Annie Honeycut, Rev Richard Lisk and LeGette Blythe Interviews

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



HONEYCUT: I don’t know how many tops for old T-Model Fords she made for people.

GEORGE STONEY: I’d never heard of that.

HONEYCUT: Well, she did. She made them on a sewing machine.

GEORGE STONEY: OK. Are you ready, Judy?


GEORGE STONEY: You’re going to stop rustling?


GEORGE STONEY: OK. All right. Now, we’re talking about this list. You might want to explain the list and then read out the names to her and see how many she can recognize.

HELFAND: But also mention that your dad’s signature is on it.

REV. RICHARD LISK: Yeah. It’s interesting. I have two lists here and the list crosses over with the same names appearing. Here is a summons to you where Cannon Mills is filing charges against certain people for wrongful acts damaging plaintiff’s business and many of the same names appear where Cannon Mills is 1:00charged with violation of, uh, section seven and eight of the Labor Relations Act and it’s interesting that the same people are filing discrimination charges. And the accusation is that on or about the sixth day of September Lloyd [Harmon?], superintendent of plant six refused to confer or bargain collectively with the committee representing the unions, saying they had nothing to talk about, which is a direct violation, according to the accusation, of section eight, subsection five, and constitutes an unfair labor practice act. And it’s signed by my father, who’s handwriting is no better than mine. And it’s interesting to me that --

HONEYCUT: Well, now, there might have been more papers than that that I didn’t keep. You know, that’s the only one that --

LISK: Yeah.

HONEYCUT: -- that was in my little box.


LISK: Well, I’m -- I’m sure there are more.


HONEYCUT: And I’ve often wondered if this was -- of course, Cannon Mills sued us. We -- they must have turned around and sued Cannon Mill.

LISK: I’m sure --

HONEYCUT: But that’s the only paper that I’ve got, I ain’t throwed away.

HELFAND: I guess it’s the other way around. I think you sued them first because they didn’t give you your jobs back.


LISK: Uh, this is a paper dated the 8th of October --

HONEYCUT: Yeah, that’s a long time to think back.

LISK: -- that concerns only plant six, Gibson Mill, and there is one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 25 -- here are some names of approximately 60 people who were not hired back because of their union activities.

HONEYCUT: But some people, I think, just wouldn’t go into this. They -- right? Today some people talk to you and some people won’t. They’re for the union but yet they’re afraid to talk.


LISK: Here’s an interesting sentence. Judge Stacks ordered Mr. Murray to leave the State of North Carolina the remainder of his life. And if he ever returned, simply being in the state would put him for two years on the chain gang. Interesting sentence. I wonder what the courts would say about the constitutional guarantee against strange and unusual punishments.

GEORGE STONEY: I wonder how many of those names she knows. You might just start off and...

LISK: Let me read these names and see how many people -- this is from Gibson. [Doug Yates Linker?]?

HONEYCUT: I knowed him.

LISK: Jake [McClaric?].

HONEYCUT: I don’t remember that.

LISK: H.J. [Linker?]

HONEYCUT: Now, there’s one Linker living on the street I lived on.

LISK: John Linker?

HONEYCUT: I don’t know if that was John or --

LISK: Robert [Yuri?]? I went to school with his daughter. She was a pretty girl when I was thirteen. Frank [Broom?]


HONEYCUT: I knowed him.

LISK: [Glenn McDaniel?]? [Olin Teeter?]? He had a pretty daughter, too, when I was in seventh grade. Mister [Means?]? Ed [Kilo?]? [Bright Thompson?]

HONEYCUT: I knowed him.

LISK: [Maude Hines?]? Billy [Boss?]?

HONEYCUT: Knowed him.

LISK: [Jim Leffler?]?

HONEYCUT: Knowed that one.

LISK: [Jesse Gillespie?]?

HONEYCUT: I knowed him.

LISK: [Bonnie Eisenhower?]

HONEYCUT: I knowed her.

LISK: [Pansy Eisenhower?]?

HONEYCUT: Knowed them.

LISK: [Addy Carver?]?

HONEYCUT: I knowed her.

LISK: [Pansky Gatsky?]?

HONEYCUT: Pan-- I knowed some [Gatskys?] but I don’t know about that one. I know --

LISK: [Zeb Lomax?]

HONEYCUT: Knowed him.

LISK: Clarence [Fry?]?


LISK: One listed simply as Mr. Higgins. That’s unusual. No name but the term mis--

HONEYCUT: Well, you see, some of them lived on the same street I did.

LISK: Uh-huh. Roy Whitley? [Red Fletcher?]?


HONEYCUT: I knowed that one.

LISK: Miss [Fredericks?]? Annie [Urie?]? Buck [Rogers?]?

HONEYCUT: I knowed him.

LISK: [Lloyd Holder?]?

HONEYCUT: I knowed that one.

LISK: [Clara Hudson?]? [Lester Cook?]?

HONEYCUT: Yeah, I knowed him.

LISK: [Ira Smith?]? [Beam Shue?]? [Son Hartzell?]? [Roy Ennis?]?

HONEYCUT: I knowed that one.

LISK: [Knut Newton?]? Raymond [Yontz?]? How’d you like to be named [Knut?]?

HONEYCUT: I’ve heard some worse than that. (laughter)

LISK: [Dolphus Lomax?]?

HONEYCUT: Knowed that one.

LISK: [Luther Fray?]? Mr. Carver?

HONEYCUT: Knowed him.

LISK: Marvin [Gaskey?]?

HONEYCUT: Knowed that one.

LISK: Walt [Eisenhower?]?

HONEYCUT: That one.

LISK: [John Holder?]?

HONEYCUT: Knowed him.

LISK: Adam [Hudson?]?

HONEYCUT: Knowed that one.

LISK: Lee [Boss?]?

HONEYCUT: I knowed him.

LISK: Roy [Shoe?]?


HONEYCUT: Now, the Roy [Shoe?] that’s living might be that Roy [Shoe?] but I don’t know whether -- he lives toward Mount Pleasant. But there are some Roy [Shoe’s?] in the book, you know, telephone book, but now they -- my daughter-in-law told me there’s one live down there about 80 years old and he could have, you know, been in this. He could have been that Roy [Shoe?]. I don’t know.

LISK: Yeah. [Dave Maudlin?]? [Badge Broom?]?

HONEYCUT: Knowed that one.

LISK: [Amy Linker?]?

HONEYCUT: Know her.

LISK: Walter [Yurie?]?

HONEYCUT: Knowed him.

LISK: Blanche [Williams?]?

HONEYCUT: Knowed her.

LISK: [Lois Linker?]? That’s a list of approximately 60. Uh...

GEORGE STONEY: Well, what interests us so much in this is that -- what’s the date on that document?

LISK: Uh, October the 8th. Let me see if there’s a year date. Yes. Uh, 1935. Or ’34 because a follow-up is February of ’35. So it was, uh, 7:00October of ’34.

GEORGE STONEY: So this is the beginning of a suit that went on and on and on and on.

HONEYCUT: It drug on a long time. We didn’t never think it would amount to anything when it did come to a head.

HELFAND: Um, the other list that you read off, where your dad signed?

LISK: Yeah.

HELFAND: Those were the hardcore people that hung on tight all those years.

LISK: Yes.

HELFAND: See, what’s the date on there? Well, I --

LISK: March 1935.

HELFAND: Oh, it is?



LISK: Third and fourth. It’s -- it’s interesting. Subscribed and fo-- sworn to me this day of 3-4 March, 1935, Robert E. Lee, notary public.

GEORGE STONEY: Well, now, do we have a list of the ones who -- who were, one, on the suit?

HELFAND: Well, I think those are the people that went through with the suit. 8:00Those people that are in your hand.

HONEYCUT: It’s on that summons there.


HELFAND: No, I think the -- the white page --


HELFAND: -- that’s right on your hand.

HONEYCUT: The white page.

LISK: Uh, there -- there are some of the same names.

GEORGE STONEY: The interesting thing is that this suit went on and on and you finally got some money in 1937 or eight?

HONEYCUT: Thirty-seven.

GEORGE STONEY: Thirty-seven.

HONEYCUT: That’s when that summons is.


LISK: A hundred dollars a piece.

GEORGE STONEY: OK. Now, it’s significant not only that you got it but that the union didn’t go off and leave you. The union kept working with you.

HONEYCUT: Well, I know in ’34, when we all got laid off, this union in New York sent us boxes of clothes when wintertime come. Just good, nice, clean clothes, and we distributed it, uh, among, you know, the -- took it to the union hall where they had the meeting because I know my little boys wore coats that winter that come in that box. Because I got Ted’s picture with one of them one (laughter) when he was four years old. So they did send stuff to help us 9:00from up there like that, you know, while we were having it rough down here.

