McKinley Marchman, Leona Parham and Harold Terhune Interviews

Special Collections and Archives, Georgia State University Library
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M1: You’re a star sir.

JUDITH HELFAND: Are we on? Are we rolling?

(laughter)

M1: we’re rolling.

GEORGE STONEY: Okay now

HELFAND: What I asked you was did they ever try and bring in a union there?

MCKINLEY MARCHMAN: Yes, and I know y'all been told 'bout that. They tried to get a union here and they fired a lot of 'em because they was -- they had a scout out there finding out who was -- and if they found it out that you was trying to uphold that union or have anything to say about it, you fired. They thought they had it once, but they fired so many of 'em. They said, "If you're going to be talking 'bout a union there, you go home and stay." And -- but they didn't get it. They didn't get it to go, but they tried their best to get it here. But most of the people was -- was -- was for that union, but they didn't 1:00get it through because you couldn't talk about it much. They'd fire you if they'd catch you talking. You got to watch who you talked to 'bout that if you wanted to work down there, because they didn't like you to talk about that union. And they tried and a year in behind. And another year, too, they come back and tried for maybe the third time. They never did get it to work for some reason. I don't know why.

HELFAND: I’m going to ask you that question again. When you answer could you look at me? I know it’s hard.

M2: Let’s pick up that hat just a touch.

HELFAND: Yeah.

M2: Don’t, don’t he’ll do it. Just pick it up so we can see your eyes.

HELFAND: -- pick it up so we can see your eyes.

M2: That’s it.

HELFAND: There. Okay I’m gonna ask you that question again. And I want you to look at me when you speak, ok? You were looking down at your clippers and I couldn’t see your face, ok? Ok, and this time could you tell me if you can recall what year --

[break in video]

MARCHMAN: What year was going on?

HELFAND: Yeah, yeah. So I’m gonna ask you did they ever try and get a union down at the mill?

2:00

MARCHMAN: What year was it got so hot here? What year was that? It was one -- they would go and come back about ever -- lasted about two or three years. And they'd go and come back and try it again. But they never did get -- they never did make -- they never did get nothing. I think they tried to have (inaudible) to see what was getting in there where it was something held 'em off. They didn't -- they never got it through. And, ah, I don't know why, but they didn't.

HELFAND: You just mentioned that there was somebody who was out there listening.

MARCHMAN: Oh, yeah, they --

HELFAND: Can you mention that? Say what that person did and what that did for trying to bring the union in.

MARCHMAN: Well, yeah, they was -- they was -- most of 'em was against that union and they was -- they was -- they didn't want no union 'cause they was 3:00making -- it wasn't a heap of money, but it would have helped us -- it would a helped us, a great help. When I say "us", I mean the man that wasn't making anything, not enough to live. Most of the people wasn't in the union, but they was making pretty good money there without a union. The people that wasn't making anything would, ah, try to whisper 'round that they hope they'll get it. If you just say a little something like that and it get back to the others, you just ought not to have said it if you wanted another job (inaudible). They let you go, because they didn't want you talking about it.

HELFAND: Were you ever approached -- and please repeat my question in someway. Were you ever approached to join the union?

MARCHMAN: Me? Well, I -- I -- I'd have been glad if we'd have got a union, but I'll just tell you the truth, I -- I figure we needed a union because we wasn't making anything and pay the dues and all. But I never did speak about it to 4:00people, the public, because when you go to letting everybody know what you talking 'bout, the first thing you know, you done talked too much. But I'd’ve appreciated having a union, I would -- at that time.

HELFAND: Now back in the 1930s, did you know any folks that were working back in the '30s prior to your coming to the mill? In the early '30s -- '33, '34?

MARCHMAN: Well, I -- I -- as I say, I didn't go to work there till '39, but I knowed some of the people that worked there, of course.

HELFAND: I’m going to ask again. There was this big national strike that took place all over the country and it took place here in Hogansville. And there was a man here named Homer Welch. Do you remember him maybe?

MARCHMAN: Homer who?

HELFAND: Homer Welch.

MARCHMAN: Naw'am, I don't think I know him.

