Legette Blythe and Charles Ward Interviews

Special Collections and Archives, Georgia State University Library
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LEGETTE BLYTHE: Yeah, (inaudible).

GEORGE STONEY: Was there a Frank Graham in your class?

BLYTHE: He was a -- Frank was -- I think he was a -- [I believe?], I think he was in a class or two ahead of me, and was -- was uh, an instructor. See, it was they had -- it was a hard time, they had a hard time getting faculty --



BLYTHE: -- everywhere. And uh, you -- you -- well, you -- anybody that was finished with school, young, too young to -- to get a commission, of course a lot -- a great number of them got commissions, at uh, probably under 21.


BLYTHE: But I was describing a spot that (inaudible) its hard to -- to define what it was. I havent had them yet.

GEORGE STONEY: Uh, how well did you know, Frank Graham?

BLYTHE: Oh, just perfect, I mean just very close, yeah.


GEORGE STONEY: I knew him well at Chapel Hill too. Do you remember in 34, during the strike, there was a fellow named Roy Lawrence?


GEORGE STONEY: Who was secretary of -- or something of the North Carolina Socialist Party?


GEORGE STONEY: And he was accused of -- he was accused of -- no, Alton Lawrence. Im sorry, lets start over here. Do you remember that during the strike --

BLYTHE: One named Roy Lawrence too? Yeah.

GEORGE STONEY: Roy Lawrence was head of the AF of L for the state.


GEORGE STONEY: But Alton Lawrence was -- had been a student at Chapel Hill, he was head of the Socialist Party for the state or something like that. And he was arrested in -- for, in High Point in connection with this strike, and Frank Graham went his bail, do you remember that?


BLYTHE: No. No. I probably -- theres no telling whats going to come back to me tonight. (laughter) I just wonder, I just -- Ill be so full of memories and trying to organize them, to -- but the name, Lawrence, both of them, very familiar. Um, in -- in that field.

GEORGE STONEY: Yeah. Well, Frank -- when Frank Graham did this, a fellow named Davey Clark, who was editor of the Southern Textile Bulletin --


GEORGE STONEY: -- really gave him hell.


GEORGE STONEY: Accused him of using his position at Chapel Hill for -- to head -- help the strikers.


BLYTHE: Yeah, there was a -- it was a wild time, it was -- and I -- as I say, (inaudible) not only on the academic side of it, I was out there taking the knocks. Ill never forget that, that guy hit me, I had no idea he was going to hit me. But he knocked me smack off the sidewalk into the gutter, and I could have -- just could have flipped out.

GEORGE STONEY: (laughter) That wasnt what you trained people for when you did bayonet drill at Chapel Hill, did it?

BLYTHE: No. We had -- we dug trenches over there. I still go by, my son lives 00:05:00right close to -- he lives in -- hes got an amazing property that now, heaven knows what it would cost him to duplicate. Hes got a -- you stand on his balcony and look down the hill, up, down, and then on up to the other side, and hes got a -- I dont know how many acres; I expect 12 or 15 acres right there, maybe more. And that was all just wild woods then.

GEORGE STONEY: Mm-hmm. Yeah.

BLYTHE: (inaudible).


GEORGE STONEY: Well one of the things youre saying here, on the sixth, Howard Paine, youthful leader of the strike in North Carolina, went to Concord late in the afternoon, and his lieutenants reported everything was quiet in Mecklinburg. In fact, no disorder was reported from any mill center in the state except Fayetteville. And again, youre emphasizing the calm.

BLYTHE: Mm-hmm.

GEORGE STONEY: Now theres a kind of funny thing here, oh yes, you remember Elliott White Springs?


GEORGE STONEY: He was a pretty colorful character, I gather. He was the World War I ace.

BLYTHE: Yeah. He was from around Fort Mill, wasnt it?

GEORGE STONEY: Thats right, yes.


BLYTHE: Yeah, yeah. I -- I knew all those [birds?], just -- just as well as you could know anybody, I guess, but uh, how long has that been?

GEORGE STONEY: Well, its almost 60 years, uh, 58 years. Thats a long time.

BLYTHE: Especially when you grow right away from it.

GEORGE STONEY: Sure. Well lets see what else we have here. Next, this is your writing on the 11th. Lets see, did I miss some others? Wait a minute, your writing on the eighth here, Howard Paine asks strikers to be orderly.

BLYTHE: Mm-hmm.


GEORGE STONEY: In big headlines, Young chief of movement in North Carolina declares lawlessness -- decries lawlessness, deplores lawlessness.

BLYTHE: Well now, I didnt write this, then.


BLYTHE: No, this doesnt have a byline.

GEORGE STONEY: It doesnt have a byline, and I wondered, its so much like your writing, I wondered if they just didnt give you a byline.

BLYTHE: Might have been.

GEORGE STONEY: Yeah, yeah. So, lets move onto --

BLYTHE: A lot of that, editing (inaudible) that sometimes, once you hand in the copy on the desk over there, when (inaudible) you, I mean they didnt know as much about it as they wanted -- as they were asking.

GEORGE STONEY: Mm-hmm. Well now heres another one on the 11th, uh, Paine 00:09:00denies mills able to break strike. And this is when theyre trying -- the troops are out now, and theyre trying to -- theyre trying to -- to break the strike. Did you -- we know that the mill owners armed a lot of deputies. They got a lot of people deputized that were working in the mills, and armed them.


GEORGE STONEY: Uh, you saw that, did you?

BLYTHE: I saw that.

GEORGE STONEY: Well how -- how were the strikers armed, or were they?


BLYTHE: Well yeah, they were -- they were -- I dont -- I dont -- dont remember whether they were carrying them. See, some worked in the -- in the guise of -- of protecting property, watchmen, you might say. Uh, thats what they were -- they were called by the management is uh, watchmen guarding the property. I havent -- I havent thought about any of this stuff, in (inaudible) as -- as soon as the thing broke, see, I -- well, my -- my whole 00:11:00life changed on the -- and that was a -- (inaudible) breakup in that, as far as the plans, thats nice, but was supposed to be married the 20, 26th of May, 00:12:001926. In fact, I went to Greensboro, drove my T Model Ford, which I had a Ford dealer some time ago said if I kept that T Model Ford, it had a whole lot of brass, radiator and everything was solid brass, he said if you had kept that thing, itd be worth over $100,000, he said you could get that right now, over $100,000 for that Ford. I paid uh, $500 or less, brand new. And it was a 00:13:00coupe. It had a seat in the rear, so that you got pretty much how it was. The whole world has really -- well, the whole world has just changed tremendously. I guess the world has changed more in the last 100 years than it had the -- in the 500 years or more before it. And --


BLYTHE: -- maybe since [the person there?]. I went to -- went overseas in 1925. And even now, every -- every few days, last night I saw pictures of the street in the -- in Venice that I remembered walking along, (inaudible). I remember so 00:14:00many places in Europe, I -- Ill wake up in the night, or half awake, and Ill be right there, walking up as a its amazing, the human brain is -- and I get to wondering about the animals. I might say they have a tremendous memory and all that stuff. My daughter has a -- um, shes got a cat thats 00:15:00just amazing, as well as a dog. And that dog knows people, it -- it maybe hadnt seen for years, theyll -- theyll show up, and hell just -- just have a fit over them.

GEORGE STONEY: You didnt finish telling me the story about what happened when you were going to get married. You said you got that car.

BLYTHE: Oh, yeah. Um, went out, and went up (inaudible) my -- my brother-in-law, thats my sisters husband, was a professor of English NCW they called it then.

GEORGE STONEY: At Greensboro?

BLYTHE: Uh-huh, at Greensboro. It was on Tate Street. And uh, we drove up 00:16:00there, my sister was going to be in the wedding, she was 12 -- 12 years old. Anyway, I wentup on the porch, and rang the bell, wasnt anybody at home, and uh, in just a moment, the, her sister showed up, and said that uh, something had 00:17:00happened, but anyway, uh, no, Esther was supposed -- Esther was supposed to be there. And they said that she had gone to the public health office to get a certificate, and that uh, (inaudible) the doctor had her quarantined, found out she had German measles, she had broken all out.

GEORGE STONEY: (laughter).

BLYTHE: Just about (inaudible) shirt. (inaudible) mill, and he came just after I got there, a fellow came up with a big -- with a sign thing, big as that, and 00:18:00tacked it on the door, quarantined. Couldnt even go in the house.

GEORGE STONEY: (laughter) Oh.

