Annie Honeycutt Interview 2

Special Collections and Archives, Georgia State University Library
Transcript
Toggle Index/Transcript View Switch.
Index
Search This Transcript
X
0:00

ANNIE HONEYCUTT: That’s why I like to go to my senior citizen meetings every Wednesday. We go about a hundred and some there every Wednesday, we get together and talk, and go to the centers and play bingo and have dances on Saturday night, and I said, I don’t understand why some people that’s -- uh, you know, left widowed or anything like that, uh, says they’re lonesome. There are too many things that -- they don’t have to sit around and just, now that lady over there, her husband passed away about three or four months ago and she stays locked up in that house all the time, all day long, she’s in her early seventies.

GEORGE STONEY: Mm.

HONEYCUTT: And her children told her to keep the doors locked, somebody might come in on her, and she’s just like a prisoner in her own house, don’t go out anywhere.

STONEY: That’s no good.

HONEYCUTT: And that’s -- it’s not good.

1:00

STONEY: That’s just not good. I see some people in my building in New York who are like that, and they’re just miserable.

HONEYCUTT: And I’ve always been that -- well, after my husband died, I joined the VFW and the DAB and American Legion, and done volunteer hospital work, and I reckon I’ve just occupied my mind, go to flea markets, go to auction. (laughter)

STONEY: Well, uh, back then, uh, tell me --

JUDITH HELFAND: Could we wait ’til he’s done, George? (inaudible) -- is that OK?

STONEY: Sure.

HELFAND: He was just talking about something else.

STONEY: OK. He’s not -- do you mean he’s going back in his room, or --

HELFAND: Yeah, sure.

STONEY: OK, we’ll just wait then. Uh, you -- you were saying that you go to flea markets?

HONEYCUTT: Mm-hmm. That’s where I sell my junk.

STONEY: Well, I live --

HONEYCUTT: I’ve -- I’ve enjoyed ’em.

STONEY: Yeah. Well, uh, a couple, I keep seeing in all these street fairs in New York, but the same thing as a flea market. (laughter) And, they kept buying stuff. And I know they’re living in a little bitty apartment. And I said, 2:00“Where in the world do you put it?” They said, “Oh, we just take it to the next flea market. (laughter)

HONEYCUTT: That’s the way we do.

STONEY: They just like -- they just like buying and selling.

HONEYCUTT: That’s why I’ve accumulated so much.

STONEY: Yeah.

HONEYCUTT: And then I’ve got -- I’ve been a packrat all these years, and I’ve decided it’s time for me to move some of my stuff, like I did with my dolls. But a lot of my dolls went to Georgia and Florida, and -- now, uh, I usually have, uh, three or four dealers that comes about twice a year, and I can sell them, and uh -- uh, this, that’ll make me a price on it, you know?

STONEY: Mm-hmm.

HONEYCUTT: And I can make this much off of this by selling it at auction and having to pay a fee.

STONEY: Mm-hmm.

HONEYCUTT: And sometimes they’ll come in, it might sell for a hundred dollars worth at one time.

STONEY: Wow. You must have a good eye.

HONEYCUTT: Well, I’ve been in it about 30 years. You know, since my husband died --

STONEY: Yeah.

HONEYCUTT: -- before he died, after he lost a lung, we started messing with them.

STONEY: Mm-hmm.

HONEYCUTT: And I had an old grocery store out here on the highway.

STONEY: Mm-hmm.

HONEYCUTT: They tore it down now and got a car dealer place out there. And, uh, after that man quit running groceries, I just put in the antique shop out there. 3:00Well then after he got sick, and I knowed he couldn’t work out here in the shop anymore, well we sold all the furniture, and I just handle little stuff now.

STONEY: Mm-hmm.

HONEYCUTT: That whole shop’s full of junk; I call it “junk,” but it’s made me a living.

STONEY: Oh.

HONEYCUTT: Because I don’t draw that much Social Security because I didn’t make much when I worked.

STONEY: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm. What do you draw?

HONEYCUTT: Four hundred and forty-two dollars a month. And I’ve kept up my property -- it’s run down now, but I’ve made my own living for the last, uh --

STONEY: Wow.

HONEYCUTT: -- twenty-two years, and kept up everything.

STONEY: That’s great.

HONEYCUTT: And -- and I don’t go to my children for nothing, you know what I mean.

STONEY: Mm-hmm, yeah.

HONEYCUTT: I do my banking, my -- paying my bills, and the time might come, I might have to do that.

STONEY: Mm-hmm.

HONEYCUTT: And -- so, they said when [Carl?] died, and -- my last husband died, he said, “Mama, you want to live with us, or you want to -- whatcha gonna do?” I said, “Well I’m going to stay down here. You all need me; you know where I’m at. And if I need you, I know where you’re at.”

STONEY: That makes good sense.

4:00

HONEYCUTT: And as long as I can do -- well, they do different things. Ted and Irene, they go to races, and --

STONEY: Mm-hmm.

HONEYCUTT: -- bingo-ing, and fishing, and go off -- way off up yonder and camp out, them race tracks, and -- you know, on weekends, and --

STONEY: Mm-hmm.

HONEYCUTT: -- they -- let them live their life like they want to. Now Bill, his health’s been bad, and he’s been with me since his wife died, because he does my yardwork, and my vacuum, and my mopping, and my heavy work.

STONEY: (laughter)

HONEYCUTT: So I don’t charge him no board; we just work it out together, you know.

STONEY: Mm-hmm. Now, let’s go back to when you -- in the early ’30s when they was beginning to organize a union, could you tell us again how, uh, you organized?

HONEYCUTT: Well that was the -- that’s just about the way that it was organized; they just started having a little meeting, you know, uh -- it was just a small place then, but I don’t remember exactly where it was at. It seemed to me like just, come to think about it, I -- the Redmond’s hall keeps 5:00popping in my mind, like maybe at first they -- but, but -- but it might be because my husband belonged to the Redmond's, but I don’t know where they did meet now; it’s been so long I have forgot.

STONEY: And, you --

HONEYCUTT: And they started having the meetings once a month, and then it just kept growing, you know. And people got to talking about it in the mills, and that’s the way they was trying to organize it. But you know, then Cannon, you know, whenever they ha-- they struck, you know, for more wages or something back then, you know, that’s when they had to come call the home guards in, because, uh, they would gang up around the gates, and weren’t going to let nobody go in on their jobs, you know, and to keep down trouble. And Cannon pulled a pretty good -- he could do pretty much [concord?] about what he wanted to, because he just owned all the mills here, you know. But you know, he’s been a nice feller too. That’s the only thing he ever thought -- (inaudible) anybody on, I think.

