Claude Hundley Jr. and Roosevelt Cretcher Interviews

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

HUNDLEY: -- ’31, ’32, there were some lean years in South for people -- working people, and that those mills, you know, for him to write a letter back in the ’30s and sign his name to it, in a sense, just about, I would say, some people would say, signing your death warrant. Standing up for your rights like that. Back in the ’30s, you just ignored it, colored people just didn’t do that in the South. They di-- they didn’t. And for him to have a nerve enough to write that letter that I’ve looked at it, indicated, and then sign his name to it, ’bout tryin’ to get a union out here this mill or somethin’ that I'll treasure, for getting it to me, enlighten me on it, and for him for doing it for the rest of my life. I really will.

1:00

HELFAND: What, um, do you -- what do you -- do you have any hopes, I mean, do -- what do you hope happens when people -- when the next generation knows about something like this, what happens?

HUNDLEY: Well, the next generation of mine, I hope that we can come up with some way to keep this alive for him, let my grandchildren’s grandchildren know what their great-great-grandfather did back in the ’30s, I really do.

HELFAND: What does that period of time, that ’30s, represent for you? What does that represent it?

HUNDLEY: (laughter) It just be hard times. Back in the ’30s, you know, before pr-- back in the ’30s during the Roosevelt administration that’s when we 2:00were just gettin’ out the depress -- depression, you know, and he -- I guess he put all these, uh, acts into law tryin’ to help people, and he was showin’ the black man that he had just as much a right as anybody else to [afford?] a job, and (inaudible) the fair salary than anybody else to make a living in this country, and that’s why those laws were passed, and I’m sayin’ that’s why after they did this, my father didn’t think that he, with the six, seven hours a week is a -- that’s two weeks in one, and didn't think it was fair, so he decided he’d write a letter to him and find out. So he did, and I appreciate him for doin’ that.

HELFAND: What if I was to tell you that the Cotton Textile Manufacturers Association were the ones who basically wrote the cotton textile code, that code that your daddy mentioned, under the NRA --

3:00

HUNDLEY: The textile people wrote it?

HELFAND: Yeah. They wrote it for the government.

HUNDLEY: For the government.

HELFAND: And they didn’t include the outside help or the cleaners.

HUNDLEY: Well see, they were -- they didn’t -- they were just writing a le-- puttin’ that law in for the inside mill, they wasn’t thinkin’ about the people workin’ out in the yard, which was mostly black workers, that worked out on the yard and the cotton [port?] back there, so they wasn’t thinkin’ about them, they were just thinkin’ about the people that workin’ inside the mills. They didn’t care about ’em -- well I’m sayin’ they didn’t care about ’em, period. So I guess that’s why some of them decided that if it was gonna be that way, they had to write to write and see what was gonna happen, so they wrote a letter and say well, they’re rights bein’ violated just like they had the same rights that the people inside the mills had, so, uh, they wrote the -- they wrote a letter, and I guess they -- he got a response from 4:00’em for that, so I’m sayin’ that he got some kinda action. Enough of ’em did it, anyway.

HELFAND: Well, it -- I don’t think if -- you know, your father wasn’t doing something completely alone --

HUNDLEY: No, certainly wasn’t.

HELFAND: -- you know, there was other activities going on at the same time, whether he was part of a union or not, he, in a sense, was part of the labor movement.

HUNDLEY: Movement. Labor movement back in the ’30s, that’s what I’m sayin’. And that’s the big time when the labor movement was movin’, back in the ’30s, ’cause before then I don’t think we had any laws governin’ labor, did we? I don’t remember anythin’ about back in the ’30s.

HELFAND: Any laws governing labor?

HUNDLEY: Governin’ labor.

HELFAND: No, those were probably some of the first.

HUNDLEY: First, some of the first.

HELFAND: So, if you could do two things for me, at the end of that letter that your daddy wrote, the one where he did sign his name --

HUNDLEY: Mm-hmm.

5:00

HELFAND: -- could you read it, um, “Sincerely yours, Claude Hundley,” I think that’s what he wrote.

HUNDLEY: Mm-hmm.