BLYTHE: And then uh, that was -- that was -- we -- that was the 20s. Anyways, we got married the following uh, in five days later. Yes sir, Ive had an adventuresome life to be so uh --


GEORGE STONEY: Now, theres something Im interested in here, in the -- lets see, yes, on the 11th, you report that thered been some attempt to dynamite here, Early yesterday morning, someone placed a small dynamite charge in a drainpipe under the road leading to one of the mills from the highway, and blew out a section of the road. This is uh, this is happening in Kings Mountain.

BLYTHE: Yeah. It was rough over there.

GEORGE STONEY: Mm-hmm. Well, but not as rough -- as rough as some people would have liked it.



GEORGE STONEY: Because uh, lets see, lets see if on this, uh -- lets see, yeah. Theres a note here, I want to find. This is on the -- the 13th, thats (inaudible) Gastonia mills open, guarded by troops.

BLYTHE: Uh-huh.

GEORGE STONEY: Thats when you must have been over there, and -- and got -- got knocked. But uh, yeah. Newsreel man bored. (laughter) The lack of disorders and the presence of only pickets who appear to be on a picnicking jaunt, rather than the serious business of preventing the operation -- opening of the mills, has been a deep, deep disappointment to visiting newsreel men, who 00:21:00declared that if something doesnt happen, their bosses in New York will begin to think this strike business was just a dream, after all.

BLYTHE: Mm-hmm.

GEORGE STONEY: Which many people, especially the general public, devoutly wished it might be true. Time after time, they had dashed hither and yon over the Carolinas, Kannapolis, [Marian?], Spindale, Cornelius, Greenville, Fort Mill, Pineville, Huntsville, Gastonia, and nothing has happened anywhere.

BLYTHE: And at Huntsville?

GEORGE STONEY: Yes, uh-huh.

BLYTHE: Mm-hmm.

GEORGE STONEY: And nothing has happened anywhere except at Honea Path South Carolina, and they were not there then when it happened. The contrast, this strike, with the 1929 troubles, is painful to them, but visiting Tar Heel reporters preferred the present variety.

BLYTHE: Mm-hmm.

GEORGE STONEY: So these newsreel men, knowing about the 1929 strike, all rushed 00:22:00into Gastonia, thinking they were going to get some violence.

BLYTHE: Yeah, I wonder if I wrote.

GEORGE STONEY: This is from your story, yeah?

BLYTHE: I -- I probably wrote -- some of these things sort of sound like I did. Um --

GEORGE STONEY: See, this is the story as it begins, and goes down here.

BLYTHE: Oh yeah. Well I -- I thought I recognized it.

GEORGE STONEY: Yeah. Tell you what Im going to do. In a little while, Im going to take all of these pages of your stories, well go out and get a copy, and well leave it with you, and then maybe you can -- we can come back again, and we can talk after you go over it.

BLYTHE: Well good.

GEORGE STONEY: But this is particularly funny to me, because we have newsreel footage of a lot of this stuff that they took, you see. And it all is violent. They tried to make it violent.


BLYTHE: Uh-huh. Well what are you going to use this for now?

GEORGE STONEY: Were going to be making a film about this period.

BLYTHE: But what will you use it for, I mean?

GEORGE STONEY: Oh, its go -- itll go on public television.

BLYTHE: (inaudible). Would you have any demand for -- well, theres one that its all in how you handle it, I guess.

GEORGE STONEY: Well, you see, the Southern States Humanities Council, the groups who have given us the money to do this. They and the Smith Reynolds Foundation. Because they think its important that people know.

BLYTHE: Oh, well this is a -- this is a scholarly project.

GEORGE STONEY: Thats right.

BLYTHE: Rather than entertainment.

GEORGE STONEY: Well, they think that its --

BLYTHE: Or both.

GEORGE STONEY: Well we hope its both. They think its important that the public know something about the history of -- of labor organization in this state, and well, in the South.

BLYTHE: Uh-huh.


GEORGE STONEY: And so, thats what were trying to do. And as I say, your reports have been the most even-handed weve been able to find.

BLYTHE: Well, I appreciate that.

GEORGE STONEY: So what Ill do is --

BLYTHE: What I did, uh, I never did go on any sensational stuff, but although I was in on it, but I -- I tried to keep it factual.

GEORGE STONEY: Well, its -- Ill tell you --

JAMIE STONEY: Id like to get you into the business today, because thats what they tell us to do. No bang-bang, no five oclock news.

GEORGE STONEY: But, we have a -- an -- Im going to cut this because well do this, let me show you some pictures weve got. Just a moment. Yeah.

JAMIE STONEY: (inaudible).

GEORGE STONEY: One here. This is from La Grange, Georgia. You know where that is?

BLYTHE: More or less.

GEORGE STONEY: Well, its uh, southwest of Atlanta.



GEORGE STONEY: And it was where the Calloways operated, you know, they had the big mills there. And they, it turns out, they hired a newsreel cameraman to come down there to intimidate the strikers.

BLYTHE: Uh-huh.

GEORGE STONEY: They built a platform over the gate and asked this man to come down and photograph people, or pretend like he was photographing them. Well he tells us, weve -- weve had an interview with him, hes 82 now, and he tells us what he looked for. He says, I look for the angriest strikers, I look for somebody that might look like he had a gun, and so forth. He said, I tried to make it violent, because thats what the newsreels wanted. They didnt want -- they wanted excitement.

BLYTHE: Now you can tell this boy right heres not -- not angry at all.

GEORGE STONEY: No, sure. (laughter) But he would focus, you see, on -- on the faces.


BLYTHE: Uh-huh. Yeah.

GEORGE STONEY: Now this is what happened after the strike in La Grange, is evictions. People got thrown out of their houses. Do you remember any of that in your area?

BLYTHE: This -- this family seems very familiar to me, but I dont know.


GEORGE STONEY: Now this is in La Grange, Georgia. Now lets see, heres some other stuff from your area, right up here. Uh, this is -- these are two women whove come to the -- to the union to get food.

BLYTHE: Uh-huh.

GEORGE STONEY: And we talked with this woman yesterday. The day before yesterday.

BLYTHE: Seems like a, a...


GEORGE STONEY: And she told us about how she -- the food she got for that -- that day.

BLYTHE: Uh-huh.

GEORGE STONEY: Now heres -- heres something that seems to have been a surprise to everybody, and that is how many people turned out for Labor Day in Gastonia.


GEORGE STONEY: That was a big Labor Day parade. And we have footage of that, we have motion picture footage.

BLYTHE: Yeah, I was over there with this, Im pretty sure.

GEORGE STONEY: So nobody seemed to be -- realize now that there were hundreds of locals, of textile locals in North Carolina in 33, 34.

BLYTHE: Uh-huh.


GEORGE STONEY: And that people today arent aware that there were that many people who joined the union and marched in the parade. Lets see.

BLYTHE: You really done some work on this thing.

GEORGE STONEY: And lets see, thats another parade. But lets see, get to some of the others. Oh yes, this is in Municipal Park, now Lineberger Park. And uh, all those locals with their signs up.

BLYTHE: Mm-hmm.

GEORGESTONEY: You see, when we go back to Gastonia and we ask -- show these people these pictures, they dont -- theyre hard to remember then, all they 00:30:00remember is Sheriff -- Sheriff Adderholt got killed in 1929. That seems to be all.


GEORGE STONEY: Now heres your man, heres a man you kept writing about. No, this is Albert Henson, not Howard Paine, Albert Henson, do you remember him? You mentioned him in a couple of your stories. Thats the caption there.


BLYTHE: Howd you ever get interested in this thing?

GEORGE STONEY: Uh, well Ive been making movies about the South since 1946, when I -- Nick Reed, who was a fellow classmate at Chapel Hill, started a little film unit at the University of Georgia.

BLYTHE: Uh-huh.

GEORGE STONEY: And I started making films there, and then Ive been making films most of my life, coming back to the South every once in a while, and so these scholars who are working on this asked me if I would take it on. And so, Ive been working on it for the last three years.

BLYTHE: Well they sure lucky to get somebody equipped like you are to handle it.


GEORGE STONEY: Well, Im lucky because I have a research assistant named Judy Helfand, who has found a lot of this material.

BLYTHE: Uh-huh.

GEORGE STONEY: Youll meet her the next time we come. And also, Im lucky to have uh, my son James behind the camera here, who has the patience to put up with me, so. (laughter) So, this is -- this is the big meeting in Charlotte, uh, which you wrote about. Thats two days before the strike began, and you describe it.


