Leander Zimmerman Interview 2

Special Collections and Archives, Georgia State University Library
Transcript
Toggle Index/Transcript View Switch.
Index
Search This Transcript
X
0:00

 GEORGE STONEY: At home (inaudible).

(multiple conversations; inaudible)

(break in audio)

LEANDER ZIMMERMAN: [Boy?], I was trying to protect --

GEORGE STONEY: You got to have -- you got to have that [head?] -- uh, that [hat?], I know. Yeah. OK. He’s going to get his [rake?] and -- and (inaudible).

ZIMMERMAN: I can’t work a whole garden with this.

M1: Oh, no.

(break in audio)

ZIMMERMAN: And I plan to remove the onion -- oh, Vidalia onion, and they 1:00didn’t turn out. [And a cucumber?]. (pause) Yeah, [there’s a little one right there?].

M1: (overlapping dialogue; inaudible)

2:00

ZIMMERMAN: I don’t pull -- I don’t pull them. Too little. (inaudible) too little. [I got?] bean right there. A few years ago, a feller gave me a seed 3:00of them, and I started raising them, and they’re the best bean I ever seen, to e-- to eat. Eh. The hull is kind of purple -- purple, but they’re (inaudible) a great, long bean. You see, here’s a little -- little one [just coming on?] right now. (inaudible) tomatoes. (break in video) Now you can have 4:00a tomato -- I mean, a cucumber.

M1: Thank you, sir.

ZIMMERMAN: Oh, that’s more than I need to eat [now?].

M1: This is pretty peaceful, growing the, uh --

ZIMMERMAN: Huh?

M1: [Gripping?] your own -- growing your own food is pretty good?

ZIMMERMAN: Yeah. I think [it does?] better. (inaudible).

(break in video)

JUDITH HELFAND: (inaudible)

(multiple conversations; inaudible)

GEORGE STONEY: (inaudible)

(break in video)

5:00

JAMIE STONEY: [And?] recording. Stand by, please.

GEORGE STONEY: Ready?

JAMIE STONEY: [And zooming on?].

GEORGE STONEY: OK. Tell me about the -- where were you doing the strike?

ZIMMERMAN: Oh, when I had the strike in Hogansville, I run a barbershop and a community building. And, uh, of course, [now?], my business during that strike got pretty rough. And I thought I was going to have to close my shop. Well, I got to where I wasn’t making enough money to make a living on, and I went up to Mr. [Belchen?], the man, the head of the community building. I said, “Mr. Belchen, the way things are running -- running now, and they’re looking pretty bad, next Monday morning I’m going to close that barbershop.” I 6:00said, now -- now things got so tight [till?] I can’t pay my rent.” He said, “Well, what are you going to do when you close the shop?” I said, “I don’t know what to do.” I said, “I hadn’t got a job. [Got?] nowhere to go. But -- but it’s impossible for me to keep running this shop at this time on account of things getting so rough.” “Well”, he says, “Can you stay in there if I don’t charge you no rent?” I says, “Well, I’d try to.” And I said, “Yeah, I’ll try to do that, if you don’t -- if I don’t pay no rent.” Well, I went on. I started working. And I [was?] getting by. That’s just about all, getting by, taking about $16 a week. And that’s [quite a little for a person?] (inaudible) trying to make a living on. And I 7:00got by on that. But they rocked on that for a while and (inaudible) [both to big mill?] when they [go to big mill?], they opened up in that mill 24 hours a day. When [did?] that, put things to work, put people to work.

GEORGE STONEY: How much did you charge for a haircut or a shave?

ZIMMERMAN: I charged, uh, a q-- uh, 20 cents for a shave and 35 cents for a haircut. And that kept me going pretty good at that price.

GEORGE STONEY: Now y-- barbershops is a good place to h-- hear people talk.

M1: You hear more talk in a barbershop than most anyplace you go. A lot of people just come to the barbershop, shoot the bull. (laughs) And -- and, of course, they’d -- they’d tell me (inaudible) -- they about the union, right. The (inaudible) [of them?] didn’t want the union. But some of them did. 8:00They wanted the union. And when they decided to go and organize the union, of course, I think [that’s brought the thing?] on, as -- where they -- they just shut the mill down and went [into rest?] (inaudible) [people?], and [some holes (inaudible). My father and -- I think, two, [and my sisters?], was in a bunch of [hole off?] (inaudible) and put them in -- in that place up there in Newnan.

GEORGE STONEY: Did you know what happened to them?

