Walter Sharpe and Thom Malcolm Interview 2

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THOM MALCOLM: OK. Mr. Sharpe, I noticed that, uh, the people on the front, here, which are the bosses -- they all got suits and ties.

WALTER SHARPE: They got ties, yeah. That’s the white collar men.

MALCOLM: Did, uh, management then always wear --

SHARPE: Yeah, that’s -- that’s the way they always do then. Well you can tell a boss from a working hand, see.

MALCOLM: I noticed on, uh, your daddy’s hat here there’s a little something. Could you tell me what that is?

SHARPE: Yeah. That’s -- that’s a badge.

MALCOLM: Did, uh, all of them get badges?

SHARPE: No. See, my daddy worked for the sheriff in Opelika.

MALCOLM: Uh-huh.

SHARPE: Too. He was a part-time deputy up there, worked for the -- the law in Opelika, see. And back then, they put it on your hats. Now they put it right here, see. And he -- he -- he’d been a lawman a long time.

MALCOLM: But the rest of these people back here, they didn’t have badges. They were just --

SHARPE: No, they didn’t have badges because they just deputized him for that 1:00one job. My daddy was already a deputy, see. I know, uh -- he’s there to see if all them others did what they’re supposed to.

MALCOLM: You said your brother, he was with you too, right?

SHARPE: My brother was standing out there with me. He’s four years older than me, but he’s still a boy.

MALCOLM: Well what -- what was it -- can you think of the youngest person that might have been in your group?

SHARPE: In that, uh, group there?

MALCOLM: The group that you was in. You know, you wasn’t in this group.

SHARPE: The kids, you mean?

MALCOLM: Yes, sir.

SHARPE: Oh, yeah. There’s some down there about eight year old.

MALCOLM: Did they have guns?

SHARPE: Yeah. That was the [Littlows?]. And, uh, Mr. Littlow’s boys, and the Colemans, right. There’s skinny Coleman, and there were a bunch of them boys. They -- they had two or three kids around 18[years old, yet hunted with me?]. Then there’s the Hawkins. The Hawkins was there with me, and, uh, the Kinneys was there with me. They had -- they was about my age. But the Hawkins had one guy that was -- he was three years younger than me. He was about ten years old. And he had his gun, too.


MALCOLM: What did these 8 and 10 years old -- what did they think was going to happen?

SHARPE: Well they did -- they -- they was like me. They really didn’t know. But they were there to protect their daddies. Their home, just like you would, you know?


SHARPE: Because back then, you loved your people. You loved everybody around you. So that was one big family, and everybody knows everybody. And, uh, grown people back then, if you were his house, he was your daddy. As long as you was playing with his kids, he could whoop you just like he could his kids. Then when you got home, you got another whooping.

GEORGE STONEY: Ask him if --

SHARPE: That’s right.

GEORGE STONEY: Ask him if he knew any of the big bosses.

MALCOLM: Did you -- did you know any of the big bosses?

SHARPE: I know all the bosses. Uh, but I can’t remember all of the names right now. I know there’s -- I remember John Lynch. He finally got to be a sheriff down there, for Pepperell private sheriff. He was a personnel man. He -- then, uh, [Cole Akin?] was my boss. And, uh, he used to live -- you 3:00couldn’t see him. He’s back in there somewhere. And, uh, [Dag Owen?] was the big boss. Then, uh, there’s [Fat Plantie?], who’s that old -- he’s that fat man up here. He was my supervisor. And, uh, he was, uh, what’s called supervisor now. I don’t remember what to call him back then.

MALCOLM: Second hand.

SHARPE: Plant manager, or second hand, or whatever. Then, uh, Mr. Van Patten. He was in there early, and he wasn’t my boss, but he was in the other end where the other looms was. And he’s that big old tall one back here somewhere. And, uh --

MALCOLM: Well, uh --

SHARPE: -- [owner Ian?] here.

MALCOLM: All these, uh, children, or young adults that you was with. Did all -- did most of y’all end up working in the mill?

SHARPE: Oh yeah. All of us did.

MALCOLM: Did, uh --

SHARPE: That’s the only place we was able. That’s the only jobs you could get.

MALCOLM: Did your father, uh, did their fathers work in the mill? That -- that -- did that --


MALCOLM: -- help any for them to get a job?

SHARPE: You followed your daddy. Whatever your daddy done, you got -- grow up 4:00to be what he -- ever he was. Unless -- and then you spread it out after you got to be a man, see.

