St. Helen's Interview

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CONGREGATION: He will hear our fainted cry He will answer by and by When you feel a little prayer wheel turning And you know a little fire is burning You will find a little talk with Jesus makes it right.

Sometimes my path seems drear, without a ray of cheer, And then a cloud of doubt 1:00may hide the light of day; The mists of sin rise may rise and hide the stormy skies, And just a little talk with Jesus makes it right. Now let us have a little talk with Jesus Let us tell Him all about our troubles He will hear our fainted cry

He will answer by and by When you feel a little prayer wheel turning And you know a little fire is burning You will find a little talk with Jesus makes it right. I may have doubts and fears, my eye be filled with tears. But Jesus is a 2:00friend who watches day and night. I go to him in prayer, he knows my every care And just a little talk with my Jesus makes it right.

Now let us have a little talk with Jesus Let us tell Him all about our troubles He will hear our fainted cry He will answer by and by When you feel a little prayer wheel turning And you know a little fire is burning You will find a little talk with Jesus makes it right. Makes it right. Amen.


FATHER: Blessed are you Lord God of all creations, we are blessed we have this wine to offer, fruit of the vine, work of human hands, become our spiritual drink.

CONGRECATION: Praised be God forever.

FATHER: Pray my friends that our sacrifice may be acceptable to God the Almighty Father.


CONGREGATION: May the Lord accept this the sacrifice of our hands. For the praise and glory of his name, for our good and the good of our Holy Church.

FATHER: Merciful God, perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ made us your people. In your love grant peace and unity to your church. We ask this through Christ our Lord.


FATHER: May the Lord be with you.

CONGREGATION: And also with you.

FATHER: Lift up your hearts.

CONGREGATION: We lift our hearts to the Lord.

FATHER: Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.

CONGREGATION: It is right to give him thanks and praise.

FATHER: Father the all-powerful and ever living God, we do well always and everywhere to give you thanks. We see your infinite power, in your loving plan of salvation, you came to our rescue by your power in God, but you (inaudible) to be saved by one like us. Man(inaudible) your friendship, but man (inaudible) was restored through Jesus Christ our Lord. So hear the Angels in heaven, in their prayer of adoration as they rejoice in your presence forever. May our 5:00voices be one with theirs, in their triumphant hymn of praise.

CONGREGATION: Holy, holy, holy Lord God of power and might, Heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.

FATHER: Father, you are holy indeed, and all creation rightly gives you praise. All life, all holiness comes from you through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, by the working of the Holy Spirit. From age to age you gather a people to yourself, so that from east to west a perfect offering may be made to the glory of your name. And so, Father, we bring you these gifts. We ask you to make them holy by the power of your Spirit, that they may become the body + and blood of your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, at whose command we celebrate this Eucharist. 6:00On the night he was betrayed, he took bread and gave you thanks and praise. He broke the bread, gave it to his disciples, and said “Take this, all of you, and eat it, this is my body which will be given up for you.”

CONGREGATION: Praise be to the Lord. Praise be to God. Praise be to Jesus.

FATHER: When supper was ended, he took the cup. Again he gave you thanks and praise, gave the cup to his disciples, and said, “Take this, all of you, and drink from it, this is the cup of my blood, the blood of the new and everlasting covenant. It will be shed for you and for all so that sins may be forgiven. Do 7:00this in memory of me.”

CONGREGATION: Praise be to the Lord. Praise be to Jesus.

FATHER: Let us proclaim the mystery of faith. Lord by your…

CONGREGATION: cross and resurrection, you have set us free, you are the savior of the world.

FATHER: Father, calling to mind the death your Son endured for our salvation, his glorious resurrection and ascension into heaven, and ready to greet him when he comes again, we offer you in thanksgiving this holy and living sacrifice. Look with favor on your Church's offering, and see the Victim whose death has reconciled us to yourself. Grant that we, who are nourished by his body and 8:00blood, may be filled with his Holy Spirit, and become one body, one spirit in Christ. May he make us an everlasting gift to you and enable us to share in the inheritance of your saints, with Mary, the virgin Mother of God, with the apostles, the martyrs, Saint Helen, and all your saints, on whose constant intercession we rely for help. Lord, may this sacrifice, which has made our peace with you, advance the peace and salvation of all the world. Strengthen in faith and love your pilgrim Church on earth; your servant, Pope John Paul, our Bishop John, and all the bishops, with the clergy and the entire people your Son has gained for you. Father, hear the prayers of the family you have gathered here before you. In mercy and love unite all your children wherever they may be. Welcome into your kingdom our departed brothers and sisters, and all who have 9:00left this world in your friendship. We hope to enjoy forever the vision of your glory, through Christ our Lord, from whom all good things come. [chanting] Through him, with him, and in him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honor is yours, almighty Father, for ever and ever.

CONGREGATION: [singing] Amen. Amen. Amen. Amen. Amen.

Organ Music


CONGREGATION: [singing]Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy 11:00kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the(inaudible) 12:00and the power and the glory for ever. Amen.


FATHER: Deliver us Lord from every evil, and grant us peace in our days. In your mercy keep us free from sin and protect us from all anxiety as we wait in joyful hope for the coming of our Savior Jesus Christ.

CONGREGATION: For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are all yours. Lord hear our prayer.

FATHER: Lord Jesus Christ, who said to your Apostles, I leave you peace, my peace I give you, look not on our sins, but on the faith of your Church, and grant her peace and unity in your kingdom where you live forever and ever.


FATHER: The peace of the Lord be with you always.

CONGREGATION: And also with you.

FATHER: Let us offer each other the sign of Christ’s peace.


CONGREGATION: [passing the peace] Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world, have 15:00mercy on us.Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world, grant us peace.

FATHER: Behold the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world. Blessed are those who are called to the supper of the Lamb.

CONGREGATION: Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed.

FATHER: May the body of Christ bring everlasting life. (pause) May the blood of Christ bring everlasting life.


F1: Communion prayer.

CONGREGATION: Lord, (inaudible)


Organ Music

CONGREGATION: Pass me not, O gentle Savior Hear my humble cry While on others Thou art calling (Savior) Do not pass me by.


Savior, Savior Hear my humble cry While on others Thou art calling Do not pass me by.

Let me at thy throne of mercy Find a sweet relief Kneeling there in deep 19:00contrition Help my unbelief.

Savior, Savior Hear my humble cry While on others Thou art calling Do not pass me by.


Trusting only in thy merit Would I seek thy face Heal my wounded broken spirit (Oh Lord) Save me by thy grace.

(I’m calling you) Savior, (oh my sweet) Savior Hear my humble cry While on 21:00others Thou art calling (Savior) Do not pass me by.


FATHER: Oh let us pray. Lord, may this (inaudible) the healing power of your love. May thy direct us in our efforts to please you in all things. We ask this in the name of Jesus the Lord.


FATHER: Will the Euchar minsters come up who (inaudible) the sick. Take the Euchar to the sick that they may peace and health in mind and body, enjoy in the Lord’s- in the loving (inaudible) of the Lord. We ask these things through Christ our Lord.


FATHER: We have some guests here today, my friends, Mr. Stoney and his crew, who are making a documentary on the mills in this area and after Mass they’d like 23:00to make some pictures, and talk with some of you. So if you would like to speak with them afterwards, would you stay. Mr. Stoney, would you like to come up? Is there anything you would like to say?

GEORGE STONEY: You are very kind to let us come Father. We’ve enjoyed the service greatly. We have made a complete record of this service and we’ll give you a copy of it when- in about a month and a half we’ll be sending you a copy back, so that you may take a look at it yourselves, if you are interested. Thank you very much for your help. And those of you who can, we would appreciate it if you could stay a little while after the service, and talk to us about your experiences, those of you who worked in the cotton mills, and those who’ve had families who worked in the cotton mills. We’d greatly appreciate your help. Thank you.

FATHER: The Lord be with you.

CONGREGATION: And also with you.


FATHER: May Almighty God bless you. The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.


FATHER: The Mass has ended go in the peace of Christ.

CONGREGATION: Thanks be to God.

Organ Music

CONGREGATION: All hail the power of Jesus’ Name! Let angels prostrate fall Let angels prostrate fall Bring forth the royal diadem, And crown Him Lord of all! 25:00Crown Him! Crown Him! Crown Him! Crown Him! And crown Him Lord of all!

Ye chosen seed of Israel’s race, Ye ransomed from the fall, Ye ransomed from the fall, Hail Him Who saves you by His grace, And crown! Crown Him! Crown Him! 26:00Crown Him! And Crown Him Lord of all!

Let every kindred, every tribe, On this terrestrial ball, On this terrestrial ball, To Him all majesty ascribe, And crown! Crown Him! Crown Him! Crown Him! And Crown Him Lord of all!


Ye ransomed from the fall, Ye ransomed from the fall, Hail Him Who saves you by His grace, And crown! Crown Him! Crown Him! Crown Him! And Crown Him Lord of all!

[Crosstalk and background conversation]

LEON KAY: Morning!


KAY: Morning. Morning. Oh yeah.


[Crosstalk and background conversation]

F2: who’s missing today, who’s missing.

HELFAND: You gonna stay?

DOREE: Oh yeah, I gotta smoke. I heard you talking. (inaudible) went to the union meeting. You was up there?

HELFAND: No, I couldn’t stay. How was the union meeting?

DOREE: I didn’t make it.

HELFAND: You didn’t go.

[Crosstalk and background conversation]

F3: Oh, okay

[No audio 28:45- 33:44]











BARBARA: [33:44] And they were giving me a hard time because I went up there Tuesday and then I visit Wednesday and then I want to go back today. But I don’t.

F3: And she ain’t even taken no food.

BARBARA: And my son told me, “Mama, you can’t be coming up here every day 34:00and you ain’t gonna be calling me every day now.” (laughter) So, I’m wanting to visit. Yeah, I want to visit him, but I don’t know. They told me to cook a meal -- take him some food -- and, then, he might be glad to see me.

HELFAND: Is this your first child to go to college?

