Alma Friday and E.O. Friday Interview

Special Collections and Archives, Georgia State University Library
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STONEY: -- and how -- when you were born, and what -- when you first started working in the mills.

E.O. FRIDAY: My name is [Edward Otto?] E.O. Friday Sr. I was born 1913. And I’m 79 years old. And, uh, I went to work at -- when I was 13 years old at the Modena Cotton Mill. And that was around about 1926, somewhere around in there, I think. About that -- about that time.

STONEY: What did you do?

E.O. FRIDAY: I, uh, worked in the warehouse, and, and did, uh, local work, like rolling in coal. We’d roll in 40 wheelbarrows of coal in the morning, and 40 wheelbarrow-fulls in the evening. (laughter) They run this big steam engine.

STONEY: Yeah.

1:00

E.O. FRIDAY: And then, after we’d do it -- did that, we would go in, open up the cotton, and run it through a machine. Then it’d go into the mill. And then, we would be a (inaudible), and, uh, they had outhouses. And we would take -- had to, uh -- they had a two-wheel cart with a mule. And we would take buckets and dump that stuff out. Turning the outhouses over, (laughter) and haul that stuff off and bury it. Didn’t have (inaudible). (laughter) We had that -- we had to do that once a week -- clean out those outhouses. (laughter)

STONEY: Yeah? Oh, boy.

E.O. FRIDAY: So that -- we were just, uh, you know, mostly what we’d call, uh, common laborers, you know? We didn’t -- uh, we never did -- well, the only one that worked in the mill, they had two women that kept the mill scrubbed -- the floors, you know? They would spit a lot of tobacco spit on the floor, and these women would have to go in. And that was their job -- scrubbing, six days a week, scrubbing. (laughter)

STONEY: Oh, OK.

2:00

E.O. FRIDAY: Scrubbing the floors. And there was a long time before they, uh, let the black women go in and run -- do spinning, you know? They had to teach them and all, (inaudible). But it was, uh -- everybody was happy. Nobody never did complain about it.

STONEY: Well, now, back then, did you ever remember asking yourself why it was that you couldn’t work in -- inside the mill, and run machines, and that kind of thing?

E.O. FRIDAY: Well, I, I knew the -- what the problem was, but I never did say anything about it. (laughter) Because you might lose your job back then.

STONEY: Yeah.

E.O. FRIDAY: You know, if you start to griping, you know? Back then, you know, you couldn’t -- you just had to be quiet and go along with the flow. (laughter) So --

STONEY: How did you -- how did you get your job?

E.O. FRIDAY: Well, um, at that time, my dad -- he’d run this engine on the third shift. And, uh, the -- when I bec-- became old enough to run -- I mean, to work, they, uh, let me -- uh, I went to work when I was 13 years old. 3:00(inaudible) when you got 13 years old, you could work in the mill. So that’s how I got the job. Then, uh, most of the people at the farm then -- uh, didn’t many people have public jobs then. Just a few blacks had public jobs like that. Most of them farmed, you know, and, and on a sharecropper farm, whatever you call it. You know, they’d farm and -- oh, sorry, forgot about that. (inaudible). (laughter) And, uh, so, we -- we lived... You know, my dad would raise, uh, a bale of cotton here. Um, well, he had three acres here, and, and then he would, uh, rent some ground. And then he would take in a -- raise three bales of cotton on that ground. And he -- when he’d sell the cotton, he’d pay the rent. Uh, for the land that he used. And we had a cow, and we had hogs. And we’d gather up -- we’d come through the mill, but (inaudible) -- and get scraps, you know, what people throwed away, and feed the hogs. So we 4:00had a little corn, you know, to go with that -- the scraps. We’d gather round -- we’d -- that was -- I’d do the -- we’d do that every day. (laughter) When we’d get off from work, we’d go around them houses and pick up scraps to feed the hogs.

STONEY: But you were working how many hours a day?

E.O. FRIDAY: From 6:00 to 6:00. And it was $7 and some cents a week, that we was making.

STONEY: Well, when did that, uh, get better?

E.O. FRIDAY: Well, um, let’s see. That was during the Hoover’s time. Let’s see, when did Hoover get out of there?

STONEY: Uh, Roosevelt got elected --

E.O. FRIDAY: Yeah, Roo-- when Roosevelt got elected --

STONEY: Yeah.

E.O. FRIDAY: -- is -- well, that’s when things turned around. We was -- it was -- they paid us a little bit more now and everything, as we -- we’d work eight hours instead of from 6:00 to 6:00. We’d work eight hours a day. And, uh, the -- we were -- we -- it was some hard work, but then, you know, everybody was stout then. We was -- I was 13 years old, [hauling?] a bale of cotton weighed 1300 pounds -- Egyptian cotton. They shipped that Egyptian cotton over 5:00from the -- um, Egypt, somewhere over across the sea. And, uh, just regular cotton that we raised around here averaged four and five hundred pounds. So that was just a -- uh, just light work, you know?

STONEY: Mm-hmm.

E.O. FRIDAY: But when you’re handling that there big, 1,300-pound bale of Egyptian cotton, you was a strong boy or strong man. (laughter) Yeah, I’m telling you. And then, uh, my mother would fix our dinner. See, it was two of -- um, my brother -- he passed. He had a -- got killed in a wreck. Uh, my brother and I and my dad worked up there. So my mother would fix one big box of lunch, you know? And we’d carry that every morning. When dinner time come, we'd all, all three of us, sit down and eat lunch. (laughter) And then, uh, we’d go back to work. We’d take about 15 minutes to eat, and then we’d go back to work. We did that for, for -- the who-- 6:00during the whole Depression. Mm-hmm.

STONEY: Uh, when did your wages get better?

E.O. FRIDAY: That was, uh, when Roosevelt, uh -- during his administration. Things picked up, you know?

STONEY: Mm-hmm.

E.O. FRIDAY: We -- it went from, uh, seven cents an hour to -- we went on up to about $12 a week -- $12 a week, but still working, uh, from 6:00 to 6:00, and get off a Saturday at twelve o’clock.

STONEY: Well now, there was something back then called the NRA -- the Blue Eagle. Do you remember that?

E.O. FRIDAY: Yeah, I remember that. Uh --

STONEY: And, uh, people were supposed to get paid, uh -- they were supposed to work only eight hours a day.

E.O. FRIDAY: Mm-hmm.

STONEY: And they were supposed to get paid a minimum of, of $11 a week.

E.O. FRIDAY: Right.

STONEY: But everybody didn’t get that much money.

E.O. FRIDAY: No, huh-uh -- no, we, uh -- they had a -- (laughs) they had two -- well, they had two payrolls, you know? Uh, some made $6 and $7 a week, and some 7:00made 12. (laughter) Now, you know how that worked.

STONEY: Well, let me tell you, we -- uh, we’ve got some letters here, uh, written by black workers to Washington --

E.O. FRIDAY: Mm-hmm.

STONEY: -- protesting against the way that, uh, the New Deal rules were being enforced.

E.O. FRIDAY: Mm-hmm.

STONEY: Here’s one that’s directed to Mr. Hugh Johnson. This is from Belmont -- uh, it’s from Gastonia, North Carolina --

E.O. FRIDAY: Mm-hmm.

STONEY: -- uh, in, uh, 1933. It was addressed to Hugh Johnson, who was supposed to see that those things were enforced. It says, “I’m writing you this letter to let you know just how we poor Negroes are being treated here at the Manville Jenckes Company Loray Mill.

E.O. FRIDAY: Mm-hmm.

STONEY: “There’s some -- uh, some work 8 hours and some 10 and 11 and 12 hours a day.

E.O. FRIDAY: Mm-hmm.

STONEY: “And all from 8 to 12 hours make only 20 cents per hour, and our boss man, [T.A. Graham?], tell us the new code law don’t cover us -- cover us 8:00Negroes --

E.O. FRIDAY: Mm-hmm.

STONEY: “-- for $12 a week. It is -- it is -- it’s just for white peo-- just -- and that the law was just for white people.” That’s what he says he’d been told.

