Rosa Mae King Murphy Interview 2

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

 (beeping)

ROSA MAE KING MURPHY: ...more than, uh...

GEORGE STONEY: I mean, it’s just ridiculous that I will walk two blocks because I know that I can get something about 12 cents cheaper.

MURPHY: Yeah.

GEORGE STONEY: I have to laugh at myself. [I say?], “George...” (laughs)

MURPHY: (inaudible) sometimes, so -- oh, we were talking about this, [because it?] -- he always fusses me, ’cause I don’t -- he wants me to go out and buy and spend a lot of money. And I’m -- I don’t. If I see something and I want it, uh, and I think I’ll get something from it, I’ll get it. But just to spasmodically buy something -- Betty -- [Clyde’s?] Betty -- she said, uh, “She’ll look at it. She’ll go home and think about it. Then she’ll go 1:00back and buy it.” Talking ’bout me.

GEORGE STONEY: (papers shuffling) That’s -- it’s crazy too how I’ll save on one thing, and then just absolutely splurge on another.

MURPHY: [That’s the truth?].

GEORGE STONEY: Without any logic whatsoever.

MURPHY: That is the truth.

JAMIE STONEY: My wife says that about me, (inaudible). I’ll buy nice things for everybody else, and then I’ll sit here and just sort of turn myself into knots of whether I should --

MURPHY: Mm-hmm.

JAMIE STONEY: -- buy this hand tool. And she said, “Why don’t you buy both?” I’m like, “Why?”

MURPHY: Yeah.

JAMIE STONEY: “I’m [only?] gonna use one of them.” You know? That sort of thing.

GEORGE STONEY: Well...

JAMIE STONEY: She also says I’m tough to --

GEORGE STONEY: I might get --

JAMIE STONEY: -- buy Christmas gifts for.

GEORGE STONEY: -- used to it. (throat clearing) And you never know when you can’t get used to it anymore.

MURPHY: Yeah. Yeah.

GEORGE STONEY: (laughs) OK. Uh, let’s go. All right. Uh...

JAMIE STONEY: [Maybe I?] should be...

GEORGE STONEY: OK, one thing I wanted to show you, this is a list of locals just in North Carolina. Were you aware that there were that many locals, all came together?

MURPHY: Mm-mm.

2:00

GEORGE STONEY: Maybe you know some of those people.

MURPHY: I think I had even forgot that McAdenville had one. (pause) John Payne, yeah. I -- he’s -- he’s familiar to me, but I can’t quite place him.

3:00

GEORGE STONEY: Payne was the -- kind of the big guy from Charlotte.

MURPHY: Yeah.

HELFAND: [We have a?] picture of him.

GEORGE STONEY: (coughs) Which -- which...

HELFAND: Right here. Right here.

GEORGE STONEY: OK. We have a picture of John Howard Payne.

HELFAND: That’s his local [shadow costume?].

MURPHY: Yeah. Yeah. As I remember him, he was a good speaker.

GEORGE STONEY: He pretty well had to be a good speaker to --

MURPHY: Yeah, that’s right --

GEORGE STONEY: - do this kind of work.

MURPHY: -- that’s right. (pause) (papers shuffling)

4:00

MURPHY: No, I can’t quite, uh, place, uh, many of those people.

GEORGE STONEY: OK. Those were all (clears throat) locals of North Carolina. And here are some Xeroxes of pictures of that big meeting in Charlotte, that --

MURPHY: Mmm.

GEORGE STONEY: -- before they --

MURPHY: Mmm.

GEORGE STONEY: -- the strike began.

MURPHY: Wonder who’s on the stage.

GEORGE STONEY: It may tell you on the back. (inaudible) there’s nothing there. Nope?

5:00

MURPHY: May I -- [may?] -- at the armory. See, there were a lot of people who belonged to the union. (pause) And who is this?

HELFAND: It should say on the back as well.

MURPHY: OK. [W.J. Kendall?]. That’s who I’ve been trying to think of his name. “International [Machinists?].” Yeah. Mmm. Nineteen (inaudible). 6:00Those were some times.

GEORGE STONEY: Now, here are two pictures from the Labor Day parade in Gastonia, the next, uh -- the Monday. And the interesting thing to me is that Labor Day had not been officially celebrated here up until that time. In the -- in the Charlotte Observer, the mill owner, said that the -- almost nobody’s gonna come out.

MURPHY: Mm-hmm.

GEORGE STONEY: And then --

MURPHY: The streets -

GEORGE STONEY: -- on Labor Day --

MURPHY: -- those streets were full.

GEORGE STONEY: -- the streets were full.

7:00

MURPHY: Oh, yeah. Mm-hmm. I bet there were a lot of those people I knew [a lot of them?] from Gas-- from Belmont. Ranlo.

GEORGE STONEY: Well, we’ve talked with Ernest Moore, who recognized his father in our film footage of the parade. And we talked to another gentleman who said he beat the drum at head of the -- at the band in there.

MURPHY: Is that right?

GEORGE STONEY: And then, this is [where?] it ended up at Municipal Park. So, you see, lots and lots of locals were there with their banners and signs.

8:00

HELFAND: Yours is there.

MURPHY: I can’t -- what was this, 2121? No.

HELFAND: Twenty nineteen?

MURPHY: Yeah, that sounds more like it. I don’t -- yeah, I see. Yeah. Twenty nineteen, Belmont. Yeah.

GEORGE STONEY: How did you stay away?

MURPHY: I doubt if I did. (laughter) I tell you, I -- some of this, um, these bigger meetings, a lot of people were afraid to go. Uh, they were afraid that there -- there would be some trouble. But I don’t think that there was ever any trouble at any of these, uh, big, uh, gatherings like that.

9:00

HELFAND: You know, Rosa Mae, you started to say a lot of people belonged to those unio-- to the -- to the union.

MURPHY: Mm-hmm.

HELFAND: Could you -- could you talk more about that?

MURPHY: Well, you see, this was -- this is a -- the center of a textile industry, really. Right in Gaston County. And that’s where the, uh, emphasis was placed, on the textiles. This was the textile strike, the textile thing. And of course, uh, being more people in textile business than anything else, naturally there would be a lot of -- lot of union people. I think there were a lot of people who, uh, supported the union that -- that were not -- they had nothing to do with textiles. But they realized, uh, uh, that, uh, they would 10:00be, uh, helped, because if -- if, uh, wages went up, people made more money, people in business would -- would get more. They’d get more business. So it meant money in their pockets as much as it did to the individuals who were involved in the jobs, really.

GEORGE STONEY: And yet, (clears throat), down in -- in, uh, Greenville and Spartanburg, and in Winston-Salem, I’ve just learned, the civic authorities took very strong measures. In my hometown, for example, I just learned that when they tried to close down Hanes, Hanes Spinning, they were met with civic officials with machine guns, riot gear, tear gas, and other weapons.

MURPHY: Mm-hmm.

GEORGE STONEY: And they actually deputized 60-something of the workers, and 11:00armed them. And (sighs)...

MURPHY: It’s hard to believe, isn’t it?

GEORGE STONEY: So evidently there was a -- you know, there was a feeling that -- against that, as well.

MURPHY: Mm-hmm.

GEORGE STONEY: And in the, um -- the American Legion volunteered to serve --

MURPHY: Mm-hmm.

GEORGE STONEY: - as, uh -- as guards.

MURPHY: Yeah.

GEORGE STONEY: And this same thing happened in -- in Spartanburg.

MURPHY: I wouldn’t be surprised if it didn’t stop -- didn’t happen here. Uh, coming from your, uh, situation, did, uh -- do you feel that with the information that you’ve gotten -- and of course you lived in the area -- did you feel like the strike was justified?

12:00

GEORGE STONEY: Given what the NRA said, that they had a right to organize --

MURPHY: Mm-hmm.

GEORGE STONEY: -- and when they tried to organize --

MURPHY: Then they...

GEORGE STONEY: -- they kept firing the -- the, uh, officials.

MURPHY: Mm-hmm.

GEORGE STONEY: And when they protested, the machinery of government was so slow, you know, the -- the boards that they were supposed to appeal to, finally, I don’t see how they could’ve avoided it. Whether it was well timed is something else.

MURPHY: Mm-hmm.

GEORGE STONEY: Because, uh, McMahon said, “Look, we don’t have the money.” But a lot of people said, “They’re killing us; we gotta go ahead anyway.”

MURPHY: Yeah. Yeah.

GEORGE STONEY: So that was -- that’s the question.

MURPHY: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.

GEORGE STONEY: What do you think?

MURPHY: Well, I feel like, um -- that a lot of people were, uh, helped by the 13:00strike. I hate that anybody got killed. And especially in -- in this -- our own area, which I didn’t think there was as much animosity as there was at other to-- other places. But I think that -- that people felt that they had made one stride forward. That the mill officials were beginning to -- to realize that the people were the -- that the people were the ones who were making it easy for them. And -- now, there were a lot of mills in this area -- and Crampton was one of ’em -- who only made army materials. I mean, they closed down all of the other, uh, uh, weaving facilities. And all they did was -- was army cloth. And so -- of course, now that means that they were helped by the war, not -- not the strike, necessarily. But, um -- I -- I feel that, uh, 14:00I’m not for fighting or trying to push through, uh, any kind of a measure. But I think that the unity of the people gave, uh, the whole nation a sense of -- of cooperation among the -- the labor class of people in the South. And everybody didn’t know that, uh -- but I know that this area was helped. And I don't know that there was, uh, enough feeling of, uh, uh, resentment on the parts of anybody to have hurt. I don’t think it destroyed, uh, that many relationships. But I do know that it did in a lot of places, where there was so 15:00much animosity. Loray, and those mills in Gastonia, they were hurt. But I think they could have been handled better. Uh, I think that the death of Ader- uh, Aderhol- Aderholt -- uh, stemmed a great deal of animosity, because he was their leader. He was it. And when he got killed, then people began to wonder, “Is it worth it?”

GEORGE STONEY: What about Honea Path? Remember the seven people who were killed in Honea Path?

MURPHY: I don’t believe I do, really.

GEORGE STONEY: OK. Uh, just Honea Path, South Carolina --

MURPHY: Yeah.

GEORGE STONEY: -- which is not too far from here.

MURPHY: Mm-hmm.

GEORGE STONEY: Uh, (clears throat) the -- there was a so-called “flying squadron,” which we’ll talk about in a moment, came to the mill, people who 16:00worked in the mill, and they deputized a bunch of the people who were inside. And there was a fistfight or something that happened in front of the mill. And then those people started shooting. And within less than a minute, six of them had been killed, and another died the next day.

MURPHY: Mmm.

GEORGE STONEY: And this was happening on -- happened on the -- about the sixth or the seventh of September. And this hit the headlines all over the place.

MURPHY: Of course.

GEORGE STONEY: And this frightened a lot of people, I believe. I just wondered if you remember that.

MURPHY: No, I really don’t.