BARBARA: Yes. Yes. This is my only one. So, you know, I visit him Wednesday. I just took him Tuesday, but I still was glad to see him Wednes-- I want to see him today, but I don’t think his daddy gonna to let me.

HELFAND: Is he the first in your family to go to college?

BARBARA: Yes. No, he’s my first. He’s my first. There’s a bunch of them that went before him, but this is my first one and it just don’t seem right, you know. I ain’t got no more babies, you know. And I ain’t wanting no more now since he off in college. So, you know...

HELFAND: Well, congratulations.

BARBARA: Yeah. Thank you.

JAMIE STONEY: So, what’s he studying?

BARBARA: He’s takin’ up, um -- he’s gonna major in business and I don’t know what the other one he gonna major in. I thought he was gonna get into communication, but I don’t think so now. I think it’s business and, 35:00probably, he’ll do a little bit of music ’cause that was what he was doin’ at one time. So...

HELFAND: Do you know where you want to set up?

GEORGE STONEY: Yeah. I think we --

JAMIE STONEY: Just float around -- I’m coming’ -- we’re cool. We can float.

GEORGE STONEY: (inaudible)

HELFAND: OK. Do you want to wait until we get [Mr. Gardner?] here and [see if you?] get it?

GEORGE STONEY: Alright sir, where do you think we should assemble? Where’s a (inaudible) place.

MELVILLE GARDIN: Anywhere in the back or the front.

JAMIE STONEY: (inaudible) somewhere under a light.

GARDIN: Okay, right here.

GEORGE STONEY: What about right in here?

GARDIN: Ok that would be fine.

GEORGE STONEY: And getting them all on this side. Okay.

GARDIN: (inaudible)

[Crosstalk and background conversation]

KAY: Oh sure, sure.

HELFAND: And the way you were sitting up was real nice.

KAY: Oh okay, thank you. Where you want me at?

HELFAND: You just sit up the way you were.


KAY: Oh okay.

HELFAND: Remember how we were talking last week.

KAY: Mmm-hmm, okay. Alright.

JAMIE STONEY: (inaudible)

KAY: Yeah, thank you. Huh? That? I don’t have none today, baby. (inaudible)

HELFAND: Mr. Gardin, Mrs. Wilson, come on in.

[Crosstalk and background conversation]

HELFAND: Church is over so you could sit more natural right?

GARDIN: Anywhere you like.

[Crosstalk and background conversation]

(Crew Set-Up)

(break in audio)


HELFAND: -- Mills you just went on into it.

KAY: Oh, yes. I’m very interested in people being treated fairly in this textile images. Black people catch a hard way to go. Not only black folks, white folks too. They got certain ones that they pick on in the mills, too. Speaking to me last week about what goes on inside these mills, let me bring you up on the latest. I was workin’ at a place called [Gru?] one time. It is called now the [American Effet?]. If you get too friendly there with white girls, they’ll find a way to sneak you out the door. I’m a drawing attendant and I was running drawing. The white girls -- we want to eat together in the canteens -- they didn’t like that. They put the wrong gears on my machine so they wouldn’t run right. They run badly all night long. Then, they’d come to me and ask me, “What’s wrong with your job? You’re not running your job. Well, I didn’t know exactly what was going on at the time with them puttin’ the wrong gears on the machines. Around about five o’clock in the morning, the fixer would come around and say, “I’ve got to change all these gears back.” He put the right gears on the machines, then. 38:00Get us ready for the first shift. So, they called me, like I said, and asked me what’s wrong with my job and I said, “I don’t know. It won’t run.” They said, uh, “We about to put you back on the broom.” I started out as a sweeper and worked my way up to a drawing attendant. So, that’d be fine with me. So, they stood there and they told me they don’t know what they goin’ do with me. I said, “What you mean you don’t know if you’re going to do with me? [Eli?] have a job. I don’t have a job.” So, they said, “You go home until you hear from us.” I haven’t heard from this company since about them calling me back on this job. But, now, when I go there to apply for a job, they got all kind of stuff that they say that I did while I was there in my records to keep from hiring me back there. You understand what I’m saying? All this kind of stuff be done to a man working in these textiles industries when they get again ’em like this here.

HELFAND: You know, let’s -- let’s backtrack a little bit. George, maybe you could tell these folks a little bit about what we do here --

GEORGE STONEY: Yes. What we’re doing in making a film about the time when a 39:00lot of people in textiles decided that they were gonna stand up for themselves. This was in the early ’30’s when Roosevelt had been elected and they passed a law that says that they were gonna have a minimum wage of $11 a week, which was a lot of money at that time. They were gonna cut the hours from 60 hours a week, which most people were working, down to 40 hours a week. And they -- the people would have a right to form unions. Well, when they started forming unions what happened was that the officers got fired and they’d try again and the officers would get fired again. And this when on for about a year and a half. And literally hundreds of thousands of people joined these unions. And, finally, they came out on a great, big strike for three weeks. And since then, nobody much has talked about this so that a lot of people who are in the mills 40:00now, and other people who look at -- at -- look at cotton mill workers -- thinks, “We can’t organize. We can’t do anything.” And what we’re saying is, “Look. Back b-- in 1933 and ’34, you did do something. Your -- your grandfathers and your grandmothers had the courage to do it. Here’s a good example. Now, you people -- you, particularly, on a number of levels have had the courage to break conventions, break laws, get into the mills yourselves in the last thir-- 20-30 years. I mean, your civil rights movement in the ’60s has been an example to a lot of people who kind of gave up after 19-- the 1930s. And that history is being well-told. I’m sure many of you have seen the series of television called Eyes on the Prize, in which you showed your 41:00children what happened in the 1960s. And that’s given them a lot of courage. What we’re trying to do is do the same thing for the 1930s to say, “Look. People did stand up back then.” So, that’s why your example in the 1960s is so important to these people. So, that’s what we want to talk about.

KAY: Could I direct your attention to back to the 1960s talking --


KAY: -- about the union. I was working at [Boom Net Mills?] in [Lowell?]. Have you -- are you familiar with this? The man was standing at the gate one day when we going out -- handing out union pamphlets. I take some. I’m very interested in what this man is talkin’ about -- the union -- what we can do for me. I start tellin’ my workers, the guys what I work with, “Man, let’s get a union in here. Don’t you see what this man is tellin’ me?” They called me in the office and told me, said, “You better shut your mouth about the union ‘round here. We don’t want this.” So, one day, I kept 42:00on, kept on. They called me in again. And he takes me into this little room one day where they was having meetings. They also had a projector set up in there. They shows me a film where people are blowing up cars, hitting each other in head with axe hammers and what looked like to me -- I don’t know what kind of clubs they were -- but they was actually fighting. And they said, “Now, we don’t want this here. So, if you don’t shut your mouth, you gonna be out the door.” I keeps running my mouth. (laughter) ’cause I want to union. I was only 18 years old at the time, but it sounded good to me and it would be a good thing if we get this in this mill. So, they called me in again one day after work and they said, “Look,” said, “the job that you doin’” -- I was wrapping the cloth -- big huge rolls of cloth -- said, “We’re not gonna wrap any cloth here any more. We’re gonna send it one of our plants way down south. So, you out of a job. This is on account of the union.” [Out?] do I win. I’d be willing to stand up again for the union. Wherever it would be.

GEORGE STONEY: Where did that happen?

KAY: This happened at [Bull Net and Lowell?]. So, that’s the only experience I’ve had of about a union ’round here in the south. But if you mention union round these mills, they go to shaking. You know, they scared to death. 43:00They don’t understand that the union is a good thing because it’s been brainwashed into them from their -- their granddaddys to their grandmamas up until now. But it’s time to put that a passed and the young people of the day to stand up for themselves because they got to continue to make a living, but they don’t understand that this would be better for them. They just don’t know.

HELFAND: Huh. Now you work at Firestone don’t you? (laughter)


GEORGE STONEY: What’s happening there?

DOREE: Well, um, they have the union there. And it seems to be growing stronger, you know, and the company -- where the company and the union does work together. But, uh, right now they’re relocating into a new plant and it’s a lot of stress and [worration?] because of that. But as far as the union and the company working together, they really are trying. But, um, I’ve been on the -- 44:00with Firestone for three years and, so, I don’t know how it was before the union, you know. I went in as a -- when they had the union. So, as far as before and after, I don’t know.

GEORGE STONEY: Now, you had to stand up when there was no union to help ya. Could you tell us about that?

GRACE WILSON: Well, I worked in four different plants and I stood up in every one of ’em. But the main one was -- the first place I worked was at Rex and they would -- wouldn’t allow y-- black people to learn us to go to the bathroom, you know, without they had to question. You could be there all night if you went. Then, they would call you and want to know why. I won’t go into all those details, but I want to move onto [Buraton?] -- the Ranlo plant right over here. I was working there. And, uh, you know, when they hire you, you have to go on the third shift. OK. I was on the third shift and they would 45:00hire white women, white woman after white woman, and they would be there a few weeks and they would go to the first shift. And, so, I went to my supervisor and I asked him, “All right. Can I go to the first shift?” And he made all kind of excuses and excuses. And, so, I went back to him again and he said to me -- he was sitting in his roll-around chair and he had a pencil in his mouth -- and he looked at me and said, “If it’s left to me, you” -- as he spun around in his chair -- “If it’s left to me, you will never get on the first shift.” I went home, I went to bed, and I prayed. I woke up, went to sleep, I woke up, and the spirit of the Lord said to me, “Call these people and tell 46:00them that you’re gonna file a complaint about discrimination.” So, I called ’em. And, “No, no, no, no. Come to the office Miss Wilson.” I went to the office and they was [ablin’] all around, giving me all kind of running around. And when they would finish -- we were meeting with all different kinds of men from here and there and everywhere. And when they would finish talking to me that particular time, they would say to me, “Well, the case is closed.” I’d jump up and I’d say, “It may be closed with you, but not with me. (Laughter) I want to see the next -- the next higher-up.” I went through about four or five higher-ups. They even offered to take me to Greensboro. Is it -- is it -- that’s where the Burlaton headquarters is?

GARDIN: Sure is, I think so.

