Rosa Mae King Murphy and Rev. Richard Lisk Interview

Special Collections and Archives, Georgia State University Library
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0:00

GEORGE STONEY: -- is that I’ve seen one black face in all of this.

ROSA MAE KING MURPHY: Uh-huh.

GEORGE STONEY: How many blacks do you have now?

MURPHY: Oh, in that mill?

GEORGE STONEY: No, in your mill.

MURPHY: Oh, there’s -- it’s about half and half in my mill, but in Rice Mill, which is owned by the Rices, which own Blair Mill, there’s only one black woman that works there, and she cleans the bathrooms.

(Judy Helfand and Jamie Stoney have an overlapping conversation with an unidentified man until 00:07:00)

GEORGE STONEY: Wow, how did that ha--

MURPHY: I don’t see how they’ve gotten away with it.

GEORGE STONEY: I was wondering how they got away with that.

MURPHY: ’Cause I’ve got a friend that works out there, and (inaudible) one day, and I said, “Well you know, how many black people,” because there’s only one black lady, and she cleans the bathrooms. She’s been here about 30 years (inaudible) --

GEORGE STONEY: Good Lord.

MURPHY: -- and they don’t, they just don’t hire black people. And over in the mill, they only hire them in the opening room.

GEORGE STONEY: Now?

MURPHY: Mm-hmm.

GEORGE STONEY: But in your place?

MURPHY: In my place, I mean, if you come in, you can do the job, you got it. I 1:00mean, they never had made a difference. I mean, I’ve seen them, they had the mother and four daughters working in there, black family, but I laughed at Mrs. (inaudible), she was so funny, she was about 80, and she said, “Oh my word,” she just, when she talked, she said, “Oh my word, if one of them dies, they’ll all be out for a week and” -- (laughter)

GEORGE STONEY: Oh yes, the funeral, yes.

MURPHY: Yeah, what a week, you know, she said, “Oh my God, if one of 'em died that'd be it.”

GEORGE STONEY: How are they doing in the union?

MURPHY: Oh, most of the union membership is black.

GEORGE STONEY: Is that right.

MURPHY: We’ve got, like, about 80 (inaudible) bargaining yet, and we’ve only got 37 members, and they think everything’s supposed to walk to ’em. They’re lazy, they don’t wanna get out and work for it, and I keep tellin’ ’em, “Hey, we got March coming up here and we’re going to have to get out here and house call and get those [call?] [signs?],” but they just don’t 2:00wanna. I don’t know what their problem is. And they don’t realize that the union found this (inaudible), they (inaudible) Hartmarx had given up, they didn’t wanna even try to file with (inaudible). And the union went and found this guy, (inaudible), ’cause he’s so crazy. He’s a nut. You know, I always thought we were supposed to go forward, you know, with automation. He wants to go back to the dark ages and do everything by hand, but he’s selling for Brooks Brothers, and their shirts sell for about $125 apiece. And to me, anybody that buys a shirt that costs that much has got more money than they got sense.

GEORGE STONEY: Say that again. Yeah.

[00:02:44]

HELFAND: Can you detach him? (inaudible) detached.

GEORGE STONEY: (inaudible)

HELFAND: OK.

JAMIE STONEY: I just want to get this [for one time here?].

GEORGE STONEY: These --

JAMIE STONEY: (inaudible).

HELFAND: It’s OK.

GEORGE STONEY: These are lantern slides, and yet, uh, usually, the lantern 3:00slides are in a c-- you know, with a -- uh, in a kind of case that [built around, though?].

MURPHY: Kind of like a sl-- like, a rotor on a slide thing.

GEORGE STONEY: No, not quite like that, but they had little tape around them, you know, so that they could s-- they could be handled.

MURPHY: Yeah.

GEORGE STONEY: See these --

MURPHY: Those are just raw edges there.

GEORGE STONEY: Those are raw edges, you see? And, uh, they could be broken a lot easier. Uh, there was some tape on here, you see?

MURPHY: Yeah.

GEORGE STONEY: And I just wondered how they got cleaned off. And they only found the -- he only found the four.

MURPHY: Uh-huh.

GEORGE STONEY: [So probably?] a set of about 24, something like that.

MURPHY: (inaudible).

GEORGE STONEY: Yeah.

MURPHY: He was just tickled to death when he came home [to that?].

GEORGE STONEY: Oh, sure. I found this interesting. I was in London, at the Flea Market. The petticoat ladies call in, uh, oh, about 10 years ago. And I found a whole bunch of, uh, advertisements, lantern slide advertisements that 4:00they use in the movies.

MURPHY: Uh-huh.

GEORGE STONEY: They used to put them in.

MURPHY: Mm-hmm.

GEORGE STONEY: Ad-- advertisements for cigarettes --

MURPHY: Yeah.

GEORGE STONEY: -- and so forth, and so on. Between the shows.

MURPHY: Uh-huh.

GEORGE STONEY: The silent -- you know, the old silent movies. And they used to -- had -- uh, had -- oh, about 10 of those that I got in a set, in the flea market. They were -- they were in color. You know, the hand-painted --

MURPHY: Ooh.

GEORGE STONEY: They were hand-painted things.

MURPHY: Oh.

GEORGE STONEY: OK?

MURPHY: From 1917 to now, that’s what, 65 years?

GEORGE STONEY: Yeah. Yeah. Well, --

MURPHY: (inaudible).

GEORGE STONEY: Um --

MURPHY: Hmm. And they were going to throw all that out.

GEORGE STONEY: Oh. Well, --

MURPHY: Hmm. [Foretell?] what they did throw out [of it there?] before he ever got it.

GEORGE STONEY: Yeah. Mm-hmm. (clears throat) Well, these companies -- uh, unless there’s some local person that cares, they just [take?] --

MURPHY: Yeah.

GEORGE STONEY: -- up to -- often, the business records goes to Georgia Tech, uh, or -- or Clemson, or something like that.

5:00

MURPHY: Yeah.

GEORGE STONEY: Have you ever been over to, uh, the -- the archive at Clemson?

MURPHY: No. We go for the football games.

GEORGE STONEY: Uh-huh.

MURPHY: And we go for Tigerama.

GEORGE STONEY: Yeah.

MURPHY: And that's about it.

GEORGE STONEY: (laughs) OK.

MURPHY: I can survive the pep rally and one ball game a year --

GEORGE STONEY: OK. (laughs)

MURPHY: -- and that’s it.

GEORGE STONEY: Well, they have s-- they have a very good collection of photographs over there.

MURPHY: I know they -- they just built that Strom Thurmond --

GEORGE STONEY: Yeah.

MURPHY: -- center over there.

GEORGE STONEY: That’s what it is. Yeah.

MURPHY: Yeah. And he said, “Oh, god.” He’s like, “(inaudible) about 500 people in the parking lot.” And (inaudible) -- the KKK was over there.

GEORGE STONEY: Yeah.

MURPHY: And blacks was over there. I mean, he thought they were going to have a riot in the parking lot.

GEORGE STONEY: Well.

MURPHY: And they ran him off campus at Clemson University. I mean they ran him slam off campus.

GEORGE STONEY: Who d-- who d-- who ran him off?

MURPHY: The students.

GEORGE STONEY: Students.

MURPHY: They didn’t want to hear him. They heckled --

GEORGE STONEY: Yeah.

MURPHY: -- him.

GEORGE STONEY: Yeah.

MURPHY: He got up there and he was telling them all this stuff. And they said, uh, “Go, go, Duke,” or something like that.

GEORGE STONEY: Yeah.

MURPHY: And they -- I mean, they just got -- they had the highway patrol around 6:00him. And then I -- they showed it on the news. The highway patrolmen [got up there and whispering?] (inaudible), “You better get out of here.” And he took him off, and they were riding behind him.

GEORGE STONEY: Mm-hmm.

MURPHY: And they got him out of there.

GEORGE STONEY: So it was-- it wasn’t the administration? It was the students?

MURPHY: Yeah. The students didn’t want --

GEORGE STONEY: Mm-hmm.

MURPHY: -- him over. He was over there in front of the -- and this is what was really good. He was over in front of the Strom Thurmond building. And, I mean, that wasn’t the place to be.

GEORGE STONEY: Yeah. Yeah.

MURPHY: And they just ran him off. And then he came back to (inaudible).

GEORGE STONEY: Mm-hmm.

MURPHY: Poor Harold. I laughed at him.

GEORGE STONEY: (laughs)

MURPHY: He said?, “I didn’t know [what the hell I was going to do here with all these people over here.”

GEORGE STONEY: (laughs) But boy, to think that he got so many votes in Louisiana, wasn’t that a [good?] disgrace?

MURPHY: You know, Louisiana has been known for their wild politicians (inaudible).

GEORGE STONEY: Oh, sure. Ever since --

MURPHY: [Because?] Huey Long --

GEORGE STONEY: -- Huey Long, sure, the whole-- .

MURPHY: You know, --

GEORGE STONEY: Yeah.

MURPHY: And, you know, when you go down there -- see, I lived in New Orleans in 1967.

GEORGE STONEY: Mm-hmm.

MURPHY: And every time you turned around, Huey P. Long (inaudible).

GEORGE STONEY: I know, (inaudible) --

7:00

MURPHY: And -- you know, and you think all this stuff’s named after this man that slept with every woman in the country. And he -- and he was a drunk and (inaudible).

GEORGE STONEY: I know.

MURPHY: And you think, well, when you go to Charleston, everything down there is named after Mendel Rivers, --

GEORGE STONEY: Mm-hmm.

MURPHY: -- because Mendel Rivers did so much.

GEORGE STONEY: Yeah.

MURPHY: And, but it’s different when you got this carouser --

GEORGE STONEY: Yeah.

MURPHY: -- named after everything.

GEORGE STONEY: Yeah.

MURPHY: -- when you go down there, but --

GEORGE STONEY: Well, what gets me in Charleston is what they’ve done to the old slave market.

MURPHY: Yeah. Put a flea market in there?

GEORGE STONEY: They fixed it up, planted flowers around it. It’s a -- it’s a p--

MURPHY: Did they put it (inaudible) a shrine?

GEORGE STONEY: (inaudible) -- (laughs) Ah.

MURPHY: We went down -- w-- I -- I lived down there in ’68 and ’69. Daddy worked at the naval weapons station.

GEORGE STONEY: Mm-hmm.

MURPHY: And Robert had never been. And I learned to drive down there on that bridge. We had to drive across that stupid bridge. And that was before they had --

GEORGE STONEY: That’s a --

MURPHY: -- the four lane one. I had the itty-bitty --

GEORGE STONEY: That -- that -- that’s a -- yeah. Yeah.

MURPHY: (inaudible).

GEORGE STONEY: Yeah.

8:00

MURPHY: And you had to drive across that thing and back.

GEORGE STONEY: Yeah.