MALCOLM: Did, uh -- so I guess, did you feel, when you was back in that group, you felt like you was really protecting your own job, too because of (inaudible; overlapping dialogue) --

SHARPE: You protected your future. That’s what you thought then, see. When you -- when you protect your daddy and -- and his job, and the family, you were protecting yourself and your future.

GEORGE STONEY: Thom, ask him --

SHARPE: We, uh, we all ended up in the cotton mill.

GEORGE STONEY: Ask him if he would ever go -- if he had ever associated, if he ever played with the -- the children of the -- of the big bosses, or did he go in their house, or anything like that.

MALCOLM: When, uh, you was growing up, all these big bosses, did, uh, did they associate with the people? Did you play with their children and their --

SHARPE: Oh, yeah, they -- we all went to school together. Yeah.

MALCOLM: Did, uh, you grow up in a mill village?

SHARPE: Yeah. In the mill village. I moved to the mill village, and I went to school at the mill village. And all of their kids, they lived in the mill village, and their kids went to school. I went to school with all the bosses kids. And see, we didn’t feel -- the boss back then was -- wasn’t no better 5:00than you were. And I figured, uh, they put the pants on just like we did.

MALCOLM: Uh, did you have a pretty good life growing up in the mill village?

SHARPE: They -- they might have got better jobs when they went in the mill than we did.

MALCOLM: Did -- yeah I have something I want to ask you. The, uh, bosses’ children. Did they come in and be bosses? I mean, was that usually the job they ended up with?

SHARPE: Some of them did, yeah. A lot of them, they went in, as, uh -- they got a better job than we did (coughs) but we didn’t figure they was no better than we was.


GEORGE STONEY: Have you -- ask him about lint-heads.

MALCOLM: You ever heard the expression “lint-head”?


MALCOLM: You ever heard the expression --

SHARPE: Oh yeah, lint-heads. Yeah.

MALCOLM: You ever had somebody call you a lint-head?

SHARPE: No. And I’d have fought them. They -- they done that to a lot of the kids uptown, you know. When people, uh, play on -- worked in the [merchants?] you know, and, uh, worked in the store. They call you lint-heads. That’s -- that’s how --

MALCOLM: How did -- how’d that expression make you feel?

SHARPE: Well ain’t nobody called me that.

MALCOLM: But just hearing it.


SHARPE: I didn’t like it, such as that. But, um, lint-head, you know, they’d call them cotton mill hands. You know, a lot of people would [love?] cotton mill hand back then. But we -- we were as good as they were. We made about as good a living as they did. We made more than they did. But they didn’t figure that, see.

MALCOLM: Why do you think that was?

SHARPE: I don’t know why it was. It’s because we were the cotton mill hands, something like a farmer. They couldn’t figure that the farmer’s the backbone of America, and the cotton mill’s the backbone. Where would you get your clothes if it wasn’t for that?

MALCOLM: It’s the backbone of the south.

SHARPE: And the farmers, where would you get your something to eat, wasn’t for the farmers? All right, the cotton mill, the people would call cotton mill, we called them textile big shots. And we called ours, we called cotton mills. Well if it wasn’t for them, you wouldn’t have no clothes.

MALCOLM: That’s true.

SHARPE: That’s right.

MALCOLM: Why do you think these people didn’t realize that?

SHARPE: Well back then --

MALCOLM: I mean, what -- what gives us textile workers such a bad --

SHARPE: People back then wasn’t educated like they are now.

MALCOLM: Well I mean, we had --

SHARPE: All they know is what we had right there, where we were at. So we didn’t -- if we went anywhere, we had to go in a wagon. And we wouldn’t get 7:00-- go no -- uh, (coughs) when I went in LaGrange, where I was born, about twice. And then I -- I went to Montgomery one time. It had taken us two days to go down there. And that ain’t but 60 miles. (coughs) Back then, you didn’t go nowhere, we just sat right around where you live. You can’t go -- go much on a quarter, nowhere.

MALCOLM: I’m just kind of figuring out -- even when I first started working the mill, I went and worked at the mill when I was 16. We still -- for some reason, other people look -- they don’t now -- but other -- they looked down -- kind of look down on you.

SHARPE: They do.

MALCOLM: I just could never figure out why.

SHARPE: They -- they -- they look down on you now, if you -- if you go to these big towns. The people do. Some people, not all. Not all the people.