GEORGE STONEY: Uh, Ernest Moore was telling us the other day that he went to the funeral with a delegation from his union.

MURPHY: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.

GEORGE STONEY: They had a big, you know, mass funeral.

MURPHY: Yeah.

GEORGE STONEY: Here’s another fellow I wanted to ask you about. Albert Hinson. Do you remember him?

MURPHY: Yeah.

GEORGE STONEY: Tell us about Albert.

17:00

MURPHY: Now, I can’t tell you much about him. I, uh -- this is Loray, isn’t it?

GEORGE STONEY: No, it’s, uh, Parkdale.

MURPHY: Parkdale.

GEORGE STONEY: Parkdale, yeah. We have a -- we have a movie scene of that as well.

MURPHY: OK. You know, Parkdale has, uh, about taken over Belmont.

GEORGE STONEY: Yeah.

MURPHY: They have bought a lot of the, uh, mills here. They do -- they’ve done Acme Mills. And they have done a super job cleaning up the place and painting the houses and...

HELFAND: Albert Hinson was the president of his local in Ranlo. (coughing)

MURPHY: I remember him, but I don't remember much about him. One thing, when you belonged to a local, you knew all of your people. They -- their local knew 18:00all about theirs. But when they had mass meetings, it was just a conglomerate of people. So, uh, I don't remember. I -- I remember the name and -- and -- and all -- but not anything particularly.

GEORGE STONEY: (coughs) What...

HELFAND: Can I ask a question, George?

GEORGE STONEY: Mm-hmm.

HELFAND: One thing that I’m -- I’m real curious about is how long were all these meetings going on? Do you -- meaning, do -- was your daddy and -- and yourself, did you go for months to these meetings before the strike? I mean, while all this organizing was happening?

MURPHY: I would say a year or more. So after everything settled down, of course, the locals broke up, and there was -- it -- there wasn’t anything to fight for anymore. So they began just to -- to dwindle away. And the smaller ones, of course, went first.

GEORGE STONEY: But you kept on writing to Washington to help these people. We have found letters --

MURPHY: Yeah.

GEORGE STONEY: -- of yours.

MURPHY: Can I get copies of my letters --

19:00

GEORGE STONEY: We’ll -- we’ll make copies for you.

MURPHY: -- sometime? Sometime?

GEORGE STONEY: Yup.

MURPHY: I just like to --

GEORGE STONEY: Yeah.

MURPHY: -- be reminded. (laughter)

HELFAND: (inaudible)

GEORGE STONEY: How did you -- how and why did you keep on writing? How did it happen?

MURPHY: I suspect I just had a feeling for the people who had nobody to fight for ’em. And, uh, I guess the people that I knew, and they’d say, “Here’s somebody that needs help,” and -- and “Would you do it?” And I guess that’s the reason I did.

GEORGE STONEY: Well, now, we’ve been using those as kind of proof that people weren’t just forgotten.

MURPHY: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.

GEORGE STONEY: That is, to show other people.

MURPHY: Yeah.

GEORGE STONEY: Because the -- so many people say, “Well, the union went off and left us.”

MURPHY: Mm-hmm.

GEORGE STONEY: And... (clears throat)

MURPHY: So it -- so it really wasn’t all that true, was it?

GEORGE STONEY: People kept --

MURPHY: Mm-hmm.

GEORGE STONEY: -- kept fighting for a while.

MURPHY: Mm-hmm.

20:00

HELFAND: Well, you tell us -- was it true? Did the union go up and leave people?

MURPHY: Ours didn’t. We might have broken up. We might not have been an active, uh, once-a-week meeting anymore. But there was still that unity, that feeling of, uh, a person who had we -- that we felt had been mistreated, or that needed, uh, uh, to be supported. And of course -- and I don’t remember, for sure. I suspect that our local probably broke up as a meeting situation, uh, before the national thing closed down. I don't know when it was over. Do you?

GEORGE STONEY: It never collapsed completely, because you had unions, strong unions, in the North, continuing.

MURPHY: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.

21:00

GEORGE STONEY: But most of the southern locals disappeared.

MURPHY: Yeah, yeah.

GEORGE STONEY: Back to the -- (clears throat) the time of the strike. Do you recall any efforts to feed people?

MURPHY: Oh, yeah.

GEORGE STONEY: Tell us about it.

MURPHY: Yeah. At our local -- and I don’t really know exactly, uh, who we were feeding, because, as I say, we were not on strike. But we had, uh -- people would bring food in, uh, other, uh, uh, areas bigger than us. I don't know whether it would be the, uh, the Charlotte area or Gastonia area, who -- but they would bring food to the, uh -- to the union hall, that we called it. It was nothing but an old grocery store about to fall in. But you’d go in sometimes, and the thing would be so full of food that you could hardly get in. We -- we’d meet up front, because the back was, uh, full of flour and sugar 22:00and lard and all of that. And then a committee would go and distribute this to people who needed it. And they might not have been necessarily our people. It wouldn’t’ve mattered where they were from. If you could support them, why, uh -- and you had food -- well, you -- you did it.

GEORGE STONEY: Here’s a picture of two women who’ve come to get food.

MURPHY: Yeah.

GEORGE STONEY: Do you recognize either one of ’em?

MURPHY: Mm-mm. (coughing) I don't think I do.

GEORGE STONEY: Well, just yesterday we spent a good part of the day with the -- the -- the woman who’s holding her baby there.

MURPHY: Where does she live?

HELFAND: Catawba Street.

JAMIE STONEY: About four -- two miles that way.

23:00

MURPHY: You’ve got to be kidding.

JAMIE STONEY: She lives [on?] where Old 29 goes off Catawba Street.

MURPHY: Yeah.

GEORGE STONEY: It was fascinating that (clears throat) Betty Hinson thought she recognized her. And Betty took us. And it turned out to be -- the person Betty thought it was turned out to be her sister.

MURPHY: Oh. That’s...

GEORGE STONEY: And so her sister, then, yesterday --

MURPHY: Uh-huh.

GEORGE STONEY: -- and her niece and nephew -- niece and her -- his husband -- her husband --

MURPHY: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.

GEORGE STONEY: -- came over and sat with us while she told about going for this food.

MURPHY: Now, who is the [Mrs. Ingall?]?

HELFAND: Actually, that’s -- that’s the lady holding the baby. But that --

MURPHY: Is she the one that lives on Catawba Street?

HELFAND: Yeah. But her name’s Garrett.

GEORGE STONEY: Garrett, now.

MURPHY: Yeah.

HELFAND: Margaret Garrett.

MURPHY: [Garrett, yeah?]. What about Mrs. James Cloninger?

HELFAND: We couldn’t find her.

24:00

MURPHY: I bet -- I bet that Mrs. Ingall would know her. Or who she is now. But -- but that’s -- I mean, this is true, that food was given away.

MURPHY: Here’s another picture of -- in Charlotte -- of the same kind of thing happening. (clears throat) See if that triggers any memories.

HELFAND: Actually, I think it’s Belmont, isn’t it?

GEORGE STONEY: I think it says Charlotte.

MURPHY: Knit Products. No, it [is?] Knit Products of Belmont.

GEORGE STONEY: Huh. See if you recognize any of those people.

25:00

MURPHY: If I knew ’em then, and they have changed so much now, I really wouldn’t know them, would I? Mm-mm. But that’s surprising, that, uh -- Knit Products. ’Cause Knit -- Knit Products is a hosiery mill, right?

GEORGE STONEY: The hosiery mill -- the hosiery mills -- all struck the latter part of this period.

MURPHY: Yeah. Well, I was talking to a man in our church, uh, last Sunday who just retired from the hosiery mill. He was one of the head men. I don't know what his title was. And, uh, I ask hi-- I had told him that -- that this was in the process. And, uh, he said, “Well...” His parents remembered it much more than he did, ’cause he was so young. But, um, he told about the, uh -- the, uh, uh, people who came with guns and -- and, uh, uh, what a terrible 26:00situation it was. ’Course, now I -- we didn’t experience this, because we were up here. We were in the lowlands.

GEORGE STONEY: Do you remember seeing the troops?

MURPHY: Mm-hmm. Scared to death, but I remember seeing ’em. Yeah, we -- we’d ride through occasionally, [but my?]...

GEORGE STONEY: What was your feeling about the -- having the troops around like that?

MURPHY: I don’t -- I guess I didn’t think (inaudible) (laughter). I didn’t think it was that bad. It probably was bad enough to require it, but, uh, a lot of our folks didn’t feel that they ought to be here. They -- they thought that -- that for them, being here created a -- a deeper feeling of 27:00either resenting the whole thing or scared that they were gonna cause more trouble than if they just let the people handle it themselves. That might not have been the, uh, opinion of a lot of people, but I -- I think that our group sort of felt that way about it.

HELFAND: You know, I really hear the lawnmower.

GEORGE STONEY: OK, OK.

MURPHY: Yeah.

GEORGE STONEY: (inaudible) JAMIE STONEY: (inaudible)

MURPHY: Huh?

(break in audio)

MURPHY: He was such a...

GEORGE STONEY: This is your father?

MURPHY: That’s my father.

GEORGE STONEY: (laughs) Oh, that -- these are -- these are gonna be very good for us.

MURPHY: This is of, uh, my mother and daddy.

GEORGE STONEY: Uh-huh.

MURPHY: This is (inaudible) -- the -- I just went through these old things last --

GEORGE STONEY: Oh, very good. Yes.

MURPHY: - the other night. This is our entire family.

GEORGE STONEY: Now, do you know when -- when this one was made, about, roughly? This one right here?

28:00

MURPHY: Uh, yes. I would say that that was made in about 19 and 35.

GEORGE STONEY: Mm-hmm. And we could use it for [current?]. Uh-huh.

MURPHY: Yeah.

GEORGE STONEY: Good. OK.

MURPHY: Oh, he was a big joker. (laughter)

GEORGE STONEY: What do you mean by that?

MURPHY: Oh, he liked to have fun --

GEORGE STONEY: Uh-huh.

MURPHY: -- tease people, and...

GEORGE STONEY: Now, at this point, there -- they had something called flying squadrons. Do you remember those?

MURPHY: Not really.

GEORGE STONEY: Mm-hmm.

MURPHY: Not really.

GEORGE STONEY: They were groups of strikers who would move -- textile workers -- who would move from one place to another. Uh, for example, Paul Christopher organized some in Shelby. They came over to Winston-Salem and closed down -- 29:00persuaded the people at Arista Mill to come out, and then went to the Hanes Knitting -- uh, Spinning Company --

MURPHY: Mm-hmm.

GEORGE STONEY: -- tried to close it down.

MURPHY: Mm-hmm.

GEORGE STONEY: Did you hear anything about those, or...

MURPHY: I -- I’ve heard about them, but I -- I know nothing personally --

GEORGE STONEY: Mm-hmm.