(Overlapping conversation resumes)

MURPHY: And I had been across that thing with Daddy driving, and cars were touching, the sparks would fly off 'em.

GEORGE STONEY: Hmm. Yeah.

MURPHY: And one whole section of that bridge fell out one time.

GEORGE STONEY: Hmm.

MURPHY: The concrete was disintegrated and fell out. And I thought -- ah, my heart was (sound effect). It was just all the way across the thing. We went down there and (inaudible). He said, “Oh my god, have I got to cross--?” I said, “Listen, you got four lanes. I only had two when I went across it.”

GEORGE STONEY: (laughs)

MURPHY: And we went down, and he was just amazed with Rainbow Row --

GEORGE STONEY: Mm-hmm.

MURPHY: -- and all that. But, you know, when I lived down there, it was -- you know, I guess it’s because I was a kid then -- it w-- it didn’t mean that much to me. You know, I was there, I went, I saw it --

GEORGE STONEY: Mm-hmm.

MURPHY: And it -- and now, every time we get a free weekend, we go to Charleston because, uh, he loves to go to Fort Sumter.

GEORGE STONEY: Mm-hmm.

MURPHY: And they’ve got a dinner boat. We go out for dinner on a --

GEORGE STONEY: Mm-hmm.

MURPHY: -- dinner boat and we just walk along, take the tours, --

GEORGE STONEY: Mm-hmm.

MURPHY: The only thing I won’t do is get on a horse and buggy (inaudible).

GEORGE STONEY: Mm-hmm.

9:00

MURPHY: Because I think it’s cruel, what they do with those horses.

GEORGE STONEY: Mm-hmm.

MURPHY: And one of them bolted down there, and two people got hurt. They got --

GEORGE STONEY: Hmm.

MURPHY: -- thrown off of them.

GEORGE STONEY: Hmm.

MURPHY: And, um, he didn’t like it because they put diapers on. He just couldn’t stand to see that down there.

GEORGE STONEY: (laughs)

MURPHY: But, um, we went to New Orleans the year before last.

GEORGE STONEY: Mm-hmm.

MURPHY: And he had never been there. When I lived down there, it was before the World's Fair had been.

GEORGE STONEY: Yeah.

MURPHY: And downtown, it was a disaster. There was drunks laying in the street and everything when I lived there. I went to private school and I was (inaudible) "Let me go to public school." I went to public school six weeks.

GEORGE STONEY: Hm.

MURPHY: And she went to pick me up one day, and these girls were, like, 13 years old, and they looked like they were 35 with all this --

GEORGE STONEY: Mm-hmm.

MURPHY: -- makeup, and I was -- uh-uh, you’re not going to school there. So, um -- when we went, I was expecting to see downtown looking like it--

GEORGE STONEY: Mm-hmm.

MURPHY: -- And it was beautiful.

GEORGE STONEY: Yeah, they’d --

MURPHY: (inaudible) trolley [cars?] (inaudible).

GEORGE STONEY: They really fixed it up.

MURPHY: Yeah.

GEORGE STONEY: Yeah.

MURPHY: And it had the Riverwalk Mall.

GEORGE STONEY: Mm-hmm.

MURPHY: And you could go down there and sit, and not worry about being mugged, or --

GEORGE STONEY: Mm-hmm.

MURPHY: -- killed, or whatever.

GEORGE STONEY: Mm-hmm.

10:00

MURPHY: And usually, that was all docks. Banana boats coming in, --

GEORGE STONEY: I know.

MURPHY: -- and, you know, I just -- I couldn’t believe it. And then we went to the French Market and everything.

GEORGE STONEY: Boy, that’s a place to eat, it--

MURPHY: Oh, Café Du Monde.

GEORGE STONEY: Yeah.

MURPHY: I have to eat beignets. I love beignets. (overlapping dialogue; inaudible).

GEORGE STONEY: I -- I agree. Yeah. And Antoine’s.

MURPHY: Yes.

GEORGE STONEY: And Arnaud’s.

MURPHY: Yeah.

GEORGE STONEY: Yeah.

MURPHY: Brennan’s for breakfast. I -- have you ever been to Brennan’s for breakfast?

GEORGE STONEY: I’ve never been to Brennan’s for breakfast.

MURPHY: Oh.

GEORGE STONEY: Ah.

MURPHY: Oh, it’s wonderful.

GEORGE STONEY: Yeah.

MURPHY: But -- and we went to, um, the Court of, uh, Two Sisters.

GEORGE STONEY: The Court of Two Sisters. Yeah. Yeah.

MURPHY: We went there for brunch.

GEORGE STONEY: Uh-huh.

MURPHY: And they had the buffet.

GEORGE STONEY: Mm-hmm.

MURPHY: It was only $8.50. And they had the poached salmon.

GEORGE STONEY: Mm-hmm.

MURPHY: He went berserk. I said, “They’re going to charge you twice before we get out of here.”

GEORGE STONEY: (laughs)

MURPHY: And we walked down Bourbon Street. And usually, when I was there, you didn’t go down Bourbon Street.

GEORGE STONEY: I know. You see, I saw New Orleans at its roughest, maybe, because I w--

[00:10:52]

(break in video)

11:00

[Silence]

12:00

[Silence]

[00:12:11]

M: (singing) (inaudible)

HELFAND: How about this?

M: What?

13:00

HELFAND: (inaudible) just go inside (inaudible).

M: Well, let’s hope this is the right door. (inaudible).

M: And there’s not --

HELFAND: Is this door OK?

M: It’s -- yeah.

HELFAND: Yeah. You can go through. This is not opening, though.

M: You may have to try the other one.

14:00

GEORGE STONEY: I got a little footage of us [at the?] --

HELFAND: OK, Jamie. (inaudible).

JAMIE STONEY: [I’m rolling?].

HELFAND: OK. This comes in and out.

M: [Going away for at least six?] (inaudible).

(break in audio)

M: OK.

15:00

REV. RICHARD LISK: Where’s your home, originally? You --

GEORGE STONEY: Winston-Salem.

LISK: Oh, you had a home there?

GEORGE STONEY: That’s right. Uh, I was born and bred there. My father preached in the Christian Church.

LISK: Oh.

GEORGE STONEY: And, uh, I left that to go to Chapel Hill. Graduated from there in ’37, worked on the News and Observer for a while, and then went up to -- to write in New York for a couple of years. And then I came back south, and I was there until I -- out of Montgomery, working for the Farm Security Administration Project. He was the -- he was our great hero at the time.

LISK: When I was in college, I majored in English. I hated it. That’s the reason I majored in it. Now, I -- I -- I took the paradoxical position -- I needed English, but I didn’t like it, so therefore, I’d take it. I liked 16:00history and other things. I’d read them on my own.

GEORGE STONEY: I see. Well, that -- that -- that makes sense, in a way. Uh, but -- hmm. I’m afraid if I’d taken that tack, I would have never gotten through college.

LISK: My father tried to teach me something called discipline. You do what you need to do. So --

GEORGE STONEY: Well, we’ll be doing a lot of talking about your father before it’s over.

LISK: But because he was my father.

GEORGE STONEY: Mm-hmm.

LISK: (inaudible).

GEORGE STONEY: Mm-hmm. Seemed to be. My son is the cameraman, and the other person with me is Judy Helfand, whom you’ve talked with.

LISK: Yeah. And your son’s first name?

GEORGE STONEY: James.

LISK: James.

17:00

GEORGE STONEY: And Judy is one of the most extraordinary students I’ve ever had. Just an amazing research person, and resourceful. She has an incredible memory.

LISK: I do not know whether it’s still in existence, but when my father was working, in order to get paid, he had to turn in a day-by-day account of who he saw, what he did, seven days a week, and he didn’t get paid without it.

GEORGE STONEY: Mm-hmm.

LISK: But I don’t even know whether those slips are still in existence, but if they are, in terms of names, dates, places --

GEORGE STONEY: Oh, boy, that would be great. That would be a wonderful -- labor history.

LISK: But in order to get paid -- I can remember him many times -- here comes my ride.

GEORGE STONEY: OK.

18:00

LISK: (inaudible).

GEORGE STONEY: Yes, we should come -- (inaudible). All right. (laughter) OK. Here we are. Over here.

HELFAND: Hello.

LISK: Hello.

GEORGE STONEY: Judy Helfand, Reverend Lisk, My son, James.

HELFAND: Nice to meet you.

JAMES: James.

LISK: Dick, please.

HELFAND: Wow. Well, it’s an honor, after reading about your father for so long.

LISK: Well, my dad was -- I’m prejudiced, but I think my dad was a great man.

GEORGE STONEY: This is such a confusing airport, we weren’t quite sure we could get out here.

LISK: I haven’t been to this airport in 20 years. They have changed the road numbers. They have changed the buildings. They have rerouted the roads. I wouldn’t know where to begin.

GEORGE STONEY: Let’s -- let’s go. OK?

19:00

HELFAND: I’ve -- Dad, one thing after another.

LISK: I’m prejudiced. I -- I hope my kids think as much of me at their a-- when mine -- when they’re my age as I do of my dad. Uh, he thinks an awful lot of you.

(break in audio) [00:19:17]

GEORGE STONEY: -- (inaudible) revival, and if you knew the books of the Old Testament, you got his picture autographed.

LISK: It’s interesting your father was a Christian pastor --

GEORGE STONEY: That’s right.

LISK: -- (inaudible) doctorate is a Christian school.

GEORGE STONEY: Oh.

LISK: Phillips University in Enid, Oklahoma.

GEORGE STONEY: I don’t know that school. He went to Transylvania in, uh, in Kentucky. And at that time, it was, uh, part of -- it was Kentucky University. And it became -- I mean, it became Kentucky University later. You were saying something about the last time you were at this airport.

20:00

LISK: Oh, last time I was here was -- at the time, I was living in England and my mother died, and I came home for her funeral, and I flew into here. And as far as I can recall, at the moment, that’s the last time I was out here.

GEORGE STONEY: Mm-hmm.

LISK: As I try to search my memory, I don’t remember flying in or out of here.

GEORGE STONEY: What were you doing in England?

LISK: I was pastor of a church and served the United States Army at the same time. I was Chaplain.

GEORGE STONEY: Uh-huh.

LISK: And, uh, my wife and children would move back today if they could. They loved England. My wife says Cambridge is the most beautiful city in the world.

GEORGE STONEY: I spent -- I’ve spent a good bit of time in England, myself, and I loved it. But I was back recently and the -- the class and race antagonisms that have grown up --

21:00

LISK: Oh, England today is a far cry from what England was in 1970, when I lived there. It’s a different world. It’s a different country.

GEORGE STONEY: Yeah. That’s --

LISK: And prices, among other things, have gone up astronomically. Uh --

GEORGE STONEY: Mm-hmm.

LISK: And the change in prices is just an indication of the changes in society and what have you. It’s a different world, completely. England has changed very much.