(break in audio)

HELFAND: You could just read that last --

HUNDLEY: He said, “Yours sincerely, Claude Hundley, Guntersville, Ala--“

HELFAND: Is it “Yours sincerely”?

HUNDLEY: Mm-hmm.

(break in audio)

HUNDLEY: You ready?

STONEY: Yep.

HUNDLEY: “Yours sincerely, Claude E. Hundley, Guntersville, Alabama.” My daddy. My name is Claude Hundley, Jr.

HELFAND: OK, I want you to do it again, and this time when you finish, look up at me and tell me --

HUNDLEY: Oh, OK.

HELFAND: -- that’s my father and my name is --

HUNDLEY: OK, “Yours sincerely, Claude E. Hundley, Guntersville, Alabama.” My father. My name is Claude Hundley, Jr. Also Guntersville, Alabama.

6:00

HELFAND: OK. Now, how ’bout this -- just do me one more favor, when you’re, uh, that -- that -- that’ll do it, that’s fine. You know what, I think, on the last document, could --

(break in audio)

HUNDLEY: “After the strike was over, we went back to our jobs, but they wouldn’t let us near the mill. Held us off with machine guns. Colored men.” This was a document written by Claude Hundley, Sr., my father.

HELFAND: What do you think?

HUNDLEY: I think it’s wonderful.

HELFAND: You think it’s wonderful he was held back with a machine gun?

7:00

HUNDLEY: Nah, I think it was wonderful that he wrote what he wrote, but I think this was terrible, hold a man back from a job with a machine gun. ’Cause he’s tryin’ to figure out a way to work to make a living for his family. I think it’s awful. What I thought was wonderful, the way he stood up for his rights back in that time. That’s the wonderful part.

HELFAND: Well I -- I -- we’re still gonna have to try to figure out what -- what their relationship was to the union.

HUNDLEY: Yes, sure is, a lot. (sighs) Tryin’ to figure -- I don’t even know where he had no documents to authenticate what -- I -- I really -- what relationship he was with the union, I wish I could help you there. I really do. 8:00But I -- but from what I can read, that letter right there, I don’t know whether he participated in the union drive or not, but, uh, back in -- back in the ’30s, I -- I really don’t know, I -- if I [had in my thoughts?], I would say he did, but I can’t -- you know, I can’t (inaudible) that.

HELFAND: But he -- he wrote that same as about 100 other --

HUNDLEY: For other people.

HELFAND: Could you say that?

HUNDLEY: Well, he wrote that same as about 100 other people, so, uh, he must have been affiliated with it some kinda way, must’ve been with some kinda way.

HELFAND: Thank you.

HUNDLEY: You’re welcome.

HELFAND: Do you -- um, we’re done, but if you -- and we’re going to do something over your shoulder, but before, uh --

HUNDLEY: Go ’head.

HELFAND: -- we finish, and before we break from this setup, is there anything else that you’d like to, uh, add? Um, I’ll just (inaudible). Is it -- 9:00before we, um, read over your shoulder, the letter, is there anything else you wanna --

HUNDLEY: (laughter) Well I -- all I wanna say, I really appreciate you, and -- for -- like I said, for enlighten me on that letter, and that you and your crew comin’ here doin’ this documentary about my father, and authenticatin’ that he really wrote from this -- from the letter that you got and from the, uh, old bible that we got from auntie to authenticate that he really wrote it, and I appreciate that.

HELFAND: Okay, we appreciate you.

HUNDLEY: And, (sighs), and we all got a terrible job, I’d hate to have it. 10:00(laughter) I would. (laughter) I’ll stay with what I’m doin’.

HELFAND: (laughter) What are you doin’?

HUNDLEY: Cement. (laughter) Sure would.

HELFAND: Tell me about what you do.

HUNDLEY: Uh, we -- well, right now, we pour -- I lay brick post cement, and I used to be a (inaudible), but for right now, we puttin’ in drainin’ system in down.

HELFAND: Now, you’ve lived -- can you tell me how -- how long you’ve lived in Guntersville, that you -- if you’ve lived here all your life and you never left? Or that -- what is the role of the -- you know, what is it -- tell me about that, and then what have you always heard or not heard about unions?