6:00

STONEY: The union?

HONEYCUTT: Mm-hmm, was the union.

STONEY: Now back -- you were saying about how you organized in the restrooms. Talk about that as though we’d never talked about it before.

HONEYCUTT: Well we -- uh, back then, uh, we -- that’s where we’d gang up to rest, you know, when we’d leave our job, we’d have -- they’d put us on so many, uh, sides, or so many looms, or whatever, you know, and all the women’s restroom, and the men’s restroom -- I don’t know what they done in the men’s --

STONEY: (laughter)

HONEYCUTT: -- restroom, but us women, we’d get in there, maybe there’d be a half a dozen, or six or eight in there at a time, you know, and we just couldn’t stay but a few minutes, 'cause we'd have to run back and, going on and put our ends up, you know, [cre?] (inaudible) roping. But, we did have enough time that we’d get together in there, and uh, things was talked, you know how, people just get together and talk, and some was for the union, and some weren’t -- some would cuss you out if you’d mention it to ’em, and 7:00they do that today. They -- they’ll turn you off right quick and let you know what -- that they don’t want it. But, uh, now you know they’ve been having a trial here now, you know, about the union. And, uh -- I don’t know, they almost got it. One -- they thought they was gonna get it, but they was a little bit off. But, they’ve been some -- uh, been some hearings on it lately up here; I’ve been reading about them. But I don’t have anybody in the mill now working so I don’t know.

STONEY: When the -- when the organization started, there was a -- there were a lot of big meetings. There were parades, and Labor Day parades, and all that kind of thing. Do you recall any of that?

HONEYCUTT: I don’t remember any of that here. Because we -- when it first started, it was kept -- because Cannon about owned this little town. You know, what I mean, everybody about made their living with -- with the Cannon Mills, in 8:00Concord and Kannapolis. And, uh, I don’t remember any parades or anything like that. They might’ve had ’em.

STONEY: Were there leaflets, or pamphlets?

HONEYCUTT: Yeah, there was -- uh, they had pamphlets that they handed out.

STONEY: Did you ever do any handing out of pamphlets, leaflets?

HONEYCUTT: Mm-mm. That’s when my children was little, and I had my grandmother, and I -- I’d done mostly staying at home. Les did most all of the going to the meetings. And I didn’t care for him going, because that’s what he wanted.

STONEY: What about women organizers or leaders?

HONEYCUTT: I -- I don’t remember no women organizers. There probably was, you know, they -- because they -- the women was involved in it too. You know, they were involved in it like the men. But, uh -- just knowing any of them, I don’t.

9:00

STONEY: Do you remember women fussing with you, or complaining that their husbands had been in the union, or not in the union, or anything like that?

HONEYCUTT: Not to me they didn’t.

STONEY: Well what -- interests us so much is that your husband was so active, and your father was so active, and we have letters that, uh, Judy Helfand managed to find in the archives that trace their work from after the strike right up until, uh, the latter part of 1937, when you actually got a judgment against the Cannon mill company, which is just amazing. Here are some of the letters that some of your friends wrote. You might want to see if you can -- uh, try reading that. See what you think.

HONEYCUTT: “Dear Mr. Roosevelt, President. Dear Sir, 37120, we are asking aid from you about our jo--” it looks like jobs, here. “They have been using 10:00wholesale discrimination here in the Cannon claim of mills. We have been refused our jobs since the strike. We have been called off. We have been at --” I don’t know what that is; I can’t read this writing -- three -- “for over three weeks, we are all union members, and have stuck to it 100%. Can’t we all -- can’t we all have --” I don’t know whether that’s “families” or what that is, “-- who depend on us for support.” That’s it.

STONEY: Let me see if --

HELFAND: There’s another page.

STONEY: OK, there’s another page beyond that. Oh, it opens the other way.

11:00

HONEYCUTT: “We hope you will take this in -- in consideration of our circumstances. Hope this will influence you in our favor. We work at Cannon Mills plant six.” Now that’s where my son worked ’til it closed down. They’re opening it up again, though. They put something else in there now. “Respectfully yours, H.L. Montgomery.” Now, Lisk this fellow, he belonged to my senior citizen, up until about a year ago, a little more, he passed away, this Lisk -- fellow. See, his show was in -- JB (inaudible) I don’t know none of them, but (inaudible). After his wife died, he joined our senior citizens club, and was an active member, up until he just -- uh, I don’t think he’s (inaudible) when he died -- passed away.

STONEY: Now this letter was written -- I’m going to read it again, because I want to get your response to it. This letter was written September the 25th 12:00just after people went back to work. Now the strike was called off because -- by the union, because Roosevelt and his administration had assured the workers that they could go back to work without discrimination, that they were all going to get their jobs back, and that the employers were not going to hold it against them. And that’s what they were told, and so he’s writing to Roosevelt to say it didn’t happen. He said, “Dear Mr. Roose--”

HONEYCUTT: You know, Roosevelt had a lot -- people had a lot of confidence in Roosevelt, all of the union people did. I remember that.

STONEY: Do you think that was -- they should have had all that confidence in Roosevelt?

HONEYCUTT: I don’t know, but they did. They thought he would stick by ’em.

STONEY: Well that’s why I think he’s writing to Roosevelt. Uh, “Dear Mr. Roosevelt, President, Dear Sir, we’re asking aid from --” uh, some -- 13:00let’s see, “asking aid” -- uh, I can see why you’re having trouble. (laughter) I’m having trouble reading as well, you can tell.

HONEYCUTT: I can’t read everybody’s writing.

STONEY: “We’re asking aid from you about our jobs here. They have been,” uh, “using wholesale discrimination here in the Cannon chain of mills.” Now what happened to your family?

HONEYCUTT: Now that was in --

STONEY: September the 25th, 1934, right after the strike.

HONEYCUTT: Thirty-four. That is just about the time that, uh -- when the home guards come over there, weren’t it?

STONEY: Just -- the home guards came over there during -- two weeks before this letter was written.