E.O. FRIDAY: Mm-hmm.

STONEY: Um, but he says that, um, “Please, sir, look after this and do something for us poor Negroes. A, a white man told us to write you about this.” He says, “A man wo-- working on the time -- as a timekeeper, uh, said we Negroes were all rated in the main office at eight hours a day and 30 cents per hour, and $12 a week. And when the NRA inspector comes, they just show him a fake timesheet.” Now, did you know anything about that kind of thing -- fake timesheets?

9:00

E.O. FRIDAY: I didn’t know, but I heard about it.

STONEY: Mm-hmm.

E.O. FRIDAY: I mean, I didn’t -- couldn’t prove it.

STONEY: Mm-hmm.

E.O. FRIDAY: I heard about it.

ALMA FRIDAY: Mm-hmm. He knew about it, but you didn’t understand it.

STONEY: Yeah.

E.O. FRIDAY: Yeah, see, I didn’t un-- understand.

ALMA FRIDAY: Because [I couldn't?] remember all of that.

E.O. FRIDAY: Uh, I just didn’t understand everything that was going on.

ALMA FRIDAY: Um, but, um, we didn’t understand, you know, what it meant (overlapping dialogue; inaudible).

E.O. FRIDAY: And then, sometimes it’s better that you didn’t, because you’d lose your job.

ALMA FRIDAY: Just (overlapping dialogue; inaudible).

F1: But Mama --

ALMA FRIDAY: I remember that Loray Mill. I can remember the Loray...

STONEY: Yeah.

E.O. FRIDAY: Yeah, I remember when that (overlapping dialogue; inaudible) that strike up there. That, uh -- the policeman got killed.

STONEY: Mm-hmm.

E.O. FRIDAY: I remember that (inaudible).

ALMA FRIDAY: I remember when they had a terrible strike.

STONEY: Mm-hmm.

ALMA FRIDAY: And I believe it was -- I was a young girl living in the (inaudible) -- you know, we’d hear all about it, but we didn’t understand it too good.

STONEY: Did it -- did it scare you?

ALMA FRIDAY: No, ’cause we, you know, just didn’t -- I guess we just didn’t know and didn’t understand and didn’t know what it all was gonna 10:00amount to.

STONEY: What were you doing then?

ALMA FRIDAY: Oh, I was with (inaudible), and we was on the farm. And I can remember (inaudible) you know -- we -- you know, you -- we took the Gazette. I mean, it wasn’t the Gazette, it was the (inaudible) Inquirer --

STONEY: Uh-huh.

ALMA FRIDAY: -- in (inaudible). The news would come on the paper, and I went -- was in school.

STONEY: Uh-huh.

ALMA FRIDAY: I finished high school, and (inaudible) we could read and... But it was just so much you can understand.

STONEY: Sure, yeah.

ALMA FRIDAY: Mm-hmm. I remember. Loray Mill. That Loray Mill.

STONEY: Well, this was in ’34, after the law. You see, there was a law then --

E.O. FRIDAY: Mm-hmm.

STONEY: -- that said that it was a minimum of -- there was -- nobody was supposed to get more than eight hours a day.

E.O. FRIDAY: Mm-hmm.

STONEY: Uh, nobody was supposed to get less than $11 a week. And the mills were 11:00supposed to run just 80 hours a, a week, you know, so that they wouldn’t have too much surplus, uh, goods.

E.O. FRIDAY: Right.

STONEY: And this man, Johnson, got on the radio and said to people that, “If your employer isn’t doing you right, you write me.”

E.O. FRIDAY: Mm-hmm.

STONEY: And so, that’s what this fella is doing.

E.O. FRIDAY: Uh-huh.

STONEY: He doesn’t sign his name. Do you have any reason -- any idea of why he didn’t sign his name?

E.O. FRIDAY: Well, he would have lost his job, and he might have been tarred and feathered. (laughter) That’s right.

STONEY: Yeah, yeah.

E.O. FRIDAY: Back then, though, they was still hanging people.

STONEY: Yeah.

E.O. FRIDAY: That’s right.

JAMIE STONEY: A lot of Kluxers around here?

E.O. FRIDAY: Oh, man, yeah. They -- Klux -- um, they drug a -- my dad told me. I didn’t -- I didn’t see this. They locked a black man up, up there in jail. And, uh, the Ku Klux gone up there and get him, and tied his legs to a 12:00h-- two fast horses, and went right down that road there, and drug him, and hung him down at Long Creek. Hung him, uh, down at Long Creek Bridge, down there.

STONEY: Mm-hmm.

E.O. FRIDAY: And nothing there was done about it.

STONEY: Mm-hmm.

E.O. FRIDAY: Yeah, drug him right down that road.

STONEY: Mm-hmm.

E.O. FRIDAY: And drug him -- and he was dead when they got down there. Them horses were flying, my daddy said. See, he -- my daddy told me all about that.

STONEY: Mm-hmm.

E.O. FRIDAY: The -- back in them days, the Ku Klux was bad. I mean, they --

STONEY: Mm-hmm.

E.O. FRIDAY: -- they’d take you out and kill you, hang you, and shoot you, and do anything.

STONEY: Yeah. Well, I remember in Winston-Salem, even in the ’20s, I remember the Ku Klux parading in -- right around the courthouse square in my hometown.

E.O. FRIDAY: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.

STONEY: So they were around.

E.O. FRIDAY: Oh, yeah, they were around.

STONEY: Yeah, they were around. And, you know, as a child, I’d -- I just thought it was coming -- some kind of Halloween parade. (laughter) I had no idea. I had no reason to be afraid, you see?

E.O. FRIDAY: Yeah.

ALMA FRIDAY: Uh-huh.

STONEY: So I had no idea what it meant.

E.O. FRIDAY: Mm-hmm.

ALMA FRIDAY: That’s (inaudible).

13:00

STONEY: It wasn’t a Halloween parade for you. (laughs)

E.O. FRIDAY: Oh, no. Uh-uh.

STONEY: Yeah.

E.O. FRIDAY: No, sir.

STONEY: Yeah. Well now, in 1934, after this law was passed, it’s -- that’s fixed hours, and fixed wages --

E.O. FRIDAY: Right.

STONEY: -- supposedly.

E.O. FRIDAY: Mm-hmm.

STONEY: It also said that people had a right to form a union. And that was a big question then.

E.O. FRIDAY: Yeah, that was a big question. The blacks never did -- would -- well, was never able to join that union. They just had to still work for whatever they’d give them.

STONEY: Why couldn’t they join the union?

ALMA FRIDAY: Mm-hmm.

E.O. FRIDAY: Well, (laughs) they were black.

STONEY: Mm-hmm.

ALMA FRIDAY: Mm-hmm. But, you know, uh, since I’m 78 years old, you know, it’s so much I didn’t learn until I -- during Negro history month. Now, when we were in high school history, we, we wasn’t taught anything. We 14:00didn’t know anything about, about, uh, you know, the Negroes -- what they had invented and all that. I wondered why we wasn’t taught that.

STONEY: Mm-hmm.

ALMA FRIDAY: We didn’t know that.

E.O. FRIDAY: It wasn’t in the books. We didn’t get the books.

ALMA FRIDAY: We didn’t know history when --

STONEY: Mm-hmm. Well, you see, that’s one of the reasons why we’re here today.

E.O. FRIDAY: Mm-hmm.

ALMA FRIDAY: Mm-hmm.

STONEY: Is that we’re trying to add to that.

E.O. FRIDAY: Right.

ALMA FRIDAY: Mm-hmm.

STONEY: Trying to add to this history.

ALMA FRIDAY: That’s right.

E.O. FRIDAY: Mm-hmm.

STONEY: Exactly why we’re here.

ALMA FRIDAY: Mm-hmm.

STONEY: You see, when -- it’s interesting that I grew up in Winston-Salem.

E.O. FRIDAY: Mm-hmm.

STONEY: Uh, I’ve read something about textile history, but even textile history is made up of the men who built the mills --

E.O. FRIDAY: Mm-hmm.

STONEY: -- the machinery --

ALMA FRIDAY: Mm-hmm.

