wall there, and my old hat was hanging there in a line of other ones. So I reached and got it and put it on, because I knew that I wouldnt get through the next hour until the whistle blew. And so the second hand seen me with my hat on, jerked it off, and stomped it and kicked it under the frame, said, Take that hat and hang it up. You know youre not supposed to wear it. He said, Well, I know that its time for the whistle to blow. He said, He made me take that hat back up there and hang it up, so I hung it up and turned, started to walk off, and the whistle blew. Time to shut down. And he told me all of that, and his voice got to quivering, and his face. (laughter) He said, 00:23:00[Lawrence?], said, That son of a gun married my sister. (laughter) I dont want to (inaudible). He let into a lot of stuff. (inaudible) Im going to have to tell you nothing about it. He said -- he said hes living down in South Carolina, says hes a Western Methodist preacher down there, said youd see him on the street and get to talking to him about -- said hed push his shirtsleeves up, say, I preach for my Lord, and Ill fight for him. Said, I went to hear him preach. Said, I was sitting on the second pew that I hadn't a drop. Said he got to preaching pretty heavy, 00:24:00strong against -- against drinking, and said, He come down out the pulpit -- off of the pulpit, walked over to the pew in front ofme, set one foot upon it and caught the back of it and pulled up, bent over. And I was sitting in the section -- bent over and said -- he pointed his finger in my face and said, You, you red-eyed drunkard. Thats who Im talking to. He said, I hadnt had a drop, and I didnt never go back to hear him no more. (laughter) Boy, Andy was -- Andy was just a fine old fella, but hed tell you tales, and hed tell it in such a way you couldnt help but laugh at.

STONEY: Now, we have a couple of other letters, one thing where the -- the one for the black workers. I had -- yeah. Oh, just a moment (inaudible; 00:25:00simultaneous talking). Oh, no, I got it right here. Yeah, uh, do you know -- read this. This is a complaint, and you may know the person involved.

WASHBURN: That -- that -- wait just a minute. That one from the Imperial, did -- did it have any copy of any names?

HEFFNER: No, uh-uh. It was anonymous. OK, this is a complaint of violation of code of fair competition for the textile trade industry, January 5th, 1934. Name and address of the establishment complained against -- Eagle Yarn Mills, Belmont. Name of complainant: Bruce Graham.

WASHBURN: Who?

HEFFNER: Bruce Graham. Uh --

STONEY: Did you know Bruce?

00:26:00

WASHBURN: Uh, Ive heard of him, yeah. (laughter) Go -- go ahead and read more.

HEFFNER: Uh, OK. He says, Im an inside employee. Im required to work more than 40 hours a week, operative of three -- three machines: waist feeder, waist beater, and opener. And Im paid less than 30 cents for hours work. Three, this is his third complaint, My employer due me extra comp-- compensation from July 17th, 1933, up to present date. And it says -- you know -- both statements are true, and Bruce Graham has signed it. Oh, A space for notarization or a witness, and Charlie McClain witnessed it.

WASHBURN: That must have been the Eagle.

HEFFNER: Yeah.

00:27:00

WASHBURN: Oh, Bruce. Bruce Graham, yeah, hes a colored feller, too. Theyre both colored fellers. Old Bruce -- Bruce is an honest old colored feller. Hes sti-- Bruce is still living.

HEFFNER: Yeah.

WASHBURN: Uh, Charlie, he -- hes been dead several years now. Uh...

STONEY: Well, it must have taken a lot of nerve for Bruce to write that at that time.

WASHBURN: It -- it did. Of course, it -- it began to lighten up on him down there. More than 40 hours a week -- waist feeder, waist beater, and opener. 00:28:00Theres waist (inaudible). Yeah, Bruce and Charlie were related. They -- they lived over on -- both of them lived over on the Ratchford Road, across the -- off -- off Union Road.

STONEY: Well, they still do. I -- Bruce still -- Graham still lives there.

WASHBURN: Yeah, I -- I dont know whether hes still over there or not, but hes still living. I know somebody was talking to me about it the other day. Bruce was still living. I believe...