MURPHY: -- really. But that’s sort of the way [areas?] here. The group of people would go to a mill and tell ’em how bad things were to get ’em to, uh -- just to walk out with ’em. But they -- they were not strong enough to do it here, evidently.

GEORGE STONEY: In Belmont.

MURPHY: In Belmont.

GEORGE STONEY: Well, what I’m gonna do now is to take you through the clippings that we have from the Charlotte Observer. Now, remember, these are contemporary. And you and I both know that newspapers can make mistakes. Particularly when it’s a hot subject, you see.

MURPHY: Oh yeah.

GEORGE STONEY: So I’m not saying these are accurate.

MURPHY: Mm-hmm.

30:00

GEORGE STONEY: Uh, here’s one for the sixth of September -- the fifth of September. “Belmont remained quiet. The strike situation in Belmont, where about a score of mills, not including the hosiery plants, had been affected, remains quiet. All plants beginning -- are being picketed, and all are closed.” Now, you, uh, think your impression was that they didn’t close.

MURPHY: I don't think so. But, uh -- I don't remember.

GEORGE STONEY: To continue here, “Strike leaders, speaking before large gatherings, have urged that no violence whatsoever be attempted, and so far the situation has been remarkably quiet.” That’s a...

31:00

(break in audio)

GEORGE STONEY: “...strike situation in Belmont where about a score of mills, not including the hosiery plants, have been affected, remained quiet.”

M1: Well, as George said, I didn’t -- I wasn’t sure about the hosiery mills. Um, I don’t know. Let me ask -- let me see if Cly-- I’ll see if Clyde Deitz [will know?].

GEORGE STONEY: (clears throat) OK.

MURPHY: He would remember --

GEORGE STONEY: Mm-hmm.

MURPHY: -- because he was...

GEORGE STONEY: OK. We go on here. Uh, Belmont. This is, uh -- this is on the seventeenth of September. “Belmont, Concord, and other parts [what -- uh, taught?] during the day, as pickets taunted National Guardsmen, of which 38 companies were on duty in North Carolina alone, quote, ‘You’ll cause a 32:00revolution, you little tin soldiers,’ was among the, uh, milder remarks directed across the highway at Belmont to guardsmen before the Hatch Hosiery Mill.”

MURPHY: OK, now, there’s the man I was talking to last Sunday. He remembers -- ’course, he was a child -- he remembers the, uh -- the guardsmen on top of their mill.

GEORGE STONEY: At Hatch.

MURPHY: At Hatch. Mm-hmm. That was true.

GEORGE STONEY: We should get his -- now -- OK. So that was -- that was happening at Hatch.

MURPHY: Mm-hmm.

GEORGE STONEY: Interestingly enough, earlier, Hatch had refused to live up to the NRA agreement, and they’d actually withdrawn the Blue Eagle from them. That was supposed to be a -- a sign of public disgrace --

MURPHY: Mm-hmm.

GEORGE STONEY: -- and the company had said, “So what?” Kept on operating.

MURPHY: Mm-hmm.

GEORGE STONEY: So there was a lot of feeling around Hatch at the time.

MURPHY: Yeah.

GEORGE STONEY: Uh...

MURPHY: See, uh, Clyde was, uh, connected with the hosiery mills --

GEORGE STONEY: Mm-hmm.

MURPHY: - but not Hatch. He was with Belmont Hosiery Mill.

33:00

GEORGE STONEY: And here’s -- again, this was on the thirteenth. Uh, (clears throat) “Yelling pickets, their spirits is -- spirits undaunted by a downpour of rain, closed up the Hatch Hosiery Mill, the Belmont Hosiery Mill, and the Knit Products Company plant in Belmont today. Victor [Millen?], manager of the Knit Products, lost his shirt in an encounter with pickets, who tore the garment from his back and waved it high in the air as a flag of battle.” (M1 talking on phone) (laughter)

HELFAND: He’s calling to find out if (inaudible).

MURPHY: Well, Clyde will probably know some--

GEORGE STONEY: Yes.

HELFAND: Is he -- is he calling Clyde?

MURPHY: He’s calling Clyde.

GEORGE STONEY: Calling Clyde Deitz, yes.

MURPHY: Yeah.

GEORGE STONEY: OK. Uh, let’s see what else we have here. Yeah. Here’s, 34:00uh... (pause) (M1 talking on phone) That’s too loud, (inaudible)?

HELFAND: Well, before we came here...

MURPHY: Oh. You mean before y’all came back here?

HELFAND: Yeah.

GEORGE STONEY: Mm-hmm.

MURPHY: Very seldom ever mentioned. You just don’t hear about it. See, that almost happened to another generation of people. See, I’m, uh, older than -- 35:00I’d like to think -- (laughter) but, uh, most of the people who are my age are gone. Uh, my three brothers. All died at 67. In that neighborhood. So my -- I had one brother, I could ask him anything. He’d remember everything about everything. He just recently died in January. But all you had to do was ask him a question. Now, uh -- and now I miss him, ’cause I had depended on him to fill me in on everything I didn’t remember -- or want to remember.

HELFAND: So he was a boy during this period of time.

MURPHY: Mm-hmm.

HELFAND: Or was he working?

MURPHY: At Acme.

HELFAND: Was he involved in --

MURPHY: Yeah.

HELFAND: -- the union?

MURPHY: I don’t believe the boys, uh, uh -- I don’t ever remember them goin’. My daddy might have signed them up and paid for ’em, but, uh, I 36:00don’t remember them ever goin’ to a meeting. The younger people were not that, uh, concerned. I mean, that age group. They were courting. (laughter) None of them were married at that time. Not even me.

GEORGE STONEY: Well, here’s another -- here’s another entry. (M1 talking on phone)

HELFAND: Well, he’s gonna come back and give us some information --

GEORGE STONEY: OK.

HELFAND: -- so it seems. (inaudible) in Belmont, huh?

MURPHY: Mm-hmm.

GEORGE STONEY: We had -- by the way, we had a wonderful interview with Mr. [Fetzoll?], who runs the military museum in...

HELFAND: Wetzell.

GEORGE STONEY: Wetzell.

MURPHY: In Ga-

GEORGE STONEY: Do you know him?

MURPHY: In Gastonia?

GEORGE STONEY: Yes.

MURPHY: Yeah.

HELFAND: Charlie.

37:00

MURPHY: Uh-huh. Yeah. I haven’t seen him in a long time.

GEORGE STONEY: Well, we met him through, uh, the Moores. Because they’re both on -- they both are in the same, uh, square-dance group.

MURPHY: Ah. OK.

GEORGE STONEY: They square dance all over the place.

MURPHY: I believe -- I believe that Wetzell married a girl from Belmont. I’m pretty sure he did.

GEORGE STONEY: Yeah. So he gave us a lot of useful information.

MURPHY: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.

GEORGE STONEY: And he was in -- he was in textile management, you see.

MURPHY: Yeah.

HELFAND: I wonder what he found out.

MURPHY: He’s still [online?]? (laughter) I think Clyde probably was on both sides of the fence.

GEORGE STONEY: Mm-hmm.

MURPHY: Because his mother was in the mill, and he was in, uh, management. So 38:00he, uh, has always had to tread lightly in that respect.

HELFAND: Hmm.

JAMIE STONEY: He seemed quite taken aback by child labor, when he realized that a lot of the kids that he had known that he didn’t -- he didn’t see in school after such-and-such a grade ended up working in, you know, 10 and 12 --

MURPHY: Mm-hmm.

JAMIE STONEY: -- and up.

MURPHY: Mm-hmm.

JAMIE STONEY: That seemed to have hit him -- the reality of it -- it hit him quite hard.

MURPHY: Well, I guess Clyde probably had, uh, a pretty rough time anyway. See, he was brought up by a single mother -- a single parent, I should say. And, uh, 39:00uh, then she became blind, and he was the only child. And money came hard with him.

GEORGE STONEY: This was with, uh, Clyde Deitz.

MURPHY: Uh-huh.

GEORGE STONEY: Mm-hmm.

MURPHY: Yeah. So he -- he knows both sides of the track. I guess he is one of the most highly respected men in Belmont.

GEORGE STONEY: That’s what we’ve heard.

M1: Clyde says the -- the only plant that was on strike in Belmont, was -- was down -- was the, um, that one hosiery mill.

MURPHY: Hatch Hosiery.

GEORGE STONEY: Mm-hmm.

M1: And -- yeah. The what?

MURPHY: Hatch Hosiery.

M1: No, not Hatch. Uh...

MURPHY: Cron- uh...

M1: Down in east Belmont. The, uh --

MURPHY: Oh.

M1: -- what was that one called? The, uh...

MURPHY: He just called it out a minute ago.

M1: That’s the only one that was on strike. But the other plants did close, closed down.

GEORGE STONEY: Mm-hmm.

M1: And he says another per- a person, you ask him about another person, might be -- he might be able to talk with you -- his name is Charlie Huggins. He 40:00lives in the Myrtle Apartments, which are right there on -- on the corner, where the First Baptist Church is.

GEORGE STONEY: Oh, OK. Yeah. Mm-hmm. Good.

M1: He’s in his eighties, and went to work when he was 12 years old. (laughter) And, uh, about that, he had to stop, because North Carolina passed a child labor law, and he had to wait a year or so till he was 14 to go back to work (laughter) so he (inaudible).

GEORGE STONEY: Good. Thank you.

M1: And he...

MURPHY: And he did say that the mills were st-

M1: The mills were...

MURPHY: -- closed.

GEORGE STONEY: Well...

MURPHY: I didn’t remember that.

M1: I think they probably did it to keep the strike from spreading, if there was any chance of it.

MURPHY: Well, I knew I didn’t remember any --

GEORGE STONEY: A lot of the --

MURPHY: -- picket.

GEORGE STONEY: -- a lot of the manufacturers said that they were gonna close up -- they said they got, uh -- that they had, uh, (clears throat) warehouses full of stuff they couldn’t sell anyway --

M1: Mm-hmm.

GEORGE STONEY: -- and they were just gonna close up until the st- until the, uh, affair was over.

M1: Mm-hmm.

MURPHY: Mm-hmm.

GEORGE STONEY: A number of them. In fact...

M1: [It wouldn’t be pretty hard?] to spread.

MURPHY: So that goes back to the food, uh --

GEORGE STONEY: Yeah.

41:00

MURPHY: -- dispossession.

GEORGE STONEY: Yeah. In fact, that was what the -- the national organization said.

MURPHY: Uh-huh.

GEORGE STONEY: Yeah. Let me read a couple of more of these things from Belmont.

MURPHY: OK.

GEORGE STONEY: “Pickets watch Hatch Hosiery. Guardsmen disperse crowd that watches picketing at Belmont.” This is Belmont, uh, special to the Observer, September the sixteenth. “Large crowds gathered along Wilkinson Boulevard tonight to watch pickets marching in front of the Hatch Hosiery pla-- mills. Although feeling was tense, no disturbances were reported. From 100 to 500 pickets were on duty at different times during the day. The other mills here have closed indefinitely.”

