Grady Kilgo, Eula McGill and Burns Cox Interview

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EULA MCGILL: -- in Huntsville were organized, and got contracts at that time.

JAMIE STONEY: Hold it, just a s--

JUDITH HELFAND: This (inaudible) is acting up, we just missed the first part [of this?].

MCGILL: -- called over, and Winfield did too, Winfield, Alabama. And there were --


JUDITH HELFAND: Yeah, I (inaudible).

MCGILL: -- some estab-- locals established during that time. Also, in the Carolinas, and in Georgia. But mainly in Alabama, north Alabama. We established some unions out of that '34 strike that existed until the imports caused the mills to close. It's just like the old saying: We will never win the war, because we were constantly at battle. We lost that battle, but we didn't lose the war, because we're still fighting, and you still fought on, and finally won. But you lost that battle.


MCGILL: So, consequently, it wasn't a failure. It was a setback.

COX: Well, Eula-- when I was talking to you earlier --

MCGILL: Yeah. (laughter)

COX: -- about it, and I don't mind expressing it on camera. I know what we went through here, but we didn't have no support. No support at all, and I 00:01:00called a man name (inaudible) old Cox and Dean (laughter), he know him as well as I know. They ordered us people back into the plant, ordered us back. Go back and get your jobs the best way you can get it. And we had to go up there and line up like cows, march through there. If the man warned you get there -- get over here, if you don't, get out. That's the way we got our jobs back.

HELFAN: Grady -- Mr. --

MCGILL: Well, we -- if you stop and thi-- stop and think about it, we only --

COX: Oh, she's right.

KILGO: -- had two organizers for the whole state. And they was running pretty thin. We [leased it?] with the Selma Manufacturing Company. I told the workers down there we just going to have to depend on ourself, we can't even depend on the outside, we can't depend on them people. We're going to have to depend on ourselves. But we -- we had a different situation, we were -- were shut out and locked out before we went on strike. And, during the -- during the strike --

GRADY KILGO: We didn't know what locked out was to be. We never was locked out --

MCGILL: Oh, they shut down our mills. See, when we presented the contract, they 00:02:00shut it down. Said they couldn't operate under no such condition. So, they shut down, and we were shut down when the strike was called.

COX: We was -- small organization.

MCGILL: Yeah, we was 400 people.

COX: I heard what a -- I -- I heard what a huge -- 5,400 people. But, that was the difference, and we [cut that?].

MCGILL: We had people down there who -- who didn't care whether they had a job or not, and consequently, they would do anything (laughter) you ask them to. It was an entirely different situation.

COX: You see, the mill -- different than this plant here, because this company owned all the houses. We was at their mercy. (inaudible) -- they didn't try to throw us out until after the strike was over, and when the strike was over, then they throw them out. Yeah, but they didn't want to throw them out of the house, move them out. And then, but they kept -- uh, they continued on.


COX: But we had -- had to pay our rent to them.

KILGO: We paid them a dollar -- dollar a room. (laughter) a week, a month

COX: A week, month, dollar a --

KILGO: Four-room house, four dollars.

COX: Yeah.

IRONS: Let me switch, and get you to talk more about what it was like to live in a mill village. What was it like paying rent, and what kind of control did the company have over you, or? --

KILGO: Well, they -- the company, we didn't have a thing [toward?] the house. 00:03:00They done the painting, they done the fixing, they done everything. All we done was lived in it, that was it. And, uh, they --

MCGILL: Paid rent.

KILGO: Yeah, paid that little rent, and uh, they was good to us with the house business. They didn't balk when you went to ask them about something done, they come and done it for you. They had a good crew up there. Old -- old Lionel Rogers, whose place did he take?

COX: He was a [bolt?] carpenter out in the carpenter shop.

KILGO: I know, but he take a -- Bellamy's place, didn't he?

COX: Yeah, I think so.

KILGO: Yep, Bellamy. I think they took his job, because they fired him.

COX: Yeah.

KILGO: And, uh, let's see. What did they fire him for? I don't know what they fired him for, anyhow, they gave it Arnold Rogers.

IRONS: Well, what were -- what are your recollections of being in a mill house?