HONEYCUTT: Well I know that’s just about the time of it. Because, uh -- uh --

STONEY: We’ve been --

14:00

HONEYCUTT: And that made me think about how Ted was, because, uh -- that’s ’34, he was born in ’30, 1930.

STONEY: Is --

HONEYCUTT: Well he must have been older than he was; he was about four years old -- three or four.

STONEY: Go ahead, it says, the, “We have been refused our jobs since the strike has been called off,” exactly what Roosevelt -- Washington assured them wouldn’t happen.

HONEYCUTT: Yeah, mm-hmm. But they had -- at that time, when they wrote them letters, they had a lot of confidence in him that he would help them.

STONEY: That’s right. “We’ve been out for over three weeks, we’re all union members, and --”

HONEYCUTT: Yeah.

STONEY: “-- and we struck at 100%. We all have -- we all have you to depend on.” That shows that they were caring about -- depending on Roosevelt. “We 15:00hope you will take this in consideration. Of the circumstances, we hope this will influence you in -- in our -- we hope this --” uh, let’s see, Judy.

HELFAND: “We hope you will take this in consideration of our circumstances. Hope this will influence you in our favor. We work at Cannon plant --”

STONEY: Yeah. “We hope --”

HONEYCUTT: If he gets -- if he gets my arm, they’ll think I got a birthmark. (laughter)

STONEY: (laughter)

HONEYCUTT: That’s the hardest fall I’ve had in a long time.

STONEY: Well this letter, uh, is from three people -- four people, uh, who you must -- that lived in your village, didn’t they? Did they live in your village?

HONEYCUTT: Now, Lisk is the only one I can remember of them names, Montgomery, 16:00[H.L.?] Montgomery. I don’t remember him. But now you. know a lot of these people, they come from country, and everywhere -- you know, a farm, and then they’d come to town and work. But now, I don’t know -- uh, if they lived close to me, I don’t remember none but the Lisk fellow.

STONEY: Did you remember a Robert Tucker?

HONEYCUTT: No, I don’t remember Robert.

STONEY: He was another fellow who wrote to the President on, uh, September the 28th, 1934, right after they went back to work, saying that he got discriminated against.

HONEYCUTT: Well now, was he from the Cannon Mill?

STONEY: From the Cannon Mill, that’s right.

HONEYCUTT: Well now, they could have worked in another department --

STONEY: Mm-hmm.

HONEYCUTT: -- from what I did. I worked in the spinning room. And I don’t even remember what Les done at that time, (inaudible).

HELFAND: You had a letter from Les, maybe that’d be easy to read.

STONEY: OK.

HELFAND: The one that’s typed.

STONEY: OK.

HELFAND: (inaudible) read. (inaudible)

17:00

STONEY: Now, we have all these correspondence, you see, concerning Cannon Mills, just dozens of letters protesting the way --

HONEYCUTT: And I know she was reading some to me one night here, and it was from my daddy.

STONEY: Yes, we have that.

HONEYCUTT: And she told -- she said something about it, and she called his name at the end of it, and I said, “Well that’s my Daddy.” That was from Brown Mill.

STONEY: Yes.

HONEYCUTT: I didn’t know he ever wrote.

HELFAND: Actually, do you want to -- do you want me to find the one that Les wrote in this pile, and go to that one after?

STONEY: Yeah, yeah.

HONEYCUTT: Well now Les held some kind of office in the organization before he ever went to working for ’em.

HELFAND: (inaudible) six.

HONEYCUTT: You know what I mean, he went to work in -- and, they paid him for it, just volunteer work, you know, going to the meetings. I don’t remember what kind of office he held there, but he held some kind of office in the meetings. And then, uh --

18:00

HELFAND: Wait, there’s an earlier one. There’s definitely an earlier one, where he talked about his family.

STONEY: Oh yes, I remember that.

M1: (inaudible) Judy.

STONEY: Yeah. We have the -- a Xerox of the handwritten letter here, and then we’ve taped it out, so maybe you would like to read that out loud to us.

HONEYCUTT: “Franklin D. Roosevelt. Dear Sir, I’m a tex-- textile striker. I have been discriminated against. I work at Cannon Mills at plant six, Concord, North Carolina. I have a wife, two children, and an aged grandmother, 78 years of age just [four?]. I went back to work when the strike was over. They said they do not need me. I went to the State of Virginia, and when I told them that I was from plant six, Concord, North Carolina, they would not hire me. I have asked for a recommendation so I can find work for -- to get my kids food and clothes. They said when they got something for me to do, they would send 19:00for me. My job is running. Every day they have a -- have a frame [hand on it?]. I was a fixer in the card room. Of all the people that was out on strike ’til it was settled to go back, there are not -- there are not over a dozen back on their jobs. When they go back, they made them take over jobs. They even made some of them swap jobs. Most of them had anything to do with the union, they have not taken them back. Guess they were doing that to keep them from organizing.” That’s from Les, my first husband. That my children’s daddy, see, Mr. Honeycutt didn’t have no children. Just had the two, but that was Les right there.

STONEY: Uh-huh.

HONEYCUTT: Now I didn’t know he had written them letters, because I didn’t -- you know, he didn’t tell me anything about it, because that was probably done, uh, 20:00when he would go to these meetings, (inaudible).

STONEY: Now did this accurately describe what was happening then?

HONEYCUTT: Mm-hmm. He’s telling the truth. I don’t -- I don’t think Les would tell a story about anything.

HELFAND: So he kicked up and went to Virginia?

HONEYCUTT: Mm-hmm. Well he -- he [tried?] places, didn’t places. (inaudible) -- it -- uh, he would -- you know, back then people could hitchhike to places, and I’ve knowed him to go off and be gone three or four days trying to find work. When my children were little, jobs was hard to get back then.

STONEY: Well this is such a clear case, you see, of -- of what happened to people right afterwards.

HONEYCUTT: Mm-hmm.

STONEY: But, the thing that interests us so much is that he just didn’t stop. He didn’t blame the union.

HONEYCUTT: Mm-hmm.

STONEY: You see so many people when something like this happened, they turned against the union and say the union was no good, but he stuck to the union. 21:00What caused him --

HONEYCUTT: And he was -- uh, and a lot of people is too proud to go ask for -- for help when they need it. That’s when he went to work for the WPA, and uh, got that little surplus food each week for us. You know, uh, because -- he didn’t mind the work. It didn’t matter -- I know he didn’t make, just several dollars a week, you know, working on that WPA, but now he did. I remember that well.