MALCOLM: It’s not as bad as it used to be.

SHARPE: See everybody -- it’s not alike. Everybody go their own opinion. And they got the rights to have their own opinion.

GEORGE STONEY: Ask him about going to school with [mamma?].

MALCOLM: Oh, uh, remember going to school with Ma?


SHARPE: Mouse?

MALCOLM: Ma. Your wife’s mother.

SHARPE: Oh, yeah. Mm-hmm.


SHARPE: We all went to school together. They had plenty of rooms in this place in front of the Opelika Manufacturing Company.

MALCOLM: Which is (inaudible; overlapping dialogue).

SHARPE: They build the Pepperell school. Then I went to school down there. But she went to work then. And, uh, I went to school, uh, with her to start with. Her, and -- I remember a lot of them that went to school with us. They had 12 grades. It takes you a while, and them a while. It’s, you know, you just -- you be quiet while they teach the other. They didn’t have but one teacher.

MALCOLM: Uh-huh.

SHARPE: Then I went to Pepperell, and we had one teacher, but they taught us everything. You know, they had different teachers for different things.

MALCOLM: Did, uh, most of the children you went to school with, did they end up working in the mills?

SHARPE: Oh yeah. Back then, that’s the only place to work back then. Because your daddy was a cotton mill hand, and he -- he wasn’t able to buy nothing. And you know, to start a business, or nothing like that. And when you work in the mill, you live from week to week.


MALCOLM: You think that might be what, kind of, made people look down on textile workers?


MALCOLM: How they never had no money back then?

SHARPE: Yeah, and -- and -- and they had to work in place of getting an education. People back then didn’t have. My mother never -- she couldn’t -- she didn’t know A from B. She never wrote nothing in her life. My daddy, now, he had a pretty good education. He went to the fourth. But back then people -- six years of school, you got more education there than a college man.

MALCOLM: Well did, uh, your daddy’s daddy work in the mill?


MALCOLM: Your grandfather. Did he work in the mill?

SHARPE: No, he come from Ireland.

MALCOLM: And how did, uh, how did your father get into [Kershaw?]?

SHARPE: He come to -- my granddaddy, I got his picture in there. He come from, uh, Ireland, to Griffin, Georgia. That’s where my daddy was born. Then -- all right, then when he -- I remember when he died, he come onto Pepperell. I moved from LaGrange. Then they moved to LaGrange, and I -- and I -- I was born right behind the Hillside mill in LaGrange, because he was a boss up there 10:00before we come to Pepperell. See.

MALCOLM: Your daddy?

SHARPE: Yeah, my daddy was. In the mill.

MALCOLM: What got him into --

SHARPE: He said he worked in a mill 62 years.

MALCOLM: What got him in the mill, you know? How did he --

SHARPE: Oh I don’t know what got him in the mill. Now I wasn’t born. I don’t guess, because he worked there 62 years. I know when I was six years old, moved down here. See I’ve been living here over 65 years. And, uh, my daddy was a cotton mill hand. He was boss at Hillside Mill; they gave him a better job down here. So he could move down here, at the Opelika Manufacturing Company. The mill wasn’t run in there. It was running at Pepperell. He worked at Pepperell, but we couldn’t get a house. They didn’t have enough houses. So we had to wait until they got a house and go the school out there before we moved in the village.

GEORGE STONEY: Ask him about Roosevelt.

MALCOLM: What about, when, uh --


GEORGE STONEY: When Roosevelt -- what he remembers about Roosevelt, if he ever heard it on the radio, and so on.

MALCOLM: Uh, you remember when Roosevelt started trying to make changes for the working man?


MALCOLM: Can you tell me a little bit about that?

SHARPE: Yeah, well my daddy, you know, he was a good friend of Roosevelt. We used to go to [warm springs?] when the [maid hit?]. And my daddy would sit out there and talk to Roosevelt. He’d sit out there and talk to us. He was the only president I ever saw, in my life.

MALCOLM: You mean -- actually was personal friends with --

SHARPE: He was a fellow just like me and you, yes sir. He’d come to school houses. He’d be down here at the schoolhouse. He’s the one that put America on its feet.

