Kathy Lamb Interview 4

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

M1: Funny lady.

[break in audio]

M1: Right. Rolling

JUDITH HELFAND: You ready?

M1: Mmm-hmm. Don’t worry about the cars.

HELFAND: Okay Kath! Walk slowly towards us around that tree.

KATHY LAMB: Ok.

M1: Don’t look at us, tell her not to look at us.

HELFAND: Can you- walk

[break in video]

M1: Alright I’m rolling. Don’t worry about the cars, you’re gonna get ‘em.

HELFAND: Alright Kath!

1:00

M1: She can go.

HELFAND: Alright, walk a little more and then walk down the path.

M1: Rolling, anytime.

HELFAND: Okay, you ready. Ok, remember where you are. Great. (inaudible). You 2:00could start to turn around and walk past that tree.

M1: There, keep going.

HELFAND: Keep going honey.

M1: And cut.

HELFAND: Ok.

[break in video]

M1: Go ahead.

HELFAND: (inaudible)

3:00

M1: No I’m rolling tape, I’ll show Kathy after I roll it. Now you’re in the movie. Ok.

[break in video]

M1: Yes?

HELFAND: Ok. I ne—how much do you have of her?

M1: I don’t have her at all (inaudible).

HELFAND: Ok! You can start to come.

LAMB: I can’t hear you?

HELFAND: I said you can walk.

4:00

LAMB: OK.

M1: No have her start again.

HELFAND: oh, hey Kath!

M1: I’m rolling.

HELFAND: Ok, slowly.

M1: Nope looked bad.

[break in video]

M1: Rolling.

HELFAND: Ok!

5:00

(pause)

HELFAND: Keep going.

M1: She could look to her left, stop and look out.

HELFAND: Can you stop and look to your left?

M1: Even more.

HELFAND: Even more what?

M1: Look to her left.

HELFAND: Even more look to your left!

6:00

M1: She can come back.

HELFAND: What tell her to walk?

M1: mmhmm, she come back.

HELFAND: You have that little tree blowing.

[break in video]

HELFAND: Do that, after you do that, go back to her and there’s like a nice sillouette of her against that house and those pink flowers maybe. Do you see

M1: Mmmhmm.

[break in video]

HELFAND: Now I want you to climb up the tree.

LAMB: Yeah, right. Anybody gotta banana? Its gonna rain big time.

[break in video]

M1: Jeez.

LAMB: Big storm mmhmm.

7:00

HELFAND: This is really nice.

8:00

[break in video]

LAMB: Have any problem finding us?

ELAINE: No (inaudible). No problem at all I saw the van up here so I figured y’all were over here somewhere.

9:00

LAMB: We found one at Mt. Bethel yesterday but couldn’t find the other one. Someone said it might be at Shady Grove.

ELAINE: That wouldn’t surprise me. Hi, I’m Elaine (inaudible) with the paper.

HELFAND: Hi, Elaine, I’m Judith Helfand.

HELFAND: We’re making a historical documentary about the general -- well you could explain.

M2: I’m just curious. I went out to get the paper and saw somebody filming.

HELFAND: Yeah. We’re making a historical film about the general textile strike of 1934.

M2: You’d better watch out. Don’t get me.

M1: Do you mind?

M2: Do you mind if I put on a shirt?

LAMB: Were working at that that time. They were just small children and one woman I got ahold of told me that her mother always told her that that’s where her daddy’s funeral was at, right there.

M2: Talking about doing this -- I’m from Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina -- JP Stevens -- and I worked in the mill during the summers at JP Stevens. You know 10:00they made the movie Norma Rae?

LAMB: Yeah.

M1: I worked in her weave room.

LAMB: Really?

M1: Yeah, Norma Rae’s weave room. I had no idea, you know, at the time. Of course that was before the union stuff got started.

LAMB: JP Stevens is a hard nut to track, too. It took them forever to get -- like 20 some years.

M2: I saw the movie and said, “Gracious.” I had no idea all that had taken place.

LAMB: They accuse me of being Norma Rae sometimes (laughter). That’s nothing to be ashamed of, that’s for sure. You didn’t know that? That they had a funeral here?

M2: I had no idea.