GEORGE STONEY: But you’re going to find a lot of changes around here, too.

LISK: Oh, yes. This -- yeah. I have been to Charlotte a time or two, but I was driving through, over to Concord, which is where my cousin lives, my aunt lives, and what have you. But to drive around Charlotte, um, I’m lost.

GEORGE STONEY: Hmm.

LISK: If you point me toward downtown Charlotte, I could find where we lived. 22:00Thurmond Place, Thurmond Plaza, Plaza Court. They changed the name of it a couple of times. (Break in audio)

GEORGE STONEY: Struggling to revive that after the same kind of thing.

LISK: In New Orleans, you see one of the great changes in the religious life of the city. We have 10 fewer Baptist Churches, Southern Baptist, in the city of New Orleans than we had 10 years ago, though the population has grown. The number of Baptists within the inner city has declined, but the number of Baptists around the periphery has increased.

GEORGE STONEY: Hmm.

LISK: And it's a-- changing neighborhood, socio-racial changes. Different world.

GEORGE STONEY: Where were you born?

23:00

LISK: I was born in Concord. Um, did Uncle Frank take you around Brown Mill the other day? He said he went with you some.

GEORGE STONEY: Yes. Yes, he did.

LISK: Um, I was born -- as you come out of Brown Mill -- you know, there’s an intersection right there.

GEORGE STONEY: Mm-hmm.

LISK: Just down at the foot of that hill, uh, just a few houses, I was born in the front room on the 27th of December, and my cousin was born in the back room on the 29th of December, and we grew up like brother and sister.

GEORGE STONEY: What year was that?

LISK: I was born 27th December 1931. And, uh, my wife -- while we were going together, I carried a picture of my cousin in my billfold, and for a long time, my wife thought it was an old girlfriend.

GEORGE STONEY: (laughs)

24:00

LISK: Uh, but Pat was nearest thing to a sister, I guess, a man could have, without it being --

GEORGE STONEY: Hmm.

LISK: -- true sister, because we lived for a while in the same house, um, went to school together. Um, she tattled on me.

GEORGE STONEY: (laughs)

LISK: But, uh, it was -- and I didn’t realize it, but there was a long time my wife thought that, um, Pat’s picture was another girlfriend. (Break in audio)

HELFAND: Could you -- I’m just wondering what (inaudible) thinks about, all of a sudden, he’s in this car with us, making a film [with?] -- that includes his dad, who just got off a plane. (laughter)

GEORGE STONEY: She was wondering, uh, what your responses is that you just got a plane, and here you’re making a film about your dad?

HELFAND: We’re making it. George, why don’t you, why don't you (overlapping dialogue; inaudible)?

GEORGE STONEY: Yeah.

LISK: Well, I -- I -- I think I can sum up some of my feelings by telling you what happened. I called Dad’s younger sister, Helen, who lives not too far 25:00from here, and I told Helen that I was coming, and hoped to see her while I was here, and told her why. And there was a moment of silence, and a quiet sob, and she said, “Red deserves it.” She said, “I think it’s fine.” Um --

JAMIE STONEY: Just say that one more time to him. I’m on your close up here.

LISK: Say it again?

GEORGE STONEY: Yeah.

JAMIE STONEY: Yes, sir.

LISK: Uh, I think I can sum up some of my feelings by recounting what happened with Dad’s sister. I called Dad’s baby sister, Helen, and told her the purpose of my trip, that I hoped to see her while I was here. And when I told her, there was a moment of silence, and a quiet sob, and she said, simply, “Red deserved it.” Um, my dad, as you know, his name was Red.

GEORGE STONEY: Mm-hmm.

LISK: Though he was bald-headed when he died, like I am.

GEORGE STONEY: (laughs)

26:00

LISK: And -- and I share some of those feelings.

GEORGE STONEY: Yeah.

LISK: Uh, my father devoted his life to what he believed in. And my father was a deeply religious man, not in the kind of religious faith that you wear on your sleeve for the world to see, but the kind that puts a backbone on a man and gives him form, and substance, and strength.

JAMIE STONEY: (inaudible)

GEORGE STONEY: OK.

LISK: You know, this has nothing to do with my purpose in being here, but I missed Desert Storm --

GEORGE STONEY: Mm-hmm.

LISK: -- by just a matter of weeks.

GEORGE STONEY: Mm-hmm.

LISK: My retirement papers from the Reserves were already in process. A lot of my people wound up, uh, in the middle of that.

GEORGE STONEY: Mm-hmm.

27:00

LISK: Uh, I was Senior Chaplain for the Forty (inaudible) group, which was an umbrella for a number of different kind of units. We had ordinance, and supply, and transportation, but because of my age, and the fact of my retirement papers already being in the mail, I did not go, --

GEORGE STONEY: Hmm.

LISK: -- but a couple of my people did.

GEORGE STONEY: Hmm. But now, where we’re headed, we’re going to see, uh, Rosa Mae King Murphy, she is now. Her name was Rosa Mae King when she knew your father.

LISK: Mm-hmm.

GEORGE STONEY: She was the secretary -- first of her own local, which your father headed, and then she became a kind of secretary to a n-- a n-- d-- group of locals in the Charlotte-Belmont area.

LISK: Mm-hmm.

GEORGE STONEY: And --

HELFAND: Might have even been the state.

28:00

GEORGE STONEY: We have talked to her, uh, at some length on camera. And she knew your father, you see, --

LISK: Mm-hmm.

GEORGE STONEY: -- so we thought that, uh, it’d be good to have the two of you talking together.

LISK: The secretary, who could have been of invaluable help, died rather young.

GEORGE STONEY: Mm-hmm.

LISK: Dad had a secretary who knew as much about his work as he did. And in fact, she was more -- she became more of an executive assistant. Uh, toward the end, Dad would not dictate a letter. He would simply say, “Lou, write so-and-so and tell them this is what needs to be done.” And that’s as far as he went.

GEORGE STONEY: Mm-hmm.

LISK: Because she had the ability -- and she would write -- Dad tell her what to do, --

GEORGE STONEY: Mm-hmm.

LISK: And she would go take it from there.

GEORGE STONEY: Mm-hmm.

LISK: Um --

GEORGE STONEY: Well, we have a -- Judy has gone to the National Archives --

LISK: Uh-huh.

29:00

GEORGE STONEY: and -- [then?] found a lot of, uh, case filings, --

LISK: Uh-huh.

GEORGE STONEY: -- including a lot of letters, uh, mentioning your father, letters from your father, and letters signed by Rosa Mae King Murphy, --

LISK: Mm-hmm.

GEORGE STONEY: -- in behalf of a lot of, uh --

LISK: Yeah.

GEORGE STONEY: -- workers. So that’s a r-- the way we got to her.

LISK: Right.

GEORGE STONEY: But of course, your father was all over the papers. We were, uh, up, uh, three days ago with, uh, LeGette Blythe, a leading reporter at the time from -- for the -- the Atlanta Constitution.

LISK: Mm-hmm. Yes.

GEORGE STONEY: I mean -- sorry -- a leading reporter for the Charlotte Observer. He’s 92 now, uh, but still very much, uh, all there. And, uh, he wrote a good bit about your father, as well.

LISK: My father never sought, and actually, never had very much publicity. He 30:00was a rather quiet man, in terms of public things. He enjoyed laughter, enjoyed a good joke, enjoyed baseball. He l-- he’d skip a meal any day to see a good baseball game. Uh, my mother did not like baseball, uh, and I think mother’s attitude toward baseball can be summed up -- one time, we went to see the Atlanta Braves play, not long before Mother died. And for whatever reason, we were late. Got there the fourth inning. Daddy walked in and said, “What’s the score?” They said, “Nothing and nothing.” And mother said, “See there, Red, I told you we wouldn’t miss anything.”

GEORGE STONEY: (laughs)

LISK: Uh --

JAMIE STONEY: What was his reply?

LISK: He just shook his head. He just shook his head.

GEORGE STONEY: That’s a great story.

31:00

HELFAND: George, maybe you can --

LISK: We lived, for a brief period of time, right back over here on the right. Um, rented a house for a brief period of time before Dad bought the house just off the plaza that was home for a number of years. But for about a year, uh, this area right here, during World War I, was an Army camp, old Camp Greene, right in this area. And, um, we lived for about a year -- Mom and Dad did.

GEORGE STONEY: Mm-hmm.

LISK: I didn’t live there --

GEORGE STONEY: Mm-hmm.

LISK: -- because I was off at school.

GEORGE STONEY: Mm-hmm.

LISK: Uh, just over there.

GEORGE STONEY: You had how many brothers and sisters?

LISK: I had one sister who was burned to death, uh, at a very young age.

GEORGE STONEY: Hmm.

LISK: Uh, in fact, I never knew my sister. She was, uh, about 18 months.

32:00

GEORGE STONEY: Hmm.

LISK: And for many years, I could tell -- I didn’t know what was going on at the time, because I was too young, but I can remember, there would be days when Mother would be rather pensive and quiet. She had some little wooden beads that she would sit and look at. And as I got older, I found out these were a toy of my sister --

GEORGE STONEY: Hmm.

LISK: -- Geraldine. And ironically enough, I had one sister. She died. My wife and I had two sons and a daughter, and our daughter died at 11. My wife’s sister had two sons and a daughter, and her daughter died.

GEORGE STONEY: Hmm.

LISK: My daughter was unusual, not because she was my child, but she was a character.

GEORGE STONEY: Hmm. Hmm.

33:00

LISK: We had a church member where I was pastor, who opened a second business, and when he did, he’d completely dropped out of church. And he was a pharmacist. And [Nata?] walked in the store one day, and she was nine at the time -- eight, nine -- and she walked up to Mr. [Danley?], who had been one of her friends at church and said, “Mr. Danley, Jesus ain’t plumb happy with you since you quit coming to church.”

GEORGE STONEY: (laughs)

JAMIE STONEY: Where are we, Judy?

LISK: [Large?] (inaudible).

HELFAND: To President Gorman. A couple of mo-- did your father ever talk about a Vice President Gorman, Francis Gorman?

LISK: I’m sorry. I could not hear.

GEORGE STONEY: That -- I’d -- I’ll ask that, sorry. Did your father ever talk about, uh, F-- Francis Gorman, Vice President Gorman?

LISK: I heard him use the name. Yes. I don’t remember any specific com-- uh, 34:00comments that he made, but yes, I have heard my father use the name.

GEORGE STONEY: Well, Gorman was the Vice President of the Union and was in charge of this great, big, uh, effort to, uh, to organize, and then to strike, and -- when they had to in, uh, 1934. And, uh, we found, uh, Rosa Mae King, the woman we’re going to see right now -- her name is Murphy now -- because she had helped people to write to him, to Gorman, to explain what the situation was. And she had signed all these. And, uh, Judy found her. And then, uh, we talked with her.