BLYTHE: Now let me see, I remember...seems to me I remember -- now see, this -- theres nobody mad at any of these things --



BLYTHE: -- youll notice. These are probably newsmen, that couldnt be me, could it?

GEORGE STONEY: (laughter) I dont...

BLYTHE: The first one.

GEORGE STONEY: (laughter).

BLYTHE: Might be.

GEORGE STONEY: You weighed a little bit more then than you do now.

BLYTHE: No, I weighed -- thats another thing, strange thing, I weighed about uh, I havent changed, I guess, 10, 15 pounds, in -- since the -- oh, the 20s.


BLYTHE: Uh, I think I have. Not much, anyway.

GEORGE STONEY: Oh, youre lucky.

JAMIE STONEY: Tell me your secret.

BLYTHE: Im just -- I dont know, Ive been active, I -- I walk a lot.

GEORGE STONEY: This is Belmont. You remember where the -- you described, went over there and described how the fellow got uh, bayoneted by the National Guard?


BLYTHE: Uh-huh. Uh-huh.

GEORGE STONEY: And thats in Belmont. (pause) And lets see, heres a scene, I wonder if you can describe for us. Did you see anything like that? Thats a strike relief place, where they fed them.

BLYTHE: (inaudible).




GEORGE STONEY: And heres a man you wrote a lot about. Let me get this out. This is uh, yeah, this is Howard Paine, the many you put in the headlines quite often. See, it names -- names him there. (pause) And this is a scene that you 00:38:00-- thats in Kannapolis, you see, with the machine guns.

BLYTHE: Mm-hmm.

GEORGE STONEY: But you saw the same thing, I believe, in Gastonia, didnt you?


BLYTHE: Yeah. I was in all of that. Yeah. (pause)


GEORGE STONEY: As I say, thats in Kannapolis, and we also have the same kind of thing from Gastonia, from the -- the machine guns.

BLYTHE: Mm-hmm.

GEORGE STONEY: So, all of that emphasizes violence, you see, and what were trying to say is that uh, there was -- this was going on, but there were also attempts to -- to handle things peaceably.

BLYTHE: Uh-huh. Keep it quiet.

GEORGE STONEY: Yeah. What do you think would have happened if Governor Ehringhaus had not sent the troops?


BLYTHE: It would have been a terrible, I dont know. So many of the people, just citizens, not involved in the thing, because well, everybody was involved, that was a -- that was the problem, I guess. The troops and all came the same -- same bunch of people, whatever they were doing, it was all from the same general crowd.

GEORGE STONEY: Well now, in a number of places, including Belmont, there were the -- you reported that there were prominent citizens and the American Legion and so forth who organized vigilante groups.


BLYTHE: Mm-hmm. Yeah. I (inaudible) what the night now, and what the (inaudible) Ill have a mixture.


JAMIE STONEY: Yeah, OK. Do you think by calling in the Guard, um, together, do you think the Guard caused more problems than they stopped?

BLYTHE: No. I dont know. You can -- you can weigh all that stuff, and when you get through weighing it, you still got the same -- you still got a whole mess of stuff.



JAMIE STONEY: Well, because weve heard of groups of people, such as the 100 [mean men?] who were company thugs, basically private Pinkerton guards, and weve seen pictures of men armed -- workers armed with little more than picket sticks and axe handles going up against uh, machine guns and tear gas. And frank, a lot of times, the machine guns were not -- were armed by -- were held by private citizens, who were --

BLYTHE: Uh-huh.

JAMIE STONEY: -- you know, do you -- what is your opinion on that? Do you think thats why he sent the Guard in?

BLYTHE: Oh, I dont -- I think its just a general situation, and I dont -- I dont know how you can pick any particular incident of a situation that 00:44:00precipitated, I dont know. I guess there was. But um, the whole -- the whole atmosphere of the time is just a -- just -- just a stir. You know. Well, like a -- before, Carolina-Duke football game, or something. No, he got a -- at least, I mean, in the old days. I dont know, now I -- I cant say anything about now, because I cant say anything about it, I cant say anything about 00:45:00uh, driving a car. I havent driven -- driven a car in the last 20 -- probably 20 years. And I had my own one, and I dont know. Um, and I -- Ive been in the middle of everything, but just uh, I just wonder what I am, like I said, I wonder what on Earth [Im going to be?].


BLYTHE: Tonight.

GEORGE STONEY: Is there a Xerox place in -- in town here?

BLYTHE: Well, theres bound to be.


(break in audio)


BLYTHE: Its all right. Id rather go somewhere else, anyway. Id rather go somewhere else anyhow. Id just rather get that going, sitting down up there. (inaudible). Ho, ho, ho.


(phone rings)

F1: Hello? Yeah. Uh-huh. (inaudible). What? Yeah, (inaudible).

BLYTHE: Id rather be.


F1: OK. Yeah, (inaudible).

BLYTHE: Who was that? Sister? I thought it was.

F1: (inaudible). (pause)

BLYTHE: I dont know, I just --

(break in audio)


F1: (inaudible).


BLYTHE: A state. I dont know, state, its a state thing, I think. State. Its --








CHARLES WARD: To 1948, 49, 50. The other church, Firestone, was right down the street from where my mother lives on Weldon Street now. That was the old Firestone church, and then the Loray Baptist was up there, and then the Presbyterian was over there at the Firestone took care of three churches there, Firestone (inaudible). And the three churches, Baptist, Presbyterian, and uh, Wesleyan Methodist.

GEORGE STONEY: All funded by Firestone?

WARD: All funding, the land given, too, by Firestone. The building, the land, it was all given by Firestone.

GEORGE STONEY: Now did the Firestone have anything to do with how they operated?

WARD: No, Firestone gave it to them to operate the way they wanted to, and they -- when they deeded all the lands over, they deeded them, I do know that they 00:55:00deeded the lands over. Now, on the one in uh, Gastonia, uh, the -- uh, Wesleyan Methodist church was on Weldon Street. It was uh, my mother lives at 303 now, the first house on the right, as you go off of Weldon, off of Second Avenue, as you go up there about 10 houses, the church was -- was standing there.

GEORGE STONEY: Mm-hmm, 303 uh --

WARD: Its where my mother lives.

GEORGE STONEY: -- whats the name of the street?

WARD: South Weldon Street.


WARD: Yeah, its the first houe off of uh, Second Avenue, on your right.

GEORGE STONEY: And shes -- and shes still there?

WARD: Yeah.


WARD: And as you go on up there, about 10 houses, there was a church, and you go on down the ball field, and a big tank there. But the church was in there, it was a little long church, yeah, and when we get back and you start recording, tell me you ready.

GEORGE STONEY: OK. Were ready.

WARD: Oh, youre ready?


WARD: OK, you want me to tell you about that church then? OK, uh, my daddy, uh, was I guess the janitor of the church. He kept (inaudible) thats where we went to church. So, that was his job, everybody had jobs. Well we took care of 00:56:00the church. And uh, so to take care of the church, I mean, my daddy was the supervisor, thats what he done at the mill. But, his children took care of the church, too. And when he -- he went into the church, we had to go, we had jobs to do in that church, we dusted it, and we picked up the songbooks, and we done all this, and do it, did all that. And uh, every time them church doors opened, I dont care if they had -- they had a church service 15 times a week, I had to be there. All my -- my family had to be there. We didnt have any choice, uh, we -- were told wed be there. And they made me do those things. And uh, we -- the church had the beliefs then, as uh, a kid, I mean some people have -- have, I believe the Wesleyan Methodist church at that time did, women couldnt wear makeup, women wore no rings, I dont know whether you know, they didnt cut their hair. Hair had to be long, uh, you couldnt go to no 00:57:00movie, you couldnt go to -- you couldnt go to -- you couldnt dance, you couldnt -- well you couldnt go to the fair, you couldnt do anything, you couldnt. And uh, I was made to be in those places, and I said if I ever get out, I wont go back. And I seen uh, through the churches, not -- not just that one, Firestone (inaudible) through the uh, uh, the Presbyterian church up on the corner. They were all -- they were all constantly criticizing each other. They were -- to me, I thought Christians, you know, were supposed to be uh, Christians, what they told me. And uh, but yet I saw fights all the time among these churches. Then, not only the fights among the churches, you saw the -- the fights in the -- in the church, the -- the bickering, the jealousy in the churches. Who was going -- who was going to lead the singing this uh, this 00:58:00time? Who was going to sing? Who was going to do this, who was going to do that? They fought over it. I mean they really -- these people, they were mad. Theyd come home, and Ive seen them at home, Ive seen them in the churches, criticize each other, you know, these just put your self off, so and so wanted to hear so and so do this. Thats what went on in the churches.