LISK: Well, I remember one of the points of pride of my father was that, to use his term, the organization, meaning the national union, that the organization stood with its people and that was a point of pride with my father, that they tried to stay with the locals and tried to support them as best they could. Truth of the matter is the national union was not a whole lot better off than the local union because this was a time of storm and stress economically on our country and the unions were getting off of the ground. Uh, but they --

HONEYCUT: Well, the reason I know this happened, they were -- come by express, I guess, great big huge boxes, you know, clothes, and they come to our house. 10:00They didn’t send them to the union house. They sent them to Les in his name and then he took them to the union hall to see who needed them most, you know.

GEORGE STONEY: Where did you have the union hall?

HONEYCUT: You know, I can’t remember to save my life. I -- it seemed like that Redmond Hall pops in my mind all the time but I don’t know where the union hall was.

LISK: I -- I don’t remember where the union hall was either. I remember my father talking about difficulty at times finding a suitable place to meet. Uh, not just this particular union but other unions because... In the first place, there’s not too many such places available. And second place, sometimes inexplicably they found doors closed. There was a conflict and they couldn’t for this reason or the other.


HONEYCUT: Well, you see, I had -- my children were little then.

LISK: Mm-hmm.

HONEYCUT: And I -- I -- Les done all the meetings and everything like that. He took care of that part of it. I stayed home, kept -- we didn’t leave or children when, uh, our children was little like they leave them today. Right 11:00now a lot of these women will take the children up to the mall and put them out for two or three hours at night and they’ll take off and go somewhere else. That mall babysits for them. That’s why so many teenagers is getting in trouble today. Uh, like if we went in, if I went in -- where -- he came home if he went in or I came home. We didn’t have babysitters. Now, my grandma was living with us. Sometimes we had to go get groceries or anything like that. She kept them. But, uh, we didn’t leave them with her because she was old.

GEORGE STONEY: Let me ask you a question.

HONEYCUT: I thought she was old. She was 86 when she died. (laughter) I (inaudible) that (inaudible) now.

LISK: Let me ask you a question. Going beyond the union and labor management relations, which is what we’ve been talking about, culture and society has changed greatly during your lifetime and the role of women in society has changed. You just mentioned childcare. And you have lived through these 12:00changes. Have the changes been just changes or has it made a better world or a worse world?

HONEYCUT: Well, we got a worse world than we used to have, I think, but I guess there’s been meanness going on that we didn’t know about. Maybe back when we was young we just did-- uh, we didn’t have a television, we didn’t have no radios, didn’t take the newspaper. We just didn’t hear about it. Have you ever thought about it like that? You know, we just didn’t hear about it because we didn’t know -- I remember when I first got my first radio. Uh, it was way up in the ’30s.

LISK: You mean everybody didn’t have a radio in every room?

HONEYCUT: No, we didn’t -- we didn’t get the news unless you got it at church or at a meeting or in the meal where you worked. We just didn’t have no way of spreading the news like they do today.

LISK: Why didn’t people have radios?

HONEYCUT: I don’t know.

LISK: Was it they couldn’t afford them or they weren’t --


HONEYCUT: Oh, I know I - I got my first when I lived down there at Gibson Mill and it was about, uh -- it was in the ’30s.

LISK: Uh-huh. You remember what you paid for it?

HONEYCUT: No, I don’t remember what -- I know [Jay Yuman-- Manor?] was on the radio, uh, singing, you know, back then in the ’30s and I made their shirts for them to sing in, the -- you know, the band. You’ve heard [Jay Yuman?], ain’t you, on the television?

LISK: Have you heard of Briar Hoppers?

HONEYCUT: Well, that’s -- ain’t he the Briar Hopper? [Jay Yuman?]?

LISK: No. Jay, I don’t think, was part of the Briar Hoppers was Arthur [Smith?] and Whitey and that crowd.

HONEYCUT: Oh, yeah. I’ve got, uh -- I’ve got -- he sent me a picture here. I got 8x10 picture of Arthur and, uh, that he sent me from Charlotte.

LISK: Mm-hmm.

HONEYCUT: Now, I’ve -- I’ve, uh, been with that group, you know, where that was -- and like Tommy [Thal?] and all that.

HELFAND: It’s the Mountaineers.



HONEYCUT: Mountaineers, yes. I played down the senior citizen band, old band for 10 years and Tommy [Thal?] and all them would be up here. When Philip 14:00[Morris?] moved here our band entertained the armory that night for -- getting Philip [Morris?] in here. They promised him everything, they got him in here, and now they went up on their taxes.


HONEYCUT: (laughter) You know how that thing works.

GEORGE STONEY: Uh, what do you play?

HONEYCUT: I play the washboard. We had an old country band, like drums. Our drum was a tin tub, you know, and a base fiddle and we had -- I blowed the horn, I blowed -- played the washboard and, um, I done the tambourines. Anything that they wanted me to substitute for.

LISK: Did you play spoons?

HONEYCUT: No, I didn’t. Uh, uh, lady that lived down the country played spoons. She could really knock them thing. But all of our instruments was homemade. We had a big bunch of them. And my little granddaughter, uh, she’s the one that’s got this new baby, she was DAV queen that year and she was our mascot for a whole year one year. And she’d get up -- but then she was about 15:00five or six years old. She’d get up and announce the band. It didn’t matter how big the crowd was, and get out and dance. But after they get up 10, 11 years old, then they begin to get shy, you know. Then they go into this cheerleading, this, uh... (laughter)

GEORGE STONEY: What do -- what do you remember about the Briar Hoppers?

HONEYCUT: The Briar Hoppers? Well, I listened to their music. You -- I hear them today. They still on the television.

LISK: You remember the theme song?

HONEYCUT: No, I don’t.

HELFAND: Do you?

LISK: I’m trying to think of it. I thought of it this morning and it slipped my head again so I played --

HONEYCUT: Well, now, that’s -- that’s what I forget now. Is -- way back I can remember a lot way back but it’s today things. You let me hide something, keep somebody from seeing it, and I done forgot where I put it.

LISK: I remember that was (inaudible) --

HONEYCUT: Does everybody have that problem, today things? We’ve got too much to remember, just too much to remember today.

HELFAND: You know --

LISK: I remember one of their sponsors was a flower company and I remember that, uh, the Lone Ranger came on right after them. The Lone Ranger was sponsored by 16:00Merita Bread, came on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at five o’clock. And my grandfather, the world stopped while me, his grandson, and my grandfather sat down and listened to the Lone Ranger together.

HONEYCUT: See, like --

LISK: Nobody disturbed Grandpa with his grandson while we listened to the Lone Ranger together, and that was just part of our family life together. Uh...

HONEYCUT: Seems like my Briar Hopper pictures up in that old box of pictures that he sent me from Charlotte.

HELFAND: This is a whole bunch of letters that they were writing waiting for this case to come through.


HELFAND: And Lester [Cooke?], I would say, commandeered the --

GEORGE STONEY: Commandeered?

LISK: Uh, here’s --

HELFAND: What did --

LISK: -- a letter to a Francis Perkins, who incidentally was one of the early 17:00women’s libbers, a female, uh, from -- oh, here, this is dated, uh, received July 5, 1935. Uh, a complaint. Uh... And that’s a complaint. Same type of thing. Laid-off union members and put other people on their jobs. Uh... Please let me hear from you at once. Signed L.A. [Cook?]. Uh... Here is a letter to, uh, Senator Robert Reynolds signed by L.A. [Cook?] dated July 1937. Uh... Here’s another one. August 2, 1937. And sure enough, let’s see what 18:00Senator Reynolds said in reply to the appeals for help. Uh, this is just a copy. What Reynolds did was simply refer the matter to NLRB and say, “Please let me know what you do.” Uh, uh... Here’s another one from L.A. [Cooke?]. “Dear Senator Reynolds, I wish you would see why the NLRB does not try the cases against Cannon Mill Company. It’s been two years and we haven’t been able to get the board to take any action. Uh, it’s about 20 cases or more.” They came to you again. Uh, so apparently, uh, Senator Reynolds didn’t, uh --



LISK: -- do anything too much either. Uh, and here’s a reply. Um, “The board is considering,” uh, whatever that means. Uh...

GEORGE STONEY: So month-after-month-after-month with your husband writing these letters.

LISK: Yes. Uh, apparently the name of the game was stall, obfuscate, delay, confuse, and what have you. And it’s interesting that when a settlement was made each worker received a hundred dollars, which in -- weighed approximately $100, give or take one or two. Three thousand dollars divided by 31 people. Uh, one had died and the papers don’t say what happened to the share of the one who had died. But with typical wages running in the neighborhood of, uh, 20:00$12 a week, that’s approximately two months pay, uh, for a worker.

