Brooks Pollard and John Pollard Jr. Interview

Special Collections and Archives, Georgia State University Library
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JUDITH HELFAND: -- and talk with you is -- is to understand how -- how much activity and how much openness there was about the union here in 1933.

BROOKS POLLARD: It was -- it was the paper, they didn’t have any, uh, open (inaudible) -- they had strike, you could tell that, uh, the mills were on strike, but they didn’t have any -- too much to say about it.

HELFAND: Now, back in 1933, this was before the strike, could -- could you, you know, could you tell me about your hus-- well, he was your fiancé then, right -- could you tell me about John’s activity, could you say, you know, “my -- 1:00I know about -- I know about the organizing and the union because of my husband, John,” and then could you just tell me a little bit about how active you know they were here?

BROOKS POLLARD: Well I know he was active, he was at a meeting about every night, I didn’t get to see him till late, he’s always late coming from a meeting, and he, uh, talked a lot. (pause)

HELFAND: Now, what I’m going to ask you about to help me to do is, um, we don’t know who he -- what -- if you could say, you know, “my husband, well, he wasn’t my husband back then, you know, John Pollard (inaudible),” if you could start there and then just tell me, you know, a little bit about -- about his, you know, could you tell me why he -- why you think he was so, you know, 2:00interested in helping people organize here?

BROOKS POLLARD: He was interested in making more money, and having better conditions in the mill, and, uh, just in general -- things in general back then. You couldn’t live off of what they made.

HELFAND: OK. Um, this is what I’m -- because -- you know, we’re sort of, um --

(break in audio)

BROOKS POLLARD: I don’t know the local he would belong to, meets every Saturday at 10, Workers of America or nothing.

M1: So it wasn’t a big secret, was it?

BROOKS POLLARD: (inaudible) these meetings, Saturday the 11th, bars -- it’s on First Street where that building was. And you know, (inaudible) Esther remembered hers, meets then. United Textile Workers of America local 1936, 3:00Lloyd E. [Brader?] meets first and third Fridays at 9:00 p.m. Now I don’t know which -- are all these different little, uh, places -- different mills, or is it just one --

HELFAND: Yeah, each -- from what I understand, each one of those local union -- each one of -- each mill had its own local union.

BROOKS POLLARD: Yeah.

HELFAND: So, was it a secret, did they do this organizing -- the organizing the local unions in secret? Or was it public?

BROOKS POLLARD: It was public. They didn’t -- they didn’t have any patrolling in there or anything.

HELFAND: So, could you tell me this, could you help me -- could you say acc-- could you say if you believe this, that “yeah, the organizing that they did 4:00was public, it was so public, they put it in the city directory,” could you say that? And then -- ’cause your -- your husband, I believe, was president of local 1881 --

BROOKS POLLARD: That’s right.

HELFAND: -- local 1881. And it’s right there in that book.

BROOKS POLLARD: Yeah, I read that, 1881.

HELFAND: So could you do this, could you tell me -- could you say, “Yeah, they did their organizing in public, they did it out in the open, they even had it here in the city directory,” and then could you read it off and then tell me where your husband, you know, your husband’s local?

BROOKS POLLARD: His local was 1881, let me see. (pause) On First Street’s where they met. Here’s Spartanburg, Spartan mills. Am I doing it right?

HELFAND: You’re doing great, now, why did the -- how is it that they could be 5:00listed in a city directory?

BROOKS POLLARD: I don’t know. I don’t whether all towns were like that or not, but Spartanburg wasn’t really -- they were pretty broad minded, most people were. About the conditions and all.

HELFAND: That’s so interesting to me, could you -- could you expand upon that, could you tell me just a little bit about the fact that they did their organizing in the open? So much so that they put it in the book?

BROOKS POLLARD: I can’t explain it, I don’t know why they did it. I was only 16 (laughter) I don’t know.

HELFAND: Could you show -- could you -- could you go -- could we go over that list again?

BROOKS POLLARD: Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to close it up.

HELFAND: That’s OK.

(break in audio)

HELFAND: This would be wonderful, could you -- could you -- could you say that for me?

6:00

BROOKS POLLARD: What?

HELFAND: Well, could you tell me that -- but -- but I think you can explain it, ’cause you said that they did their organizing in public.

BROOKS POLLARD: Well, they did.

HELFAND: Could you say that, and then you point to the book and tell me that?

BROOKS POLLARD: Well, it’s odd that they’re in there, I guess. Because, uh, it’s a wonder they had a phone. (laughter)

HELFAND: Well I’m tel-- well I don’t think that they’re listing a phone, I think what they’re -- what they’re doing is showing that there was a -- that they met each week, and they listed their meetings in there.

BROOKS POLLARD: Yeah.

HELFAND: Could you -- so could you -- could you look down and show me where your husband’s -- could you look down that list and -- and -- and -- and --

BROOKS POLLARD: I can see he’s a union local, “United Textile Workers of 7:00America, Local number 1881, Myrtle McPherson meets Saturday at 11:00 a.m. on First Avenue.” And what you want me to say now?

HELFAND: Well that’s -- and that’s where they met?

BROOKS POLLARD: That’s where they met.

HELFAND: Now, and how active were they, that they were meeting -- could you -- could you describe?

BROOKS POLLARD: During that crisis, they met every night, just about.

HELFAND: Really?

BROOKS POLLARD: Mm-hmm.

HELFAND: Could you tell me som-- but do you what -- what your husband was doing as an organizer at that time?

BROOKS POLLARD: Well, he just organized people for the union, the people that worked in the mills, some of ’em snubbed their nose at him, but he got -- he got enough, I think, to be recognized.