WILSON: And out of -- out of, uh, fear, I would not let them take me. I had my 47:00children to drive me to Greensboro. I wouldn’t let the officials takin’ me because I had talked to Father [Matthews?] about this case and Father Matthews had told me, “Grace, please don’t do this. Those people will kill you. They may kill you or they may hurt your children.” And I said, “No. I’m going through with it.” So, I went from this person and that person. I made two trips to Greensboro meeting higher-ups and higher-ups. And the last time I went, I asked them to give me a piece of paper as I talked to them because I wanted to keep my nerves -- that’s what I was takin’ it for. And they gave me a piece of paper and a pencil and as I talked to them I was [droodaling?] or whatever you call it, you know, just marking on the papers and marking on the papers and printing letters and things of that sort. And -- but, anyway, they 48:00finally said to me, “Miss Wilson” -- they had never called me Miss Wilson before -- “Miss Wilson, this can’t go any further. This can’t go to the president. Give me a chance to go to the Burlaton Ranlo Plant and let me examine and see if what you’re sayin’ is true. I will clean out that place.” I went back to Burlaton and I worked and two weeks -- they did clean out the place. They, uh, started with the plant manager, my supervisor, and all of the big things in Burlaton. And, plus, I wasn’t suing Burlaton. I was only askin’ for my rights. And, um, so they gave me a settlement. I didn’t ask for a settlement because all I wanted was my rights. I would tell those 49:00people, “I am somebody. I am proud to be who I am.” And all I want was my rights. But they gave me a settlement. I -- to me, at that time, it was a big settlement. But it wasn’t drop in the bucket for Burlaton, right? (laughter)

HELFAND: Now, wait, I just have a question. George, you might want to ask it.


HELFAND: Didn’t that aff-- weren’t you -- did that affect the way -- you told me last week that might have affected the way children could get hired and not --

WILSON: Oh, yes. It does. It did hel-- it did. If anyone of ’em would leave a mill, it would take them forever to get a job. My daughter, Musetta, was putting Burlaton through a suit and she had to drop it because she was refused jobs everywhere she went. This was what Father Matthews was telling me. We were gonna be affected if I carried this out. But I just said to myself, “I wanna die doing what God expects me to do.” Because I feel like God made me -- he make me the way he wanted me and I accept myself as I am. And I’m very 50:00proud of myself. And, so, I just said, “I’d die before I gave it up.” I just wanted them to know that I wasn’t dumb. I finished high school in ’44, ’45, right?

HELFAND: Did that affect the way any of you got -- could get jobs? Not because of your mother or your aunt?

KAY: If you stand up for yourself, they’ll make it hard for you. It’s like what I wanted to explain to you back when I worked at Rex as a drawing attendant. All right? Now, I’d run more drawing than anybody on either shift in the mill. I was making’ four hours and eight cents an hour plus production. Some weeks my check wouldn’t even be $100 a week. Now, you know they’re cheating me. I’d go to the supervisors of the first and the second ship and tell ’em to straighten my money out and he’d take it the office -- and make it like he would go to the office -- and come back and tell me, “Your money’s right.” I finally took him to the equal opportunities -- equal opportunity -- went out there and look in the books and took the records down where I was running this drawing like I was telling ’em. They made him give me a little settlement of $1,000, but every time I’d apply for a job someplace 51:00I couldn’t get a job.


KAY: My last name is Kay, K-A-Y. I’d pull out the application and give it to the lady in the window. They would ask me, “Is this last name Kay or is it Ray?” I’d say, “Kay.” “We don’t have anything”.


KAY: This went on for about a year before they’d -- or over a year before they’d hire me at any of these textiles.

WILSON: My church--

KAY: I had to stand up for myself three times in these textile companies by taking companies to the equal opportunity. J.P. Steven, over here at Rex, and where I used to work down here at the Imperial, they did it the same way. And each time, I’d win my cases because I’d be right. I’d do and go to torment before I let ’em do me that way because I believe in standing up for myself.

WILSON: That’s the way I feel.

KAY: Yeah.

WILSON: Well, if it meant (overlapping dialogue; inaudible)

KAY: Well, it’s a hurting thing to work eight hours hard -- not even take one break a night -- and be cheated out of your hard-earned money.


KAY: That’s a hurting thing. I declare it is. And you were havin’ to go see somebody to have it straightened out while they continue to do you this way. And I won’t be treated that way myself.


GEORGE STONEY: When you say “they” -- back in the ’30s, the same thing was happening to white people in the --

KAY: Yeah.

GEORGE STONEY: -- because there’s -- there were almost no blacks in the mills then. They were most-- almost all whites. And they were standing-- some of them were standing up and they were getting blacklisted. That’s what they called.

KAY: You got black balled.

GEORGE STONEY: That’s right. They’d have to go --

KAY: Yeah. Yeah, we called it black balled. Right. Mm-hmm. Right.

GEORGE STONEY: They’d have to go to another place. And what we’re trying to do is to celebrate the fact that some of them stood up and also to show that you people are standing up now.

KAY: Right. That’s right.

HELFAND: Did you say --

KAY: Not only blacks are being treated wrong in the mills. There’s some white people that get done just as bad as blacks. They got certain ones they got pick on and do them wrong. And they’ll try to stand up, but they’ll knock ’em down every time.


KAY: But some of them will take ’em to the equal opportunity.


KAY: Only a few, but they’ll take ’em. I just can’t stand to be --


KAY: -- done this way myself. Never will never has been.

HELFAND: What’d you say happened to your children?

WILSON: Well, uh, if any one of them would apply for a job anywhere, it would be turned down.

KAY: And they see that last name Wilson --

WILSON: Yeah. Mm-hmm.

KAY: Yeah. Sure they do.


WILSON: Father Matthews told me that all the big officials of all plants all over met together. “Grace, they will know you. They know you.”

KAY: I came right here when Father Matthews was passing and I was telling him what they was doing to me over at Rex and what I was gonna do. And he asked me, “Are you scared?” I told him, “No. I’m not scared, Father.” That’s when Mr. [Callan Alexander?] was living in, what, the head of the NAACP? He got in touch with him to help him to get me a lawyer, but I took it onto Equal Opportunity and they straightened it out. You know?

HELFAND: Did you have trouble getting a job?

DOREE: Well, you know, like, I worked at, um, my first job at a mill was, like, at, uh, Smyer Mill. And, um, I was young, then, you know. Senior in high school. And, they and -- I don’t know what happened, but it’s not really, you know, you ha-- I -- I never really had trouble getting a job. It was just. 54:00You know, it seemed like you were being in a place and, um --

GRACE WILSON: Prolonged.

DOREE: Yeah. It would be like long length of time before you could, you know, really, you know, get another job and know the textile plant.


HELFAND: Did they know your mother was Grace Wilson?

DOREE: I really don’t know.

KAY: Well, there would have been [another?] one. They -- they’ll -- they’ll pass the word around. They’ll say, “If a Wilson comes here, that’s Grace Wilson’s child. Don’t you give them no jobs. She’s the one that’s gave us all the trouble at Burlaton. We don’t want ’em in no mill.”

WILSON: They replaced that [work?]

KAY: It’s like [the past?] Monday, it put mill to mill. ’Cause they would ask me, “Is your name Kay or Ray?” They know that’s Kay. I’d say, “Kay.” “We don’t have nothing.” (laughter)

GEORGE STONEY: Do any of you have -- did you -- any of you have grandparents who worked in the mills?

GARDIN: My father.

KAY: My father worked in the mill. But I don’t -- I don’t know nothin’ about grandparents.

GEORGE STONEY: Yeah. That’s -- maybe you could tell about that.

__: You missed (inaudible) on this one.

JAMIE STONEY: No. Actually, he’s fine where he is.

__: Oh.

GEORGE STONEY: Just -- he’ll get to it.

GARDIN: Well, my father, he worked down here in Spencer Mountain. Right down here -- below here. And he worked in the opening room. And he was -- the place 55:00was out in, um, just a big, old, open building where the big doors were open in the wintertime. It’d be so cold in there his finger would almost freeze, you know, just tryin’ to stand warm in all. It was just -- that was about the only job that -- that a black person had. It was inside. The rest of the jobs were on the outside. (overlapping dialogue; inaudible)

KAY: From outside to the wild.

GARDIN: -- trucking cotton, you know, unloading the t-- cars. They’d got to go up to Ranlo and load and unload the freight car and take the truck on down and, then, unload ’em. You know, that’d be one to ask them. You know, how’d that go?

KAY: Blacks wasn’t allowed inside the building.

GARDIN: Not even to sweep.

KAY: Not even to sweep. Not even to stick his head in the door.

GEORGE STONEY: How did you know about that?

GARDIN: My father told me. Big argument.

HELFAND: Maybe you could tell us a little bit about y-- there’s three of you here, right?

KAY: Yeah. My sister [DOREE?] and my sister Grace.

GEORGE STONEY: I believe you said something about taking his dinner down there?


GARDIN: Oh, yes. And we’d take his lunch to the mill, sometimes, you know, when he didn’t carry it. And, uh, it would be so cold and, then, those windy -- those cold days -- it’d be so cold in there I just don’t see how it could stand it, you know?

WILSON: And right off a river, too.

GARDIN: Right off the river.

WILSON: Right on the riverbank. And the air from the river would [run?] through it, but I think we got out courage to speak out from our father because my father always talked to me an awful lot. And he would give us things. And after I grew up, all these things that he would talk to us about, it was pertaining to scripture, you know?

KAY: Mm-hmm.

WILSON: He would always taught us, you know, vengeance is God’s, you know. If someone do something to you, he said, “You don’t have to fight physically.” You know, and that kind of thing. But just like everything that I went through with every mill -- I -- every mill I worked in, I had problems.

KAY: Me too. Every last one.


WILSON: And the last one that I worked in was at, uh, Imperial. And it was snowing and raining and sleeting and I’m 63 years old. Had to drive from Smyer Mill to Imperial.

KAY: Mm-hmm.

