Lucille Thornburgh Interview 8

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LUCILLE THORNBURGH: Do you want me to start out with that I have seen?

JUDITH HELFAND: Yeah. Do you believe it?

THORNBURGH: Yeah, I definitely believe it.

M: OK, ready when you're ready.

THORNBURGH: I don't think any organizing, even in this textile strike, I don't think any organizing is ever wasted. When you go into somebody's home, and I'm going to give you an example of that. When you go into somebody's home and you were talking, at that time of course, the whole family was there. We were talking to this individual who was working in the mill but the whole family was there. You sow that little seed there, you implant that little idea there, that in unity is your strength, and you've got to get that strength from joining in with your coworkers. So you have left that little idea there, and I can give 1:00you an example of one. I talked to a woman here about trying to get her to join the union. We were trying to organize another mill here, the Standard Knitting Mill in fact. We were trying to organize that mill and I had talked to her and talked to her, and she said no, not under any circumstances, that she wouldn't do that. For one thing, she didn't think it was the Christian thing to do. And I kept talking to her and telling her well, the only way that you are going to ever better your life or get better conditions where you work, is through organizing, through unity. She said no, she didn't need it, that she was being treated all right. About three months later, she called me and asked me, "Why don't you come down here and organize us?" You know what's happened? We have 2:00to do three more bundles now every day, that we had to do before, and says you mentioned that stretch-out system, said, "Is that what they're doing?" She said, "How do I join the union?" Now, I know that that was a seed that was planted, an idea that I had given her that she hadn't forgotten when times got bad. And other organizers have told me the same thing, that when they would put that idea in their head, about what organized labor could do for them, then something would come up that would trigger that thought. We've had that happen many times.

M: Do you know what I was -- what I wanted to hear, I'd like to know from you is not just organized labor, but in everything you do in terms of trying to make a better world, how, how you keep that up and you've kept that spirit up, and maybe how much of that comes from what you've done, what you did back in 1933, '34.


THORNBURGH: Well, during our organizing efforts and the general strike, the general textile strike there, that was, was really enlightenment for me, to learn about the labor movement. I didn't know anything about the labor movement. I, I thought there must be a better world out there, and after I joined the union and listened to these different organizers talking about it, I realized then, that like the old song goes, nothing is feebler than the strength of one, but when you're united, then you have some power to do something. So I've been interested in other than the labor movement, I've been interested in other organizations that are trying to do something for people, but the labor 4:00movement put that idea into my head. I got my ideas there, because I didn't know how. I knew that I wanted a better life, but I didn't know where it was coming from. Does that answer, did that answer it?

M: Yes.

HELFAND: And what were those other organizations that you got involved in?

THORNBURGH: Ooh, let's see, I've got my list in there.

HELFAND: Just list them.

THORNBURGH: Oh, Lord, I wish I had them with me. Hold it just a minute. There are many organizations, not just organized labor, not just the labor movement, but there are a lot of organizations, more so today, I think than we've ever had, that are trying to do something to help people. I've always thought, I 5:00don't think other people would think that, but I think that I had a responsibility to help out in all these organizations. Like, I think the League of Women Voters, I'm a member of it, they're trying to get people to the polls, which is, which is a good organization. I'm on the board of directors of our nursing homes here, because I think I can help there, and maybe I will have an idea that can help those people. I'm a board member of the National Council of Senior Citizens, I've helped out there. I'm affiliated with the Beck Cultural Center here, which is a black organization, to promote a better way of life for the black people. So I feel that I have a responsibility to do what I can to help wherever it's needed.


HELFAND: What about that other community group, sick Knoxville


HELFAND: Six and Highlander.

THORNBURGH: I wish I had my list in here. Well, do you want to put this one down?

HELFAND: You know, we'll put that down and I do have a couple of things to ask.

THORNBURGH: You can, you can edit it out.



HELFAND: Just list them, Lucille, don't worry about the editing. If you could just throw these organizations out.