M1: No. I didn’t know till they come back home. Said that he’d been kept up there and -- and right -- (laughs) I guess you call it, and -- and, uh, prison-like. And they kept them in that for -- I think for five days. Yeah.

GEORGE STONEY: How did your mother feel about that?

ZIMMERMAN: Well, my mother wasn’t living at that time.

GEORGE STONEY: I see.

ZIMMERMAN: That’s right. My s-- s-- three sisters at home --

GEORGE STONEY: What did people in the town say about that?

9:00

ZIMMERMAN: Well, they was pretty much upset over it. Everybody was pretty much upset over that -- that mill shutting down, down there. Of course, as a -- the [liveliest part?], you might say, [of] keeping Hogansville going was the two mills, and that’s about all they had to spend on was -- was in two [mills?] (inaudible). And [a sawmill?] up there, or -- a place -- they -- (inaudible) [in that shop?] that -- other than that, them two mills the only thing to keep the town going.

GEORGE STONEY: Were they angry at your father and your sister for taking [the?] --

ZIMMERMAN: No, I don’t think they were angry with them about it. Those people, they thought they were in the right to do what they did do. [And?] I think the -- well, of course, I -- that really broke up the union. And that’s -- and, uh, in the union, if the union carried on right, they union is a good 10:00thing. But it’s not -- not carried on right, it’s the wrong thing. And people paying out a lot of money to -- to pay into the union people, besides the money they was making [me?]. And that -- that’s -- hurts the pro-- hurts the pocketbook.

GEORGE STONEY: Mm-hmm. Did people d-- uh, hold it against you for what your sister and your father did?

ZIMMERMAN: No. No. They didn’t hold anything against me about it.

GEORGE STONEY: Hmm.

ZIMMERMAN: They just didn’t have no money to do nothing.

GEORGE STONEY: What kind of education did you get?

ZIMMERMAN: And I had -- (laughs) I didn’t have any. Have you ever heard about that? Because I didn’t have any education [till 10 days?] (inaudible). I went to school 10 days in my life. But after I accepted Christ [as my?] personal savior, I learned where -- I seen where I was at, and I was really in a 11:00bad shape with no -- no nothing. And I started studying. And I gotten into church, and went to work in a church, and -- and got started in -- started working, went in [trading?] union. And trading union, when I first got in it, and, uh, I got up to make a talk, my nerves were hand-- n-- hands were nervous, [couldn’t hold?] (laughs) I -- I couldn’t hold a whole book in my hand, hardly, but it [worth a lot?] -- [was a lot of?] -- [worth a lot?] to me.

GEORGE STONEY: How did you learn to read?

ZIMMERMAN: Just sit down and studied it out. And I had a little help on it. Most of the time, just sit down and learn it, and -- and took -- it took -- [buy a Bible down?]. I -- I never (inaudible) read anything about (inaudible) Bible. I learned to read my Bible good.

GEORGE STONEY: Well, your father was such a learned man.

12:00

ZIMMERMAN: Well, uh, I don’t reckon I can tell you what happened.

GEORGE STONEY: Mm-hmm.

ZIMMERMAN: [And my?] --

GEORGE STONEY: Do you rememb-- did you ever read the Tom Watson papers yourself?

ZIMMERMAN: A little. Not much.

GEORGE STONEY: Tell us about that.

ZIMMERMAN: Well, my daddy r-- kept that Tom Watson’s pocket b-- uh, paper in his pocket and he -- I’d see him sit down [at night?] for hours and read, and then he sat down to read to go to sleep, and sat down at a chair, and sleep with a paper in his hand. (laughter) So he -- he loved to read. And he’d done -- done a l-- done a lot of reading. He read the Bible a lot. A lot of times, uh, I learned something from him, just sitting down, listening to him read the Bible.

GEORGE STONEY: Mm-hmm. Uh, (coughs) what, uh -- what do you think caused him to 13:00go to, uh, to -- to -- to back the -- the strike, because he wasn’t working in the mill at that time, was he?

ZIMMERMAN: No, he wasn’t working in the mill, but he -- he -- he was, uh, opposed to what the people were doing. And he’d join in with them, and because he joined in with him, they [throwed?] him in that [with them?]. And he -- he didn’t -- he was opposed to the strike. He was opposed to it. I [read he was opposed?] to the union, but the majority of the people there th-- thought they were in the union.

GEORGE STONEY: Mm-hmm.

ZIMMERMAN: But when they found out -- when all this happened, [why, it killed?] the union.

GEORGE STONEY: Mm-hmm. But was he st-- was he running the dope wagon in the factory at that time?