WILSON: And, uh, I had tried. And I went as far as [Amps?] down here and I’d have to got -- I got out of my car three times. It was so cold that the windshield and the defroster wasn’t keeping the ice off of the windshield, right? Off of the windows. And, so, I had gotten out two times on my way down there to clean my glass off and tried to make -- now, I got as far as Amps and I turned around and I come back home and I called my supervisor. So, um, he didn’t offer to come and get me. But, anyway, I had never at any place I had ever worked had had a written, you know -- wrote up about being absent or never fired or anything. So, this -- this particular time they gave me a written statement and they wanted me to sign it for being absent that particular day. 58:00And I refused to sign it.

GEORGE STONEY: (overlapping dialogue) Are you getting the shot [over?] her shoulder?

WILSON: I refused to sign it. So, I was sent to the plant manager. I refused to sign it. And, in the meantime, I had found out that my supervisor had a four-wheel and he had went around all on Imperial Hill and picked up all the people that were in walking distance to the plant. Even went to Cramerton and picked up an Imperial man and took him to work. But he didn’t take an effort to come and get me. So, I had to go and meet -- I’ve met me a lot of -- I had to go and meet with all the big officials at Smyer or with McCannville. And I told these people, I said, “My supervisor went around and picked up everybody on -- wal-- in walking distance to the plant and took them to work, went to Cramerton and picked up a man and brought him to work. But he made no effort to 59:00come to Smyer to pick me up.” I told them, I said, “If he s-- wanted to see what his four-wheel -- four-wheeler would have done in the snow, he should have brought it to Smyer because I live off of -- down under the hill off of secondary road. And you know that they don’t scrapes secondary roads, right? It’s the main roads that’s always scraped.” I said, now -- So, they dropped the case. I heard no more about it. And I still didn’t sign the papers.

GEORGE STONEY: Could you tell us about where you lived when your father was in the mills?

WILSON: Right down here.

HELFAND: Wait. George, I’m gonna (overlapping dialogue; inaudible)

WILSON: Right below, right below…

GEORGE STONEY: Mm-hmm. Just -- just hold it just a moment.



HELFAND: And didn’t you tell us that your father built -- made -- laid down the bricks?

GARDIN: No. I -- I -- I stated -- which -- this might be incorrect, but I stated that I thought he helped make some of the brick that -- that -- that -- 60:00that, you know, the mill is built out of down there. I think he worked at the brick yard in Mount Holly. And -- and, now, I could be wrong, but I think he told me that he made some of th-- helped make those bricks that -- that the mills were made out of. Which I could -- so, I could say -- I could be wrong.

HELFAND: No. Then, Melville, you won’t -- c-- yeah. Like, George, I -- George, can I ask you a question again? I’m sorry.

GEORGE STONEY: Yes. When -- when you or your father was working the mill, you did not live in the mill village, did you?

GARDIN: No, no, no. We lived in a big two-story house about a mile from the mill. Belong -- it belonged to Sam [Love?], the owner of the mill. And, now, I guess that’s how much father was able to --

WILSON: About a block from here. So, this church.

GARDIN: A stone’s throw from here where we lived. And I guess by him being -- working on his farm during the summertime, then he was able to work inside, you know, into -- at the mill during the wintertime. I guess that’s how we -- he got a mill job. And, then, his son, which would be my brothers and all and 61:00some of the rest of the Gardins, you know, related to him got some outside jobs.

GEORGE STONEY: Well, that’s what we’ve -- the pattern we found way back yonder -- that the few blacks who did get work in the mills kind of belonged to the owners.

GARDIN: The owner or something.

GEORGE STONEY: Could you describe that?

GARDIN: Well, that’s all I c-- I would know that if my daddy -- he truck farmed, which I call -- I guess you call it truck farming. He got part of what he raised. But he never did clear any money. He used to -- I’ve heard him say a many time, he worked six years on the farm and did not clear one damn dime. But he -- in the wintertime, he would work in the mill, you know, working what little money he did have. And the food we ate was mostly raised. We raised -- well, they raised ’cause I was too small.

WILSON: Um, I remember we were the only black family around anywhere that had a radio. They furnished us -- my father -- with a battery radio and, um, I think 62:00for all of this, my father -- well, the big men had a cabin built a walk be -- behind, passed our house. My father was the caretaker of that building. That’s where they would bring their company and party and do ever -- whatever they -- whatever.

GARDIN: I told them all, they’re probably off making their home brew, you know. (laughter)

WILSON: He would take care of all of these, you know, he didn’t bother around the place while they were there. But he had the key and he would go and clean it up. He kept the place clean.

GEORGE STONEY: What about your mother?

WILSON: My mother was a --


WILSON: -- nothing, but a homemaker. You know, she wasn’t a -- you know, she helped with the farm and she would, uh, after, you know -- she’d work in the fields, too, but before time to -- for dinner or supper -- she would always go 63:00home and cook our dinner.

GEORGE STONEY: I was asking that because we’ve found in many places that the black women worked in the -- the textiles -- the while textiles’ homes so they could work in the mills.

WILSON: Oh. No, my mother didn’t, but we did as -- growing up.

GARDIN: Tell -- tell ’em about the washing of the --

GEORGE STONEY: OK. You tell that and, then, I want you to tell it.

GARDIN: My sisters and my mother did washings for the -- for the -- for the -- and irons for the -- for the white people that was on the village. We would go down -- walk a mile down to their houses and pick up their laundry and carry them home on our backs. Then, they would wash them and iron them. Then, we would take them back to them and re-- you know, get those 75 cents or 80 cents or whatever the washings were. And, then, we’d have to run home because the boys on the village would run us back home. (laughter)

HELFAND: It’s you two that would do it, though, wasn’t it?

GARDIN: Yeah, the (overlapping dialogue; inaudible). Yeah.

WILSON: Yeah. Yeah.


HELFAD: Wait. Can you explain that, you know -- introduce that again and, then, maybe you can comment on it.

F4: Well, um, we would, um, you know, we would engage in their -- what -- you know, washing their clothes every week and they would go down to the mill village and pick ’em up and bring ’em and we would wash ’em and iron ’em -- use spot irons -- heat ’em in the flat iron and iron their white shirts and things like that.

WILSON: Well, we didn’t have electricity.

F4: No, we didn’t have electricity.

WILSON: And we -- we -- our water came from a spring. Yeah, we --

GEORGE STONEY: Do you remember what --

F4: -- would have to go to the woods and chop down the trees to drag them home and --

DOREE: Build a fire under the pot to boil.

GEORGE STONEY: Do you remember what you got paid?

F4: A dollar and a quarter.

GARDIN: The highest -- a big load was a dollar and a quarter. A small load was 75 cents.

F4: (overlapping dialogue) Yeah. That’s true.

GARDIN: 35, you know. And that was a big load for a 60 or 70 old [water tank?].

F4: One time, I was -- had the latest clothes right out on the ground, you know, done separated the white and the color clothes. And I was there rubbing, rubbing the clothes and I turned around and the fire had done got in the lady clothes 65:00and running all hell -- color clothes. (laughter) Now that’s the truth!


F4: (inaudible) I don’t know what she did. But he’d burned up all her color clothes. (laughter)

GEORGE STONEY: And no washing away, huh? (laughter)

F4: Oh, boy.

HELFAND: You, actually, had described really graphically walking down to the village to pick them up.


WILSON: Oh, yes. We had to walk there to get a nickel’s worth of sugar or either maybe take two eggs and go and exchange them for a nickel’s worth of sugar.

GARDIN: We had chickens that were -- you know, you had eggs -- and we’d go swap them for other merchandise that we couldn’t [reach?]

WILSON: Yeah. And some people were worse off than we were because we had plenty to eat. Every kind of vegetable, ham, and chicken and we were never hungry. My 66:00mother would bake cookies and we would -- after we’d come out of the farm -- after we’d come off of the farm -- then, we would sit around at night and sing, my father and my mother. (overlapping dialogue; inaudible)

GEORGE STONEY: [Jill?] hold it.

HELFAND: One second. I want to --

GEORGE STONEY: Just one more.

KAY: I had to go pick him up, carry him on my back and take him back.

BACKGROUND VOICES: Yeah. (overlapping dialogue; inaudible)


HELFAND: What were you saying?

DOREE: Oh, I was wanting to hear stories about them babysitting white children while the parents was workin’ in the mills.

WILSON: Well, after we grew up and could cook and all that, then we would go in to walk down and s-- and maybe stay for the whole week cleaning and tending to the while ladies’ kids. We even slept with ’em. But most of ’em, after you could take your black hands and you could stir it in their dough or in their 67:00foods and you could take your black body and lay it in the bed with the child and s-- protecting it. But you couldn’t come in their front door. Right? You weren’t worthy to come in -- in their front door. All that kind of stuff happened. You know, just by -- you were good enough to cook for them and clean up and to tend their child --

KAY: But you couldn’t associate with ’em.

WILSON: If they saw you on the streets, they didn’t speak to you. Right? All that kind of stuff.

GEORGE STONEY: Could you tell us about how you were prepared to -- when you first went into the mills -- I believe they gave you some special instructions, didn’t they?

GARDIN: They did me. Said, “You’ll be working around white women.” And --

GEORGE STONEY: Just start it -- just say, “When I first worked in the mill.”

GARDIN: When I first worked in the mill, they told me to be careful ’cause I’d be working around white women and I’d have to be careful what I 68:00sayin’. Make sure you take a bath and wear clean clothes and things like that. And be careful what you say to ’em.

WILSON: In ’65, I wasn’t given any kind of instruction. But when I went into the mill and was learning, I had been there -- I don’t -- I didn’t keep the dates -- but I had been there so long and -- and, uh, was still on trainer’s pay -- you know, makin’ learners pay. And white women would come in and they would be promoted and makin’ full pay. And, so, I asked him about when was I gonna make, you know, top wages -- a spinner’s pay. And they said somethin’. They gave me some kind of excuse. But, anyway, my brother [Ed?], which is dead now, was an indication of me being one of the first black women to be hired at Rex Mill because he worked there. You had to have some people 69:00working there before. All the people -- all the black men that worked there was responsible. They would -- they would -- you could be at [edge?]. So, my brother got me in at Rex in 1965. That’s when they started hiring black women into the mill. And, uh, I stayed there so long, so I went to my brother and I said, “Will you be made at me if I get me another job because I’m not making learner’s pay -- or” --

HELFAND: Top pay.