5:00

HELFAND: Well, I just wonder do you remember any of those stories that you might have heard about them trying to bring a union in in 1934? There was a big strike. Do you remember any of the stories that you might have heard about that?

MARCHMAN: Naw'am, I don't remember.

GEOGRE STONEY: You were 22 years old at that time.

MARCHMAN: Yeah. Yeah. I was on a farm then. I didn't come to town much. The reason, I was a country boy. I didn't know much about politics and unions, things like that.

HELFAND: In 1939, when you did come to the mill, didn't anyone -- when they hired you, did they ever -- did they give you any -- did they explain to you what you could do and what you couldn't do? Did they give you any rules when you first came to the mill?

MARCHMAN: Concerning what?

6:00

HELFAND: Well, I'm wondering if they ever said, "If anyone ever talks to you about a union, ignore them" or something like that.

MARCHMAN: Uh uh. Except they had some of 'em was fired, they'd come and talk to you about it. "Why don't you join it? We are trying to get us a union here." Most of them that would be talking, they wouldn't be colored people; they'd be mostly white, cause colored people was kinda scared to say anything, cause they wanted their job. And if it'd have got back, they'd let 'em go home and, ah, in minute. Not by one's, by the two's and the three's and the dozens, they fired them men that was pulling for it. So they was very careful 'bout what they said and who they said it to cause you don't never know who you're talking to when you've got a thing like that going.

STONEY: Ok that’s perfect. Beautiful. Ok? I think we’re through.

HELFAND: Ok.

7:00

[break in video]

LEONA PARHAM: Frank called me this morning. Talked for 30 minutes.

M1: Any time George.

STONEY: Leona, tell us about Mr. Welch.

PARHAM: Well all I can say about him --

STONEY: No, remember you want to put that and so forth in your answer.

PARHAM: About Mr. Welch? Homer. Well we were friends, well as long as I can remember I guess we’ve -- I mean not as long as I can remember, but as long as can remember the first people I met in Hogansville. He’s been a friend, and he was one of the best men I’ve ever known and so was his wife. He had a wonderful daughter and uh I don’t think he would have deliberately do or hurt 8:00anything or anybody. And he and his wife were, well they were like family to us.

STONEY: Now how did he get to be head of the union here?

PARHAM: Well Etta Mae and I have discussed that --

STONEY: No, no “Etta Mae and I have discussed how he got head of the union.”

HELFAND: How Homer got --

STONEY: Homer

HELFAND: Please always say Homer.

PARHAM: That’s what I’m talking about, how he got there.

STONEY: But don’t say he. Say Homer Welch.

PARHAM: Well Homer Welch.

STONEY: Now start all over again.

HELFAND: As you start –-

PARHAM: How did Homer get to the head of the union? These men came down and talked him you know about the union and they made them see where it was the 9:00right thing to do. For better wages and um and better working hours. And Homer was a man who liked to help other people. That’s about all I can tell you about him except that he was a good friend. There was a lot more to it that I didn’t know I guess you after -- I know he had to go through a lot of things that nobody should have had to go through.

(throat clearing)

STONEY: Clear your throat.

PARHAM: I don’t think I can do it right now.

HELFAND: Can I get you some water?

PARHAM: (inaudible)

HELFAND: Ben?

BEN: Yea ma’am.

HELFAND: Can you --

[break in video]

STONEY: Got involved in the union.

M1: Ok we might as well take a pause for a moment.

[break in video]

PARHAM: For a few months.

10:00

STONEY: Ok that’s all I needed, just tell us that whole story about going to the meetings and your going out on the trucks.

PARHAM: Oh yeah I did go out on the truck.

STONEY: Yeah ok, but --

PARHAM: Twice.

STONEY: Ok but tell it all without stopping. Ok.

PARHAM: I’m not sure I can. (coughs)

HELFAND: What we mean is to start from when they first started organizing and go step by step. Ok? Step by step.

PARHAM: I don’t think I can talk.

HELFAND: This might be too difficult today.