MALCOLM: Can you tell me a little bit about some of the changes you noticed in the mill you worked at that he brought --

SHARPE: Yeah. 12 hours, yeah. He went to eight hour shifts. And taking some off of you. And hired more hands. He opened the bank up and let you borrow money to buy your own place and all, see. Back then. In Hoover days, now we was talking about Hoover days, see, you didn’t have nothing. The -- where you worked at, they got all your money. You just -- you were just there. You 12:00wouldn’t have enough money to -- if you lost your job -- to even move. And, uh, so, uh, Roosevelt, he went all down in the south here. And he talked to the common people, and told them he was going to do this and he’ll do that. He’d come to the cotton mills. And he -- he changed it from 12 hours a day to eight hours.

MALCOLM: Did, uh, did he actually go in the mills and see the working conditions?

SHARPE: Yes, sir. He sure did. And he’d come to schoolhouses. And he’d talk to the kids. And, uh, he’s the only president that I only saw and really liked. What I never saw -- he’s the only one I ever saw.

MALCOLM: What kind of guns were those? Were they just y’all’s personal guns?

SHARPE: They got different kinds. Yeah, that’s our personal guns. Everybody owned guns back then. See that was part of your --

MALCOLM: Like shotguns and rifles, and --

SHARPE: Guns --

MALCOLM: Was there any --

GEORGE STONEY: OK, uh, OK -- let’s --

MALCOLM: Look at you, like I did earlier?

JAMIE STONEY: Uh, actually, if he -- Judy, could you stand on this side?


HELFAND: Yeah. Um, OK. Now I’m going to feed you the questions, and you can always ch -- change them just a little bit to make it more comfortable, OK? The first one is, can you tell me what made people finally want to have a union? OK. But remember, you’re asking a question. So don’t just do it rote. You know, like, put some emphasis in it.

MALCOLM: OK. You ready?

HELFAND: Yeah. And you’re looking at Mr. -- Walter. Yeah.

MALCOLM: You mean, look at him? Or look at you now?

HELFAND: Is he -- is he looking at me?

JAMIE STONEY: Uh, yeah. I got that one on tape. OK, Thom. Whenever you’re ready.

MALCOLM: Mr. Sharpe, can you tell me what finally -- how bad things finally got to make you finally want to get a union in your plant?

HELFAND: OK. Before you say what made them -- them finally want to get a union. So, you said they. Just try it again, one more time.

MALCOLM: Oh, make him. OK.

HELFAND: Make them, yeah.

MALCOLM: You don’t want me to say them?

HELFAND: Yeah. Say them.

MALCOLM: Oh. Mr. Sharpe, can you tell me what finally made y’all finally 14:00decide y’all wanted to get a union in -- in the plant where you worked at?


HELFAND: [I lied?]. Yeah. Because we’re going to go back to the first one, OK?

MALCOLM: OK. Mr. Sharpe, can you tell me what finally made all of y’all decide y’all wanted a union? I mean, did con -- working conditions get so bad it -- you just finally said, “I’ve had enough of it”? Or -- what happened? What made you decide you wanted a union?

HELFAND: OK. Um, we did the opening, tell me about this picture, twice. So we don’t have to do it -- you want to do it again?



JAMIE STONEY: Didn’t we get it?

HELFAND: We did it again. Should I try again?

GEORGE STONEY: Why not do it again, just -- just -- just for...


MALCOLM: Do we need the picture again?

HELFAND: Well --

JAMIE STONEY: No, we’re only on you from here up.


HELFAND: Yeah. If it helps you to look down and then look back up at me, that’s fine.

SHARPE: Well, I might --

JAMIE STONEY: Yeah, I think I’m good, actually, if you look straight.

HELFAND: Oh. OK. So before you would say, you know, tell me about this picture, and you ask him questions about it. What happened back then.

MALCOLM: Mr. Sharpe, this is a real interesting picture. I see everybody’s got their guns. They look like just regular working people, like me. Uh, could 15:00you tell me a little bit about what brought all this about and why they -- these people out here with their guns?

HELFAND: OK, great. George, before we talk a little bit about posing, and so -- some of these people are wearing suits, they have ties on, who are they. That one. OK?

MALCOLM: I noticed that, uh, some of these people, they got -- they got suits on. And the people behind them, they just got regular clothes like what me and you are wearing. Who are these people with the suits?

HELFAND: OK. And, ask him a question about his daddy.

MALCOLM: And, uh, which one of these is your father? And, uh, what did he do in the mill?


GEORGE STONEY: Just what were they going to do with all those guns?

MALCOLM: And, uh, what were they going to do with all these guns? What were they -- why were they out there with guns?