8:00

HELFAND: And what was the response of the town to all of this organizing?

BROOKS POLLARD: It’s like I said, I wasn’t at 16, I didn’t know nothing. (laughter) It didn’t make a bit of difference in the town, I wouldn’t think.

HELFAND: Now, he did -- how did John -- I know that something happened, how did John get so involved and -- and dedicated to wanting to organize the union at that time?

BROOKS POLLARD: Well, John worked in the mill, and he saw the bad conditions, low pay, long hours, and he wanted to do something about it so he started organizing the mill, and he finally got majority of workers and a lot of ’em 9:00went on strike, wanting to go back in, and they just had a mess of it, they arrested John one time because he, uh, was on a strike. And...it was, uh, it was just a mess.

HELFAND: No, no, prior to the general textile strike, they -- that’s when they were listed there in that book.

BROOKS POLLARD: Mm-hmm.

HELFAND: Could you -- is there -- could you describe to me a little bit what -- just what you remember of him going to meetings all the time, or --

BROOKS POLLARD: I know I got tired of him talking it all the time. ’Cause I didn’t really realize that -- I thought -- I thought everybody was the same, didn’t make money and everything else. And, uh, I -- I -- I just wasn’t too interested in it.

10:00

HELFAND: Well I’ll tell you, the -- the thing that just struck me was just that it seems like here in Spartanburg, so -- they were able to organize so many different local unions --

BROOKS POLLARD: Yeah.

HELFAND: -- and it seems like they did it in plain sight.

BROOKS POLLARD: Mm-hmm.

HELFAND: Could you -- could you just -- could you tell me that much, and maybe add a little bit of your -- your -- of why you think they were public here?

BROOKS POLLARD: I really don’t know. I wasn’t too big of a -- all I wanted them is to come home early.

HELFAND: But he didn’t, did he?

BROOKS POLLARD: No, he didn’t. He’d stay out till late. Sometimes they’d meet all night. I wish I could tell you more. (laughter)

11:00

HELFAND: Well, that’s OK. Now, do you remember when they -- when they called that general textile strike?

BROOKS POLLARD: In what year?

HELFAND: Well, I know it was -- do you remember, you know, how John and Spartanburg here, these locals here, responded in 1934 into that strike?

BROOKS POLLARD: I imagine them all excited about it, and had a lot of meetings beforehand, and...

HELFAND: Now, you had mentioned the flying squadron before.

BROOKS POLLARD: Yeah, that’s when they had these trucks that goes to mills that weren’t organized, and, uh, I don’t know what the purpose of it was, back then threatening them a lot.

HELFAND: Now, could you -- could you tell -- was John president from the beginning of his local union?

BROOKS POLLARD: Was he the president in the beginning? I believe so. Well, 12:00when I first started dating him, he -- he was a president, and that was in ’34. I mean ’33.

HELFAND: And he was president all the way through?

BROOKS POLLARD: Mm-hmm.

HELFAND: OK, and -- and which mill did he work for?

BROOKS POLLARD: Spartan mill.

HELFAND: OK, could we turn the camera off for a se--

(break in audio)

HELFAND: -- and, um, and that he was doing it in public.

BROOKS POLLARD: Well.

HELFAND: OK?

BROOKS POLLARD: I’ll see.

HELFAND: OK. So, could you tell -- could you te-- so could you tell me who, you know, you know --

BROOKS POLLARD: My fiancé, John Pollard, and I went together when he was -- I was 16, he was...21, I believe. And he was the president of the textile workers union, which I didn’t know too much about. It’s Spartan mills and Walter 13:00Montgomery was president, and, uh, of course they had strikes, and, um, I, like any other mill, I guess, that had -- was organized, and --

HELFAND: Could you, um, pause --And they did it in public?

BROOKS POLLARD: And they did it in public out in the front of the mill.

HELFAND: And what about their organizing, did people in the town know about it?

BROOKS POLLARD: I wouldn’t think so, surely they do but they -- they would have in the paper when they’d have a strike and things like that.

HELFAND: Now, before the strike, when they were just plum organizing, could you -- could you tell me that, that “Yeah, I know that, you know, that they did their organizing out in front, and people knew about it, they knew when the meetings were, they had their meetings all the time,” could you tell me that?

14:00

BROOKS POLLARD: Um.

HELFAND: I’m just -- I’m interested in the organizing before the strike.

BROOKS POLLARD: Before the strike, um, they -- they were organizing, they still had -- they had meetings and, uh, I don’t know.

HELFAND: Well, OK, now, what I’m -- what I’m so amazed at is that they -- that they listed it in the city directory at that time.

BROOKS POLLARD: Well, I didn’t even know that was listed in there then. But I’m surprised it was.

HELFAND: And does that -- look -- and -- and there was so many different, you know, local unions that were listed there.

BROOKS POLLARD: I know it. ’Bout six or seven, wasn’t it?

HELFAND: You could even turn the page.

15:00

BROOKS POLLARD: Oh, is it more? Yeah. That’s two more. Ten the more, I guess.

HELFAND: Now, so they would do -- were they frightened to be so public about it?

BROOKS POLLARD: No, they didn’t seem to be, I know John wasn’t, my hus-- I mean, fiancé at that time.

HELFAND: Could you say that, “John wasn’t frightened to be public --“

BROOKS POLLARD: He wasn’t frightened at all.

HELFAND: I cut your -- your words off, could you say, when you refer to your husband, if you could say John, that would be really helpful. If you could say --

BROOKS POLLARD: My husband --

HELFAND: Ahh (laughter) I’m not --

M1: Just -- just tell us in one sentence that John and -- and his organizers weren’t afraid.