WILSON: “I’m not making” --

HELFAND: Top pay.

WILSON: -- “top pay.” And he said, “No! If you want to better yourself, no I won’t be mad.” He said, “That’s what it’s all about -- to better yourself.” So, I went to Smeyer Mill and I asked for a job there. They want to know how long I had been spinning -- that -- why I was leaving. I said, “Well, I’m not making spinner’s wages there -- at Rex.” And they said, 70:00“How long have you been there?” Well, I told ’em. They said, “My heavens. If you’re not a spinner by -- out of this time -- you will never be a spinner. So, they hired me with top wages and, so, I’ve been making top wages ever since. But I still went through -- I went from Smeyer Mill to Burlaton and from Burlaton to Imperial in Belmont.

GEORGE STONEY: Well, that was a really tough time. I mean, you must have felt like you were pioneers.

WILSON: Well, um, I was hurt because I can’t see because I have been taught, through the Catholic Church, that God is no respectable person -- that’s where my let down was, you know, that God is no respectable person. And that Jesus Christ died on the cross for man and he didn’t save the white man or the black man or of the Asian or whatever. He said for man. And I could always have it in my mind, who do they think we are? You know, that made my determination to, 71:00uh, you know, to fight and to move on. And, then, it’s -- it’s just one of those things that -- it was just a -- oh yes, it was a gift -- oh, well, it is a gift from God.


WILSON: For me to speak out -- to have the courage to speak out.

GARDIN: I remember one incident when I worked at [Bonett?] Mills. Leon, you might remember, [Frankie?] why I l--

KAY: Oh, yeah.


KAY: I remember why -- your boss. Yeah.

GARDIN: [I seen?] it’s you and my supervisor.

KAY: That’s -- that’s right.

GARDIN: And at the time -- that was just the verge of the time that they had gotten word that they were gonna have to start hiring blacks in the mill, you know, women knitters. (laughter) So, my supervisor, Frankie [Wiley?], puts a little note on the desk -- you know, where everybody had to congregate, you know, to get the instructions and all that -- and this little note say, “Do your work figure by figure or you will be replaced by a digger.” (laughter) And, I mean, I didn’t know what -- what -- the emphasis of it was until I 72:00found out that they were gonna be hiring blacks in the mill.

KAY: Yeah.

GARDIN: But in -- rather than saying the other word -- that she put digger. You know, that meant -- these other white women know that they were gonna be hiring black p-- really now she us-- she did that.

KAY: Tell ’em. Tell ’em how they would pay the white man 30 cents more an hour and we doing the same job.

GARDIN: Yeah, I would be training a white person -- the job that (laughter) -- that I was doing so he could -- he could learn it. And he would come in being trained thirty and four cent more than I would make. And I was a top pay.

WILSON: This -- it’s -- it’s always true.

KAY: Yeah. That’s true.

GEORGE STONEY: Did any of you have any white people who gave you help in the mills?

KAY: Well, like, what kind of help?

GEORGE STONEY: Like doing your job or feeling at ease or --

GARDIN: Helping’ you get a raise and everything?

KAY: Oh no.


KAY: No. Never.

GARDIN: I remember one time --

WILSON: If anything they helped pull you down.

KAY: That -- that’s right. I have seem ’em put two white men on a job that one black man would do and two white men couldn’t do it. Rather than to give 73:00a black man a raise, they’d put two -- yeah -- they did John, my cousin, like that. He asked for a raise. They said, “You -- we not gonna give you no raise.” He said, “Well, you gotta get put me on something else.” So, they put him on something else. They put a white man on his job, he couldn’t do it. They put on it and they couldn’t do it -- the work of one black man. Rather than two give him a raise. (laughter) Never (inaudible). Yeah.

GEORGE STONEY: The reason I’m asking that is that we have been doing a lot of photography and with union where we see whites and blacks working very happily together and, then, trying to do something to better themselves.

KAY: Mm-hmm.

GEORGE STONEY: Both white and black.

KAY: I’m just saying’ exactly what you’re saying.

GARDIN: That might be happening now, but back then.

KAY: It was all [against?] you.

GARDIN: (overlapping dialogue; inaudible) that wasn’t happening.

KAY: That’s right. They was all [against?] you.

WILSON: (overlapping dialogue; inaudible) on the cover in this union. This [here’s] on the cover. I have never been involved with the union, but there is still some h--

GARDIN: They know. They have ways of getting around keeping -- keeping the black from full benefit.

KAY: That’s right. That’s happening today.

WILSON: That will always be.


KAY: No, it won’t. It’ll straighten out one of these days. It will have to.

GEORGE STONEY: Now, is there -- is this old fashioned or is there any still -- any kind of threat of Klan around here.

GARDIN: Oh, there’s plenty.

KAY: Oh, plenty of Klans.

WILSON: Oh, oh, yeah.

KAY: Yeah, they might rise up any day.

F5: You can tell [if he’s] prejudice (overlapping dialogue; inaudible).

KAY: It all depends on what jump off, you know, what triggered it. They’ll get together in a minute. (laughter)

HELFAND: George, you know what? Let me get those letters.


(break in tape)

KAY: -- black couple and a white couple. Set that -- then, they set the house on fire.

GARDIN: They did [put?] a cross in my yard right now in [Amherst?].

KAY: And what that -- that moment they set that cross in the yard -- set the house on fire? (overlapping dialogue; inaudible)

F5: My father, he used to work in a mill. I didn’t know he had trouble in the mill until one day I was tellin’ him the trouble I was goin’ through in the mill and, uh, he worked at [Marion?] 35 years -- and this is in [Clover?], South Carolina. And they did him wrong. He took a lot of things from them. And he 75:00didn’t say anything ’cause they told him that he couldn’t get a job nowhere else ’cause he couldn’t pass the breathing test -- nowhere else. So, he said there 35 years and took their junk. He asked for -- to move up on different jobs, but they wouldn’t let him. They kept him. He worked -- what -- he’d unload the trucks and -- and bale the bales that came in. So, they want to keep him -- they kept him back for 35 years, but, uh, I’ve had trouble in all the jobs I’ve had. And I stood up for myself. I didn’t take any of them to Labor Board -- I should have -- but I just moved on. And, uh, uh, one job I worked at was Rex down here at Ranlo. I was a good worker at all my jobs that I worked there and I left there because blades. OK. They didn’t want to give you blades. You doin’ a job for them, they don’t want to give you the stuff to work with. I was on some rough stuff one time. They gave me blades for that and they was given everybody else a blade, but after I -- th-- finished 76:00the rough stuff up, um, and then I asked him for blades. He said, “We don’t give blades anymore.” So, I left at four o’clock in the morning. They didn’t blades, I couldn’t do their work ’cause I was pulling my insides out. So, I left there and, um, I worked at, uh, [Sady?] Mills in King’s Mountain. They gave me a rough time. I worked there two different times. I left because of blades. I was pulling my insides out, you know, spinning. You have to have a blade. I said, “How do you -- you can’t spin without a blade.” And I ask-- I had a blade and I asked for another one. They gave me another. It was duller than the one I had. So, I left their, too. (laughter) I climbed a fence. I left -- (laughter) left in the middle of the night ’cause I always worked third shift. Like, they give you third shift. And I had several more spinning job, but A&E -- that’s where they gave me the most trouble at. One time, my nerves was bad and, um, I think I had missed about twelve days. I admit myself into the hospital. I -- they was gonna give me 10 77:00days. So, I had missed 12. And, uh, he come into the office that morning -- I had just got off at six o’clock -- and he asked me, he said, um, “Can you guarantee that you can come to work?” So, I just told him. I said, “No, I can’t guarantee you ’cause I don’t know what tomorrow will bring.” That’s exactly what I said. He said, “OK. You’re fired.” So, I left. And, then -- OK, later on, they hired me back ’cause I guess they -- you know, cause I had stood up on all my jobs. They try to give me a hard time to find a job and I couldn’t find one. So, I went back there. OK. They said they’d give me another chance. So, they think they’re gonna run over me, you know, so I, you know, I just stood up on everything. They tried to, you know, hold me back, start making my stuff run bad, like -- they was saying -- they try to mess your job up, try to hold you back, but I stood up for myself. And the last time I was there, it was on a Sunday night, and I come in and stuff and everybody know I was there. And they supposed to have started on my side -- [per?] starting up on Sunday night, but no. They starts on the other side where they start at before. And I said -- I had made up my mind. I w-- you know, I had 78:00been run over enough and I wasn’t gonna let ’em run over me. So, I stood up for myself and lot of people say I was wrong and everything, but I’d do it again if I had to. But, uh, I just stood up for myself and I -- the boss man on third shift he just said, “You’re fired.” So, I went back and I talked to him -- talk about it again. They say, “Well, ain’t nothing we can do -- ain’t nothing we can do. You got to find a job somewhere else though. I just laughed but I have had hard times on a job and, well, my last name is [Easter?]. My daddy -- I could say they run over you and they try to hold you back, but it’s good to -- people to stand up for yourself.

GEORGE STONEY: Well, it seems to me that -- that all of you have been standing up for yourselves individually, but that doesn’t put you in a very strong position, does it?

KAY: No, it doesn’t.

F5: Uh-huh.

KAY: Puts you out on a limb. (laughter) But you got to make a stand if you gonna get any place. If you want to move up or move on, you got to stand up regardless to the consequences.

F5: And I worked, I guess, one place and they was sayin’ too that, uh -- I had stopped to go to this funeral, like, some people you know died and you want -- you don’t definitely want to go to their funeral. And they’d say that the 79:00only funeral you could go to -- they wasn’t gonna let you out -- they said only fun-- funeral you can go to was your own. (laughter) So, I listened to that. I had asked, though, you know. But I mean, I told her I was getting up and she told me, “Don’t tell me. Don’t tell me you getting up to ask.” I didn’t ask nothing. I just said -- say -- say no. I wanted her to say no ’cause when that time came that I was getting off, I was going -- job or no job I was going. (laughter)



GEORGE STONEY: Judy has some letters here that, uh --

HELFAND: Well, I want you to show it to ’em.

