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Title: Oral History Interview with Paul Green, May 30, 1975. Interview B-0005-3. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Electronic Edition.
Author: Green, Paul, interviewee
Interview conducted by Hall, Jacquelyn
Funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services supported the electronic publication of this interview.
Text encoded by Kristin Shaffer
Sound recordings digitized by Aaron Smithers Southern Folklife Collection
First edition, 2008
Size of electronic edition: 220 Kb
Publisher: The University Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
2008.
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The electronic edition is a part of the UNC-Chapel Hill digital library, Documenting the American South.
Languages used in the text: English
Revision history:
2008-00-00, Celine Noel, Wanda Gunther, and Kristin Martin revised TEIHeader and created catalog record for the electronic edition.
2008-01-03, Kristin Shaffer finished TEI-conformant encoding and final proofing.
Source(s):
Title of recording: Oral History Interview with Paul Green, May 30, 1975. Interview B-0005-3. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series B. Individual Biographies. Southern Oral History Program Collection (B-0005-3)
Author: Jacquelyn Hall
Title of transcript: Oral History Interview with Paul Green, May 30, 1975. Interview B-0005-3. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series B. Individual Biographies. Southern Oral History Program Collection (B-0005-3)
Author: Paul Green
Description: 310 Mb
Description: 65 p.
Note: Interview conducted on May 30, 1975, by Jacquelyn Hall; recorded in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
Note: Transcribed by Joe Jaros.
Note: Forms part of: Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Series B. Individual Biographies, Manuscripts Department, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Note: Original transcript on deposit at the Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
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Interview with Paul Green, May 30, 1975.
Interview B-0005-3. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Green, Paul, interviewee


Interview Participants

    PAUL GREEN, interviewee
    JACQUELYN HALL, interviewer

[TAPE 1, SIDE A]


Page 1
[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]
JACQUELYN HALL:
… at some length now about your life and work. But in this interview, I would like to focus as specifically as we can, I know that these things are all interrelated and can't be really separated like I am trying to separate them - but I wanted to talk somewhat specifically about your perceptions of social problems and the influence that those perceptions had on your work, especially in the '30s. If we have time, we can maybe move on to more contemporary things like your involvement in the campaign against capital punishment. I am really most interested in the '20s and '30s.
I want to ask you a very general question first, which is not a very good way to do this, but as you think back over your work when you first began writing plays here with the Carolina Playmakers in the '20s and then the '30s, what do you see as the impact of the Depression and the social ferment the Depression era had on you as an artist and as a person?
PAUL GREEN:
Well, you ask what effect the Depression had on me as a writer and an artist, that's asking what effect it had on others. You could ask the same sort of question about what effect the First World War had, or what did the disappointment in such people as Warren Harding and Calvin Coolidge have, or what effect did the failure of Woodrow Wilson's dream of a united world, a League of Nations, what effect did that have on me? All these things are a part of the pabulum or part of the grist that comes out of your mill that you mix up and feed on. So, you see, the Depression of the '30s, its effect on the environment in which I grew up, was simply a continued statement of the poverty that I knew as a child. In Harnett County, when I

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was a child, the effect of the Civil War was still there. The state, this university in part, had not recovered. Anyway, the rural life in eastern North Carolina when I was a boy was very much like the life and cimes of, say, the Revolution or pre-Civil War. The roads were just sand beds and often in riding along in a wagon, you would have to dodge the limbs that hung over the road from the trees on either side. There was no paving. The doctors were rather crude. I remember old Doctor McNeill, he carried his instruments of torture in a saddle bag and he always came smelling of liquor. So, there was a hiatus between my childhood and the '30s when I came up here as a student and life was a little more active and less poverty stricken, but the Depression was just a familiar condition to me and I had been writing lots of stories and one act plays about the tenant farmers and about the Negro and all of those plays and stories or playlets sang the song of poverty, of depression, of almost disfranchisement, of lack of opportunity, of the squeeze of economic serfdom.
JACQUELYN HALL:
But did the change in the intellectual climate of the '30s change the way that you thought about those problems, the causes of that poverty, the solutions to those injustices?
PAUL GREEN:
Well, that's a good question, because when I was growing up and we would go to church on Sunday and I remember that if somebody had a dollar bill, they would say to my father, "Mr. Billy, I want to give a quarter to the church today. Could you change a dollar?" Well, my daddy, like everybody else, would open his little purse, he had a little well worn pocketbook with a little snap on it, and he would always turn his back on the questioner and open it and fish out four quarters or fifty cents. That was an interesting habit that people would always turn their backs when they made change. I used to think about it. Well, money was so difficult to get and I guess that they didn't want you to see how little they had in their purse. Anyway, money