BROOKS POLLARD: They -- John and his organizers were not afraid of the public knowing about it, and, uh, of course I guess it was a little friction between 16:00the ones that -- the ones for it and the ones that didn’t want to belong to it, but I don’t think they had any serious fights or anything.

HELFAND: Now, do you think --

M1: That was excellent.

BROOKS POLLARD: Was it?

M1: Yes it was.

HELFAND: Yes, yes.

BROOKS POLLARD: Good. (laughter)

(break in audio)

HELFAND: Would you say -- could you tell me, did your husband, fiancé, John Pollard, did he believe in what he was doing?

BROOKS POLLARD: He really believed in what he was doing.

HELFAND: OK, could you say it just like that but say, “John Pollard, my fiancé, my husband, he really believed in what he was doing,” just -- just put his name at the front of that sentence. I’m gonna ask it to you again, I want you to answer it -- you don’t have to play with the book, you just have a face right, OK -- I want you to -- I’m gonna ask you that same question, but please -- put John Pollard’s name at the top, OK? So, did your husband -- did 17:00your husband, fiancé, John Pollard, did he really believe in what he was doing?

BROOKS POLLARD: John Pollard really believed in the union, he lived it and slept it, and sometimes didn’t sleep it, they stayed up all night talking the union, and had, uh, other mills that he would meet with.

HELFAND: And what was he trying to do here in Spartanburg, and say, could you say, “Here in Spartanburg,” and then help me with that, what was he trying to accomplish here in Spartanburg?

BROOKS POLLARD: He was just trying to accomplish, uh, John, uh, to win the union over, and, uh, get better pay, and better living conditions, and, uh, whatever else it, uh, they didn’t do right. He wanted to reorganize the mill.

18:00

HELFAND: And did he help -- was -- would you say the whole ci-- did he -- did he help organize the other mills too, did he help organize the city --

BROOKS POLLARD: Oh, he did.

HELFAND: OK, could you say that he didn’t just organize his mill alone, he was working in the city --

BROOKS POLLARD: Well, yeah.

HELFAND: Could you say that?

BROOKS POLLARD: When he, uh, um, became an organizer, that’s when he went to all the mills and tried to organize, which he did, he organized a whole pile of ’em.

HELFAND: But before he became an organizer, he was just working here locally?

BROOKS POLLARD: Yeah.

HELFAND: Could you talk about that, but we’re talkin-- I’m talking about before this -- this strike.

BROOKS POLLARD: He didn’t have time to go to any other mills, I don’t think, he was too interesting in, uh, organizing, uh, Spartan mills.

HELFAND: And did -- did -- did they get organized there?

19:00

BROOKS POLLARD: Yeah, they got organized.

HELFAND: Now, could you -- could you -- so they were so -- do yo-- they were so interested in the organization and felt like they were gonna -- do you think -- I mean, why would they put it in the city directory?

BROOKS POLLARD: I have no idea.

HELFAND: Well, why does anyone put something in the city directory, so everybody I guess will know about it.

BROOKS POLLARD: Yeah, yeah.

HELFAND: So could you -- could you talk about that a little? Could you just tell me, “I guess they believed in what they were doing so much they put it in the book so everybody would know where to meet them and when to meet them,” could you say that?

BROOKS POLLARD: Well, they -- they re-- (pause)

HELFAND: OK, so could you show me --

20:00

M1: You could just say that you think that they believed so much in what they were doing that they put it in the book for everyone to see.

BROOKS POLLARD: Oh, he -- he believed in so much that he’s doing that they put it in the directory so everybody could see it. And? (laughter)

HELFAND: OK, now I want you to -- you just said that beautifully, could you -- could you say that -- could you say that again, and belie-- and belie-- and you’re saying it fine, and they put it in the book so that people would -- could go to the meetings, and I guess ’cause they expected to stay around for a long time, I reckon, I mean I imagine that’s why someone would put something in the city directory, so could you say that one more time? I guess you believe he and the others believed so much --

BROOKS POLLARD: I guess they believed so much in the union that they put it in the, uh, book, so everyone could see it.

21:00

HELFAND: And they’d be able to go to the meet--

BROOKS POLLARD: And -- and they’d know where to go to the meetings, and where to call ’em.

HELFAND: And your -- you’d never known that this was in the city directory before?

BROOKS POLLARD: I’m dumb. (laughter)

HELFAND: You just knew where the meetings were, so you didn’t have to look in the book.

BROOKS POLLARD: That’s right.

HELFAND: You’re not dumb. (laughter) OK, you know what, we’re going to take the camera to the other --

(break in audio)

HELFAND: OK, go like that, I’ll take the --

BROOKS POLLARD: This is the Spartanburg directory, 1934, and they have listed union offices in the book, like, uh, United Workers of America Local 1705, United Textile Workers of America Local 1835, uh, Local -- United Textile 22:00Workers of American Local 1881 -- and that was my husband’s, uh, uh, place, and United Textile Workers of America Local 1882 -- Annie L. West, secretary, meets Saturdays, 10:00 a.m. at 12-and-a-half East Main, the United Workers of America Local 1936, Lloyd E. Brader, secretary, meets at first and third Fridays at 8:00 p.m. Where is it? United Textile Workers of America Local 2119, uh, 23:00United Textile Workers of America Local 2145, United Waste Company -- oh, I had the wrong thing, (inaudible) that one’s listed in the book.

HELFAND: Now, it says -- doesn’t -- there’s a C next to number 2145, what would that mean?

BROOKS POLLARD: Where’s that?