HUNDLEY: I was -- I was raised in Guntersville, I was born out here in Warrenton, which is Marshall County, I was born and raised here in Guntersville, I -- the longest time I left Guntersville was the two years I stayed in the service. And Guntersville never been much of a union town. I used to belong to a brick mason local out (inaudible) years ago, but then I worked for Coca-Cola 11:00company, and I joined the union, the Coca-Cola union -- east union, [south right?] for three or four years. But I never know, uh, Guntersville to have much union -- but after these mills got in, these feedin’ mills over here, they, uh, I think some of them were union out there. But just for a town, I think Guntersville is one of the best places I have ever lived. I love it (inaudible) -- I love the lake, I love the people. We have some wonderful people in Guntersville. You gonna have some bad people in the town, but Guntersville overall is a good town.

HELFAND: And what do you think about the region, the South, and --

HUNDLEY: The South has made some wonderful changes, it used to -- it’s not as bad as it used to be. The South has made some wonderful changes there. It’s gon -- you’re not gonna never -- you’re not gonna never get a Southern man 12:00to accept a black man as his equal, that’s out of the question. But you get -- we get more respect from ’em now, (inaudible), but they still gonna -- you still gonna be a colored man, and he’s a white man.

F1: (inaudible)

HUNDLEY: I don’t care, (inaudible) that’s truth. (laughter) Who’s gonna tell you (inaudible) that’s the way I feel. (laughter) ’Cause I worked with ’em everyday.

HELFAND: And...and what about the -- a fair day’s pay for, uh, fair day’s work, and the notion of unionism or --

13:00

HUNDLEY: Now -- right now, it’s not a problem, uh, not for what we work at, ’cause I been in construction all my life. But, uh --

HELFAND: In the South?

HUNDLEY: -- in the South, but, uh, years ago, I could be workin’ aside a man -- they would always pay him $1.57 more on their hour, and I remember when I first started layin’ brick, I laid brick with ’em, and it was some brick layers, and they would always pay them a dollar more an hour than (inaudible). But now, they -- some of ’em still on a higher pay scale than we are, but this -- it’s -- you’re gettin’ it more equal now, uh, it don’t bother me. I love it. (laughter) I love it -- I love the South to be honest with you, I do.

HELFAND: Why?

HUNDLEY: I guess ’cause of -- I raised in a small town, and, you know, right 14:00here, and, uh, I...I have a lot of friends here, and I never -- I’ve never traveled to much north when I was in service, and I don’t know much about the other part of the country, so I just love -- I love -- I love Guntersville, I love the South, at least this part of it. I don’t know -- now I can’t tell you ’bout on down futher, I never been there very down.

HELFAND: OK, all right, we’re going to take a picture of the letter over.

(break in audio)

(pause)

(break in audio)

CREW: OK, if you could just change that with the book.

15:00

HELFAND: Yeah, you know, bring the book over and then put the paper down, and --

HUNDLEY: OK.

HELFAND: -- then. Stop.

HUNDLEY: OK.

HELFAND: Yeah, and you know, open up the book the way you have. The book open -- you know when you were trying to show that -- you were comparing the, uh...

HUNDLEY: The -- (inaudible) -- handwriting?

HELFAND: Handwriting, yeah.

HUNDLEY: OK.

HELFAND: OK, so -- and then you brought the letter over and you were sort of just comparing the handwriting (inaudible). (pause) Is she upset?

CREW: She’s all right, but I mean, she’s jokin’ with me but she’s probably upset. Said you’re probably not going to use it, but, OK.

16:00

HELFAND: OK --

(break in audio)

HELFAND: -- anywhere?

HUNDLEY: Um...

HELFAND: Or does he just put the family --

HUNDLEY: Just family name, that’s Claude.

HELFAND: But the Hundley must be there.

HUNDLEY: Mm-hmm.

HELFAND: So maybe we could find the Hundley to the Hundley. (pause) It must say “Hundley” in there somewhere.

17:00

(pause)

CREW: OK.

(break in audio)

CREW: Can you position the paper --

(break in audio)

18:00

(pause)

CREW: You gonna shoot some photos, Judy?

HELFAND: Just one.

CREW: Just one?

HELFAND: Uh-huh.