LISK: Well, the cotton textile industry, overall, was a very profitable industry, along at that time because they used the Depression as a reason and cut wages to the bone, um, when I was born. My father was working 6:00 to 6:00, five days a week, and making $13 a week.

35:00

GEORGE STONEY: Hmm.

HELFAND: Where was he working then?

LISK: He was working in a mill in Concord, North Carolina, lived in a shotgun house.

GEORGE STONEY: And your mother, did she work in the mill?

LISK: Mother never did really work. Uh, she stayed at home. Mother’s health -- Mother had rheumatic fever, uh, as a young adult. And it sharply limited, uh, her ability to work. Um --

GEORGE STONEY: Uh, this is Rosa Mae King’s -- uh, Murphy’s house now. And she was w-- also working in the mill at the time.

LISK: Quite a difference between mill shotgun houses.

36:00

GEORGE STONEY: (laughs) Yes. Isn’t it amazing? Here. We can put that back in the cooler.

LISK: Well, she drives a Ford, at least, and my father’s first car was a Ford.

JAMIE STONEY: It’s parked next to a Mercedes.

LISK: Say again.

JAMIE STONEY: Parked next to a Mercedes.

LISK: Why, yes, but the Ford itself was a Lincoln.

GEORGE STONEY: (inaudible).

LISK: Father paid $350 for a painted-over, green A-Model.

GEORGE STONEY: (laughs)

(break in audio)

JAMIE STONEY: (inaudible) Judy?

GEORGE STONEY: Let’s crawl over here. OK. Let me get this out of your way. OK.

37:00

(knocking at door)

LISK: What’s? --?

MURPHY: Hey. Hello. Just look at you, goodness sake.

GEORGE STONEY: (laughs) Oh, it’s good to see you. Uh, --

MURPHY: I tell you what, [there?], George.

GEORGE STONEY: Mrs. Murphy, this is --

MURPHY: You don’t have to tell me that. I can see -- I can see his daddy just as plain as day.

LISK: Well, my wife tells me the same thing.

MURPHY: Oh, really?

GEORGE STONEY: Really?

MURPHY: Well that’s the truth, I’ve never see anybody look so much like -- y’all want to sit out here a while in the cool, or you want to --?

GEORGE STONEY: Yes, why don’t we?

MURPHY: OK.

38:00

GEORGE STONEY: Sure. Yeah.

MURPHY: OK.

GEORGE STONEY: Thank you.

MURPHY: Let me get unlocked. I believe you’re about the size your father was.

LISK: I am. I’m slightly taller. I weigh about the same thing, but I’m about an inch taller.

MURPHY: But you don’t have red hair.

LISK: Well, I don’t have much of any hair.

GEORGE STONEY: (laughs)

MURPHY: You know, they never did k-- I never did think that he was that red-headed, though, why they called him Red.

LISK: Well, they called him -- I don’t know either, they called him Red, but he has a brother, also, called Red. [Brice?].

MURPHY: Oh, really?

LISK: Brice is called Red.

MURPHY: Yeah. That’s quite unusual, isn’t it? Yeah.

GEORGE STONEY: And he was -- but of course we all know him -- everybody said, Lisk, just -- oh, Six Hour Red.

MURPHY: Was --

GEORGE STONEY: That’s what they remember.

MURPHY: Oh, is that right? Well, OK.

GEORGE STONEY: That’s the -- the slogan you see, when --

MURPHY: Yeah.

GEORGE STONEY: You see, in the NRA, what he was trying to do was persuade them to have, instead of three shift, four shifts, so they could spread the work.

MURPHY: Mm-hmm. Yeah.

GEORGE STONEY: And that was one of the big things that he kept explaining.

MURPHY: Yeah.

GEORGE STONEY: So he was Six-Hour Red.

39:00

MURPHY: I didn’t exactly remember that part of it, but I could never understand why he was called Red when he didn’t have red hair.

GEORGE STONEY: (laughs)

MURPHY: Now, my daddy used to say, “Well, they wouldn’t call me anything because I don’t have any hair.”

GEORGE STONEY: (laughter) Let’s sit in these chairs [now?].

MURPHY: OK.

GEORGE STONEY: OK. OK.

LISK: Where would you like me, here?

GEORGE STONEY: Yeah.

MURPHY: You want to turn this fan on? I believe (inaudible).

GEORGE STONEY: We’d rather keep it off, if you don’t mind.

MURPHY: OK.

(break in audio)

LISK: -- hearing.

GEORGE STONEY: OK.

LISK: So if I ask you to repeat, it’s simply --

GEORGE STONEY: OK.

LISK: -- because --

GEORGE STONEY: All right.

LISK: -- [because of a?] --

GEORGE STONEY: OK.

MURPHY: I can’t get over how much you look like your daddy.

LISK: Well, my -- my wife says the same thing.

MURPHY: Mm-hmm.

LISK: And -- and my wife says, as I have gotten older, --

GEORGE STONEY: OK.

LISK: -- that my mannerisms, uh --

HELFAND: It’s a generator in the backyard.

GEORGE STONEY: Judy, [lip it?].

LISK: When I speak, some of the hand movements, some of the head movements, the way I sit in my easy chair at home. She says, “They’re very much like your dad,” [and said?], “Unconsciously, you’ve picked up body movements, such as, uh, your father.”

40:00

GEORGE STONEY: Well now, he was three years old about when you knew, uh, Mr. Lisk best --

MURPHY: Yeah.

GEORGE STONEY: -- so perhaps you should tell him what you know about him at that time.

MURPHY: Well...

GEORGE STONEY: Just talk to him.

MURPHY: I know more about him from, of course, the association with the union, because he was down this way, and he worked, uh, with Mr. Kendall, was that-- the man’s name in Charlotte? And he came this area, he was more interested in this area than --

HELFAND: Excuse me, you know what, you got to say Red because you keep on saying, “he, and he, and he.”

GEORGE STONEY: Uh, Red Lisk.

HELFAND: OK, let’s -- Reverend, Red, Rosa, all right, everyone has a name. (laughter) Thanks.

MURPHY: OK, Red lived so close into this area, and, uh, I think he was more interested in this group of people in here than most any other organizer, as such. And, uh, the people here were very much impressed with him. He, like 41:00you, had a good personality, and, uh, he expressed himself well, and I think that the people felt that he was trying to do something for them, and I feel that that was the thing that brought a lot of people, uh, to accept him.

LISK: Uh, I think you hit upon one of the personality traits of my father, my father had a deep sense, a very strong sense, of just, of justice, uh, and a very deep sense that justice extended across the spectrum of, uh, social, racial, economic grounds, and -- and I think that he really did, as I look back and remember some of the conversations I had with my father -- and my father and 42:00I had many conversations after I became a man, as we talked about world events, uh, political considerations, etcetera. He had a very deep sense of justice, that was one of the driving forces in his life. And he really cared.

MURPHY: Oh, I think that’s so, the, uh, keynote of the whole thing, because Red would walk in the door at the meetings, and people would almost rise to him, because he -- they felt like there is a person who is interested in us, he has a message to deliver, he has the, a sense of, uh, a connection between the powers that were trying to struggle to destroy, uh, what he was fighting for. So I think -- I think that, uh, he did probably as much for this area as anybody -- 43:00I’m sure he did.

LISK: One of the things I remember, my father used to make it a point -- you know the nature of his work, he traveled quite a bit and was gone from home a lot, but as I was growing up, my father made it a point, he would take me with him when he could, and one of the things I remember as a boy would be going to mill villages, to union meetings, to many places, and the banker and the ditch digger would call him by name and he would respond by name, my father knew and was known on a name basis by more people than anybody I know. I -- I remember seeing blacks say, “Mr. Red,” and stop and speak to him. And -- and I remember the bank president speaking to him and calling him by name, uh. And I 44:00think it’s -- came back to what we were talkin’ a moment ago, uh, he truly cared, uh, about people.

MURPHY: I’m sure he did. And I think that, uh, as you talked about different colors, he didn’t care if they were black, uh, white, or whatnot, he was the same toward them. And they felt that closeness, that relationship, and that interest in them as though they, uh, were a bigger part of the little, because we didn’t have that many blacks in this area at that time, but Red Lisk didn’t care, so. And they -- and they called him Red --

LISK: Oh yeah.

MURPHY: -- just like, uh, all the rest of us did.

LISK: Well, one of the things I remember about my father, as I think back, and I thought back but I never thought about it until 20 years ago when the civil rights movement was so much in the news. Though I grew up in the South with a 45:00southern culture and a southern heritage, I don’t ever remember hearing my father use the word “nigger.”

MURPHY: Oh, no.

LISK: I -- I don’t ever remember, though he -- you well know, here in this culture at the time, uh, that was just a given. But I don’t ever recall a single instance -- now, I can recall instances where we had -- we use the term “black” today but we had, uh, either business or personal or other associations with, uh, black people, but I never heard my father, uh, refer to them in that way.

MURPHY: Another interesting thing, though, to me, was always, um, he -- and my father has -- has remarked about this one characteristic of him, is it didn’t matter whether you were old enough to, uh, pass out tomorrow and leave this 46:00world, or whether you were active in the union, and -- and, uh, had a prominent place, or whether you were young, and -- and -- they were all the same, so far as he was concerned. He -- he made no distinctions, and -- and the people felt the same way; the young, and the old, the middle, the black, and the white, there was just no distinction between his attitude toward people.

GEORGE STONEY: Now, we’re talking about a time when to do what he was doing, that is, promoting the organization of unions, was physically dangerous.

LISK: It was.

MURPHY: It was. It was.

GEORGE STONEY: What gave him the courage?

LISK: His sense of justice. As -- as I, as an adult man, have looked back at my father’s life, and having served in the military myself, there’s more than 47:00one kind of courage. There’s the kind of courage that a man on the battlefield can be so mad, so miserable, or so whatever, that he will risk his life, uh, on a battlefield. There’s another kind of courage where a man, very quietly, will risk everything he has, day by day, moment by moment, because of his convictions. And -- and that was my father. Uh, my father was a man of deep religious convictions, not the kind that he wore on his sleeve, that said, “Look,” but the kind that gave structure, backbone if you will, to all that he was.

48:00

GEORGE STONEY: Rosa Mae, your father must have had something like this, because he also persevered.

MURPHY: In a very, very simple way, but, um, he, like Red Lisk. Uh, he didn’t command, but there was something about his whole personality that just, uh, uh, not, uh, not permeated, particularly, but there it was, they were men who thought for the whole people, not just for themselves. And -- and my father and your father did have a lot of, um, of the same qualifications. They -- they stood for what, uh, was right, they stood for what people deserved, and they stood for it in a ri-- in the way to keep from being antagonistic at all. So 49:00they did have a lot of the same qualifications.

LISK: Well, as I remember, and I remember hearing your father -- I don’t remember anything about your father, but I can remember in later years hearing your father’s name. And as I think back, it -- it was not that my father, and I assume your father from the conversations, it’s not that they were combative, but rather just quietly determined that they would see justice served if at all possible. Uh, my father hated a fight, and he’d walk around the block to avoid one.