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was a squeezed item. So, poverty was just natural to me, it was natural and the '30s was just an old familiar thing. Of course, some of us had been able to … I was able to get an old tin lizzie, a Ford, to drive in, and during the Depression I was able to continue because I was teaching here and I got some sort of a salary, not much. But all down in eastern North Carolina where I was born, the people were reduced to what they called "Hoover carts." I don't know whether you know what a "Hoover cart" is. Well, they weren't able to buy gasoline and they would take two wheels off of a Ford and put it to a cart and have a mule or horse to pull it. My sister, they all had "Hoover carts." And their old Fords, that was about all they could afford, would set up under the shelter. The kids had a lot of fun with these "Hoover carts." So, I don't think it affected …well, a person like John Steinbeck writing Grapes of Wrath came out of that. His fine novel was due actually, I guess, to the Depression. Maybe he wouldn't have written it without the Dust Bowl and so on in the Midwest. But it didn't change me.
JACQUELYN HALL:
I guess that what I am wondering is not so much whether the poverty of the Depression changed you, surprised you, because I can see that it would be very unlikely to. Just as the Depression for poor people didn't make that much difference in people's lives in a lot of ways. It made a difference much more slowly and wasn't a great shock to those people. But by 1930, you were part of a broader intellectual community. I am wondering more whether you began to think more systematically about things that you had taken more for granted, whether you felt more anger, were you moved more toward looking for solutions?
PAUL GREEN:
Yes, I think that's a very good question. I sort of slipped away from it. Did I ponder somewhat the reasons for this sort of thing, why

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it had come? Now, the earlier post-Civil War thing, there were a lot of old soldiers around and I would hear their stories, the shadow of that great foolish tragedy, I guess, if a tragedy can be foolish, was still clouding the scene, but slowly disappearing. That came naturally. I had already begun to feel that it was a foolish and insane war then, but I understood the reasons for our condition, why there was so much poverty in eastern North Carolina. I understood that, but when this thing in the '30s came on the nation, it certainly raised a question of "What is wrong here? What is wrong with our democracy that causes this to happen?" Then, there were rebellions, blow-ups at places where people, the mill workers sometimes and in sporadic instances in farming, you would read where a Negro tenant had murdered his landlord or something. So, there were sporadic rebellions against this condition, but no answer as to why this had happened. I don't think that we got an answer. Actually, I think that we hadn't solved the thing and this Second World War came along and that put everybody in fear of an enemy and you could get gas rationing, you could get controls, you could get all of that because as soon as you are threatened from an outside enemy, you can behave yourself and cooperate. So, now that we are in this present recession, call it a depression, I am completely confused as to the reasons and just as much confused by the remedies that are suggested. They don't make sense. So now today, following the 1930 business, and we were assured by the fellows in Washington that it could never happen again, couldn't have another one because we've got these safeguards, we've got the Federal Reserve, we've got the bank insurance and so on and banks can't fail and it can't happen again. Now apparently we are approaching the same sort of thing and no answers are given.
JACQUELYN HALL:
What did you think about the New Deal at the time?

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PAUL GREEN:
Well, I was suspicious of the New Deal because from way back, hard work, and I guess the way that we were raised in Harnett County, I felt that you could not give people liberty, freedom and so on, just give it to them. I will never forget the feeling that I had here at the University. I went out to the athletic field one day where they had a steam shovel digging a bank and so on. The steam shovel had been moved over to one side and they had about a hundred men with shovels and wheelbarrows. I said, "Great gun, what is going on here?" "Oh, the New Deal is providing jobs." I said, "Gee whiz, but look. It is just picayunish, that steam shovel can do this." "Yes, but we have got to have jobs." So, I said, "Well, this is crazy, because the whole philosophy of the machine age is more result with less effort. Push a button and a great bulldozer will push right through a hill." So, I felt that this was not right, this was charity and there was something wrong about it. Then when I was down in Manteo working on a drama down there, and seeing the CCC camp boys, which was a WPA, a government thing set up, these boys were planting sea oats along the sand dunes and were protecting the sea shore and doing all kinds of good work, I thought, "Well, this is great, because that is the only way that they can do it." But to stop a steam shovel! I don't know what is wrong, except a simple statement that a democracy whose liberty, the liberty of its individuals can run rampant without a concurrent responsiblity to go with the liberty or freedom, will produce this sort of thing. If a labor union thinks mainly in terms of its own self and EXXON oil people think only in terms of their profit, then you get these head on competitions and you get fights and this one will grab and this one will grab. So, our democracy now, that I have always believed in, has got a terrible evil in it, a lack of sense