LAMB: There were 7,000 people here around this tree, right in here.

M2: That is interesting. It really is. That is interesting.

M1: Did you know the story about why they were here?

M2: I’ve read in the Honea Path history book about the strikes but I had no idea any of it was connected with this land or any --

LAMB: Go to the library in Anderson and pull it up on microfilm; it will blow your mind.

11:00

M2: Really?

LAMB: People were shot in the back.

M2: Oh, yeah. I’ve heard my father-in-law talk about --

LAMB: And the company shot them, and the police department shot them. And for years people thought the unions shot them, but it wasn’t. I went over there and read that stuff and I couldn’t believe it. My grandfather even testified at the inquiry and my dad never told me until I was 38 years old.

M2: Well one thing I have looked at in the microfilm at the courthouse was the thing about the railroad track. You know they took the tracks up two years -- a couple of years ago -- and you know, I wanted to know if it’s my land, if I owed the railroad company and it had down there about Dr. Shirley who built the house giving him the right-of-way in 1911 so the tracks -- this track was put here in 1911 -- and uh -- see where it stopped and I just got this (inaudible) and I’m working over this way now. Feel free, I was just curious. It was the 12:00mass funeral for the people killed in the riots.

LAMB: What amazed me was that they said one was buried at Mt. Bethel and I went to Mt. Bethel church and in 1934 that was a long way to go to bury somebody. It was a long way -- I had to come from Belton and I kept going and going and going until I got there and it was -- a friend of mine went with me and we went out to that graveyard and started with 1800s and went back and when we got in the car and went through the middle and this tombstone just stuck out at me and it was the right one.

M2: One thing somebody told me about this place -- the old barn you see it’s got three doors on the side -- this side of the track -- said that the train -- the railroad used to leave bathtubs out here. They would stop -- that was a pick up point for people in the area buying a bathtub so Mr. Lindsay told me.

13:00

[inaudible converstation]

14:00

LAMB: Hi.

ELAINE: You’ve been working on this with them for a while?

LAMB: For about -- well two years ago they came and uh, then all of a sudden Judy called and said they wanted to see me again.

ELAINE: So did they film at the time?

LAMB: They filmed last time they came and I spent all day Monday with them and then early this morning. I want to thank you for doing this because this is really important to me and a lot of people.

ELAINE: Your father and your grandfather were both -- your father was eight years old at the time, right?

LAMB: Right.

ELAINE: And he was there when you --

LAMB: He got up out of the bed. He just nosy. Eight-year-old boys are nosy; he got up out of the bed. They sent my granddad home -- he was the night watchman -- and they sent him home because they knew what was going to happen. He saw them with the guns in the mill and he knew that it was going to be trouble and they knew too and they didn’t want him there to witness so they sent him home. 15:00He came home early; my dad got up, snuck out the house and went up there and he said they had an American flag and a lot of people up there. He said he hadn’t been there but a few minutes and somebody hollered something about somebody having a picker stick and the next thing he knew was pop, pop, pop and people were falling and screaming and running and some of ’em fell, and were crawling in the street and they went up and shot them in the back again and killed them to make sure they were dead.

ELAINE: The popular notion around here is the one they want to believe is that it was the National Guard that shot and killed them people, right?

LAMB: The National Guard didn’t shoot anybody.

ELAINE: That was based on eyewitness accounts?

LAMB: Yeah.

ELAINE: From --

LAMB: From the microfilm at the Anderson Indepen-- library; if you want to you can go over there and look it up; it’s in the 1934 -- I think it starts in August through November. If you look at September the 1st through the 5th it’s got all kinds of stuff in there about it.

ELAINE: What exactly did your father see, personally?

16:00

LAMB: He saw people being shot and falling in the street and they ran. He ran back home. He said his cousin -- I think his cousin was a year older than he was -- he ran home and got in the closet and wouldn’t come out he was so scared.

ELAINE: An eight-year-old I imagine was scared.

LAMB: Yeah. And he kept this a secret from me for years.

ELAINE: When did he finally tell you?

LAMB: Two years ago when they came.

ELAINE: Really?

LAMB: Uh-huh. Right before they came, that’s when he told me and I had to press him to get it out of him, then.