THORNBURGH: OK, you ready? I also belong, and I'm on the board, of an organization here called SICK, that means Solutions of Issues of Concern to Knoxvillians, and we used that word SICK all along with that. Well, SICK has been involved very much so lately, with something that will never affect me personally, but I know that it's going to help other people, and what they're 7:00interested in right now is helping on infants, that we've had this problem here of prenatal care is really what we're working on. That's something that will never affect me personally, but I want to see something done about prenatal care, so all these babies won't be dying because their mothers couldn't get help. We're working on that now. I've also been on the board of directors of the Highlander Center, which is an organization that was organized in 1932, to bring about social change, and they've done many, what I consider truly great things. Right now, they're in -- their major interest I think right now, is in environmental issues, and I want to be a part of that. I want to be a part of things that are going to bring about this social change.


HELFAND: Were you doing that in 1934? Don't you think on some level, it was beyond hours, wages, and working conditions, and it was about --


HELFAND: Well tell me that.

THORNBURGH: OK, it was more. Now, in the mill, all we were thinking about there for our ten hours a night was hours, wages, and working conditions, but there were other things going on in the community that needed remedying too, other than just our livelihood. So, it was issues like that, it was at that time that I joined the Democratic Women's Club, to become real active in politics, because as we have stated, your whole life is governed by politics. You get the right politicians in there, then maybe we can bring about all these social changes.

HELFAND: Now, when the strike was over, OK, the end of the strike, you were doing a couple of things to try to make changes. You maintained contact with.


[break in video]

THORNBURGH: What do we want to say there? Hold it.

HELFAND: What you were doing here locally in terms of your, your organization. I mean, the local union that you were maintaining, did you, did you actually, did you work towards getting that Wagner Act in place? You said that they learned a lesson, that they needed teeth, that there was legislation that needed teeth.

THORNBURGH: That's right. We realized, after the strike was over, that we needed legislation that had more teeth, legislation that could be and would be enacted, and the Wagner Act was one of those, and we worked on that. We wrote letters, we sent telegrams, we contacted our senators and congressmen, to try to get that law passed. I think some of our people who had become accustomed during the strike and before, of writing letters, I think, because I never have 10:00thought that our strike was completely lost, because of the ideas that we had left with people, that it was not completely lost. They had learned something there, that they did have some power, the strike empowered them to a certain extent, that we can, we did write these letters, we can do this again. Then, the Wagner Act gave them a lot of encouragement. That got people interested in politics, that I think would not have been before. Does that answer it?

HELFAND: I think that we probably -- well, let me just think for one second.

M: Do we need to start that over again?

THORNBURGH: I remember a phrase from either Section 7A or the Wagner Act, that said workers shall have the right to organize and bargain collectively, without 11:00fear of discrimination. Now is that the Wagner Act or Section 7A?

HELFAND: You know what, that's Section 7A, and I think you should say it just like that, in a very emphatic way, and I know that that will be a very useful piece for us.

THORNBURGH: Well, we said it.

HELFAND: One more time.

THORNBURGH: Well what did I say?

HELFAND: You said I remember one phrase and it meant a lot to me, and it was from Section 7A.

THORNBURGH: And put it 7A?


THORNBURGH: And leave out the Wagner Act.


THORNBURGH: OK, I think we said that before. OK, you ready? I remember one section from 7A, and we all did, because that was one that truly concerned us, and it went like this. Workers shall have the right to organize and bargain collectively, without fear of discrimination. And when Section 7A, until we got 12:00the Wagner Act, that was really not enforced, there was discrimination. But after the Wagner Act, I think the discrimination started to ease off.

HELFAND: And is that something that you feel that southern textile workers helped put in place in some way?


HELFAND: Would you say that, that I can take -- I can say out of that strike came this. Could you say that?