GEORGE STONEY: OK. OK. Which ones are they?

HELFAND: Well, it’s --

GEORGE STONEY: OK. The first -- one of the reasons we came to Gastonia was that we had a whole series of letters which working people wrote in 1933 and ’34 to Washington. That was after the government said you had a right to form a union and they -- they had this code, which said that you had a minimum wage and 80:00maximum hours and so forth. And we found one that was written by a fellow named Bruce Graham. It’s -- and we didn’t know until we got here -- he was at the Eagle. We were showing it to some people who worked at the Eagle. And they said, “Oh, he’s black.” And we -- they said, “We think he’s still around.” So, we looked up in the phone book and there he was. I talked to him and he invited us over. And, so, we got the full story. Now, I’m gonna read you this protest. He says, “This is written to the complaint of violation of the code of fair competition of the Textile Trade.” It was to the National Recovery Administration. “January the fifth, 1934. Eagle Yarn Mills Belmont, North Carolina, Cotton Manufacturing Combed Yarns.” Bruce 81:00Graham, Route 3, Gastonia, North Carolina, where he still lives on his family’s farm. He said, “I’m an inside employee. Number one, I was required to work more than 40 hours a week -- and you’re not supposed to do that then -- to -- I operate three machines: a waste feeder, a waste beater, and an opener. And it paid less than 30 cents per hour for my work when it was supposed to be 30 cents.”

KAY: Mm-hmm.

GEORGE STONEY: “Three, my employer owes my extra compensation from July the 17th, 1933 up to the present date.” That was when the law came into effect up until January 5th, 1934. And he signed himself Bruce Graham. And then it says, and this is a most remarkable things, “May we use your name if necessary?” And he says, “Yes.”

KAY: Good.


KAY: Now that (overlapping dialogue; inaudible)

DOREE: Can I see that?

GEORGE STONEY: Now, isn’t that amazing?

GARDIN: Yes, it is.

GEORGE STONEY: Well, now --


KAY: Way back then him -- he’s standing up for himself.

WILSON: Mm-hmm.

GEORGE STONEY: We asked -- we asked -- now Bruce Graham kept working in that mill afterwards.

GARDIN: Mm-hmm.

GEORGE STONEY: So, we went and we said how -- we found out that a white man in the mill had helped him write this.

GARDIN: Mm-hmm.

GEORGE STONEY: We kind of matched the handwriting. We found the white man had written a number of protests.

GARDIN: Mm-hmm.

GEORGE STONEY: So, we said, “Mr. Graham, did you get compensation?” He said, “I never did.” “Did the other man got compensation?” He says, “Yes, he finally did. But they eliminated his job.”

GARDIN: Mm-hmm.

GEORGE STONEY: So, Bruce kept his job. (laughter)

KAY: Isn’t that something?

GEORGE STONEY: And the other man --

KAY: Lost his.

GEORGE STONEY: Yeah. But the significant thing is that right back in 1935 --

KAY: He was trying to help this --

GEORGE STONEY: He actually did that.

KAY: Yeah.

GEORGE STONEY: Isn’t that amazing?

GARDIN: And that was -- that was -- that was being brave of a man -- black man -- at that time.

KAY: Mm-hmm.

GARDIN: Because he knew he had ever-- all -- everything was against him.


KAY: Yeah.

GEORGE STONEY: Now, one of the reasons we’re so anxious to find this is that 83:00we’re making this film to try to encourage people, present day, to see you can stand up.

KAY: That’s right. That’s right.

GEORGE STONEY: And we want to say, “Way back yonder, there weren’t many blacks in the mills, but one of those who was there did stand up for himself.”

KAY: That’s right. The time is now to make a stand. Stand up for yourselves. That’s the reason they got the Labor Boards, Equal Opportunity. Go to them if you having a problem.

GEORGE STONEY: Now, they --

HELFAND: Wait. Wait a second. They’re reading the letter. What do you think about that?

WILSON: It’s amazing.

F6: It really is.

JAMIE STONEY: Why don’t you -- will you read it out loud for us?

F6: I -- I don’t have my glasses on.

GARDIN: You want me to read the le--

GEORGE STONEY: Yes. Just a -- good idea.

GARDIN: Reprodt-- acting National Archives. National Recovery Administration. Complaint: a violation of code of fair competition for the textile trade 84:00industry. January 5th, 1934. Eagle Yarn Mills Company in Belmont, North Caroline. Cotton manufacturing of combed yarns. The name of the complaint: Bruce Graham, route 3, Gastonia, North Carolina. Now, his complaint is, “I am an inside employee. Number one, I’m required to work more than 40 hours a week. Number two, operator of three machines: waste feeder, waste beater, and opener. And I’m paid less than 30 cents for an hour of work. My -- Number three, my employer due me extra compensation from July 17th, 1933 up to present day.” And it’s signed Bruce Graham. And it says at the bottom, “May we use your name if necessary?” And he said, “Yes.”

F6: That’s really something.


F6: He really. He stood up.

GARDIN: I mean I’ve -- I’ve known a lot of times that I would be af-- I 85:00know one time I was at Bonnet Mills and they were thinking’ about organizing a union there. And this same lady, Frankie Wiley, asked me while I was operating the operator there -- asked me if I would -- if I would vote for a union whenever I came and voted for it. Within myself I knew I would, but I knew if I told her that I would that I would be fired. So, I told her, “No.” And she said, “Well, I’m sure glad you said no because if you had said yes, I woulda had to fire you right now.” (laughter)

JAMIE STONEY: Now, if that letter was dated 1992 y—

HELFAND: Here’s one from Gastonia.

JAMIE STONEY: Oh, if that letter was dated 1992, what would the differences be?

GARDIN: I would have a -- a -- Labor Board would be -- have the rights to stand up for me because they -- they -- they -- they have a right to form unions and everybody has a right to say and believe and vote for th-- the way they -- for their choice of a union or non-union. And, then, I would have somebody that 86:00would fight with me instead of bein’ alone.

GEORGE STONEY: Now, here’s another letter from Gastonia, North Carolina. It’s to Mr. Hugh Johnson. Now, Hugh Johnson was head of a cotton textile, um, uh -- head of the NRA -- the whole thing. And he’d been on the radio and had said to people, “If things aren’t working out where you are, write us.” And a lot of people this. We have the letter. You see, it was written in hand on a pencil. You see like that.

F5: Oh.

HELFAND: You know -- y-- just so you know the man that just walked out he found someone from there. So, we might want to wait ’til he comes back to [pitch?].

GEORGE STONEY: OK. All right. Why don’t you see -- see how the letter is written.

KAY: Yeah. Yeah.

GEORGE STONEY: And we just got it typed out just to make it a little easier to read because this xerox of -- of a -- looks like a pencil-written letter. No, 87:00it’s written in ink I guess. But, you know, that’s a --

GARDIN: That’s amazing inheritance.

GEORGE STONEY: That’s an old document.


KAY: And what year was that?

GEORGE STONEY: This was in 1933-34 I think.

HELFAND: There’s no date on it.

GEORGE STONEY: There’s no date on it, but --

HELFAND: That’s [fine?].

GEORGE STONEY: But it’s got to be August of ’26. I think it’s 1934. That’s just before this big strike that came along.

GARDIN: That’s whenever the Firestone had their strike in ’34.

GEORGE STONEY: Well, Firestone had a big strike in ’29. But, then, in ’34, almost every cotton mill in the country was on strike including all of them in Gast-- Gaston County. I mean, they closed down Gaston County tight. And that’s when they brought in the National Guard. And we have pictures of -- I’m gonna show you some stuff here, uh, let me take you through here.


HELFAND: Does someone want to read (inaudible). She wants me to -- we should do it.

JAMIE STONEY: Why don’t we -- if you read the -- which letter do you have there? The handwritten one or...

DOREE: I have Mr. Hugh S. Johnson. Um...

HELFAND: That’s -- that’s from Firestone.

DOREE: Firestone?

JAMIE STONEY: Just read it for us?

DOREE: OK. It says, “Dear Sir, I am writing you this letter to let -- let you know just how we poor Negroes are being treated here at Manville Jenkins Company Loray Mill. There are some work out -- there are some work eight hours some 10, 11, 12 hours a day. And all from eight to twelve hours work only 20 cents per hour and our boss man, T.A. Graham, tell us, your mill code law don’t cover us Negroes for $12 a week. It is just for white peoples. Will you please, sir, 89:00look after this and do something for us poor Negroes? A white man told me to write you about it. He is a man -- he -- a white man told me to write you about it. He is a man working in the time-keeping office and said we Negroes were all rated in the main office at eight hours a day and 30 cents per hour and $12 a week and, when a NRA inspector come, they just show him a fake time sheet and go on. And he said that, ‘The way you catch them you send a man here on Friday. That is payday. And let him go with the pay man and see every Negro 90:00paycheck.’ Please sir, Mr. Johnson, do something for me. At work, eight hours only make $8 a week. I have five in my family and I can’t buy food enough to last me from one payday to another. At the price of food, I can’t have dry bread. Please do something for us or we will starve. Please, sir, come to our aid for we poor Negroes can’t help ourselves. Please put this letter in the newspaper. I am a Negro and work at Manville-Jenckes Corp Loray Mills, Gastonia, North Carolina.”

WILSON: And that was when?

GEORGE STONEY: That was 1934.

WILSON: It don’t have a date.

HELFAND: What do you think about that?

GEORGE STONEY: Now, Manville-Jenckes was the -- preceded to Firestone at Loray Mills.


DOREE: I think it was cute he was tellin’ him how to, uh, catch him. (laughter) Come on Friday and get the paycheck and, then, go to the man that pays him and, you know, you can find out what was really goin’ on.

JAMIE STONEY: Now, today at Firestone, if something like that ever, you know, is -- is everything sort of on the up and up with the union?

