Homer Logsdon Interview

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00:00:00

M1: [OK, I guess we -- OK.]

GEORGE STONEY: OK, Homer, tell us about the first time you went in the cotton mill, how old you were, and all of that.

HOMER LOGSDON: Well, I first went into the -- the textile mill, uh, I was 15 years old. And, uh, my first job was in the spinning room, as a sweeper. I worked one night, and, uh, I was transferred to the weave shop. And, when I went in, the noise, and the lint, it was heavy, picking at my nose, and rubbing my nose, and, uh, I thought it would drive me crazy, but, I finally got used to it. And I went in the weave shop, and I was a filling boy. And the years went on, 00:01:00I learned. As I went on --

M1: Im sorry, George, we need to stop, Im getting some r-- (inaudible)

(break in video)

STONEY: OK, tell us about your experience, uh, early in the cotton mill.

LOGSDON: When I first went into the cotton mill, I went as a sweeper. And I -- I think I may have started maybe around, maybe about $9.90 a week. And I worked one night in the spinning room, and I was transferred into the weave shop. And, I got to be a fill-in boy, uh, maybe at $12 a week. And, uh, things went on, 00:02:00and, I could do my job at about half of -- half of (inaudible)--

STONEY: OK, lets start over, sorry. You were much better the first time, because you told us about what the lint was like, and what the heat was like, and all of that, and you also told us how old you were. (break in video) Dont wanna change t-- make that change. OK, uh, lets try it again, OK, sir? Uh, tell us about how old you were, and all of that, what it was like, when you first went in the cotton mill?

LOGSDON: When I first went into the cotton mill, I was 15 years old. And, I went in as a sweeper, in the spinning room. And, uh, Ive -- I had never been in a cotton mill before, and, uh, the lint, and it kept me running my nose, and my eyes, and what have you. But I managed to get through it, and I was transferred to the weave shop. Of course, when I went in there, the noise was 00:03:00twice -- the sand, and everyplace else. But you get used to that inside. Of course, I would make about $12 a week then, and that was a whole lot. And, uh, as time went on, uh, I learned to weave. I had a friend that -- all the older guys had obviously their own -- full of mud, I was fast, and I wanted -- I also wanted a better job. Now, I was never was satisfied with the job I had, I also wanted a little better. And, I learned to weave, and, uh, when I did learn, I finally talked the boss into letting me have a set of looms. And he wanted to know if I could run em, I said, Sure, I can run em. He said, OK. So, we -- we just [settled in my hours?] to work, so that didnt matter much to anybody else, but I was really interested in, excuse me, in 00:04:00weaving. But it had -- uh, the Depression, whatever, hit, and, uh, that knocked us all out, I guess. And then, when it -- we got back to our -- I guess we went on a strike.

STONEY: No, no, tell us about, uh, working on production, what it -- was it like to work on production?

LOGSDON: I enjoyed working on production. They thought I was young, and I was fast, and if I had that pick clock going, I knew I was making money. And, uh, as I said, I was fast, and I -- I could make as much as the loom fixers at weaving. And, uh --

00:05:00

STONEY: OK. Now, tell us what happened when the NRA came in.

LOGSDON: Well, when the NRA came in, the best I could remember that we -- without the -- minimum wage was 30 cents an hour, and we went on eight-hour shifts. And thats when everything began to blossom. And then, when -- when the s--

STONEY: Oh, OK, (inaudible).

(break in video)

M1: Speed.

STONEY: OK, when Roosevelt -- go ahead.

LOGSDON: When Roosevelt was elected, he says, well -- the NRA came in, and it says were going on eight-hour shifts. And, the minimum wage would be 30 cents an hour, because that raised all of our wages, with ri-- the weavers could 00:06:00make, uh, maybe 25 or 30 dollars a week, back when they were making eight, nine dollars for 11 hours, and they began to work for eight hours, and make 25, 30 dollars a week. And then, we had a -- a nationwide textile strike. And, I think, all the -- our outfit, I think we were pretty well satisfied with what we were making. But, we went out in sympathy for the strike. Well, when we went out on the strike, uh, there was so many of us, when the strike was -- when we went on the picket lines, the police come in, and run us off of the picket line. They got an injunction against us, and come to find out, half of us didnt 00:07:00have a job. Well, we didnt know -- we didnt know we were blackballed, or blacklisted, but -- which went on to better -- to what we could do, I guess. And, uh, but, we had one friend --

STONEY: Now just, OK, tell us what happened to you after the strike was over.