CREW: OK.

19:00

HELFAND: And I’m thinking that either -- maybe Mr. Hundley can show it to us in a frame.

20:00

[Silence]

21:00

[Silence]

22:00

[Silence]

23:00

[Silence]

24:00

[Silence]

25:00

[Silence]

26:00

[Silence]

27:00

[Silence]

28:00

[Silence]

HELFAND: -- Mr. Hundley’s face just a little wider, and go in on the picture. OK. Mr. Hundley, before you pointed to it, you were holding it and you said, “This is my daddy,” so maybe you could hold it to yourself and look at --

(break in audio)

HUNDLEY: This is my daddy.

HELFAND: Which one?

HUNDLEY: This is my daddy.

HELFAND: And his name?

HUNDLEY: Claude Hundley.

29:00

HELFAND: And he’s the guy who wrote the letter?

HUNDLEY: He’s the guy who wrote the letter, uh, ’bout this Sagatoga [sic; Saratoga] Mill, (inaudible) in Guntersville, Alabama.

HELFAND: And who’s he with?

HUNDLEY: Sagatoga [sic; Saratoga] Mill.

HELFAND: OK. And who’s he sitting with?

HUNDLEY: He’s sittin’ with --

HELFAND: You can take your finger off --

HUNDLEY: -- his friend, that’s, uh, Robert Simpson. His bro-- his brother, Louis Hundley, Jim Hundley --

HELFAND: OK, could you -- could you -- could you just -- are these people who worked in the mill and stuff?

HUNDLEY: OK this is, uh, Robert Simpson, he worked in the mill. Jim Hundley worked in the mill. Louis Hundley, his brother, he didn’t work in the mill, and Fred Montgomery worked in the mill.

HELFAND: And that other man with the cigarette?

HUNDLEY: Fred Montgomery.

HELFAND: And the man with the cigarette?

HUNDLEY: That’s my father, Claude Hundley.

HELFAND: OK.

30:00

CREW: Can you point to them all again?

HUNDLEY: Now this is Fred Montgomery, worked in the mill, my father, Claude Hundley.

CREW: You -- you were using your other hand.

HELFAND: Yeah.

HUNDLEY: OK, we gonna use the same one?

HELFAND: Yeah.

HUNDLEY: OK. This is Robert Simpson, he worked in the mill. Jim Hundley worked in the mill. Louis Hundley didn’t work in the mill. My father, Claude Hundley, worked in the mill, and Fred Montgomery worked in the mill.

HELFAND: Now, can you point again to your daddy and say, “He’s the guy who wrote the letter, he wrote it on behalf of these men”?

HUNDLEY: This is my father, the guy who wrote the letter on behalf of these men.

HELFAND: OK. (pause)

31:00

(break in audio)

(pause)

(break in audio)

HELFAND: What are you thinking?

HUNDLEY: Mm. (laughter)

HELFAND: What are you thinking?

HUNDLEY: Oh, me -- oh, you talkin’ to me?

HELFAND: Yeah.

32:00

HUNDLEY: I’m thinkin’ what a wonderful person he is to be writin’ a letter on behalf of those men. (inaudible).

(break in audio)

CREW: Keep -- just keep looking for a second, thanks. (pause)

(break in audio)

33:00

CREW: Room tone. (pause) End tone.

(break in audio)

34:00

(overlapping dialogue; inaudible)

CREW: One second.

HUNDLEY: Woo-wee, it’s hot.

(break in audio)

HELFAND: What?

HUNDLEY: I love (inaudible).

HELFAND: How come?

M: (inaudible), and, uh, I started doing this kind of work at 12 years old, and I just like to do it. I couldn’t do anything else now, not at my age I wouldn’t even think about it. I’d stay out here 10, 12 hours a day.

HELFAND: So you --

HUNDLEY: We got some good people helping (inaudible).

(break in audio)

HELFAND: I’ll just get some audio. (inaudible).

(inaudible dialogue)

(break in audio)

35:00

HELFAND: -- letter?

HUNDLEY: He should, ’cause him and my father were good friends, you know, in back in that day, and he’s -- he’s old enough to know, and so they were friends, and so I want to ask him anyway.