MURPHY: OK.

GEORGE STONEY: “But the Hatch Hosiery Company has announced its intentions of remaining open Tuesday. National Guard troops from New Be-- New Bern, Henderson, and Oxford on duty on the Hatch Hosiery mills. No trouble was 42:00encountered here today, but because of the high feeling and the large groups of pickets determined to keep the hosiery mills closed, authorities were afraid disturbances may break out Tuesday when the mills try to reopen.” So that shows you how it was kind of boiling up.

MURPHY: Mm-hmm.

GEORGE STONEY: Uh, let’s see what I’ve got here. Yes, the next one is the eighteenth, the next day.

MURPHY: That’s my birthday.

GEORGE STONEY: (laughs) Ah, well, this is what was happening. Uh, “Belmont is tense. Hundreds picketing, soldiers harassed, 19 mills all closed and picketing -- picketed.” So that’s building up to -- you know what happened, uh, at -- on the -- the next day, on the eighteenth. Whe-- on the seventeenth. When, uh, 43:00Belmont, September the eighteenth here. Uh, “Two men are badly injured as guardsmen use bayonets. At least a dozen others are slightly wounded. [Climaxes] wild day. [Understates?] Riley and J.T. Brown are in Presbyterian Hospital [this city?].” And it was Riley who was killed.

MURPHY: Mm-hmm.

GEORGE STONEY: Uh, this is by [LeGette Blythe?].

MURPHY: Mm-hmm.

GEORGE STONEY: “At midnight, everything is quiet here after the wildest day’s disturbance since the beginning of the textile strike. It climaxed nine o’clock tonight, with a serious bayoneting of two men who attempted to wrest a rifle from a National Guardsman, in the rush of several thousand persons against troops guarding the Knit Products Corporation plant.” Now, this was all in the papers when you were there. What effect did that have on you and the other members of the union?

44:00

MURPHY: I really -- I really don’t know. I really don’t remember. I -- I think at this -- this particular time, uh, we were more concerned about really what could happen, and how serious it was. When people start getting killed, uh, then the tension rises, and everybody becomes opinionated one way or the other. Some people might’ve said, “Oh, I’m glad it happened,” you know? Uh, “Just shows them a thing or two.” Others would say, “It isn’t worth it.” So it -- it was a -- I remember it being a sad time. I don't know how opinionated I became. Uh, I’m sure that I -- I was, uh, disturbed because 45:00somebody was killed. Over things that were not that important, probably.

GEORGE STONEY: Now, it must have kind of split the community when the soldiers were there, and -- so many people just love soldiers, you know? (laughs)

MURPHY: Yeah. Yeah.

GEORGE STONEY: And then people were calling ’em names and so forth and so on.

MURPHY: Mm-hmm.

GEORGE STONEY: Uh, there must have been a lot of tension from that --

MURPHY: I’m sure. See, that --

GEORGE STONEY: -- [standpoint?].

MURPHY: - was down there, and we were up here.

GEORGE STONEY: OK.

MURPHY: So I was really not involved too much in the activity, uh...

GEORGE STONEY: OK. That’s what I want.

MURPHY: And since it was a hosiery mill, and we were textiles.

HELFAND: So what was your local doing during that period of time?

MURPHY: Havin’ meetings, I guess. And discussin’. And there’d always be somebody who was, uh, anxious to get involved in this -- right in the middle of it -- and would come back to the meetings and tell all -- everything that happened, whether it was in the paper or not. And that just kept, uh, our 46:00people more aware of what could happen if it happened to us.

GEORGE STONEY: Now, about the papers, (coughing) my impression, because I was a newspaper boy --

MURPHY: Mm-hmm.

GEORGE STONEY: -- that everybody read the papers. Was that true?

MURPHY: No. I don't think so. Uh, they just -- a lot of it was by word of mouth. Or maybe radio. ’Cause we didn’t have TVs back then. And I’m sure that a lot of it was on radio, and that was, uh, this. I doubt if a lot of people read the paper. I had two brothers who -- who, uh, delivered the papers, and they didn’t make that much money. Because they didn’t sell that many papers. (laughter)

GEORGE STONEY: It’s funny, I -- I -- as I say, I carried the papers. But before I had a route -- paper route -- I used to sell a magazine, kind of like 47:00Time now, called the Literary Digest.

MURPHY: Mm-hmm.

GEORGE STONEY: And I found if I read it and started telling people what was in it, they were impressed enough with a little kid knowing it --

MURPHY: Yeah.

GEORGE STONEY: -- so they would -- they would buy it.

MURPHY: Yeah.

GEORGE STONEY: I could persuade ’em to.

MURPHY: Mm-hmm.

GEORGE STONEY: And so I -- I kind of did the same thing with the newspaper. So I read the newspapers.

MURPHY: Well, you were a good salesman. You knew...

GEORGE STONEY: Oh, and I imagined -- my secret dream was that I was gonna be a novelist. (laughter) And all I -- I was reading Thomas Wolfe. (laughs) You know, his first stories -

MURPHY: Yeah.

GEORGE STONEY: - I had a high school teacher who turned me on to Thomas Wolfe.

MURPHY: Mm-hmm.

GEORGE STONEY: And as I carried newspapers -- of course, he carried newspapers and wrote Look Homeward, Angel. I imagined that I was gonna write about my customers the way he wrote about his customers. (laughs)

MURPHY: Isn’t he the one who says, “You can’t go home again”?

GEORGE STONEY: That’s right. (laughs) But, uh -- so that I -- I read the newspapers.

MURPHY: Mm-hmm.

GEORGE STONEY: But here I was in Chapel Hill, I wasn’t reading the newspapers.

MURPHY: Mm-hmm.

GEORGE STONEY: And I didn’t know anything --

MURPHY: It -- it didn’t affect you.

GEORGE STONEY: -- anything about this, yes. That’s one of the things that 48:00it’s hard -- I know from my students, do interviews with their grandparents, sometimes they get a little impatient because something happened right under them.

MURPHY: Mm-hmm.

GEORGE STONEY: One of the students, for example, was interviewing her aunt, who’d worked at the Eagle Pencil plant in -- on 14th Street, in New York City, where there was a -- oh, a very violent strike. Her aunt worked in the office. Her aunt didn’t remember -- only had one memory of that whole time. And that was when she was going down the subway steps, and somebody threw something, and it hit her in the back. Everything else. And of course, I had to convince the student, “Oh, she’s not denying anything. (laughter) She was in the office. It didn’t affect her.”

MURPHY: Yeah. Yeah.

GEORGE STONEY: And I’m sure the same thing happened here.

MURPHY: Yeah, I’m sure. Yeah.

49:00

GEORGE STONEY: Now, here’s some pictures from that -- that, uh, Riley, uh, murder, that you might want to look at. (clears throat) This is the house where it happened, and then you see some of the other things.

MURPHY: Yeah. (pictures shuffling) This house is, uh, maybe next door, could be the house where Clyde lived. In the same area.

GEORGE STONEY: That’s what he was telling us, yes.

MURPHY: Yeah. I don't know any of these men.

HELFAND: Um, those are the people -- those men are -- if you read the back, they’re identifying the fact that -- that he was mur-- that he died on the floor there.

50:00

MURPHY: Yeah. Ten thousand people attended the funeral. (pause) (pictures shuffling) I don’t remember goin’ to the funeral. I’m sure my daddy went. But I can’t, uh -- can’t remember for sure whether I did or not. But out 51:00of 10,000 people I couldn’t pick me out, could I? (laughter) Well, I think the very fact that the man was killed aroused a lot of tension throughout the entire textile industry, whether it be in Belmont, Gastonia. Because Belmont was upset about the Gastonia murder. It was next door and all. Neighbor.

GEORGE STONEY: Well, the organized labor, for the next six months, kept pushing for an inquest. The local coroner said, “We don’t need an inquest.” And eventually there never was a satisfactory inquest.

52:00

MURPHY: So they really don’t know how he died.

GEORGE STONEY: No. Was never -- whether he ran up against the bayonet or whether they charged him, we just don’t know.

MURPHY: Mm-hmm.

GEORGE STONEY: Yup. Back to Lem- uh, to Mr. Bly [sic]. Uh, he has an interesting thing here. “The public wants settlement. The mill owners claiming the strike is gradually being broken are understood to hope that Roosevelt will take no action. The striking forces, on the other hand, and the citizens generally, the latter group of which will be principal sufferers, perhaps appear to, uh -- to long for an early intervention by the president to end the strike.” And so there you have the -- the two contending forces. 53:00“The mill owners profess no willingness to talk terms, believing that they will eventually win by wearing down the strikers.”

MURPHY: Mm-hmm. That was the feeling, exactly.

GEORGE STONEY: Could you just say what that feeling was?

MURPHY: I -- I think that they -- that, uh, people felt that, uh, that what you said was exactly the truth. “We’ll wear them down, and they’ll go back and they’ll, uh -- they’ll forget about what they asked for. Uh, they’ll just be glad they got their job back.” That’s the majo- the feeling of a majority of people at that time. And I’m sure that’s the way the, uh -- the mill men felt about it. And -- and it had a lot of truth to it. People weren’t workin’. They weren’t makin’ any money. They needed to go back to work in order to eat and feed their family.

GEORGE STONEY: Well, a lot of the mill management weren’t making any money either.

54:00

MURPHY: The lower management wasn’t. But the -- well, now, nobody was making any money. But there again, you said a while ago that they had inventories piled up in warehouses. If anybody needed it, they could get rid of unwanted materials. So they were not suffering, really, as much as the, uh -- uh, the working class of people were. Hosiery mills were -- they, uh -- they had warehouses full of, uh, hose. If -- if Belmont didn’t have it, the people they sold to did. They had inventories. So nobody, uh, suffered because of that. But I really -- I guess I didn’t -- didn’t realize until now that there was that much more trouble in the hosiery mill than there was in the -- in the textile industry, in all of Belmont. I think I thought there were more, uh, 55:00rebellious people in the textile industry than, uh -- than really was. They were sympathetic with the hosiery mill, but they were not part of the striking [people?].

GEORGE STONEY: And they were a little jealous of the hosiery people too, for --

MURPHY: Oh, sure, sure.

GEORGE STONEY: -- making more money.

MURPHY: Yeah.

GEORGE STONEY: Yeah.

MURPHY: Mm-hmm. And -- and I am assuming this, that they thought, “Well, if I were making that much money, I wouldn’t’ve struck.” You know. “You’re makin’ -- you’re -- you’re doin’ pretty good.”

GEORGE STONEY: (laughs) Clyde Deitz told us a wonderful story about a superintendent of schools who got so upset, because some of the hosiery people who went on strike were making as much as his teachers.

MURPHY: Yeah. Yeah.

GEORGE STONEY: (laughs) Yeah.