THORNBURGH: One of the good things, I think our organizing was one of the most helpful things, because we were sewing that seed, but another one was that we helped to get the Wagner Act passed. I am certain that the general textile strike of 1934 had some bearing on getting that law passed, and we certainly did our part. We wrote letters, we called on our congressmen, and eventually it was 13:00passed, and we'd like to take credit for it.

HELFAND: Great. Like a story.

THORNBURGH: Cut that off just a minute. I don't have to put dates in there--

[break in video]

THORNBURGH: -- get them straight. Because what, what happened, let's see we lived there, above Strawberry Plains, up there in Jefferson County. My father had a little general store up there and because there was no high school in that area, he wanted to move to where we could go to school, and we moved to Dayton, Tennessee, where they had the Scopes Trial, but we had left down there. We only stayed down there one year, and then we moved to Knoxville, and the worst 14:00mistake that anybody could have ever made, was my parents and our family moving from the country, because we moved, then we moved into Knoxville, and he had lost everything through trying to set up a store in Dayton, Tennessee, and we came to Knoxville completely broke, and so all of the kids that were old enough had to go to work, and of course I was one of them. I had no education, no skills, no training, no nothing, so the only thing I could do and my sisters could do, was go to work in the mills, and that's what we did, and so did my brother. He worked at Brookside, I went to Cherokee, and one my sisters went to the Appalachian, and we were all in different mills. One sister was working at the glove factory and after I became so active in the union at Cherokee, she was fired from her job just because she was related to me, and I was this terrible, 15:00violent person.

HELFAND: Did your brothers and sisters get involved in the union too at the time, '33, '34, who worked at Appalachian.

THORNBURGH: There was no effort made to organize the Appalachian. The Brookside was organized and my brother was active in that union, but there was no effort made to organize the Appalachian. I don't know why but there wasn't.

HELFAND: Did your brother work with you at all, I mean in terms of did he belong to your local union or they had their own?

THORNBURGH: No, no, they had their own, they had their own.

HELFAND: OK, now I have one other question and this is this. Like I told you, we went from a lot, to one town, to another town, and you might think that the union movement has made a lot of strides and maybe they have, but one thing that 16:00they've had a tough time doing is really dealing with the fear that is still very, very much present, about unionism. We were wondering if this has a lot to do with, with memory and history, and the fact that people don't know much about this history, they're afraid to talk about it. I want to know what you think about fear, talking about, talking about having been part of a protest movement, talking about being frightened of remembering a time that could be considered courageous.

THORNBURGH: Well turn it on.

M: We've got it going.

THORNBURGH: You've got it on. There is still a great amount of fear among people of the unions here, and possibly a lot of that did come from this textile strike, because it was so widespread and so many people were affected by it, that they, they would still be thinking about that lost strike. And there are 17:00some of those people who were in that strike, who are still living today, that don't want to talk about it. That was a sad time in my life, they'll say, and I don't, I don't even want to talk about it. And some of them, I don't know whether they're ashamed of it or afraid of it, they don't want to talk about their involvement in that strike. They don't even want their children to know that they were protestors.

HELFAND: And comment on that, I mean turn it into a question. Think about what you think that fear might do to people. You were different from them, Lucille.

THORNBURGH: Let's see, let me think a minute. I'm sorry that those people have 18:00that fear of unions even today, because I think it, it hinders them from realizing that they have the right to organize and that it is perfectly legitimate to belong to a union now. So I, I don't think that they should shy away from it as they do, but some of them do because after all, organized labor is not the most popular organization in the country anywhere today, and many people, I think possibly from that textile strike, and what happened other places, we didn't have violence here but they did have other places, that it's made them think that possibly all unions are like that, and they'd just rather forget that they had any involvement in it. I don't understand it. I don't see why they did, but that is the way it is.


HELFAND: Let's try it one more tact, which is start with I'm not afraid to talk about what happened, I'm not afraid about the past, I'm not, you know, something to that effect, you know that I'm not afraid, because you're different and you stand out.