STONEY: -- and the, the economy. But almost nothing about the people who (laughs) who did the work.

ALMA FRIDAY: Mm-hmm. And that’s right.

15:00

STONEY: And I knew that there were very few blacks who, who were allowed to work in the mill.

E.O. FRIDAY: Right.

STONEY: So I just, uh, assumed at the beginning that you wouldn’t have much to tell me.

E.O. FRIDAY: No.

STONEY: And I’m beginning to find you’ve got a lot to tell me. (laughter)

E.O. FRIDAY: Oh, yeah, oh, yeah. Yeah, I’d -- we’d get up at -- around four o’clock every morning, and my mother would fix us a breakfast, and fix that dinner. We’d walk from here up to the -- it’s, I guess, about two miles from here up to the Modena -- up there at that stoplight.

STONEY: Mm-hmm.

E.O. FRIDAY: About two miles, (inaudible). And we’d put in from 6:00 to 6:00 up there. And then, we was -- uh, $7 and something a week.

STONEY: Mm-hmm.

E.O. FRIDAY: That’s, uh -- you figure them hours from up until twelve o’clock on Saturday, from 6:00 to 6:00. That’s a lot of hours.

STONEY: Well now, how much education did you have?

E.O. FRIDAY: I went to, um -- part of the ninth grade, because, see, during the Depression, I had to come out and help to make a living. And, uh, then, if they [lightened?] back up, and I tried to go back. And the bottom fell out again, 16:00and I, I never did go back.

STONEY: Mm-hmm. But that was a lot more education than --

E.O. FRIDAY: Oh, yeah.

STONEY: -- than most blacks had at the time.

E.O. FRIDAY: That’s right, mm-hmm. Yeah, I, um, tried to -- tried to make it -- tried to -- wanted go to college, but I couldn’t. I wasn’t able.

STONEY: Mm-hmm. And so you went into the Navy, and what happened after the Navy?

E.O. FRIDAY: Well, after I got out of the Navy, um, uh, I bought two army trucks. They let the GIs that wanted to go into business to buy trucks and equipment. So I went to Greensboro. They give me a, a, a letter to go up to Greensboro. I bought a dump truck and a flatbed truck. And then I went to the bank. Uh, what -- the man that my dad had been leasing the land from, he was the president. And told him I wanted to buy a new truck -- I mean, a new -- a backhoe. So he loaned me the money, just on my -- on my word. And he was the 17:00only one, and everybody wanted to know how come -- how'd I get so far up on, on the ladder. And, see, we had good character, and my daddy was -- had worked on the farm for them people, and rented land. And then, he loaned me the money to get this backhoe. And I started out -- well, I had two kids in college, and, uh, I was putting in septic tanks, landscaping, land, uh -- stone, doing everything. And I had, uh -- got about, um -- I had two kids in college. One was at North Carolina -- uh, what was it? Where did Barbara go to college at, Alma? Alma?

ALMA FRIDAY: No (inaudible).

E.O. FRIDAY: Barbara -- what college (inaudible)?

ALMA FRIDAY: She went to North Carolina in Durham --

E.O. FRIDAY: Yeah, North Carolina.

ALMA FRIDAY: (overlapping dialogue; inaudible) Livingstone (inaudible).

E.O. FRIDAY: And then my other daughter went to Livingstone.

STONEY: Mm-hmm.

E.O. FRIDAY: Uh, that’s up at, uh -- Livingstone’s in, uh -- where is it? That’s in -- Winston-Salem (inaudible) -- where is Livingstone? Where is 18:00Livingstone College? Isn’t it in Winston-Salem?

ALMA FRIDAY: Salisbury.

E.O. FRIDAY: Salisbury. Yeah, (overlapping dialogue; inaudible).

STONEY: Yeah, (overlapping dialogue; inaudible).

E.O. FRIDAY: So they finished. They’re doing real good. Barbara, she’s, um -- she can retire in a year. And, uh, she’s, um, over the social service department in Brooklyn. She had a, around about 300 employees --

STONEY: Mm-hmm.

E.O. FRIDAY: -- that she was in, uh, charge of. So, she, she done had enough of New York. She’s gonna come back when she retires. Then my other daughter, she’s been teaching school in Hampton there, oh, how long Jean been teaching? About 30 years, ain't she, Jean? How long as our Jeanne been teaching?

ALMA FRIDAY: Oh, about 25 years.

E.O. FRIDAY: Yeah, 25 years.

STONEY: Is that Hampton Institute in Virginia?

E.O. FRIDAY: No, she teaches, uh, at the elementary school.

STONEY: Mm-hmm.

ALMA FRIDAY: In Hampton, Virginia.

E.O. FRIDAY: Hampton, Virginia.

STONEY: Yeah.

19:00

E.O. FRIDAY: But she lives there on her own. Nice home there. She lives about, uh, two blocks from the golf course, and about a quarter or maybe -- might have been a mile from the [inland waterways?]. You know, when I go up there, you know I play -- I don't do nothing but fish and play golf. (laughter) She lives in a nice neighborhood.

STONEY: So you play golf and fish up there?

E.O. FRIDAY: Right.

STONEY: Yeah.

E.O. FRIDAY: I play here, when I get the chance. But I’ve been busy (inaudible). I cut grass for people. I’ve got two churches and a couple of private homes. And poured concrete -- you know, I’ve got some men that help me --

ALMA FRIDAY: Ashley.

E.O. FRIDAY: -- you know? And, uh, I stay busy.

STONEY: Did you ever think, when you were starting out, that, uh, your daughters were going to go that far?

E.O. FRIDAY: No, I didn’t have no idea that, uh -- that I would be able to send them to college. It was hard. It was rough, ’cause I -- uh, and I had to work -- well, when you’re working for yourself, you’ve got to work harder.

STONEY: Mm-hmm.

20:00

E.O. FRIDAY: I’d go to work at, at break of day, and wouldn’t come in till dark, you know? With -- most money I ever made was $40,000 one year. And, uh, I owed for a lot of equipment, you know, the bank, a lot of money. And, uh, had those two kids in college. But I made it. And then, the bank --- I had a lady to, uh -- she was a good, uh, secretary -- keep my books. And she said that I didn’t owe the bank, uh -- I mean, the -- anything (inaudible), no more money. And you know, they went to the bank and took a hundred dollars.

STONEY: Ooh.

E.O. FRIDAY: And she told them people -- she was a white lady that kept my books -- that I didn’t owe that money. And she told me that just because you’re black they just took your money.

STONEY: Hm.

E.O. FRIDAY: Now, that’s right. That’s what happened.

STONEY: Mm-hmm. Well, I want to show you, this is the, the letter that Bruce Graham --

E.O. FRIDAY: Mm-hmm.

STONEY: -- sent to Washington. Tell us something about Bruce.

21:00

E.O. FRIDAY: Oh, Bruce, he was a -- he, he was a, a good farmer and he loved to fish, and -- but they, uh, never did have any children. But they, they’d take a -- all of their, um, sisters’ and brothers’ children -- they helped with them.

STONEY: Mm-hmm.

E.O. FRIDAY: And he loved to farm. He, he -- uh, he’d like to get out there with that mule and plow. He’d raise watermelons and take them over to (inaudible), corn, and beans. Take them over to the (inaudible) mill and sell them. (laughter) He was a hustler. And he, he moved around here pretty good.

STONEY: Yeah? Oh, we were outside the other day, and he was --

E.O. FRIDAY: Yeah.

STONEY: -- uh, I mean, he was moving around. But now, let me read you what he says. He’s -- this is in 1934 --

E.O. FRIDAY: Mm-hmm.

STONEY: -- January the 5th. It says, um, “Bruce Graham, Route Three, Gastonia, North Carolina. I am an inside employee, and number one, I’m required to work more than 40 hours a week,” which was against the law then.

E.O. FRIDAY: Mm-hmm.

22:00

STONEY: “Two, I operate, uh, three machines: a waste feeder, a waste beater, and an opener.

E.O. FRIDAY: That’s right.