MURPHY: That’s probably true.

GEORGE STONEY: Yeah.

HELFAND: I’m just -- I’m still -- you know, I’m still trying to understand how you all were able to organize over a hundred locals in North Carolina. And 56:00-- and -- and how this one really got started. It’s just amazing to me.

MURPHY: I don't know -- I don’t remember how ours got started. But I know that -- like I said a while ago, the lot of them got started because here is a group that’s -- that’s, uh, really workin’. And they’ve just about, uh, signed up everybody in this plant. Most of the people here have already signed up. OK. John Doe is gonna have a meeting in Gastonia. Or at some place where they don’t have a -- an active, uh, local. OK? You get, uh, a number of people from -- from this group to go to that group. They meet with a small group there. So they decide, “Well, there’s so many people that are in favor of it, and they’re doing well. And we need to get more people on our 57:00side. Or if we don’t, we’re not gonna get what we want either.” So it was a matter of reaching the goal of more money, better working conditions, better hours.

GEORGE STONEY: Now, after the strike, [they say?] Roosevelt, Washington said, “If you go back, uh, there won’t be any reprisals. And for six months we’ll hold the line, and then we’ll decide.” And Gorman said, “We’re going back, and we want a great victory.” How did you feel when the strike was called off?

MURPHY: I was so glad it was over, I didn’t know what to do. I don't know that I really felt that, uh, we had won a lot. And probably hadn't. But people 58:00had spoken. They had expressed their deep feelings about, uh, low pay, bad working conditions, and as you called the word “stretched out” a while ago. I think that, uh, if -- if it didn’t happen right then, they were sure it would down the line, pretty soon. And a lot of it did happen. A lot of people were given raises. A lot of mills were, uh, willing to, uh, uh, give the people part of what they had asked for. But not all, I’m sure.

GEORGE STONEY: Significantly, though, we -- we have, uh, reviews of cases, such as the ones you helped people write up, uh, fro- and we have the reviews of the federal investigator, particularly a fellow named [Toliver?] and a fellow named, 59:00uh, Heafner. Do you remember either one of them?

MURPHY: [How ’bout?] Heffner?

GEORGE STONEY: Heffner.

MURPHY: Heffner.

GEORGE STONEY: Yes.

MURPHY: I just remember the name, but I can’t place any activity with him at all.

GEORGE STONEY: He responded to one of your letters.

MURPHY: Oh, really? (laughs)

GEORGE STONEY: And he’s living over in Charlotte, and we’re gonna be talking with him.

MURPHY: Really?

GEORGE STONEY: Eighty-eight years old.

MURPHY: That is interesting.

GEORGE STONEY: Yeah. Again, Judy found him. (laughs)

MURPHY: She -- she’s a tracer.

GEORGE STONEY: Isn’t it, uh --

MURPHY: She’s a tracer.

GEORGE STONEY: -- just great? (laughs) And we’re gonna be going over some of the cases with him.

MURPHY: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.

GEORGE STONEY: But after the strike, then there was all -- were all of these efforts to try to get people back. And Heffner said -- told us the other day -- he says, “There was no attempt to get child labor back. They pretty well lived up to the 40 hours. They pretty well lived up to minimum wage. There was 60:00a good bit of cheating on the 80 hours of machine operation. ’Cause they wanted to get ahead of the next fellow. The thing that they all ignored, practically, was 7a, saying that people had a right to organize.”

MURPHY: So you feel that, uh -- I mean, he feels that -- that, uh, uh, they had the right, but they didn’t do it.

GEORGE STONEY: There was no mechanism to enable them to do it.

MURPHY: Uh-huh.

GEORGE STONEY: Because if they did, they got fired.

MURPHY: Yeah. Mm-hmm.

GEORGE STONEY: That’s what you were -- why you were writing all those letters. (laughter)

MURPHY: A lot of it happened, surely.

HELFAND: What happened to people here, after the strike? When they went back to work?

61:00

MURPHY: Uh, very little. I don’t, uh -- I don’t recall anybody bein’ fired. If they had been fired, it would’ve been for some other cause. They wouldn’t’ve said it was because you belonged to the union. They would’ve been afraid to admit that. Just like it is even, uh, today. If they want to get rid of somebody in -- in any area, uh, it’s not gonna always be what they say it is. It’s, you know, uh, other little things that had built up to that point.

HELFAND: So, and you being an officer, and someone who’d been active, how -- how did they treat you when you came back? Did they know that you were active?

MURPHY: Yeah, yeah. No different. No different. I never, uh, realized that 62:00anybody refused to, uh, show me the same courtesy they had before. But we were different people here. I have to say, again, uh, these are people who had been here a long time. They had lived here a long time. But you take an area like Loray, they were turning over every day. Hundreds were coming and hundreds were leaving. Because they had such an enormous number of employees. So they didn’t know each other as well as -- as we did. We knew by name. We knew by family. So as far as -- this was an unusual, quite an unusual, circumstances. And I’m sure it was not like that everywhere. I’m sure there were people who never spoke to each other again. But I can’t remember that any of this happened here. Not to me, anyway.

63:00

GEORGE STONEY: Now, when the -- towards the end of the strike, you were getting out food to people and so forth.

MURPHY: Mm-hmm.

GEORGE STONEY: Do you think that if -- could people have continued longer if the strike hadn't been called off?

MURPHY: Not much longer. ’Cause there was not enough food for everybody who needed it. They were getting the necessities, uh, meal and flour and lard and beans and rice, sorta like it is today in some of the foreign countries. They were just glad to get it. And they needed it, for their families.

GEORGE STONEY: Now, there’s some people who’ve studied this -- the situation -- looking back on it, who say, “Oh, they could’ve held out longer if -- oh, they got betrayed by Roosevelt,” etc.

64:00

MURPHY: Well, I’m sure that some of ’em could have, just like today. A lot of people who are on, uh, uh, Social Security -- not Social Security, but, um, Medicaid and those type things -- uh, a lot of ’em would get along a long time without it. But it was there, and I may be hungry tomorrow. So people probably came to get it, uh, just to have it in reserve, for my children tomorrow. Because there -- there was not a, uh, Social Services thing. And I remember this -- I saw, uh, people who -- who gave money, uh, to buy food, and they were against the union. I saw that happen in our own local. They were not textile people, but they, uh -- they saw the need. And they gave the money to help buy 65:00food. Uh, which showed another trend of, uh, the difference in our people around here, than in some of the areas where they had so much trouble. So I think you probably need, uh, more information about places where they had a lot of trouble.

GEORGE STONEY: Oh, that’s -- just to match that story, we were talking with some women the other day who told about their father, who didn’t particularly take a part in the union, but he did a lot in -- in the food -- the food collecting.

MURPHY: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.

GEORGE STONEY: Now, do you remember the -- the WPA? Did you have anything to do with helping people who were out of work get on the WPA?

MURPHY: I don’t think I did. I don’t believe I did.

GEORGE STONEY: I ask that because in Charlotte, the union organized a -- quite 66:00an -- an effort to get people who’d lost their jobs on to the WPA.

MURPHY: Mm-hmm.

GEORGE STONEY: And there was some accusations that the governments were therefore supporting the strikers.

MURPHY: Mm-hmm.

GEORGE STONEY: But that -- you didn’t (inaudible)...

MURPHY: I might have a letter in there showing that, (laughter) but I don’t remember.

HELFAND: This is a letter that Rosa Mae wrote.

GEORGE STONEY: OK. Here’s a letter that you wrote. Might want to look at it. Want to read it to us?

MURPHY: Oh. (inaudible) Bureau of Labor Statistics. “There have been many items of import that our local members would like to be informed on, according to authorities of the various boad -- boards, which have been appointed since the recent strike. But the following is one that we would like for you to investigate and send us immediately the outcome” -- badly put. “For more than seven years, Mr. X has been employed at the Acme Mills of Belmont, North Carolina, as a truck driver. He was making before, uh, code become effective, 67:00$13.20 per week. After it became effective, his wages were reduced to 10.56, or 24 cents per hour, for 44 hours. He asked the officials about this, and they affirmed that they don’t know what the code calls for, and that they do not have a copy of the code. He also explained to them that he had two mills, Acme Number One and Number Two, while mo-- many others have only one but yet receive the same pay as he did. Our truck drivers classified as learners [are cleaners?] but receive less. Or what is it that to be -- or what i-- what is to be the minimum wage according to the code, and what are the number of hours they are allowed to work? If you can supply us with some copies of this code, we 68:00will be more than glad to see that the companies are in possession of one, so that much trouble will be alleviated. If your board is not in a position to handle the above problem, will you please see that it is placed in the hands of the right board, as we are waiting for an answer in the near future? Sincerely yours.” Nineteen thirty-five.

GEORGE STONEY: So what was the date of that?

MURPHY: December the eighth, 1934.

GEORGE STONEY: Well, here you are --

MURPHY: And January the twenty-fifth, uh, somebody received a copy, in 1935, which was, um --

GEORGE STONEY: -- so here --

MURPHY: -- two months.

GEORGE STONEY: -- several months after the strike, you are -- you’re trying to help people out.

MURPHY: I wonder who Mr. X is.

GEORGE STONEY: (laughs) Well, you’re just being discreet there. (laughs) 69:00You’re not giving his name, you see?

MURPHY: Didn’t want him to get fired. (laughs)

GEORGE STONEY: You -- well, as you know, this -- you see, copies of this would be sent to the employers to get --

MURPHY: Uh-huh.

GEORGE STONEY: --their response.

MURPHY: Uh-huh.

GEORGE STONEY: So you were quite wise in saying “Mr. X.”

HELFAND: But I think we -- we get to know his name a little later. Holtzclaw?

MURPHY: There was a Mr. Holtzclaw. Uh, who was very active (inaudible). [Zen?] Holtzclaw. Z.L. Holtzclaw. But I don’t believe that’s -- that’s who we’re talking about here.

HELFAND: Well, you were successful in getting him some money, for sure. And then you -- you continued. Here’s two more letters that you wrote.

GEORGE STONEY: OK. (clears throat) Yes, so this shows that you were -- you 70:00persevered. (laughs) Because this one is March the nineteenth, and here’s another one, uh, on March the twentieth. And you are -- yeah.

MURPHY: You don’t want me to read these out loud, do you? Or do you?

GEORGE STONEY: Well, look at them and see what response you have.

MURPHY: Well, it says, “The retroa- retroactive payment was made, according to the driver’s last report, and we appreciate this investigation, and the man asked that I pass onto you his deepest appreciation for the work that you have done in making it possible for him to receive the $71.17 of back pay in adjusting his wages to the present rate of pay.”

GEORGE STONEY: Well, you know what that would amount to now. It’d be, like, saying, between seven and eight hundred dollars.

MURPHY: Uh-huh.

71:00

GEORGE STONEY: Which is a lot of money.