HELFAND: OK. Um, the next one was Mr. Sharpe, how you -- how did you feel when 16:00the union came in? What made you get involved? And you were -- you were -- how did you get involved? You were a [shop steward?].

MALCOLM: Mr. Sharpe, uh, when the union come in and everything started to change, what made you --

GEORGE STONEY: Let’s do it again.

HELFAND: We have to do it again.

JAMIE STONEY: When you’re ready, Thom.

MALCOLM: Mr. Sharpe, when the union come in and -- and you decided to get involved, and you decided to be a shop steward, how did you feel about the union? What made you decide to get involved in it?

HELFAND: OK. And just a straight -- Mr. Sharpe, how did you feel when the union came in?

MALCOLM: Mr. Sharpe, how’d you feel when the union came in?

GEORGE STONEY: Ask about how the flying squadron -- those people coming down from --

HELFAND: George, I have all that, um, listed. I’m going to go in order. OK. Um, you asked a question -- tell me some of the changes that came in immediately when the union came in or a little bit down the road. Put it in your own words again.

MALCOLM: Tell me a little bit about some of the immediate changes that might have happened when you -- when the union come in, and maybe some of the changes 17:00that took a little while longer to happen, but maybe on down the road, some of the changes that the union made in the plant.

HELFAND: OK. Do we need to do that again? Was I in the tremor?

M1: No, no, no, no. You were -- before you said anything.

HELFAND: OK. OK. OK [action company?].

MALCOLM: What did your bosses tell you --

HELFAND: Start again. I --

MALCOLM: Mr. Sharpe, what did your bosses say to all of y’all when y’all were trying -- when the union was trying to come in, and they was coming and talking to you? Did they threaten you? Did they tell you the union was a bad thing? What did they tell you about the union?

HELFAND: Ask that again, but let him answer it. So you just say, what did your bosses do when they tried to get the union in in Opelika?

MALCOLM: Mr -- Mr. Sharpe, what did -- what did -- what did your bosses try to do, and what did they say when they tried to get the union in Opelika?

HELFAND: OK. OK. What made -- what made them decide that you would be -- that you would be -- who did -- how did they decide who they -- who would be deputized? That was your question, remember?

MALCOLM: Mm-hmm. Mr. Sharpe, uh, how did they decide who would be a deputy and 18:00who wouldn’t be one? What -- what -- what made them decide that?

HELFAND: OK. Now, did they pay them for being deputies? That was a whole question.

MALCOLM: Did they pay them to be deputies?

HELFAND: OK. Did they have picket signs? Wait until the car goes by.

MALCOLM: Did, uh --


HELFAND: You can say -- did they -- what were those union people carrying? Did they have picket signs?

MALCOLM: These union people that come down. Did they have picket signs? Were they carrying sticks, or any kind of weapons or anything?

GEORGE STONEY: You could ask where they came from.

HELFAND: Yeah. Uh-huh. OK. Ask where these -- where -- where these people from the union came from.

MALCOLM: Where did all these people come from? Did -- did they come from up North, or -- where did they come from?

HELFAND: Ask it one more time, but don’t give the answer. Where did all these people come from?

MALCOLM: Where did all these people come from?

HELFAND: OK. All right. Did you really --


GEORGE STONEY: Then I’m going to get him to make a statement here. Uh, what if they –

(break in video)

SHARPE: [I was just 30?]. LaGrange, ’44.

GEORGE STONEY: OK. So they come from Columbus, uh, uh -- oh, LaGrange, that’s only 30, 45 miles away. Why’d they call them Yankees?

SHARPE: But you mean that, that means a lot going in a wagon.

GEORGE STONEY: That’s true. OK.

MALCOLM: Mr. Sharpe. These people, they come from Columbus and LaGrange. That’s still the south. Why -- why were they called Yankees?

GEORGE STONEY: Again, and just tell him how far it is.

MALCOLM: Oh okay I forgot. Mr. Sharpe, these people, they come from LaGrange and Columbus. We’re talking 35, 40 miles. That’s still the south. Why do -- why were they called Yankees?


MALCOLM: Mr. Sharpe. These people, they’re from Columbus and LaGrange. 35, 40 miles away. How -- how come they were still called Yankees? They were from the south.


(break in video)

HELFAND: Really wondering about that. OK.

M1: Just wait?


MALCOLM: Mr. Sharpe. You -- did -- did all of y’all really think these people were coming down here to actually take your jobs?