GEORGE STONEY: What did you do with that money?

HONEYCUT: I can’t tell you that. I don’t remember.

LISK: Had a party.

HONEYCUT: Probably paid bills with that. (laughter)

LISK: Ha-- had a party.

HONEYCUT: No, we didn’t party back then.

GEORGE STONEY: You didn’t party?

HONEYCUT: We didn’t go -- go out, you know, partying much because I -- I took my grandmother when she was 75 years old and kept her until she died at 86. She had eight children but they want -- when grandpa died they wonder -- they were this and a while that and a while another and it didn’t suit her. She wanted one place to be. She come and asked me. I had a room that I didn’t have nobody sleeping in. She come and ask me if she could come and stay with me and I couldn’t turn her down. And I took her when she’s 75. And we never thought about no board, no money, no nothing. She didn’t draw no old age 21:00pension because she couldn’t prove, uh, how old she was. She was, uh, born, I believe, Rowan County, and she couldn’t find nobody as old as she was to prove how old she was. A doctor raised her. And, uh, when her daughter got 65 years old and started drawing her old age pension my grandmother started getting hers. Now, that is the truth. (laughter) She had -- had proof that -- she got proof she is 65 years old. She got started on $25 a month and we let her have that for her snuff and her anti-pain pill (laughter) and whatever she needed, you know. We never thought about charging a family board back then.

LISK: Come back to the little party. Sometimes we use the term party to mean roadhouse dancing and drinking but sometimes we use the term to mean --

HONEYCUT: Oh, we had ice --

LISK: -- church socials and what have you.

HONEYCUT: We had ice cream parties.


LISK: Well, what did you do for recreation?

HONEYCUT: Well, I just, uh... I just don’t -- don’t even remember ever having much recreation when my children was little.

GEORGE STONEY: (inaudible).

HONEYCUT: Now, we went to the beach. I remember the first time we ever went to the beach in an old car with a rumble seat in it. There’s six of us in it, you know, counting the children.

LISK: Did y’all have taffy pulls at church?

HONEYCUT: Oh, yeah. My mama had -- my mama had taffy, made taffy candy. On Saturday nights we’d have a crowd in, you know, and she’d make candy. And for our recreation, uh, when nighttime come we didn’t, uh -- our daddy’s bought apples and oranges by the bushel or crate or whatever. Popcorn. We had an old popcorn popper, you popped it in the fireplace. And I can remember when I was little. We didn’t ever do without things because they raised their own hogs, they raised a garden and, uh, uh, had a milk cow and then that fruit and 23:00stuff was put in a little old closet. It was locked up. We didn’t run in there and get apple and throw it away like they do now. But every night after everybody settled in, after got supper, he’d give us all an orange apiece or an apple apiece or whatever and pop corn for us. Mama made homemade candy. Now, that was our entertainment back then.


HONEYCUT: You know, we didn’t... Now, the churches had ice cream parties. I remember going to Brown Mill to ice cream parties. We used to have them out there where that old little house is now on Saturday night. And, uh, things like that.

GEORGE STONEY: You mentioned that your husband, after he got fired from the mill, you mentioned he went on the WPA. Do you -- could you talk about that?

HONEYCUT: Well, that was all the kind of work he could get. They, uh, had this WPA come in and women, they made mattresses. Had a shop that -- where they worked. And that was hard work because I know one time, uh, Lake Fisher you 24:00froze up, you know, with ice around the pump and it -- and it stopped it and it was wintertime and he had these big old rubber boots on up to here and got out in that water in wintertime and helped cut that ice away from that. And I thought sure he’d take pneumonia. Now, he was suffering working on that WPA because it was -- whatever they had to do, digging ditch-- digging ditches or -- or whatever. And they didn’t pay anything. It seemed to me like it were about three dollars and something a week. Uh, but now there was somebody put out a little bit of surplus food somewhere or another. We got a little dried peas and beans and stuff like that, you know.

LISK: I remember hearing a story about the WPA. They sent a group of men out. They gave half of them picks and half of them shovels. They were digging out a ditch. And one man carried a pick and a shovel out. While they were picking he leaned on a shovel. While they were shoveling he leaned on a pick and they caught him and made foreman out of him.


HONEYCUT: Well, they did -- they did do -- uh, they did do -- have to do hard labor on that WPA. But it was either that or we didn’t have anything.


HONEYCUT: And that’s when he -- uh, when they wanted him to go in to organize and he went there and organized. Uh, when he quit that he went into the service station business and from then on he stayed in that until -- you know, just about all the rest of his life, service station.

HELFAND: Do you want to (inaudible)?


HELFAND: In one of these le-- in a number of these letters, they’re telling these people that they can’t - that they no longer work for Cannon Mills so they really don’t have the right to, um, to sue but they all say that most of them are working for the WPA because they can’t get work anywhere else.


HELFAND: So therefore they feel like they should still be able to sue, not because they want necessarily their job back but on principle. You might mention that in...

HONEYCUT: Well, a lot of it I don’t understand because it’s been so long ago to-- I can’t remember it all.


HELFAND: Well, I’m just wondering if any of those people ever got back to work on that list.

HONEYCUT: Yeah, I remember (inaudible) when somebody brings it to my mind, you know.


HONEYCUT: But just to sit down and, uh...

LISK: Well, let me ask you a question. Uh, the people that were blacklisted, of course the mill almost never admitted that such a thing existed, though we know that it did. Uh, how many of them wound up working WPA work or that sort of thing because no other jobs would open to them?

HONEYCUT: I don’t know. The majority of them did.

LISK: The major-- in your opinion the majority of them --

HONEYCUT: The majority --

LISK: -- that was the only work --

HONEYCUT: Majority of them went to work on the WPA and a lot of them that went to work on WPA, they weren’t laid off like -- they weren’t barred. You know, didn’t sue like we did.

LISK: Well -- well

HONEYCUT: Because I know some women that made mattresses and they weren’t in that, you know...


LISK: Yeah. Well, the -- the thrust of my question is having been laid off as 27:00they were by Cannon Mills, in your opinion, did it appear like a number of people were pushed to WPA type work even though they have skills that were needed in the mills, that they were blacklisted, not considered for mill employment, uh, and pushed toward WPA when, had it not been for the union activities, they would have had a job?

HONEYCUT: Well, you know when they went to work for the W-- you know when they went to work for WPA they were already learnt on their jobs and they -- and somebody new come in that had to learn them -- that had to learn them on the jobs because a lot of them farmers had never worked in the mill, you know, and they had to learn and less -- I think Les was a, uh, maybe second hand or overseer or something.

LISK: Mm-hmm.

HONEYCUT: Fixer or something, I don’t know what it was, in the -- in the cardroom. And, uh -- but now, when they brought a new hand in they had to start at the bottom.

LISK: Had to start training.


GEORGE STONEY: Now, the interesting thing is that the papers are full of 28:00protests from the manufacturers saying that when the federal government is subsidizing the union by putting those workers on WPA.

LISK: Interesting point of view. The mill fired them for belonging to a union, blacklisted them so they could not get another job in the mill, and then complained because the government gave them a subsistence job and so they could feed their family, which raises the question what did the mill owners suggest happen to these people that they had blacklisted themselves and refused to give employment?

HONEYCUT: They really didn’t care.

LISK: Raises and interesting question about -- um, to come back to our conversation earlier about my father and his sense of justice, of right, of fair, of, uh, equality before the law.


HONEYCUT: Well, I don’t really think they cared what happened to the other people. They just really didn’t care. And there’s a lot of little children that suffered on account of it, too, they was in families where they -- you know, they could... Like I told my, uh, son and my daughter-in-law last Sunday, they come and we was talking about things being so high. You know, now everything is high. I said, “Everything is sky-high. I know it.” But I said, “I thank the Lord every day for what I have because I’ve seen the time when the children were little when I didn’t even have money to buy milk to go into his bottle and a preacher across the street had a cow and he’d bring me milk every night when he’d milk that cow to put in Ted’s bottle. You know, to feed him.” And I’ve seen the time when [Clara Fraw?] one of (inaudible) and she gave a tenth of everything she made to the church. And she brought her tenth of her -- uh, what she’s going to give the church she brought to my house and said, “You go buy your groceries with this because you need it worse 30:00than that church does.” Now, that’s the way we got along. And I said, “The things is high today but we’ve got more money to spend than we’ve ever had in our lives.” You know, you just go out to these eating joints and places and look.”

LISK: Let me ask you a question. As I look at your home, which would, I suppose, be described as a modest middle-class type home, when you first got married, compare your home then to your home now.