ZIMMERMAN: No. He had run the dope wagon some, in the mill. And, uh, then he -- he quit that and went to deliver the paper. He deliv-- he delivered the paper in the -- in the village. And when he -- he’d get boys to -- little 14:00school boys go around with him and deliver the papers.

GEORGE STONEY: Uh, did he have a ice wagon, was it?

ZIMMERMAN: Uh, no. He -- he had that in -- uh, in East Newnan.

GEORGE STONEY: Oh, East Newton. That was earlier. That’s right. That was (overlapping dialogue; inaudible).

ZIMMERMAN: That -- yeah. That was eariler. In East Newton, he had a ice wagon, and him and the boys delivered ice in -- in East Newnan.

GEORGE STONEY: Mm-hmm.

ZIMMERMAN: So he always tried to keep some little something, [keep?] (inaudible) [in something?]. And if he didn’t have some little something, why, he’d pick up something else.

GEORGE STONEY: (laughs)

ZIMMERMAN: But he never had -- he -- he never had good health. His health was, uh -- [were bad on?]. From the time his -- well, from the time I was eight years old, up, he didn’t have good health.

GEORGE STONEY: Could you tell us about y-- uh, your experience in the cotton mill?

15:00

ZIMMERMAN: Well, uh, when I went to work in the mill, first time I went to work in the mill, and I was 14 years old, and I went to work just before Christmas time. And I -- and then in -- in March the 12th, I was 15 years old. And the first job I done in the mill is sweeping the big alley. Going around to sweep the big alley. And then I learned doff spinning. Then I didn’t like spinning. I never really liked doffing. But I had to do something, so I learned to spin. And I learned to spinning. And I work in that as spinner for a while. And then I went to the twister room, start creeling twisters. And from then, on, I’ve worked -- I worked through the mill in different s-- 16:00places in the mill. But, uh, I like my mill work pretty well. But then, my daddy could never shave [his self?]. And when -- when I was 15 -- when I was 16 years old, I started shaving my daddy. I put him in a -- in a rocking chair, put a stick of [sole wood?] under the rocking chair, push it back, and I’d sit him down there and that chair and I’d shave him. I got to where I was pretty good at shaving him. Then after I shaved him, well, then, when they was coming around, I (inaudible) shaving them. And from that, then, I took a straight chair, and [set it hooked on top of another?] straight chair, and I started cutting people’s hair. And that’s the way I learned to barber. Shaving my daddy, and then cutting neighbors’ hair, I learned to barber. And I turned out to -- uh -- [and?] I guess, uh, I could shave [better?] -- better than 17:00anybody ever could ever shave (inaudible).

GEORGE STONEY: Hmm.

ZIMMERMAN: And, uh, I [enjoyed my working shop?].

GEORGE STONEY: How long did you work as a barber?

ZIMMERMAN: Well, in World War II, I was barbering, but then I closed my shop and went to work at d-- Bell Bomber plant. I worked a year and a half in the Bell Bomber plant. And then, just before the -- they was fixing to close, and I didn’t know it because I’d already got me a barber job in Atlanta. And, uh, I went up back going to -- turning into that job and telling them I was quitting at that, (inaudible) Bell Bomber, and [I?] said, “Well, the war’s over and it’s (inaudible) -- it’s all been stopped.” So I went on to work at -- work -- went onto work at a barber. And then I stayed there at that shop, while I went to the [Dexter?] shop in Atlanta, Dexter Barbershop. I worked 18:0013-and-a-half years in a Dexter shop in Atlanta. And I retired from there in nine-- in, uh, the [seventh day of?] March, 1900-- 1960. Nineteen sixty, I retired from that --

GEORGE STONEY: Did y-- did you learn to garden f-- uh, from your father?

ZIMMERMAN: Yes. My father was as good a gardener as I ever seen, but he had a double rupture and he couldn’t stoop over much, so he took the whole -- a -- a rake like mine I had out there and cut the handle off, he crawled around on his knees and worked that garden. And anything he could a hold of that would -- would [do the?] (inaudible) [to grow?] -- to be [on?] the garden, he’d do -- he’d put it on there. And he didn’t have (inaudible) grow anything that come along, --

GEORGE STONEY: Hmm.

ZIMMERMAN: -- that garden would. So he really loved to garden. And I tell 19:00people [that there’s?] only one person who could beat me at gardening, and that’s my daddy. (laughter)

GEORGE STONEY: Now when you were living in the -- when your father and, uh, your sister were living in the mill, uh, in -- in the -- were they living in the mill village or mill house?