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of responsibility to go with the freedom and I think that there should be a balance there, a liberty carries with it an equal responsibility. Only in that way will the liberty survive. It will run rampant and go into some kind of madness and ultimately produce some kind of dictatorship. This man, Judge Craven here, addressing the law students recently for graduation ….
JACQUELYN HALL:
Braxton Craven?
PAUL GREEN:
Braxton Craven said that the American people will not continue to fear for their lives, violence, and be without jobs. They won't endure that ultimately. Ultimately, they will be willing to give up the Ten Amendments, freedom of assembly, freedom of this and that and the other, in order to get these values which are now pretty much lost. When I was in Russia, I could walk at night up and down the streets of Leningrad or Moscow at any time of night. I can't do that in Washington or New York. I don't dare do it. The fear for your life has become so strong that Judge Craven said that ultimately people would be willing to give up their certain kinds of liberty for jobs and for safety. Well, my good friend Jonathan Daniels, who was Press Secretary for awhile for President Roosevelt, editor of the News and Observer, he said, "Oh, you quit worrying. We will muddle along. We'll continue."
JACQUELYN HALL:
When did he say that? Recently?
PAUL GREEN:
Yes. I don't know that any of these things have affected what I've been trying to do, what I have been trying to write, except right now I am working on something and I can feel the present situation in the country, the lack of leadership, the cruelty, the wastage bearing down on me so that the scenes that I am working at now, I feel them affected by it. So, I am having my characters say things that were true then, this is back in 1783, they are

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saying things that they might say a little differently if we weren't in this dilemma. So, I go back to Washington's farewell address, not in the play but as something consonant to that. He said, "The nation is like a man, its word, its honor. It must be believed in and it must adhere to the truth, to the virtues." Now, our democracy has gotten to where they wouldn't think of telling the truth. "Oh, no, you musn't tell the truth." Like Henry Kissinger, he meets someone and he smiles. And the CIA, now the arm of the government has gotten so far and dissolute and degraded that it indulges in murder. It advocates murder of your adversaries. It has been pretty well proved. The Rockefeller Commission may not come out as strongly about it, but I believe from what I have read, talked about and heard, that they actually did plot to kill Castro, that they actually did have something to do with the murder of Allende in Chile and that murder … they use the word, "elimination, to eliminate." Well, you say, "Great God, what have we come to in this American democracy?" And this whooping up, even worse than the Boy Scout jubilation of Henry Kissinger and Ford over this wretched incident of the Mayaguez, this ship, and they went over there and tore loose, and they came out with a great victory and people are applauding. Now and whenever Ford appears, they stand up and give him an ovation. So, you say, "Oh, American people, what are you? What's happened?" Well, Jonathan would say, "Well now Paul, we are just the way that we have always been." But Rome wasn't always the same, Carthage fell, Babylon fell, Tyre, a great many civilizations, Greece fell. I have just been reading Oswald Spengler, I picked up his book in Germany in 1928, I think it was, and he wrote a book, a two-volume thing, already prophesying the downfall of the western world. He called it Der Untergang des Abendlandes, the going down of the western world. His theory was that the western world's