THORNBURGH: OK, I'm different.

HELFAND: But you're one of not many and it's real important.

THORNBURGH: I am not afraid to speak out. I was not afraid to speak out in 1934 and I actually feel sorry for these people who are afraid to speak out. I think they might have good ideas and good opinions on things, but they're not worth anything unless they tell their opinions to other people and give their ideas to other people, and I don't know why they would be afraid of it. Possibly they're ashamed of the fact that they worked in the cotton mills. I don't, I don't know why, because it has certainly never bothered me. I don't care for talking about 20:00it. I was in that, I've been in other battles, I am still active in organizations, and I have always spoken out and I don't know why these people would fear that. The Constitution even gives you the freedom of speech, so why don't they use it?

HELFAND: Why don't they use it?

THORNBURGH: Yeah, why don't they? I don't know, do you?

HELFAND: That's great, thank you.

[break in video]

M: We wanted to create this scene of you getting into your car, because we're going to drive around town with you. So if you could just walk from where you are, into the car, open the door and sit down in the drivers seat, we'll just film that happening.

THORNBURGH: You won't see me there.

M: Go ahead, I'm coming.

THORNBURGH: I don't think it will be very good, because I had to put my hand on 21:00the -- (starts the car). Am I hitting the driveway? Now, we're holding up cars, you're holding up cars.

[break in video]

THORNBURGH: But wonder what you're going to do with these pictures.


F: You're going to be very surprised, Lucille.

THORNBURGH: Well, I'm --

HELFAND: So, Lucille, we want to drive around the neighborhood where you live.

THORNBURGH: How, how is that?

M: That's wonderful.

THORNBURGH: All right, we're turning now. You just be very careful on this, Judy. I was thinking about that this morning.


THORNBURGH: Don't get too much of me in there. You're doing this documentary about ah, about the strike, and don't make it look like an individual there, that's what I was afraid of.

HELFAND: Oh, no, no, because you didn't do it by yourself.

THORNBURGH: Absolutely not, absolutely not. Uh-oh, it looks like we've got somebody in the middle of the road. Well go on, bub, let's go one way or the other now, bub. Ooh, I don't think we need that heat do we? There is your 23:00United Methodist Church, what about that? At one time, Knoxville had more churches per capita than any place in the United States. We have really got the churches. Not any use in having any centers. Sorry about that, but I couldn't help it. Judy, you've been over to that Cherokee Plaza, that they turned that mill into, haven't you?


HELFAND: We could drive by that. Let's go, take us on a little tour. We'll go past the labor temple.

THORNBURGH: OK, well that will be on the way back. The labor temple actually looks a little bit better now, than it did when I lived there.

HELFAND: So, Lucille, you've been back work -- you've been working in Knoxville since the strike.

THORNBURGH: Off and on. See, I went to the War Department in Washington and worked at TVA and Wilson Dam, and yeah, I've been, yeah, Knoxville has been it. 25:00We moved there to Cecil, in 1944.

[break in video]

M: Speed.

HELFAND: I’m gonna let her dirve.

THORNBURGH: Now you're entering to the little section in here, of course that wasn't over there. I don't know what that is even, that wasn't there. This is Mechanicsville, you're in Mechanicsville now. That says, historical Mechanicsville. Cindy ought to put that on her, on her tour.

HELFAND: What was this, what was this town?

THORNBURGH: What was what?

HELFAND: What was this area?


THORNBURGH: Mechanicsville, poor folks. And we'll see if -- uh-oh, uh-oh, I believe they've torn it down. No they haven't, no they haven't, right there is the house where I lived when I worked at Cherokee Spinning Company. See that green looking stuff? Lord, it looks better now than it did when we lived there. It ain't much of a house is it? What?

HELFAND: Do you want to go outside.

M: I want to drive.

HELFAND: You drive past it.

THORNBURGH: Oh, oh, I'm sorry.