WILSON: Is everything up and up with the union? Well, I don’t know. You know, like, if I -- I’ve had troubles at Firestone and anytime I had a trouble, I would always go to my shop stewardess. And there are, like, members of the union that, like, if ever you have trouble you go to that person and they, like, take your problem to the officers of the union. But I have -- I’ve had to, um, speak to shop stewardess about different things. And maybe 92:00my shop stewardess would always go and, like, represent me. But I would always be present with the shop stewardess when they represented me. And, um, I would hear ’em out and it would always, you know, like, they would tell you, you know, “If you have troubles or problems, come to me.” And they would go to the supervisors or whoever deal with the problem for you. And they have -- they have really, like, stuck up for me.

HELFAND: You know the reason why those letters would -- amazed us was because when we would ask people, you know, did the -- were the blacks joining the union at the time? They said, “No.” So, we started to think, well, maybe they weren’t involved at all. But those letters proved different.

GARDIN: They tried to. They wanted to be. Yeah.

WILSON: Well, I wasn’t even approached with the union when I went into the mills in ’65. It wasn’t -- they ain’t explained to me about the union.


DOREE: But the first problem I had at, uh, Firestone, I was, uh, training and they had trained me on the first shift. And I worked for a shift and, then, they was gonna send me to my shift, which was the third shift. So, I was on third shift and, you know, I was in there working hard, you know. And I noticed, you know -- at -- they give you 90 days training period and after that you either own the job or you gotta go, right? And so my 90 days was up and I was still, you know, making my same amount of wages. And that was really the first production job where I had -- and they paid you for your production. And, you know, I really want for me you’re with production work. And, so, I really wasn’t -- wasn’t able to figure out my pay not knowing really how they figured it up -- set up production. And, so, um, the (laughter) -- after -- 94:00after I came off my training, I noticed my paycheck was the same no matter how much I run. And I would run 100% production and over. And my paycheck would be the same, you know, every week. And I said something to my supervisor about it and he said, “Well, if you want to make more money, you gotta work harder.” And, so, it made me mad, you know? And, so, I said, “Well, I’ma show this man I can make 100% production or more.” And that week, I worked -- I worked hard. I’d go in there every night and I’d really get production, you know? And, so, payday comes and I said, “Well, I’ma have a nice check, you know?” And, so, they gave me my check and it was the same thing. And, so, I said, “I know it ain’t right.” So, I went to -- I didn’t go to the shop 95:00steward. I went straight to my supervisor, right? Now being for me you’re with the union and everything and had just joined, right? So, I went straight to my supervisor and I said, um -- I said, “Look, I come in here and I work hard every night for my money. I know how to add, subtract, multiply, and divide. I have three dependents -- not counting myself.” And I said, um, “I feel like if I come in here and work for my money, I want my money.” And, so, um, it was like he wasn’t knowing what was going on, you know? So, that’s when I went to the union and I told ’em that I was having trouble with receiving my pay. And, so, come to find out, they was still paying me trainer’s wages. And they did redeem themself. They went back and they found 96:00out how much -- how many weeks they had, like, mis-paid me and they, um, paid me my just wages.

WILSON: They gave you back pay?

DOREE: Uh-huh. They re-- went back and figured how much they had owed me and underpaid me and everything and they did pay me.

JAMIE STONEY: But they weren’t gonna tell you that.

DOREE: No. If I had never said anything or mentioned it to anybody about it, they would probably still be paying’ me trainer’s pay. (laughter)

WILSON: Well, that’s wild. That --

GEORGE STONEY: We have some pictures here that will tell you something about what happened in the ’30s when some of the people who worked in the mills then decided to stand up for themselves. And this, by the way, is absolutely surprising news to most people in Gaston County. It was publicized at the time, but, since then, people don’t want to remember it. For example, this is a 97:00Labor Day parade in Gastonia.

F5: Just on the main street. (laughter)

GEORGE STONEY: You recognize that? And, look, this is the way that Labor Day parade ended up in Municipal Park -- now Lineberger Park. Look how many thousands of people. Did you know that there were that many people who actually stood up for themselves in 1933 and ’34. These are all white people, but they would -- you know what? It took a lot of courage to do that.

GARDIN: They look -- haven’t changed.

DOREE: So, who was really benefited from mistreated and underpaying your employees -- the workers? Was the families that owned the mills the only one that really, like, benefited f--

GEORGE STONEY: What do you think?


JAMIE STONEY: Do you see them tossing money out the windows?

GEORGE STONEY: What do you think?

DOREE: So, the more they could --

GARDIN: That’s why they didn’t want the union in there ’cause they would --


DOREE: The more they cheat you out of, the more they have for they self.

GARDIN: That’s the (inaudible).

WILSON: I would like to know where this -- this -- the basic for this discriminating began.

DOREE: It started from --

KAY: By being’ black. You were doomed.

GEORGE STONEY: Oh, I th-- I -- let me suggest that that is not the complete answer. I wonder if it isn’t being poor and powerless of it.

GARDIN: That’s part of it.

GEORGE STONEY: I mean, being black is another reason, but being poor and powerless. Because a lot of these white people were in pretty much the same position that you found yourselves. They couldn’t speak for yourselves.

WILSON: Yeah, but, uh...

GARDIN: They -- they had -- they had the choice to -- they -- they could speak. We couldn’t speak.

DOREE: I would say ignorant to the facts, too, could be a part of the problem because, you know, like I said, I knew that I was being cheated because of the 99:00amount of pay I was receiving. But, I mean, somebody just goin’ in there and getting a paycheck, not knowin’ how to figure up your pay, you know...

GEORGE STONEY: Let me show you --

WILSON: That lack of knowledge, you know.

GEORGE STONEY: Let me show you one -- sorry.

JAMIE STONEY: (overlapping dialogue; inaudible)

GEORGE STONEY: Let me show you one reason -- how they discouraged people from speaking for themselves. They brought in the National Guard.

WILSON: That looks like, Belmont.

GEORGE STONEY: That -- at Belmont. That -- this is not at Belmont, but they had the same thing in Belmont. Here’s a machine gun post that they set up at the Loray. You see the tower there? And this is a window. We were over there the other day and we matched this photograph.

GARDIN: That’s it. HELFAND: Had you heard about that at the Loray?

GARDIN: No, I didn’t.

DOREE: No idea.

DOREE: Yes. And, um, my son was telling me about it that they was teaching it in school or something.


GARDIN: It’s in history books now, maybe?

WILSON: It’s -- it’s history now.

GEORGE STONEY: What were they saying about it?

WILSON: He’s right there. Let him speak.


DOREE: Steve, what was they telling you in the school about Firestone.

STEVE: They don’t tell me nothing about Firestone.

DOREE: You was saying something about why the building was so tall and machine guns or something.

STEVE: I don’t remember.

DOREE: You don’t remember? He’s shy, like...

STEVE: I don’t.

DOREE: But, uh, he was telling me that.

HELFAND: What did he tell ya? (laughter) What did he tell ya?

DOREE: I don’t know. He was telling me really, you know, like at that one to work there was -- I was just there. I guess it’s been like there years ago. I’ve been at Firestone three years. And he was telling me that, uh, in one of his classes at [W.C. Fry?] -- the junior high -- that they was telling them about the reason the mill was so tall and they had machine guns and, you know, 101:00you could look in -- the reason it was so high you could look at the area below you and, uh, they could see, like, who was coming in or who was goin’ out and all that.

GEORGE STONEY: Well, now, here are two other reasons those people were having a hard time speaking for themselves. National Guard -- now, this is -- happens to be in Georgia, but, you see, they rounded people up in Georgia. The same thing -- you see, this strike was happening all over the south. They rounded up a group of pickets and put them in barbwire pens for ten days -- for six, seven days. We’ve talked to one of the women who got rounded up there. And another things they did, of course, was they -- most of these people lived in company houses. And if you got fired, got laid off, you had to move. So, evictions --

WILSON: That was for white people.

GEORGE STONEY: That right. This is what happened.

WILSON: They wasn’t for us.

GEORGE STONEY: You were lucky that you didn’t live in a company house, were you? (laughter)


WILSON: No, you didn’t live on the mi-- we called it mill hill. You didn’t live on the mill hill. (laughter)

GEORGE STONEY: But I understand, at Spencer Mountain, there were four houses down in the cut.

GARDIN: [Dean Herman?], Little Herman, live in one of those houses.

WILSON: Oh, yeah. And, uh, and it was --


F6: My brother --

GARDIN: [Levon?] was one of your brothers?

F6: Mm-hmm.


DOREE: Yeah.

GEORGE STONEY: See, I was right, right, right, right.

GARDIN: Well, see, now that’s the reason I wanted you to stay. I knew there was something you know that --

GEORGE STONEY: Your brother lived in one of those houses?

F7: Yes, yes.

HELFAND: Well tell us.

JAMIE STONEY: Tell us all about it.

F7: Well, I don’t know. I’d take about a week just go there when it’s close to the -- he’s close to [Mr. Patterson?]. Didn’t he own Spencer Mountain?

WILSON: The Loves owned Spencer Mountain.

F7: Well, what was Mr. Patterson?

GARDIN: He probably was the overseer, you know, head --

F7: Well, it’s not far from Mr. Patterson’s house. We thought that was the finest house in the world. (laughter)

GEORGE STONEY: That house that sits up on the hill?

F7: Yes.



GARDIN: How many houses did they have for the c-- Negroes at the time?

WILSON: They didn’t have any, but they allowed -- there was four wasn’t it?

F5: Mm-hmm.

WILSON: They weren’t --

GARDIN: The farest back in --

WILSON: Didn’t he stay?

GARDIN: That was Rex. We’re talking about Spencer Mountain.

DOREE: Well, did you brother. I know they say Herman lived in one of ’em. Herman, he was real fair-skinned and that good hair looks maybe white. (laughter) Did you brother looks somewhat white?

F7: No. He’s just like I am. (laughter) Do I look white?

WILSON: So, he was a dark man from the mill?

GARDIN: Yeah, but Herman, he was -- he was came to --

F7: But that wouldn’t help. That didn’t help a bit.

DOREE: It didn’t.