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civilization is ripe and as Sir Walter Raleigh says, "in reason rotten." I don't necessarily—well, I don't know enough about it. One thing that H.L. Mencken helped us do in the South, he used to make fun of the Bible Belt, you know, and he said that one of the first ways of repentence and rebuilding is to recognize the situation or condition that you are in. So, way back then, before the Depression, I would go down to Harnett County, or travel in eastern North Carolina, and the fields were all brown in the winter time, the cotton stalks standing brown and empty, and the tobacco stalks. I wrote a piece way back, a kind of a roll call, I think that it was 1925, calling for us to have green fields in the winter in the South. Let's have cattle. In Minnesota, where it goes forty below zero, a great dairy country. And all of the Piedmont, North Carolina is a wonderful soil for dairying, but we have got more Baptists in North Carolina, than we have cows. "We need more cows and less Baptists." Well now, part of the whole southern reawakening came all around here. When I wrote that in 1925, there wasn't a single dairy anywhere. My calling the roll had nothing to do with it except that I was just representative of the whole mood of the people, a reawakening in North Carolina. The University here had a lot to do with it and State College, sending people out teaching better farming. Now you can travel through here and you have green fields all over eastern North Carolina. You can see cattle grazing. So, we have done a lot in that way physically, but there is something that has gone wrong in the political set up. Well, when Eisenhower became President, I said, "Well, he may not be a very brilliant man, but he is an honest man." Then we had this fellow Powers, who flew over Russia in his U-2, whatever it was, and he fell and Eisenhower declared that he knew nothing about any spies. He was telling a lie. Later it was proved that he was lying and I thought, "Oh, my

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goodness!" Then when Ford was appointed, I thought that maybe he was an honest guy and he is going to tell us the truth. One of the first things that he did was he claimed that he had read all the correspondence and there was no agreement with Vietnam, no agreement about force. Well, gosh, it comes out that the very stuff that he said he had read, they showed it t.v. and quoting Nixon who said, "We will respond with force." So, I said, "My gosh, there's Ford. I can't even believe in Ford."
JACQUELYN HALL:
It's very interesting the way you talk about what is going on in society today bearing down on you as you write. It is not that you are trying to write about contemporary things, but they are there. When you were writing something like This Body The Earth, for example, in 1935, do you remember having that same kind of feeling of what was going on in the society around you at that time?
PAUL GREEN:
Yes, that's right. I took a rural theme because …well, I went back some years and I don't remember what the date was, it would be about the First World War. Anyway, I remember that my young man that I was writing about and created, he didn't go to war. I think that he married or something. Anyway, … maybe it was before the war, but I had seen as a child this tenant farm system and it was still rampant. My father, we were poor farmers, but he finally got a couple of tenant houses. That tenant system had grown up after the Civil War and it was a vicious thing, the farm tenancy. Hookworm and pelagra in the South. So, I decided that I would try to write about a fellow … well, I made a tragedy out of it. I didn't treat the young man right because he could have succeeded if I hadn't wanted to give a tragic expression to it.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Why did you want to give a tragic expression to it?

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PAUL GREEN:
I don't know, maybe that is a one sided view, this tragic or pathetic thing, but I had seen so many people whose lives were sort of wrecked. I remember one tenant on our farm and when my father would get a tenant family, he would want a man and a wife with a lot of children so that they could pick cotton. To a man and a wife with no children my father would say, "No, I'm sorry, we are looking for a big family." Well, there is no use in going into that, but I tried to tell the story of this tenant farm business and I felt that somehow if I wrote about a man who tried to move up, he did everything he could, he worked himself to death almost and he couldn't make it and so the reader would ache in his heart and say, "Oh, this ought not to be like this." That ache on the part of the reader, the sense of sympathy, the strong sense of sympathy that you would have for a man like this, a young man that failed, would be strong enough to maybe make the reader get out and try to do something. I think, if I may say so, that this is one of the flaws in the Russian or totalitarian system, where in their works of art, usually in their drama, their novels and poetry, they come out with a yea saying point of view, optimistic, so that a spectator or reader is denied the rich human experience of trying to provide a program of his own. So, if you read a tragic thing, well … take Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy. Jude wanted to go to school you know, and so on, but he had so many weaknesses, sexual ones and all, and the greatest weakness of all was what the author intended to do with him. Hardy didn't intend to give him a chance. [Laughter] You can read the book now, I tried to read it recently and it is obvious that Hardy is not going to let this guy succeed because he wrings more anguish out of it. I think he does it so much now that the book is hurt. When I first read it in 1922, gosh, I went out and walked up and down the streets of Ithaca where I was going to school and thought that this was just the greatest thing that ever was.