ELAINE: So your grandfather didn’t see anything, but your father did.

LAMB: Right. My grandfather was at home. They sent him home and he stayed there. He testified at the inquiry that there were people with guns in the mill and -- but he didn’t give out any names. But there’s eyewitness testimony that named the people that were shooting, who shot who, how they shot ’em. There were women and children shot down there, too.

17:00

ELAINE: Well there were six people killed; how many people were wounded?

LAMB: Seven killed.

ELAINE: Seven killed?

LAMB: Uh-huh. There’s a list of I’d say 15 or more that were wounded.

ELAINE: And this is where they had the memorial service?

LAMB: (inaudible; car going by) buried ’em at Eastview, Mt. Bethel and maybe -- maybe one at Shady Grove.

HELFAND: Tell her why.

LAMB: Why what?

HELFAND: Because none of the churches --

LAMB: I don’t know why.

HELFAND: From what I understand --

[break in video]

HELFAND: Could you tell Kathy what you sort of said the common mythology was among folks?

LAMB: That the National Guard shot ’em. I told them that the National Guard didn’t shoot anybody; in fact my dad said –

[break in video]

HELFAND: Are you saying that most people want to believe that -- most people -- what was it that you said?

ELAINE: I could tell you it’s a very touchy subject in the area; extremely touchy. It’s hard to get people to talk about it. It has been for years. In a small town like this to have seven people killed, it’s a traumatic event. 18:00Even today to have one person murdered is news for weeks and weeks and weeks. So you can imagine what it was like in the ’30s. It was a mill town.

LAMB: A month ago, or two months ago -- there was a boy murdered here.

ELAINE: A little teenager.

HELFAND: Um. Are you surprised that she’s going to write the article?

LAMB: No. I’m not surprised. I knew her before when you worked for the paper before and she’s a person that looks for the truth of what it is -- good, bad, or whatever -- it’s the truth -- and I’ve never known Elaine to (inaudible) anything or whatever -- she tells it like it is.

ELAINE: It’s been so many years, why should she? It’s the truth. The truth should be recognized.

LAMB: Plus these people are dead, you know.

ELAINE: But their relatives are here now, Kathy, you’ve got to remember that.

LAMB: But too, the relatives of the people that were shot are living with the -- back then if the police shot you, you were a criminal -- they’ve lived with the fact that people thought their relatives were criminals and they were not. They were brave people. They stood up when nobody else would. They wanted 19:00better lives for their children and the generations ahead of ’em; they didn’t want somebody like a mill holding -- they lived in the mill house, they bought from a mill store -- everything -- they were like trading their wages for living, you know? They never saw money as you would call it. And you couldn’t move because you had to live in the mill -- you had to keep your job to keep a roof over your head.

HELFAND: At the time they also -- they had the right to organize.

LAMB: Right. They were organized; they had a union here then.

HELFAND: What was that?

LAMB: They had a union here then, when the strike was. There was a union local because the president of the local sang at the funeral -- Jean Gilmer -- it’s in the paper.

ELAINE: Jean Gilmer -- related to Billy, right?

LAMB: I don’t know. I’m related to Billy. I asked Daddy did he know Jean Gilmer and he thought I was talking about a man Gene Gilmer, this is J-E-A-N and 20:00I assume that was a woman. She sang “In the Sweet Bye and Bye” because it’s in the newspaper in the Anderson independent.

ELAINE: What were some of the last names of the people that were killed?

LAMB: OK there’s a Lee Crawford, Ira Davis, and there’s a Smith man, Cannon, McCoy -- no -- either he was one of the ones that got killed or he was solicitor -- I can’t remember now. Rufus McCoy was the solicitor, I think. Um. There’s a list of ’em in the newspaper over there; they’re all listed down. You got it?

21:00

[break in video]

[indistinct converstation]

22:00

LAMB: Researched the whole thing; I know it was a nationwide strike.

ELAINE: Right.

LAMB: And I’m not sure of all the reasons for it. But I do know in Honea Path they were complaining about bringing farm help in.