00:29:00

STONEY: Can -- do you want to read the second letter there?

HELFAND: Maybe he has something else he could say about Bruce before we get to something else.

STONEY: OK. All right. Is there anything more that you -- you can tell us about Bruce?

WASHBURN: About Bruce? He was a -- he was just an honest old feller. He did his work right. He -- he was regular. He was faithful, and I -- I think, uh, that he -- he needed some of -- uh, I -- I -- I read that they must have been giving him a little compensation for -- for just adding to the machine.

HEFFNER: No, he was complaining because they werent giving him --

WASHBURN: I thought he -- I thought he said, well, they hadnt given him what he was due.

HEFFNER: Mm-hmm.

00:30:00

WASHBURN: Uh, lets see, who was over him then? The old man Jarvis Stowe. Uh, because they needed them -- the colored fellas worked at night. They worked -- they worked in the daytime. And Jarvis -- the waist -- rerunning the waist had to be, uh, on the card room overseers payroll.

STONEY: OK. This --

HELFAND: Tell him about Ian Wallace.

STONEY: Oh yes --

HELFAND: The guy that wrote it.

00:31:00

STONEY: -- Im sorry. Uh, we were talking with Bruce Graham, and then we got a bunch of letters from Ian Wallace. Do you remember Ian Wallace?

WASHBURN: Wallace? Yeah, he was a -- a mechanic at, uh, Eagle Mill. Uh, he left there not long after we moved to the mill, but I dont know -- I dont even know where he went. I do -- I do know he -- he left a mark of the -- of some of his work in the front of the mills and pretty, uh -- I dont know what kind of pine is it. He got it up in the mountains. He sent -- I think he sent four out there. Hugo got one of them, but it -- but there was one died not long after he sent it out. I think theres two down there now, pretty -- pretty 00:32:00fine. Uh, but he was -- he was a good mechanic, and he -- so far as I know, he was an honest, good man. He -- I dont know of him ever voicing any complaint about the mill, though.

STONEY: Well, we have about ten different letters that he wrote to Washington, one after another after another, trying to get some help. And we found out -- we didnt know this until we talked to Bruce Graham -- Bruce Graham said that he did get some back pay, but then they eliminated his job.

WASHBURN: Oh, uh, eliminated -- Wallace or Bruce?

STONEY: Wallace.

00:33:00

WASHBURN: I kn-- I know Wallace -- I think that must have been when he left.

STONEY: That's right. Well, we have another letter here, which you might read. Oh, you dont -- sorry. No, its here it is, Ive got it here. OK. This is another letter from -- from Belmont.

HEFFNER: OK, this was written from Belmont, October the 6th, 1933: Dear Mr. Johnson, the Negro laborers of Belmont, NC, that work at the cotton mills are told by the --

HELFAND: Excuse me, Im going to have to ask you to do that again. I just got a little disturbance, and I want it to be clean.

STONEY: Sure, OK. Uh, OK, OK, thank you, Judy. OK?

HELFAND: Ill tell you when. [Go ahead?] -- you have a question?

HEFFNER: Oh, youre not doing it yet?

STONEY: No.

HEFFNER: OK. Let me read this first, I havent read this one.

STONEY: Sure. No, no.

(break in audio)

00:34:00

CREW: When youre ready.

STONEY: OK.

HEFFNER: All right, this was written from Belmont, October the 6th, 1933: Dear Mr. Johnson, the Negro laborers of Belmont, NC, that work at the cotton mills are told by their employers that they do not come under the code, because they do outside and inside work. Some drives trucks, and some scrub inside. Others do the trucking of cotton load yarn, and their wages per week are $8.25 and $9.79 for 55 hours. Some of these mills are Acme, Eagle, Climax, Perfection, Linford, Stowe Spinning, Imperial, National, Crescent, and Chronicle. The colored folks are afraid to send in their pay envelopes. The employers say that they will not have no more jobs around Belmont, so I wish 00:35:00that you would send someone to investigate this -- to investigate this report. You said the NRA are supposed to help everybody, but the employers are unfair to the colored workers of Belmont, NC.

WASHBURN: Uh, I have -- he wrote that to Mr. Johnson?