F7: ’Cause you know, if you belonged to that race you was treated just like -- a black Negro.

GARDIN: But, uh, he was -- he was -- Herman was -- had his job probably because of [Poplar?] and Uncle [Guy?] and all those, see, ’cause they was -- he was -- to some of the children from ’em, you know, from the parents. But, uh...I know these -- I -- I think I’ve maybe seen the houses when I was small. 104:00They were -- they were the farthest back away from the main civilization, you know. They weren’t out front where they could be seeing black men in the houses.

HELFAND: Can you tell us more about the mill village and your thoughts on it?

GARDIN: Well, some of the houses -- most of the houses are still standing and, uh, they haven’t changed anything -- maybe just s-- painted ’em. And they probably did some yard work, you know -- make the grounds looks better. But, uh, the mill hill itself is just still the same.

DOREE: I lived in a mill house on the Imperial mill hill village in Belmont. And the house -- they would always, to me, I heard, give the blacks the worst house, you know. And, like, the houses, they have no insulation. You know and they have real high ceilings and they had -- the house they offered me, I think they say the ceiling was twelve feet high from the floor and no insulation, you 105:00know, and a big house really. You know and I told ’em I didn’t want the house unless they lowered the ceilings, you know. I heard they was lowering the ceilings for -- you know, for some of the other houses. So, I tell ’em I didn’t want that house, that I wanted another house. I’d wait. You know, I was -- you’d put your name on a waiting list and it was my turn, but if a house came available and you wanted, you go ahead and move in it. But if you didn’t want it, you’d wait until another one came open. And, so, I guess they wanted me to have that house, but I told ’em I didn’t want the house because it would be hard to heat. So, they lowered the ceilings in it to standard size and, uh, it still was a big cold house, you know. From the back of the house, it looked like a two-story, three-story house, you know. It was high from the ground, was kind of, like, hard to heat, but I remember 106:00one day at work, they was asking me if it was hard to heat and I told ’em, “Yeah.” It was hard to heat. And they said, “Well, what are you doing?” I said, “Well, I’m not gonna be cold. I’ma burn my heat.” And, so, but, you know, like, living in a house like that in the wintertime, you have your -- we all had gas bills to heat your house. And in the summertime when you don’t need your gas, you was like paying for your winter heating bills. But, you know, I mean, they were fairly decent houses. But, you know, right now some of the places of the mill hills and things they’re remodeling the houses and insulating ’em and all of that. But the mill hill that I lived on, they're not remodeling or insulation or anything to the houses.

GEORGE STONEY: Well, that was a big change for a lot of people who lived on a mill hill to have black people work-- living in the houses.

DOREE: Your neighbors.

GEORGE STONEY: What was -- what was that like for you?

DOREE: Well, my sister --

WILSON: [Musetta?] was the first one.


DOREE: My sister was, like, one of the first to move on the mill hill before I moved in and, um, she had, like, had trouble. She had heard rumors about they was gonna, like, run off --

WILSON: Burn crosses.

DOREE: -- and burn crosses in her yard and --

F5: And they gonna start moving out.

WILSON: No. And so, well, I mean, they didn’t want to move out. They had a good thing, you know. So, uh, she moved -- she went to the plant manager about it and she had told him who had told her, what she had heard and so they found out and they went to the people and told them, like, not to give any trouble. So, really, I mean, she’s been there how long? She’s been there a lot of years -- maybe ten years or something like that. She gets along well with ’em. There ain’t to trouble [anytime?].


HELFAND: You know, we have one more letter from this area -- from -- that really impressed me. Where did it go?

GEORGE STONEY: Right here. Which one is that? Judy.

HELFAND: No one’s actually ever read it.


HELFAND: This one?


HELFAND: OK. Did you want to...? This is a -- one -- wait, do you want to come back? OK. Why don’t we wait until she comes back. (laughter)

JAMIE STONEY: Don’t forget to read this out.

__: Are we almost done?

GEORGE STONEY: This is gonna be a little hard to read, but maybe you could try that?



F6: “Dear Mrs. Johnson -- Dear Mr. Johnson, The Negro labor of Belmont, North Carolina that works at the cotton mills are told by the three employers that they do not come under the code because they do not...side...”

DOREE: And do outside.

F6: “And do outside and inside work. Some deliver -- some drive trucks and some [grudge?] inside. Others do the trucking of cotton load, yarn -- at -- and their wages per week are $8.25 and $9.79 for 55 hours. Some of these mills are namely [ACM?], Eagle, and,” um, what’s that?

DOREE: [Climax?].

F6: “Climax, Perfection, [Linford?], [Stowe?], [Spinning?], Imperial, National Crescent, and Chronic--”

GEORGE STONEY: You wanna go back and read those again? Because I think, you see, those are the central mills right here.


F6: OK. These mills are namely AMC, Eagle, Climax, and Perfection, Linford, Stowe, Spinning, and Imperial, National Crescent, and,” so what’s that? “Chronicle.” Because the folks are afraid to send in their pay envelopes, the employers say they will not have no more jobs around Belmont. So, I wi-- I 111:00wish that you would send someone to investigate this report. You said the NRA are supposed to help everybody, but the employers and unfair to the colored workers to Belmont, North Carolina.

GEORGE STONEY: Now, once again, we see that --

GARDIN: ’33.

GEORGE STONEY: People back there in 1933 were listening to the radio because Johnson got on the radio and said -- right? They’re taking part. They’re writing letters. This is a very different picture from one which you get -- you see. I mean, th--

GARDIN: That was anonymous, see? Now, that was anonymous. They was afraid to sign their name on that letter.

F7: Sure was.


GARDIN: Which – which, makes sense because, you know, a lot of people -- I guess, they wanted the word to get to them and not be, you know, subject to be being fired if they would tell the [call use their names?] and all. ’Cause I’ve been on that same pressure.

WILSON: Mm-hmm.

GEORGE STONEY: But you see, this came from people who came right off the farm, first generation in the mill probably, and people who had had a chance to get almost no education. So, this was a -- a big --

GARDIN: Big league.


HELFAND: So -- and we, you know, we just didn’t know that the blacks were doing this.

GARDIN: I didn’t either. I didn’t either. I didn’t either.

WILSON: We -- we knew nothing about it. Even when I complained -- every place I went, I complained. I spoke out everywhere I went. And I didn’t know lots of 113:00people will do it. Other people was, “Why don’t you be quiet? You’re so-and-so, so-and-so.” That’s that.

DOREE: They will. They’ll tell you to be quiet. Don’t say nothing’. Just be quiet.

WILSON: I spoke more the louder. (laughter)

GARDIN: I have even got with some of my fellow workers and talked about what we were going to do, you know, to combat some of theirs. When it came down to the real talking about it, I was left out on a limb by myself. Everybody else would back out, you know. They even made it hard, man, real hard.

GEORGE STONEY: Well, what we hope is that these documents, which Judy found in the archives -- you know, they weren’t sitting up. She really had to dig for them. What we hope is that these will be a part of your historical collections here. We’re making copies of these and they’re going into -- they’ll be available, you said.

HELFAND: What we’ve been trying to also do is to find the retired workers that were working at the time in these mills to find the people that wrote these letters, so they can tell us about their experiences.


GARDIN: Leon, did he give you that -- he gave you one of those people that --

HELFAND: Yeah, Leon. Did Leon leave?

DOREE: I think he’s outside.

GEORGE STONEY: I’ll get it. You see --

DOREE: So, that would be like -- what age group are we talking about?

GEORGE STONEY: Well, Bruce is -- Bruce Graham -- is 85.

DOREE: Bruce, 85…

GEORGE STONEY: So, it’s people in their seventies and eighties.

WILSON: Well, I went in when they first let black women go in and that was ’65.

GEORGE STONEY: What did the black women do before then?

WILSON: Um, nothing’, but work in the white man’s kitchen or women’s kitchen or...

F5: They’d help ’em with the children -- stay home with the children. Most [menacing?] part to do.

GEORGE STONEY: I think some of them cleaned up in the mill.

F7: They did. They scrubbed.

WILSON: But that was --

F7: And, then, the toilet.

HELFAND: What did you say?

F7: I said they scrubbed the floors and cleaned the toilets.

DOREE: But they weren’t allowed to operate machinery.

WILSON: I don’t remember them --

F7: Oh no.


WILSON: I don’t even remember them even scrubbing the insides of the mill.

F7: [Dheandra?] did.

HELFAND: So, you -- you had someone in your family that worked inside the mill?

F7: No, it wasn’t my family. It was more of her family -- Dheandra’s.

HELFAND: What did she do?

DOREE: She would scrub floors and clean the toilets.

GEORGE STONEY: Hi, could you come back in in just a moment? We’re actually -- OK. Thank you.

GARDIN: She was one -- one in a million ’cause, probably, that was --

WILSON: That was like in the ’34.

DOREE: I don’t know what year it was. I just heard it (inaudible).

GARDIN: She had connections, I’m sure. You know, the -- for some of the -- some of the people were, like [papa?], your brother was working there and, so, they probably got her the job to, you know, help scrub, you know. It’s ’cause she was black. Something the white wouldn’t wanna do.

HELFAND: So, you had to have connections?

GARDIN: Yes. Yeah, definitely. Just like my father was working for Sam Love 116:00and all live in his house, you know, and would farm and, then, go working in the mill in the winter.

WILSON: The men took care of the partying. (laughter) (inaudible) in the woods there.

DOREE: Did they have separate bathrooms and drinking foundations and separate bathrooms? What about break -- as far as a break area?

GARDIN: You mean a break room? They didn’t have it. You -- you’d sit on the outside steps of your work out area. If you was a truck driver you just come to the mill and went in the warehouse to eat.

WILSON: Is there gonna be a change to -- well, you know -- this [I see?] scripture says there’s got to a be a change, right? Is that what the scripture says?

__: Mm-hmm. (inaudible)


WILSON: You know, the scripture said -- our scripture says the first shall be last and the last shall be first. There is gonna be a change.

HELFAND: I would love, then, to look at a couple of his letters --


HELFAND: -- because he found somebody.