MURPHY: Yeah. (inaudible) now go to Mr. Taylor. “After the introduction of the NRA and the code relative to rates of pay to the different types of work, the company at the Acme Mills of North -- Belmont, North Carolina, was paying the outside carpenter and cotton [wearer?] and the second hand man the same price. That is, per hour for their work, 28 cents per hour. After the fo- the code became effective, the second hand wages were increased to 40 cents per hour, and the carpenter and cotton wearer’s wages was only increased to 31. The carpenter and the cotton wearer do all the outside work, as to carpentry and plumbing, working 44 hours per week. And they want to know if that is the code price for their work, or if they’re being underpaid. Hoping you will be able 72:00to furnish them with this desired information in the near future.”

GEORGE STONEY: So you’re right into the middle of, uh, trying to help a group of people. Now, how would you meet those people? Would they come to a local meeting or a union headquarters or something?

MURPHY: Well, they probably were people right in our own plants. Since I don't know who they are.

GEORGE STONEY: And where were you work--

MURPHY: They could be...

GEORGE STONEY: -- and where were you working at that time?

MURPHY: At the Acme. [Was I still?] working?

GEORGE STONEY: Well, this is a remarkable thing to me, is that here you are, not only signing your name, but being a -- an instrument of -- of bringing action against the employer, and you’re still working at the Acme.

73:00

MURPHY: Yeah. I never was afraid of my job. I never had any fear of it. I would be fire-- or I wouldn’t’ve done this. I knew I was right. (laughter)

GEORGE STONEY: That’s what -- that’s what just baffles me, is that here you are, (laughs) just -- just doing it.

MURPHY: Yeah, just doing it.

GEORGE STONEY: Yeah.

MURPHY: Yeah.

GEORGE STONEY: How do you feel about that now?

MURPHY: I feel good about it. Yeah. If I had been wrong, and if they had denied all of this, I probably would have been -- uh, feel that I was sticking my nose where I had no business. But in as much as they recognized it -- and, uh, some of it was, uh, taken care of -- I feel like that we were in the right. I’d do it again, if I saw somebody, uh, being overlooked.

GEORGE STONEY: What happened to your father?

74:00

MURPHY: Uh, he died. He worked, uh, right up to the very last, at Acme Mill.

GEORGE STONEY: Was there any repercussions for him?

MURPHY: No. Mm-mm. Never lost a friend.

GEORGE STONEY: And the management?

MURPHY: The management was just, uh -- well, talking about management. Joe Duncan, as I have said so many times, he was most active in our church. And he -- even after this, um, we were out of a pastor. And he nominated -- got up from in the floor at the church, and nom-- and, uh -- and appointed me as one of the search committees for our next preacher. So he didn’t -- I guess he didn’t think I was all that bad. (laughter) And we -- we found one.

75:00

GEORGE STONEY: Well, now, I hope you won’t take offense when I put it this way, but so many people have told us that only the trashy people supported the union. And then we meet you, and we hear about your father. What do you -- what should we say about that?

MURPHY: I would say they are wrong. There were a lot of fine people who worked in the mill. Now, I -- I also feel that there were a lot of plants where they had people who -- who had never had a chance to get ahead. They didn’t have the, uh, uh, push and drive within themselves to try to do anything else. And -- and they’re a victim of circumstances, some people. And -- and I think that -- that, in the area where we were, that we had some of the finest people. They were poor, but they had high morals. They had a feeling for humanity. 76:00They supported the, uh, organizations of the community. My mother had a -- a cir-- a circle in our church that was named after her -- after this.

GEORGE STONEY: Hmm.

MURPHY: It was called that. Oh -- and I’m sure this is not true with everybody. I’m sure that -- I think an individual, sometimes, can antagonize people, you know? And, uh, maybe cause some trouble. And I know you’ve heard the other side --

GEORGE STONEY: Mm-hmm.

MURPHY: -- more than you’ve heard my side.

GEORGE STONEY: Right. Yeah.

MURPHY: [And then, uh?], people are just, uh -- people are -- are accustomed to 77:00following the leader, in most cases. And the leaders are the people they have respect for. Joe Duncan -- as I said, he was one of the wheels. I mean, the Linebergers in Belmont thought that he was, uh, a great person. He had a son who was one of the, um, officials at the plant. Uh, and his opinion meant something. And I -- I was in his house time after time during the time we were on strike. I mean, during the time that -- I left over there one day, and I said, “I got to go to the union meeting.” He said, “You gonna let me go with you?” I said, “No, I guess you better not go tonight.” (laughter) You 78:00know, (inaudible). And his daughter, who was my friend, said, “Daddy, do you care if I go?” And, uh, he said, “I guess you better not.” He was -- he figured he might get fired if she went. (laughter) But she was, uh, uh -- she was an organist, uh -- I mean, a pianist -- at our church, and played for my daddy for many, many years. And there was no feeling -- Daddy would go to a meeting on Friday night, and he’d go back on Saturday night, come in there Sunday morning, and he and Viola would be the best friends. Was never any feeling.

GEORGE STONEY: But the amazing thing to me is that in almost every other situation we’ve hit, there were a lot of firings. For example, in the Grove, uh, Mr. Moore’s father, who was president of the local, had to leave town. In 79:00fact, there was a kind of deal, “If you will leave town, we’ll lay off some of the other people, but we’ll take everybody else back.” Uh, the -- Mr. Moore himself was out for 6 months. Secretary of the local was out for 11 months. But everybody else went back. That’s why we -- this seems to be an unusual situation.

MURPHY: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.

HELFAND: I don’t have names here, but this is a case that was filed soon after the strike here.

GEORGE STONEY: Yes, this is from, uh -- addressed to A.C. Lineberger, from Acme Spinning, and this is submitted by -- by Mr. Lisk. You want to read that out?

80:00

MURPHY: “Discrimination in hiring. We have about 8 or 10, uh, of our workers who have been fired in the past week. Brother Williams, invest- investigator, who said that he would be glad to handle the case, just as soon as the board notifies him to do so. I think that Brother Williams will get this case straightened out without any further action.” Submitted (inaudible) Lisk. Mm-hmm.

GEORGE STONEY: So, Mr. Lisk was submitting some material for some of the people who he felt at the time were being discriminated against.

MURPHY: And -- and he may be right. Uh, because, uh, the Linebergers owned a lot of mills, like five or six in this area here. So, uh, he may be right. And I guess he is.

81:00

GEORGE STONEY: Now, I asked Mr. Lineberger about this. And he said that that happened, and that if somebody was dismissed -- and I said, “Well, [where could they go?]?” -- he said that they would notify other -- if the people -- if somebody went to another mill and they called up about it --

MURPHY: Mm-hmm.

GEORGE STONEY: -- he would identify them as somebody who’d been in the union.

MURPHY: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. But of course that would be his, uh, uh, situation --

GEORGE STONEY: That’s right.

MURPHY: -- really.

HELFAND: And then in this case they enumerated what happened more.

GEORGE STONEY: On the next -- yeah. (pause) (papers shuffling)

MURPHY: All right. Now, here -- here is, uh, a good reason for being fired. Not many plants will put up with any kind of discrimina- I mean, fighting or 82:00that kind of thing. And that is a case here where they were fired, because, uh, of this type of, uh, action. Uh, it might have been because they had belonged to the union. But they gave cause --

GEORGE STONEY: Mm-hmm.

MURPHY: -- another cause. I -- Mr. W.O. Mathis. Now he’s -- he’s a man that went with us to -- to New York, who is dead now.

HELFAND: He was president of your local, right?

MURPHY: I think he was.

GEORGE STONEY: Do you remember him in New York?

MURPHY: Who?

GEORGE STONEY: W.O. Mathis.

MURPHY: He went with us. Yeah.

GEORGE STONEY: Could you tell us something about him?

MURPHY: Not really. He was just an ordinary, uh, man. Even-tempered. He was 83:00not a -- a troublemaker. He was just for the union and -- and -- so, like, some of the others, we -- and he’s from Mount Holly, by the way. And, um -- he cou-- he -- as far as I know, he -- he -- he was, uh, uh, in sympathy with the people who had, uh -- had been striking, he was in sympathy with people who were out of, uh, food and [more?] -- and he helped get food together for the people. He was an instrument of peace, uh, in this area. He says -- [he says?], “I have talked with Mr. Lisk, the organizer, and he was -- and he has told me that, in his opinion, he does not feel that a hearing is necessary, and will do all 84:00possible to influence Mr. Holtzclaw not to pursue the matter further. I am enclosing a statement from the management giving their reasons for discharging Mr. Holtzclaw, and I do not believe that the matter will be pursued further.”

GEORGE STONEY: It’s interesting, I think, that what Lisk is saying there is that when we got somebody who he thought was guilty, he’s not gonna push it.

MURPHY: That’s right.

GEORGE STONEY: Yeah.

MURPHY: That’s right.

GEORGE STONEY: That’s just interesting.

MURPHY: Yeah.

GEORGE STONEY: Yeah.

MURPHY: Yeah.

GEORGE STONEY: Well, there’re just a couple of other things that I’d like to ask you. Uh, one is, I wonder if...

MURPHY: (laughs) “I discharged him,” talking about Holtzclaw, “for not properly setting his cards. This is one of the most important jobs in the mill. I always told him what to set cards at, and often he failed to do it. Sometimes he didn’t set the cards at all after I had instructed him to do it. 85:00I have many things to do in the mill. I cannot watch a man to see if he follows instructions. When I found out how trifling and careless he was getting and had become, I had to let him go. Yarn was being shipped back to us by the buyers, and I think poor grinding was responsible for part of it. He was hard to keep on the job. He broke the rules of the mill about getting off the job often, going out to smoke, to the store, and so forth. In checking his work I often found the cards dirty and poorly set. This made the yarn dirty and weak.” So he had a reason for firing him.

GEORGE STONEY: Yeah.

HELFAND: [Do you think that?] Holtzclaw belonged to your union?

MURPHY: Well, this is not the Holtzclaw that I -- that I’m thinking about. The Holtzclaw that I’m thinking about was an older man who lived and worked at 86:00Stowe Spinning, which was another one of the Lineberger plants.

GEORGE STONEY: That -- just a couple of more things from me. One is could you just give us a des-- physical description of your father?

MURPHY: My father was a good-lookin’ man. He was bald-headed -- he was bald-headed when he got married, (laughter) remained so. All my brothers became bald-headed, followin’ Daddy. But my daddy was a woman’s man. All women loved my daddy. And my mother was a little bit jealous of him, [at all times?], too. But, uh, he found something funny about everything. He found life worthwhile. He found life worth, uh, workin’ for. He loved people. He, uh, had high morals, and he instilled that in, uh, everybody that had anything to do 87:00with him on a personal basis. He, uh -- honesty, I guess, uh, was one thing that -- nobody could ever accuse him of bein’ dishonest. If he owed a man a dollar, he paid him the dollar. Uh, if he could do a good deed -- deed for somebody, he did it, and didn’t expect pay, didn’t expect anything in return. He was faithful to his job. He was faithful to his church. He was faithful to his family. And to his grandchildren, as long as he lived. So, 88:00you’re asking the wrong person, (laughter) for anything bad.