STONEY: “And I’m paid less than 30 cents an hour for work. Three, my employers due me extra compensation from July the 17th, 1933” -- that’s when the New Deal -- the NRA went into effect --

E.O. FRIDAY: Mm-hmm.

STONEY: “-- up to the present date,” which was January the 5th. And you’ll notice he signs it.

E.O. FRIDAY: Mm-hmm.

STONEY: And the most amazing thing is this, “May we use your name if necessary?” and he says yes.

E.O. FRIDAY: Mm-hmm.

STONEY: Which took a lot of guts back then.

E.O. FRIDAY: Yeah, that’s right.

ALMA FRIDAY: Mm-hmm.

STONEY: And so, we talked to him about that.

ALMA FRIDAY: Mm-hmm.

STONEY: Um, what do you think about somebody, somebody doing that, uh, back in 1934?

E.O. FRIDAY: Well, that’s the -- that’s about as low down as a person can get, to another human being. Because that’s actually 23:00still slavery, in a way.

STONEY: Mm-hmm, yeah.

E.O. FRIDAY: Yeah.

STONEY: But he had -- somehow he had the courage to do this, and that’s t-- what we’re trying to show, is that even though the blacks weren’t a part of the union, they were --

E.O. FRIDAY: Mm-hmm.

STONEY: They were protesting.

E.O. FRIDAY: That’s right.

ALMA FRIDAY: Mm-hmm.

STONEY: Uh, did you hear anything about unions at that time?

E.O. FRIDAY: No, I didn’t even know (laughs) what a union (inaudible).

STONEY: Mm-hmm, yeah.

ALMA FRIDAY: (overlapping dialogue; inaudible).

E.O. FRIDAY: No, didn’t imagine it. Didn’t even know (inaudible).

STONEY: Yeah?

E.O. FRIDAY: Until, uh, they had this big, uh, strike up there at, uh, uh, Loray --

STONEY: Uh-huh.

E.O. FRIDAY: -- when the police went and got killed up there. That’s the only time we knowed anything about.

STONEY: Well now, in ’34, there was an even bigger strike. It hit every mill in Gaston County --

E.O. FRIDAY: Mm-hmm.

STONEY: -- and most of the mills in the country.

E.O. FRIDAY: Mm-hmm.

STONEY: Do you remember that?

ALMA FRIDAY: Yeah, I remember.

E.O. FRIDAY: Yeah, I remember that.

ALMA FRIDAY: I remember.

STONEY: Yeah. It was -- they were out -- your, your mill was out for three weeks.

E.O. FRIDAY: But, but, probably longer. I don’t know for sure.

STONEY: Mm-hmm.

24:00

E.O. FRIDAY: But, uh, you know what? We, uh -- we still -- they let the blacks work.

STONEY: They did?

E.O. FRIDAY: They let them work because they had to do the cleaning, you know?

STONEY: Mm-hmm.

E.O. FRIDAY: And cus--, cus--, custodian, or whatever you call it. But the ones that run the machines -- the ones that the whites wanted, they was -- so they didn’t care nothing about -- wasn’t making no money no way. Didn’t nobody want our job. (laughter) So...

ALMA FRIDAY: Yeah, I remember that --

E.O. FRIDAY: Yeah.

ALMA FRIDAY: -- we lived on the backwater of where the -- those mill hands would come and fish during that time. They would start coming in for (inaudible) in the morning, just line up. And they got so bad they went to stealing people’s chickens and, uh, gardens -- stealing stuff out of the garden. And, uh, they had to stop them from coming in, parking. They’d park (inaudible) driveway, our yard, and we couldn’t hardly walk from...

STONEY: Hm.

ALMA FRIDAY: My daddy wouldn’t let them, you know? And that’s when that -- those 25:00mills were shut down. They --

STONEY: Mm-hmm.

ALMA FRIDAY: That’s all they would do, come and fish. Sometime they would stay on the backwater overnight, and then they would -- went to, you know, uh, going into other people’s gardens --

STONEY: Mm-hmm.

ALMA FRIDAY: -- and stealing, and they had the law g-- the law (inaudible) and stopped all of that. But nobody got killed. Wasn’t no shooting or nothing like that.

STONEY: Do you remember who -- how your mill got shut down?

E.O. FRIDAY: Um, I believe that they pulled a little strike up there, I believe at Modena. I just can’t remember, ’cause, see, when you’re on the outside, you don’t know what’s going on. I don’t know whether they put, put them on three days, a week, or what. But anyway, I know that, that they put them on short time, and then the mill closed. I never did know why it closed. I don’t know whether it’s -- they called it a strike or what.

STONEY: Mm-hmm.

E.O. FRIDAY: But there, there -- during the Depression, it’s the -- we didn’t know what was going on.

26:00

STONEY: Now there’s something, uh, that -- called the flying squadrons, that kind of went from mill to mill to try to persuade people to shut down.

E.O. FRIDAY: Mm-hmm.

STONEY: Do you remember anything about that?

E.O. FRIDAY: Yeah, I remember -- I don’t remember that. Uh, they go from mill to mill and -- and then up there, the employees would find out about it, the people who’d talk to them, they’d fire them.

STONEY: Mm-hmm, yeah.

E.O. FRIDAY: They’d fire them if they found out that they was, uh, talking to the people -- that’s trying to get them to strike and all that.

STONEY: Mm-hmm. (inaudible). Uh, let me show you some pictures here, of back then.

HELFAND: (inaudible) That’s OK.

STONEY: See if you can identify them.

ALMA FRIDAY: Wait, wait, wait.

STONEY: This is...

HELFAND: (inaudible) She wants to sit down, too.

STONEY: OK. You want to sit here?

JAMIE STONEY: (inaudible) next to you there.

HELFAND: (inaudible).

27:00

STONEY: Yeah, OK. Why don’t you sit here? You recognize that?

ALMA FRIDAY: (inaudible).

JAMIE STONEY: Give me two seconds here.

HELFAND: Can you adjust your hearing aid just a (inaudible)?

ALMA FRIDAY: (overlapping dialogue; inaudible)?

E.O. FRIDAY: Alma, adjust your hearing aid.

ALMA FRIDAY: Mm-hmm.

E.O. FRIDAY: Alma!

ALMA FRIDAY: Yeah, I got my hearing aid.

STONEY: Yeah.

E.O. FRIDAY: ’Cause she said adjust it. It’s making a fuss.

ALMA FRIDAY: You hear it buzz?

(break in audio)

STONEY: No, this was after Loray.

JAMIE STONEY: (inaudible).

STONEY: Do you remember -- uh, do you recognize Main Street?

ALMA FRIDAY: Yeah. I remember. This is Gastonia?

STONEY: Yeah, uh-huh.

ALMA FRIDAY: Oh, yeah, I remember, 1934.

STONEY: Yeah.

ALMA FRIDAY: Now, see, 1935 was when I finished high school from Belmont, the [Reed?] School in Belmont, in 1935.

STONEY: Uh-huh.

ALMA FRIDAY: You know I could remember, because (laughter) we would walk, uh, I guess 10 miles, to, to Gastonia, shopping.

STONEY: Yeah.

ALMA FRIDAY: Sure would.

28:00

STONEY: Do you remember when all those people came out in Gastonia?

ALMA FRIDAY: No, I don't. (inaudible) [Textile workers over there?] (inaudible).

E.O. FRIDAY: Well, the -- see, there’s 13 miles down to where they lived, down in, uh --

STONEY: Mm-hmm.

E.O. FRIDAY: (inaudible).

ALMA FRIDAY: And, uh, that’s the same. Is that the...

STONEY: That, uh -- just another group coming along.

ALMA FRIDAY: Oh, yeah.

E.O. FRIDAY: Now I know they’d [get to see?] that, uh, picture.

STONEY: Mm-hmm.

E.O. FRIDAY: Because we was, um, (inaudible) you didn’t see any blacks on there. (laughs)

STONEY: I haven’t been able to find any, no.

ALMA FRIDAY: (overlapping dialogue; inaudible).