COX: I was born and raised in these mill houses, oh, except, four years over on Sanson. In 1918, I was over on Sanson Avenue. But, I was born down here on 00:04:00[2nd North?]. I moved to [Cumnock?]. I moved from [Cumnock?] to Sanson. From Sanson, back to [Cumnock?]. From [Cumnock?], to Hinsdale. From Hinsdale to, uh, what's the name of the street down there, Grady? Um, the new house they built down there?

KILGO: Oh, Perkins St.

COX: Not Perkins.

KILGO: Uh --

COX: You know, where they built the new housing --

KILGO: Yeah.

COX: They gave it to me, gave me a brand-new house when I -- and I stayed down there, then moved out of the new house, moved across the street, from across the street, over to this house. And I've been in this house ever since '44.

IRONS: Tell me -- just tell me one thing that was good about living in Dwight Village, and then tell me one thing that was bad about living in Dwight Village, so we get a sense about what was good, and what was bad.

COX: Well, the good part of it was the rent, as far as that goes. I paid four dollars a month rent when I moved into this house in '44. Four dollars. Of course, it went up on them.



COX: It went up on them. They furnished our water, they done all the paintings, and everything. They kept them up, and all we had to do was pay our rent once a month.

KILGO: And we had a good neighbor --

COX: Yep.

KILGO: -- good people. If you wanted a bucket of flour, or something, oh, you just went up toward your neighbor, you -- (inaudible).

COX: Well, back then they raised children for that mill.

MCGILL: Let me ask y'all something, let me ask you something, if I may. I don't know, and I honestly don't know, uh, but did -- was there any -- now I -- I'll tell you what I'm talking about. I know in the -- in the Avondale Mill in Birmingham, they had a guard, and you had to stop and tell who you was going to visit. And me and the girl went down there one day to visit her sister and brother-in-law. And they knew, I found out later, they knew, you know, that I was a volunteer, I wasn't no paid representative, but I was active in the union. And we just went down there, I went down there with her to visit her 00:06:00sister and brother-in-law for something. And that guard come down there, and told him to -- to tell us to get out of the house. Was any kind of ever -- you ever feel like that you had to be careful who you had to visit you, or what you did in that house? Was there any kind of restraint put on you to, say, in other words, i-- was that -- you're free, you -- did you feel really free?

COX: Not af--

MCGILL: -- to do as, like, you wanted to, in your house?

COX: Not after the '34 strike, it was dangerous, if anything. Anything happened after that '34 strike, the company get a hold of it, and it was gone.

MCGILL: Well, even before then, let me -- let's go back, and -- before that, did the mill, uh, I, as I remember, there were as a certain class of people living -- live on Bailey Hill in them row houses. And there was people that didn't keep their houses and yards clean, you remember?

COX: Around the old pe--

MCGILL: And the people that was over Bailey Hill.

COX: -- old pesthouse up in there?


MCGILL: Wasn't there certain people that the company wouldn't let live in certain places, they kind of tell you where you could live?

COX: Well, you only -- you only got what they wanted you to have.

MCGILL: That's fine.

COX: You only got what you --

MCGILL: You didn't choose your house, they chose it foryou --


COX: You didn't choose it, they -- you asked them for it.

MCGILL: Yeah, and if they saw fit --

COX: Saw fit, you'd get it. If you didn't --

MCGILL: If you didn't keep clean, they'd move you to Bailey Hill, wouldn't they?

COX: Well, they had what they called the old pesthouse up there. They -- we had a disease place up there --

MCGILL: Uh-huh.

COX: -- where they called in something like [that beetle?], they ship them up there, and, isoloated them off, you know, from the -- from the outside.

IRONS: Eula, you came to Gadsden a couple of times during the strike. What did you come here for?

MCGILL: Well, I came here to organi-- well, I was easy, this being the first job I ever had. And I was just anxious to see how it was getting along. And, I went to every union meeting I could go to, whether it was your textiles, or steelworkers, or mine workers, or any -- any kind of union meeting, I went to it.

IRONS: When you came to Gadsden --

MCGILL: And I came to Gadsden because I was [downright?] interested in it, because I worked in the mill.