HELFAND: Uh, United Textile Workers of America Local 2145 C, Frank [Duberry?].

BROOKS POLLARD: Yeah, Frank Duberry, “C meet, secretary meets Saturdays at 10:00 a.m..”

HELFAND: No, there’s a C in front of Frank Duberry’s name.

BROOKS POLLARD: Oh.

HELFAND: Do you know what --

BROOKS POLLARD: I don’t know what that means.

HELFAND: From what I -- from what I understand from the book, if there was a C next to, um, a listing that meant that it was colored.

24:00

BROOKS POLLARD: Oh, probably. Back then.

HELFAND: So that means that there would have been a colored local.

BROOKS POLLARD: It might have been.

HELFAND: Is -- that’s what C means, right?

BROOKS POLLARD: Mm.

HELFAND: At that time?

BROOKS POLLARD: I think so.

HELFAND: I think so, too. I mean, I think that -- see, if they have a C next to, uh, [Vandover Shafton?], that meant that -- that -- that they were black people.

BROOKS POLLARD: I don’t know, hmm.

HELFAND: So did you ever know anything about the -- the -- ’bout the union -- ’bout there being a black union here, or a black local?

BROOKS POLLARD: I don’t remember. I don’t think they had too many negroes.

HELFAND: It’s a -- it’s a -- it’s a curious thing, I mean, that’s another thing that -- that --

BROOKS POLLARD: I remember a lot of places would have, uh, water fountains, you know, and the white and then black and then restrooms, black and white, and all 25:00that, and they wouldn’t let ’em eat in the same café, they -- that was pretty bad.

HELFAND: OK, can we -- can --

(break in audio)

BROOKS POLLARD: Uh, you want me to read all of it?

HELFAND: You know what, the one that you could read all the way through would be your husband’s, and you could say -- you know, and read it all the way through because it meet-- where it meets Saturday and where it -- 1881, there it is. Could you read that one all the way through and maybe you could --

BROOKS POLLARD: United Textile Workers of America Local 1881, Myrtle McPhersons, secretary, meets Saturdays 11:00 a.m. to 498, that’s John Pollard, my husband’s local.

HELFAND: Could you, um, could you go through it with your finger? You don’t have to read it, you could just sort of go like that, and then turn the page.

BROOKS POLLARD: I hadn’t read that?

HELFAND: Oh you did, you did. You could just -- we just wanted to take a 26:00picture of you turning the page.

BROOKS POLLARD: Don’t say nothing

HELFAND: Well I’ll --

BROOKS POLLARD: Oh, well, “The United Textile Workers Local number 1881,” you want me to say that again?

HELFAND: Sure.

M1: We just basically --

(break in audio)

HELFAND: Just point your finger down and turn the page. That would be great. (pause)

BROOKS POLLARD: And read those -- “United Textile Workers of America Local 2119,” is that all necessary or do you want me to read these, the names and all?

HELFAND: You could just -- you know what, if you just -- if you just sort of -- just say, United Textile Workers of America, Local 2119, meets Saturday 10:00 a.m., Arkwright mills, just -- the thing that’s so amazing to me is that, you know, that they keep on meeting. That they -- that it’s so firm that they’re going to meet each Saturday.

27:00

BROOKS POLLARD: Mm-hmm. You want me to read that one again?

HELFAND: You could just read one more, that’d be great.

BROOKS POLLARD: “United Textile Workers of American Local 2145, C. Frank Duberry, [Newberry?], C meets Saturdays, 10:00 a.m. at 511-and-a-half South Liberty.”

HELFAND: Great.

BROOKS POLLARD: That was all right?

HELFAND: Yeah, it was wonder--

(break in audio)

BROOKS POLLARD: Now. This is a city directory, 1934 in Spartanburg, and in it, it tells all the depart-- I mean, the locals that the mills have here in town, 28:00and it shows that they must be pretty open about it.

HELFAND: So they didn’t have anything to hide?

BROOKS POLLARD: They must have had anything to hide.

HELFAND: So they didn’t have anything to hide?

BROOKS POLLARD: Oh, no, if they put it in the directory, you wouldn’t think so.

HELFAND: Could you -- could you read some of them off for me?

BROOKS POLLARD: Um, where...”United Textile Workers of America Local number 1704 -- 05, John F. [Lofter?], secretary, meets Saturdays at 10:00 a.m. United Textile Workers of America Local 1835, J.O. Bloom, C, secretary, meets every 29:00Saturday at 10:00 a.m., Drayton. Uh, United Textile Workers of America Local number 1881, um, McPherson secretary, meets Saturday at 11:00 a.m.,” that was my husband’s local.

HELFAND: Really?

BROOKS POLLARD: “The United Textile Workers of America Local 1882, (inaudible) L. West, secretary, meets Saturdays at 10:00 a.m. United Textile Workers of America Local 1936, Lloyd E. Braders, secretary, meets first and third Fridays, 8:00 p.m.” You want me to turn the page?

HELFAND: OK.

BROOKS POLLARD: “2119, Murphy Cooper, secretary, meets Saturday at 10:00 a.m. 30:00Arkwrights mills. United Textile Workers of America Local 2145, Frank Duberry, secretary, meets Saturdays at 10:00 a.m. on South Liberty. Um. United Waste Company” --

HELFAND: (laughter) I meant, you know what, they’re just alphabetical, that’s like something else. The United Waste Company -- that’s not a union --

BROOKS POLLARD: Oh, yeah.

HELFAND: -- they’re --

(break in audio)

HELFAND: -- you know that that’s what it must mean ’cause there’s a C, so if you could say, “everywhere else in the book a C means that, you know, that they were colored, so this means there was a colored local.”