LOGSDON: Well, I started telling about [that toward Tex?]--

STONEY: No, just say after the strike was over, OK?

LOGSDON: Oh. Well, I dont know exactly if the strike was over, because I dont remember when it was over. But we knew we didnt have jobs. And this friend of mine was -- had people in Texas. And, I had a good car, and he wanted to know if I would take him and his wife and son to Post City, Texas. And, uh, I said -- he told me how much hed give me. And I said, Yeah? Ill take 00:08:00it. So, we took off to Texas, and I -- I guess had never been out of Kentucky and Tennessee. And, so we went across those desert lands, and to me, it was a desert land, because thats back when the cows was dried up on the field. Red River was dry, and the [grass is almost really explored?] the West. But it had -- we got to Post City, Texas. And then, we -- theres a textile mill there. And, they wanted to give us both jobs. And I told [Mr. Self?], I said, [I couldnt work in there, Id smell the death?] because it had a concrete top on it. But we went on to Hope-- Hobbs, New Mexico, and they said theyd give us a job fighting oil fires for $5 a day. And I said, No, Ill go back to Tennessee. And he said, Ill stay in -- in Post 00:09:00City. So, I left him and Post City, and back to Tennessee I come, to Knoxville. And, uh, I fooled around. And theres a contractor, uh, [Home Mill?], had a place across the street from where I lived at that time. And I kept asking him about a job, so he, uh, set about. Well, that one morning, he told me if I had a hammer, to come to work. Well, I went to work. And, uh, was working for this contrac-- contractor. And, uh, [horses I saddled, which, you know, little?]. And, uh, I was driving a truck. Of course, this had been -- I dont have any more (inaudible). But Mr. Beale was the personnel man at Cherokee --

STONEY: OK, Im going to ask you, how did you finally get back to the mill?

LOGSDON: Thats what I --

STONEY: OK, but I want you to incorporate that in the question.

00:10:00

LOGSDON: A qu-- when I was -- with this contractor, I was driving a truck. And Mr. Beale stopped me one day --

STONEY: No, but sorry, we dont know who Mr. Beale is, so you start it --

LOGSDON: OK--

STONEY: Said, uh, A few months after the strike, I was back at home, working for a contractor, and the boss came over, and said Would you like to work again?, OK?

LOGSDON: Wh-- what I s--

STONEY: You said -- OK --

LOGSDON: When I was working for this contractor, I dont know how many months it had been. But, it [had some folks?] -- the company man wanted to know if I wanted to come to work. And I said yes. And he said, Well, you and your wife come in t-- Monday night, and youll have your job. So, I started back in the mills. And, I never did know I was blacklisted, or -- they never did 00:11:00tell me, but, I was glad to get back to my job, because I enjoyed it. So, uh, I guess thats the long story about getting back to work.

STONEY: OK, all of thats very good. Now, lets talk about, uh, the kind of attitudes in the town, uh, weve been to some places that talked about people as kind of lint-heads, and people that worked in the cotton mills as low-class. Could you talk about that? Is there anything like that here?

LOGSDON: No --you know, I guess we lived different from most people, because each individual had their own house, company didnt own any of that. And everybody had to dig for their self. The company couldnt say you have to move, because the company didnt own nothing. And everybody w-- most of the 00:12:00houses in their neighborhood, in their category, was that everybody that worked in the [modern?] mill, or in the textile mills, because we had plenty of them at that time. And the -- none of us had any money. But, we were all happy. What we had worried about, the next day, because nobody give us any trouble, they did say its -- I dont know what the newspapers printed, because, at that time, I didnt care what they said. And the -- I think, most, as I say, the older people might have read the papers, but the younger people didnt. We just took it as it come.