GEORGE STONEY: I thought that uh, living in a mill village was -- you lived on a mill hill, didnt you?

WARD: Yeah, that was right in the middle.

GEORGE STONEY: I thought they was all like one happy family.

WARD: No, no, no. You had three -- like I say, Firestone had three churches. There was three separate -- they were the Presbyterian, Baptist, or Wesleyan Methodist. Um, and thats -- that was their belief, they -- one would throw off on the other one, theyd get to church, and I mean, because I was a kid, Id say well they -- they -- they didnt believe in what the Baptists believed in, they didnt believe in what the Presbyterian, and they -- they let you know, they would meet out on the street, they were a happy family. You 00:59:00know, they were happy then, but when they got into church, it was criticizing, there was all this stuff was -- it was always, it was a constant uh, I dont know how you -- it was a constant, you seen it in the church, the bickering between people, they didnt come to love, they come to -- one come to be mad at the -- at the other because they didnt get to do something. The other one did. I want -- I want to run -- I want to lead the singing this week. So and so did, she put herself in there. I was supposed to sing this solo.

GEORGE STONEY: Now, when -- when those same people got together, uh, in -- on the hill, or in the mill, did that make any difference?

WARD: I really dont know how -- how much uh, difference it made in the uh, mill. Uh, I know that at times, that uh, I know they did do uh, they would go 01:00:00times without talking to each other sometimes, but most of the time, they were supportive of uh, of each other. Uh, when something would happen, theyd be right there to go with the others, but then they had a lot of bickering in themselves, but I dont know how you explain it, but it was uh, it was kind of like that, youd have a -- they would be ready to support you if something happened to one of you, or things like that, theyd be all in there to help you. I mean, you were happy and working at Firestone, you were a family.

GEORGE STONEY: Now, Firestone, was that supposed to be a prestigious job, or?

WARD: Yeah, Firestone was a -- was a -- a -- I think the (inaudible) at one time, there was -- there was 130-some mills in Gastonia, I believe. Might have been 150-something, but about 50-something of them was in the city limits there. Firestone was the main mill in all Gastonia. If you worked at Firestone, you 01:01:00worked at the best. There was no other best, Firestone was the best.

GEORGE STONEY: And your father, uh, tell us how he got to the uh, mill hill, and then what he did in the mill.

WARD: Well my dad came down there from uh, the mountains, up in uh, [Royalton?], uh, Caroline Spindale, right up in there. And his mother was down there too, and his uh, sisters, uh, and they worked there at the mill. Now my -- his mother lived with me, uh, with us, she took care of me. And he was uh, working there at uh, at Loray, and my mother, thats where they got uh, married. And uh, during that uh, time, uh, my dad started off just a worker in the mill, and then he went to a fixer, what they call a fixer, then he was a -- a doffer, a 01:02:00doffer pulled bobbins off a spinning frame. Then he was a second hand -- section hand, over a section of those things, and then a second hand of -- a second hand is a shift in the spinning room he was in, uh, as a -- as a foreman of that shift. Uh, if he had say 100 spinners, Im just using -- if he has 100 spinners, uh, those spinners spin the frames, he has uh, say 50 doffers and so forth. Well, he runs that -- thats on his shift, and spinning was three -- three second hands in a -- in a mill, first, second, and third shift, because this run three shifts, Firestone did. And then theres one overseer, well the overseer answered to the -- to the superintendent of the mill, but the section hands, second hands, ran the shifts. And its be uh, the doffers that, like I 01:03:00said, and theyd bust the [rope hangers?], the sweepers, and everything. And uh, the workers in there, my mother worked so many frames, uh, they worked these spinning frames, and theyd come down, and they got paid, you know, on the hanks, and if it uh, as they doffers them off, shed always want -- the doffers would (inaudible) to make sure she had good doffers. Because when that frame stopped down, she stopped getting paid on that.

GEORGE STONEY: Now, when -- that meant that your -- that a second hand was in a pretty powerful position.

WARD: Oh yeah. He was -- he paced the workers out there, and he could uh, control their work, so you -- you did see sometimes some of them say so and so does something for so and so he dont do for these, thats about the only thing, uh, you heard in the mills, it was uh, they was doing wrong. Um, now Daddy worked up there -- worked in there until he retired, I -- I never will forget when he got to be -- we called him the boss. Well when you were uh, when 01:04:00you -- you go from the -- the men, uh, wore overalls back then, you know, you know what a pair of overalls are?


WARD: And uh, high bib overalls. And uh, Daddy had always wore them overalls up there, and my daddys a real -- areal neat, particular dresser, and he -- when he died, he had oodles of clothing to cope with. But when Daddy was promoted up there, and took over the job, they told him he had to wear a white shirt. And so my daddy did, he come to work with his overalls and a white shirt on. I do know that, I remember it to this day, my daddy put a white shirt on under the overalls.

GEORGE STONEY: Were you proud?

WARD: Yeah, I was proud of him. And uh, I was proud of him because uh, like I 01:05:00said, Im going to go jump here a minute, I was proud of that, but he went on through the years, and he worked, and he did his job and everybody -- everybody thought so much of him. And even in retirement, he was at quality control, he was head of quality control when he died. When -- not when he died, when he retired. And then he left there, and a week after he left, he went to work in another job, and worked until he died at Belks, fixing clothes --


WARD: -- making clothes for people, I mean, getting clothes together in the mens department, and thats where he accumulated all his clothes, because he loved clothes so much.


WARD: But uh, uh, all -- all those things, and I was proud, the reason I was proud of him, like I told -- I said, started to say before, uh, there wasnt as much, I didnt see, I did see the -- I know there was a lot of racism in Gastonia, um, I didnt see it much, and my daddy told us, always respect 01:06:00anybody, and no matter what it was. And we had uh, black people work-- and their family, all three of us children, all this time, and uh, he made us respect them, and we did. And uh, I do know that the fountains, like -- and you go in the Belks, the big stores, got uh, one for black and one for white, and I would sometimes, you know, would wonder why they did those things, why they went to the back of the bus. Uh, and I heard my dad speak that, but the only thing I never heard -- and this was -- this was a real -- like I said, a real Christian community, I never heard anybody, when the war come along, we were preached, you know, unto about the war. You had drills every night, uh, you had, uh, I dont know whether you knew about the food stamps, we had food stamps, uh, stamps to get shoes. Now I couldnt keep shoes on. And I know that hurt my daddy to go have to buy -- it wasnt a dollar and a half that he paid for the stamp to have to buy a stamp on the black market from somebody to 01:07:00buy me some shoes, because I didnt have any shoes to put on.


WARD: And uh, I -- I got those books, those food stamp books.


WARD: And I know the pains that he had with them food stamp books. A lot of people dont know those pains he had. And I know this. When -- and they talked about (inaudible). There was more, so I didnt hear anybody, I heard them say were going to the war, we went to war because Hitler this, and Hitler was bombing the ships-- Hitlers bombing England, and things like this. And Im just a youngster, but they didnt -- I didnt hear any of them saying at uh, at the times, I didnt hear any of them saying uh, Hitler called all these Jews over there. Nobody was mentioning the Jews -- nobody thought 01:08:00about the Jewish people, uh, that bothered me more than anything, and it -- and the thing is, uh, the way that people talked about him, I couldnt understand it. Id say here it is, heres Christian people ignoring other people, and I -- I couldnt understand those things. It just didnt -- it didnt figure out. I -- my brother and sister, my daddy sent them off to high school with the churchs help. They sent them to Wesleyan Methodist College in Central South Carolina. And that was -- my destiny was to, they said, was to there. And I said, my destinys not to the -- go to the Wesleyan Methodist school. Back -- and there was no way, you didnt have student loans, you didnt have no -- if you didnt have a scholarship, college is never mentioned. I always thought what I would do, of how I knew what I was going to 01:09:00do, and I -- but I didnt think that way, and I knew when they offered me to Central, and I said no, I will not go to Central, and it got to the point, I left home. And I joined the Army, with my daddys blessings, my mother hollering at my daddy because he signed for me to go, and she was still fussing at him when I come back from Korea. I got back from Korea in 1952, and the first of February, I was over there all of 51. And I -- they had a lot of things there, I -- I got -- I had papers, they had uh, my pictures on the front page, and they had a Christmas tree up for me in February, and all those things. But uh, I still, my mother was still fussing at my daddy for signing the papers for me to go to Korea.