IRONS: What did you find?

MCGILL: And I know that -- what the conditions were when I -- when I worked in this mill here, the little while I worked, I knew people that never drew a penny. They owed everything to the company store. I knew a man that swept in the spinning room there were I worked. I think he made nine dollars -- to be 00:08:00paid nine dollars a week, but he never drew a penny. He was always in debt to the company store.

KILGO: Nine dollars and 81 cents every payday. (laughter)

MCGILL: If he got, if he got -- if he got any money, he had to get him some [clack?], or a [googleoo?], and sell it for 90 cents for the dollar.

COX: Well, you know, they -- all these fibers, you know, I used to run the office up there. If you wanted a dollar, you'd go out there, he'd give you a dollar, but he'd charge you a dime for taking it, and he took a dollar out of your payday.

MCGILL: And I first -- the first --

COX: That's the way you got money.

MCGILL: -- first payday I drew up there, Dwight Mill. In that summer, I worked in there when I was just a kid, 14 years old. For the 56 hours I worked, they paid me three dollars and 15 cents, but they took a dime out for ice, and a penny out of every dollar for the doctor.

KILGO: (laughter)

MCGILL: So, it cost me 13 cents, and I drew, uh, three dollars and three cents. And I bought me a pair --

IRONS: You remember something like that, Grady?

MCGILL: -- of stockings, and it cost a dollar and 95 cents at the commissary.

IRONS: Grady, what do you know --

KILGO: That was -- that a little bit before my time there is, uh -- they did take a penny out for a doctor, or a --


MCGILL: Well, Dr. Cantro.

KILGO: Yeah, old Dr. Cantro. And then, we got old Dr. Sampson --

MCGILL: I knew him.

KILGO: -- a whole bunch of them. Wound up with old Dr. Caraway, and that was it. He was the last (inaudible) up there.

IRONS: Grady was telling us this morning about the Labor Day parade that was here, and, uh, we'd love to hear as much you can tell us about those parades, whether they had them in Birmingham, and what you remember, Burns?

COX: I was -- I was at the parade, but I don't remember too much of it. (laughter)

KILGO: Don't remember starting down there at the City Hall --

COX: We used to, we used to we, uh --

KILGO: -- coming through, marching through --

COX: Yeah, we -- we marched up, and walked down there.

KILGO: Yeah.

COX: [The whole?] street, I believe it was.

KILGO: Yeah.

COX: Or circle the block, come back around.

KILGO: We went back, someone had a picnic, where did we go to? You remember? I can't remember. I think we went back to the city park, but we didn't.

COX: It -- it wasn't the city park, it was the old ballpark.

KILGO: Yeah, old ballpark.

COX: Old ballpark.

KILGO: That's right.

COX: Yeah, right down there, where the, you know, the home there.

KILGO: Yeah.

COX: But, you know --

IRONS: Do peop-- do people hold any signs, or wave any flags, or --

KILGO: Well, yeah, they to-- they took --


MCGILL: Everybody back -- back in those days, each local had a banner, with the name of the international -- the local number. You carried those banners. Anybody could make a sign that wanted to during the parade. But in World War I, I remember the parades during World War I, and the carpenters would be on there, hammering and sawing on a, on a truck, a flatbed truck, and the machinists would be on there doing their part of their work, and, uh, each trade would be on -- have their -- they'd be --

KILGO: Own designer.

MCGILL: -- carrying on their job on that truck. I don't remember no parades later.

COX: No.

MCGILL: But that was the World War I, when I remember those parades. And they would start to go down Broad St, and end up down the river, where they had barbecues all night long, and served barbecue free of charge, down there on the riverbank.

COX: Yep.

KILGO: You remember the last barbecue that we had at the mill, B. Where it was held at?


COX: Eliot Park?

KILGO: Yeah, that's where it was.

IRONS: When was that, Grady?

COX: Back when he was talking to me about (inaudible) [park?].

MCGILL: Yeah, w-- was that named after that old man Eliot?

IRONS: L--, I think I'm --

KILGO: Uh, what -- what year was it, B, I can't think?

COX: The companies, they -- the Cohn company throwed it for us.