M: Just go ahead.

HELFAND: So this was your house?

THORNBURGH: Ah-huh, that's where we lived, 1009 McGhee Street, and there was a beautiful house here. Let's see, I've forgotten how I get out of here now. 27:00See, we didn't have these roads, this wasn't here at all. I don't even know what this big building up here is. I think it's something, I'm going to have to go up in there and turn around. What is that?

HELFAND: Maybe we could drive by that house again too.

THORNBURGH: OK. I'm going to turn around right here. Isn't it all right in the back?

[break in video]

THORNBURGH: At one time, these were real nice houses here.

HELFAND: Ready? So this was your neighborhood?

THORNBURGH: Mm-hmm. This is Deaderick Avenue here, this was -- that was Moses School, and now that's turned into office buildings and things like that. And 28:00after I started working at TVA, and we got a little bit more money, we moved up here on Deaderick Avenue, one of those houses. This is the house that I lived in here on Deaderick Avenue, and you know what, that was a pretty house, that really was, and it was a nice house. Of course it was expensive too, $45 a month, and McGhee Street was just $15, but it was really a pretty house. Cindy ought to bring some people through here, because down here on the corner house was where one of the best undertaker. [break in video] This is the house that I 29:00lived in at 225 Deaderick Avenue. That was really a nice house. All of these were nice houses at the time.

HELFAND: Lucille, is this the house you lived in after you were blacklisted?

THORNBURGH: Oh yes, yeah, sure it was. That was after I started working at TVA, when we could get up $45 a month for rent. Oh yes, that was later than, than the strike. I certainly didn't live there then. We don't want to get out here on Western Avenue, so I'm going to turn around here.

HELFAND: So as we drive by, Lucille, maybe you could tell us that, you know, this was the community. Were there a lot of Cherokee workers who lived around here?

THORNBURGH: Not a whole lot. They lived a little closer to the mill.

HELFAND: OK, one more car coming.

THORNBURGH: Now I'm all right?



THORNBURGH: You all are seeing now, I'm not. See, don't you think you could tell that those used to be pretty homes? And one of the girls lived in this house right here, she worked at Cherokee. She was a friend of mine.

HELFAND: Was she in the union?


HELFAND: What was her name?

THORNBURGH: Gladys Williams at that time, and she's ah, she married after that and finally died. She ran a spinning frame, where I ran a winding machine. And this was a boarding home. It looks better now than it did then.


HELFAND: So Lucille, this was the neighborhood that you --

[break in video]

HELFAND: Now, Lucille, did the neighborhood -- these were -- you know, did these folks know what you were doing? Can you talk about your neighborhood at the time?

THORNBURGH: I'll tell you when, I think they, oh I think they knew what we were doing and all, but they, there wasn't much said about it until that story came out in the paper about me being a communist. Then, I think they all got kind of 32:00suspicious of me and I don't blame them. Them little boys are playing. Let's go down Tulip. At one time, we lived in Tulip. Uh-oh, there's nothing on Tulip now, this is all turned into business. What are all these things, I didn't... I'm running out of -- well, this one goes on through.

HELFAND: So are we going to go -- can we go past your house again?


HELFAND: The one that you lived in, the green one.


THORNBURGH: Yeah, that little green house, OK. This whole area in here was known as Mechanicsville. Oh, shoot, I forget about this, these were through streets. I forget about now, I'm running right into them. See if I can get back out of here without turning around, I bet I can't. No. See, none of this was like this when I lived over here. Let's see. Well, you can tell there's 34:00blacks and whites. At the time we lived here, there was nothing but whites, but you can certainly tell that ah, there's blacks living here now, by the kids. That is it, see the little green house. I don't know what color it was when we lived there, it probably didn't have any paint on it. Am I going slow enough for you? Then there was -- I wonder what happened to the house on the corner here.

HELFAND: Maybe we could just stop for a moment and turn the --

[break in recording]

HELFAND: I think we could open your window.