BROOKS POLLARD: “United Textile Workers of America Local 2145, parentheses, a C,” which means colored, “Frank Duberry, secretary, meets Saturdays at 10:00 a.m. at 511-and-a-half South Liberty at the United Waste Company.” I guess.

31:00

HELFAND: So I -- now -- in that -- in the -- in the city directory at that time, could you tell me what a C meant?

BROOKS POLLARD: Oh, I think it meant colored.

HELFAND: Could you say that -- could you say “a C meant --“

BROOKS POLLARD: The -- the C in Frank Duberry, um, a C before Frank Duberry secretary meets -- that C --

HELFAND: You could put the book down, you could look at me, yeah.

BROOKS POLLARD: The C -- the C means, um, colored, I would think.

HELFAND: But that’s how they used to market things back in those days.

BROOKS POLLARD: Yeah, I guess so.

32:00

HELFAND: Well, tell -- I am just floored that they would list themselves in that book, because that means that they meant to stay around.

BROOKS POLLARD: Mm-hmm. I like the textile union, the only thing I did not like it is it kept my husband away too long. (laughter)

HELFAND: Now, what happened after the strike, with your husband?

BROOKS POLLARD: Well he -- after the strike, he had no job, so he got on with the WPA, making $15 a week which was, uh, pretty good money back then I guess. You could get two or three more Coca-Colas. (laughter)

HELFAND: And then what happened, and then he was hired?

BROOKS POLLARD: And Frank [Gorman?] hired him because of his activity in the union, as an organizer.

33:00

HELFAND: You could give me that book back, I’m going to ask you one more question and then we’re done.

J.STONEY: I need --

HELFAND: Oh.

M1: -- the close-up of her time.

HELFAND: No, you know what, we just -- we just needed to, um, to be able to -- to edit. That’s all. OK. So if you could just look at the very last one and then turn the page, that would be great. (pause) Do it just like, you know, before when you were reading it --

M1: With the finger.

HELFAND: -- you read it with your finger, and you read it a little bit slowly, it was --

M1: And then turn the page.

HELFAND: -- right.

BROOKS POLLARD: All right.

HELFAND: I’ll -- just like before, you...yeah.

(break in audio)

BROOKS POLLARD: “--ited Textile Workers of America Local 1935, Lloyd E. Brader, secretary, meets first and third Fridays at 8:00 p.m. on East Main Street, route 4.” What’s that? “United Textile Workers of America Local 34:002119, Murphy Cooper, secretary, meets Saturdays at 10:00 a.m. at Arkwright School. United Textile Workers of America Local 2145, Frank Duberry, secretary, meets Saturdays at 10:00 a.m. at Lib-- South Liberty Street.”

HELFAND: Great.

(break in audio)

HELFAND: -- made him believe in the union?

BROOKS POLLARD: Well, he had to quit school in the seventh grade, and, uh, he went to work in a bakery for about a year, I guess, he was 13 or 14, then he got a job over in Spartan mills, and I guess that labor and all over there just 35:00didn’t satisfy his, uh -- want it to be better.

HELFAND: George [Waldrip?] told me a little story about, I guess, was John’s father who had some -- some lung problems, brown lung?

BROOKS POLLARD: Say what?

HELFAND: Is this right? George Waldrip was telling me that, I guess, it was your father-in-law? He worked in Spartan mills.

BROOKS POLLARD: He worked at Spartan mill and lost a finger.

HELFAND: And was the -- and did they -- did he – can you turn the camera- is this true?

(break in audio)

BROOKS POLLARD: (inaudible)

HELFAND: He told me on -- on the telephone when we spoke that, um, that the -- that the people here, you know, that they -- not only did they have their own local unions, but they seemed to be connected, but they all -- all the local unions, I think your husband was real involved in that, wasn’t he? Helping -- in helping all the local unions be organized too?

BROOKS POLLARD: Yeah, I think so.

HELFAND: Could --

36:00

BROOKS POLLARD: That’s why he’s gone all the time.

HELFAND: Yeah, well, so it seems to me like your husband was -- gave a great deal of himself to the community.

BROOKS POLLARD: He did, he really did.

HELFAND: Too much, huh?

BROOKS POLLARD: Well, I -- I -- I really appreciate what he did.

HELFAND: Well, I think everyone will appreciate what he did also, in the --

BROOKS POLLARD: That what?

HELFAND: I think everyone will appreciate very much what he did also.

BROOKS POLLARD: Oh, I’m sure they did.

HELFAND: So after the strike, he couldn’t get his job back?

BROOKS POLLARD: I don’t know whether he just quit or they fired him. Seemed like he quit, I’m not sure.

HELFAND: But he couldn’t get a job back at Spartan mills?

37:00

BROOKS POLLARD: He didn’t get it back, he never did go back, rather.

HELFAND: Could you tell me that in one -- in one sentence, I mean, could you say, “after the strike, my husband didn’t go back to work at Spartan mills”?

BROOKS POLLARD: I could be wrong, but I don’t think I am. After the strike, my husband didn’t go back to the mill. And he got a job on the WPA. Oh, yeah.

HELFAND: And then, but did he -- but he didn’t lose his, uh, his feeling about -- you need to say what (inaudible) --

BROOKS POLLARD: Oh, no, he still had to – that, uh, textile union was his life. No, that’s when Gorman, uh, had him when he worked on the WPA. He 38:00jumped at the chance, we were sent to Richmond.

HELFAND: And did he do that for his life’s work?