KILGO: Yeah. It was in the '30s th--

COX: When they first bought the mill out in --

KILGO: Thirties, '40s --Fifty-eight, '50 it was, you know, what --

COX: Probably. Yeah.

KILGO: Fifty, I believe it was, early '50s.

COX: Fifty, (inaudible). Yeah, we went ahead --

KILGO: They come in, and go be good to us, and they drummed us up, and everything, and then carried us down there and fed us some barbecue, feast. But that was done f--

MCGILL: You paid for it, didn't you?

COX: Yeah.

MCGILL: (laughter) But you remember the community house that used to be down there, you know, where they had a house where you had parties in it?

GEORGE STONEY: We're going to have to stop. Yeah. Hold it, hold it, hold (break in video)

COX: -- it's been here (inaudible), but they didn't want it, they wanted it outside, so they told me [I would ride over to Cohn's?].

KILGO: Yeah.

COX: I went over, and checked just a couple of doffers for the whole way I worked.

CREW: Just a second.

COX: Well, when they [dumped?] their yarn up and everything, how long it took them all --

MCGILL: Then --

COX: [Well, he just?] --

MCGILL: But he said never let the boss see you.

COX: Did you --


MCGILL: Because he'll think you ain't got enough to do, and he'll find you something else to do.

HELFAND: Do you want to --

COX: But did you ever remember Bill [Likely?] --


COX: He --

GEORGE STONEY: OK, hold it, jus--

JAMIE STONEY: We're rolling.


COX: Bill [Likely?], he did get out of North Company, and he got out of Boston, Massachusetts, and he come down here, and took over the mill, and everything. And he come up to the spinning room, our spinners, you know where they'd be, all messed up, you know, rods all --

MCGILL: Falling out.

COX: Falling out, rolling on around the floor. He'd go down through there and shake his head, and they finally got together with the union, and all. And he said that, uh, he'd rather walk down the aisle and see the spinners sitting up in the window, and the doffers sitting over there, it was them bent over doing something, we didn't have to do it. So, we made a change there.


IRONS: We want to know how you two first met.

MCGILL: I can't remember.

COX: It had been years and years ago. (laughter)

IRONS: Was it -- was it during the strike?

COX: It's -- it --

MCGILL: Yeah, yeah. But I can't remember when it was. It was sometime during 00:13:00the time it -- all this, you know --

COX: Come on, Grady, you'll remember it better.

KILGO: Which one is, which one is (inaudible).

MCGILL: It wasn't the first strike, because I wasn't --

COX: Eighteen, 1918, I remember it, but I --

MCGILL: No, I was a kid. I -- I was up on the picket line, but wasn't at none of the union meetings that I remember, I was on the picket line.

COX: Yeah.

MCGILL: But, uh, around during the '34 one, it was all organizing, (inaudible) coming back and forth up here, of course, I got acquainted with Burns Cox. And Walter Pearson --

COX: Now you're gettin--

MCGILL: -- and Bud Knowles --

COX: -- you're getting them now.

MCGILL: Now, if you remember, I don't know if we all -- your [friend and his?] --

GEORGE STONEY: It's there.

CREW: Yes ma'am.

MCGILL: -- I don't know if we need to talk about this, or not, because it involved [Slater Owen?], it al-- also involved all the other unions. You remember Bill, Bud Knowles, they formed a committee here --

COX: Yeah.

MCGILL: -- To d-- to gather information on the anti-union in preparation of the LaFollett -- c-- Bob LaFollett come here with his investigating committee.

COX: Yeah.

MCGILL: Now, I'd like to -- I would love to get a hold of some of those records. As I remember, there was three on the committee. And when they'd gather information, they'd put it in this safety deposit box at the bank. And 00:14:00that bank -- they couldn't get it out without all three of the committee members there together. That's how, uh, -- they weren't exactly distrustful, but to be careful that nobody would find out what they was gathering, and tell it. Or, just sneak it out, and lose it. And Bud told me that, uh, later on, that, that -- they could not go to that safety deposit box, and get any of that evidence that they'd collected without the three members of the committee, uh, there, uh, to put it in, or take it out, so they did -- not be disturbed.


MCGILL: Do you remember that?