GEORGE STONEY: Do that again, but don’t say Mr. Sharpe.

MALCOLM: Do you really think these people were actually coming down here to take your jobs away from you?


(break in video)

HELFAND: OK. Is there a question? OK.

MALCOLM: You being a kid, only 14 years old. How did it make you feel to be standing there with a gun?


HELFAND: Good. All right. Then you ask that in a shorter way. How to ask it. Think about a 14-year-old there standing behind all those big men folks.

MALCOLM: How did it make you feel to be standing there with a gun?


(break in video)

JAMIE STONEY: Can we get it on camera?

M1: We still have to pay him $1500 [to join?].


MALCOLM: Oh, never mind, I don’t want it.

GEORGE STONEY: I wouldn’t. It cost me $3500 to get in --

SHARPE: Yeah it’s just like y’all. Y’all don’t really understand.

(break in video)


MALCOLM: Were you ever called out on strike duty?

GEORGE STONEY: OK, now. When you were in the National Guard did -- were you ever called out on strike duty?

MALCOLM: OK. When you were in the National Guard, were you ever called out on strike duty?


HELFAND: OK. And then the next thing he did was he explained the [Minnie Colter?] letter. George. He -- it was the -- one of the Minnie Colter letters. He paraphrased. Do you want to do that?

(break in video)


MALCOLM: Mr. Sharpe, I’ve got some letters here from some people that worked in the mills and -- when all this strike. Took about this from Minnie Colter. And she says that, uh, she would -- got, uh, laid off because she was working for the union. Did you ever see anything like that happen where you worked at?

HELFAND: OK. Um, now this letter’s actually written before this strike took place, wasn’t it? And did – did (break in video) -- we didn’t read a –

(break in video)

MALCOLM: OK. I get what you want. Mr. Sharpe, I’ve got some letters here from the National Archives, and this is a lady from the city from Opelika. Her 22:00name is [Nanny Coanna?]. And she’s saying that, uh, she was laid off from her plant because she belonged to a union. Do you ever remember anything like that happening?


MALCOLM: I forgot the date.

HELFAND: Her name was Nanny Adcott. So if we go to the newspaper, we’re going to need it.


HELFAND: OK? So we’re going to try it one more time. OK? And, uh, you know, she was being discriminated against and whatnot. If you want to add anything like that, fine. And it’s Adcott. OK?

MALCOLM: Adcott. OK. Mr. Sharpe, this letter here is from the National Archives, and it’s from, uh, a Nanny Adott. I’ll try that again. Adcott, right?

HELFAND: That’s right.

MALCOLM: Mr. Sharpe, this letter here is from the National Archives, and it’s from a Nanny Adcott from the city of Opelika. And she’s saying in this letter that, uh -- and this is 1933, by the way -- that, uh, because she belonged to a union, that she was discriminated against. They gave her a real hard time, and they finally just went ahead and just laid her off.

M1: Let’s do it again.



JAMIE STONEY: Yeah, it’s the noise.



M1: In the shot, it’s [father?] acting as a grip.

JAMIE STONEY: It’s your roll.

MALCOLM: Mr. Sharpe, I’ve got --

JAMIE STONEY: Time out. Sorry.


MALCOLM: Letters here from the national --

JAMIE STONEY: Now it’s on.

MALCOLM: Mr. Sharpe, I have some letters here from the National Archives.

JAMIE STONEY: Let’s do it one more time. OK Thom.

MALCOLM: Mr. Sharpe, I have some letters here from the National Archives. I’d like to tell you a little bit about some of them and see how you feel about it. This one’s from a lady named Minnie Colter. She lives at 213 5th Avenue, Phoenix City. And she says that in 1933, September, she come to the Pepperell Manufacturing Company trying to get a job, and the supervisor come out to the gate, you know that’s how they hired back then, and said, “Do you belong to a union?” She said, “Yes, sir. I do.” He said, “Well we fire people here for belonging to a union. You’ll never work here.” How do you feel about that? Did you ever see anything like that happen?





HELFAND: Now, if you -- if you want to make a comment, how you feel about (break in video) (inaudible) and very fresh. Do you want to put that back in your hands and -- I mean, what do you think when you read that, Tommy?

MALCOLM: Well I think it’s still happening today.

SHARPE: Yep. It sure is.

MALCOLM: This is -- this is something that’s still happening today.