ELAINE:(inaudible)

LAMB: It says 7:45 in the paper but it doesn’t say “a.m.” or “p.m.” It must have been “p.m.” because my granddad was a night watchman and he had been going in at night

ELAINE: That’s true.

LAMB: --and they sent him home. I can ask Daddy when he calls me, I’ll find out. But even now there’s people I’ve called up that you know, in Daddy’s age bracket -- ’60s and ’70s you know? And they’ll say, “I’ll tell you but I don’t want to talk to anybody about it. You know, you can repeat 23:00what I say,” or they'll call somebody else can find the information that I needed. Like when I wanted to find that grave yesterday I called a friend of mine that lives a couple of houses up. She’s 74 and she told me exactly how to get to it and everything. She said, “Don’t tell nobody I told you.”

ELAINE: It’s still that touchy.

LAMB: Yeah. Um-hmm. In another 20 years it probably won’t be.

ELAINE: Gosh that was ’34.

LAMB: It was 60 years ago. But I would like to find out the child that was shot -- if he is still living. I want to go look his name up again and see if I can find him.

ELAINE: How old was the child?

LAMB: I think it said he was five.

ELAINE: What was he doing out there?

LAMB: His mother had him there. He was with his mother.

ELAINE: So we’re talking about men, women and children who were at the mill?

LAMB: Yeah there was two women that was shot. Neither one was killed. Louis McClain was one that was shot and she wouldn’t testify to who did what or where. I’d like to meet her.

24:00

ELAINE: Were they convicted?

LAMB: No. They didn’t do a thing to them. Now this is what I’ve been told. Charlie Smith was on the sheriff’s department; they deputized a whole mess of people. OK. He was -- they say he was a big man -- and everybody was scared of him -- and that he went and told anybody that saw anything and went up there and testified and put his name on it or any of his friends -- was a dead person. And evidently Louis McClain didn’t give a rip; she was like -- Judy said I should’ve lived back then and I said, “No. I’d be dead because I done told everything I saw.” But back then people had families and children and they had -- they knew they couldn’t leave them all alone and if they wouldn’t tell what they knew, they knew they should tell it, but they couldn’t. I mean if someone says, “I’m going to kill you if you open your mouth,” most people won’t say a thing and let’s face it if you knew something was wrong down there and the police were involved in it, who are you going to go to? The governor was in on it and everybody. Especially if the National Guard was called up, you know the governor was involved in the whole thing.

25:00

ELAINE: Something similar happened in Belton about the same time, didn’t it?

LAMB: Well no. The ones from Blair Mill came down here; it was called the Belton Mill back then, I think. They came down here and were in with the strikers down here.

ELAINE: I thought there was a similar strike -- some sort of skirmishes or something in Belton -- and my father was living there and he said he remembers something about that. I talked to him yesterday.

LAMB: I don’t know. I’ll ask Daddy if he remembers anything about it but as far as I know -- I know some of them from the mill in Belton came to Honea Path when they were striking and I think that -- I think it was Belton -- stopped for a week or so. There’s even an ad in the Anderson Independent that the merchants in Anderson bought to thank the cotton mill workers for not striking -- the ones that stayed on the job -- a big full page ad -- all the merchants that paid for the ad listed at the bottom.

26:00

ELAINE: You’ve done a lot of research on this?

LAMB: Yeah. I got curious when they first said they were coming and I thought, well there’s got to be something in the library so I went over there and in the librarian said there was probably microfilm. We went and pulled it up and the whole month of September is loaded with things.

ELAINE: I’ll have to look in our papers to see what we’ve got. The (inaudible) kept the papers but you can’t get access to them. OK. I’m going to have to run.

HELFAND: I’ll tell you. You might want to show her this, Kathy. This is even -- this shows that there was this very organized, local union here. This is just a letter from the president in 1933.

LAMB: What was the whole gripe of the strike thing? What was the basis?