STONEY: Yes, Hugh Johnson was the man in charge of the NRA.

WASHBURN: Oh.

STONEY: The Blue Eagle, at the time.

WASHBURN: I know it -- I know it was under Roosevelt, but their -- the inside -- any of the labor was very, very small. Thats before they were forced to raise -- raise the wage. And they were -- they did -- can you imagine, uh -- 00:36:00even after that, and I was -- in the first 40s, I had -- I had already gotten married. I had a family of three -- me and my wife and three. I was making $14.80 a week. And its hard to take -- pay your house rent and the -- maybe have a little spell of sickness, and take the rest of that, and go buy a weeks groceries. Its hard. And I didnt -- didnt do it every week. I went in debt several times for the groceries. I finally -- I remember -- this 00:37:00was -- this was way later than that. But I remember it was -- almost broke my -- my wifes heart and -- and my kids. I had a little withholding for Christmas, so I'd have something -- buy something for Christmas. And it didnt amount to nothing, didnt -- now, but back then,it would buy the children a pretty good Christmas. I had $50 coming to me that I had saved, and I owed a little debt of almost $50. And I -- after I got my check -- I was in 00:38:00the service station then, working. After I got -- got my Christmas check of $50, this fella coming around, hitting me up for -- wondering -- wondering how much I could pay on it. And I just thought, Im going to get rid of this once and for all. I said, Ill pay it all. And it cost me almost $50. Well I was working at a service station then, and we -- we sold some few Christmas toys and things. And I -- I got you and Judy a big doll. You remember? I got you two dolls -- thats the (inaudible). And I forgot what I -- I think thats what I bought is a 410 three-shot shotgun. And I got Larry 00:39:00something, old (inaudible). I just got it -- two of them. As I drew my pay there every week, Id pay them so much. And I got rid of that fella coming by there, wanting me to pay him a little of that. And my [older?] said, Of course, you didnt do that, did you? I said, Yeah, I did. She almost cried. She was looking forward to you all having something. I said, Ill get em something. I didnt need to tell that, but I just wanted you to know I been right along there myself.

STONEY: Now, I understand that the mills did a lot for Christmas and all kinds of things like that for the -- 00:40:00as favors for people.

WASHBURN: Who did?

STONEY: The mill owners.

WASHBURN: Oh, I -- the first -- first time Christmas --

HELFAND: Im sorry. Im going to (inaudible).

WASHBURN: -- coming from the mill was a big bag about the size of a paper grocery bags, now, was a few oranges, apples, maybe a few tangerines, and some different kinds of nuts. And some thats whole -- it wasnt as (inaudible) then. Sometimes, you get (inaudible) is that hard sugar di-- different colored candy -- that. And then, the next was a -- the about -- was ham. They give each -- give each worker a ham. And if you had four or five working in the 00:41:00family, you would get that many hams. It was pretty good. But they --

HELFAND: Excuse me. (inaudible) I cant make out --

(break in audio)

STONEY: Uh, could you tell us -- you had three brothers who were members of the unions. What gave them the -- and obviously, there was a lot of opposition. What gave them the courage to join the union?

WASHBURN: Uh, they just hat-- hated -- one thing, they hated to be told that they couldnt do something like that for themselves. And they seen, too, that we needed -- we needed a union, or some way to better the work, the wages, and the -- the whole -- the whole 00:42:00mill [for it, see?]?. And they realized that they needed some help, and they realized -- banded together in a union would give them a little power. And the -- thats, uh -- thats the reason they were being fired, to keep them from gaining that power. And, uh, so they were firing every -- everyone that joined. And then some quit without joining. Like my dad, my sister, that time, we -- we left with Jesse, and went down there. And thats -- that -- I think I told you thats the first mill that I ever remember seeing with air conditioning. 00:43:00It had no refrigeration. It had a system of water going down to the -- it pulled air through that, and they left the doors open. So this -- that you [air condition?], because it was taken in through -- more air, and it was blowing the warm air. Youd pass the door and feel a breeze coming out. But now, they close it up. I suppose that even then, the air that you were breathing in there, if it had had something, back then, to take care of all that lint -- cotton lint and dust -- it would have been healthier, the air you was breathing, because you was getting fresh air, you know? Now, uh, you circulate the air, and then you br-- you dont get it -- you dont get fresh air in like you 00:44:00did then.