STONEY: No. (laughs)

ALMA FRIDAY: Now what was there out there? What was happening during that?

E.O. FRIDAY: That was the strike, I reckon.

STONEY: No, no, this was just the first day of the big strike. There was a big Labor Day parade.

E.O. FRIDAY: Oh, no. (laughter) There wasn't no blacks up there.

STONEY: And here, look at this. Just thousands of them --

E.O. FRIDAY: Mm-hmm.

STONEY: -- in a -- in municipal park. I guess that’s Lineberger Park.

E.O. FRIDAY: Right, uh-huh. [I think that’s right?].

STONEY: Just thousands of them.

29:00

ALMA FRIDAY: Now, I should say, Labor Day, huh?

STONEY: Yeah.

ALMA FRIDAY: That’s a group [out there?].

STONEY: Yeah, that’s right. We were talking to this fella, right there.

E.O. FRIDAY: Mm-hmm.

STONEY: He was playing the drums in the, the band that was leading this parade.

E.O. FRIDAY: Yeah? (laughter)

STONEY: Yeah, talking to him the other day, yeah. Well, now, they went around to the different mills and tried to persuade people to close up. And this is a guy named Albert Hinson, who was up on the -- um, a truck there, you see?

E.O. FRIDAY: Mm-hmm.

STONEY: Talking to them.

E.O. FRIDAY: Now (inaudible) a Hinson living in Belmont.

STONEY: Uh-huh. Did you -- uh, did you ever hear any of those speeches they made?

E.O. FRIDAY: No. I never did. (laughs) We -- when a big crowd like that would -- you wouldn’t find no blacks there. No, you wouldn’t find them there. 30:00They would want to know what you’re doing there.

STONEY: Oh, I see.

E.O. FRIDAY: No, you wouldn’t find no blacks there, uh-uh.

HELFAND: So how did -- I wonder how the blacks, then, did protest, (inaudible)?

STONEY: Uh, we’ve gotten a number of letters that they have written.

E.O. FRIDAY: Mm-hmm.

ALMA FRIDAY: (inaudible) about all of those people, dead and gone, isn’t it? (overlapping dialogue; inaudible)

E.O. FRIDAY: See, that was the only think they could do, is write to the government.

STONEY: Mm-hmm.

E.O. FRIDAY: See, you couldn’t go up there and protest at the mill.

STONEY: Mm-hmm.

E.O. FRIDAY: Because the Klan was gonna get you.

STONEY: Mm-hmm.

E.O. FRIDAY: So the ones that wrote the letter, some of them signed it and some of them didn’t.

STONEY: Mm-hmm.

E.O. FRIDAY: It’s like Bruce said. (laughs)

STONEY: Yeah.

E.O. FRIDAY: He -- Bruce signed it. He said yes. But now, you take -- people were scared. The blacks were scared. That’s right.

STONEY: Mm-hmm.

E.O. FRIDAY: Because they just didn't, they -- it was afraid they would be lynched.

STONEY: Mm-hmm.

E.O. FRIDAY: (inaudible). And then, on that whole crowd there, you couldn’t find a black in there that was, uh, in that parade.

31:00

STONEY: The only place we found it is in here -- this is in Newnan, Georgia, uh, where Old Man Talmadge -- you remember him?

E.O. FRIDAY: Yeah, yeah.

STONEY: He swore that he wasn’t gonna call out the National Guard.

E.O. FRIDAY: Mm-hmm.

STONEY: And the night after he got elected, he did. (laughs) You know?

E.O. FRIDAY: (laughs) Yeah.

STONEY: And they went to Newnan, Georgia, and rounded up a group of pickets.

E.O. FRIDAY: Mm-hmm.

STONEY: Uh, 126 of them, put them in barbed-wire pens in Fort McPherson. Well, here’s a picture of those -- of the troops --

E.O. FRIDAY: Mm-hmm.

STONEY: -- and the people they rounded up.

E.O. FRIDAY: Mm-hmm.

STONEY: Well, what do you see over here?

E.O. FRIDAY: That’s a Klansman. Looks like it.

ALMA FRIDAY: [Yeah?].

STONEY: No, that -- but what do you see here?

E.O. FRIDAY: Oh, them’s blacks, I believe.

STONEY: Yeah.

E.O. FRIDAY: But them’s the only ones (inaudible).

STONEY: That’s right. And back here.

E.O. FRIDAY: Mm-hmm. (inaudible), now they’re black (inaudible) back there in the corner. (laughs)

STONEY: That’s right, yeah. But they’re, they’re staying --

E.O. FRIDAY: Mm-hmm.

32:00

STONEY: -- carefully out of this.

E.O. FRIDAY: Mm-hmm.

STONEY: Now, in a newspaper account we have, they said that they picked up -- what was it, [Judy?]? -- 20 or 40 blacks. They picked them up and then let them go.

E.O. FRIDAY: Mm-hmm.

STONEY: Warning them never to come back.

E.O. FRIDAY: Hm.

STONEY: But, uh --

HELFAND: But some folks -- we got the impression that the -- that the -- that the people in the corner there might have been part of the organization to some extent. Whereas the people in the background weren’t, because they seem like they’re rounding them up -- the people in the front, don’t you think?

STONEY: I don’t know. But certainly they were here and here.

E.O. FRIDAY: Mm-hmm.

STONEY: But that’s -- those are the only thing.

E.O. FRIDAY: (inaudible).

STONEY: And I think you’ve given us pretty much the explanation of why they weren’t around.

E.O. FRIDAY: Yeah, the... (laughter) That’s right.

33:00

STONEY: Uh, what I was asking, uh, uh, Bruce about that... And I said, “What was the reason why there weren’t any blacks spinning and, uh, loom fixing, and so forth, and so on?” And he said, uh, “Why do you think so?” (laughter) And I said, “Well, I think they were saving the jobs for the white man.” (inaudible) after he says, “I think you’re right. I just wanted to hear you say that.” (laughter)

E.O. FRIDAY: That Bruce is something else. (inaudible) he’s all right.

STONEY: Yeah, and that -- we played that over the radio last Sunday.

E.O. FRIDAY: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.

ALMA FRIDAY: You did?

STONEY: Uh-huh.

ALMA FRIDAY: Uh-huh.

JAMIE STONEY: Would you say it took a lot of guts for Bruce to sign his name to the letter?

E.O. FRIDAY: Oh, yeah, it was -- it -- it’s a -- it’s a -- that’s right. It take a lot of guts to do that. And I don’t know what [I'd have done?], because at that -- I knowed what was going on, see? See, he was out in the country like -- well, see, I lived pretty close to town. And, uh, it was -- we (inaudible), you know? They wouldn’t have far to come out here and get me. (laughs) But they got to go a long way to get Bruce. (laughter)

ALMA FRIDAY: Yeah.

34:00

STONEY: I see.

ALMA FRIDAY: (inaudible).

STONEY: Yeah, uh-huh.

E.O. FRIDAY: Yeah, lordy, mm-hmm.

STONEY: Yeah, OK.

ALMA FRIDAY: (overlapping dialogue; inaudible).

HELFAND: Did you -- um, I just mean -- I mean, aside from writing letters like that, were there ever...? Uh, what happened when, when black workers just didn’t like what was going on in the mills, and they did see...? I mean, was there any other form of protest other than letter writing?

E.O. FRIDAY: No, they, they worked [down there?]. They never did quit work, but they would, uh... Black people, they don’t (inaudible). They didn’t know that they were, you know, writing those letters. Lot of them didn’t know it. And just like, uh, I don’t know. If they knowed it, they didn’t say nothing about it. But, uh, some of them didn’t sign their names and some of them did.

STONEY: Now we have also gotten another letter that was a kind of petition, and it lists a number of mills where these black workers were.

E.O. FRIDAY: Mm-hmm.

35:00

STONEY: So it kind of reads like something you might hear from the late ’60s --

E.O. FRIDAY: Mm-hmm.

STONEY: -- in the civil rights movement.

E.O. FRIDAY: Oh, yeah, that brings it back, ’cause when I first got out of -- of the -- out of the Navy, uh, Cocker Machine and Foundry Company -- that was a big company, made textile machinery and die-plant machinery. So I had worked there a little while before I went into the service.