STONEY: That? Yeah.

MCGILL: [You remember anything?].

IRONS: What kind of evidence were they gathering?

MCGILL: Well, you s-- don't you know, in the early '30s, when they was trying to organize the, uh, mill, and the, uh, rubber plant, or the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company, and the Gulf State Steel. The companies had hired these, uh, labor spies. And the whole town was fighting the union, the unions. 00:15:00It was a -- it's a (inaudible) -- they had war up here. I remember, we come up here one time for a meeting down the riverbank, and I rode up here with the (inaudible), who was, uh, then, a director of the TWOC there in Birmingham. And they got to shooting down there, among the people down there. Somebody shooting. They all think he was trying to shoot -- scare no-- uh, shoot nobody, but they're shooting. And, uh, they were get-- trying to show that this was a company that was trying to get information to prove. They'd take people out, and beat them up. They took Walter Pearson out, they accuse him of being a Communist. And they took him out down on the highway, and beat him up, and left him out for dead, you know.

IRONS: You remember that, Burns?

COX: That was our first president, the of the association, we formed in 1933. Walter M. Pearson.

IRONS: And they beat him up?

COX: Yes, they beat him up.

MCGILL: Left him for dead! He finally got somebody to bring him into back --

COX: [He had hurt?].

MCGILL: It was rough here.


COX: When I -- [well, arguing?] got started, and I said and y'all have got the evidence, when it was created, and you got people's names on their charter members. That was before AF of L come in, way before AFL come in. But I remember them days very well.

IRONS: Let me just try one more time to talk to you -- ask you to talk about, uh, life on the picket lines. We've gotten little stories from people about what it was like to stand at the gates, and we're going to go over, and, you're going to show us where those gates were, and --


IRONS: -- [in just a little while?] -- what was it like standing at those gates?

COX: You, you --

MCGILL: You won't be able [to know?] where the gate, it was.

COX: I -- I know in my mind --

MCGILL: I know, but --

COX: -- but I can tell everybody, but -- she can't find it, that's the reason I told her to bring her pictures.

MCGILL: I can tell, I can --

COX: But, there's no pictures on that, and I can confirm it.

IRONS: Oh, is that right?

COX: The -- more than I can confirm where the lakes is at.

MCGILL: You remember that sidewalk that went to Canterbury Station, up to the square?

COX: Right, there was not a middle (inaudible) --

MCGILL: There was no gates on that side.

COX: Yeah, it was one --

MCGILL: Was it?

COX: Right at the middle. In the middle, between square --


MCGILL: There was a plank fence, or a picket fence --

COX: Yep.

MCGILL: -- and you couldn't see through it --

COX: And, then down at the Oak Street gate, and then there one up on the --

MCGILL: The square, it was the --

COX: It wasn't --

MCGILL: -- main gate, where you went in by the office.

COX: Well, we all called that the main gate -- main gate (inaudible), went in there on the railroad gate to that.

MCGILL: Yeah, yeah, that's right.

COX: But we had a little gate o-- up on the sidewalk, that comes across the street.

MCGILL: It went across the lake.

COX: And then, what -- what we got down here, at this corner, we crossed the lake bank, and went into the lower end of the mill, down there. Up here, at the corner, where the corner lot is now, we had the coal gate, railroad gate -- two railroad gates, one on one side, one on the other, and then we had the office gates, and then we had the railroad gates there. And then the Oak St. gates, and, Oak St. gate down there. There was all the gates there was.

IRONS: Let me ask one -- another question, and Grady, I'm really interested in what you're going to have to say about this. We're going to go over and look at the shopping mall in a minute, and that represents the mill being closed back in '58 and '59. What were your feelings back then, when you saw the 00:18:00mill being torn down?

KILGO: Well, my feelings was that I didn't have no job, and that I was going to have to get out of here, just like a lot of the others, because that was the only thing it was, that there wasn't no work here. What work was here, they got it before I got out, and, that left a lot of people here with nothing. That's how come we'd have to go to Atlanta.

IRONS: How did you feel about being left with nothing?

KILGO: Well, pretty bad. Like, oh, say, Oh, hey, you got a job today, and none tomorrow, so, there you are. You got no food for today, and none for tomorrow.