HONEYCUT: Well, uh, when I lived in Cannon Mill houses it was kept up but then after we got laid off there we had to rent, you know, and it was just rent, rent, rent. And I was so proud when I got this house. I thought, “I’ll never have to move again.” (laughter) I was thinking at the time, I seen all these windows and doors, I like it. (laughter)

LISK: Well, in terms of amount and quality of furnishings, of dishes, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, is this house about the same as a mill house, is it nicer 31:00than a mill house?

HONEYCUT: Well, I don’t know. Well, in a way because we’ve got sheetrock. The old houses was sealed with wood, you know, and it had chinches and stuff like that. You know how them old wooden houses were. I don’t know. I -- I don’t want to ever have chinches. You don’t never hear tell of them no more and see them. But, you know, the wooden houses, they said they come in the wood. I don’t know. But Mama used to spray them beds and take carbolic acid and clean the beds and the walls. You know, do you ever remember that?

LISK: Oh, I remember my grandfather telling a story about Adam Thomas. Adam had chinch bugs. And he saw (inaudible) --

HONEYCUT: And the best -- in the best of families.

LISK: Hmm, oh, yes. He saw it an ad that for two dollars, which was a big sum of money when a week’s wages was only 13, he saw an ad in a magazine about a product, if used as directed, was guaranteed to kill every chinch bug on the 32:00premise, guaranteed, or double your money back, if used as directed. And Adam Thomas mailed off two dollars. And what he got back was a black block of wood and a red block of wood and the instructions were, “Catch bug, place on black block, place red block over it and hit with shoe heel.”

HONEYCUT: (laughter)

GEORGE STONEY: (laughter)

LISK: Needless to say, Adam did not get rid of his chinch bugs.

HONEYCUT: Well, I don’t know what ever happened to them but they -- we just, uh, ruled them out, I reckon. But now they went into sheet rocking and paneling. Well, now, I don’t know, uh, how these panel houses --

LISK: Let me ask a question.

HONEYCUT: -- because that’s made out of wood.

LISK: In a mill house did you have, uh, carpet on the floor?

HONEYCUT: Had linoleum.

LISK: Or did you have linoleum?

HONEYCUT: They had linoleum on -- under this.

LISK: In -- in a mill house?

HONEYCUT: Oh, no. We scared -- we scared them with a broom every Saturday -- 33:00Friday or Saturday them floors had to be scoured.

LISK: No carpet?

HONEYCUT: Poured soapy water down on, took a broom, and scoured the grease out.

LISK: Did you have a tile bathroom?

HONEYCUT: No, we had an outside bath. Outside toilet.

LISK: Did you have a bath outside?

HONEYCUT: No. We took a bath in a tin tub.

LISK: Um...

HONEYCUT: Well, that -- when I moved here in, uh, ’42, uh, I was the only one that had a bathroom. Everybody had their wells on the street and everybody had these out -- that outside toilet over there ain’t been gone too many years.

LISK: Well, let me ask a question. Did anybody ever raise the question with as many houses as there were in many areas, a house beside a house beside a house beside a house, with outdoor privies and wells, did anybody ever raise the question about contamination of well water from sewage with all the outhouses?

HONEYCUT: No, I never heard none of it.


LISK: Uh, I’m still pursuing the comparison of the house. Did you have a lovely couch such as we’re seated on when you were in a mill house?

HONEYCUT: Didn’t have no couch.

LISK: Didn’t have a couch?

HONEYCUT: I had a bed in my be-- in my living room then because my grandma had to have one room.

LISK: All right.

HONEYCUT: And I had two boys and we-- so I had a bedroom. I had a rocking chair. And this - and my youngest boy, he had asthma from the time he’s nine months old. Still has it. He’s 62 years old in December. And I’d bump him. Bump him. You know, in that straight chair and every time he’d have asthma he’d cry and say, “Mama, bump me. Mama, bump me.” Everybody on the street, “I know Ted had asthma last night. I heard that chair bumping.” (laughter)

LISK: Uh --

HONEYCUT: But I -- we didn’t have no --

LISK: What kind of rocking chair did you have? Was it a cane bottom chair or was it an overstuffed swivel rocker?

HONEYCUT: No, just an old -- just an old wooden rocker.

LISK: Wooden rocker, cane bottom?

HONEYCUT: No, it didn’t have a cane bottom. It was just an old flat hard bottom rocker.

LISK: Hard bottom?

HONEYCUT: Wood all over. That’s the kind I had.


GEORGE STONEY: Judy, you want to --

HELFAND: Mm-hmm?

GEORGE STONEY: You want to -- you had some questions, I believe?

HELFAND: Um, no. I just found something that really supports the fact that Miss [Pre--?], uh, Red Lisk really helped --


HELFAND: -- organize all of this. It’s really at the top.

GEORGE STONEY: OK, take a look at it.

LISK: Let’s see.


HELFAND: You might want to read that first paragraph.

LISK: Uh, complaint was filed against Cannon Mills plant six, uh, by [HD Lisk?], organized by the UTW on behalf of union member 1902, alleged discrimination. Twenty-six of the layoffs occurred at the same time. Uh, this is a paper signed by [Mortimer Collander?], attorney. And his conclusions, the company has 36:00undoubtedly been antagonistic to union organization over a period of the years. The ar-- the original layoffs in this case, uh, legally may not have been discriminatory since there was a curtailment of activities. However, since the layoffs, through the efforts to secure (inaudible), the case is reasonably strong for the union. Sign. It is my recommendation that the regional director make a further effort to (inaudible) an adjustment of this case. Um... In the meantime, further consideration should be given to whether or not provisions of the act should be invoked in case of the employees laid off even before this, uh, time.

HELFAND: And on the first page I think it says that it’s -- right here -- that it’s the most active members? You see that paragraph?


LISK: I do not believe the company will make any effort to settle the controversy.

GEORGE STONEY: This is the kind of report we’re going to be discussing with Mr. -- Mr. [Heefner?] tomorrow.

LISK: Yeah.

HELFAND: Annie, it’s just -- it’s -- it’s been amazing to me, since we found you a year ago, that you all stuck to it because every -- most people’s stories is that after the strike people went back to work or they were blacklisted and their unions dissolved. And, um, this is saying something very different.

LISK: Uh-huh.

HONEYCUT: Well, I-- I’m just telling you I don’t know all about it, you know. I just -- I’m just telling you what I remember because I -- I can’t remember everything that went on. But when it’s brought -- brought back to my mind, you know some of it.

LISK: Yeah.


HELFAND: My ques-- another question is all those people on that list that -- that, um, the Reverend read to you, and the people on that and on the -- actually two questions. Did you ever get to testify?

HONEYCUT: No, I think we -- uh, it seemed to me like we settled. They settled with us without -- I don’t ever remember getting on the stand.

HELFAND: Did you want to?

HONEYCUT: I don’t know. I -- I have an idea I didn’t want to have to get out there. I don’t -- I wouldn’t today if I -- somebody summonsed me to court I wouldn’t want to have to go to court. Uh, I don’t -- I don’t remember ever getting on the stand. I do remember going to the trial, you know, and I -- but I don’t remember much about it, what happened. But I think they made a settlement without putting us on the stand. Now, it seems to me like -- I’m just telling you what I seem to think because I don’t -- I know I didn’t get on the stand.

HELFAND: And Lester [Cook?] and Frank Gillespie, they were writing one letter after another representing all those people.


HONEYCUT: Well, now, Frank Gillespie died this past year. He belonged to my senior citizen meeting down here at the church. Senior citizen club. And he passed away last year. Just died almost suddenly. Or he just weren’t sick long. I don’t remember what happened.

HELFAND: Did -- what happened to all those people on that list who were in that case?

LISK: Well, this is part of the document written by the attorney and he makes a statement -- he talks about the fact there was a cutback in work and people, in addition to non-union workers, were sometimes laid off. But then he makes this summary statement. He says, “When the plant resumed full operations none of the complainants was restored to their jobs after they had resumed operations. Uh, practically all the complainants reapplied for work and none were given their jobs back but other people were hired and other non-union employees were given their jobs back.” Which is a prima facie evidence, at least in this 40:00country boy’s opinion, that their was a deliberate effort on the part of mill management to discriminate against those who were actively involved with the union and to show preferential treatment for non-union activity.

HONEYCUT: Well, now, you read the papers today of what’s going on in Kannapolis, you know, up there. You know (inaudible).

LISK: No, I don’t -- see, I live a thousand miles away and I haven’t heard anything about Kannapolis.

HONEYCUT: You know, they’ve been having lawsuits up there in Kannapolis.

LISK: No, I haven’t heard anything about this.

HONEYCUT: On the union right now they had a -- had -- voting on it. They had a vote. You probably have heard about it. And there’s still discrimination against, you know...