ALMA FRIDAY: Come out of there.

E.O. FRIDAY: And, uh --

ALMA FRIDAY: Come on, I’ll give you a (inaudible).

E.O. FRIDAY: Now, when I came back, I, I went to the, the superintendent and told him that I was, um --

ALMA FRIDAY: [Can you move back this way?]?

E.O. FRIDAY: I wanted to learn how to run a, a lathe. I said, because, uh, the GI Bill said that servicemen could go to the plants and, and, uh, they were supposed to give them a job and teach them how to run a machine. And he looked at me and said that, uh, “We don’t -- we’re not working no niggers in, in, in this machine shop.” I said, “OK.” So I left. So I went on, and, and, 36:00and went into business on my own, on my own.

STONEY: You got a better job.

E.O. FRIDAY: Oh, yeah. Made more money. (laughter) Made 40 -- one year -- I made $40,000 one year.

STONEY: Yeah, yeah.

E.O. FRIDAY: I had two kids in college, and --

STONEY: Mm-hmm.

E.O. FRIDAY: -- we were doing just fine. And s-- we’re still living --

STONEY: Yeah.

E.O. FRIDAY: -- real good.

STONEY: Well now, back in the th-- in the ’20s and ’30s, uh, what form of protest was there? Uh, was there anything like an NAACP, or anything like that around here?

E.O. FRIDAY: Uh, no. No, that come up later, but it wasn’t that -- it was a long time before they got that going.

STONEY: Mm-hmm.

E.O. FRIDAY: And, uh, uh, I don’t know what year that come and started. Because, you know, they started protesting then --

STONEY: Mm-hmm.

E.O. FRIDAY: -- uh, for civil rights. That --

STONEY: Mm-hmm.

E.O. FRIDAY: -- wasn’t (inaudible) -- that was during Martin Luther King’s days, you know?

STONEY: Mm-hmm, yeah, yeah.

37:00

E.O. FRIDAY: But that’s when they first started that. They, uh -- they had somebody -- had a leader. They never did have a leader. And after they got a leader, well, see, they would follow their leader.

STONEY: Mm-hmm.

E.O. FRIDAY: Mm-hmm, yeah.

STONEY: What about the churches? Were they active then?

E.O. FRIDAY: Yeah, the churches would do what they could do in the church, but they never did do nothing out of -- they tell them what to do. Tell them to be calm and don’t -- you know, no violence, you know? So they were just -- they said they -- what they’d teach you in a church, they -- a day was coming when we all would be free. And so, in a way, we are free to a certain extent, you know, on jobs.

STONEY: Mm-hmm. (laughter) Yeah, well, that -- as, as one who grew up just along with you --

E.O. FRIDAY: Uh, yeah. (laughs)

STONEY: But with a very different kind of background.

E.O. FRIDAY: Yeah.

STONEY: It’s changed.

E.O. FRIDAY: Yeah, it’s changed.

STONEY: Yeah, it’s really changed. I’m just amazed at how it’s changed.

E.O. FRIDAY: Yeah, uh-huh. But I was brought up in the church. I used to walk from here to Dallas. It’s four miles over there and four miles back. We 38:00didn’t have no car. We walked to church in the morning, and we’d stay. They had Sunday school in the afternoon, and we would go to -- go to Sunday school in the afternoon. And, uh, if we come up a storm, we would have to stay over there till the storm was over, because we were walking. So I was brought up in the church, and I -- I never did cause no trouble with... I was raised right around here. We was the only black family lived here. Now, my m-- that -- uh, I was raised in a little old three-room house there. And when it rained, uh, it -- had to set 10 pails to catch the water. And that weather [board?] run straight up and down, just like a old [slavery?] home, (inaudible). And so, how, how my grandmother was part Indian. She swapped a cow for an acre of land. That little s-- she got a little strip of land that was an acre. She swapped a 39:00milk cow. The cow was giving two and a half gallons of milk in the morning and two and a half gallons in the evening. And that’s what my mother said. She, uh, swapped a -- that cow for an acre of land. OK, then, um, it was some land in the back here. Nobody didn’t have no -- he couldn’t get to it unless he come through our driveway. So the man that owned the, the mill up there, where my daddy was working, he bought the land, and then put it in my dad’s name. (laughter) Now, now that’s how good this white man were.

STONEY: Hm.

E.O. FRIDAY: And that’s -- and now, we got, uh, almost four acres of ground.

STONEY: Why did he have to buy it for you?

E.O. FRIDAY: Well, we, we just didn’t have the money.

STONEY: I see.

E.O. FRIDAY: And, uh, the -- and the -- and the people -- the white people didn’t want to live behind black people. That was the only -- they couldn’t get into (inaudible) come through our driveway. So, uh, my dad went to Mr. Love, the man that owned the mill up there, and told him that, uh, he would like 40:00to have that land. He said, “Here, I’ll get it for you.” So, he bought the land, and then took my daddy up there and, and, uh, signed it over to my dad. And my dad paid him $7 a week --

STONEY: Mm-hmm.

E.O. FRIDAY: -- till they paid for it. Seven dollars a week, what he paid for it. Uh, so that now we got three and three quarter acres and all.

STONEY: No, uh, how did you get along with the, uh, the, the white bosses?

E.O. FRIDAY: Well, uh, we got along with them real good up there at the Modena Mill, because the man that owned the mill, my dad ran the ground (inaudible). And, uh, he’d done a lot of work for him. And they knowed not to bother my dad, ’cause he would run them off.

STONEY: Mm-hmm. Hm.

E.O. FRIDAY: That’s right, ’cause, see, in other words, back in those days, they, they said, “That’s my nigger. (laughs) You don’t bother my nigger.”

STONEY: Mm-hmm.

41:00

E.O. FRIDAY: Now that’s what they would say. Now, I’m telling you like it is.

STONEY: Mm-hmm.

E.O. FRIDAY: I heard that a (inaudible). (laughter) And if you were a -- they would say, if you’re a good nigger, they gonna help you. But if you’re a bad nigger, they gonna put the Ku Klux Klans on you. Yeah. So I was raised up in the church, and I was a -- I was good all the time. (laughter) I’ll tell you like it is.

STONEY: Yeah.

E.O. FRIDAY: See, people -- a lot of people don’t know what the black people come through here. And I’m telling you the truth. Yeah, it’s the -- I -- sometimes I lay in the bed yet and just think, we have come a long way. And still got a long way to go.

STONEY: Hm. What’s the problem now? Uh, where do you -- where do you got to go to?

E.O. FRIDAY: Well, um, I think it -- uh, this instance, like in sports. They got a little catch in sports, you know? I noticed on the -- on this Olympic -- 42:00I noticed last night it was a little catch in there, where they -- while they was -- had -- they were protesting something. Well, the whites -- they was protesting against the whites, too -- those foreign countries.

STONEY: Mm-hmm.

E.O. FRIDAY: And there’s still a little inkling in there -- uh, in the sports, and, uh -- and in the jobs. And I know some people that, that are highly qualified, and they tell them -- and they say they’re overqualified for the job. (laughter) And now, what is, how is that?

STONEY: Yeah, yeah.

E.O. FRIDAY: They won’t give it to them. Say, “You’re overqualified.”

STONEY: Yeah.

E.O. FRIDAY: Well, now, what did they go to school for?

STONEY: Mm-hmm.

E.O. FRIDAY: They went to school to be qualified.

STONEY: Mm-hmm.

JAMIE STONEY: Yeah, you know what overqualified means?

E.O. FRIDAY: No.

JAMIE STONEY: That means that the guy who’s interviewing you is -- knows that you can do his job. (laughter)

E.O. FRIDAY: Yeah, uh-huh. Well, I could -- been trying to figure that out. I’m glad you told me. (laughter)

JAMIE STONEY: He sees the future and it’s sitting right in front of him.

E.O. FRIDAY: Yeah, yeah.

HELFAND: Could -- can we stop for one second. I want to -- I’m getting some clothing noise.