HELFAND: Could you say, Roosevelt-- could you say, “I want to show this to Roosevelt Cre--“ --

HUNDLEY: I want to show this to Roosevelt [Cretcher?] and see if he knows anythin’ about this, about the strike that the union (inaudible) mill. So we’ll show it to him and see if he know anythin’ about it, he should, he got good rememberin’, he about 80-somethin’ years old, so he still remembers somethin’ about it.

36:00

HELFAND: And Roosevelt -- use his name -- worked in the mill with your dad?

HUNDLEY: He worked -- not very much, he left, he worked -- well I guess, I would say, a week or two, and then he left and went to -- to [TVA?] up to (inaudible) up in Tennessee, so he didn’t work there -- he worked a while, but he didn’t work long, ’cause I know, uh, we used to stay with him when they stayed at the house, Roosevelt and them, him and my father was close, pretty close.

HELFAND: Well why we don’t go -- let’s just show it to him, let’s see what we can find out.

HUNDLEY: OK, we'll head up there and find out, I’m ready. Ya'll going to follow me or just -- okay. We'll move this thing, we'll move it here out of the way (inaudible).

37:00

(inaudible dialogue)

HUNDLEY: I'll be back in a couple of minutes.

38:00

(break in audio)

39:00

CREW: This thing on --

(break in audio)

CREW: Move over just a little this way. Watch your back now, watch your back.

HUNDLEY: Watch your --

ROOSEVELT CRETCHER: Oh yeah, don’t fall back. You thought you’d get better, that’ll ruin you forever.

(break in audio)

CRETCHER: -- ’cause when I went up there -- see, I didn’t have much of a schoolin’, I had two colored men to train you, and I think I told you all of that, didn’t ya -- that I had to take a six weeks schoolin’ to make the medium wedge?

40:00

HELFAND: Now, but you worked in the cotton mill some --

HUNDLEY: You worked a little in the cotton mill --

CRETCHER: Oh, yeah, yeah, some.

HUNDLEY: -- (inaudible) did you know anythin’ about when they was tryin’ to get the union in, anythin’ about the --

CRETCHER: I just heard about it, but I -- I wasn’t there then, I wasn’t workin’ then.

HUNDLEY: You didn’t talk to anybody about what went on --

CRETCHER: Oh, you know -- you know, I had (inaudible) we both was young, and didn’t pay nothin’ much attention, I didn’t. ’Course, I outside, and I was on construction work.

HELFAND: Maybe you just wanna read him a little bit of the letter and see what he thinks.

HUNDLEY: If I read you some of the letter, reckon that would enlighten you any?

CRETCHER: (inaudible).

HUNDLEY: This is from the, uh, either the 10th or the 22nd or 30th to “Mr. Hughes S. Johnson, Dear Sir, I am writing you a few lines for instruction. I am a colored employee Saratoga Mill, number two in Guntersville, Alabama, and has 41:00been workin’ 28 months as a -- been workin’ 2-- as (inaudible) worker, was workin’ for $5.75 per week,” you remember what y’all got per week back at that time?

CRETCHER: That was about world war.

HUNDLEY: Got a little raise to $6 per week --

CRETCHER: Yeah.

HUNDLEY: -- and when NRA took effect, I got a raise to $9 per week, and I been getting’ $9 per week for 60 and 67 hours per week, every since June the 17th of ’33. “The 17th (inaudible) ’33, and the way I understand the code, every man, regardless of color, was supposed to get eight hours per day, minimum wage $12 per week, so if I get eight hours, us colored boys work long hours for 42:00$9 per week, and some of the white workers [work?] seven, six per week, eight hours per day. Sincerely yours, Claude E. Hundley, Guntersville, Alabama.” What he’s sayin’, I’m thinkin’, that that’s the new -- that they was workin’ the long hours for the less pay.

CRETCHER: Well, yeah, yeah, that’s right. Well I think our men and (inaudible) talked -- you know, back then we just had to take what we could get.

HUNDLEY: Yeah, I could understand that.

CRETCHER: Yeah.

HUNDLEY: So, uh, you -- you -- you didn’t know anythin’ about the strike of, uh --

CRETCHER: No, I just heared about it.