STONEY: Could you help us understand why he didn’t blame the union and other -- so many other people blamed the union when they got fired like this?

HONEYCUTT: I don’t know. It’s just his nature, I guess.

STONEY: Were you bitter about what happened to you people?

HONEYCUTT: No, I didn’t -- I didn’t seem to -- I just felt like he did, (inaudible) because we live together, you know, why (inaudible) go along with our husbands (laughter), sometimes in what they believe, and it just grows on 22:00’em. And we was younger then. Now, you know, as we got older, I think we think about them things more for ourselves then we used to when we was real young, we’d go along with our husbands.

STONEY: You’re not only young, but you had how many children?

HONEYCUTT: Two. I had three, but one of them just lived ten days. She was born in 1933, the only little girl I had. The other two was boys.

STONEY: I’m just amazed that he -- both of you working in the mill, you had two children, and then you both got fired. You joined the union, they both got fired, and he had to go off hitchhiking, looking for work, and you’re not mad about it.

HONEYCUTT: No, I didn’t get mad about it, because it was something we couldn’t help. You know, it was just something we couldn’t help, and it was the need we needed. You know, we just -- he know -- he tried to provide, and we 23:00never -- it’s like I say now, people will grumble right now about, times hard, times -- and all this, uh, process, [high?] process, they’ve got more money than we’ve ever had in our life to spin, because at long times like that, we didn’t have no groceries on our -- in our cabinets and shelves. Now we’ve got refrigerators full, and cabinets full of food, and -- and, uh, they shouldn’t be groaning about hard times, because we do have more money to spend today than we’ve ever had. Or I have, even (inaudible) if I do have work, with junk. (laughter) Or in my junk -- flea markets. But now, that’s been a pleasure to me, because these years I’ve been by myself, you know, and after give up -- you know, run an antique shop and all, I’ve just enjoyed it.

24:00

STONEY: Sometimes I have to think back to those times, and then now, now they advertise how little food value there is in food, and everybody’s worried about their weight and so forth.

HONEYCUTT: Well I -- when I got up to 90 pounds, a long time ago, I used to think I was getting fat, but I didn’t stop at that when I got older. (laughter) I get ashamed of myself sometime, ain’t nothing I can do about it.

STONEY: Did you ever have a garden, and --

HONEYCUTT: Yes, we always had a garden. My daddy always had a garden. We was raised -- had work, and my mother can, and -- so we just -- I guess my youngest son, his wife, (inaudible) -- our old footsteps, you know, like we used to do, because she -- she has her garden every summer. I don’t -- never canned no more, they can enough for me, they’d tell me not to can no more. They’d can and bring my food -- canned stuff to me in the winter, bring the case at a time. So now I -- I don’t 25:00can anymore.

STONEY: I’m going to show you some more of these -- these letters. Maybe you could recognize some of the people. Uh, uh, W.H. Linker.

HONEYCUTT: Now there was a Linker lived on Railroad Avenue, but now I don’t know what his name was.

STONEY: Uh, “I was a member of the general textile strike, and when the strike was over, I went back to my job to get work, and I was informed that I was not needed. I tried several places to get work, and when I found out -- and when they found out where I had worked prior to the strike, I was refused employment.” So, it was the same thing that happened to him, that happened to your husband.

HONEYCUTT: Now, did he work at plant six too?

STONEY: Uh, he worked at, uh, just Concord -- the Gibson mill.

HONEYCUTT: Well that was Gibson. That’s --

STONEY: Yeah.

HONEYCUTT: -- plant six now.

STONEY: OK.

HELFAND: I assumed that her husband helped --

STONEY: Did you know --

26:00

HELFAND: Generate all of these.

HONEYCUTT: Well now, I’ve got a cousin that married a Linker, but I don’t remember what his name is now. And then there was a Linker that lived over there at plant -- at Gibson on Railroad Avenue, right across from the mill, there’s a Mr. Linker. We had a neighbor that was a Mr. Linker. I don’t know whether that was one of them or not. (inaudible) Linkers right offhand I can remember.

STONEY: Well this, all of this paper, and all of these letters from people indicates a lot of organization. I mean these didn’t just happen without --

HONEYCUTT: Well now, there was a lot of work went into that back then. They -- they tried. They really tried hard to get the union at plant six. I like -- still like to see it go in, because I feel like at least maybe they would get better working jobs, you know, or any more -- uh, understanding about some 27:00things. You know what I mean? A lot of times that, you can just go in now, and if they don’t like you you’re just gone. And sometimes they might have a good reason; it might be other reasons too.

STONEY: Now we’ve heard at some places that, uh, the women particularly were having trouble with, uh, some of the -- some of the boss men or foremen.

HONEYCUTT: Well I never did have no trouble because -- with one, because I was working for my uncle, when I worked. (laughter) My uncle -- daddy’s sister’s husband, was my boss man when I was working at plant six, (inaudible) mill.

STONEY: Did you hear any talk among the women about that?

HONEYCUTT: Mm-mm. If they did, they didn’t say anything to me about it. Probably wouldn’t, because I -- he was my uncle. (laughter)

M: Did he -- did you get treated about the same as everybody else?

HONEYCUTT: Everybody else.

STONEY: Or was he tougher on you?

HONEYCUTT: No, he was not -- I just, treated like the rest of ’em. Sometime I -- the work would run bad, and I couldn’t get my ends up, and he’d say, 28:00“Annie, now if you can’t keep up your job, you want me to put you on something less?” I’d say, “Oh, well maybe tomorrow night it won’t run this bad.” (laughter)

STONEY: Were you working on production?

HONEYCUTT: But -- no, we just have so many sides a piece, like, uh, eights -- about eight sides was about what we used to run sometimes when I’d be out we’d have to run ten, you know. But that’s a pretty good job to keep up, your roping, and -- and I was always so short, you know, disadvantage to me, but --

STONEY: Well one of the objections which was raised when the strike began was about this, something called a “stretch out”. Do you know what they meant?

HONEYCUTT: Not unless it was like, when we’re supposed to run eight sides, have to run ten. But uh, mostly that was when somebody left, you know, be out, and we wouldn’t have hand -- he wouldn’t have enough people there to run the 29:00job to keep it from being on, but we got paid more, you know, for our extra work we done. You know what I mean, we’d get paid for our running ten sides, in place of a --

STONEY: Were you working in the mills when they started the, uh, efficiency system? Fellows coming around with stopwatches, and... that never happened where you were?