MURPHY: So would my dad.

LISK: But at the same ti-- at the same time, uh, he would not -- if it were necessary to stand for what he stood for, he’d stand there.

MURPHY: That’s right.

50:00

GEORGE STONEY: You see, this makes me feel -- it touches me, and yet it also baffles me because we’ve heard almost nothing but -- about the violence that, uh, those people were involved in, that this was something that was harmful, that they were misled, and all of this, and I’m trying to find out where all that came from, all this misunderstanding that we’ve carried for 58 years about this.

LISK: Well, there was violence. Um, violence came from power structures being challenged. People who have power, whether it be military, economic, political, don’t give it up voluntarily, they don’t share it voluntarily, and the labor movement challenged the power and the authority of the power structures where 51:00they were. Uh, some companies had their own security forces, they were technically not police but they exercised police power. Uh, they detained, searched, and what have you, and it was an effort to protect the vested interest in the powers that -- that be. And -- and this is where the violence came forth, when you take a man like my father and others in the movement, when they challenged that power structure, whether they themselves sought violence or sought to go out of their way to avoid violence, uh, men used violence if they felt necessary to protect their own vested interests. Uh...Ku Klux Klan’s 52:00reputation, for example, in part is based upon an attitude that says, “We will protect our status, our power, we will not share it,” that’s a part of what the Ku Klux Klan is about, and it’s the same principle.

MURPHY: I think he’s exactly right, uh, and that -- that continues today in the city of Belmont. Uh, I worked at Cramerton, which was competitive -- it was really Burlington, and they wanted to buy a mill in Belmont. And the powers in Belmont didn’t want anybody else, (clears throat) excuse me, coming into this area because they had it sewed up. They had all the mills were theirs. The Stowes and the Linebergers were the, uh, main people, and -- and they -- they 53:00fought, and I don’t mean fight particularly, between themselves, but they were very, very competitive. Although they were all making the same kind of yarn, they were, uh, working to get uniform khaki made for the, um, soldiers. One made the yarn and the other did the weaving, but there was still that competition in -- between the plants in Belmont. And it hasn’t been -- it isn’t gone yet, it’s still here.

LISK: Well, I -- I have seen other instances where if a man has control of a labor force, of an economic condition, he doesn’t want anybody to challenge his control, his power, and sometimes power’s a heady thing. Uh, what was the psychologist? Was it Jung who said that, uh, the driving force of human nature 54:00is the will to power. The will to control.

MURPHY: Control.

GEORGE STONEY: Well now, both your fathers were involved in a movement to adjust the powers, to find some kind of equilibrium, and it was put down very directly and physically, and you might even say, brutally.

LISK: In instances, brutal is a very good word.

MURPHY: I think so, too.

GEORGE STONEY: And ever since then, people have been afraid to challenge it. Now we have some young people who are trying to do that, you saw that over in Kannapolis recently. What would you say to them, you are veterans of the fight, in a way, your parents were.

HELFAND: Rosa Mae is. (laughter)

GEORGE STONEY: (laughter) Yes. What would you say to them?

55:00

MURPHY: Well, my first, uh, uh, thought would be, in -- in the situation I’m in now, I’m -- I’m not involved in -- in the, uh, the plants that are on strike, but I, now, I would try to see if the -- if their pay scale was, uh, competitive, uh, to the, uh, other areas, and if I thought that they were making enough money, or if I felt that they were, uh, uh, not treating their employees like they ought to, I’d have a different feeling. But I’d have to know what was going on, as to whether -- right now, I don’t know that much about an area that’s, uh, uh, in -- well, we have some mills now who, like Freightliner -- well, they’re not a mill, but Freightliner had a strike not long ago, and they 56:00got everything they asked for because they had the full support of all employees, and the company knew, uh, evidently that they deserved more, and they gave it to them. They gave them everything they asked for.

GEORGE STONEY: I was wondering about these, and a kind of in a general way, with these people -- young people who are trying, because we’ve talked with them, we were just talking with a woman last night, a young woman who is in the union, she’s making, oh, $6.80 an hour, I think, you know, just -- she is one of the most best paid people in her factory. And she was saying that one of the problems they have is that everybody around them is saying, “Oh, don’t do that. Don’t do that. Remember people got in trouble a long time ago when they did that.”

57:00

LISK: Well, as I have read history, and as I have worked with people, it’s my personal conviction that people in today’s society hesitate to take a risk. They want security more than other things. I had a employer tell me one time, he was personnel management, and he said that one of the first things that would-be employees raised with his company -- and he was talking about professional people, not un-skilled laborers, was not so much, uh, how much do I make a day, but the question of security, as he phrased it, lack of a hassle. But my father told me something that sounds like a cliché to say it, and -- and I’m fully aware that it sounds like a cliché, but I think it has a very deep truth in it, that unless there’s some things for which a man is willing to 58:00fight, and if necessary, to die, he has nothing worth living for.

GEORGE STONEY: Well now, the people who came into the mills when your parents were active also came in for security. Many of them all lived in the mountains where they were making almost no -- no living, many others, uh, had owned land but then the boll weevil came along and destroyed the crops. They moved into the villages where they did get a measure of security. They got a house, they, so long as several people in the family could work, they very often -- the mills looked after them in other ways, we know they gave a pasture for their cows, (laughter) they got the running water, they -- but they had some security, but at a price. They had to follow the rules and never question them, and that’s 59:00the rough thing.

LISK: And you said it right, uh, I think the term that is used today to describe the system would be paternalism. “We will provide you with the basics to maintain life, but don’t raise any questions, don’t try to change anything, don’t try to exercise any rights, uh, do as you’re told, and we’ll provide,” uh, public school I attended, for example. The school system was such -- as I look back, and as I’ve talked to others as an adult, many of the black people in the South, more so than white, were given a sense of security in that they were, within limits, guaranteed a unskilled, low-paying job, provided 60:00they never raised any questions, never broke any social taboos, et cetera, and never tried to learn too much, and the black school system was deliberately, in my school system, uh, maintained at a lower educational level than the others. The reason quite simple, an uneducated man didn’t read too much, wasn’t too much interested in world politics, what the law said, or what have you, and he was much easier to control.

MURPHY: That’s right.

LISK: But at the same time, if he kept his mouth shut, raised no questions, raised no hackles, did what he was told, he was a good employee.

GEORGE STONEY: Well it’s interesting. As you know, at the time that we’re talking about, in the early ’30s, the only blacks in the mills were those people who swept the yards, cleaned the toilets, broke the bales, and so forth, 61:00and we have found a few of those, and every single incident, they kind of belonged to either an overseer or the owner, they worked on that overseer’s house as well, they, uh, worked on the farm, the -- on spare time, they farmed the owner’s land. It was fascinating.

LISK: Oh, very much so.

GEORGE STONEY: And they had to be very careful -- that’s why, I think, though maybe -- that they weren’t in the union, when you...because they would have been such a threat to that.

HELFAND: Rosa Mae, what do you think about that, because you were talking about Red Lisk in relationship to black workers before, and -- and I don’t think you got to -- you seemed to have more to say.

MURPHY: Well, I guess we didn’t have that many black people who worked just, as he said, they -- they did the low, hard jobs, or the dirty jobs, and that was 62:00the way it was back then, uh, it was the blacks stayed in their place, and they were lucky to have a job, and as he said, they did other things on a personal basis, outside the -- the, uh, scheduled work days to help that man, and he couldn’t afford to fire them, and they couldn’t afford to join the union because they knew versions of what would happen to them.

LISK: Your age group has a terribly difficult time of understanding what our culture was like at the time because there has been a vast change in culture in my lifetime. Never was there a sharper dividing line than the dividing line between the races, and it cut plumb across the spectrum, uh, it went beyond seats in trains marked “colored” and “white,” uh, toilets in public 63:00places, “colored” and “white,” water fountains, “colored” and “white,” it -- it went far beyond that, those were just simple ones. And a man did not cross over from either side of the line. There was a place for each, and the black man’s place was being subservient to the powers that be, and never raising a question.

JAMIE STONEY: You were saying before about a paternalistic style of, uh, sort of owner-worker. Is that, in your opinion, a continuation of the plantation lifestyle?

LISK: Well, it was a part of plantation lifestyle, yes, um...and -- and I don’t really know what the origin of it was, but that was a part of plantation 64:00life, in fact, as a matter of historical note, after the Civil War, when the blacks were freed legally, there are occasions when blacks went back to their old master and said, “Take us back,” and part of the reason being -- they were not equipped to live as free men in a free world, and not only were they not equipped, they would not be given the opportunity to compete in a free world, for jobs and job discrimination, which is a big thing in circles today, it was not an issue back then because, well, the mill that, uh, blacklisted my father, my father was blacklisted when he joined the union, that’s why he wound up in the union. The owner of the mill made the point statement, uh, that 65:00as long as he was alive, um, that no black, except he used other language, would ever be allowed to become a weaver, spinner, doffer, loom fixer, what have you, uh, he could load the bales and be a bale breaker, but he never had any hope of even being considered for one of the so-called skilled jobs.

GEORGE STONEY: Well let me show you how things have changed.

JAMIE STONEY: I wanted to bring up one other point, when you -- you were talking about the time you spent in England, does it not harken a bit of the lord and serf of the manor?

LISK: Now, I didn’t hear all you said.

JAMIE STONEY: Well you were -- you spent enough time in England.

LISK: Yes, uh-huh.

JAMIE STONEY: There was a system they used there of you had the lord of the manor --

LISK: Yeah.

JAMIE STONEY: -- and you had his serfs.

LISK: Right.

JAMIE STONEY: Has it changed, or did it change?

66:00

LISK: Well, there were -- there are some similarities and differences, but under the law, when the serfs were legally in existence, the serf belonged to the land, legally the serf belonged to the land, and if the owner of the manor changed, the serf still belonged to the land, he went with the land. If a man was given or bought, uh, we say in the South the plantation, they would say any state, the owner automatically got the labor force with it, because they belonged to the land, but you’re correct, it was somewhat similar. Incidentally, the English observe Boxing Day the day after Christmas, and I’ve asked 50 or 100 Englishmen where the term came from, and I’ve consistently received two separate answers. One was that the lord of the manor the day after 67:00Christmas had such a hangover he boxed the ears of everybody who was around, and the other was, that they boxed the leftovers on the Christmas dinner and shared with the servants and so forth and so on, but there is a very similar relationship involved here, yes.

GEORGE STONEY: Judy, you have a question.

HELFAND: Well yeah, I mean, you picked on race as the real division, but it seems to me that economics --

LISK: Well, it’s both.

HELFAND: -- can you talk about in the 1930s what it meant to be a cotton mill worker, and division? Rosa Mae?