LISK: Well, (inaudible) don’t --

HONEYCUT: They just lacked a few votes, I think, this last time of getting a union and then, uh, they seem to think that there’s some discrimination because of not getting it and they’ve been having hearings. I’ve been 41:00reading about it in the paper, about having hearings on it. I don’t know, uh, what -- if they’ll ever get it or not but they’ve come close to getting it this time.

GEORGE STONEY: Well, if they follow your example and stick to it, eventually they may get a settlement.

HONEYCUT: Well, the thing about it, if they just -- well, I don’t know of anybody -- whether they followed them now like they did then. You know, they -- I don’t know whether they do that or not because I’m not working in the mill. But, uh, it’s -- they’re going to have to stick together if they ever get it. Now, that’s one thing about it.

LISK: Well, there’s --

HONEYCUT: And I don’t think my youngest boy even belongs to the union. I -- because he’s -- he’s planning on retiring in December because he had a heart attack here about four or five months ago and he said if he put in for disability, said he’d taken that long to get it and he’s old enough to retire December so he’s just going to retire. But now he-- he’s -- might lose that retirement. You know, they’ve got that retirement. You know, Mur-- 42:00[Murdock?], you know, sold that retirement insurance to some other company or something and Ted told me maybe three years ago he had $43,000 in it and he don’t know whether he’s going to get any of that or not.

GEORGE STONEY: A very similar kind of thing. Here it is and --

HONEYCUT: They’ve been taking it out on him --

GEORGE STONEY: That’s right.

HONEYCUT: -- you know, for 45 years. But now he don’t know whether he’ll get any of that or not.

GEORGE STONEY: So the same kind of thing seems to be happening. Yeah.

LISK: Oh, yes. Uh...

GEORGE STONEY: OK. I think we should... Judy, unless you have something?

HELFAND: Um, you wanted to get some exteriors, right, of the house?

GEORGE STONEY: Yeah. Yeah. I just... (break in video) Just mention at the beginning that you have all -- that this is a petition that came with all of these letters, all of these signatures attached.


HELFAND: Actually, her husband’s name is on there, too.

GEORGE STONEY: Yeah, including your -- her husband’s name.

HELFAND: You might find it.

LISK: This is an interesting petition and letter. Here’s a petition signed by your husband and three -- four pages, almost four pages of other people. And it’s interesting... Let -- let me just read you part of the letter. The letter is written, um, to, uh, Franklin Roosevelt. Uh, dated September 13, 1934. “It is to you that we appeal our last vestige of hope, (inaudible) and our wholehearted confidence in your impartial leadership. The textile strike was inevitable since all attempts to bargain collectively and make agreements 44:00have failed. All code provisions have been violated. Uh, overseers of plant six with (inaudible) walk through our praying pickets armed with guns underneath the American flag, which was held aloft by our men and they walk through without removing their hats in respect to stars and stripes of old glory. The course pursued by our governor in calling out the troops in what was reported to be a disorderly section has met with wholesale disapproval. The only disorder has been two fistfights in the whole strike zone and yet troops were called out. Mothers have been insulted, beaten on the picket line by hard thugs. The workers were in a destitute circumstance before the strike. County welfare officers haven’t even investigated our appeals for welfare relief and our jobs were threatened if we don’t return to work.” Uh, interesting paragraph. 45:00Sounds like a Patrick Henry speech almost. “Shall the sons and daughters of those old ancestors who defended our cause and who whipped Cornwallis at King’s Mountain be forced through starvation to return to the jute mill in humble submission or shall we resort to the last but not least measure? At the present time there is no alternative. We fight or we starve. Your intervention is (inaudible). It is in desperation that I appeal to you to stop this transgression on the rights of labor at the hands of greedy, profit-snatching exploiters of labor.” Uh, it’s interesting, the accusations made in the letter, uh, hard thugs. Uh, deliberately insulting women. Welfare officers not 46:00even investigating requests for help and what have you. If the affirmations are accurate the union was not only up against plant management but a whole power structure in this thing. Uh... You remember some of this?

HONEYCUT: No, I -- I don’t -- now, when it comes to -- time to go to work I tried to keep the children in the house because we lived right there at the mill. You know, they went in the lower gate and the upper gate.

LISK: Mm-hmm, yeah.

HONEYCUT: And I was just two houses from the gate. That’s the time that Ted slipped off and went out there with his little pop gun and got out there with the home guards.

GEORGE STONEY: What did he do?

HONEYCUT: He slipped off. He’s about -- I imagine about four years old, three or four. And one of the neighbors come and told me, she said, “Annie, you 47:00better go out yon and get Ted.” Said, “He’s out there with them home guards and he had that little old pop gun.” He says it had a stopper. And he remembers it.

LISK: Now, are you saying that the National Guard was there --

HONEYCUT: They were --

LISK: -- was there at the plant?

HONEYCUT: Oh, yes. They were around the gates, at the lower gates and upper gates. They called out the National Guards. They were there. Guarded them gates to let them other people go in.

LISK: In other words, the National Guard was used to --

HONEYCUT: To -- to let their workers --

LISK: -- make sure the picket line stayed open and the workers got in?

F1: The workers went in. That’s the time when they was hiring them farmers up there.

GEORGE STONEY: Explain to the reverend what your little boy did.

HONEYCUT: Oh, he was out there and he went out -- just two doors away, you know, and he took that little old gun. He said it had a stopper in the end. I don’t remember it. But he had a little old pop gun and, uh, he, uh, went out there and he was standing in line with them home guards, said, “Don’t go in that gate. You’ll get shot.” (laughter)

LISK: Which is to say he probably heard somebody say something similar.


HONEYCUT: He had heard somebody say that and he knew they had their guns and so he got him a gun, went out there, too. And I had to go get him and bring him home.

LISK: Did he go back out there?

HONEYCUT: No, he didn’t go. They got spanked back then. No, it was dangerous. You know, he -- he was -- it was dangerous to even be out there. I was -- I was afraid to go out there myself.

GEORGE STONEY: OK, fine. That’s beautiful. OK, Jamie?



HELFAND: Should we go outside?

JAMIE STONEY: (inaudible).

GEORGE STONEY: OK, yeah, outside, yeah.

HELFAND: You’d hear your father talk about this period of time as something that really influenced his work in the future. I mean, that’s how you knew about the strife, was he -- is that right, Pam?

PAM _: We were talking, uh, I think just about the work, how --


PAM: -- how he referred to the --

LISK: Um, I -- I cannot -- it’s been too many years to go and I cannot put a 49:00specific timeframe. But one of the specific instances that molded my father -- and, as I said, it’s been too many years. I cannot be precise with dates, names. But I remember quite well the essence, uh, of what my father had to say. Where a man and his wife were fired, forced to leave company housing because their daughter had been very actively involved.

HELFAND: Go ahead.

JAMIE STONEY: Oh, you told us this. I thought it was some—













_: -- Bible.

GEORGE STONEY: Oh, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth. Uh, First Samuel, Second Samuel (clears throat) First King, Second King, First Chronicle, Second Chronicle.

JAMIE STONEY: That’s fine. OK, Mr. Blythe, can you give me just, uh -- I’m sorry. Just, uh -- I need to set your voice level on the microphone. Just give me -- can you give me your name and address?


BLYTHE: Well, my name is William LaGette Blythe and my address is 206 Indian Road, Huntsville.

GEORGE STONEY: OK, come on up. Turn on the light as you come.



(typewriter ring)



GEORGE STONEY: OK, let’s -- if you --

BLYTHE: This far enough?

GEORGE STONEY: That’s far enough.

_: (inaudible).

GEORGE STONEY: That’s fine. All right, sir.

BLYTHE: Uh, you want me to turn this on?

GEORGE STONEY: Yes, please. (light switch, typewriter sounds)








GEORGE STONEY: Got it. All ri—(break in video) who are fu-- some of your favorite inter-- people you’ve interviewed?

BLYTHE: Where? You say where?


BLYTHE: Oh, people?