GEORGE STONEY: Well, now, uh, with at least half the work in the factory being done by women, we have found so few women leaders. Why was that?

MURPHY: Well, women are fighting for that right today. I don't know. I personally, uh -- this is not the feeling of all the women that I know. In our church, we have women deacons. I happen to be one. I’m the only woman on the deacon board, at this -- at this particular time. I wish we didn’t have women on the board. I wish we had enough fine, outstanding men to take their places. 89:00My husband says the women do the work in the church. They oughta be, uh, uh, shown some respect. Uh, I am -- if -- and I don’t know when this happened before -- I am Sunday school director of, um, our church. Seven hundred people. Um, I’ve been it eight years. Every year I try -- we try to find a man who will take the job. It’s too -- they don’t want it. I think a man oughta have it.

GEORGE STONEY: Well, as I say, back then, there were almost -- there were so few women leaders. We found a few --

MURPHY: Yeah, yeah.

GEORGE STONEY: -- but not many.

MURPHY: That’s right.

GEORGE STONEY: And at these meetings, did the women get up and make speeches?

MURPHY: Very few. Very few. Um, and you can tell that by the number of women 90:00who were absent from these pictures, too. But women have, um, uh, as long as I can remember, pretty well have taken a backseat. And they have been pushers, rather than leaders. And you need both of ’em.

GEORGE STONEY: Do you remember when Mrs. Pinchot, the wife of the governor of Pennsylvania, came to Belmont, at a big rally just before in -- in the -- in the latter part of August, before all this started happening? Did you go to that rally? Do you remember Mrs. Pinchot?

MURPHY: Mm-mm. I don’t. It’s possible. My mama would say you never missed a meeting, I’m sure you were there. (laughter)

HELFAND: Did you ever miss a meeting? Did you go to meetings all the time?

MURPHY: All the time. Anywhere they had one, I -- I -- ’cause Daddy saw to it that I went. He insisted.

HELFAND: Tell us more about that.

91:00

MURPHY: Well, he would say, uh, “They’re having a general meeting in Charlotte tonight -- uh, tomorrow night. Uh, we gonna leave here at six o’clock.” And I -- as I said, I liked meetings. I liked to see the different ideas of people. I liked city council meeting. I liked the, uh, Charlotte board of directors, [as they do?] (inaudible). A lot of women, of course, had things to do. But there -- there’s -- I think you get a lot of information from the discussions they have. And I just like to be with people.

HELFAND: So back then, you came home from college, right?

MURPHY: Mm-hmm.

HELFAND: Was that it? You came home from college and you became secretary.

MURPHY: Mm-hmm.

HELFAND: Could you lead us through that, and then tell us about how busy you got doing all of this work? (inaudible)

92:00

MURPHY: Well, (clears throat) I don’t (clears throat) -- I don’t know that (clears throat) I was any busier than (coughs) anybody else, but I -- I was- I was involved in a lot of things, church-wise, and, uh, always goin’ to school.

GEORGE STONEY: How did you find time to get married?

MURPHY: I didn’t. I didn’t. We -- my -- my husband’s father was determined that I was gonna marry Kenneth. His whole family -- I mean, they were, uh, so interested in -- in my getting married to Kenneth. So when we started thinkin’ about it, my father-in-law said, “I’ve got a little piece of property down here, behind my house. Let’s build you a house.” We built a house. We furnished it. We moved in it. I worked eight hours the day I was 93:00married. We stayed -- we went home that night. We had $5 between us. My, uh, father-in-law went to the grocery store and ordered us everything we needed, down to a box of matches, and it cost $5. That’s all we had. Monday morning we both got up and went to work. On Sunday, though, after we were married on Friday night, uh, we got up and went to church, as usual. That afternoon, my daddy had set up for -- she told me to quit doing that -- for, a, uh -- our quartet from our church, composed of my daddy, my sister, me, and two more 94:00people. We were gonna sing at a singing convention in Hickory. My daddy didn’t want me to get married. My mother didn’t want to get -- me to get married. I was only 27 years old. (laughter) (inaudible) Well, I was sort of between two, uh, situations. Mama and Daddy were really, uh, opposed to my getting married. They wanted me to marry somebody else. Uh, [that?] they knew nothing about. That afternoon, I could not let my daddy down. I went to Hickory, I think, to his singing -- where our quartet was gonna sing. He didn’t like that. But here I was. I was not gonna let my daddy down again. So they didn’t -- (clears throat) they -- (coughs) they didn’t know when we were gonna get married. We were ready. The house was ready. I made all the 95:00curtains for the house. Kenneth helped work on the house. I don't know how we had time.

GEORGE STONEY: But you waited. You were practically an old maid, according to the way things were --

MURPHY: Yeah.

GEORGE STONEY: -- then --

MURPHY: Sure, sure.

GEORGE STONEY: -- weren’t you?

MURPHY: But I remember, on Wednesday night of that week, uh, our pastor was out of town. And he had asked me to, uh, uh, have church prayer meeting. And so far as I can remember, my subject was Moses and the burning bush. (laughter) Why, I don't know. When we went home that night, Kenneth said, “We gonna get married Friday night, or we gonna call it off.” (laughter) So we got married Friday night. (laughter)

96:00

GEORGE STONEY: Well, this is -- I’m gonna ask you a question which you may feel I have no business asking. So please just ignore it --

MURPHY: I’ll tell --

GEORGE STONEY: -- if...

MURPHY: -- I’ll tell you if --

GEORGE STONEY: OK.

MURPHY: -- I don’t.

GEORGE STONEY: You started out -- and you started out in a [mill?] house. You now live in one of the most beautiful houses in -- in Belmont. Uh --

MURPHY: Thank you.

GEORGE STONEY: -- looking back on it, what’s -- what’s your response to that movement from one thing to the other?

MURPHY: Well, um, I’ll have to give both of us credit for working hard. We both worked, uh, hard. And, uh, inasmuch as he -- his father was a builder, and -- and he liked -- we got more for our dollar than the ordinary person. (phone ringing) Uh, Kenneth has always been, uh -- well, he is a smart -- he is the 97:00smartest man that I have ever known. He knows a lot about everything. He reads a lot. Uh, he knows how to invest money. He, uh, knows -- we have both pretty well worked and made about the same in most every instance. So I don’t feel any better living in this house than I did in the little mill house. Although I appreciate it. I love it. But we have, uh -- we have worked for it.

GEORGE STONEY: That’s what I wanted to get. That “We have worked for it.”

HELFAND: [Oh yeah?].

GEORGE STONEY: That’s --

MURPHY: Yeah.

GEORGE STONEY: -- yeah. That’s exactly what I was hoping.

MURPHY: Um...

GEORGE STONEY: OK, Judy.

HELFAND: Yeah?

GEORGE STONEY: Uh, do you have anything in -- for -- that...

HELFAND: Um, I will, but I really want to call those folks --

GEORGE STONEY: OK.

HELFAND: -- [that we’re going to?]...

GEORGE STONEY: And let’s, uh -- let’s queue down the lights, and then, Judy, you’re gonna...

(break in audio)

98:00

HELFAND: OK. Great. Um, well, I was just wondering about (laughter) when you first came back from school, and you became the secretary, could you describe that a little bit to us? How either you were nominated or you became secretary? And -- and what your job was like.

MURPHY: In the, uh -- the local.

HELFAND: Yeah.

MURPHY: It was very young. I mean, I went into it quite, uh, shortly after it was organized. And, um, uh, one of the men who was, uh, very active, uh, came to me one day, and he said, “How come you can’t be secretary of the local?” I said, “Because you’re gonna be it.” He said, “But I can’t count money, and I can’t write.” (laughter) I said, “I’ll tell you, I’ll count the money if you’ll write.” He said, “No, let’s do it 99:00the other way around.” (laughter) So I said, “I’ll tell you what. Let’s just do it together.” He said, “I’ll tell you, if you will be the secretary, if you’ll do the whole bit, I’ll take the money to the bank.” (laughter) So that became -- and then they brought it before the union -- I made the clo- the thing -- and I was elected as, uh -- as secretary of the local, and remained that the lifetime of the lo- of it, which was short-lived, of course. So that’s -- and I didn’t make any money at doing that. But when I became secretary of the overall thing and the, uh, Mecklenburg/Gaston County, I guess, I made $14 a quarter. Every three months, I made $14. It was good money. That was for transportation. (laughter)

GEORGE STONEY: Where’d you have to travel to?

MURPHY: Charlotte was probably -- or Hickory -- or to, uh, uh, maybe to, uh, 100:00Greensboro or places like that.

GEORGE STONEY: How’d you travel?

MURPHY: My daddy took me. We -- we had the -- this whole car. [That’s the way I traveled?]. We’d always try to have five people to go, uh, if -- if you were supposed to have a representative, we’d just get a carload, and anybody else could go that wanted to, but we had five, uh, who could place, uh -- cast a vote.

HELFAND: When -- so when you said you -- that -- the whole thing -- the Charlotte/Mecklenburg thing, could you explain what you mean by that?

MURPHY: Well, I -- I can’t, because I don’t know how many -- all the locals belonged to this one group. All the local things. Every -- every local in Ga- I’d say in Gaston County. And I -- I would not say all of Mecklenburg. But I know that Hoskins and a lot of the plants in -- textile plants -- in Charlotte 101:00area belonged to it. And, uh, we would take it. Uh, a meeting would be, uh -- maybe one meeting would be in Belmont one month, or quarter, or whatever, and then somebody else would invite you to theirs. So we just -- we didn’t have ’em at the same place at any time. No group would have ’em twice in a row. And they would always have people like Mr. Lisk or Mr. Kennedy or -- or somebody who was better than they, to speak and to bring all the news together. And I was secretary to that one too, so...

GEORGE STONEY: Were there -- were there papers from Washington or any kind of publications?

MURPHY: Some of ’em got papers, but I didn’t. I -- I was -- I guess you could’ve, uh, subscribed if you’d had the money, but I didn’t, uh -- I didn’t take papers. They would bring me anything that they thought that I 102:00wanted to read. But then most of the time they’d take ’em back.

HELFAND: So --

MURPHY: It was no big deal.

HELFAND: -- so maybe that’s why they brought you to Washington, to that big convention, ’cause you were secretary --

GEORGE STONEY: To New York?

HELFAND: -- I mean, to New York -- because you were secretary.

MURPHY: That -- they -- they, uh, uh, selected five people from our group to go. And I guess our expenses were paid. And I was one of the five to go.

GEORGE STONEY: Tell us a little bit more about your experience in New York. After all, that was ju-- that was the first time you’d seen New York, wasn’t it?