LISK: There was a division here in the South on two levels. There was a sharp race distinction, but there was also, uh, an economic division, and -- and make no bones about it, the economic division was as sharp as the race division was. 68:00Uh, I can remember references from some of the elite in Concord, which is my home, I can remember comments about, “they’re just cotton mill people, he’s just a cotton mill kid,” and the division between society, and the socially acceptable people, the division was as sharp based on economics as it was on race, but both divisions were very real.

GEORGE STONEY: But Rosemary -- you seem to have -- Rosa Mae, you seem to have escaped some of that.

MURPHY: I probably escaped more than almost anybody in -- in my age group, because, um, as I had told him earlier, I had been away in school, I had just 69:00graduated from college and came back, and, uh, was going to school down at the Abbey, uh, Sacred Heart, taking a commercial course, and, uh, I had -- I had left the mill and gone away to -- to school, worked my way through school, and when I came back, as I have said before, I had no -- I had no feeling that anybody resented me, nobody seemed to feel that, uh, “Well, she’s any better than anybody else, she’s just one of us.” And I never thought any different, because I had worked my way through school in the mill, and I had known the people, I had known the poorest, the richest, the blackest, and the whitest, and so I -- I -- I got out of a lot that other people had to -- had to suffer for.

70:00

LISK: You broke out of the mold. Uh, you were unusual.

HELFAND: But you gave something back, I mean, you came back here and you started -- you became secretary of the local and started to use your skills, didn’t you?

MURPHY: Yeah.

HELFAND: All right, say that and talk about it.

MURPHY: Well, I didn’t, uh, consider it of a big thing, it was just a job to be done.

GEORGE STONEY: No, no, sorry, could you just mention your job, when I came back, I didn’t -- tell about.

LISK: What was your job?

MURPHY: I was secretary of the -- our local, I was also secretary to the group that Red Lisk was over, and I don’t -- don’t remember whether it included Mecklenburg and all of Gastonia area or not, but it was -- that would be when you would have your quarterly meetings, and Red Lisk and some of the other organizers would always speak, and I was the secretary to that too, and, um, I, uh, I worked in the mill with the people. And I was asked the other day, and I 71:00could -- I did not remember whether our mills here were closed during the strike in Gastonia, or, well, Belmont too, uh, were running or not, and I think the reason it didn’t make that impression on me is because I was going to school in the morning and coming home and working on the second shift at the mill, I had friends who held my job down until I got there. So that way, I never felt, uh, uh, that I was any better than anybody else, and they never felt that I felt that way, so I -- I had it easy, really.

HELFAND: But wait, what about being secretary?

MURPHY: Well --

HELFAND: [Maybe?] you could tell a little bit about what you did, because I think you using skills, I mean, typing and writing and...

MURPHY: Well I would make notes of the, uh, of the meeting, and if Red Lisk or 72:00any outstanding person came to speak, I did a -- a, uh, uh, the subject matter, and said what he said, and I wrote a letter. And then it would be read at the next meeting, so the people who missed the speech would be able to catch up with what was said at the meeting. And the same thing with the -- the big meetings we had, uh, the local people didn’t all go, but they didn’t have the money to go, a lot of them didn’t because it would be, uh, maybe an all-day thing. Probably didn’t have all together transportation, so I went and I took minutes at that meeting, and, uh -- which was, I think, a quarterly meeting probably, and I wrote -- wrote that up, and I sent all locals in the area a copy of the letter of the meeting.

LISK: Transportation was a big problem, um, I was talking to my son the other day about transportation, and when I was a child, I can remember where we lived, 73:00beginning at the corner, there was the Motleys, the Dovers, the Thomases, the Millers, the Coffees, the Burns, the Lintzes, the Walters, the Rogers, and one other family, and there was only one car down that street.

HELFAND: This is on a mill village?

LISK: Yes. But down -- that’s down one side of the street, the families, uh, and it was only one car in that lot of houses down the street.

JAMIE STONEY: Do you ever remember your daddy buying a new car?

LISK: Uh, yes, and it was a lemon. Uh, my father, the first "new car" that I ever remember was a 1946, from General Motors, forgive me, it was 1946 straight 74:006 Oldsmobile with hydromatic drive, and if somebody poured out a glass of water, it wouldn’t start, it was the most sensitive thing to water in the air that ever was, and my father fooled with it and had it in shop after shop after shop, and got rid of it, and bought a Mercury.

MURPHY: And he was OK.

LISK: He was all right, the Mercury ran.

MURPHY: Mercury ran.

GEORGE STONEY: Uh, Rosa Mae, could you tell Reverend Lisk about going to New York?

MURPHY: Well, this was a country girl, who had never been to New York, and your father, Red Lisk, the Kennedys, I think, in Charlotte, Mr. and Mrs. Kennedy went, and uh, a man from, uh, Mount Holly, uh, Otis, um, Mathis, were five of us, and we went in Mr. Kennedy’s car from Charlotte, there were five, five of 75:00us and we drove up. And of course, when I got to New York, I thought I had gone to -- all away across the ocean because it was so big, you know, I was from Belmont, and we were a small little community. And the afternoon, uh, we got there, we all went on to our hotel rooms, and, um, Mrs. Kennedy and I roomed together, and then the rest of the men, they probably shared a room because of economic situations, but, and, uh, we met to go out to eat that evening, we met in the lobby, we couldn’t eat, uh, where we were because it cost too much money, so we went to the cheapest place we could find and probably got a hot dog. Then there were the main meeting would not start until the next morning, 76:00so we went to Coney Island, the whole crowd.

HELFAND: OK, can we wait till the plane finishes?

GEORGE STONEY: Yeah, OK.

HELFAND: We left at Coney Island, OK?

GEORGE STONEY: OK. Now just mention when you do it that this was the -- the big national meeting of the union.

MURPHY: Yeah.

HELFAND: And if you wanted, it was in August of 1934, and the reason, I believe, you were all goin’ was to talk about the state of affairs, and talk about what the next step was for the national organization.

GEORGE STONEY: It was a special call meeting, yeah.

MURPHY: Yeah. I guess they called it a national, probably -- it was a national meeting.

LISK: They later to apply the term, congress to it.

HELFAND: This was the United -- this was the UTW of A, the international.

MURPHY: That’s right, that’s right.

HELFAND: So, you might even want to, you know, it’s New York, it was August, it was the UTWA, August 14th -- you don’t have to say that, 1934. It was important, OK, the plane’s gone.

77:00

MURPHY: And, um, I was -- I guess I was impressed with the number of people that were there, uh, and you had to -- you had to wear your tag, you had -- you had to have a, uh, uh, an identification something on you some way, and I kept mine for a long, long time because it said New York on it, and that’s the on-- first time I had ever been, but the afternoon after we got there and then later in the evening, we ate, as cheaply as we could, then we went to Coney Island, and came back and the meeting started the next morning, and --

GEORGE STONEY: Now, tell us what meeting it was. Tell him what meeting it was.

MURPHY: -- let me see.

HELFAND: I went to New York --

MURPHY: I think that it was called the National Convention of the --

GEORGE STONEY: Of the UTW.

MURPHY: UTW.

HELFAND: OK, now that you know it, you can say it again, like real natural, “I went to New York with five of us,” you could say with your daddy -- go away car -- and why you went.

78:00

MURPHY: We went to this -- to the meeting, the national meeting, and of course, people that were there from everywhere, uh, I was amazed as much as anything about the people who went to the convention pretty well dressed up. They, uh, Mrs. Kennedy and I did not buy a new dress, we wore what we had, and -- but the people were nice looking, and I was impressed with the type of people who belonged to the union throughout, and then the next morning, when the meeting started, uh, we got there sorta early but we still didn’t get to the front seat. Too many people had gone earlier, but, uh, after so long a time, Red Lisk and Mr. Kennedy went up front, and the first time somebody got up to the leave to go out, they said, “Come, you’ve got a closer seat,” but it really was 79:00OK because the people who spoke had good voices. And I can’t remember how many speeches, but then they started having reports from all the areas, and of course that made our little area here look small because we were, um, uh, not that many people here, but all of Gaston County, that was a big group of people who belonged to the union, and, uh, I can’t remember, but one thing that bothered me is I had taken some materials to take notes. I couldn’t keep up with -- with all of it because somebody over here would interfere sometimes with the speaker, and I would miss what he said, so I’d come -- I came back and I finally got all of this together, and then I -- I wrote it up for the, uh, uh, 80:00for the locals, and for the, uh, the, uh, association (inaudible), as I said.

LISK: I can remember my dad’s tag, he kept it for years. (laughter) It was round, brass colored, and had a short ribbon under it, and he kept it for many years, I don’t know what ever happened to it, but I can remember that was one of the few things that my dad kept for a number of years.

MURPHY: Well it was, it was an interesting meeting, and we learned a lot about how to promote certain ideas without getting to, uh, uh, a place where people would be angry. Present the truth in a real, a low-key way, but don’t be boisterous about it. And that impressed me with that meeting, I guess.

LISK: Well, that was my dad’s style, as long as he lived. Uh.

81:00

HELFAND: But Rosa Mae, don’t you remember at this meeting if this is the meeting in August of ’34, that people were really up to their neck in, in bureaucracy, they’d waited for such a long time it seems for the boards to do something, and there’s the stretch out -- was still a big problem, seems like the Southerners, from everything that we’ve heard, said, “We don’t really have much of a choice except to possibly strike,” and that was the big question, “Do we do it or not?” Do you remember that?

MURPHY: I remember something about it, I don’t think that I remember enough to really intelligently, uh, recoup what went on. But a lot of people did not want to strike, a lot of people didn’t want to, but it was either, they felt, it was either that or they would have lost all they had been fighting for.

LISK: Well, they were backed into a corner. Uh, the stretch out was in full swing, and I’m trying to think of the man’s name, they said you could trace 82:00his progress across the South as he did his time studies with the stretch out and strikes that followed when he went to a mill.

GEORGE STONEY: I think his name was [Bideau?].

JAMIE STONEY: Or Taylor.

LISK: I don’t remember --

GEORGE STONEY: Yeah.

LISK: -- you -- you’re probably right, I -- I just don’t remember his name. But -- but the people themselves felt backed into a corner, they could not live on what they were making, and -- and when the stretch out came, which in effect meant a reduction in incomes, what it meant in effect, that they were faced with a decision. “We barely can live now, but at least we can survive. If we go on a strike, we may get fired and blackballed,” as my father was, and, uh, “not have anything,” so it was a winner take all situation, or a loser lose all --

MURPHY: That’s right.

LISK: -- situation.

83:00

MURPHY: And then people would camp. Well now, how many people really belonged to the union, uh, how many of our mill people belonged? And if it -- if they felt that more belonged than didn’t, they’d say they can’t run without us, but, uh, that was not a real issue, I don’t believe, in our area. Because most people belonged.