HONEYCUTT: The only time I worked in the mill since 1937 was when my husband went back to service during the war.

STONEY: I see.

HONEYCUTT: And I went -- then I went to plant two, Cannon Mill, plant two, and I worked over there, uh, maybe a year, or more before I went back to [Belk’s?]. I never did come back to the mill.

STONEY: So after you got fired, (inaudible) [big in?] the union, you never went back to the mill?

HONEYCUTT: Mm-mm. ’til -- ’til in the ’40s, went back, you know, to -- the really -- the men all had to go to war; they men -- women even learnt on the 30:00men’s jobs then. And I did go back to work about a year.

STONEY: At that time, they were desperate for work.

HONEYCUTT: Mm-hmm.

STONEY: Did they ever bring up the fact that you’d been in the union?

HONEYCUTT: Never did mention that I’d ever -- well my husband, Les, he went -- after he -- you know, after the war, he went back to work for Cannon Mill, at Kannapolis. Whenever he mentioned it, we’d have -- I’d always heard if -- well when we sued ’em, you’d never get a job at the [county?] mill, but they never turned a word. If they knowed who we were, they didn’t let on.

STONEY: Tell us about, uh, all that went on before that suit came about, and how it turned out?

HONEYCUTT: Well I don’t remember, because I didn’t attend the meetings, but uh, I do know that the union was the cause of us getting the -- you know, they’re the reason that we put the suit in. And uh, I remember going to court, you know, whenever we had to go to court. And I do remember, we didn’t 31:00get our full amount of wages; we got a percentage of ’em, was glad to get that. (laughter)

STONEY: But it went on so long, it --

HONEYCUTT: Mm-hmm.

STONEY: -- didn’t get settled until the latter part of 1937. Did you lose heart?

HONEYCUTT: I don’t remember about that. I’ll just tell you, so much passed, I just don’t remember whether we ever thought -- I don’t know, at times, I might have thought it was just -- weren’t going to get anything out of it, but I just didn’t give it much thought. Because we went on, uh, making our way from day-to-day, you know, without it, so I just guess I didn’t --

STONEY: What --

HONEYCUTT: -- think much about it.

STONEY: Do you realize how much it’s meant to some young textile workers to know that you and your husband fought like that way back then in the ’30s?

HONEYCUTT: Well I never gave that a thought either. (laughter)

STONEY: I mean, they’re just thrilled to know that -- that somebody back then was working and 32:00could continue and finally get a settlement out of Cannon.

HONEYCUTT: Well I -- I just never gave it a thought; never looked at it that way, I guess, I just didn’t think anything about it, that the younger generation, you know, what they thought about it. But it’s, uh -- if people really believes in anything like that, it’s -- I think they should stick it out, bad or worse, it don’t matter. If they don’t, just get discouraged and quit, they never -- they never will get nothing. And if they get it, I -- I hope it helps ’em, because they’ve worked for so long. Because it’s been going on a long time.

HELFAND: We have a paper here that lists everybody’s names on it from, uh -- that -- that Lester put together, Lester and Red Lisk, (inaudible), it’s 33:00underneath -- (inaudible)

STONEY: OK, let’s see if I can find it.

HELFAND: (inaudible) work.

STONEY: Oh. I can just see your husband working on all of this. Did he --

HELFAND: Here’s another letter he wrote, I think.

HONEYCUTT: And that’s a lot of -- a lot of that I didn’t even know ’til she showed ’em to me, because he’d probably done them, whenever he was in the office, you know, whenever he was at his meetings. I -- because I never -- I didn’t know he had wrote --

STONEY: OK, (inaudible) --

HONEYCUTT: I didn’t know my daddy had ever wrote.

STONEY: Well here’s one from your husband, and it’s in March the fourth, 1935. It’s, uh, written to Mr. Samuel McCord of the Textile Labor Board, the board that you had to appeal to to try to get a settlement. “Dear Mr. 34:00McCord, with all due respect, to Mr. [Taliaferro?],” who was one of the inspectors, one of the agents for the textile board, “I feel that the -- the [horrible?] situation which has erupted here in the Cannon Mill, number six,” uh, and then he goes on to say that it hasn’t been worked out, and they’ve been working on it for a very long time.

HONEYCUTT: Right here.

STONEY: Uh, over a year you see. So, he’s writing that something’s got to be done.

HONEYCUTT: Well now, we moved from -- from out of the company house -- let’s see that was in ’34 -- Ted was four years old, let’s see, three or four years old. He started the school, when he started -- we must -- he must have been about five or six years old when he moved out of Cannon house, you know, Cannon Mills house. I had to get a private house, you know. Cause I know 35:00that my grandmother was with me, and we just had two rooms; we couldn’t get ’em -- we couldn’t afford a whole house (inaudible), another family lived in part of it, and we all crowded in two rooms -- was crowded in two rooms together. And we was really -- had to store part of our furniture, you know. I know a lady next door let us put some of our furniture in her basement, you know, ’til we could get a house. That’s when we had to move out of their house. So Ted must have been -- while we was living in that house, he started school, so it must have been five or six years old at that time.

STONEY: How long between when you were firing did they move you out?

HONEYCUTT: Well I was just thinking, according to that paper, Ted was born in ’30, he would -- must have been about four years old when them home guards was down there, three or four. And then he started the school in the house that we moved -- when we moved out of the company house, into -- over on [Vance?] 36:00Street, well he started school in that house, so he was six years old when he started school, you know. That’s what I was figuring. I was just going back, having to go by his age, you know.

STONEY: Well here’s -- this letter, this letter in, uh, 19-- he’s writing this letter, your husband, March the 4th 1935, and he’s pointing out the fact that, uh, Mr. [Will show?] and Mr. M.E. Russell was discharged prior to the strike. Now one of the reasons for the strike was that, you’d form a union, and then the employees would fire the officers of the union, pick them out especially, and so he’s pointing out the fact that this happened before the strike.

HONEYCUTT: When anybody would really begin to get involved in it -- in the union, you know, and getting to organize and things like that, that’s what I 37:00imagine he was talking about there.

STONEY: Exactly. OK.