GEORGE STONEY: Now tell me a bit about what your father did in the mill, in terms other than just his job.

WARD: Well um, if we -- we went, we go back to -- to how my -- my dad uh, I guess it was after the 29 strike, everybody was really messed up over that, uh, it happened there. And uh, I guess you know all what happened in the strike, I can tell you about what happened in the strike that he had told me.

GEORGE STONEY: What did he tell you?

WARD: Yeah, he told me what happened in the strike, well let me get -- let me -- let me go back here and set a -- set a little stage. You been over to Firestone, you went and seen where the plant is. Well, across, as you come to the flat, the top of the hill there, you look over the mill, its five stories tall there. Um, across the street from the mill, thats a parking lot now, there was one house on that street over more to the left, in the little parking 01:11:00down here at the end, because there wasnt many cars back then, that was just for the overseers and that. But there was uh, one house there, and in 42, I lived there, in front of the mill. And uh, while I was there, Id uh, while -- while the time that I was -- I was in that, my grandmother died there, but if you lived and come off of that hill, and come down, over on the right, left, theres a park, you know, the playground.


WARD: There was a swimming pool in there that was about a -- a foot up to where we could go and play, and there was a merry-go-round, and things, and there was a little hut there for the kids. Well the next block over in front of it, there was a -- a community house, a community building, thats a parking lot now, but it was a big community house there. And across the street in front of that 01:12:00community house, there was two houses, one little house, and one on the corner, thats Mr. [Pashmores?] house, thats where Mr. Pashmore lived. And uh, I dont know whether his family still lives there and has that property now, but thats where they lived was right there, across the street on the next -- see the street running down there, and then right up across the street there is -- in the strike, (inaudible) getting to it, thats where then, my mother, Daddy, and grandmother lived. Well over in front of that community house is where the National Guard set up their tents and the things when they came into Gastonia. Now, from what they told me, my daddy said that the strike came in, and it was a -- a Communist-lead textile workers union, that was the name he 01:13:00called it. And he told me that uh, they come in and they just did from one thing to the other, signing people up and getting them into the union, and he said that uh, he told me how people -- people knew about it, and how uh, because they brought a lot of outsiders came in, and uh, there was a -- there were a lot of fights going on, and uh, he said that the uh, they had a -- he wasnt -- he wasnt in it, he didnt -- he didnt go up there and participate in -- in the, in the fights and things. My daddy wasnt that kind of person. And uh, he said that the night that -- he told me the night that the shooting occurred, and uh, that the -- the people had planned on going in there, those are the 01:14:00words he told me, they were going to bomb the mill, with the things. And as they would go bom the mill, uh, the 100 Club, there was 100 people in the -- what they called 100 Club that was to protect the mill. And uh, they fired into the 100 Club, and the 100 Club uh, with the chief of police, was over with the 100 Club, it was protecting the mill, they fired uh, back, the chief of police was killed over on this side. And Ella Mae Wiggins, I believe it was her name, Wiggins, I know that she was from Vesper City, not Gastonia, she was from Vesper City, she was on the truck that was coming to bomb the mill. Now thats the 01:15:00way they told -- told it to me.

GEORGE STONEY: Now, did your father tell you any more about what the 100 Club was?

WARD: Yeah, he told me the 100 Club was the uh, the strikers was trying to guarantee protection for the -- for the mill, and for the people there.

GEORGE STONEY: Who was in the 100 Club?

WARD: I dont know.


WARD: I really dont know anybody else in -- in the 100 Club other than -- I didnt ask if he knew, of course, my mother might know some of the uh, 100 Club. Uh, but I would imagine its the same people that I knew that were a little more um, physical than my daddy. My daddy wasnt a -- a real physical type, but -- so I would think that it was uh, it was those guys and it would be the same -- the same men that were grouped around my daddy, and Id think itd be the same men that uh, ran his uh, Golden Rule association, which were going to get up to it. I would think all of those were the same, and I 01:16:00-- that were in the -- the 100 Club, thats the way they put it to me.

GEORGE STONEY: Mm-hmm. But they were all employees of the company?

WARD: They were employees of the company. And the outsiders was the union, uh, was the union brought in those outsiders. And uh, we -- of course, I know there was some strikers in there, had to be. Because I dont guess they could have had a strike without it, I mean we -- I dont know back then, but uh, I know that they were the -- they called them strikers, um, but uh, its like this woman was in there.

GEORGE STONEY: Now one thing I could never figure out, just talking about that 29 strike, it was clearly Communists.

WARD: Yeah.

GEORGE STONEY: Uh, it was not a secret that it was Communists.


GEORGE STONEY: How in the Dickens did they get people who were so closely 01:17:00identified with Christianity to go along?

WARD: You got a good point there, one of the best Ive seen. How do you get Christians to say one thing and do another?


WARD: How do you get Christians to say get up on the pulpit and be a -- be a head of a whole denomination and say another man thats -- thats another faith wont go to Heaven?


WARD: His prayers are not heard, how do you get that?


WARD: God didnt put you on the Earth to do those things.


WARD: But uh, I -- I -- we believe he put us on here to have wars, and to do these things. Thats what -- thats what it comes down to, hes -- hes kind of busy, they think were only here to have -- have wars and fight, he said hes a man that loves, I cant understand, if hes a man of love, and why are they going to be fighting all these wars? Weve got wars fighting right now, Protestants and Catholics fighting over in Ireland.

GEORGE STONEY: Thats right.

WARD: Thats all it is, a fight. Every war youve seen has been Christian-related. Look in Beirut now. Look at all them wars, theyre holy 01:18:00wars. If thats holy war, thats what God wants. I mean, I -- I dont uh, I dont see that. Uh, and I dont see uh, a -- well, I dont want to go into other -- other beliefs, but I -- I -- I just dont see it, thats -- how that happened, and everybody knew that that was a Communist-lead -- lead strike.

GEORGE STONEY: Now, could you tell me then, after that, uh, when the unions tried to come in again around 33.

WARD: Thirty-four, 33, 34.

GEORGE STONEY: Thats right. It started -- you see, the way it started as far as the historians tell me is that the NRA came in, Roosevelts thing.

WARD: Thats right. President Roosevelt came in.

GEORGE STONEY: And they had a -- a code for the textile industry, which says that theyre going to reduce the hours of work --

WARD: Work.

GEORGE STONEY: -- from 60 to 40, they were going to put a minimum wage of -- of $11.

WARD: Well I -- I --


GEORGE STONEY: And theyre going to do away with child labor, and theyre going to limit --

WARD: You know it took a long thing -- time though for that to go on up.

GEORGE STONEY: Yeah. Thats right. They were going to limit the hours that a machine could operate to 80, so they wouldnt have over-production, and the big thing for this was that -- was a section called 7A, which says that the -- that unions were -- had a right to exist, the people had a right to form unions.

WARD: Thats right. Now people had the right to form unions, but now if you remember, I dont know whether you remember or not, but uh, in that strike of 34, that wasnt just Firestone, see that strike of 34, I dont know how far it reached.

GEORGE STONEY: All over the country.

WARD: Well thats what Im saying, I dont know it, so that wouldnt be -- you cant say that was just Firestones un -- uneasiness --

GEORGE STONEY: Thats right.

WARD: -- because what my daddy told me, Firestone closed its doors when the -- 01:20:00when they called the strike all over the country, all over uh, his area, is what he told me. And -- but I know that it wasnt just Firestone, now I know that some people didnt honor that strike, and Cannon mills in Kannapolis didnt. Dan River Cotton Mill, in Dan, Virginia, didnt. Because uh, my daddy went to Kannapolis and worked during that strike. And now, that wasnt a -- a mean shooting, like -- like the other, but uh, he went to Kannapolis and worked, my uncle, my mothers brother, went to Dan River and worked. Uh, he came back, they both came back, (inaudible) Firestone opened the doors, and I know Kannapolis then tried to get my daddy back up there to -- to work, and my uncle stayed just a little while at Firestone, and he left and went back to Dan River, 01:21:00and I know Dan River offered my daddy um, a whole series of jobs if he would go there. And I know Kannapolis did, my daddy said for his family, he would stay with Firestone. And when he came back, thats when we got to the Golden Rule Association.

GEORGE STONEY: Tell me about the Golden Rule Club.


HELFAND: (inaudible).


WARD: Well um, I -- Im not -- Id have to look at those -- I havent read those papers but uh, once maybe, and uh, but I know --

GEORGE STONEY: Start off with saying the Golden Rule Club.