STONEY: Now, what did you think of labor unions? What did you know about labor unions as a boy of 19 or 20?

LOGSDON: Well, when -- when they started talking about unions, uh, I didnt know much about unions. Course, my dad was a railroad man, had been all my 00:13:00life. And, uh, but he never encouraged me to do -- in fact, he d-- when I was 15 years old, I left home. And he never did, in fact, tell me what to do, because Id done what I wanted to do. And, uh, Id done what other people, older people, were doing. And when the union come along, and they organized, well, the company didnt say nothing about it. We all just went on about our business, and wed sign our union cards and pay our dues. I dont remember if the company ever took our dues out or not, but we paid our dues. And, uh, but that was the only union that Id ever been in, but, uh --

STONEY: Uh, could you -- lets go back to the picket line now. You were talking about somebody who carried the flag.

00:14:00

LOGSDON: We had a big guy (laughter), I would -- we always called him the big mouth and head. But anyhow, he was bigger and older than us younger guys, and there he was, with that flag, going down the street, singing a big song, and, uh, we got to looking for him the next morning. It -- we peeped in the window, and there he was, on his center loom. And we thought, well, thats the way it goes, but [it here -- thank God?] (inaudible) [I guess its?] on the picket line, and the guys were beginning to drift back in, one at a time, and the -- I dont remember what happened to me, whether I was -- didnt care, or, uh, what happened, but it here, I thought, well, if I said I was going to stay with the guys, Ill stay with them. And thats what Id done, and, this I say, uh, when I went back to my job, I didnt have one, so, 00:15:00thats the way it happened.

STONEY: OK, now Im going to mention some peoples names, and I want you to respond. Foots Weaver?

LOGSDON: Well, best I can remember, he was the pre--

STONEY: At the top, not he, but, Foots Weaver, OK? Tell me about Foots Weaver.

LOGSDON: Uh, d-- Well, Foots Weaver, the best I can remember, was the president of the union. But, uh, as I say, I dont remember too much about it, because we had our meetings, and -- and our secretary, and, uh, the president, and, uh, we listened, to see what the older people were having to say about -- as I said, there were [much of us?] young fellas that -- we didnt know much about a hill of beans, we were doing what the other people were doing. So, uh --

00:16:00

STONEY: Did you go to any of the meetings, and where s-- tell us where the meetings were, and describe the meetings?

LOGSDON: You know, I -- I tried to remember that, I dont remember --

STONEY: Remember what? The, t--

LOGSDON: I dont remember where our meetings, if we had it at the labor hall, uh, but it here, wed get together, and some of the -- they all had the discussions, what to do, what to do, but, I really, I dont think there are fellas who wanted to go on a strike, because were satisfied, the company was -- they tried to stay a little bit ahead of the union, uh, but they never did discourage us about the union, because, uh, I think they paid a little better than union wages at that time. And theyve alwa-- as far as I can remember, all the way back, they always did.

STONEY: Now, do you ever remember anybody in your factory talking against the 00:17:00unions, like the secondhands, or anything?

LOGSDON: I never heard anybody from the secondhand, or the boss weavers, uh, we would talk, of course, it --

STONEY: Now, start again, and say I never heard anybody talk a-- against the unions, all right? Now --

LOGSDON: I never heard anyone, uh, ever say anything against the union, as far as their bosses, or, superintendent, because, they were just one big family. Wed talked with a -- the president, if he come in, because he, he was -- I think he was a real nice man, and, uh, but, uh -- as I say, I think ours was a sympathy strike. It wasnt because we were unsatisfied with our work.

STONEY: Thats exactly what thats -- couldnt have been said better. Thats a beautiful -- a short, precise (break in video) just said, Just get to right to it. (laughter) Thats beautiful. OK, uh, lets see what 00:18:00else we want. Uh, Im going to read you -- oh yes, another person.

LOGSDON: I dont know --

STONEY: OK, then we wont do that.

(break in video)

M1: Speed.

STONEY: Tell us about Lucille Thornburgh.