GEORGE STONEY: Now, the -- one of the most interesting things to me is to read in the newspapers the predictions by the manufacturers groups, in the latter part of August, and what actually happened. They -- they read the report to the convention that said they’re going to strike, they pre-- they said that most of our people are not members, here we’ve got a petition signed by a lot of them saying that they -- that they’re not members and don’t want to, and then come Labor Day, you had this huge parade coming out in Gastonia, where 84:00you’d never had a Labor Day parade before, and the next day, practically every mill in Gaston County closed down. And the manufacturers were absolutely amazed by this contradiction.

LISK: Well, you need to realize several things that were going on, implicitly and explicitly at a lot of the mills used a so-called yellow dog contract, uh. Secondly, a lot of people didn’t want to be too visibly associated with the union, and yet very desperately, they felt that they had to have some of the benefits that were accruing.

GEORGE STONEY: Hold it just a moment, I’m sorry, that’s just a (inaudible). Start about that again.

LISK: They, uh, you need to realize what was going on. A lot of the workers 85:00implicitly or explicitly were required to sign a yellow dog contract, yet they very much needed the benefits that they felt like the union could give them, and on top of that, the mill owners controlled the press, and they deliberately used the press to convince people that they had no chance, so the press was a propaganda tool in the hands of the powers that be, and the unions were denied access to the press. Um, it came much later, but I can remember in Kannapolis at one time, when they were seeking to organize what was Cannon Mill at the time, and I can remember my father coming in and saying that the local radio stations refused to sell any time to the union because they said they had no 86:00time available, that all slots were filled, and he says, “We have documented, they have salesmen out knocking on doors trying to sell slots, but they refuse to sell the union any,” and the paper refused to carry, uh, articles by and for the union, so the communication channels were owned and used by the mill owners for their own purposes.

GEORGE STONEY: In defense of the newspapers at the time, that was very true, the Kannapolis papers, but I must say that I have been amazed looking back on it to see how much about the activities of the union was actually carried in the papers at the time. So it’s even more baffling to me that once it was over, there was a kind of close down, “that’s the past, let’s don’t talk about it anymore,” and that’s why we’ve been trying to dig it out.

HELFAND: Rosa Mae, what do you have to say about that?

87:00

MURPHY: I really --

HELFAND: I mean, the dying down part.

MURPHY: Uh, as I said before, that it was not, uh, we were not in the worst situation in Belmont, if we had been at Loray and Gastonia, why, um, it would have been much worse, but we were small, and the people, uh, lived in mill village houses, just like they did at other areas, and, uh, I think there was a feeling that, uh, a feeling of fear that a lot of people would be dismissed. And I’m sure they were, but I’m sure it was not, uh, explained that because you belonged to a union is why we let you go, but they might have wanted to let ’em go a long time ago, and they kept the things that they were doing or not doing before became bigger, and they were, um, eliminated and somebody else 88:00hired for their job. But it was not like a big thing, not at our place.

LISK: Gastonia was one of the worst, uh, if you want to do a research project sometimes, look at the strike at Gastonia, and you will find the worst of all worlds in the way things were handled at Gastonia. Um, murder, arson, beatings, abuse of legal authority, all of these things were part of the Gastonia strike.

MURPHY: Mm-hmm. I think that’s right. And we were not part of that, really, so it was so much worse for them than it was for this area here. And we -- we had some murder here, but -- ’bout two, I believe, is all we -- isn’t that right?

89:00

GEORGE STONEY: One person died and the other person was seriously hit -- hurt. See, the National Guard was right -- the way through here, and --

LISK: The National Guard was used, in some instances, as strike breaker.

MURPHY: Well they were -- they were lined up on top of the hosiery mill here in Belmont, at one time during the strike, but, uh, uh, I think it -- it, uh, uh, probably scared a lot of people, and that’s what they wanted to do --

LISK: That was the intent of it, that was the purpose of it.

MURPHY: -- they were not gonna stand up there and shoot everybody who came in, but they were afraid they would, they didn’t know what might happen.

GEORGE STONEY: It’s interesting, we were talking to a national guardsman yesterday who was also -- ended up as a superintendent of the mill, and he was working in the mill at the time -- this is in South Carolina, and we ask him 90:00about his arms, he said, “Well, they didn’t give us any ammunition for our rifles,” I said, “Well, how did you protect the mills,” he said, “Well, we had bayonets.” (laughter)

LISK: A bayonet can be a deadly weapon if a man knows how to use it.

GEORGE STONEY: But, uh, just facing that.

MURPHY: And as I understand, that’s the way the man in Belmont was killed.

GEORGE STONEY: Betcha, he was, yeah. I was going to say a few minutes ago that -- about the black situation. One of the -- this, making this film has been a real education for me, I can assure you, and one of the things that has surprised me is that so many white people we talked to, uh, have been reluctant to look back and talk about it. “You’re a very nice man, we’re sure you mean the best, but I’ve got a granddaughter in that mill and it might be held 91:00against her, why bring it up, you’re going to create confusion to --“ but almost all the blacks have a different attitude. They talk about the rough time, but then when they -- when they started working in the mills in ’64 and afterwards, we’ve talked with a number of them who were the first in the mills, and how rough it was, but they talk with a certain pride and assurance, and it’s -- it’s so bracing to hear them stand up and be very confident and proud of what they’ve done.

LISK: Sense of a victory won.

MURPHY: We had, in -- on the Acme Mill, about two or three black houses, way back on the back, and some of them lived in their own homes, too, but there were 92:00very few people, and then out here where 7-11 is now, there was a house of black people, they were very refined, they worked for the, uh, um, uh, supervisors and the superintendents, and, and, uh, worked for, uh, the superintendent of the Acme -- one of them did, and she was just as refined and just as nice, and I remember she worked for my mother, and, and, uh, Daddy, uh, a lot. In fact, she worked when some of our children were born, and, uh, the only thing I remember hearing her say was, “Well, I’ll be glad when it’s over because somebody is going to be mad at somebody.” (laughter) And -- and I thought that was -- that was about all she knew about it, and, uh.

HELFAND: About what?

MURPHY: Huh?

HELFAND: “I’ll be glad” when what’s over?

MURPHY: The strike is over, the -- all of this is settled down, that, uh, 93:00everybody would be back on even keel, and she had a grandson, who, uh, wanted to go to work in the mill, but he was not old enough, but he knew somebody who had gone to work before he was 14, and, uh, she said, “Well, I know enough people downtown, they’ll get my grandson a job,” but by the time he -- everything settled down, he was 14. And he came to work at -- at the Acme mill then.

LISK: Let me ask you a question, switch gears slightly. You went to school while you worked, which in and of itself was unusual at the time, uh, the fact that you sought school because to put it bluntly, mill kids were encouraged not to get too good an education. Where did you get the impetus, the inspiration, the determination, whatever, to pursue an education?

94:00

MURPHY: We were living in Ranlo and going to the Ranlo Baptist Church, and the pastor and his wife, uh, were very, always really interested in me, and they had two sons, one of them was the boy I dated, and I liked his brother better, but the brother didn’t like me. (laughter) And so it, it came about that we had a play at the schoolhou-- I mean, we were practicing at the schoolhouse, and they was a love scene, and, uh, the preacher’s wife was directing the play, don’t remember what it was, but she wouldn’t let me have the part where the couple was really involved with each other, she made him take another place, and she didn’t realize that she was putting me with the boy -- with her son I liked 95:00better. (laughter) So we had laughed about that a lot, but they became interested in my going back to schoo-- I had stopped school in the seventh grade because of my mother’s illness, and she had leukemia, and so I -- when my -- I had two brothers working, and they, uh, I mean, two in the family, my bro-- well, brother and my father, and my mother had worked some, but she was not able to work anymore and couldn’t take of the family, so I had -- I had stopped school, and I was working in the mill there at Ranlo, and they kept insisting that I go back to school. Well, I di-- I couldn’t go back to school because everybody in my class had graduated here -- you know, you just didn’t go back as an adult, into schools in that day. So I -- we had a girl who, uh, went to church there and she said to me, “I know a school where you can work your way 96:00through,” and so she introduced me to, uh, the idea and to the [Castersons?], who were our pastor and his wife and family, and they all decided they’d take me down there and introduce me to anybody who mattered. And I went down there, and they were very, very nice, they told me if I would come and start school, they would give me extra classes so I could graduate earlier and not -- and I took four grades in three years. Graduated from high school, and then, uh, I couldn’t go back the next year because, uh, we were not making -- I mean, the mills were running too badly, and, uh, you ha-- you worked two weeks in the mill, and you went to school two weeks, you had a partner and you were responsible for that job if that person had to be out. But I was never victimized because, uh, they would always get somebody to work in my place, 97:00because they -- they supported, very supportive. And I stayed out one year, and that same year the, uh, um, president of the col-- of the school came to Belmont to see if, uh, he could beg me into going back, and then the assistant came and begged me --

HELFAND: Can we wait a second? It sounds like a [bomber?].

LISK: I’ll tell you a story a minute about --

GEORGE STONEY: (laughter) He was on the [airfield?].

MURPHY: The one he came up in.

JAMIE STONEY: You wanna talk props, I’m sure -- we were on a jet.

LISK: Reader’s Digest has the article where --

(break in audio)

GEORGE STONEY: You went to Belmont.

MURPHY: And, uh --

HELFAND: The pr-- the principal came to Belmont?

98:00

MURPHY: The president of the college came, and the assistant, uh, um, director came, three people came to encourage me to come back. Well, I was working now, and it just looked like I had sort of let my family down, but, uh, I finally went on back to, uh, school. And, um, worked my two weeks, but in the summers when we were -- we were off, the three months, when I came home, I had a job the minute -- the day I came home to work in a mill, and if there was not a -- a job available, there was one woman who would, uh, take her vacation the whole summer that I was here at Stowe Mill so I could work, so I could go back to school, but I happened to have been her Sunday School teacher at some time, and she thought I needed to go back to school. (laughter)

GEORGE STONEY: One thing, I wonder if you’d mind getting to both of you, and 99:00that is a relationship between church and the work that you -- both your fathers were involved in.

HELFAND: And Rosa Mae was involved in.

GEORGE STONEY: And you. I mean, and you were involved then, of course, uh, in terms of group identity, inspiration, faith, and also organizational skills, if you could wrap all of that -- talk about what church meant in terms of that.

MURPHY: Well my father had always led the singing, regardless of where we lived, and we -- we moved from place to place because, uh, uh, a church would lose their, uh, not minister of music, but their song leader. And they were the Do-Re-Mis, the shape note situation, and we came to Belmont --

LISK: [Stamps?] Baxter, shape note sangin’ schools.