BROOKS POLLARD: No, he, uh, stayed with the union until, uh, the head of the United Textile Worker, Len (pause) Valenti and [Lenon?] were president and vice president. They got -- getting money out of the till and doing personal things with it, they, uh, have a big trial over that, and he quit -- John did, he said it was getting to what like it ought to be run, and his last job was at the post office.

39:00

HELFAND: Hmm. But he never, um, so -- but did he -- so how long did he stay in, um, in the Spartanburg area trying to keep these local union going, do you know?

BROOKS POLLARD: Hmm...that was before my children were born. And in ’47, I forgot what he did. He had several jobs afterwards, but people found out who he was, a lot of the time wouldn’t hire him, ’cause he’s an organizer.

HELFAND: So did the -- did the -- did what happened to him -- I mean, did -- did his -- did the 1934 strike sort of stay with him all those years?

BROOKS POLLARD: Oh yeah, it did. That whole background of textiles, he talked -- he still talked it.

40:00

HELFAND: Wow, well I -- you really, really helped us out a great deal with that book because you -- when you --

(break in audio)

HELFAND: What does it make you think about?

BROOKS POLLARD: This [stints?] in there?

HELFAND: When you saw that listing, yeah?

BROOKS POLLARD: I really didn’t know it was in there, till you showed it to me. But they were must have been awfully open with it, they didn’t -- they -- they wouldn’t him put that in the book, would they?

M1: When you look through the list, did it bring back memories?

BROOKS POLLARD: Oh, sure.

M1: Can you talk about that a little?

BROOKS POLLARD: I just remembered –

M1: Can you look at Judy?

BROOKS POLLARD: Oh. It -- didn’t -- this brought back memories of the 41:00different, uh, union, I mean it -- uh, the locals. John was affiliated with a lot of ’em, I imagine, after that.

HELFAND: Did, um -- so that one thing that you sa-- just one thing, again, is that here in Spartanburg, I guess, they didn’t have to be frightened at first, they could be public.

BROOKS POLLARD: Mm-hmm. With the textile, uh, local listed in the directory, I guess that means that Spartanburg was pretty open about the strikes and the unions.

HELFAND: Well, you know, at the time when they first put this in the -- in this -- in this book, there was a new law that was set up. You know, the NRA and the New Deal and the Blue Eagle, and this came right after all of that --

BROOKS POLLARD: Yeah.

HELFAND: -- you know, and those laws said that people had the right to organize 42:00and to collective bargaining, so they were doing something that the country, they thought, was supporting. Well, so is there anything else that you -- you might just want to add?

BROOKS POLLARD: I wish I had some material that he -- if I ever find any of it, I’ll certainly let you know, that you might be interested in.

HELFAND: OK, well I’d sure appreciate that.

(break in audio)

HELFAND: -- you were starting to tell me about your father’s and your father’s activity in what he’s told you.

JOHN POLLARD JR: The, uh, the only impact I think is history’s activity in the union had on me is something he told me as a -- when I first went into -- to the workforce, he says, since I have the same name he had, uh, don’t let them know that I’m related to him, because, uh, of the paranoia he had about getting hired or not hired based on his history in the union. So he said, “Don’t 43:00tell them that you’re related to me, ’cause they won't hire you.” That’s basically it. He didn’t really get into any kind of stories about any of this, union activities with me at all, but that one story about “just don’t tell them you’re related to me in any way,” just, you remember something like that, you don’t -- you just, and as you look back at it, now it’s like coming here today talking, you realize why. Even though it was real open here in Spartanburg, obviously he still had some paranoia about it.

M1: You never mentioned it?

JOHN POLLARD JR: What?

M1: You never mentioned that you were his son?

JOHN POLLARD JR: No, I never did, not for that reason. Well, maybe so, maybe it 44:00was that reason. But I never had the opportunity to not mention it.

HELFAND: Could you mention who your daddy -- could you --

JOHN POLLARD JR: Yeah, sure.

HELFAND: -- would you mind -- you don’t mind telling me the story one more time, do you?

JOHN POLLARD JR: As many times as you want.

HELFAND: Okay.

M1: Sorry. One second.

HELFAND: Is that not sitting in? Could you say now, “my father, John Pollard, he was an organizer,” just tell me a little bit about that, and then you could go in and tell me that -- what you didn’t know, or did know, or.

M1: Could we just check tone? Speed.

HELFAND: OK, as long as you just refer, you could tell me that story again but refer to your father, and then when your dad speaks, almost talk to me as if he’s talking to you.

JOHN POLLARD JR: OK, OK, my father, John Pollard, was a union organizer, and one 45:00of the stories he told me is when I entered the workforce here in Spartanburg was, uh, “Don’t mention that you’re related to John Pollard,” though -- even though I have his same name, uh, “because you will not be hired,” he said, there’s, um -- he was just paranoid about that, so that -- that, um -- and he mentioned it several times, “make sure you don’t mention being related to John Pollard, you won't be hired.” He said, “it would get you in trouble.” So even though it never really caused me any -- any problems getting hired anywhere, it’s something you put in the back of your mind and always kind of take it out and look at it. And that’s basically the only impact his, uh, uh, affiliation with the labor organizing had any effect on me at all, that’s the only -- the one thing I remember.

HELFAND: So what do you do now?

JOHN POLLARD JR: I work in textiles. So, it’s, uh, in the blood, I guess.

46:00

HELFAND: What about the union part?

JOHN POLLARD JR: Well, the union part is kind fizzled away in this area, this -- uh, you don’t hear any talk about it at all, at least where I go you don’t, it’s, uh, satisfy the workers --

BROOKS POLLARD: They raised John.

JOHN POLLARD JR: -- you don’t want them to have the union.