HUNDLEY: I see, yeah, yeah. Well could you tell me anythin’ about -- I would like to get a little more insight on.

CRETCHER: Well, I couldn’t say very much about it, you know, because back then, it was just squalid times, you know, and we didn’t have much of a chance at nothin’, couldn’t hardly ask for nothin’, you know. That’s the 43:00reason that letters wrote like that, I guess.

HUNDLEY: Well he got a response from ’em, you know.

CRETCHER: Yeah.

HUNDLEY: Mm-hmm. And then addressin’ here from Dallas, him and Dallas wrote about --

CRETCHER: Yeah, that’s right, they wrote that -- I remember when they was there, but I wasn’t there then.

HUNDLEY: They write here for what he’s sayin’ right here, as long as I put these spectacles (inaudible). “When the strike was over, we went back to -- to our job, but they wouldn’t let us near the mill, held us off with machine guns, and the -- and they quoted there his colored man,” do you know anythin’ about (inaudible)?

CRETCHER: No, you see, that's what I was saying, I don’t know nothin’ about that ’cause I know I would tend to see [better?] than then, and it might have been down in the (inaudible) will (inaudible), that was about the time it was gettin’ this down (inaudible), right after that, you see. It begin to start up, you see.

HUNDLEY: See, Dallas Moore wrote about the same thing.

44:00

CRETCHER: Mm-hmm. Yeah. Yeah, I remember when they both was there, but see, I didn’t -- we just didn’t pay one another no attention, you know, when we was workin’.

HUNDLEY: Yeah. Well now, this (inaudible) this authenticated (inaudible).

CRETCHER: Yeah, that’s right, you know, and I remember --

HUNDLEY: He used to be the police chief here.

CRETCHER: -- yeah, yeah, I remember when he was -- I believe -- what was he then? A foreman of some kind?

HUNDLEY: He must -- It's just sayin’ that he witnessed this, and he witnessed the document (inaudible).

CRETCHER: Uh huh.

HUNDLEY: (inaudible).

CRETCHER: Yeah. I remember him, yeah.

HUNDLEY: Then Dallas (inaudible) justice of the peace, ’cause the justice of peace at least signed it.

CRETCHER: Uh-huh.

HUNDLEY: And I seen that man, (inaudible) and I knew him, but I knew him with the police chief, that was years later.

CRETCHER: Yeah.

HUNDLEY: But I just wanna know what they had to do with the mill at that time.

CRETCHER: Well, see -- I -- I don’t know, see I -- I just like men -- I was talkin’ -- I really don’t know for when I left that I just forgot about it.

45:00

HELFAND: So you never heard about this big general textile strike, when all the cotton mill workers went out?

CRETCHER: I heard about it but, you know, I -- I know I don -- I knowed I didn't care nothin’ ’bout it as much, but I didn’t like the way I was workin’. I didn’t work that long, maybe...oh, I don’t know...couple or three months or somethin’ like that, ’cause I couldn’t stand that moisture in that place, interfered with my br-- breath, you know. She know -- have you ever been in a cotton mill? There’s, uh, moisture and there are sprinklers that keeps that thread and everythin’ soaked, why that -- that for weave's good, you know. Can’t raise no windows or nothin’. Ain’t not one of y’all ever been in a cotton mill...well, it’s a pretty hazardous job, that’s the reason 46:00I wouldn’t stay with it. Tell (inaudible) have comin’, I -- I had a job over at the mill with Tennessee (valley?), but I had to wear a respirator, we’re tryin’ to plant while they made, uh, I mean, the dust, coal was like powder and you had to wear a respirator all the time, and I wouldn’t even take that job, I tried it a day or two but I wouldn’t take it. That’s the reason I believe lived as long as this, I wouldn’t take no if I thought it was against my health. You see (inaudible), don’t you?

HELFAND: You’re pretty smart.

CRETCHER: That’s right, that’s the reason I left! (laughter) But I’m, uh...

HELFAND: Now I know -- what do -- I know -- I know that, um, is there anything else that you want to ask Mr. Cretcher?

HUNDLEY: I -- I -- I would want to really like to know how was the -- the -- how was the (inaudible) out that door, how did they treat you employees out that door there at that time?