WARD: The Golden Rule Association was started back in maybe 30-- the last -- 35, 36, 37, right in there. Id have to look at these -- my papers that Ive got in the room in here, that my daddy has the meetings of those uh, meetings. What that was is, uh, they had -- they had to have a way, they didnt have a union, they had to have a way to get to management, to tell 01:22:00management things that they needed, what was happening. What really, what the problems was. And to help each other, that was uh, that was why it was the Golden Rule Association. Its like, we go back to this uh, religious bickering, you go to the golden rule, still put the uh, people that worked for the mill back into uh, one body. They bickered at church, but they were in one body when they come to the mill. Uh, they -- you didnt mess with the mill, with Firestone employees there, that was just it. And uh, so uh, my dad started the Golden Rule Association, he helped start it. He become the first president of it. He was elected president the first -- of the Golden Rule Association, thats how the name come out, the golden rule, we gonna live by -- it was 01:23:00always said, live by the golden rule. You had rulers that said golden rule.


WARD: And he lived by the golden rule. And do unto others as youd have them do unto you. That was the golden rule.

GEORGE STONEY: Tell us what they did.

WARD: All rght, they -- they formed, and when they had agreements, they went to Mr. [McCabe?], he was the superintendent of the mill. My dad went to him, to him personally, tell him what the problems. McCabe would say, Ill get back to you. He got back, and -- and hed straighten them out. If they had a problem, I think the first thing I read about in that book was in a weaving room. I had an uncle that was head of the weaving room, and uh, they had a problem in the weaving room, and instead of going to my uncle, they went to the boss, you know, the big boss. And told him what the problem was, that -- something about working the workers too much, or doing this and that, and the machines, and they fixed it. Well the next thing, they took up the dues, they 01:24:00didnt have -- there wasnt much money, I can tell you what it is in the bank in a little bit. Uh, they -- they took these -- this money and fetched, somebody couldnt pay a -- somebody had to go to a doctor or something, didnt have any money, they -- there was no insurance or nothing back then. They paid -- helped pay them -- helped that family pay the bills. Theyd take some food to the families that didnt have uh, food. Uh, people did those things back then, that was what the golden rule was. Churches done those things back then.

GEORGE STONEY: Now did uh, the mills, the mill contribute to the Golden Rule Club?

WARD: No. Uh, this was the people, thats what the -- but the people were telling the Golden Rule we want these things, we want you to start giving us some of these things, so the mill went to them, they telling the mill they wanted insurance, they wanted to get some form of help. And the mills give them 01:25:00-- this is what led all around to getting these things. They were telling the mill what they needed, they were holding uh, dances down there, which my -- my daddy couldnt go, or didnt go to, and hes the president of the Golden Rule Association. They would hold, and he would have a dance down at the clubhouse for people to come to and pay a little bit of money, to make money for the Golden Rule Association. Yet we couldnt go because of our religion, you see. And theyd hold fish fries -- uh, fish fries and different things like that.

GEORGE STONEY: Now that -- you have a kind of a gazebo thing out where the band used to play.

WARD: Yeah.

GEORGE STONEY: Whats that, the --

WARD: Uh, the band played -- that was down at the, uh, on the other side of the park there was a little gazebo out there, on the other side of the park. After it went, the uh, used to be a lot of -- there was a big dormitory in there, too, right where that -- its behind, over beside that park, you know, its a -- 01:26:00I think its still a field in there.


WARD: Then on up the street, the second -- Franklin Avenue there, there was a big dormitory for single men, it had three uh, three sections in that dormitory if I remember correctly. And thats where people that worked in the mill uh, that didnt have families, they lived in the uh, dormitory. Other people had families, they lived in the houses, and of course, uh, Firestone was -- like I say, theyre a community, the reason nobody in Gastonia compare with Firestone, their houses was kept up, they uh, um, they painted their houses, if you needed a plumber, you called the mill, there was a plumbing department, if you needed an electrician, you called an electrician, electrical department, and all that came in there, and it was so much on the paycheck, pay envelope 01:27:00deducted. Say uh, so much per room for the house. Your utilities was paid out of your pay -- paycheck, there was no individual billings, uh, back uh, back then. It came on that, and I -- I think my mothers still got some of those paychecks. But uh, that was all come out of there, Ive seen these uh, when shed come -- when she would come out of the mill, I would run across the street there to meet her at the gate, when I lived in front of the mill, and Id go to the gate to meet my mother, because she took care of the -- the lamps, and what Id always -- you ask for was your payday nickel. And my mother gave you a nickel out of her paycheck, her pay stub, and shed take it out of her uh, apron pocket, and shed open the little black envelope out and give you the uh, the nickel. And uh, everything was, you -- I worked around the corner there from the time I was uh, about his age, I -- I worked the floors (inaudible). And Id go in, in the morning, before I went to school, I was 01:28:00down in the street there, and Id feed the birds and water pot plants and go to school. But then there was -- it was a town, like right there. And Firestone, they called it, youll never know it, they called it Greasy Corner. And uh, they had on Greasy Corner was, uh, right where its a bank there now, you -- First Union Bank, thats behind my house, where my house was. And thats where Greasy Corner started. And that was a -- uh, the florist was back there, and there was a drugstore there, [Austin?] drug store, and then another little store and a barbershop. Well then, on up, there was three grocery stores up there. A little uh, restaurant, (inaudible) five and dime. And it was like a little town on its own, now if you wanted -- no banking or anything down there then, they didnt have branch banks, you caught a streetcar right there in the middle of Franklin Avenue, the streetcar runs from 01:29:00uh, [Graysons curve?] up there, the first curve, runs through there down to -- if you come out of Gastonia, through 74 anyway, and went to the mall, you passed some railroad tracks. Uh, you had to come over them railroad tracks. Now, that uh, streetcar went to that end, you walked to the end of the streetcar, he let -- pulled the thing down and tied it down with the other hand, and put it on, and went back.

GEORGE STONEY: You could go all the way to Charlotte on the streetcar then, couldnt you?

WARD: No, no.


WARD: No. You -- thats where we went out -- you -- they had a car, no, from the -- on the rail, yeah, thats not on the streetcar though. Thats on the rail line over there.


WARD: Yeah, you could go to Charlotte on that. But on the uh, streetcar, it just went that far, down to that thing, and he walked to the back, it was one car, he made that trip, and the buses came in. In other words, we could go for our uh, entertainment, was uh, we could ride the streetcar one time. We couldnt go to the movies, see, and so then he had uh, the buses came, when 01:30:00the bus came, uh, he would pull up to the curb, and he went over -- when he got uptown, see, he turned -- turned -- he went one block over and would take you downtown. So uh, it was seven cents, I know, to ride the bus. That was the difference, it was two pennies difference to ride the bus, but he took you over, uh, the bus uh, uh, took you over a little bit, uh, later.

GEORGE STONEY: Im trying to figure out, when was all -- when were you born?

WARD: I was born in 32.

GEORGE STONEY: Uh-huh, 32, so youre -- what youre talking about is the -- just before the Second World War.

WARD: Yeah, Im talking about uh, well, I -- I know when my daddy went to Kannapolis, and -- and let me tell you something, I know Im not, but uh, I was only uh, two -- two years old.


WARD: But I know when hes gone.

GEORGE STONEY: Yeah, sure.

WARD: And I dont know whether I know it from so much it was said to me about it, him telling me.

GEORGE STONEY: Now let me suggest that your father went to Kannapolis because 01:31:00when it shifted from being Loray to Firestone --

WARD: No, no.

GEORGE STONEY: -- there was about a half a year there where it was closed down.

WARD: Yeah, the plant closed down then --

GEORGE STONEY: Thats right.

WARD: -- thats when he went to --

GEORGE STONEY: Thats right, yeah.

WARD: -- uh, yeah, youre right there, thats when he went to Kannapolis.

GEORGE STONEY: Yeah, thats right, yeah.

WARD: But he come right back then, see, thats the reason he didnt move -- he wasnt really um, I think my sister told me the didnt count that as really losing uh, time.


WARD: Uh, from the job, because he went, and he came uh, right back (inaudible).

GEORGE STONEY: Does -- did that Golden Rule Club have anything to do with the assignment of houses?