STONEY: OK, yeah, OK, OK.

JAMIE STONEY: (overlapping dialogue; inaudible).

43:00

STONEY: I think this is going very well. Thank you. Yeah.

HELFAND: (overlapping dialogue; inaudible).

(break in audio)

E.O. FRIDAY: Now what did he say?

STONEY: He’s just photographing me.

E.O. FRIDAY: Oh, oh.

STONEY: Listening to you.

E.O. FRIDAY: Oh. Now, you want us to be talking, huh?

HELFAND: No, sir. Just --

STONEY: You to be talking.

E.O. FRIDAY: Oh.

JAMIE STONEY: Just give me a nice laugh (inaudible).

STONEY: OK. (laughs)

E.O. FRIDAY: Yeah. (laughs)

JAMIE STONEY: And look over where his wife is sitting. And look down when the kid was running around. And smile -- grandpa smile. There we go.

HELFAND: Jamie, can you toss me --

(break in audio)

E.O. FRIDAY: -- your resume, or whatever do you call it. And they say, “Well, I want so-and-so, and I’ve got this degree, and...” They’d say, “Well, you are overqualified for this job, see? We can’t use you, because you know too much,” something like that. Say, “We want somebody that, uh, just finished, uh, high school and maybe got a year in college, something like that."

STONEY: Mm-hmm.

E.O. FRIDAY: But, uh, I don’t -- I just didn’t -- couldn’t figure it out, why they wouldn’t give the people the job that was qualified. But he told 44:00me, (inaudible) (laughter). He told me what -- the reason they did.

STONEY: Well, you’ve, you’ve had a black mayor of Gastonia, didn’t you, at one time?

E.O. FRIDAY: Oh, yeah, uh-huh. We, uh, um -- Nathaniel Barber.

STONEY: Mm-hmm.

E.O. FRIDAY: He was the mayor there. He was real good. And then, we had a banker. Uh, he was the president of the black bank. It was, uh, Excelsior Credit Union. We had -- I forget how many million dollars in that bank. And, uh, then, after he died, they turned it over to another guy, and he loaned out a lot of money without any security.

STONEY: Hm.

E.O. FRIDAY: And we lost that bank, and we just, uh, was all upset, but wasn’t nothing we could do about it. We thought we had the right man to take it over, but he, he just, uh, loaned out too much money.

STONEY: Mm-hmm.

E.O. FRIDAY: Some guy owed $40,000 without any security and all that kind of stuff.

STONEY: Oh, yeah, yeah.

45:00

E.O. FRIDAY: So, uh, it’s one of those things. And now, a friend of mine up there, he was -- had a cleaning business, lived right up the (inaudible) up the road in that brick house. And he had -- he had all of Bell Telephone Company, and he was making $240,000 a year. He had, uh, 30-some employees, paying them minimum wage. And, uh, him and another guy were gonna open up the credit union. Him and -- it’s some guys out of New York and Winston-Salem. It was four black guys. And so, when they went to get, uh, what (inaudible), whatever you get --

STONEY: Mm-hmm.

E.O. FRIDAY: -- (inaudible) operate another bank.

STONEY: Yeah, the charter.

E.O. FRIDAY: Charter. And they wanted to know, um, how much money did --

ALMA FRIDAY: (overlapping dialogue; inaudible) will the television interfere?

E.O. FRIDAY: Leave it.

STONEY: Yes, it will.

E.O. FRIDAY: Uh, leave it off, Alma. So, they said it, uh, uh -- they told them 46:00how much money they had, and, uh, said they had to have $4 million.

STONEY: Hm.

E.O. FRIDAY: Well, they didn’t have four million. And I told them. I said, um -- I said if you’re gonna operate a bank -- I said, I said if you got two million, the government’s supposed to let you have --

STONEY: Hm.

E.O. FRIDAY: -- uh, so much to go with that. And supposed to set you up. But they wouldn’t let it happen -- wouldn’t let them open the bank up.

STONEY: Hm.

E.O. FRIDAY: That’s right. Wouldn’t let them open up.

STONEY: Mm-hmm.

E.O. FRIDAY: And they’d -- they would -- these men had money. And he’s living up there now, in a, a big, fine brick house. He bought it from a white guy. [Heywood Massey?] --

STONEY: Hm.

E.O. FRIDAY: -- is his name, and he, he had, uh, all of Bell Telephone Company, and, uh, he had on Belmont, Shelby, Dallas, Gastonia. He was a cleaning business. He worked 30-some employees. They, they, you know, done the cleaning --

STONEY: Mm-hmm.

47:00

E.O. FRIDAY: -- in these big offices. But they wouldn’t let him open it up.

STONEY: Hm. Judy, you have a question?

HELFAND: Well, while, while it’s quiet and all --

STONEY: Mm-hmm?

HELFAND: -- I was just thinking maybe we could go back and talk a little bit about when he first went into the mill, and this (inaudible) if that's OK, because it -- we had a lot of disturbance before.

STONEY: OK.

E.O. FRIDAY: Mm-hmm.

STONEY: Uh, just let’s go back there. Tell us about what it was like when you first went in the mill.

HELFAND: How old you were, and how (overlapping dialogue; inaudible).

E.O. FRIDAY: I was 13 years old, and, uh, they, they -- mill was, uh, operating from a 6:00 to 6:00, and the blacks were. But I never did know whether the whites were working that many hours or not, because we was on the back down at the boiler room. We didn’t know what was going on. Uh, we were doing it, (laughs) unloading coal in a -- in a wheelbarrow and -- put 40 wheelbarrow-fulls in the evening and 40 wheelbarrow-fulls in the morning. And then, we’d go up to the warehouse and open up cotton and bale [weighs?]. Then go back to doing that -- when we get that done, it was time to, uh, uh, roll in some more coal. 48:00When you -- and when you did that, it was time to go home. They had -- it was kind of rough. But then, we had, uh -- see, in the mill, they had it inside -- the plumbing. But, uh, on the outside, we had a outhouse. We had a outhouse, and we had a certain place you drank water. And you couldn’t drink out of those coolers. So we learned to live with it. You had to learn to live with it, or not drink no water. (laughter) You either go down to the (inaudible).

STONEY: Yeah.

E.O. FRIDAY: Yeah, we, um -- we had a lot of good white friends. And they, they would come and tell us that -- they’d say, “Y’all are being, being treated real bad.” But they said there ain’t nothing two or three people -- two or three whites couldn’t do anything about it. They said, “Y’all are good...” They’d say, “Y’all are good darkies.” That’s the way they talked. “Y’all are good darkies.” They’d say that, uh, “I feel sorry 49:00for you, but I -- we can’t help you.” But, but they would give us -- if you wanted to borrow anything, they would give it to you, or help you out. A lot of good white people.

STONEY: Mm-hmm.

E.O. FRIDAY: But it was some real bad ones. (laughter)

STONEY: Mm-hmm, yeah.

E.O. FRIDAY: Yeah.

STONEY: Talk about the Ku Klux Klan then.

E.O. FRIDAY: Oh, yeah, they’d, they’d, they’d march -- they would march sometimes every week. They would get a permit and march every week. And, uh, they marched down at Lowell about a month ago, and, and Dallas -- they marched over there, uh, I think about once a month yet.

STONEY: Hm.

E.O. FRIDAY: Be about 12 of them, (inaudible). But they don’t -- uh, don’t no crowd come out there and, you know, watch them. You don’t see nobody out there. They -- I think people are just ashamed of them.

STONEY: What about back then?

E.O. FRIDAY: Oh, back then. I’m talking about now.

STONEY: Mm-hmm.

E.O. FRIDAY: Back then, oh, they’d get a big crowd then. Man, they’d have maybe a hundred.

STONEY: For the Klan?

E.O. FRIDAY: Yeah.

STONEY: Mm-hmm.

50:00

E.O. FRIDAY: But now, you don’t see no... You might see the, uh, the media making pictures, or something like that. But the media don’t make the pictures no more. They found out that that’s what the Klan want.

STONEY: Mm-hmm.