SHARPE: It happened right down --

MALCOLM: They can’t -- they can’t be as open with it like they was in 1933, because it’s against the law. And it’s also against your union contracts. If you ain’t got that in your contract, you really don’t have a good contract. But it -- this is something that’s still going on today. It’s just kind of like shoved under the table a little bit.


MALCOLM: From, uh, Nanny Adcott, from the city of Opelika, Alabama, which is where me and you are from, and it says she worked for the Pepperell Manufacturing Company. And her supervisor’s been harassing her because she’s a union member, saying that she ain’t been getting production, and they’re going to have to lay her off. And she -- she’s saying this isn’t true, that she’s been running production. And that -- and they finally did lay her off, and she’s writing this letter -- this is 1933, December -- and 25:00she’s writing this letter to these people to tell them that she’s laid off just because she belongs to a union. Did -- have you seen that happen in the time you worked in the mill?


M1: Do this. Rub your hands through your hair and back. Got a rooster tail sticking up.


GEORGE STONEY: I’m just telling him to make it neat.

HELFAND: A cowlick!

JAMIE STONEY: Roll tape, quick. I’ve got the evidence.

HELFAND: OK, OK. No, no, no. He’s fine, he’s fine, he’s fine.

SHARPE: Put your hair like mine.


JAMIE STONEY: OK, Tommy, whenever you’re ready.


MALCOLM: And this is a letter to Franklin Delano Roosevelt, which you -- you told me you knew real well. And it was dated -- it’s dated for August the 4th, 1934. And this is saying that a man that lived in a mill village in Pepperell had a sign on his house saying that this is the local, uh, America’s -- textile workers of America, local, 1892, and it says, for information apply 26:00here. And the plant manager come and told him that if he didn’t take the sign off his house, he was going to have to move. Have you seen anybody have to be put out of their home because they was affi-- associated with a union?

HELFAND: OK, good. Let’s try it one more time, because I know you could -- just read it one more time real – (break in video) if you think so, you know, say it.

MALCOLM: This is a letter to Franklin Delano Roosevelt, which you told me you were personal friends with. And this -- this person is writing, it’s Nanny Adcott, and she’s saying that this guy -- well I can’t find his name -- but, uh, anyway, he had a sign in front of his house that said America’s -- uh, work -- textile workers of America, local, 1892, for information apply here. And this guy, Mr. [Lamar Moore?] of the, uh, Opelika Manufacturing Company, ordered this man -- I found his man -- [Odie Adcott?] -- to take this sign down, or move. Have you seen anybody had to move out of their home because there was a union member? Just because they belonged to a union?


HELFAND: What do you think about that?

MALCOLM: What do I think about it?


MALCOLM: I think it’s -- y’all want to know -- I think it’s -- it seems like it ought to be against the law just to put somebody out of their home because they belong -- that’s like if I belong to the Elk’s club. “Hey, you belong to the Elk’s club. We want you to belong to the Moose club, and either you join this club, or you’re going to have to move.” You know? That’s what I think about it. I have one more letter here, and I’m going to read the last paragraph of this. This is a letter from [Marielle?] Harris. It’s to the US Department of Labor, the Women’s Bureau, and it’s January 24th. And this is a letter from Marielle Harris, 21 Simmons Street, Opelika, Alabama, who says, “Opelika Pepperell Cotton Mill has laid off colored sweepers and employed white ones. They think $9 is too much to pay a negro.” What do you think about that? Have you seen that happen in your plant? Where they would have a negro doing one job and have a white person doing another job, 28:00and pay the white person more to do the same job?

HELFAND: Good. OK. Um, we’ll tell you when. OK? OK.

MALCOLM: Did, uh, you have a company store in the mill village you lived in? I hate company stores.

HELFAND: OK. Um, uh, give me two, just, very quiet, like, “Yes sir. Yes sir.” You know, that’s what you would do.

MALCOLM: Yes sir.

JAMIE STONEY: Don’t look at me. Look -- look at her.

MALCOLM: Yes sir. Yes sir. Yes sir.

GEORGE STONEY: Get him to look down and up and don’t say anything, just nod.

JAMIE STONEY: Look down to -- at your letters, and then back up to him. And, uh, just nod a bit. No, sir.

MALCOLM: No sir. Yes sir. Uh-huh.


JAMIE STONEY: Now why do you hate company stores?

MALCOLM: (laughs) Because a company store is just like a [cretin?]. Same thing.

SHARPE: Yep, yep.

MALCOLM: They take all --