BLYTHE: Golly. I’ll just... Some of the favorite ones were just -- hardly survived the time I was willing. I mean, uh, just, uh -- we were just plain ordinary folks. Didn’t make any, uh, big stir in the papers or whatever. And then some did like Roosevelt. Uh, but so many of them were interesting to me 63:00because they were different from what -- what they appeared to be, uh, you know, publicly. They were just plain old folks like -- I tell you, I spent a whole -- a whole day in Charlotte with, uh, Will Rogers riding around town. And, uh, it’s just... Now, I -- I get flashes (inaudible) go to someplace which I don’t often -- I don’t go to Charlotte hardly any. It’s just a strange 64:00country to me. Really is. And, uh, well, I get a flash sometimes. I remember like a -- going down a -- you go down south, try and turn at... Oh. Way out there. Uh... That-- that (inaudible) some -- seems so silly. Half the time I can’t remember the name of the street. But I, uh, remember getting an interview with a... Well, people that at the time were very famous and later 65:00just passed on or the other way around. But it’s a -- I’m al-- thinking all the time about, uh, and that’s the sign of something or other, I don’t know what, of how -- how -- for instance, how this -- this -- I’ll tell you about my dad buying this at auction. That aligned with -- this right here was a road to the -- to the garage. And the -- and now my -- my line is just about 20 feet 66:00over there when then it was I think about -- well, it dropped around from -- from there to the other side of the new post office down there. And (inaudible) was at least, uh, I guess, eight -- eight or ten acres. Went back, uh, way down into the woods. And now, uh, it’s just a -- and he bought it, I think, about -- I imagine he paid about, uh... I think about six or eight dollars amount an acre or less. And now the valuation is -- heaven knows what -- what -- I pay 67:00taxes on. And the tax rate is down way below the valuation of the property.

GEORGE STONEY: Sure. OK. Jamie wants to make ano—

(break in video)

BLYTHE: Call it Smith Dormitory.


BLYTHE: (inaudible) Smith.

_: Speed.

GEORGE STONEY: I think so.

BLYTHE: I remember. I -- I’ve been in all sort of (inaudible). I -- I remember one time a sophomore right after -- I believe I was... Yeah. The freshmen and the seniors got along pretty well but, uh, sophomores tried to, of 68:00course, dominate it. And I remember running over to -- we called it [Marion?] Smith. Mar-- anyways, I ran up to the, uh, third floor and I actually jumped out the window onto the tree about four -- four or five -- four feet out from the window. Jumped -- smack jumped through the air, through -- I was -- I would have been a splash if I’d hit and, uh -- I stayed up that tree until they left.

GEORGE STONEY: Well, I was watching you type here. I notice you hunt and peck type.




BLYTHE: I never -- didn’t have any (inaudible), no. I can type pretty fast when I was actually doing it because at the paper I could really make it fly. But I had no -- I had my own system. But it was just from doing it over and over, I guess.

GEORGE STONEY: And I -- you were -- you were writing a story a day, I think, a major story cer-- certainly every other day during this whole period of this textile strike in ’34.

BLYTHE: Oh, yes. Every day. In fact, I was out on scene and, uh, lot of times I was -- oh, I’d wire this stuff back, and I’d have problems getting a place to -- I had a portable some-- some places I took portable with me. I remember 70:00buying a, in Charlotte, down on South [Trion?]... Do you remember when the Y -- old Y was on the corner of South [Trion?] and Second?


BLYTHE: Well, I lived in the old Y. Oh, yes. Up on the third floor.

GEORGE STONEY: So you carried your portable typewriter with you on these...?

BLYTHE: Sometimes.

GEORGE STONEY: And how did you travel?


BLYTHE: Uh, most all of it was in my Ford, T-Model Ford coupe. That’s when I told you the dealer told me if I’d have kept that thing shined up like a -- it was -- it was real genuine brass rated and ev-- everything about it was -- all of that brass was real, solid brass, you know, no fake stuff. And he said if I had kept that thing it’d be worth $150,000, just the car, that I could get that for it.

GEORGE STONEY: Well, um, on the -- the strike started, uh, in -- in Sept-- on September the 1st, uh, it was announced and then September the 3rd was labor day 72:00and then the 4th was when it really hit, on that Tuesday.


GEORGE STONEY: They had a -- for the first time they had a big Labor Day parade in Charlotte --

BLYTHE: Mm-hmm.

GEORGE STONEY: -- and also in Gastonia.


GEORGE STONEY: Do you remember anything about that?

BLYTHE: I -- I was in all that. I was in all the... Yeah. I was... I was in the middle of everything happening then.

GEORGE STONEY: Had there been Labor Day parades before this time?

BLYTHE: I don’t... I don’t remember that.

GEORGE STONEY: OK. Now, we’re going to move on to the 6th of September. The strike had been on for several days and there’d been a lot of violence. And 73:00here’s our story. I’ll read, uh -- the headline said, “[Leader] strives to keep forces under control; Policeman’s fists halts attempts to rush one mill. Flying squadrons are at work, paying -- working to keep strikers orderly but malcontents threaten trouble.” And there’s your byline, by LaGette Blythe. I’m going to read your, uh -- your first paragraph and then see if you can tell us about it. “With strike leader Howard Payne fighting desperately to keep his forces orderly and numerous malcontents in the ranks equally determined to override him and start a reign of violence, the general textile strike in the Charlotte area today enters its most delicately balanced period.”

BLYTHE: Mm-hmm.

GEORGE STONEY: Tell us about Howard Payne. You spent a lot of time with him.


BLYTHE: I don’t remember much about him except (clears throat) he was a... As -- as I... See, I haven’t even thought about any of this stuff in -- how long has that been? Thirty --

GEORGE STONEY: Fifty -- fifty-eight, fifty-nine years.

BLYTHE: Huh. And I’ve been in a... I-- I’ve been busy as a bee all the time in that time. He was... I remember he was, uh, trying to keep the thing calm. Uh, I mean, not having any violence, any fighting or shooting or cutting 75:00and all that. And that -- that was his -- and yet he was a -- he was very determined on his labor stand, as I recall. And I don’t -- don’t recall much. I guess it -- I kept, uh, thinking about... A lot of it would come back. You know, the -- the human brain gets more mysterious to me the older I get. I just can’t -- I just can’t conceive of it. And I guess, uh, that -- that 76:00little ant running along there, that’s got a -- what -- what extent does he have of memory and all that? It’s unbelievable that there -- the more educated you get and the more you, uh -- more you know, to me, the less you know. I mean, you -- you see how much you don’t know.

GEORGE STONEY: Well, now --

BLYTHE: And I just, uh... And I spent... I’ve been in that mood all my life but -- but more -- the older I get the more I -- I know there’s a -- a divine, 77:00uh... I don’t know how to... The more -- and the -- the stronger to me the -- the Christian faith becomes because, uh, Jesus was -- was a rebel in a -- in a gentle way, and a mo-- most... Uh, he -- he was searching, to me, uh, very much as I’m searching. And yet he -- he had the truth in his possession. I 78:00-- it’s, um... The Christian faith becomes to me more, uh, sublime, an adventure, you might say. I don’t know. And the... Well, I notice it with our children and grandchildren and now great-grandchildren. There’s just, uh... They are the most charming company I ever have of my -- and they’re 79:00actually company, of my children. My Bill is... He’s a high-brow scientist and really raises -- he’s -- he’s one of the top ranking MDs, I guess, and teachers of medicine and has been in all his -- seems to like all his life. And yet he is -- to me he is still our -- our six-year-old or 10-year-old or whatever age child.

GEORGE STONEY: Do you think it’s impor--

BLYTHE: And I’m the same way to him.


GEORGE STONEY: Do you think it’s important that that generation knows what happened when you were in your 20s and 30s?

BLYTHE: Well... Oh, sure. It’s... It -- I don’t know how -- how much -- how important it is but to me it’s of just vast interest and -- and, uh, I think it -- anything that you learn or recall or have brought back to you, uh, just renews your youth. I don’t know just how to express my feeling of -- and 81:00that’s what I’ve done all my life is express -- express my feeling. Now I -- I don’t know. It is a -- it’s more interesting. The older I get the -- the more interested I am in past things, which doesn’t mean that I’m not vastly interested in the present or the future. I’m always, uh, thinking to myself what is going to hap-- what is -- what is the vast change on this street. Right up there, just beyond this house was the highest ranking school in the, 82:00uh -- in this whole part of the state. And that’s the only thing here. That was Davidson College. And people came here from -- I think I told you this but one time a -- the [RP Church?] had -- and my first cousin, who was... (clears throat) I was very young and she was... I think she was four years older than I. Yeah, or more. Was a mission there to -- to, uh -- down in [lower?] Mexico, 83:00I believe. Anyway, when she come back, talk about situation and I still, uh, at times... It just opened up to me again (inaudible).

GEORGE STONEY: Now, one of the things that we are so interested in is that when you wrote here just a few days after the strike started --

BLYTHE: Uh-huh.

GEORGE STONEY: -- you have a paragraph that sums up the situation. “The cotton mills in this region are virtually at a standstill and if the leaders of the strike and United Textile Workers union members can hold the advantages they have gained they have an opportunity of winning certain concessions was being 84:00freely predicted last night. But if the leaders are unable to keep the followers in line and violence results then the strike will be definitely lost, though it may drag on for days.”