HELFAND: This was a period of time that the NRA was in effect, the National 27:00Recovery Act, workers had were given -- and the textile code had been put in place -- and there was an agreement between industry, management and workers on workload conditions, hours, minimum wage and recognition of the union. At least that workers had the right to organize and join the organization of their choice and not be discriminated against because of their union activity and the opposite occurred. There was a tremendous amount of union discrimination and rather than comply with a lot of the new work orders -- work load orders -- um -- and the minimum wage -- um -- there was a tremendous stretch out that occurred throughout the industry and workers had always anticipated that the government would protect them because -- and the government would make sure that all of these new codes were complied with -- and when they didn’t and they 28:00felt like their grievances were not being made known to the public or really to the government, the only thing they had left to do was make a public presentation and that’s where that strike came out of. But you might -- this is -- this is written by the -- to say -- I mean –

[break in video]

HELFAND: I’m wondering -- I guess -- (laughter). In a lot of towns particularly with an occurrence like this so many people have been afraid -- you know -- so many people have been -- that could you -- maybe you could explain. I guess I was surprised because we’ve encountered --

LAMB: Yesterday when I told her I was going to call you she says, “Oh really?” and I said, “Yeah,” and she said, “You think she’ll do it?” and I said, “Yeah, I think she’ll do it. I’m sure.” She said, 29:00“You’re kidding, and I said, “No” and she said, “You mean she’s going to come down and talk to us?” and I said, “Yeah.”

ELAINE: Well I think as the editor of the paper here, that you should present the facts whether they are good or bad or whatever the situation might be. You know, you owe the community that -- you owe them that -- to present what’s going on and present what’s happening and that kind of situation -- whether it’s a small community or not. So, yes.

HELFAND: So is the town ready to talk about this?

ELAINE: I really don’t know why not. I really wouldn’t understand why not. I know that the older people will tell you that it’s a subject they don’t want to approach and I think it’s because of the deaths that were involved and the situation and I also think it’s probably why the community is so anti-union now because they don’t really -- it doesn’t all register but what registers is the tragedy that occurred.

LAMB: They associate union and death together.

ELAINE: Right. In fact in the ’30s when it was a mill village -- this town was built around a mill, so was Belton, you know, that was the situation -- now they’re a bit more diversified; it’s not like that anymore. It’s a sad 30:00situation in Belton. You know, their mills are closed, basically, except for one. So I’m not sure if it’s just because it’s a younger staff now over there or what, but this is what the situation is. So I’m going to have to go (laughter).

LAMB: We really appreciate this.

HELFAND: How much do you appreciate this?

LAMB: A lot, a lot, a lot. I really do. It means a lot. And I know she’ll do us right. I trust her. I want to tell you that if you’re taking that paper back. I used to go buy it just for the yard sales. That’s the only reason I bought that paper was for the yard sales and now her daddy writes this column in there -- cracks me up talking about family reunions and I cried -- I was sitting there and thought about my grandma and going to family reunions and I can remember that number two washtub with the ice in it and all that stuff.

ELAINE: Union too.

LAMB: Yeah.

ELAINE: Well he’s go okra, slimy okra coming up next week (laughter).

31:00

LAMB: I never could pick that stuff; I get blisters in between my fingers. I can’t pick peaches either. I can’t do either one. Anything with burrs on it; I can’t handle.

ELAINE: Okra’s fine if you don’t boil it.

LAMB: I know. Fried was good.

ELAINE: You’ve seen boiled okra? Oh God, you mean fried okra? Well you don’t want to eat boiled okra.

LAMB: You can set it out here and it would run 20 miles; it’s just slimy. Looks like a snail has been running. Please. It’s terrible.

ELAINE: It’s pretty bad. What number can I reach you?

[break in video]

HELFAND: Nice meeting you. I hope that -- if there’s more information, if you want more context, I think that my article -- the other article would help. You could quote it, too. You can say in the Charlotte Observer -- OK. It’s raining don’t worry about it.

M1: We like the rain.

HELFAND: This will match.

M1; Ok, shhh.

32:00

HELFAND: Can you see that its raining?

M1: Yeah, I can also hear you, so let's just not talk, unless you have to talk to her.

M1: Tell her to think about the funeral.

33:00

HELFAND: Kathy think about what was happening here. Think about " Sweet By and By".

M1: Just tell her to hold it.

HELFAND: Just stand. Should she be looking at us?

M1: No.

HELFAND: Shhh-- she look back towards--

M1: No, I think its done.

HELFAND: You know Kathy just look off towards that way.