STONEY: Well I don’t know let’s try it again because --

PARHAM: Well when they first organized we tried to tell our father that he didn’t belong in a textile union because he never worked in textile. But he was going to be in there with us anyway, so they let him join. And we went -- I 11:00think our first trip. I went on three. I went to Sargent and uh we had got -- been to Newnan already before the troopers arrested the next bunch going – the next bunch. (coughs) And, well we always gathered down at the mill in front of the mill and that’s where we made our plans for the day. We went -- (clears throat) I can’t do it.

STONEY: I thinks she’s right. I think she’s right. I’m sorry we’ll have to come back.

12:00

PARHAM: I don’t know when this throat’s gonna clear up.

STONEY: Well I think, I’m sor -- Well thank you very much for trying I appreciate that.

HELFAND: You know --

[break in video]

PARHAM: I forgot I had it.

M1: (inaudible)

[break in video]

M1: (inaudible) George.

STONEY: Alright sir. Go!

HAROLD TERHUNE: Now you want to know about my speed graphic. Well this speed graphic really has a history. Because I confiscated this from somebody – and they, they passed away. So I inherited a camera. And it’s been a good one. I’ve had this thing for over, uh, 60 years. And it has -- uh I guess I’ve used it for just about everything you can think of from shooting celebrities down to uh accidents, uh feature stories for the Atlanta Journal, I did some work for them. And at Sea Island, I was down a Sea Island. I photographed many 13:00of the celebrities that would come in, down there. And we had (inaudible) movie stars and all that sort of thing. And then I went over to the ship yard and from the ship yards over there I suddenly got involved with that doing work for the Maritime Commission for the government. And uh ended up helping with the FBI to pick people coming in that were not supposed to be in there like saboteurs and that. And at that time of course we had submarines coming up from nowhere, from Germany and uh we had complete blackouts and we would just be on the go all the time. I’d go out on the shake down crews of the ships after we built these ships in the shipyard. And at that time some of them were actually breaking in half from a different shipyard. So we got together and cut out 14:00section of it and put it on the x-ray machine and found that there was electrolysis. So it wasn’t breaking right at the weld it was break beyond. So that the only way that you could solve that would be to after you had finished take a huge plate and out it over there and then rivet those plates in, which was really a noisy situation, but it did solve the problem. And I had a photograph of that sort of thing. So I’ve had quite an experience with this camera. It’s been just about every place you can think of. Waded through the swamps, been up in the air and you name it. I’ve shot President Roosevelt, not literally but with a camera, and down at, uh, at uh, where was his place down here? Anyway then when he passed away, I went down there to make some shots for the Atlanta Journal. And back then we was using Kodachrome. And that had to 15:00be sent to Washington DC to be processed by Kodak. Well I was down there making some pictures and it was hot. And the gnats were terrible. And I had a changing bag to change the film. And I pulled all the film out, and put it back there. And somehow or the other I put all the same film back in there, and I had one picture out of 25 shots that we could use. Fortunately I got by with it and I never did tell them what happened.

STONEY: Ok now tell us about, saying, “This is my camera I was using most of the time. That’s when I --“

[break in video]

STONEY: Roll.