BROOKS POLLARD: They make better money, a lot better.

HELFAND: Now, did you ever hear –

M1: I’m sorry I wasn’t on her.

HELFAND: Okay

M1: Could you say that again?

HELFAND: You’re telling me about, um, well, did you know why -- why your husband warned John the way he did?

BROOKS POLLARD: Because he knew the manufacturers knew him by his activity in the union, he’s afraid that they wouldn’t hire him.

HELFAND: What’d you think about that?

47:00

BROOKS POLLARD: I agreed, that he ought not to tell ’em. Mmm.

HELFAND: What about -- what did -- but what did you and your husband tell your children and your son, John, about the union or about his activity in the 1930s?

BROOKS POLLARD: Just the basic things. Like, uh, he was, you know, president of the union, and -- and he had a big part in the general strike.

HELFAND: Could you -- did you -- you could even talk back and forth to each other a little bit, um, so -- and could you say, “the things that I told my children,” and then follow up like that?

BROOKS POLLARD: You talking to him?

HELFAND: Well, I’m talking to you, but you could even ask her, you know, “what did you tell us,” or something?

BROOKS POLLARD: What did he tell him was that something you minded.

48:00

JOHN POLLARD JR: It’s basically that one story about “don’t mention my name” --

BROOKS POLLARD: Oh.

JOHN POLLARD JR: -- “beware.” Do you rem-- I remember one thing, a phone call that came in about 1954, you remember one day answering the phone and it was somebody to do with -- he was working for the labor organi-- organization at the time, and then he terminated his relationship with them, someone called him and said something. I was just four, five years old, and I remember you coming in and said, “Well, John’s not working for the, uh, uh, union organizers anymore.” Do you remember anything about that?

BROOKS POLLARD: That’s a pretty long time ago.

JOHN POLLARD JR: Yeah, I remember like it was yesterday, the phone ringing in there, who was it? Do you remember who it was?

BROOKS POLLARD: I sure don’t.

HELFAND: So the -- so the only thing that -- but so -- did you -- did you know 49:00that your daddy was -- did you know that your father was so active?

JOHN POLLARD JR: No, didn’t know that.

HELFAND: Could you tell me that part?

JOHN POLLARD JR: Well, I guess growing up, you know, you get into the playing all the time, he doesn’t want to get into the adult side of things, at least I didn’t. You know, didn’t realize he was a union organizer, up until that phone call, probably, and, uh, just -- just barely realized at that point.

HELFAND: Now that -- and what did you think about, uh, you didn’t pick up this book -- I mean, what did you -- what did you think about seeing, you know -- this is the city phone book.

JOHN POLLARD JR: Mm-hmm, this is the city directory for Sp-- what, Spartanburg county?

HELFAND: Yeah.

JOHN POLLARD JR: 1934?

HELFAND: Mm-hmm.

JOHN POLLARD JR: Yeah, it’s amazing how open it is, publishing the times and all. It is amazing.

HELFAND: If you open it to, uh, U, United, that’s what your momma was looking at before.

JOHN POLLARD JR: To a U. Can’t do into a U until I get my glasses on.

BROOKS POLLARD: You don’t mind if I take my shoes off, do you?

HELFAND: No.

50:00

BROOKS POLLARD: It’s squeezin’ my foot.

JOHN POLLARD JR: To a U -- here we go, “United Textile Workers,” yeah. It’s amazing, it’s like clubs meet at a certain time of day. So this is a rare thing, I understand now.

BROOKS POLLARD: I bet you don’t see a one of it in the directory now. Not that they’re not open about it, but I don’t think there’s that many.

JOHN POLLARD JR: There’s not that much activity, I guess.

HELFAND: What do you think -- I mean, what does that, um -- could you take your 51:00glasses off? Thanks. OK. What do you think, um, the impact is of, uh, your father just warning you like that, and not telling you other stories?

JOHN POLLARD JR: I think he was protecting me maybe, you know, maybe that’s what he was doing. Protecting me from that side, I don’t know. Um, it had a certain impact on me, it just makes you curious about it, um, and to this day I guess I have not mentioned that I have been related to him. That opportunity has not come up for me to say, “I’m John Pollard’s son, he was a union organizer,” I guess I’ve been wary of that, beware.

HELFAND: Is it a...is this the first time you’ve ever said that publically?

JOHN POLLARD JR: (laughter) I don’t know, is this public? (laughter)

52:00

HELFAND: Yeah, kinda, could be.

JOHN POLLARD JR: Let’s hope so. (laughter) Yeah I guess so, that’s the first time I’ve even talked about it aloud. It’s just -- beware, when your father says “beware,” you beware, I guess.

HELFAND: Do you think you have to be beware?

JOHN POLLARD JR: No, I don’t think so.

M1: I’m sorry could you say that again.

HELFAND: Do you think you have to be frightened?

JOHN POLLARD JR: No, I don’t think you have to be frightened at all, not now, you shouldn’t be frightened at all. It’s just something he told me to do, and I guess I did it.

BROOKS POLLARD: You have to be out at one, or two?

JOHN POLLARD JR: I got fifteen minutes.

HELFAND: Then where do you have to go?

JOHN POLLARD JR: Work. See the nurse.

HELFAND: Wow, I just can’t believe your father, who had such a big presence 53:00here in Spartanburg, never told you about that part.

JOHN POLLARD JR: Yeah, I know. Interesting.

HELFAND: Could you include my question in your answer?

JOHN POLLARD JR: Repeat it?

HELFAND: Yeah, in a way.

JOHN POLLARD JR: Repeat it for me, please.