ZIMMERMAN: They were living in the mill village, but I lived on Church Street (overlapping dialogue; inaudible).

GEORGE STONEY: Mm-hmm. Why didn’t they get kicked out of their house?

ZIMMERMAN: Well, I never did know why they didn’t get kicked out, but they didn’t. They stayed on in the house, and they didn’t get kicked out of it. But it -- uh, I -- they -- I think they felt like they just really get all of them, but they didn’t.

GEORGE STONEY: Your other sister, Leona, uh, was -- was for the union at the time.

ZIMMERMAN: Oh, yeah. She -- I think [they was?] for the union at that time.

GEORGE STONEY: Was she working in the mills then?

ZIMMERMAN: Yeah, she was working in the mill. Yeah.

GEORGE STONEY: Did she lose her -- loser her job there?

20:00

ZIMMERMAN: Well, of course, all of them lost their job for a -- for a while. But they finally put them back to work.

GEORGE STONEY: Do you know how long it was afterwards?

ZIMMERMAN: I don’t remember how long it was (inaudible). It was a good little bit before they put them back in the mill.

GEORGE STONEY: Uh, was she -- uh, wa-- was she kept out longer than other people, or did they all go back at the same time?

ZIMMERMAN: Uh, they all, I think, went back at the same time. All of them --

GEORGE STONEY: Mm-hmm.

ZIMMERMAN: All of them got back --

GEORGE STONEY: Mm-hmm.

ZIMMERMAN: -- at the [same time?].

GEORGE STONEY: Did you see the troops when they were there?

ZIMMERMAN: What?

GEORGE STONEY: Did you s-- you didn’t go to Newnan and see the troops, did you?

ZIMMERMAN: No, I didn’t go to Newnan to see them. No, I didn’t go up there.

GEORGE STONEY: How did you find out about it?

ZIMMERMAN: Well, I’d heard through other -- h-- heard it through the family. I heard it through the family (inaudible). And, of course, I heard from -- from every-- everybody (inaudible) I heard about that. Of course, every -- uh, everybody here’s talking. Everybody’s talking about what had happened to them people.

21:00

GEORGE STONEY: D-- did you see it in the papers?

ZIMMERMAN: I’m sure it was in the paper. I don’t remember now [where?] I read it (inaudible). [When I was there?], it has that all -- had that all over the papers.

GEORGE STONEY: What about the news reels, the movies?

ZIMMERMAN: I -- I -- I never did see it [in that?].

GEORGE STONEY: Mm-hmm.

ZIMMERMAN: I w--

GEORGE STONEY: You remember the -- what we showed today with, uh -- uh, [Etta Mae?] --

ZIMMERMAN: Yeah.

GEORGE STONEY: -- in it --

ZIMMERMAN: Yeah.

GEORGE STONEY: -- was shot for the news reels.

ZIMMERMAN: Yeah. But, uh, I didn’t know that she wrote that letter to the -- to the -- m-- to the [media?], the news (inaudible).

GEORGE STONEY: Mm-hmm.

ZIMMERMAN: Of course, (laughs) uh, Etta Mae always -- uh, she’s interested in doing [anything she could get help on?]. And she’d always love to -- love to do something to help people get --

GEORGE STONEY: Mm-hmm.

22:00

ZIMMERMAN: -- things going. And anything she could do to -- to help -- to help someone, she’d do it.

GEORGE STONEY: Did you ever talk with your father about, uh, unions?

ZIMMERMAN: About which?

GEORGE STONEY: About unions’ politics.

ZIMMERMAN: Well, uh, I don’t know (inaudible) [particular?] (inaudible) about the union. Of course, I knew he was -- uh, he was in favor of the union. He -- and h-- he -- he got -- he got in [the?] -- uh, [taking a hand in?], which, really, he didn’t really h-- have a hand there. But he did take a [hand there?].

GEORGE STONEY: Do you remember the fellows who came into organize?

ZIMMERMAN: No, I don’t remember the name. I’ve -- I’ve seen them, but to remember the names, I don’t.

GEORGE STONEY: Did they patronize your shop?

ZIMMERMAN: Yeah. They (inaudible) patronize my shop. [One of the advantages of taking part in the?] union, patronize my shop.

23:00

GEORGE STONEY: Could you tell us about it?