TERHUNE: Now on the Callaway um, situation, back in the ‘30s, depression time, strikes going on, and the union was up and coming. Very, very, very adamant 16:00physical force and that sort of thing. And they would try to incite riot, to storm into the plants and that sort of thing. The Callaway’s of course at LaGrange were really owners of the whole town, I say. And they supported it and they were well liked, did right by the people. But they had a lockout, the workers, um, because they were afraid of sabotaging in the plant. And I had a call from down there to come and make some motion pictures. At first all they wanted to do was to set the camera and shoot towards the, uh, crowd that was out there and to try to pick out any of the union crew if we could. Because they did not like to be photographed. And the first time I went down there, we fixed 17:00up -- just rigged a platform, get up high enough to look down on them. And that way you could see some of ‘em start tuning their head and they didn’t want to be photographed and they would disperse. Not all of them but most of them. But the union people they were pretty quick to turn their back toward the camera and they sort of hushed up. Well that went on, so then I went down the second time and with a motion picture camera. That time I had film in it. It was for them and some of it went to the newsreel. If I’m not mistaken it was Universal Newsreel. And uh looking down on the crowd, and I think they realized that this was actually gonna be the newsreel, cause I brought a different camera. Sort of a box type camera, which was a good type of camera but they didn’t know. But when they saw a real camera there, they were quick to kind of disperse and get out of there. And as you looked down on there most of those 18:00workers didn’t really like being locked out. They would rather be at work. They were good people, they were really good people. And you have outsiders coming in, inciting this sort of thing, didn’t sit well with anybody. So it was quite an experience going down there and you felt like maybe you was helping a little bit. Now I was a stringer as a camera man. And uh, I’d always get the lousy jobs, you know, you know how that works. They went to me, I was a kid, happy go lucky and that sort of thing. Didn’t have any money and wouldn’t know what to do with it if I had it. So I really enjoyed doing that. But it was depressing to see these people who worked hard day in and day out and really just don’t have anything to mount anything, just eking out a living. So uh it was an experience that I guess will never forget. And it was really a nice 19:00feeling when all that was over and they opened the gates and went back to work. Because following that not too distant future after that they had a huge parade in town and all that. And I went back down there and photographed, and that was used in the theater. And I remember that we need background music for that. And we didn’t have any background music that was suitable for that sort of thing. Well I found a film that had the sound on it of “All the King’s Horses”, I believe it was, so I looped that. And through 45 minutes of pictures. Everybody having a good time seeing themselves, but we played the “The King’s Horses”, over and over and over again. And we had sense enough to 20:00have a good picture of Mr. Callaway senior and had him floating into the clouds in the distance and then put the end. And I was not at the theater when they were showing it, but the – I got word that it went over real well. So that was sort of the experience down there with that.

STONEY: Do you know what happened to the footage?

TERHUNE: Well no I can’t answer that, I believe that --

STONEY: No, no, I don’t know what happened to the footage. Ok?

TERHUNE: Oh I’m sorry. I do not know what happened to the footage. That’s the only way I can put it. I surmise that it went to Callaway and some of it went to universal. And that’s about the extent of it.

STONEY: Now, uh, that’s, that’s perfect. Perfect. Beautiful. Cut.

M1: And camera cut.

[break in video]

STONEY: No, no start again. The way I got started in the motion picture business (inaudible).

TERHUNE: Alright, now the way I got started in the motion picture business, I was doing still photography and uh --

M2: We’ll need to start over --

[break in video]

21:00

M2: Quiet please, and rolling. Anytime. And everybody quiet for a second.

(laughter)

STONEY: (Inaudible). Ok.

M2: Again sir.

TERHUNE: The way that I got started in the motion picture business was really kind of funny in a way. It wasn’t at the time. And I was up in the Glen building, working with a commercial photographer. And uh Bill Kimberly, who owned the Music Graphic Film Corporation needed some film processed, motion picture film processed cause his regular man was out sick. And he called around and he finally got to me and he said “Harold can you process some -- “and I said “Sure!” I didn’t even know what I was talking about. So I rushed on down there, you know. Well in those day, you know, you had the racks to put the film on. They’d hold a hundred feet of film and you’d dunk them down in the 22:00tanks. And then, in the dark now see. So he hands me a 400 foot magazine from one of the cameras and I looked at it and I thought, “How do you get in this thing?” Well I went in the darkroom and in about 30 minutes later he knocked. And he said “Is everything ok?” I said, “It’s fine.” What had happened, when I pulled that 400 foot roll of film out, the center part went out like confetti. Well here I am up on a platform now, and the tanks down there. So I had sense enough not to move my feet. So I had the end and I started winding around and I put a clip, a (inaudible) clip up on top of it and I set that one down in the tank. And I got another rack and did the same thing with that. So about an hour longer than it should have taken me, you know, when I opened the door I wasn’t sure if it was in the developer or the hypo. I didn’t know one from the other. But I figured they went in sequence you know. So uh I come out and he says, “I was getting worried.” I said, “You was 23:00getting worried?” So I never did tell him what happened and I said, “Well this was important so I went real slow.” So uh when we got it out he said, “Well now will you run me a lavender print of that?” And I said, “A what?” So uh I found out later we always run a lavender print first on the thing. And then if anything happened to that we could do from that. So anyways that how I got started in the motion picture business.