STONEY: Now, you lived on the -- you lived in several mill villages, didnt you?

WASHBURN: Yeah.

STONEY: Uh, tell about -- what was it like to live in a mill village?

WASHBURN: What was it like?

STONEY: Mm-hmm.

WASHBURN: Well, me -- me being just a little feller, most of the time, it, uh -- it was better than being on a farm. But in a way, I -- I think that it was better to be in the country, where I -- I have said, and I still say, that I wish my dad would have kept me in the country until I was -- until I was grown. 00:45:00But I dont say that I would have learned any more. You -- you know, youve got to have a little common sense to -- for education to do you any good. Education is a fine -- fine thing in the right head, but it is a mean thing in the wrong kind of head. Ive seen people with education -- real good education -- but they didnt know how to handle it, didnt have common sense enough to handle it. Now, that sounds strange, dont it? Well, Ill try to tell you. Theres an old feller told me about it one time. We was talking about education, and he said, Ill tell you fellers. You know what? 00:46:00Before going to farming, do you know what a donkey is called in the old English word? All right, Ill go ahead with it now. He said that, You, uh -- go out here and catch you some old country boy with some grey horse, common sense, and send him off to college, he comes back a fine fella. Now, if you go out here and just pick up any old Jack, send him off to college, he comes back a jackass. And thats -- thats that that mans like a donkey. And it -- and I had to agree with him. I -- of course, I didnt have much education. I reckon I didnt have sense enough to -- to know whether to agree or not.

STONEY: No.

WASHBURN: I -- he didnt mean it against education. Neither am I. But Im 00:47:00afraid, honestly -- Im -- Im speaking as honest, now, as I know how to speak to you about this. I am afraid of a lot of the education that our children are getting in school today. Now, you -- you know as much as I do the things theyre being taught. We mentioned that the other time we was talking. Did you hear of -- I can remember the old famous Scopes trial of what was being taught in school then and that was stopped when -- William Jennings Bryan was the lawyer who won that case. And it was Scopes who was stopped from his teaching. And now -- and now, they dont allow no, uh -- even the -- no 00:48:00scriptures, none of the Bible being read. What of our children? Theyre growing up without it, and thats -- thats terrible.

STONEY: Let me ask you something about living in the mill village. Some people have told us that it was wonderful, and other people said that they felt like somebody was tending to their business all of the time, and they were under the supervisors.

WASHBURN: Well, it wasnt that way when -- when I was there. The mill villages now -- I understand that they do have some supervising of the -- of what goes on in the village. Of course, they was law and order then. I dont 00:49:00say it was always kept, but there was some law and order there. But the -- it wasnt as much meddling, I dont think, as there might be now. I -- I think it -- that you can, uh, go so far with your supervising thing that you become a meddler. Now, thats my -- thats just -- thats old man stuff. Im not saying that a wise man [like that?], but whether Im wise or not, that there is this old mans notion.

STONEY: Did that ever bother you when you lived in the mill village, that you were kind of beholden to the boss for everything?

WASHBURN: Well, I -- for a while there, in Cramerton, I li-- lived there six 00:50:00years, I think it was. And I found this -- that a lot of the overseers felt that if they could get their hand -- the hands that they had working for them, they could get them in a Cramers house, they owned you. But, uh, as long as you -- long as you didnt live on the village, they couldnt say you -- You move if you quit. Now, when I finally quit over there, I want you get out of that house. And then tol-- I was being told too, same time, that there was a war going on, being told at the same time that I was forbidden to go 00:51:00to another mill to go to work because of -- I was froze to hat because I was -- I was helping produce a -- a garment for the Army nurses. And so therefore -- but I went -- I went anyway. I got permission. And then, the next time I moved, I asked -- I moved again before the war was over. And I went -- went back to the dye house down at Piedmont from -- and asked them down there about being froze on the job, you see, try to -- they said, Uh, no, nobody is. And I -- I thought that was taking a lot away from a person, to tell him he couldnt go to work somewhere else where he was offered employ-- employment.