ZIMMERMAN: Well, uh, [of course?] he, uh -- he was really up for the union [and all?], at that time, during (inaudible) to get the union going. And, of course, in a way, uh, I was kind of [interested in that?], because the people I was waiting on was -- was people coming to the shop regular, and I wanted to see the best thing [that happen?] to the people, but, uh, we didn’t know what was going to be the best thing that happened. We didn’t know what is -- we didn’t [know?] -- think what did come up about it. Of course, we was interested to see something happen, but we didn’t -- we wasn’t s-- look-- looking for it to happen like it did.

GEORGE STONEY: But you shaved this guy and cut his hair?

ZIMMERMAN: Oh, yeah. Yeah. One of the -- one of the leaders in it.

GEORGE STONEY: Mm-hmm.

24:00

ZIMMERMAN: Yeah. He was -- he [attended?] my shop.

GEORGE STONEY: And you -- you don’t remember any more than that about him?

ZIMMERMAN: No. Uh, well, he -- he was a good, uh, church worker. And h-- I know he -- he [was good working?] in our church at that time. But [as far as?], uh -- I don’t know what become of him after that. He w-- he left there later.

GEORGE STONEY: But he wasn’t -- he wasn’t from Atlanta, then. He was local?

ZIMMERMAN: No. He really from (inaudible) -- somewhere down in Alabama. I think (inaudible) [somewhere?] below -- below, uh, [West Point?].

GEORGE STONEY: Judy?

HELFAND: Mm-hmm?

GEORGE STONEY: Uh, what was the name of the, uh, fellow who was secretary of the union -- (break in video) Mae was talking about him.

ZIMMERMAN: I can’t remember the name.

GEORGE STONEY: Yeah. Uh-huh.

25:00

ZIMMERMAN: That’s one thing -- uh -- uh, my trouble is remembering the names. And, uh, I’d always try to remember names, but -- and I (inaudible) -- and if I can’t remember a name, sometime, I try to tie it with something else.

GEORGE STONEY: (laughs)

ZIMMERMAN: And -- and -- I get -- get the name where I can remember it. Like a fellow -- a customer that I had, I’d been waiting on about two years, and he come in, I couldn’t call his name [at all?]. And I tried to figure out, what in the world could I tie with that name so that I’d remember him? Well, one day I was thinking -- I says, well, if I was walking out on ridge in the woods, and I see Mr. Etheridge -- and that was his name, --

GEORGE STONEY: (laughs)

ZIMMERMAN: -- was Mr. Etheridge. (laughter) I’ll -- I’ll learn his name by w-- uh, put -- picking that with his name, you know, Mr. Etheridge. (laughs)

26:00

GEORGE STONEY: How did -- how did these people eat when they were on strike, or didn’t -- or had short time?

ZIMMERMAN: What?

GEORGE STONEY: How did they buy food if they were on short time or out?

ZIMMERMAN: Well, uh, I’ll tell you, [there’s one man there?] that -- that helped people [building anything I?] -- [well, they agreed?]. He is super talented, [old mill?]. And my brother-in-law, who’s [running a?] grocery store -- and he go around, check around, see if he can find people that -- that need something to eat. And he come back in and -- and tell my brother-in-law, says, “Now, you send this [bale?] of groceries out to that house, but don’t let him where they’re come -- don’t let him know where they come from.” So that’s what he’d do. And he sent a lot of groceries to people that way.

GEORGE STONEY: Hmm.

M1: (inaudible)

ZIMMERMAN: He had been -- at -- back, early in life, he had been a 27:00alcoholic, but a friend of his got ahold of him and got him straightened out, and gave him that job as superintendent of that mill [there?]. And he -- he said he’d help [mill?] people.

GEORGE STONEY: Now how did --

(break in video)

ZIMMERMAN: Well, (inaudible) [nobody likes?] (inaudible). And -- and, of course, ev-- at -- I had customers that did drink. I had one man that was bad about gambling. And he w-- and he [drawed?] his check at the mill and went off that afternoon, and stayed all that afternoon, that night. And he come in the shop late Saturday evening and ask for some barber work and says, “I ain’t got a nickel to pay you. I’ve lost all I made gambling.” And I’ve seen 28:00-- several people that done things just like that. And its awful bad to see a man who got a family and (inaudible) take care of his wife and children, and go off gambling, and lose his money. That’s awful bad.

GEORGE STONEY: Yeah.

ZIMMERMAN: And I see -- I seen -- I seen others that done about that bad.

STONEY: Did the management do anything if people drank?

ZIMMERMAN: I think that sometimes they’d fire them if they -- if they -- if they got [it at?] -- they come in the mill drinking, oh, they’d fire them for -- I think, for doing it. I think I had a brother that got fired from that one time.