BLYTHE: Mm-hmm. Yeah, well, that -- that was a -- that was a situation and they -- they, uh, managed to keep it out of, you know, tremendous disorder. It got pretty reckless, like when I -- and out in the middle of that I got smacked. I’ll never -- never forget that. This guy hit me when without any provocation except he was scared and didn’t know what he was doing. I never was...


GEORGE STONEY: Who -- who hit you?

BLYTHE: One of the, uh... He was a... He was a... In the... I -- I thi-- he was a... In that militia, uh... The governor had called a -- called a national guard, I believe it was. It was a regular organized militia, I think.


GEORGE STONEY: Was the national guard perhaps?



BLYTHE: I think it was. And, uh... And he -- this guy that hit me, he thought I was -- claimed he did... Never was anything done about it but... I mean, he... And I... I never -- I was sore at the situation, you might say, but I -- I wasn’t particularly at -- at him as an individual.


GEORGE STONEY: I -- I’d like -- let’s start again because I’d like to have you describe just exactly what happened, saying it -- while I was getting a story and this was in -- where it was and the national guardsman did this.

BLYTHE: Well, I -- as I said, I don’t know just how accurately I -- I can, uh, tell it because it’s been so long ago and so much -- and I -- I have been so busy. Um, it’s just like people come here, as I -- I told you probably. A man came here from, uh, state of Washington and asked me about something and, 88:00uh, in that time I, uh, that I was involved in. And this guy came all the way looking for something he -- he read in one of my books. He had... As I recall -- this has been years and years ago. And I did-- I didn’t remember. I took him out this room right under us and showed him a shelf and I got a shelf out 89:00there, at least a -- well, this is why this -- that half again, uh... I guess, uh, eight-feet or so or more, a bookcase, shelves, and all of my -- just my books and, uh... But there are not that many different titles. There must be... I don’t know. I have counted them, I think, but, for some reason... But I think there’s about -- maybe 75 books in there. But a lot of them are -- some are book club edition, some are regular edition, some are foreign 90:00language. So there aren’t that many different titles. About -- and what’s always so funny to people and funny to me is that I don’t -- don’t yet know how many and there’s no way on earth I’ll ever know how many books I’ve read. Some are -- they’re called books. Now, whether in that shelf, see those little green ones right down down at the bottom?


BLYTHE: That is a book that’s as much as -- it’s one three and it’s this thick.

GEORGE STONEY: Mm-hmm, all right.

BLYTHE: But I used to do one of them every day for, uh -- every -- at least every Sunday in the Observer for years and so I have no idea on earth and 91:00there’s no way, uh... Only way it could be done is somebody go to the Observer and go through the whole -- and a lot of that -- and that would be impossible because a great many of the Observer editions were probably not even kept, you know, so...

GEORGE STONEY: Well, now, that’s one of the things I’ve done, you see, in connection with this strike.

BLYTHE: Uh-huh. You-- you’ve done more, uh, far more collecting and you -- you know more probably about a lot of the stuff of my writing. You know more about it than I do.


GEORGE STONEY: (laughter) Well, one of the things that amazes me is how consistent your writing is and how even-handed it is. You didn’t seem to be taking one side or the other side.

BLYTHE: No, well, I -- I think I had a pretty fair and proper journalistic approach to my work.

GEORGE STONEY: But the Observer at that time was pretty conservative.

BLYTHE: Oh, yeah.

GEORGE STONEY: And anti-labor.

BLYTHE: And Curtis Johnson was the conservative of conservatives, the owner. And he was a... He was a -- a -- a character, another character in my great 93:00list of characters. He was one of the chief ones, I guess.

GEORGE STONEY: Well, now, how did he let you write, uh, so well that in the day after the story appeared, a couple of your stories, a Reverend E.O. Cole wrote in from Pineville. Pas-- he was the pastor of the Methodist church there.

BLYTHE: Yeah. Uh-huh.

GEORGE STONEY: And what he said is, “To the Observer, I should like to express my appreciation of the policy of the Observer in connection with the present strain and stress incident to the cotton mill strike. The public may not have a full appreciation of the responsibilities of the press in such times as these as it ought to. It is gratifying to see the spirit of fairness to both sides of the factions at variance in this emergency. We have followed with interest and 94:00gratification the work of your reporter, Mr. Blythe --“

BLYTHE: Uh-huh.

GEORGE STONEY: -- “who has been on the scene here at Pineville and whose narratives have been consistently just to the strikers, who gratefully appreciate his spirit of fairness and tolerance.”

BLYTHE: Yeah, I remember Mr. Cole.

GEORGE STONEY: Who was he?

BLYTHE: He was a minister. Methodist.

GEORGE STONEY: Now, it took a lot of courage for a --

BLYTHE: Methodist.

GEORGE STONEY: -- Methodist minister to side with --

BLYTHE: I know. Yeah, he was -- he and I were, you might say, the same ilk, I guess. And, uh... He was -- he was -- he was not fearful at all, yes. Stood up and said what he wanted to say.

GEORGE STONEY: Now, here’s another. It’s interesting to me as a journalist, 95:00because I worked on a newspaper, the Raleigh News Observer for a while, to see how you have a mixture of -- of facts and feelings.

BLYTHE: Mm-hmm.

GEORGE STONEY: For example, here’s a paragraph. You’re talking about Howard Payne. “The strike leader, with only two or three hours sleep since last Thursday morning dashed from Charlotte to Cornelius and from there to Pineville, from which place he had received reports that the situation there was tense, and assured rural policeman and, um, deputy sheriffs that he was doing his utmost to prevent disorder and to guarantee no harm would be done mill property.”

BLYTHE: Mm-hmm.

GEORGE STONEY: Just that business of --

BLYTHE: Yeah, I remember.

GEORGE STONEY: -- showing him as a human being.

BLYTHE: Yeah, and he, uh... And I did the same. Like that running from [Canias?] to Pineville. Well, I was always in the middle of that, getting around.


GEORGE STONEY: Well, where did you get hit by the national guardsman?

BLYTHE: Over in, uh... Well, it was right... Uh, uh... In front of the Loray mill. What -- was it Loray mill? Is this --

GEORGE STONEY: It was at that time.

BLYTHE: This is not...

GEORGE STONEY: It was the --

BLYTHE: It’s -- is it still the Loray mill? Not in, you know, a --

GEORGE STONEY: No, no, it’s --

BLYTHE: I mean, the cotton is long go--

GEORGE STONEY: That’s right.

BLYTHE: -- gone. But that’s where it was and I was... I was just walking along the street and -- and it was a -- I had a... People just patrolling that 97:00area. There was so much, uh... Such a -- it was such a violent situation that they were blaming or just trying to protect their property, which it (inaudible). But, uh, I was just walking along and this guy just... He was stopping there (inaudible) along there and he -- I don’t know whether he told me to stop or -- well, anyway, he just took me by complete surprise and just caught me aside the flat of the butt of the rifle or not the edge but the flat, 98:00uh, this part. Hit me right on the -- you see... Hit me on this side. And just spun me like -- I sort of spun around and fell out into the gutter.

GEORGE STONEY: Now, what interests me is that a modern reporter would have made that the headline.

BLYTHE: Well --

GEORGE STONEY: You -- you don’t even mention it in any of your dispatches.

BLYTHE: No, I don’t think so.


BLYTHE: No. No, I... Well, I was just a... It was in the paper, I think, about my getting hit and I -- I -- if it was I didn’t -- I think the AP -- oh, 99:00it was played up all around.

GEORGE STONEY: Ah-ha. Then I’ll have to go back to the files and see if I can find that.

BLYTHE: Right.

GEORGE STONEY: I -- I didn’t see it before.

BLYTHE: I don’t know. I just, uh... I wanted to... I wonder what Columbus would say, just start interviewing him on his trip. (laughter) I bet he -- he wouldn’t remember half of the stuff that he’s been -- played up to the world. Prob--

JAMIE STONEY: Now, you mentioned that the guardsman was scared, he seemed when he --

BLYTHE: Uh-huh.

JAMIE STONEY: That he may have just been fearful.

BLYTHE: Well, he was.

JAMIE STONEY: We’ve -- enough --


BLYTHE: He didn’t have anything against me. He was just a -- keeping me out of where I can, uh, get in any more devilment, I guess. I don’t know. I don’t reckon he knew. It was just instinctive sort, I think.

GEORGE STONEY: Now, here’s another dispatch, the next day. This is on the 7th of September. And you say -- you were reporting from -- from, uh... It -- uh, you’re reporting from Gastonia and you’re saying, “Yesterday afternoon a local of the United Textile Workers Union was organized at Pineville after a group of operatives had left their machines and joined the increasing throng of idle men and women.”