MURPHY: Uh, I suspect it was. Yeah. Well, I was just overwhelmed. And more so when I went to the meeting that night. Because it was -- it was horrendous. And then, the people who spoke were, uh, people of refinement. People who spoke 103:00well, spoke for the union, of course. There was no opposition. And they just, uh, did it in all of its, uh, right ways.

GEORGE STONEY: Did you just go to meetings?

MURPHY: No, I went to Coney Island! (laughter) We went to Coney Island one day, afternoon, after a meeting. Our -- our one group went. And we rode the roller coaster. I was scared to death. But, uh, we shopped a little bit, uh, in between meetings. And, uh, they would have special, um, luncheons, you know, for certain people, the wheels. And because Mr. [Kennelly?] was a big man in Charlotte, and he had his wife, somehow or other I got in on them. I was not 104:00probably supposed to go, you know, but I always got to go to all the luncheons that the wheels went to, because of her being -- but not because of me.

GEORGE STONEY: (laughs) What -- what happened at the luncheons?

MURPHY: Well, it’d be some more speeches. More speeches. More, uh, tabulating how many people were there, and how many people had, uh, come from states, and who was -- who was there from the farthest place, who had the most representatives.

GEORGE STONEY: Do you remember any of the people from Alabama?

MURPHY: Mmm.

GEORGE STONEY: I ask that because Alabama went on strike in the middle of July. So when they came up, they had already been on strike for a while.

MURPHY: Mm-mm.

GEORGE STONEY: And they bragged about that. I just wondered if you remembered.

MURPHY: No. I just -- it was just one of the biggest meetings that I had ever 105:00attended. The most people. And -- and, uh, um, oddly enough, I was -- I was really surprised, because I tho-- now, these people are from -- from mill -- from mills. You know. And -- and, you know, they liked to characterize you as bein’, uh, lintheads. Well, I told -- when I told Mr. Lisk this, I said, “You know, one of the reasons I can’t go is I don’t have anything to wear.” And, uh, Mrs. -- Mrs. Kennedy said, “Well, I’m just gonna wear what I wear, you know, at church, and places like that.” So I don’t think either one of us bought anything to wear, because that was -- we didn’t have to. But the people at that convention center, especially the women, were well dressed. I don’t mean overly so, but they -- and I told her, I said, “I 106:00cannot believe they call these people lintheads.” And Mr. Kennedy said, “But you see, this is the cream of the crop of the lintheads.” (laughter) And -- and I -- and I guess, uh, that’s what he felt. They were fighting for a cause, and they were there.

GEORGE STONEY: A lot of them came from New England, of course --

MURPHY: Oh yeah.

GEORGE STONEY: -- where they’d had unions for some time.

MURPHY: Yeah. Uh-huh. Mm-hmm. I did notice that one -- one night we were in a hotel room -- room -- I mean, lobby -- and a group of people came in, and, uh, Mr. Mathis and I were sitting on, uh, one side of the lobby, and Mr. Lisk and Mr. Kennedy -- I don't know where she was at that time, but they were on the other side -- this group of people came in, and they were blab, blab, blabbin’, you know. And I said to Mr. Mathis, I said, uh, uh, “What those 107:00people sayin’?” He says, “It’s dog Latin, and I don't know what it is.” But some of them had some good speeches at the meeting. They were very encouraging. And -- and of course, all the speeches were up. You know, there was nothing down. Nobody ever said, “We gonna fail.” Nobody said, “We gonna lose the battle.”

GEORGE STONEY: Did (clears throat) you remember a speech by a man named Norman Thomas?

MURPHY: I really don’t know.

GEORGE STONEY: He was head of the Socialist Party, and he made a speech there, which has often been written about since. I just wondered.

MURPHY: Mmm.

GEORGE STONEY: Yeah.

MURPHY: I don’t remember it. ’Course, I’m [good?] to forget (laughter) after -- after that long a time, really.

108:00

GEORGE STONEY: And the, uh, uh, Sol -- what’s his name? The man be- uh, what’s the, um -- I’m sorry, uh, Sol...

HELFAND: Sol Stetin?

GEORGE STONEY: Yeah, sorry. One other man we’ve been able to talk with, who was at the convention, is a man named Sol Stetin, from Paterson, New Jersey, who later became head of the textile workers’ union.

MURPHY: Mmm.

GEORGE STONEY: Do you remember him?

MURPHY: Mm-mm. Mmm. I really don’t.

GEORGE STONEY: Yeah. OK.

MURPHY: I guess people that I saw one time and that was all, I wouldn’t probably, unless they’d made a real big impression on me.

GEORGE STONEY: Yup, yup.

HELFAND: You know, what’s so -- I -- did you -- is there something you want to say, George?

GEORGE STONEY: No, no.

HELFAND: What’s so extraordinary to me, Rosa, is all this work, and all those 109:00thousands of people that join these locals, and what -- I’m just tryin’ to -- what did you feel like when all of that organization...

MURPHY: I felt that we were winning. (laughter) I mean, I felt like that the cause, uh, for which most of the people were fighting, was a cause that would touch a lot of people, the lives of many women today and their children’s children on down. It was not just a fight for the day or for the period; it was for on down. Forever. And I think -- I think results have been seen. Maybe not as much as, uh, the fighters had thought, but in, um -- in view of the fact that, uh, people were given raises; their hours were cut; the stretch-out, as we 110:00have, uh, mentioned before, became less and less; and I think that people who wanted to work more hours than was designated on their job and needed more work could pretty well get it. I think that they could work over, uh, pick up on weekends when they were working. But, uh...

HELFAND: Did you ever try to organize again?

MURPHY: Mmm. No. That was the end of it. I -- I doubt if you could do it now. Not in the textile mills. Not in the hosiery mills. For one thing, there’s too much competition in all of the, uh, areas. Uh, the hosiery mill has held up 111:00much better than -- than any of us, uh, would imagine. Because you think, “Well, people don’t buy a lot of hose. They don’t buy a lot of socks.” But they’re doing well. And they’re making good money. And the people in the textile industry are making good money. People who are working in the mills today are making more money than schoolteachers. Even the, uh, lowest type of job -- and I guess -- I guess I would say that one of the lowest type jobs in the mill would be a -- a -- I mean, laboriously -- would be a spinner.

GEORGE STONEY: Mm-hmm.

MURPHY: I mean, it’s a never-ceasing, uh, situation. You don’t stop. It’s always [ends down?]. (laughter)

112:00

HELFAND: Uh, you know, George, maybe we want -- we -- well...

JAMIE STONEY: Do you believe that that’s fair? The amount -- and the amount of strain on your body? And you’re saying it’s the most laborious job, and it pays fairly well compared to that of a schoolteacher.

MURPHY: Well, with school-teaching like it is today, I am sure that a lot of teachers, if they had ever worked in the mill, would feel that they are under more stress (laughs) trying to work with the children today than they -- they would have on a single job.

GEORGE STONEY: Mm-hmm.

JAMIE STONEY: My mom’s a teacher, my mother-in-law’s a teacher. I had to put that one in. (laughter)

HELFAND: I’m gonna ask you one -- something fun, in a sense. And if you -- try and be as visual as you -- as you can, OK? Can you tell me what it was like to be go-- to be getting in a car and driving down these roads -- which we’ve been driving down, but I know they look different -- and coming into one of these meetings, with all these people ready to speak about what’s going on in their different areas? Could you -- you know, you -- think about that, and 113:00maybe you could just give me, like, a description, like...

MURPHY: You -- you mean, if I were just goin’ down the road, and I see all these people...

HELFAND: Yeah, like it’s the end -- I don't know, maybe you just got out of work, and your father says, “Come on, Rosa Mae, let’s go.” And you jump in the car. I’m just trying to get, like, a little story...

MURPHY: My -- my father was organized. He knew what was --

GEORGE STONEY: Could you start off that --

MURPHY: -- gonna happen.

GEORGE STONEY: -- “My father was organized.”

MURPHY: My father was organized. He kept, uh, up with what was gonna happen every day. He knew what time he was supposed to be there. And you left in time to get there on time. So there was never -- it was not ever a hurried thing, “Let’s get ready and go,” in a hurry. Friday night or Saturday night or whatever night, you knew. Of course, times back then, you weren’t tied up in so many other things. 114:00 Life was simple, you know? So far as activities were concerned. You didn’t have a lot of ballgames to go to, or, uh, uh -- the church activities was the only social activities people had. You didn’t, uh, do a lot of bridge playing or dancing or that type thing.

HELFAND: The reason I ask this is because we only have pictures of -- we mostly have pictures of people marching, or we have pictures of bayonets, or we have pictures of the National Guards. What we don’t have pictures of -- and we have to rely on people like you who can talk about it -- is, like, the hard work, the day-to-day process of putting one of these locals together. You know? Of going off and, you know, helping people to maintain these meetings one week after another for a year or two.

115:00

MURPHY: I think the people who joined the union, uh, and basically those who were gonna attend, that was part of their life. I mean, they were interested in it. “Now, let’s go see what’s gonna happen tonight. Let’s see what we can do.” So it was really not altogether a hard job. You might, uh, feel that you didn’t get any new members that week. Uh, maybe we don’t have the crowd tonight that we had. OK. Who paid dues last week? Everybody paid dues, so they still held a interest, or they wouldn’t’ve paid their dues. Which is, I say, uh, maybe 25 cents a week or a month or something, I don’t -- it was very little, actually. So -- in some areas, though, it would’ve been harder to organize, uh, than others. There would be -- in certain areas, people 116:00would be afraid to even take their first step to organize because we’d get fired. Or, uh, they would work against us. But I don’t remember that happening, uh, in this area. Maybe in some areas it did. Have you had a feedback on that?

GEORGE STONEY: In many places they got fired, yes.

MURPHY: Mm-hmm.

GEORGE STONEY: Now, over in Winston-Salem -- I was over there the other day, and reading the newspapers at the time, and I was shocked to my toes as I saw that they were -- had machine guns and tear gas and so forth, to meet these -- this flying squadron that had come in.

MURPHY: Mm-hmm.

GEORGE STONEY: And then for the next several days, there were descriptions of 117:00these encounters. The -- all the people who were against the strike -- the managers of the mill, the -- the commander of the American Legion, the police and so forth, all were named. None of the strikers were named. They were always just “they.” (laughs)

MURPHY: Mm-hmm.

GEORGE STONEY: “They came in.” “They had speeches.” “They sang and they prayed.” “They said that two preachers were gonna speak, and they didn’t show up.” It was just baffling to me, (inaudible)...

MURPHY: Preachers couldn’t afford to join a union. I mean, they’d split their churches right down the middle. So, regardless of how they felt about it, uh, I can’t remember very many people who, uh, even came, you know, to the meeting. None of ours in this area, that I know of, did. But I understood. 118:00They had to stay in the middle of the road, and be just as, uh, nonchalant about the whole thing as they could possibly be.

GEORGE STONEY: Mm-hmm. Judy?

HELFAND: Do you...