LOGSDON: Well, Lucille Thornburgh, I dont remember if she was the secretary of our union or what, but, uh, she was, like, the rest of us, I think she was young, and, uh, ambitious, and, uh, I think she thought she was doing the right thing too, just like the rest of us. And, uh, up to this day, I think shes always been, uh, after she left the textile mills, I think shes always been ambitious, and, like I was, I never was satisfied with what I had, I wanted a little more. So, uh --

00:19:00

STONEY: Well they keep talking in the papers about her -- the pretty Miss Lucille Thornburgh.

LOGSDON: Well, best I remember, Lucille was a -- a beautiful gal, a girl, and, of course, we called them gals, or whatever we wanted to call her, it didnt make any difference to her. And, uh, I think, maybe, as time went on, she might turn out to be an organizer, um, because I lost track of her for years. But, the best I can remember, I havent been in contact with her in years and years, so I wouldnt know Lucille, but I asked about her, and I off-- and, uh, I used to know her brother-in-law, and Ive kind of kept up with her. She dont know it, but I did. (laughter) But, uh, as I said, I havent seen her in years, uh, so, but, uh, we had a lot of beautiful girls, 00:20:00uh, that worked on the winders in different places in the mill. I always thought we had pretty girls, and, uh -- but they didnt think its a disgrace to work in a -- they call it cotton mills, but I called it textile mills. And, of course, we never did call a Cherokee a cotton mill. Its Cherokee Spinning Company. And, uh, as I say, I just think we was always just a big happy family.

STONEY: OK, Judy, take over.

M1: [Go ahead, sir?].

(break in video)

JUDITH HELFAND: It seems like a lot of people are ashamed of their union experiences, or ashamed of their familys experiences, and wont talk about it.

LOGSDON: Oh, I -- you know, I cant see why anyone would be ashamed of working the -- in the cotton mill, or the textile mill, because that was an honest 00:21:00living. And you earned every penny you made, uh, but, in our section, nobody looked down their nose at anyone, because we were all equal. We was all trying to make a living.

HELFAND: Now, what about being ashamed about your union experience, 57 years after it happened, or not telling you that your sister-in-law was a member of the union?

LOGSDON: Well, you know, its hard to remember, uh, 50 years ago, but as far as the unions, uh, is concerned, uh, it was a big experience to me, As life go-- went on, because, in the later years, I went in business for myself, and, of course, I didnt have a whole lot of people working for me, but, I expected them to work like I did, to earn their money. And, but -- as far as the 00:22:00unions concerned, uh, I wrked in Oak Ridge when I come out of the service, uh, but we didnt have a union then, but, uh, later on, there is a union in Oak Ridge. But, uh, I never had any more experience with the union, after I left Cherokee.

HELFAND: OK. Some folks that weve met, they dont want to talk about it at all.

LOGSDON: Well, you know, I cant understand people being ashamed of what they done 50 years ago, because, uh, as I started off at 15 years -- oh, my dad said, Youre a man? He said, When you go to work, and you dont go to school, he said, youve got a long time to work. Well, maybe other people didnt understand that, or other young people, but when I went in the 00:23:00-- the cotton mills, it was a big experience to me, because I learned the work, and I learned how to take care of my money, its one thing, because I think the Depression caused that, and, uh, after I went into business for myself in the later years, Ive hustled, Ive worked, and Ive earned every penny Ive ever made, and Im not ashamed of anything Ive done, as far as working in the cotton mill, or, whatever.

HELFAND: What about joining the union?

LOGSDON: Right, uh, when I joined the union, I was doing what the other people were doing. And, uh, I stayed with them, I done what I said Id do, and, of course, a lot of my buddies didnt do it. And as a lot of them didnt do it, and they had to move on like I did to greener pasture. You know, I dont 00:24:00know if, uh, if the weave shop was exactly the cause of the strike, but the weave shop was the leader of Cherokee Mill, because if we didnt work, the other mill couldnt work. So, uh, as I said before, I -- I dont think, uh, we won the strike. But we done it in sympathy of other people, because I dont think other people made the money we made.