WARD: No, Mr. -- uh, Mr. Ed Spencer, I dont know whether you heard that name, but Mr. Ed Spencer was a name I remember goodly, besides my uncle. Uh, Mr. Spencer assigned the houses. And uh, now my daddy did um, -- all right, lets 01:32:00go to -- we lived at, uh, when I was uh, well, we had been in front -- in 1942, my grandmother died in front of the mill, so Id be -- I would be 10 years old. I hadnt quite turned 10, I was 9. Uh, we had lived there for a couple of years. Uh, thats when they first started selling those houses, in 1940.


WARD: Uh, I lived at 216 South Liberty Street, thats the first house off Second Avenue, across from that church that (inaudible) you go down that street, thats the first house on the right. And its -- the number was 216, I know it just like it was yesterday.


WARD: And so, that would have to be -- I would have to be uh, about seven, six, seven years old. And we went to the -- my daddy didnt want that house. They 01:33:00moved -- they built the (inaudible) uh, somehow they called it Newtown. Over at the -- way out the back part of uh, the Firestone village. So they sent us to Newtown, and theyre selling those houses, and he bought one. So Daddy wouldnt buy it, they told him theyd give him the house, and he wanted what he wanted. So, they sent us to Newtown, my daddy didnt want -- to Newtown, we stayed over there about a year or so, and Daddy didnt like that, because he had to come to (inaudible) walk, we didnt have no -- no cars and things back then. So, he walked, and they moved him in front of the mill then. And they kept telling him hes going to keep that, that was supposed to be the superintendents house. And they kept telling him that they were going to keep that um, that house, what they needed for office space. Well I believe it must have been about 45 we stayed there until, until about 45. And they 01:34:00were still trying to find Daddy where he wanted the house. And Daddy took the one that he got, and had two -- 303 Weldon Street, and that in front of the mill is torn down, but its 1106 West Second Avenue. My -- my aunt lived at the corner of -- of uh, Weldon and Second, on -- on second, 910 West Second Avenue, thats where she -- she lived. And her kids, I think, still own that house.

GEORGE STONEY: Now, you went to school then in -- in uh, in Gastonia?

WARD: Yeah. Yeah, I went up to West School -- down at the end of that uh, street, the end of the mill, you go two blocks, and there was a school over in there, that was West -- West uh, Elementary School. Thats where I went to school, and --

GEORGE STONEY: Then you went to high school where?

WARD: I went to high school at uh, Gastonia High School.

GEORGE STONEY: Now at Gastonia High School, you had mill kids, and then you had other kids.

WARD: Yeah, thats right. You had mill kids, and you had other kids. Now that was -- when it started, they built a junior high, you come up through the 01:35:00junior high, it was right on this side before you get to the high school. Uh, dating started and things like that. Now, uh, the mill people would talk about the people that lived uptown, and mill people had names, uh, they called them rich people, this and that and the other.

HELFAND: Excuse me, (inaudible).


HELFAND: (inaudible).

WARD: OK, lets uh, (inaudible) while youre cutting off, youre cutting off now.

JAMIE STONEY: (inaudible).

GEORGE STONEY: OK, tell me what --

WARD: OK, went through uh, uh, I went through the um, elementary school there. And then I went to the junior high, and high school. Of course, I started dating and things then, but uh, when you got up to those things, you heard -- I mean the people, you would see it was like a class uh, social classes, between people. You had uh, they -- people would look down at the mill people, and uh, 01:36:00mill people didnt -- didnt really -- I didnt like it, uh, I felt like that uh, I felt like Im going to tell you, there was a lot of people, mill people that I didnt uh, want to have anything to do with. My daddy didnt want me to have anything to do with, and my family, there was a lot of them. And uh, so we -- we just, he kept us away from it. But, you cant take one group of people and put all of them in the same group. Well see, that same thing was happening in the -- uh, the uptown crowd. Now they uh, I was going with a girl that her parents had a lot of money. And uh, this all come into it 01:37:00(inaudible). And her parents just told me, uh, plainly, that I was mill people. And uh, they -- they let me know just in uh, they didnt call me and say well, youre just this. But they let me know it in the way -- things that we did, and the way they tried to uh, keep me uh, away from her. So, like I say, you cant group everybody into what one -- one does. But I wanted everybody to see what my uh, my parents were doing in their house, and in their family. What they had taught us. I knew uh, my mother and daddy had taught me values that uh, that I know that those people didnt have. I knew that I didnt 01:38:00always agree, I didnt agree with what they was teaching, but I -- I did have to listen to it, because she made sure, um, she had a -- a belt, and some switches that taught us how to listen.

GEORGE STONEY: Now did your uptown friends ever come to visit you in the mill -- mill?

WARD: Not a lot, no. Uh, I dont know if uh, any uptown that come into the house, I wonder where, if any of them did come in the house, they could see what my mother had done to the house, inside, their houses couldnt have looked no better in -- inside than my mothers, and -- and what shes put in -- into her house, inside. And none of theirs, uh, right now. And shes 87 years old.

GEORGE STONEY: Have you ever heard the term lint heads?

WARD: Yeah, thats a mill head term. Uh, that was called uh, uh, mill people, or you were lint heads. And uh, I heard that at the -- I heard that at school, 01:39:00I heard it to me as I went out with uh, with a girl up there, not from her, no, no, not -- no, no, she was the nicest thing in the world. But I heard it from people when I went -- went out with her. And thats when I said what I was going to do in life, which I didnt, and uh, I went, uh, (inaudible) I knew I wasnt going to go uh, Central South Carolina to go to school, I had no other way to go, thats when I went into the Army. Uh, because I knew I didnt have any other way -- I knew I wasnt going to work at the mill. Not that it wasnt -- I knew I couldnt work in there.


WARD: Well, I didnt feel I could -- I wanted something better than the mill. I -- I didnt want -- the mill was -- was an honorable, or is honorable. Now more so than -- than its uh, its a good profession, somebody wants to do that type of work. I wanted to be a politician. And uh, but I uh, I didnt 01:40:00uh, I just knew I didnt want to be a -- a -- a worker in a cotton mill. I didnt want to stand up on my feet and -- and do this uh, job that I seen my mother and daddy slave to do in -- in those mills, and those mills was hard work in them mills. And Ive seen in there and seen them sweat, and Ive seen them uh, do these things, and I knew, I told you, I worked in there one summer, and I seen these things in that there. And I seen how them people were happy to get out of there when they -- when they got out. So, like I say, theres nothing wrong with the work, I wont -- Im not, thats not why, social standing, I wanted it. I wanted something more to get out of there.

GEORGE STONEY: Now, youve mentioned politics. Was your father active in politics?

WARD: Well no, he uh, he went around a few times, he put up a -- a sticker or 01:41:00two, he never was a -- a real -- hed let you know who he thought -- there wasnt a lot of people to ask. Uh, theyd respect him, an theyd come to him, and uh, he had a lot of people in -- in -- in Gastonia that uh, thought a lot of him. And theyd come to him for his advice. And uh, I know, just like I -- I dont know whether I mentioned earlier about when he retired, how all these people come in there, and what they had to say, I was told what everybody said about uh, my daddy, when he was leaving, everybody, not -- across the board, everything, (inaudible). And the same way when my dad died, uh, I didnt uh, I know this, I know that all the people that -- there was oodles of people, I dont know how many, they -- they -- you couldnt hardly get in and out, I didnt go to the funeral home when they was in there, because they just -- you couldnt get in and out, and I know the -- the cars at the 01:42:00funeral, that -- that -- and I went after, where (inaudible). But, I know what everybody was talking about.

GEORGE STONEY: Now, I come from Winston-Salem, which is a Reynolds tobacco town.

WARD: Thats right.

GEORGE STONEY: I mean, talk about the big industry, that -- Reynolds is. And we always know, knew who was the Reynolds person running for office, we always knew who the um, chamber of commerce from Reynolds and stuff was. Was that true in Gastonia, for the mill?

WARD: Well not as -- not as much as -- as youre saying, um. Uh, in Gastonia, you -- when you uh, the one thing they knew, uh, about all of them at that time were Democrats. Uh, Ive never known, back then, anybody to support anything other than -- than a Democrat. I know my daddy said he did after that, and I -- I dont know it. I still dont believe it as yet. I know I havent. And 01:43:00uh, um, I -- I remember when uh, Governor Cherry was governor, and he was from Gastonia, I remember uh, Congressman Bulwinkle, uh, Gastonia, yeah, he was a Democrat. And I remember uh, um, I remember when Basil Whitener was elected to Congress over there, in that district. And uh, I remember when Basil Whitener got out of school, was -- was the district attorney over in Gastonia. Yeah.