HELFAND: Oh, I’m saying, I’m trying to understand, you know, I guess you answered it for me but, you know, here my father was real active, helped organize all these locals, his local at Spartan mills, all over Spartanburg.

JOHN POLLARD JR: I find it interesting in his -- sure.

M1: One second (inaudible).

HELFAND: Did -- put it in your own words, though.

JOHN POLLARD JR: OK, I find it very interesting that as active as my father was in unions, or organizing in this -- in the county and wherever, he, um, did not mention this to me. The only mention to me he made was, “Do not mention my name, uh, because of the certain problems you’ll have in the workforce here,” and, uh, that’s basically the way I look back and see it, he didn’t 54:00-- didn’t tell me any stories, maybe not -- maybe so I wouldn’t repeat them. Uh, but “beware, you have my name,” um, but I don’t think in this day and time I have to worry about stuff like that. But I work in the mill today.

HELFAND: What do you think is the impact of our parents not telling us the stories?

JOHN POLLARD JR: It’s a stop-gap in there, uh, storytelling is a very important thing, I think, uh, to pass the lineage or whatever on, you’ve got to tell stories, so this documentary would probably help fill the gap that was left. It’s a very important thing to do. Storytelling is very important.

HELFAND: Just what about history, I mean --

55:00

JOHN POLLARD JR: Yeah, history itself is a story. And what’s the old saying, the, uh, country that does not know it’s history is doomed to repeat it, I guess that goes for people, countries, towns, all kind of different levels. Yes, uh, storytelling is very important.

HELFAND: Just here, I mean, you have more access to this history than almost anyone I’ve ever met.

JOHN POLLARD JR: This is true, however, the interest didn’t seem to be there for me.

HELFAND: Well, somebody told you not to be interested.

JOHN POLLARD JR: Yeah, probably so. “Don’t be interested in this.”

HELFAND: Could you, uh, a part of that I said -- a part of my sentence that I said before about here, I mean, and I had more access to most -- I don’t know, you know, if you want to repeat that if you could in some way.

JOHN POLLARD JR: Here I am in a place that’s got -- I have access to more history in the textiles and most areas than maybe based on what my father told 56:00me to, uh, or didn’t tell me, uh, the interest for me is not in the history of the textiles, it’s in other things, it’s, uh, stay aware from this, beware of dog, I don’t know. (laughter)

HELFAND: Thank you so much, is there anything before we turn everything off that you, uh -- are you surprised that we came here?

JOHN POLLARD JR: Well, if you knew my father, no. (laughter) No, he had a lot of charisma, uh, you expect things like this, so, you’re just a little bit late. (laughter) You missed him, what, two years? How long’s he been dead?

BROOKS POLLARD: Three years.

JOHN POLLARD JR: Very interesting guy, very interesting guy. Fun guy to be around.

HELFAND: Would he -- would your father have talked to us?

JOHN POLLARD JR: Pft -- yeah, you couldn’t have shut him up. He’s a very talkative person, a very open person, he would, uh, he would really talk to you.

HELFAND: But if your father had talked to us, then maybe then the mills would have known who your dad was?

57:00

JOHN POLLARD JR: Well that’s OK, at this point in time, I don’t think it’s important.

HELFAND: So when -- how -- when was it that your father, um, told you --

JOHN POLLARD JR: When I was about 18, 19, I went to work out of high school, and at that point, I went and worked for a big mill in town, so -- for Roger [Millican?], and he was very specific about me not mentioning his name, or me being kin to him at that time. Roger Millican is a big powerful organization here in town, worldwide, I believe. So he said, “beware,” so I did. And I was.

HELFAND: Are you still?

JOHN POLLARD JR: I guess I am, I guess I am. Maybe I won't be after today.

HELFAND: Um, I’m gonna ask you this on camera, I mean, we really are gonna try 58:00to put this on television, um, so, everybody’s gonna -- no, but everybody’s gonna know who your daddy was. (laughter)

JOHN POLLARD JR: That’s fine.

M1: Do you want audio tape I ran out.

HELFAND: Let’s go for the last minute, um, is it OK -- why is today different?

JOHN POLLARD JR: It makes you look at it, you know, to face your past, look at it, look at yourself in the mirror.

HELFAND: What -- do you mean recording with us is --

JOHN POLLARD JR: Just bringing it up, bringing it up, talking about it.

HELFAND: Could you say that?

JOHN POLLARD JR: Uh, the presence of you here today makes me look at, uh, things that would happen in the past, in particular, uh, my father mentioning to me not to mention his name, and, you know, I’ve always wondered why, but I -- today, maybe I can say, well, why not? I have nothing to fear. It’s just his -- I guess he had so much that I’m not aware of to beware of -- to be ware of, that I do not need to beware of.

HELFAND: Did he have things that you could have been proud of?

59:00

JOHN POLLARD JR: Oh, I’m sure, but a lot of the things he did not share with me.

BROOKS POLLARD: He went to work at the post office in, I guess he was up in his 50s, but he looked all over town for a job and couldn’t find one.

HELFAND: Why not?

BROOKS POLLARD: Probably not that he couldn’t find one (inaudible) -- I don’t know what the union had anything to do with it or not. (pause) (laughter)

HELFAND: Do you have anything to ask your momma?

JOHN POLLARD JR: No, not that I haven’t asked her a thousand times again.

HELFAND: Do you have anything to ask your daddy?

JOHN POLLARD JR: No, I ask him everyday stuff, you know, he’s here right now, sitting back there, trying to tell me something. “Don’t beware anymore.” 60:00(laughter) Yeah, he’s a crazy guy.

HELFAND: This was really nice, thank you.

M1: Can we—Room tone.