CRETCHER: Well, it -- it -- it was the sort of relationship that is sort of 47:00roughed down, you know. They just -- you just had to get it, that was all. Y’all can realize ’bout (inaudible), we hadn't, uh, got this old spirit of slavery out of some of us, you know. See, my granddaddy was a slave, and they had the advantage of all us, but most of them folks did (inaudible). I remember one, and Dr. (inaudible) you know, and that other man was the man that started that cotton mill, that’s his name on there, no?

HELFAND: I guess -- that’s what’s so interesting about that letter, huh, I mean about the spirit of slavery --

HUNDLEY: Slavery.

HELFAND: -- what would you say about that?

CRETCHER: I don’t have anythin’ to say about that, I just done forgot what I did know.

48:00

HUNDLEY: But you did. Well what do you think about a man that would write a letter like that back in the ’33?

CRETCHER: Now that -- that gets me all in just --

MHUNDLEY: And signed his name to it, that’s one thing I’d like to know.

CRETCHER: Yeah. I just don’t know, it’s just a puzzle to me, I think when I (inaudible), I just don’t know why. I was a lots younger, you know, and I just didn’t pay no attention to it much. I know that I was gettin’ mine, and I know that I could get plenty work doin’ that, but, uh, I was hired to that [Victor?] mill, so I told the Victor mill --

HUNDLEY: Well I was just [thinkin’?] (inaudible) -- really, I really respect him for that but I was just wonderin’ what did you think about writin’ a letter back in the ’30s, signin’ his name about his rights, ’cause what he’s tellin’ people about his rights are being violated, and he’s not only speakin’ for the black people, if I read the last paragraph of this, he’s 49:00speakin’ for white workers too.

CRETCHER: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Well (inaudible) it that way, it's that a way in most any place, you know, but it ain’t hardly that way now, but it was back then.

HELFAND: Well thank you so much.

CRETCHER: Yes. I don’t understand that and I know you don’t.

HUNDLEY: What?

CRETCHER: Why that was wrote.

HUNDLEY: Well I can -- well, really I don’t either, but what I’m sayin’ that that mill was doin’ somethin’ to the workers that wasn’t satisfactory, that he felt his rights was bein’ violated --

CRETCHER: Yeah, yeah.

HUNDLEY: -- so he was writin’ a letter to see what -- see what this (inaudible) law that they put in to come into effect, that they abidin’ by that law, and so he was askin’ -- I’m pretty sure, askin’ for information about this thing.

CRETCHER: Yeah. And when they wrote this, who was it writin’ it to?

50:00

HUNDLEY: He wrote it to Mr. Hugh S. Johnson. I guess --

CRETCHER: Where was he at?

HUNDLEY: Let me see, can I find (inaudible). I'm trying to, it doesn't give me a (inaudible). I'm going to say it was in Washington. Maybe that’s why that law was enacted, they didn’t like it, they were doin’ President Roosevelt’s administration just when he took off--

CRETCHER: Yes, they take office, that’s right.

HUNDLEY: -- so I’m sayin’ that that’s why he was writin’, gettin’ information about. See, what he’s sayin’ here wrote is that you didn’t work -- see, he’s sayin’ that they were workin’ 60, 6, 7 hours a week, for $12, and then the law said they supposed to work 8 hours a day, and the white workers are doin’ that. Some of ’em, some of ’em wasn’t -- I don’t know whether it was outside people who worked in the yard or what.

CRETCHER: Yeah.

HUNDLEY: But so he wo-- he’s writin’ to get information about that. What specific -- what the law specified about it, is what I think.

CRETCHER: Yeah.

51:00

HUNDLEY: And I’m thinkin’ he was pretty great to write that letter back in this -- this period of time.

CRETCHER: Well that is somethin’ to think about -- (multiple conversations; inaudible) yeah.

HUNDLEY: -- in the South especially. So that’s why I was asking you, maybe you could enlighten it a little bit.

CRETCHER: And, uh, this is who wrote it, right there --

HUNDLEY: That’s he wrote it to.

CRETCHER: -- wrote to, yeah.