M: Do you want that? Wait for the plane, please.

[break in video]

THORNBURGH: That was a pretty house then.


HELFAND: Lucille, could you just tell us, you know, that this was the house that you lived in when you worked at Cherokee, and you walked out of this house, walked to work and came back here.

THORNBURGH: All right, you ready?


THORNBURGH: This is the house that I lived in when I worked at Cherokee Spinning Company, before the strike, and even after the strike, and I walked from here to the Cherokee mill every afternoon, to work on that night shift, and walked back in the morning. Most of the time, there was somebody working on the night shift that lived in this area, but sometimes there wasn't and in the winter, when you got off at four o'clock in the morning it would be dark, and I used to be a little afraid, but not very much so, nothing ever happened to me. I walked that long distance, from here to Cherokee. When we leave here, we'll go to Cherokee. I'd just like to see how far it is. I never thought about measuring it, I just knew I was walking it every day.


HELFAND: Where was your room?

THORNBURGH: In the back. This front room here was considered a parlor and there was -- the house is a little bit bigger in the back than you think it is. It had three bedrooms and a kitchen. It didn't have a dining room. Three bedrooms, a kitchen and a little sitting room. All the rooms, of course were small. None of them had a wardrobe.

HELFAND: Did you ever have your union meetings here or people over here?

THORNBURGH: Oh we met here, we met here a lot of times. We met on that front porch.

HELFAND: Really? What kind of meetings would you have here?

THORNBURGH: Committee meetings and just general meetings. We had to have somewhere to go to talk at night, so sometimes we'd come here and sometimes we'd go to other people's homes.


HELFAND: Now did you bring home a lot of your union work? Did you write letters here? Did you bring home a lot of your union work to do at home?

THORNBURGH: Oh yes, yes, I had to.

HELFAND: Could you tell us just a little bit about that?

THORNBURGH: Let's see, what can I say about that?

HELFAND: You could say, I sat down and spread out on the kitchen table.

THORNBURGH: Yes, and I used our kitchen table for an office, to write letters and to keep up with the membership, to keep up with their addresses. Very few had a telephone, we didn't have a telephone here. But this, this was used in a way, for a small headquarters. I guess that was because I lived here. We'd congregate here when we had something to talk about.

HELFAND: Now, did you have any like strategic meetings here right before the strike or afterwards?


THORNBURGH: No, I don't, -- no, I don't think we did. We did those more or less in our hall uptown, when we really wanted to talk about the strike, because we had to have a larger place.

HELFAND: So if you wanted to have a talk that was private, just the committee was here?

THORNBURGH: We'd have it here. So many of the workers at Cherokee lived in Marble City. We'll go through that. Marble City is where Cherokee was, and the people lived around there. I don't know why -- well, I was the only one that was working at Cherokee, there's no point of us moving just to accommodate me. But um, one of my sisters worked at the glove factory, which has since been torn down, but it was in this neighborhood. The Appalachian mill was not that far from here. Cherokee was the farthest away.

HELFAND: So could you -- I spoke over you, when you said about a private 39:00meeting, it being here, could you say that one more time?

THORNBURGH: When we had private meetings, when we wanted to talk about something that we didn't know for sure that we was going to give to all the membership, we would meet here and have us a little secret meeting to decide what to do. So we'd hold those meetings here.

HELFAND: When was the last time you were here, at 1009 McGhee Street?

THORNBURGH: Today. I don't think I've been here. I know I haven't been here since they painted the house green.

HELFAND: I guess this would be the place where you received the mail from the UTWA?

THORNBURGH: Oh yes, mm-hmm. See the mailbox on the porch? That's where it all come.

HELFAND: Do you have any feeling like you want to get out and get closer to the house?

THORNBURGH: No, no, no. No, I don't want to get close to that house again, that 40:00was -- you know some people think that a strike is very romantic, exotic, something that you'd like to do. It's not. It is anything but that.