00:52:00

STONEY: Now, one other thing weve -- weve heard in some places was that the foremen took advantage of the women.

WASHBURN: Well, Ive not experienced too much of that, but it was some -- Ive heard of some of it, yeah. Uh, harassed them in different ways -- theyd try to bribe em, too. Ive heard of that. But not -- not a whole lot of it, not where I was [at?], not -- not in the plants where I worked. Uh, they -- the women in the workforce, theyve had a right to buck about the 00:53:00difference in their treatment and the difference in the pay. Uh, a woman, Im -- Im in favor of this. If a woman knows her job and does that job as well as that man over there, pay her the same wage youre paying him. Thats what I think. Of course, Ive never been a foreman. But I would feel like that if I was a superintendent. I -- I believe in -- if you pay one person a certain price for a certain labor, and the other is doing the same labor and doing it as well, pay that person the same rate. I believe -- I believe in the 00:54:00-- I dont believe in being partial. Now, understand, I dont believe in the [NRA?] womans movement going into the service, going into it like a man. You know -- you know what Im -- without me going to -- getting to plain with this, you know what I mean, dont you? Using the same (inaudible) facilities that the men use. Other words is -- the restroom dont have women and men. The restroom is the restroom. If they get what some of them want, then -- and they -- and going into service, and, well, theres just lots of things. Now, here, some -- its not -- it has not been very long ago is -- a reporter, a 00:55:00woman, she wanted to go into the -- the athletes locker room. And she got in there, and she got -- she said she got insulted. Well, she went in asking for it. I wouldnt have -- if I was a reporter, would that be a heck of a j-- thing to say, I want to get in the -- them girls locker room, basketball team, or whatever. And then, first, because they didnt [go to school?].

HELFAND: So were the women treated as fair in the mills -- as the men? I mean, it sounds like -- well, how were the women treated in the mills?

WASHBURN: In the mill?

HELFAND: Yeah.

00:56:00

WASHBURN: Well, about as fair there as any place I know -- except where they had the -- a nut head for an overseer who didnt know how to treat women. Theres some that just didnt know how to -- how to treat a woman. But, uh, they was -- there were some women that could give you a lot of trouble. There was men, too.

STONEY: Did your wife work in the mill?

WASHBURN: Yeah. She was a -- a winder hand. And they -- it was a lot of, uh, second hands and foremen. Theyre all called supervisors now. They would make a difference in two women that was doing the same work, and they wouldnt -- they wouldnt give one credit that -- that was doing -- made 00:57:00even better work. If they -- if they thought a lot of this one over here, they wouldnt give us the credit for beating her and turning out good work. That -- that was discriminating. Theres -- uh, there was a certain kind of discrimination then. Now, you hear somebody hollering, Discrimination, about everything now. And --

STONEY: Well, now --

WASHBURN: -- youre going to get me in politics in a little bit, getting it --

STONEY: -- OK. (laughter)

WASHBURN: -- getting [news media?], and Ill -- Ill blow my top off then.

STONEY: OK. Uh, one other thing about that -- the women had a -- in the cotton mill, they were working, and they also had to look after the families. Uh, did 00:58:00men take part in looking after the kids and doing the cooking and all that?

WASHBURN: A good husband did, a good daddy. I did very well. (laughter)

CREW: I got it on tape.

STONEY: OK.

WASHBURN: No, Ill tell you.

STONEY: Yeah, yeah.

WASHBURN: Thats one thing that the -- is expe-- expected of a woman too much, for her to take all that load, take care of the kids, take care of the household, and -- and not get any help from -- from the husband.

STONEY: Well, now, I believe some of the women -- didnt they hire -- hire black people to work for them?

00:59:00 WASHBURN: Yeah, them that made enough of their own self to leave them and, uh, take a job, and that paid it -- paid them enough to pay this person and -- and not take all they made. But, uh, now, its gotten to where, uh, its hard for one to earn enough to pay for somebody to come in.