HUNDLEY: Mr. Hugh S. Johnson. See, then he got a response, he got three or four (inaudible), this is from the cotton textile industry sayin’ “compliance or violation of code or (inaudible) competition for the cotton textile industry,” and this is the reply he got. Now this is what he -- uh --

HELFAND: This was after the strike.

HUNDLEY: -- after the strike, and, uh, see this -- I guess this is one with the justice of the peace, that’s why it was askin’ about John [Pretchet?], see, he witnessed this thing right now --

CRETCHER: Yeah, yeah.

HUNDLEY: -- and they say he wanted to have (inaudible) machines (inaudible) go 52:00back to their job. And see, he stated right there, “colored man.”

CRETCHER: Yeah, well --

HUNDLEY: And then this is one from him, and then Dallas Moore wrote one, right there.

CRETCHER Yeah, well see now that's --

HUNDLEY: They was (multiple conversations; inaudible).

CRETCHER: I wasn’t even with him then, and I didn’t know nothin’ about him, I don’t know why -- I might not have been even livin’ right here at that time. I just forgotten when I got another job, ’cause I couldn’t stay there.

HUNDLEY: See, this is Robert E. [Bruler?], the chairman of the cot-- the cotton textile (inaudible) industrial relation board, that’s the reply he got from this letter he sent. And then this Mr. Robert E. Bruler, chairman and George L Barry, Geer that must be the board member.

CRETCHER: Yeah, yeah.

HUNDLEY: So it must’ve -- it must’ve had a little weight to it ’cause he got a good reply.

CRETCHER: Surely did.

HELFAND: Wow --

(break in audio)

53:00

HELFAND: Back then you don’t think that -- I mean that’s -- that’s what’s so curious about this.

HUNDLEY: About this letter, that’s what I --

CRETCHER: Uh-huh, yeah, that’s right.

HUNDLEY: -- wouldn’t let ’em in and --

CRETCHER: That’s right, that’s right, that’s right.

HUNDLEY: And you’re sayin’ that back then for (inaudible) union, they’d work you on the job, they wouldn’t let you join the local.

CRETCHER: Yeah, that’s right. You just had to take what they give you, you know, yeah.

HUNDLEY: So that’s what he was wrote in the (inaudible) letters (multiple conversations; inaudible), what I’m sayin’.

CRETCHER: Yeah, yeah.

HELFAND: But -- but -- but you’re thinkin’ that maybe he belonged to this local union just -- ’cause he signed it along with all the other white people --

HUNDLEY: That’s right, he signed -- that’s what I’m sayin’, he signed that document.

CRETCHER: Oh, Junior, that’s been the time, ain't it?

HUNDLEY: Yeah, that's been it. Get those memory walkin’ back then and think back a little bit.

CRETCHER: Oh, you know, I done got too old to think back now, I’m 86. 54:00(laughter) That’s right. I been there, you know, the three oldest men, your daddy-in-law and me and George Wa-- Williams, we’re the only three that (inaudible), well, Leroy Montgomery, he left here, you know, I don’t know --

HUNDLEY: That mill -- (inaudible) the union business.

CRETCHER: See, I couldn’t say that for sure and mean it on account of when, uh, when he disappeared in Alabama, I don’t think I was even in Guntersville. I could’ve been up in Tennessee, you know, I stayed up in that 10 years.

HELFAND: But it -- that -- the thing that’s just so -- that’s been so interesting to us and why we even came here was just because it seems like Claude and Dallas might have been members of the union --

HUNDLEY: Of the union, that’s what the whole --

CRETCHER: Oh, yeah.

HUNDLEY: So, uh...

CRETCHER: They might’ve been, you see.

HELFAND: Might’ve been what?

CRETCHER: Might’ve been in the union, I said they could’ve, but I didn’t know it. I don’t know.

HUNDLEY: Well, uh, well if they worked at it, you know, with what they sayin’ 55:00right here, when they went back to the job and (inaudible) have a union when they went back to, and they held ’em off, with guns, with a machine --

CRETCHER: Well you see, that’s what I don’t know about it, I couldn’t understand, it wasn’t -- I don’t know where it was, that way, ’cause I wasn’t concerned about it.