HELFAND: All right.

THORNBURGH: All right, have we got the house?

HELFAND: We'll drive by.

THORNBURGH: (starts the car) Let's see, I think they messed up these streets over here terribly. Everything is so changed, but why wouldn't it be, times do change. I always thought that was -- go ahead, hey, let her go slow. Now see 41:00this one's for sale and so is this one. I think this one is fancy, it's pretty, although I don't particularly care for that color. Now, I'm getting ready to turn.

M: OK.

THORNBURGH: Well this one's for sale too, that's sort of strange.

HELFAND: Should we go a little faster maybe?

M: Ah-huh.


HELFAND: OK. Lucille, we can pick up a little steam. So, Lucille, these were people that worked in all different kind of industries around here?

THORNBURGH: Oh yeah, they worked everywhere. Gee, I can't imagine all this stuff for sale in here. Maybe people are getting more plentiful and they're moving to a better neighborhood. Now we're back to McGhee Street. [break in 43:00video] Coming into [Mackinale?] Flats. Mackinale Flats, that was nigger town. [break in video] Mostly it's blacks that live here now. Did you know it's 44:00three-thirty? Three-thirty, what have we done all day? Do you want to see that Cherokee place?

HELFAND: Sure, then we'll come around and go past sort of more modern -- the part of Knoxville that you work in now.


THORNBURGH: Uh-oh, I missed my turn back there. No I didn't, I can turn right 46:00here and I'm going to do that. Have we got the heat on? It seems hot doesn't it? People are going to start coming from work.

HELFAND: If you can turn. I'm sorry.

THORNBURGH: OK, right over there is Cherokee Spinning Company, it's called Cherokee Plaza now.

[break in video]

HELFAND: Can you tell us about the Cherokee Company as we pass by again?

THORNBURGH: OK, that was the Cherokee Plaza, right here. They call it Cherokee 47:00Plaza now, that was -- private driveway. Well, we're going to go in a private driveway. This was, this was the Cherokee Plaza, but all of this was not here. The door that we went in was over here on the front, on Sutherland Avenue. I'll see if they still have that same door, but I think they've turned this into a very pretty place. I imagine the rent is terrific here. Woops, I can't help that. Now we're getting here at a busy time.


HELFAND: You know, Lucille, if you --

THORNBURGH: This is where the gate was.

M: Can you say that again?

THORNBURGH: This is the area where our -- where we went in. This, this was the gate here, see on this Sutherland Avenue. That was the gate where I was told, you are blacklisted, don't come in here, and I didn't go in there. It wasn't near this pretty then. This was the weaving room.

HELFAND: Lucille, this was the gate right over here?

THORNBURGH: That was the gate over there, that we drove in. They've done away with that, because their gate was on Sutherland Avenue, and that's... Wait, I 49:00keep getting this.

HELFAND: Can you just tell, as we slowly go by, can you tell us again about that gate, about coming back to work? Did all the people line up over here?

THORNBURGH: Yeah, they lined up at that gate that was about --

HELFAND: OK, we'll focus on driving, but while we're standing here, before we turn, Lucille, there's no one behind us.

THORNBURGH: How about down here though?

HELFAND: No, but before --

THORNBURGH: The gate was in this area right here. That's where we went in, that's where we gathered at the gate, waiting for the whistle to blow.

HELFAND: And so you walked away and you never worked there again.


THORNBURGH: I should say I didn't work there again. I wasn't very welcome in that property then. But all of this was residents down through here, and a lot of the Cherokee people lived around here because it was near to the mill.

HELFAND: How does it feel to even drive by there, or see where that gate was?

THORNBURGH: Oh, I've long since put the sad part of it out of my mind.

HELFAND: And which part do you keep?