LAMB: (inaubible)

HELFAND: To your right. Not towards us, just towards your right. Yeah.

M1: Why don't have her do a big sweeping look. Starting back, you know coming back towards you.

34:00

HELFAND: Can you do a sweeping look coming back towards us?

LAMB: Right here?

HELFAND and M1: Yeah.

HELFAND: (humming)

M1: And you can walk right past us.

HELFAND: (humming). Its the wrong song.

M1: Walk right past us.

[break in video]

35:00

[Silence]

36:00

[Silence]

M2: Yeah.

HELFAND: Yeah, come here, come here, come here.

M2: That's, that's taken over ther---

[break in video]

M2: I'm gonna have to ask you where it is.

LAMB: I'm gonna find out cause this neighbor of mine told me it.

37:00

HELFAND: So you’re saying that you own this field and you’ve been living here all this time and you didn’t know anything about this?

M2: I had no idea. I knew about the riots in the ’30s but I had no idea about the mass funeral being held in this particular field; I had no idea about it.

HELFAND: And it’s yours?

M2: Correct. Since 1972 when we bought the property -- the house and the property. But I had no idea there was a mass funeral held out here.

HELFAND: Did you know -- can you tell about your wife -- asking the kids?

M2: Oh, yeah. My wife teaches 5th grade at Honea Path Middle -- a couple of blocks up the street -- and uh, this past year she was asking the kids -- she said, “Go home and ask your grandparents about the ’30s riots,” and they came back with information and so forth but nothing on this particular spot right here -- nothing whatsoever. None of ’em knew or none of ’em were told or maybe they were at the age that their grandparents were not involved in it 38:00then. Maybe their great grandparents.

LAMB: Right. It took me several phone calls and the only way I found out is the woman that called -- this woman wasn’t even born -- the only reason she knew it was here is because her mother was pregnant with her when her father got killed. He was one of the ones that got killed, and every time they came by here they said, “That’s where they had your daddy’s funeral,” and she knew it was here. That’s the only way we found out it was here.

M2: So people still think about it pretty deep, huh?

LAMB: Mm-hmm.

HELFAND: You were saying about a memorial?

LAMB: Yeah. I wish we could do something. They’ve got a war memorial downtown and these people died -- their lives were just as important as those. I mean -- I wish there was some way I could raise some money and put a plaque down here on this corner or something, or put a little granite bench or something. Like a meditation place or something.

M2: I tell you if you start to do -- organize something, just let me know 39:00because I’m fully agreeable with the history of the town; I’m not a native of Honea Path like I have been since ’72 but I’d be glad to --

LAMB: I think it’s important. I think it would be a healing thing for a lot of people that have more or less been -- not settled with the way things are -- the relatives that are left behind. I think they need a place to say, “They did the right thing.”

M2: OK. Just let me know. And I’m glad to find out about the history. I really am.

LAMB: I appreciate your letting us film here. It’s really important to us.

M2: No problem. I’m glad I saw you this morning.

LAMB: I’m glad you did too. Good thing you came out to get the paper (laughter).

M2: That’s right. OK. Nice meeting you.

LAMB: It was nice to meet you.

40:00

[Silence]

M1: Give it like that-- I'm shooting, so you just stay steady. (pause) Okay, could you stop for a second.

[break in video]

41:00

M1: Go for it. That's great speed. Just where you are. Just keep it steady.

HELFAND: (inaudible)

M1: Real steady. Slow. (pause) You can go right on red.

42:00

[Silence]

HELFAND: Alright.

M1: Yup, slow.

HELFAND: Thank you!

43:00

LAMB: When are you coming back?

HELFAND: Could be next week, could be a couple of weeks, could be for the memorial that you’re setting up.

LAMB: I’ll try.

HELFAND: You’ll call me and let me know in the next couple of days?

LAMB: Yeah.

HELFAND: You’ve got our 1-800 number?

LAMB: Yeah.

HELFAND: Alright. It’s our nickel. And I’m going to call you with the phone number of those folks -- the Carolina Alliance for Fair Employment -- they are your next family. You were great. You were the best. Yeah.

44:00

[Silence]

45:00

[Silence]

46:00

[Silence]