HELFAND: Y-- you gave this very vivid description about the inside of the mill, and how it felt, and the moisture, and all of that. I --

LOGSDON: Well, you know, when -- in the weave shop, of course, in the spinning room, I guess it was the same way, because when those frame run, the spinning 00:25:00frames, and they -- the humidity, they had a big humidifier, was up overhead, and it was sprinkling water out, and sometimes, it -- it was almost like a shower. But, uh, they said we had to have it, uh, to -- so our warps, so our looms would rub, because our ends would break. They got too dry when the reed was going back and forth, and the harness had blown up, and then it -- is, uh -- warp was real dry, whatever. Your ends would break, and you couldnt keep your looms running. But, we learned to live with it, wed get in there, and wed sweat, and, uh, Id say its 80, 90 degrees, because they didnt let y-- you couldnt open the window. If you opened the window, thered be some weaver over complaining about wind coming in, and making his job run bad. So, we all just sweated it out, and, thats the way we done all -- all of us, we was all used to it.

00:26:00

STONEY: OK.

HELFAND: OK, [its definitely?]

(break in video0

LOGSDON: Oh. Uh, back then, I thought we were all on a picket line. And, because there was people just mingling, and, you know, its about 500, about 500 employees, or 600 employees. And, of course, the street was full of people. And, uh, we had to be on both sides of the street, and then, when they called the police out, they made us get off the sidewalks, and we had to keep moving, and, uh, the next day, the injunction come along, and, of course, uh, whatever they said, thats what wed done. We never did have any trouble, as far as I know, there was never any trouble at, uh, at Cherokee.

00:27:00

(break in video)

LOGSDON: -- last, maybe when we all come out, we didnt think it would last, and then wed all go back together, or, I dont remember exactly the details of it, uh, but, uh, anyhow, uh, the ones that wanted to go back with, is the ones that, uh --

HELFAND: Now, uh, tell me about the -- the constable again. I guess he was -- he -- the constable that did all that deputizing, was that in -- that was in response to that injunction, I imagine.

LOGSDON: Well, as far as -- as far as I know about -- can remember about that deal, uh, the policemen, the city police, I dont know why they decided they didnt want to stay there, uh, but anyhow, the company hired this constable, and he hired some deputy sheriffs. Uh, he deputized some guys, it wasnt 00:28:00deputy sheriffs, he deputized some guys. And then they got out, and they walked up and down the sidewalks, and we had stayed out in the street across the road. And, uh, what happened after that, I dont remember.

HELFAND: You -- you tell me that y-- it was that you all were pretty angry, because they were making us move from one side to the other, and that they -- you almost felt like a group of cattle, and they --

LOGSDON: Well, when the -- we always called him the old police chief, York, hed come out there, and, I guess because he was the chief of police, that he could just say anything, or do what he wanted to do, in fact, he did. He just said, youve got to keep moving, and then, the first thing he knows, he moved everybody off the sidewalk, into the street. But, uh, I dont remember too much about it, but nobody had any trouble, like, we might have 00:29:00yeah-yeahed him a little bit, give him a rough time when he was trying to push us off the sidewalk and onto the street. But, uh, as far as I know, nobody was ever arrested.

HELFAND: Was there any violence?

LOGSDON: Not that I know of. Everybody did some catcalls, a strike -- scabs, or something -- but if they were, I dont remember.

HELFAND: What about those guys -- can you turn it off for a sec

(break in video)

LOGSDON: [Strike?], and thats the same times we were, and wed visit them, and theyd visit us. But, of course, when the injunction come through, that stopped all of that. If we needed them to walk a picket line, I think they would have come, and if they needed us, we would have went over there. But, uh, they ended up winning their strike. And now coal has a strong union today.

HELFAND: OK. (break in video) [Helped?] form this union, certainly before the strike.

00:30:00

LOGSDON: You know, I dont think any of us knew too much about a union. But, we all -- it was like a family, and the -- the amount of thoughts, we might have thought, that would have made a family stronger, by having a union. And, uh, as far as a stretch-out, we didnt have that. The bosses didnt hassle us, and the bosses didnt have anything to say to us about the union, and, as far as I can say, the union might be good for some people, and some companies, or some organizations, but, at that time, Cherokee really, if they -- if we had come out on a sympathy strike, they might still ha--