GEORGE STONEY: Now you mentioned a little while ago that you had people come into your house to -- to be servants and do things while your parents worked in the mills. Could you talk about those people? Were they black, and so forth.


WARD: They were black. We had, we had -- they called them maids, we had a maid. And uh, she would come in, in the mornings, and she done everything, she took care of everything, she cooked, she -- she um, took care of the children, she uh, we mostly could take care of (inaudible) she looked after us. She cleaned the house, made the beds, and done all these things, mom and dad, you know, the mill opened up at seven oclock, you had to be there on your jobs. So shed be there before then, and take care of everything, and get us off. I remember the last -- I remember being there was uh, Miss Julie. And thats what -- we called her, Miss Julie. And uh, I know uh, my dad and everybody else was -- we always did, we got along with them then, they didnt come around, they didnt have to come around to no back door to come in and out of no house. 01:45:00Uh, they come in the way anybody would -- would uh, come into the house. Uh, I dont -- I dont believe I ever heard anybody in the uh, family there, uh, make racial remarks at uh, blacks. I heard -- the only remark Id ever hear was when theyd make one at uh, um, I guess its uh, basically, about a Jewish person, would Jew you down on this, hes a Jew, um, the Jew peddler. Thats -- thats the most remarks that -- that I heard, and uh, I asked uh, I asked my neighbor about a year ago, when I talked to her last, I know I -- I 01:46:00asked my neighbor uh, she said something about Jew somebody down. I said, What does that mean? Tell me what Jewing somebody is. Why do you Jewed? Why cant it be Gentile somebody down?

GEORGE STONEY: (laughter).

WARD: Why -- why are you saying this, Jew somebody? She said, Well, a Jew knows how to do it. I said, Well, I guess Im a good Jew. And I -- but I dont see how the remarks, I mean, I mean I dont see how that fits in.

GEORGE STONEY: Now you mentioned the Jewish peddlers. Were -- did they come through the mill village?

WARD: Yeah, they -- they peddled, and they sold uh, uh, pots, pans, everything out of the car, clothing, uh, they uh, there was one woman in particular I remember, and everybody made fun of her. But, I remember uh, um, I remember 01:47:00offering her a -- a glass of water one time, she carried a big leather bag, about so big, on her back, strapped. She had clothing and dresses in that bag. And she walked it, and she had this big, a lot of clothing, black clothing on, and she walked hunched over and she carried that bag, and shed come up, and she was uh, kind of hard to understand on those things. And she would -- if she sold anything, theyd make fun of her, when shed ask for a penny tax, shes say give me a penny tax. And uh, they would laugh at her. And I mean, I -- I remember those little things about her, and I remember the -- the [ped?] -- I remember a -- a -- like I say, Im not all, I remember a guy that was an Arab salesman, his name was Salem, came through there. He sold store -- sold 01:48:00uh, anything he put in that cart, and he ended up with a dress shop down in town, down in town, Salems, for years. But Richard Salem, he took me with him a couple of times, he bought me the first dog I ever had out there, when he took me with him, I was learning to sell from him. He was teaching me how to sell. I was about 10 years old, 12 years old. And he was teaching me how, something I wanted to do, I went with him, and he bought me the dog for the selling that -- that I did. And uh, I did sell a lot of things. Uh, I put some chickens on my back porch, I ordered 12 chickens, little babies, and I put them on the back porch with a light in them, and kept them up until they got a certain age, and I sold the chickens to the -- to the market.


GEORGE STONEY: Now, did -- did you people have a place for a garden or a cow, or anything like that?

WARD: No, no, no. You had uh, theres not enough room. Some of us, you did have a little room and they made gardens, but you didnt have no big spot to plant. Uh, now what we had, my mother and daddy had bought some lots, they had planned on building on them. So, we built gardens out there, you see. Now, they did have a little one there at the house where they had a little bit of land, but you dug it up and done it yourself. Now some people had a little more land than others on their place. But you know, not all of them places, got a -- a lot of land on them, and in fact, back then, a lot of them had uh, each one of them had -- had little woodsheds out there in the building too, see, it was wood and coal, they -- they used, it was built -- built out there. And those, when I -- I remember, you know, you went to the -- the -- the uh, bathroom was on the 01:50:00back porch, open back porch. And uh, so, all -- of course, most all thats all closed in now, and rooms has been added and made on those uh, homes there. Theyre -- they made, turned into nice -- pretty nice homes in there. And uh, but back then, when the mill had them, uh, they were -- you -- they were just, just a house, they were bare floors, I know you -- my mother and them would scrub them with a brush, and I remember them laying paper down on them all the time, you laid paper down on the floors. I remember the -- the bedsprings in -- in the house under the mattress, the old mattress, uh, you put paper under the 01:51:00mattress to keep it from, uh, rusting on it where you peed through it. You know, Im telling it like it is.


WARD: Uh, but those -- I remember all -- all of those, seeing the rust, and knowing what I -- what I saw at that time. And I know the things my daddy was -- to me, doing for me, the things that he did, not just for me, he did those, the things he did for me, just like when my grandmother died, which was his mother, he come to me, he -- he told me, he (inaudible). And he said, I know shes dead. He said, Ill be the one take car of you now, and he did. And he took care of those workers in that plant the same way, that goes back to the golden rule. Do unto others as youd have them do unto you. He started that, when they wanted something, that mill didnt go union until I believe 88. That mill was never -- when my daddy was there, and them old workers was there, 01:52:00they could get -- they had benefits, my mother lives on them benefits that came, there was no union, nobody there got them, but the Golden Rule Association got those, uh, benefits. Association, the Golden Rule Association, got their health benefits. My mother gets paid uh, health benefits now from Firestone. She gets her drug bills paid from Firestone, she gets a pension from Firestone. And shes getting that because of the Golden Rule. There was no union negotiated that contract. Because there was no union. Now, Im not saying -- Ive been in unions, I believe in unions, I dont believe in strike breaking. I dont believe in these laws allowing them to strike break. I think thats wrong and I think its wrong for the government. But I do know this one plain, I know that the starting of the Golden Rule Association in 1937 made 01:53:00Firestone mill, and I know because I was there, I remember when they switched that, they come home, they talked about switching it to tire cord all together when the war started, I remember seeing the -- some -- some of the brass from the Army come in there and give my daddy awards in the spinning room, where they had met -- done certain things, and how -- my mother would say how the -- the yarn was so thick where theyd switched it, she called it [Ozenberg?], they had switched it to something so -- to make tire cords, well theyd make it hard, big tire cords, and its so big that that was uh, hurting her fingers to -- to the bone, her fingers is still uh, theyre like this, you know. But uh, I know, we had all those benefits and things back then. And we didnt know -- 01:54:00uh, we never went -- we didnt have a whole lot, my daddy didnt drive an automobile, uh, but we always had plenty to eat, we didnt have to go without anything, we had plenty -- nice clothes as you can buy anywhere. Plenty of food, and everything else on the table that youd want. So, if Id break an arm today, I mean, then, if I broke my arm, they took me to the doctor and got it fixed. I was born at home, when you didnt have those benefits. I was born on the kitchen table. And setting in there, and they tell me, Im sitting here now with oxygen in my -- in my thing, my nose. They tell me how the doctor had to blow breath into me for so long through brown paper, and how 01:55:00my lungs was bad. I dont know what -- what caused it, I dont -- I dont know, I had pneumonia a lot after that as a kid, and bronchitis. But, I know that I -- we didnt have insurance to take care of those things, I couldnt have went to the hospital. And they had uh, I know that on up in the 40s, anything that happened, we went to the hospital, and I had a sister who was going in there, she went, and my dad and my mother would go to the hospital all the time, and -- and she was taken care of.

GEORGE STONEY: How many brothers and sisters did you have?

WARD: I had um, two other brothers and three sisters. My two brothers is dead. Uh, one brothers a year older than me, and hes dead, he died of cancer, and Ive got a brother younger than me, uh, thats three years younger than me, hes been dead since before my daddy died, in 70-something. Uh, he 01:56:00died. Uh, cancer or something like that, I dont know exactly. My dad died with the cancer. And uh, he had a twin sister, and Mae -- Mae lived across the street there, (inaudible) that was his twin sister.


WARD: And they were like my mother and daddy, to me.



GEORGE STONEY: Um, before we go in and look at the -- the books, uh, are there questions youd like to ask?

HELFAND: Um, you know what would be helpful? If I could look at -- at the notes that I took from (inaudible).


HELFAND: (inaudible).


WARD: Are you turned off now?