STONEY: Ok I’m go --

[break in video]

TERHUNE: -- where you should not have taken away from me to start with. (laughter)Ok.

STONEY: Ok. Did you –

[break in video]

STONEY: Ok, you ready.

M2: In 5,4,3,2,1. (inaudible)

STONEY: Mr. Terhune I have a picture here of some people in LaGrange Georgia and I wonder if you’d look at it and see if this was like what you were seeing when you were looking down from that platform.

24:00

TERHUNE: Alright, oh yes. Yes, yes this is it. I’m telling you I’m glad to see this picture because I can spot somethings here right now. For instance when I had the camera pointed at this person down here in the – on the lower left hand corner, down here waving his hat, he was just one of the clowns of the town. I believe he was having a jolly good time. But you see some of them trying to turn around a little bit. They were not too enthusiastic. They just didn’t like being photographed. And over here I can see one that’s completely turned and that has to be a union man. That has to be cause those people were very sneaky about trying to incite things and then not showing themselves. And these people here, you know, they all have clubs and everything. And most of them would not have used them if they were told to use them. They just wouldn’t do it. Cause these are good people here and they’re hard 25:00working people. They did resent being locked out. And it was hard for Mr. Callaway and those people to explain to them that the reason he had to lock them out was because the union wanted to get in there and tear the equipment up. He just laid it on the line to them. And after they realized that and it took them several days or a week or two weeks, whatever. Then they just stared dispersing and they wouldn’t even show up anymore.

STONEY: Did you see any weapons in the hands of the strikers?

TERHUNE: Now I can’t honestly say I did. I thought I did. But can’t be real honest about that and say that I actually saw a weapon. I saw what I thought was maybe a pistol in a person’s belt. I did not see any rifles or shotguns like that. But if you’d look around, some of them would bring weapons I’m sure. You get some rednecks and they’ll do anything just for the heck of doing 26:00it. They don’t care. They’re like bullies. But the majority of the people were not that type of person at all.

STONEY: Now --

TERHUNE: But this is most interesting here because it depicts exactly the way it was.

STONEY: Now you speak of outsiders, what do you mean by outsiders?

TERHUNE: Well now the union brought a lot of people in. They would get people and pay them a measly little sum, and bring ‘em in a truck. And want them to disperse into this crowd of people and try and egg them on to just break the gates down. And the wanted them to storm the gates and break the gates down. But these people knew Mr. Callaway had always done right by them, and they would not do that. And finally, I think it got through to the union that these people were getting sort of mad with these people brought in from out of town. They just did not like that.

STONEY: Again back to outsiders. Where do you think the outsiders came from?

TERHUNE: Well I can’t --

27:00

STONEY: Again incorporate my question in my answer, in your answer.

TERHUNE: Well now where the outsiders came from is a tough question. Because I have a feeling that they went to small towns and they would recruit people and pay ‘em a few bucks, “Come on in we want you to do a job for us.” And they didn’t even know what they were getting into until they got there. Then they would dump them out and get ‘em to go in with the crowd and some of them wouldn’t even bother to do anything and others would get pretty bully with them, you know. But I think that they recruited them from different little towns and then they’d take ‘em back that night. They didn’t even feed them I don’t think. They’d just pay ‘em a few bucks and then your on your own. And I’m sure they left some of them there and they had to get back the best way they could. But that’s really the extent of it.

STONEY: Did you ever see any, any uh troops in LaGrange?

TERHUNE: No the troops were brought in, but I was not present at the time the 28:00troops were actually there. I did not see that and I was not called back to do anything on that.

STONEY: What about the local sheriff and the other plant guards.

TERHUNE: Well now the plant guards of course they were paid differently than the workers were. And they stayed in the plant mostly to guard the plant in case somebody broke in. Now the local sheriff was between a rock and a hard place, let’s put it that way. Good people, and uh everybody respected him, and I, as far as I know, which is not the ultimate answer to this question, but as far as I know. That they stayed out of sight as much as possible. They uh -- now I saw one walk through the crowd and they’d speak to the people but never incite anything never arrest anybody. I did not see anyone arrested. I think they uh, 29:00they were trying to be neutral on the whole thing.

STONEY: Did you see--