COX: The people agreed on in the contract on Sunday, it was, [one day?], Grady, on Sunday, and then, when we had our mass meeting, down here at the hall. Agreed on it, as I told you the story yesterday, and they wanted seven cents an hour. They got their seven cents an hour. They was told what was going to happen if they got it, and took it, but they still didn't believe us. We put it to a vote, and only a handful had voted against it. The rest of us has to 00:19:00stay out, or, we'll, we'll -- we'll take it. We told them you take it, you go shut it down. They didn't believe us. They started the mill up the following week, got called-on hands in there, and started to call them hands in, they called them in, and sent them right back out. And, that was the opening and closing of the darn mill.

GEORGE STONEY: But, how did you feel about losing this, kind of, record of your own employment and life?

KILGO: Well, it, uh -- my feeling was that other words, you just lost everything you had.


KILGO: And everything you'd worked for was gone down the drain, and that's the way it was.

COX: It hurt some of our people here, it hurt 'em bad.

KILGO: Yep. Because, they was too old to get a job somewhere else, and people just had (inaudible) -- old enough to (inaudible) --

MCGILL: Too young to die, and too old to work.

COX: People just

KILGO: And, we couldn't draw Social Security, and stuff like that, so they was -- it was in a mess. I mean --People sold their houses, lots of them give them 00:20:00away, got scared to death. [McNamara?] (inaudible) bought them houses at his own price, and he still got some of them up here, and that old boy, here he is, here's trying to runthem, and messing them up, and, he's still got a bunch up here on [Shady Hill?].

COX: Grady was living right there on the side of me. I bought mine, and Grady didn't buy his. And you tell him what you had to -- he wanted you to pay for it, $2,700, wasn't it, Grady?

KILGO: Twenty-seven hundred for that.

COX: I paid -- I paid $3,450 for mine.

KILGO: I went up on the hill, and bought that one up for -- for $2,800.

COX: Yep.

IRONS: Grady, when you, uh, go over to that shopping center now, and, you walk into one of the stores where the weave room or the cloth room used to be, what kind of feeling do you have?

KILGO: A dead feeling. It's all gone. It's like something drained out of it.

COX: There's nothing left up there. It's only in our minds.

KILGO: I don't like to go in that place, I don't go in there, unless I have to. Sometimes, I'm over here, and I want something, I'll go in there and buy it, if I don't, I just look at it, and keep a driving. I just don't 00:21:00like -- don't like it, I never did like the name of it, that old, some old (inaudible) [float in on?], it was Canterbury Station there, I didn't like it. And I still don't.

IRONS: Why didn't you like that?

KILGO: Well, it wasn't named that place. It -- Dwight had been there so long, so I still thought it ought to be named Dwight, so -- and I still believe that.

COX: What--

KILGO: Like, up there where, uh, Food World is? I think -- I think that should have been named Dwight something there, instead of Canterbury.

COX: Well, they originally named that Canterbury Station, after the original Canterbury Station down on the corner.

KILGO: Oh, yeah.

MCGILL: They call that Canterbury up here now?

COX: Yeah, the Canterbury Station, that's where we go.

MCGILL: Oh, I thought you was talking old Canterbury Station, they call that Canterbury?

COX: Well, we are!

KILGO: That -- that Food World up there is Canterbury, that (inaudible) --

MCGILL: Canterbury Station (inaudible) --Oh![I've seen him since then?] --

KILGO: [I told him?] Steve (inaudible), I said why Steve, you didn't have no right to doing no (inaudible) there. I said you should have asked the people something before you done it. And I still think he did.

COX: Well, he wanted to take a name for it, and they got one, they got the Canterbury --


MCGILL: When you was talking to me about Canterbury, I thought you mean the old Canterbury Station there.

KILGO: Nah, the Canterbury Station just about gone, there ain't nothing down there but a beauty shop, and that's it.

MCGILL: That used to be a real thriving, you know, when I was in school, I used to pass everyone in junior high, you know, the drugstore, and the, and the -- several shops, there's a millenary shop down there, sold nothing but -- that's the first shop I ever saw that just sold hats.