HONEYCUTT: Now, he --

HELFAND: Do you remember t hat?

HONEYCUTT: Yeah, yes I remember it. A lot of it had to kind of be kept secret if you wanted to hold your job. That’s why a lot of people in the mill that was working didn’t want to lose their jobs; they was afraid, you know, afraid to talk, afraid that just -- afraid that they’d be just left like we was, you know.

STONEY: Hmm. Do you want to cut, (inaudible) that refrigerator --

HELFAND: Sure.

M1: Um, no, no, no. I’m on a -- I’m on a spot about this big in a mirror, just over her shoulder, so.

HONEYCUTT: Like they say when you have children, it don’t matter if they get to be 100 years old, you always worry about ’em. Somebody said, “Oh, when they get grown, I -- I get ’em out of my hair. They don’t bother me, but don’t tell me, they’re yours as long as you live. You don’t ever quit worrying about ’em. He’ll be -- he was 38:0066 his last birthday.

M1: (inaudible) looking at your paper, outside, and back up to her. And -- smile.

STONEY: You’re having --

HONEYCUTT: Oh, you -- you making a picture?

M1: I’m just taking his close-up in the mirror back there.

HONEYCUTT: Oh.

STONEY: We’re having to wait until the -- the sound, you see, ’til his coffee’s ready.

HONEYCUTT: Oh.

STONEY: Because that --

HONEYCUTT: He -- he ain’t thinkin’ --

STONEY: I’m going to talk about this in just a moment.

M1: (inaudible) let me just get off the clock for a second.

HONEYCUTT: (inaudible)

HELFAND: You collect green glass, huh? Where’d you get it all?

HONEYCUTT: Uh, collecting it over --

M1: I’m on the part of it, and then slowly --

STONEY: Just -- just the new (inaudible).

M1: You’re getting all right?

STONEY: Mm-hmm.

HONEYCUTT: (inaudible) auction or yard sale and see it cheap enough, I can make money on it, then I --

M1: Got it.

HONEYCUTT: I had an old wall clock hanging there. I mean an old wall telephone, that being from --

STONEY: Mm-hmm.

HONEYCUTT: -- Greensboro. I have one come in from [Graham?] North Carolina and one from Greensboro. One’s got an antique shop, the other one’s auctioneer, 39:00and I had -- my best stuff, I sometimes will put it in the china closets, and he said, “What you want for that old telephone?” And I said, “Oh, I’ll take you two hundred dollars for it.” “Oh,” he -- “I’ll give you 175 for it.” I said, “I’ll just let it hang up there, ain’t bothering nothing.”

STONEY: (laughter)

HONEYCUTT: And it was more or less a French-type telephone.

M2: (inaudible)

HONEYCUTT: Well, I’ll go call if you want, but she said he be in there late this evening.

M2: (inaudible)

STONEY: OK.

M1: I saw one piece back there I already fell in love with.

HONEYCUTT: Oh, I --

M1: You got little attachment spots for your -- uh, for one of your sewing machines back there. I collect (inaudible) -- ten (inaudible).

HONEYCUTT: Oh, what -- I put -- I know what’s out there, but I -- I don’t know where the find nothing.

M1: Oh, I know where to find it.

HONEYCUTT: Oh, I know, attachment box, you -- you -- I know what you’re talking about, for old sewing machines.

M1: Yeah. Well, whenever you’re ready.

STONEY: OK.

M1: I got -- I got all this stuff (inaudible) --

STONEY: OK.

40:00

HONEYCUTT: And it’s full of junk, oh it’s just a pile. Now I know about (inaudible) --

M1: But you have to spell it, J-U-N-Q-U-E.

STONEY: Well I’m going through this junk, just to see if I can pull out the stuff that’s going to really shine. So, if you’re ready, Judy?

M1: Do you want me to start on you?

STONEY: Oh, I’m just going to hand over this [page?].

M1: OK, we’re rolling.

STONEY: Do you remember the blue eagle? Do you remember seeing that, uh -- that sign right up there?

HONEYCUTT: Oh, yeah -- no -- NRA, I remember something about the NRA, but I don’t --

STONEY: Doesn’t mean anything special then?

HONEYCUTT: No, mm-mm.

STONEY: OK, I’ll just take that back then. Uh, a fellow named, SJ Gwynn, wrote several letters.

HONEYCUTT: Sam -- Sammy Gwynn.

STONEY: Tell us about him.

HONEYCUTT: Well he lives out -- his wife lives right out -- right straight across on the next street out there, and uh, she’s still living, and I don’t 41:00know when he worked in the mill. I don’t remember him when he worked in the mill. I know that when he was single, you know, and all, but then in his later years since we’ve been out here for the last 50 years, you know, he sold [Rawley?] [Raleigh?] product-- products, and his eyesight was bad; she drove the car for him. I don’t remember whether his eyesight was bad when he was young or not, or what happened to it.

STONEY: Well in the -- in, uh, ’34, ’33 and ’34, he was selling Rod-- [Raleigh?] products, and he was traveling through the mill village, and --

HONEYCUTT: That’s all I’ve ever knowed him to do.

STONEY: And he wrote a series of letters, uh, explaining to the people in Washington what was being done to textile workers that was unfair, according to the NRA code. Here’s a letter he wrote. “The textile workers of Cannon Manufacturing Company here do not think the idea of being treated right. They feel that Mr. Charlie Cannon has violated every part of the textile code, except 42:00the 40 hours, and in some parts, is not obli-- abided by it. Under the code, the mills was raised -- supposed to raise wages, shorten hours, run 40 hours, two shifts, 80 hours weekly, abolish the sweatshops, stop stretch-out systems and give labor rights, of bargaining collectively. The Cannon Manufacturing Company has not, in point, kept the textile code.” And so he’s pointing out all the -- the things that happened. And he -- in the process, he gives, uh, some -- evidence of who got paid, and what they got paid, and so forth. And, “For example, in these sweatshops, there are women that work so hard that they never have time to go to get water while they’re at work.” 43:00Does that sound right?

HONEYCUTT: I never have known ’em not to let ’em go get water. Now, they might have, but they never -- I’ve never knowed that.

STONEY: “They help our -- more -- they help more of a slave now than every before. They have to slave more than ever before. If Brown, the general manager of the mill seen one of the hand sitting down, he will try to find something for the oldest here to put on them to keep them busy.” Does that sounds like he’s reporting correctly?