BLYTHE: Mm-hmm.


GEORGE STONEY: “[C.W. Knight?] of Chadwick Mill addressed the group addressed in the railroad station yard where five years ago Pineville mill workers were aroused to a frenzy of excitement by impassioned harangues of Vera Bush, Carl Reeves, and other Communist agitators.”

BLYTHE: Yeah. Yeah, I remember Vera Bush. She was a live wire. I don’t -- I just got to -- I hadn’t thought of her, I reckon... How -- how long did we say that’s been? Fifty --

GEORGE STONEY: Well, uh --


GEORGE STONEY: -- this -- what we’re talking about is -- is 58 years ago but Bush, Vera Bush was there in 1929.



GEORGE STONEY: How much do you think the public reaction to the ’34 strike was influenced by the fact that in 1929 Communists had been, uh, trying to organize textile workers?

BLYTHE: Well, it -- it had, uh, I think, a big influence or whatever you might call it to whatever happened. It was, um... Some of it was (inaudible) who -- who was holding whatever the -- some of them were just a matter of goodwill for 103:00the whole community, whole situation, all the people involved. The, uh, value of whatever is -- is -- these are the... The whole -- just kind of a seething... I guess that’s a good word for the situation. Sort of a seething situation and, uh, it’s just like in a ballgame. Uh, somebody hits a home run and get in and just – get in a dispute over whether he scored. The umpire says one thing and the crowd says another and each one is... Each team or -- 104:00and all -- and all the spectators get involved and you got just a -- and then there’s some people say, a newspaper, curving it, which I was generally, um... he has a -- a problem of first place and knowing just what did happen and, uh -- and it also was reporting the thing. When -- when that -- he’s got all these different views of it and all failure to view mixed up with dif-- different, uh, ways of seeing it. Always it was trying to -- I was always 105:00trying to get some -- get at the truth of the thing. And, uh... Forget about the, um, which side you were on, you might say. I’d be on any side trying to -- just trying to get the -- get the story and get it right and then on top of that I’ve got all these years, uh, since it happened. But as it comes back -- there’s talk about it and look into it and the more -- more I look the more I 106:00dig up, you might say. And the more you dig up the more you realize what a, um, seasoned composition of the whole mass of stuff. It just bums in the... I don’t know. I had -- I hadn’t thought... And my... (clears throat) My main interest is how -- in you, uh... (clears throat) I’m not concerned at all of what you write. I mean, I got no... I’m just purely, uh... I have every confidence that you’ll tell it right as you see it and I don’t know 107:00what right is now.

GEORGE STONEY: Well, let’s go back --

BLYTHE: See, it’s kind of a --

GEORGE STONEY: Let me go back and ask that question again. Uh, you were saying -- you were comparing the ’34 strike with the 1929 strike and you mentioned that the -- there were Communist agitators in ’29. Do you think that the memory of ’29 influenced the way people regarded what was happening in 1934?

BLYTHE: Oh, yes. Very much. That was a... I guess that was the main, uh... 108:00Well, I had no way of... If it -- if they hadn’t had the first one you wouldn’t have had this -- you wouldn’t have had the second go around. Solving -- you wouldn’t have had it if you hadn’t had the first. You wouldn’t have had this and the -- and the effort was to try to ease -- ease the thing, calm it down. In order -- in order to do that you had to avoid writing or coloring material in the papers, anything that would tend to make a 109:00disruption. It is what it is.

GEORGE STONEY: Well, I noticed the difference between your writings and the writings that came out of the Associated Press. There was another reporter there from the Associated Press who did -- he was a kind of outside reporter.

BLYTHE: Uh-huh.

GEORGE STONEY: And he did a report every day, as well.


GEORGE STONEY: And the tone of the two wr-- the two reports, uh, is very different.

BLYTHE: Well, I guess... Did he have -- was his name listed anywhere?


BLYTHE: Sid (inaudible).

GEORGE STONEY: -- I hope I have it here. Let me see if I -- yes. No, no, no. I’m afraid I don’t have it with me here. So I’ll have to add that.

BLYTHE: Well...

GEORGE STONEY: No, I didn’t bring it.


BLYTHE: Well, it doesn’t matter actually if I was probably... He was probably maybe a young inexperienced -- I don’t -- I don’t know now.

GEORGE STONEY: I suspect he was sent down here from --


GEORGE STONEY: -- from the north or somewhere.

BLYTHE: Probably was.

GEORGE STONEY: And that may have made a difference. Now, there’s another thing. The -- the newsreel cameraman came in to this area looking for exciting footage.


GEORGE STONEY: And you’ve got a very funny paragraph about that which I hope I can find here. Let me see. It’s very funny. Uh, let’s see. Well, I know 111:00I’ve got it here somewhere. Uh... No. Sorry, Jamie, I’ll find it in a moment.

JAMIE STONEY: Sure, let me (inaudible).

GEORGE STONEY: OK. Where have I got that? Had it all marked out. Let me start again. Oh, it’s not on the 6th. Nope. Not there. See if I can find it here. Not here. Wasn’t on the 8th. Let’s see. No, not there. On the 112:0011th maybe. There. Oh, yes, here it is. Uh, on, uh -- this is on the thing headed Gastonia September the 12th and what you see is this newsreel men bored. “The lack of dis-- the lack of disorder and the presence of only pickets, who appear to be on a picnicking jaunt rather than the serious business of preventing the operation of the mills, has been a keen disappointment to visiting newsreel men.”

BLYTHE: Mm-hmm.

GEORGE STONEY: “Who declare that if something doesn’t happen their bosses in New York will begin to think this strike business was just a dream after all. 113:00Which many people, especially the general public, devoutly hope and wish might be true. Time after time they,” that is the newsreel people, “have dashed hither and yon over the Carolinas. Kannapolis, Marion, Spindale, Cornelius, Greenville, Fort Mill, Pineville, Huntersville, Gastonia and nothing has happened anywhere except at Honea Path, South Carolina, and they were not there when it happened.”

BLYTHE: Mm-hmm.

GEORGE STONEY: And, of course, if you’re not there when it happens in newsreel, you just miss the story. “The contrast, this strike -- contrasting this strike with the 1929 troubles was -- is painful to them but visiting tar heel reporters prefer the present variety and they will tell everybody, including Mr. Sloane and Mr. Gorman”, Sloane being head of the -- of the owners, the cotton textile association and Gorman was head of the union. “The 114:00only strike more to their taste would be none at all, with this thing settling up and everybody happy and at the earliest possible moment.” That gives you a glimpse of what -- the fact that the newsreel men were looking for violence and you were looking for...

BLYTHE: Well, I was looking for violence but hoping not to -- not to see it. I was trying to not do anything to promote more, at any rate. I -- I haven’t thought anything... I’ve had such a busy time in the -- in my own writing and 115:00own family and children and now great -- great-grandchildren, which, uh, most interest-- interesting thing that I’m dissecting, you might say. Far more than any -- anything like a strike or whatever.

GEORGE STONEY: Well, now, back then you -- well, you were in your -- you were born in what year?

BLYTHE: Nineteen hundred.


GEORGE STONEY: So you were -- you were 34 years old by then and you were an experienced journalist.

BLYTHE: Oh, yeah.

GEORGE STONEY: And you’d spent, uh, some time in New York. You’d traveled.


GEORGE STONEY: So you had been exposed to, uh...

BLYTHE: I lived, uh, a most interesting life up there. In fact, uh...


BLYTHE: Yeah. In fact, I get... Even now some nights I’ll wake up -- or not wake up. I’ll be dreaming and I’ll be right back. I had a -- in New York I had a -- a room on 113th Street and Broadway. Sat right out on Broadway, the apartment, and there was a stone step went up. I think there were seven steps. 117:00And I’d sit out there and... Well, I never sat much but I never had... Uh, sometimes I’d sit out there for a while in the sunshine and the subway station was at 110th Street. I’d get off and have three -- three blocks to walk or I could go on up to 100--

GEORGE STONEY: Hundred and sixteenth street?

BLYTHE: Eighth-- 17th, somewhere along there.


BLYTHE: And, uh...

GEORGE STONEY: What were you doing in New York then?


BLYTHE: I was a... Well... I was just, uh... I... (sneezes)


BLYTHE: I didn’t have a... What was I doing? (laughter) I didn’t have a... I was just...

GEORGE STONEY: You weren’t a correspondent for...

BLYTHE: For the -- no.



BLYTHE: I started -- I came back from New York and got a job, went to the Charlotte News on Church Street right up by the old Sevren Hotel. You remember the Sevren?

GEORGE STONEY: I don’t, no.

BLYTHE: It was --

GEORGE STONEY: You see, I grew up in win--