KILGO: Yeah, old (inaudible) [died?] --

MCGILL: And she made them hats, she had the ladies -- them ladies made the hats.

COX: You remember her name?


COX: [Fyburn?]? Miss Fyburn? Run the old military shop right down there, inside the old [middle school?]

MCGILL: She made hats.

COX: She made them down there.

KILGO: Let's see, was that -- was McElroy down there at that corner? That drugstore?

MCGILL: [Entregans?] run a grocery store right up there. [Entregans?] were their names, weren't they? [Entregans?]

COX: Herndons.

MCGILL: Herndons?

COX: Herndons.

MCGILL: Herndons.

KILGO: Oh, and that Tom Brown is in that -- up there before Herndons bought it out.

COX: As Tom was across the street over there in the old -- old building over across the street there.

STONEY: OK, now, each of you has saved some parts from that mill. Why?

KILGO: Well, I saved the brick. Get mad at the wife, throw it at her. 00:23:00(laughter) And now, prop the door back. (laughter) That brick has been a long ways. That brick went to Atlanta and back. And, I still got it. (laughter)

MCGILL: Well, I imagine, when you -- I never had the experience of working anywhere long enough, but I imagine when a pers-- somebody spends most of their life at a plant, whether the company was a good company, or whatever, a bad company, there's some part of you, that was your life.


MCGILL: And to have something, a memento from that, well, this gives you a little comfort, a feeling of th-- that I helped do this.

COX: Mm-hmm.

MCGILL: And that's what I think that a lot of people felt like. I know that my feeling is toward the union, because I spent my life in the union. And I save everything I can, old union badges, and things like that, because that was my life, was the labor union movement. And I keep something, I got a whole bag of, of embelms with the conventions, state conventions, and I've got 'em 00:24:00bagged up and keep 'em, because that's, to me, represents my life.

IRONS: Burns, you've gone and looked at all those old photographs. Why -- oh, it's real important for you to look at all those old photographs.

COX: What's important to me?

IRONS: To look at those, uh, pictures?

COX: Oh, at some of them pictures on there. Honey, I don't remember, that's when the construction of the mill was starting.

MCGILL: (inaudible)

COX: Back in 1800 and something. Now, something it --

MCGILL: We don't go that far back.

COX: No, we don't go that far back. (laughter) [I was starting 12?] (inaudible) --

MCGILL: That's a ways older than what we are. Let's don't make us older than what we are, my God.

COX: And he got pictures there of the beginning of the mill.

IRONS: Right, right.

COX: That was back in the 1800s. The mill was completed and started up in 1895.

IRONS: Right.

COX: My folk come in 1907.

IRONS: Right.

COX: It was [done with function?] when my folk come in.

IRONS: See, you've been real helpful to us, because you've been -- you've been the person to tell us where to go to find those, uh, materials. Where to go to get the pictures, and then, going down to the courthouse to get that Dixie 00:25:00Federation, you're helping us to find history. How does it make you feel when we go down there --

COX: It ma-- it makes me feel good, anything that cause good for the union. Anything that I can do to help the union, I'm willing to do it. In fact, [a minute later?], I come out of this local down here, I was the president of the local when it went down. And, it went down. I stayed down there until we give all the money away. We kept people fed and everything until -- everything --

KILGO: How long has the money lasted?

COX: All the money left and everything, and then I went to work with the International Union, Textile Workers. I was hired by Herb Williams. My first assignment was Nashville, Tennessee. I went to Nashville, Tennessee, and I -- shipped me back to Chattanooga. I stayed in Chattanooga, and then I was shipped back to Nashville, Tennessee, and I worked under Herb up there on two different plants. And I was shipped back to home, when the election was over, and, uh, Herb didn't have [an award?] for me. So, Mike [Batela?], he took over the Georgia region --


MCGILL: Oh, Mike was a good guy. He was a good guy.

COX: Georgia region, he called me, I went to work with him. And I went to work with h-- out of Atlanta, and the first assignment we got was a carpet mill in Dalton, Georgia. We stayed on the carpet mill for two years or more.

MCGILL: Finally got one in Calhoun.