HONEYCUTT: Now, like, have to put the overseers over and keep them working?

STONEY: Mm-hmm.

HONEYCUTT: I -- I don’t remember anything like that. It could have happened now; I’m not going to say --

STONEY: Mm-hmm.

HONEYCUTT: -- it didn’t happen, because it could happen where I didn’t work, you know.

STONEY: “The rights to organize, the hands has no rights. They lay off everyone they find joined the union. They have spies to join the union, then 44:00one join -- when one joins, in a few weeks, he is laid off, and, uh -- and another man get to work there.”

HELFAND: And then he can no longer work there.

STONEY: “And then he can no longer work there. The Ca-- The Cannon Mill Company is working around half of their help are farmers.” Do you know that --

HONEYCUTT: There’s a lot of farmers come in and took these jobs when they far -- you know, like the far people, on the [county?] mill, lived in the housing, all the farmers would come in and take the jobs. That’s why they called these home guards in; they were going to stop them and not let them go in, you know, on their jobs, and that got so bad, until Cannon, they had the home guards come in here to protect the people that was going in.

STONEY: And he says that he wants people to -- the government to send some-- somebody in to investigate. Now it’s interesting that he wasn’t working in the mills, but he was traveling, doing business.

45:00

HONEYCUTT: Well, he worked with the mill people. He worked, you know, from house to house with his -- his products that he sells.

STONEY: So he would know the situation?

HONEYCUTT: Mm-hmm.

HELFAND: That’s how he got to know her father in the next letter.

STONEY: Uh, yeah, he wrote another letter here. Uh, and in it, he mentions Mr. Will Henson.

HONEYCUTT: Now that’s my daddy.

STONEY: And he’s citing the fact that mill -- Mr. Will Henson would be a good, uh, witness for what happened.

HONEYCUTT: Well he probably -- he knows (inaudible) well.

STONEY: So you see, he was kind of -- he wasn’t an organizer, but he was taking an interest.

HONEYCUTT: Mm-hmm.

STONEY: Which just shows that there were people other than -- people in the mill who were interested in -- in helping textile workers. Uh, that was in July, uh, the 24th, 1933. Now, what happened was that there was a code for the 46:00textile industry in the WPA, and the, uh -- the NRA, the government started codes to try to get all the textile manufacturers to pay minimum wages, to limit their hours, and to limit the amount of time that the machines could operate. And also, the code said that the textile workers had the right to organize. And Mr. Cannon was one of the -- the most prominent textile manufacturers in the south, so that everybody was watching what Mr. Cannon would do. And that’s why it was so important that, uh, they watch what Mr. Cannon does, and it was so important that your husband and the other people report to the government what was happening here, because Hugh Johnson who was running this program got on the radio, and he said, “If it’s not working, write letters to us.” And so we 47:00have thousands of letters that people wrote all over the country telling him when people were cheating on the code. And that’s why all these letters were here. Here’s a letter which you might like to see. This was written in August of 1933, and you may know the person who wrote it; you might flip over and see.

HONEYCUTT: C.J. Clark.

STONEY: Mm-hmm.

HONEYCUTT: Uh, now that might have been the Clark that lived on the -- uh, on [New Row?]. There was a Clark that lived on New Row up there, right above us on Brown mill, and that might have been him. I don’t remember what his first 48:00name is. It seemed like though, his name was Roy. I don’t know what (inaudible) name was.

STONEY: And he’s writing to Mr. Johnson again, uh, telling about what Cannon Mills has done. Uh -- uh, let’s see. Judy?

HELFAND: Yeah.

STONEY: Why don’t you see if you can read that, because you’ve been over it before.

HELFAND: Oh, OK. “Dear Sir, I will write to you to let you know that the Cannon Manufacturing Company of Concord, North Carolina, last week, stretched out the spinners. They was running eight sides, and they put them on two more sides, which makes ten sides. Now Mr. Johnson, you know, and I know, that don’t put more people to work; it puts more people out of work. My wife works so hard that when she comes home, she’s right nervous. Now Mr. Johnson, I don’t think that is right, and I know you think that is not right.”

HONEYCUTT: Well I remember when they put them on ten sides, and to place -- eight’s enough for anybody, but they did put them on ten sides. Could you all 49:00excuse me and --

STONEY: Sure.

HONEYCUTT: -- let me call that doctor back?

HELFAND: Absolutely.

STONEY: Of course, of course.

HONEYCUTT: I think -- I think --

STONEY: This is from the United Textile Workers, President, CP Green, Secretary, LA Cook, 493 Burton Avenue, Concord, North Carolina.

HONEYCUTT: Bruton Avenue.

STONEY: Bruton Avenue.

HONEYCUTT: Mm-hmm.

STONEY: Uh, it’s to Mr. Samuel R. McCord, who was on the textile board. “Dear Sir, we’ve waited and waited for the board to do something for us, and they’ve not done anything as yet. The Cannon Mill Company plant six has just about laid off all of our union members and taken on farmers. The farmers work in mills and work a crop on the farm. They have laid off people in -- in company-owned houses and let them take our jobs -- let the farmers take our 50:00jobs. The people who asked their bosses what they are laid off for, and they said they don’t have anything for us to do.”

M1: OK.

STONEY: “But they don’t fail to take on the farmers.”

M1: I’m just doing a wide shot of the paper.

STONEY: OK. “If there’s anything you can do, uh -- if there -- if there’s anything you can do, had better -- you had better do it at once. If you don’t, the people are going to take the matter into their own hands.”

HONEYCUTT: Uh, this is (overlapping dialogue; inaudible) [aside conversation] --

STONEY: “They’re taking a strike Saturday July 21st at ten o’clock.

M1: Let’s just read -- let me just get the --

STONEY: “Whenever they lay any of us off, we have to take a job on the relief at 20 cents per hour. If we have a family of eight or 10, or even 12, they don’t let one of the family work on relief. Can’t get anything but just what we work for. People are getting tired of being done this way. Want to know if the Wagnerite Bill covers this discrimination. If -- if so, just let us 51:00know. All people in this plant are being laid off who struck last fall in the general strike. I remain [virtually?] yours, LA Cook, Secretary of Local 1902.”

M1: OK, close-ups --

M1: One second.

STONEY: Yeah.