MURPHY: Say, that’s right, and it, uh, we would go from church to church that 100:00way, and that was the way -- the only reason we ever moved, I guess. Except when we moved from Murphy, North Carolina, to Gastonia. Um, my relationship with churches has always been very close, it’s -- they’ve always been a part of my life, and when I was, uh, 14 years old, I was teaching an intermediate class in Sunday School, they didn’t know I didn’t know anything, but that’s all right. (laughter) And, uh, it has been that way, um, this was a Methodist school, uh, run by Presbyterians for Baptist students, in Spartanburg.

LISK: It’s what you call [Accumentus?]. (laughter)

MURPHY: And, uh, wherever I went there was always a support. It might have been because I was older and had gone back to school that a lot of people felt, “Well, if she’s determined, well, we’ll do all we can to push her through,” and, uh, I never had, uh, any regrets, still don’t. And I enjoyed 101:00the, uh, relationship, and as I have said before, we had a, um, uh, life saving-- I mean...a group of people on Sunday afternoon that, uh, everybody came to, old denominations, and if you were responsible for one pers-- for a meeting, uh, you would get the speaker or you would do the program yourself, and Olin D. Johnston, who was governor of the state of South Carolina, was a graduate of this school, and he came back quite often, and he was a good speaker, and if it was my time, I’d get somebody like him or somebody that was a little bit unusual, because it would bring more of the students to the Sunday afternoon, uh, meeting, but, uh, we walked to the church, there was no transportation from 102:00the dormitory to the Baptist church, and, uh, more Baptists went to church than Methodists, and, um, which is, of course. (laughter) And, uh, that church -- that church was very supportive of me, and if there would be times when the mills didn’t run or if I, they thought I had a little bit of, um, difficulty, maybe thinking about going back home, they’d talk to the president of the school, and he’d say, “We’ll take care of some of that situation,” and Monday morning he’d say, “Do you want to work in the dining room next week? Do you want to work, um, um, in the office, um, after school this week?” And every time that situation -- a financial difficulty arose, they were there to support me and to help me. They didn’t give it to me, but I, um, I worked for 103:00it, that was available.

LISK: As I look back --

HELFAND: Let’s wait for this plane to go.

(break in audio)

LISK: As I have read history, remembered things I heard as a child, the church, as an institution, was in an ambiguous situation when it came to the unions. For example, the church, by definition, stood for justice, righteousness, what have you, and yet the church, many times, was in an untenable position, for example, I can take you to a church not 20 miles from here where the local mill 104:00built and provided the parsonage for the pastor, the condition being -- was that the mill superintendent would be on the board of the church. So it didn’t matter whether the man was of any faith or what faith, as long as the mill provided, and in a day when money was a real problem, more so than it is today, I -- I think you can see where the church pastor and the church itself would be in almost untenable situation, and at the same time, the mill did support the church in various ways. It contributed labor on occasion, it contributed, uh, material goods on a laborer, but always in the background was, uh, the power of 105:00the mill to step on it.

MURPHY: The existing church in north Belmont now, which is Centerview Baptist Church, started in one of the mill houses. And, uh, remained there in that house until, uh, uh -- and we helped organize it, um, it remained in that house until it outgrew it, and then they had another house bigger, and we moved in to it, and had services. They tore out a wall so there’d be enough, uh, place for the preacher to stand, and then, the mill was the -- the, uh, companies were very generous when we built the church.

LISK: What I’m about to say will be missed on someone who was not familiar with some of the more arcane, esoteric teachings of some of our Christian groups, but I can remember as an adult man, 106:00uh, listening to a hearing where a minister, I don’t remember what faith, preached a tent revival, and he denied he was being used by the mill and its anti-union activities, he did admit under oath -- and I listened to him, he did admit that under oath that he taught that the union card of union membership was the mark of the beast in Revelation, uh, and that anyone who accepted such was eternally dammed automatically, and while he said that the mill did not control him, he admitted that the mill prepared and sent out mailings advertising his revival, and that the mill, as long as he preached “as I do,” that he would 107:00never lack a place nor location to preach and would never lack financial support. (laughter)

MURPHY: Yeah, and as I told them the other day, the, uh, the superintendent of the mills here was superintendent of our Sunday school. His daughter played the piano for my daddy as he led the Do-Re-Mis, and they were our best friends. He had two daughters, the older daughter, who played, was my best friend, and the other daughter was my sister’s best friend, so they -- they didn’t, uh, uh, show any animosity toward us, because I think we tried to keep everything as even as we could without, uh, causing, uh, relationships to break up.

LISK: Well, you sought to keep a win-win situation, where everybody came out ahead.

MURPHY: Mm-hmm.

108:00

GEORGE STONEY: It’s interesting to me that in the literature about, uh, cotton mills and so forth, there’s been a considerable emphasis on this mills controlling the church, that is, mill hands and preachers, spindles and spires, those very well-known studies, but here in both of your families, you represent another situation, where people of deep religious faith were supporting the union, and it’s interesting that almost every union leader we found has also been a person who was deeply religious.

LISK: I... GEORGE STONEY: OK.

LISK: The reason is --

GEORGE STONEY: The reason for what?

109:00

LISK: Part of the reason for the place of religious faith within the rise of the labor movement is inherent in the demands of Christianity, which many times are not met, but the de-- the demands of justice, demands of freedom -- as a historical side note, the Labour Party in Great Britain, which is today, to a great extent atheistic, the founding fathers were all ordained Methodist ministers. Uh, and it came out of the desire for justice, and in my father’s own case, why my father never explicitly made the connection in my own mind growing up, his commitment to the labor movement and justice for all people was 110:00a direct corollary to his abiding faith. I -- I -- you could not separate the two.

MURPHY: Well, my experience with -- and when I was in Spartanburg in school, it just -- they had a strike there, and the students were bussed in to work, we filled our jobs, and we -- I mean, they -- there were many times when I didn’t know whether we’d get there or get out, because the strikers were lined up on both sides, the police were there, and they threw rocks and did that. But they called us, uh --

LISK: Scabs.

MURPHY: -- scabs. And, uh, but they -- they could have been much worse, they could have really hurt somebody, but they -- they were just doin’ what they did to scare us, more than anything else, but our -- the school owed, uh, the company, uh, something because they had given en-- the students enough work that they could, uh, work and, and, uh, continue their education, and the school 111:00would -- would accept the number of jobs, you know -- I mean, the company would accept the number of jobs that the school needed that year, and, um, and there was great support. And in this -- in the church, where I belonged in Spartanburg, uh, there was, as I said a while ago, it was a bigger Baptist school than it was anything else, and the Baptist people who went to the church were not involved -- I mean, our students were not involved. We knew these other people were, but we were not fighting for a cause at that time, we were just trying to get through school.

LISK: Well, I think this is a good illustration of the ambiguous position that churches and other institutions were placed. On the one hand, the mill provided 112:00jobs that made it possible for people, such as yourself, to get an education, and had it not been for that, many of you people would not have gotten an education. At the same time, when faced with a labor dispute, you were used at strike breakers in union [parlets?], scabs, uh, for the benefit of the mill.

GEORGE STONEY: The one other thing, I think we better --

JAMIE STONEY: Yeah, I’ve got one question here.

GEORGE STONEY: OK, you were telling me your feelings about coming back to what we’re doing about your father, could you tell Mrs., uh, Murphy about that?

LISK: Well, my father’s youngest sister, Helen, was always very close to my father, in fact, my father was always very close to his family, and my father came from a rather large family, Bryce, Jake, Blaine, Howard, Ruth, Helen, 113:00Lutelle, Daddy, uh, children. Daddy was always very close to them, and when I called Helen, Dad’s youngest sister, and told her that I was coming to North Carolina, and I haven’t been home in several years, there was a moment of silence and she choked up and she said, “Red deserves to be remembered.” And I think that that sums up the way I feel about my father, uh, not in terms of, uh, holding high public office, he never held public office in his life; not in terms of wealth, finest home he ever lived in in his life was a one-bathroom two-bedroom home; best car he ever had in his life was a stripped down Mercury, 114:00uh, he was not great in the sense that the world sees greatness, but whatever I am that amounts to anything, the great extent is because of my father. Uh, and because of what I saw and the example that he gave me in -- in terms of some things are worth dying for, some things are worth living for, and in that sense, he was a great man, and -- and in the sense that, uh, blacks, whites, rich, poor knew him, and knew what he stood for, and I think it’s a token to my 115:00father’s greatness that one of my son’s prized possessions is a hand-written note from John F. Kennedy to my father, while Kennedy was in the White House, uh, and when Johnson was running for the presidency, here in Charlotte, my father was in the hospital. Lady Bird came to town and not the florist, but a member of entourage went to the hospital and took my mot-- my father a dozen roses, and another member of her entourage went to the house and carried mother a large orchid. Uh, and I think things of this nature say that my father was recognized beyond a proud son.

116:00

MURPHY: It speaks, uh, loudly to most people, because very few people are recognized by the president, uh, unless they live to be 100 years old.

LISK: Let me tell you, the closest thing to a divorce that ever happened as far as I know between my mother and father, my father was going to write a history of the rise of textile workers union, and had spent several years, as he had time, gathering original materials for his work, and Dad always said he wanted to write from the union perspective, and he had a file cabinet full of letters, clipping, et cetera, et cetera, material to write a history. While he was gone one time, mother took an urge to clean house and burned everything Daddy had. Uh, she burned such things as letters from Francis Perkins, Secretary of Labor under Franklin Roosevelt, uh, he burned letters from Franklin Roosevelt, or 117:00mother burned letters from Franklin Roosevelt about the union, uh, she burned an autographed picture of Harry Truman, and a letter from Harry Truman, uh. (laughter) She -- “What you want that stuff for, you know, just takin’ up space!”

MURPHY: And that’s in the past.

LISK: That’s in the past, and, uh, irreplaceable documents, she burned every one of them.

GEORGE STONEY: Well we -- we’ll be able to replace very, very few of those, but we do have some letters from the archives, which we’ve duplicated, we’ll be able to replace those, just as, uh, the -- we’ve been able to get some letters which had your signature on it.

MURPHY: Which I had forgotten.

LISK: I don’t think that --

GEORGE STONEY: You’d forgotten?

LISK: Yes, I don’t think I ever saw my father more disturbed than I was when he came in, and, uh, all those papers were gone, and he had spent several years, 118:00you know, document at a time, accruing the materials that, uh, he was to use, photographs, letters, you know, all kinds of source documents.

HELFAND: Do you know -- (inaudible) do you understand how -- I mean, it’s still amazing to me, and every time I sit with Rosa Mae King, you know, my jaw just drops a little bit, I just don’t know how you were able to organize so many hundreds and thousands, well, hundreds of workers, right here in this area, and I know that your daddy helped. Now do you really --

LISK: My dad was right in the middle of it.

MURPHY: He really was.

HELFAND: Well, talk about it.

MURPHY: Not in the middle of it, but he was the head of it, in one respect.

GEORGE STONEY: I've got to move this, to get it out of the book.

JAMIE STONEY: OK. I’m --