COX: Yeah, Dixie down there. Dixie down in Calhoun. And that's the only one we could conquer. We had elections in the others, but we couldn't do nothing with them.

IRONS: That's quite a life, that you've led.

COX: And then, I was shipped out there, then, back to Atlanta. And from Atlanta, I was desig-- designated to South Carolina, there. I spent time working in Spartanburg, South Carolina --

MCGILL: Jesus.

COX: -- all around South Carolina, went up to Charlotte, from Charlotte, on up through to North Carolina, and I spent four, four year-- three years with the JP Stevens chain in Roanoke, right up in North Carolina.

GEORGE STONEY: Now, when you were doing all that organizing, did you come off, 00:27:00uh, come across people who had been in the '34 strike? IRONS: In other towns?

COX: No, uh --

MCGILL: I don't believe they got involved, JP Stevens, at that time, (inaudible) --

COX: They didn't -- it was mostly Alabama. No, it was mostly, it was --

IRONS: Mmm-hhmm, 400,000 people, Burns.

MCGILL: Yes, but the JP Stevens, I don't remember any of the JP Stevens mills ever being, uh --

COX: Ain't nobody ever touched him.

MCGILL: That -- that was the company their -- their headquarters was in New England. And I don't think --

CREW: (inaudible)

MCGILL: -- you would have even [survived?] -- never heard anything, where they got really

(break in video)

COX: -- (inaudible), took (inaudible) [picture there?] (inaudible), and we won through the national NLRB, [Adam McCourt?] --

GEORGE STONEY: Jamie, should we try to move a little bit to the (inaudible)?



COX: and had one man (inaudible) there, well, he got one check for $64,000. He put a big banner on top of his car, and he drove it around through the mill there, said This is what JP bought me.

MCGILL: Uh-huh. (laughter)

COX: And, like, we cashed [all if it on the?] check --


(break in video)

JAMIE STONEY: [Give up?]

GEORGE STONEY: -- think about living in a -- in a --

IRONS: Mill village.




GEORGE STONEY: Can you ask that very amicably?

IRONS: OK. OK, I'll do it. Are we rolling yet?

JAMIE STONEY: Yeah, it's rolling.

GEORGE STONEY: Now. What was the good and the bad things about living in [a mill village?]

IRONS: Right, right, right, OK. Tell me when, Jamie. Tell me one thing that was good, and one thing that was bad, about living in a mill village.

MCGILL: Isn't this a nice backyard?


IRONS: Maybe we could start off by describing what makes Gadsden a special place, uh, why was the union formed here, and why did the union have the characteristics it did? George --

GEORGE STONEY: When did you two meet?

IRONS: That's right. Um, Burns and Eula, when did you two first meet each other?



HELFAND: Success or failure?


IRONS: Right. I want you to think about, hmm, [start over?]. I want you to step back from the immediate events, and think about the whole strike, and its meaning, when you think about unions in Gadsden. Would you say the strike was a success, or a failure?

JAMIE STONEY: We do that one more time. We had a truck on your line.

CREW: Yep.

CREW: Keep talking.

IRONS: I want you to s-- think big for a minute, and look at this '34 strike, in a context of the history of Gadsden, and unions in Gadsden, and, when you think about it that way, was the '34 strike a success, or a failure? Is that a leading question, George?

GEORGE STONEY: No, it's quite fine. Um --

IRONS: -- about Sheriff [Leith?]? Wasn't he the sheriff in, uh, '34? Um, let's see. We're really interested in those parades, those Labor Day parades. Can you describe them for us?


GEORGE STONEY: Um, what about the, uh, how they feel when the -- about the mills being gone?

IRONS: OK, um, are we rolling?

CREW: Yeah.

IRONS: Let me switch to another topic, uh, the mill's not there anymore, it closed down in '58, or '59? How does that make you feel? How did it make you feel, uh, the year that it closed? Grady?

GEORGE STONEY: And then, the mill is gone, this -- it's just been completely destroyed. How -- you feel, how do you -- how does that make you feel?

IRONS: OK, um, the mill is completely gone now, and there's a shopping center there. When you go over to that shopping center, and walk into one of those stores, uh, what do you f--