HONEYCUTT: [aside] I called this morning about my son. He had this operation the day before yesterday, come home yesterday, and, well this morning, he started [swelling?] so bad, and he’s not getting any better, he’s swollen up, well I didn’t know what -- whether to take him back to the hospital or what to do.”

M1: OK.

HONEYCUTT: I called back, because you can’t see the doctor --

STONEY: Sure, yeah.

HONEYCUTT: -- when they can, his doctor’s out of town.

STONEY: We’re just going to be two more letters here. Uh --

M1: We’re ready when you are.

STONEY: OK.

M1: Rolling.

STONEY: Uh, this is one more letter which your husband wrote, July the 16th, 1935. That’s, uh, almost two -- uh, that’s just about a year after the 52:00strike. Uh, and it’s typed out here. You’ve got his handwriting; maybe you recognize his handwriting. And then you might read how it’s typed out there. You -- look at his handwriting; see if that looks like this.

HONEYCUTT: Yeah, that’s his handwriting. I’ve got enough of (inaudible) to tell his handwriting. Now it’s been typed out?

STONEY: Yeah

HONEYCUTT: Said, “Dear Sir, we have waited and waited for the board to do something for us, and they have not done anything yet. The Cannon Mill plant six have just about laid off all of our union members and taken on farmers. The farmers work in the mills and work on crops in -- on the farm.” Now that’s true. “They have laid off people in company-owned houses and let them take our jobs. If people asked their bosses what they are laid off for, and they say they don’t have anything for us to do. But they don’t fail to take on the 53:00farmers. If there’s anything you can do, you had better do it at once. If you don’t, the people are going to take the matter into their own hands. They are taking a strike Saturday July the 21st at ten o’clock.” Ms. Jordan’s going to take us up there Bill. “Went over the -- whenever they lay any of us off, we have to take a jobs on the relief at 20 cents per hour.” That might have been about what he was making on that WPA. “If we have a family of eight or 10, or even 12, they won’t but one in the family work on relief. We can’t get anything but just what we work for. The people are getting tired of being done this way. I don’t want -- don’t know if the Wag-- Wagner Labor Bill covers this discrimination. If so, let -- just let us know. All people in this plant are being laid off who struck last fall in the general strike.” Well that’s true --

54:00

STONEY: Just, I’m going to ask you, if you don’t mind, just to start -- read that last paragraph again.

HONEYCUTT: “All people in this plant are being laid off who struck last fall in the general strike.” Well this is one that, uh -- that must have been the one when they called the home guards down there.

STONEY: That’s right. And then finally, we have a -- we have a letter from Mr. McCord, the fellow he was writing to here, recognizing the fact that he has submitted the names of all of these people who got laid off.

HONEYCUTT: And I might know some of them.

STONEY: Uh, and you might go over that list.

HONEYCUTT: [Zeb Shoe?], I knowed him. [Clair Frye?], L.A. Cook, [Emmy Russell?], Annie Honeycutt, Grace Rawlins.

HELFAND: Annie Honeycutt?

HONEYCUTT: I was -- Annie Cook. (laughter) I’m a Honeycutt now.

STONEY: But that was you?

HONEYCUTT: Uh-huh, Annie Cook, as --

STONEY: Tell us the ones you knew.

HONEYCUTT: Uh --

STONEY: You knew all these people?

55:00

HELFAND: Start from the top.

STONEY: Yeah.

HELFAND: Yeah, tell -- when you know them, or your relation, or where they lived?

HONEYCUTT: Well, now Zeb Shoe, I knowed him. Clair Frye was -- uh, I knowed her real well. She was a friend of mine for 40 years. L.A. Cook, that was my husband. Emmy Russell, I can’t hardly place Russell. Annie Cook, Grace Rawlins, I knowed her. [Mabe Gask?] Clark Shoe, I knowed him. Jessie Gillespie -- he’s the one that died last year. Mamie Shoe, I knowed her. Raymond Jarvis, is the only one, me and him is the only ones living, and he’s got old-timer’s disease, and he’s about 90-something year old. He’s in a nursing home; you could talk to him. Roy Shoe, I knowed him. Roy Helms, and uh, Frank Gillespie. I knowed him. Dora [Eisahower?]. Now there’s two or three of them Eisahowers. I don’t know which one W.F. and G.M. is, but these Eisahowers lived on the same street we lived in. Henry Linker, J.F. Jarvis, that was my uncle. John Holder, I knowed him. Lloyd Holder, I knowed him. Lee 56:00Boss, and [Buehler?] Boss. I knowed all them.

STONEY: And there’s another page.

HONEYCUTT: Oh, they all --

HELFAND: Wait one second, (inaudible).

STONEY: Yeah, OK.

HONEYCUTT: Gilmer [Atwell?], I know him. John [Nimas?] I didn’t know -- and Haney, JM Haney, Minnie Boss, Minnie Haney, J.A. Aldrich, uh, that was my cousin, first cousin. Paul Shoe, Jessie Tally --

STONEY: You knew all these people?

HONEYCUTT: I knowed them at one time. Now Leonard Bostick and George Cooper and Frank Broom -- I know Frank Broom. I can’t remember the other. Mamie Gray, I don’t know her. James -- Jacobs. John Jacobs, I don’t know who he is. Now I know Clyde [Ferr?] -- and Mrs. Clyde Ferr, I know them.

STONEY: So all of those people were --

57:00

HONEYCUTT: My bro-- my old bachelor brother sent me some years old, is going with Mrs. Clyde Ferr now. (laughter)

STONEY: (laughter) So all of these people lost their jobs because they were members of the union. And you see, you were -- your husband was putting this in for them.

HONEYCUTT: Mm-hmm.

STONEY: And this was in September the 21st, 1935. And two years later, you finally got a settlement.

HONEYCUTT: Yeah.

STONEY: How’d you feel about getting that settlement?

HONEYCUTT: Well we felt like we had won something for all -- of what we went through. We had really come out; we felt like we’d come out ahead. Because that was, uh, something -- didn’t nobody think we would do. I mean they just didn’t think it was -- that we could just ever get a settlement at all, but we did. And I wish I could remember how much percentage we got, but I don’t. But I do know we didn’t get the whole full amount, just a percentage of what 58:00time we lost.

STONEY: OK, Judy.

HELFAND: Yeah.

STONEY: Uh huh.