THORNBURGH: Oh, I keep the good parts, the things that I thought might be helpful today, some of the seed that we planted, some of the ideas that we gave 51:00the people. Oh, none of this was here when I worked there, none of it. This was all still considered University Avenue, Mackinale Flats, where the blacks lived. Oh, it's that, I couldn't see around.


[break in video]

THORNBURGH: Area. Mechanicsville, Lawnsdale, Beaumont. Well, bub, thanks for giving us a signal there.

M: Are y’all crazy or what?

THORNBURGH: I'll tell you when you're driving, you don't have to worry about your driving, it's the other guy isn't it?

HELFAND: Lucille, do you want to pull up your window?

THORNBURGH: Why is it getting too cold back there?


THORNBURGH: OK, how is that?


THORNBURGH: Oohh. I didn't realize this was this rough. Now, do you see this big old white building down here on the right, way down on the right?

HELFAND: Ah-huh.

THORNBURGH: That is the MLB Building, that is where I work.

HELFAND: That's where you work now?

THORNBURGH: Ah-huh, that is the MLB.

HELFAND: What does that stand for?

THORNBURGH: Is it what?


HELFAND: What does it stand for?

THORNBURGH: Mechanicsville, Lawnsdale, Beaumont, those areas. It's a nice building. That's it, that's the back of the building.

HELFAND: This is where you work now.

THORNBURGH: Ah-huh. This is him, see MLB Building.

HELFAND: You could drive by a little faster if you want.

THORNBURGH: Well, OK, I'm just doing what I'm told to do here. Now, you got enough of the building or do you want to see more building? [break in video] In 54:00the back of us, that's the entrance right there.

HELFAND: OK, well she can't drive, because there's a lot of --

THORNBURGH: OK, you got that?

HELFAND: OK, yeah, let's go.

THORNBURGH: A lot of these people are leaving.

[break in video]


HELFAND: OK, go ahead. So this is where you work every day.

THORNBURGH: This is where I -- this is where I...

F: Do you do any work with the Head Start Program, Lucille?

THORNBURGH: No, no, I don't work with that, I work with senior citizens. I work at the office on aging.

HELFAND: Organizing?

THORNBURGH: They named that MLB, Mechanicsville, Lawnsdale, Beaumont, because that's the three communities around here. That's the low income communities of Knoxville, other than East Knoxville, where the blacks live. I'm going to hit a bump here, I can tell you, I come over here every day.



THORNBURGH: See, we're going back a different way than what we come out here. We come down University Avenue and we're going back, you're in Beaumont right now, and I showed you where 57:00Mechanicsville was, that was where I lived.

HELFAND: OK, why don't you get the other side, as we drive by.


[break in video]

HELFAND: There's a mill over here we're going to pass.

THORNBURGH: Right down here, you are passing the old Brookside mill. It's still here. It's sort of been turned into a mall of some kind, I don't know what it is. See back there, I think it still has the Brookside sign on it.



THORNBURGH: You're going -- Judy, aren't you going to have an awfully long documentary, all that Eula stuff in there, and me and who else you got.

HELFAND: Well, they've got some of the folks that we -- you worked with. Remember Foots Weaver?

THORNBURGH: Yeah. Old Foots died.


HELFAND: We've got Rosa Mae King from North Carolina. Everyone is going to give a little bit, Lucille.

THORNBURGH: Well, I certainly hope so. I certainly hope so, everyone is going to do his little part.

F: And then we're going to do the Lucille Thornburgh story.

THORNBURGH: Yeah, we're going to have much now, let's don't put much in there, because you need -- if you got all that stuff from Eula, you probably have -- if you don't watch it, you're going to get it too long, and that's like storytelling and all this other stuff. You get it too long, they won't use it. And this is Love Towers, that's one of our low income senior citizens high rises. It's a nice one too.

HELFAND: Were these old mill houses?

THORNBURGH: All these through here were before.


HELFAND: For Brookside?

THORNBURGH: This is Lawnsdale. Brookside and Cherokee, they -- we walked.