E.O. FRIDAY: So they quit making them. (laughter) So now you don’t see no more than about, uh -- about 8 or 10 Klanners marching, and no, no audience.

STONEY: Yeah.

E.O. FRIDAY: See, in the -- at -- it’s that I think -- it -- in a way, it’s, I think, they kind of -- if it is, they’re not letting nobody know it. There’s a lot of Klansmen now, but you don’t know who they are. They don’t -- they don’t march no more.

HELFAND: Did you know who they were back then?

E.O. FRIDAY: No, uh-uh, you don’t know. They had on hoods. You didn’t know who they were. Could have been policemen. Couldn’t tell.

HELFAND: Now, we, we’ve heard that, um, often, even though, you know, you might -- you could only run a machine at -- you know, that you only worked on the outside, that you might go inside -- you know, that, that some black workers, they were needed on the inside. Someone took a break, and the overseer 51:00would say, “Hey, go over to this machine, and run that machine.” And so that, actually, they learned how to run some of the machines. Did that kind of thing happen?

E.O. FRIDAY: No, not, not at the plant where I were. Because, uh, if that machine, uh -- if the man was out, that machine stood. No blacks go in and run the machine. The only blacks that was in there was two women, and they were mopping the mill floors and clea-- and cleaning that -- a custodian, you know, the toilets. And, uh, the first you, uh, could get the blacks (inaudible) was the women. They could go in there and mop the floors, and all like that. That’s what they called scrubbers. And the, uh, it was (inaudible) six or seven blacks, uh, down at the boiler room in the warehouse. That’s where you could get them. But when I come back after the service, I went to Cocker 52:00Machine and Foundry Company, where I was working, uh, before I went into the service. And, uh, I told them I wanted to, uh, learn to run a, a lathe -- a machine. And they shook their head and, and said, “No, we don’t, uh -- we don’t want no blacks, uh, running our machines.” And I said, “Well, the government said that I can go to a machine shop and, and they would, uh, see that I got a job, ’cause, uh, uh, I’m a veteran.” And they said, “No, no.” So I just didn’t do it. So I went into business on my own. Yeah, on my own.

STONEY: [There was?] something that Jamie and I were talking about when you were gone that has not too much to do with this, but we’d like to record it. Uh, could you tell us about the Chicago thing that you were talking --

JAMIE STONEY: Port Chicago --

STONEY: Yeah.

JAMIE STONEY: -- incident.

E.O. FRIDAY: Oh, yeah, that Port Chicago, I was stationed at Mare Island in California, 18 miles from Port Chicago. And, uh, when that thing blew up, uh, I 53:00was in my barracks. And, uh, we were integrated at that time. And, uh, it was a white person slept in the bunk over my head. And he was out on liberty, and when that glass fell out of the -- a piece of glass come out of -- window, stuck right up in his pillow, right where his head was supposed to be. And then, uh, it was a lot of blacks and Marines and sailors and so forth was out on liberty. And they, they came back that -- by break of day, they had all kinds of watches, clothes. Anything you want, you could get it wholesale there (laughs) ’cause all the (inaudible). And they even had these here, uh, Doberman Pinscher dogs patrolling the, the coast. Thought that the -- you know, thought it was a sabotage. And they had them dogs, and big rifles, walking up and down the coast 54:00there. And, uh, I’m glad it wasn’t that there Naval, uh, Ammunition Dep ot that we had, ’cause it was just right across the bay from where we were. Well, they never -- uh, it was built on a golf course.

JAMIE STONEY: So they were loading a shipload of 16-inch ammunition when it --

E.O. FRIDAY: Well, we did, no -- uh, uh, we, we did our loading in daylight, see? And, uh, those big old, uh, 16-inch [projectiles?] -- all that was coming in daylight. But that ship blowed up at night, up at Port Chicago. It was at night when that happened.

JAMIE STONEY: And how many of your men do you remember got killed?

E.O. FRIDAY: Well, I was all -- we had a black, uh, uh, officer. And he told us that it was 400 got killed. And they said it wasn’t but 390-something, but he said it was 400, ’cause he was up with the top men, this black officer. He 55:00was from New York. He was over us, but he had a white officer over them -- over him. And it was 4,000 blacks on that base -- 4,000. And then, uh, they had a draft come up, and there was a white boy had the same name that I had. Far as I know, he was from Dallas in North Carolina, right over there, about, uh -- about four miles from here. And they sent my record, when the draft come up -- they sent my record over to the, uh, South Pacific, uh, with him, (laughter) and left his record there with me. And when the time to get paid -- see, we got paid twice a month, see, in the Navy. And, uh, I went to the captain, wanted to know how come I’d -- I’m not getting my money. He said, “Well, wait a minute, I’ll go and check the record and see.” And he come back and looked at me. 56:00He said, “What you doing here?” I said, “I’m supposed to be here.” He said, “Man, you’re supposed to be over in the South Pacific.” He said, “That’s where your record is.” (laughter) He said, “This here's a white man’s record, here.” And he told me -- and see, it tells you who -- you know, you -- your nationality.

STONEY: Mm-hmm.

E.O. FRIDAY: And, uh, he said, “Well, I declare.” He said, “[It’s liable?] to be two or three months before you get your money.” But I think it wasn’t -- not that long, when I got my money.

JAMIE STONEY: Was he the same rank as you? The, the white fella?

E.O. FRIDAY: Yeah, uh-huh, the same rank.

JAMIE STONEY: Did you -- was he making more money or less money than you?

E.O. FRIDAY: I don’t know. I don’t know. He could have, because --

JAMIE STONEY: Mm-hmm.

E.O. FRIDAY: -- see, I never did get to see his record. I don’t know.

JAMIE STONEY: Mm-hmm.

HELFAND: Did you get your money?

E.O. FRIDAY: Yeah, I got -- uh, see, I was getting, uh, let’s see, how much was I getting a week? I was getting a, a check twice a month, and my wife was getting one, once a month. Uh, but I can’t remember. It seemed like we were getting, oh, maybe 50, 60 dollars a month, I believe.

HELFAND: Hm.

57:00

E.O. FRIDAY: It was something along there. It wasn’t much, because, see, uh, a -- there in, uh, uh, California, see, you can gamble. You go and play, um, blackjack -- anything you want. And we -- uh, that was just about two blocks from my base. And we’d go -- we’d go up there and play blackjack. Sometimes I’d win a lot of money, and I’d send it home to my wife.

STONEY: And sometimes you’d lose a lot of money, yeah?

E.O. FRIDAY: Oh, yeah.

STONEY: You wouldn’t tell her?

E.O. FRIDAY: No, I wouldn’t tell her. (laughter) I wouldn’t tell her. But when I’d win a lot, I’d send it home.

HELFAND: That’s beautiful. That’s gorgeous. Can I -- I have another question --

STONEY: OK.

HELFAND: -- if it’s OK? I just want you to know, you look so good.

E.O. FRIDAY: Yeah? (laughter)

HELFAND: Yeah, you look so good on that monitor.

E.O. FRIDAY: All right.

HELFAND: Oh, man, you look pretty, beautiful, stunning, as they say back home.

E.O. FRIDAY: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

HELFAND: Yeah, I mean, you look stunning.

STONEY: OK, is that it? OK.

HELFAND: Um, yeah. Could you tell me what it was like when you were just a little...? I mean, pretend you’re 13 years old and you’re going into the mill. What did it -- what did that feel like? I mean, and the weight of stuff, 58:00you know?

E.O. FRIDAY: Well, I’ll tell you what, I was kindly a shy... Didn’t know what the setup was gonna be. But the only thing that kept me going... See, my dad was already working there, running this engine. And, uh -- and then I had some cousins that was rolling that coal, but they were grown. And then, um, when I went there, I was 13 years old. And then, I kind of blended in with them, but I was -- at first, I didn’t know how to -- I noticed we couldn’t drink water here, and -- you know, and you had to use the outhouse and all that kind of stuff. And I, uh -- I finally learned that what was happening. (laughter) Yeah, I found out what was happening.

STONEY: Well, once again, um --