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I didn't see the Machiavellian intent of the author. Recently, trying to read it, I gave it up, I said, "Well, this guy doesn't have a chance." He tries to do this and Hardy won't let him. Everything is against him.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Well, that question of "yea saying" and "nay saying" is very interesting to me. I wondered whether … Gerald Rabkin, for example, in this book, Drama and Commitment, compares your play, The House of Connelly, to the way Tennessee Williams would treat the same theme. I don't know if you have read that.
PAUL GREEN:
No, I have not.
JACQUELYN HALL:
He says that in the beginning of the play, you are talking about the decadence of the old South, the corruption of the old aristocracy, which is very much a Tennessee Williams theme, but if Williams had been writing the play, he would have ended it … he would not have had the new order be possibly better than the old. The difference in the two is that you see corruption as a function of institutions and classes and therefore potentially changeable, whereas Williams sees it as existential or irrational, something like original sin, I suppose. But what struck me about it was that whole sequence of events in which you changed the ending of the play when it was put on by the Group Theater, to be a more positive ending and then you changed it back to a more negative ending. I wondered if you have the play ending the way you do, with the tenant girl being smothered, does that put you back in Williams' camp, that evil and ….
PAUL GREEN:
No, no. That is very interesting. You structure something, let's say a play or a novel, (or a house,) you structure it and pretty soon you see the intent which is the direction in which it is going. So, when the Group Theater persuaded me to come out with a "yea saying" ending then to do the right work of art, I should have gone back to the very first and intended it so. It was a spurious and a sinful thing

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to do, to turn loose a half baked product. So, if I was going to go part hog, I should have gone whole hog, but I didn't have time and I was persuaded. You know how it is. In fact, I could see that, because life provided either way, if you want to go back to life. Actually out of the old South came the Reynoldses and the Cones and the John Sprunt Hill, Watts Hill, all of that came out of the old South. They set up their own factories, they had cheap labor and they early got into it. "Why send this stuff to Massachusetts to be processed? We'll build our own factories right here, and we've got our own cheap labor and we won't have any unions." So, they set up and then this union business, out of which came the Burlington Dynamite Case and also the Gastonia rioting and so on. So, it can go either way, but you can't let life control your art form. I am inclined to think that the richest civilization is one in which the art form controls the life action, or helps to control it. That would apply in politics as well as in art. In the American scene, if I can speak of politics, the Founding Fathers worked out certain concepts, they couldn't get them perfect because you can't catch all of life in a net, it will leak out. You can lay down the greatest document possible and it has got some flaws because human action cannot be thoroughly stated by any aphorism or shibboleth or formula. Life is a continuing, a growing, moving thing and if you catch it all and set it down on file, then you have got a dogma and that is Billy Graham. Billy Graham is a dead man, he's cutting up and frolicking around here, but he is preaching that it is all there, he gets this book and says that it's here in this book and you have got to take Christ. "Only by Christ are you saved," and so on and so on, all that nonsense that he pulls off. To me it is nonsense and it is very defeating. Well, I wrote somewhere that when I found out that he was going up and having prayer meetings with Nixon in the mornings, I began to get scared

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about Nixon.
JACQUELYN HALL:
You don't think that drama should reflect life? That's not what you're trying to do?
PAUL GREEN:
Oh, yes, but it sublimates life or it ….
JACQUELYN HALL:
Ennobles life? When someone reads one of your plays, what is the purpose of that play, what do you want the reader to have from it?
PAUL GREEN:
Well, it's to tell a story. You've got a story to tell and then you say, "Well now, what is a story?" A story is an arrangement on the part of the artist of the actions and the raw material of life shaped into an art form in which the participants, the readers, the spectators, the auditors, they can come and see that and get enriched. It's part of the process of humanistic growth. I was reading last night something of Tennyson. H.L. Mencken used to call him "Long Tennyson" but he's a great poet, and I read about "And on her lover's arm she leant, And round her waist she felt it fold, And far across the hills they went in that new world, which is the old: Across the hills, and far away Beyond their utmost purple rim, And deep into the dying day The happy princess follow'd him. And o'er them many a sliding star, And many a merry wind was borne, And, stream'd thro' many a golden bar, The twilight melted into morn."
So, he got something and there it is and "Way the twilight comes down …", it's wonderful. He put it down nearly a hundred years ago and it is still there. The vapor has disappeared, but art takes life, shapes it and fastens it down and a poem is like a chalice. You can go back and drink from it, and art makes permanent the values in life that would fade away. So, you could almost say that a civilization is great only as its artists are great.
JACQUELYN HALL:
But you also wrote with a didactic purpose. The way that you talked about This Body The Earth, that the reader would feel the injustice of

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the situation in which the man could not succeed. He would want to act in the real world because of having read this play.
PAUL GREEN:
That's right.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Whereas Tennyson's peom does not effect you that way, it's aesthetic.
PAUL GREEN:
Yes, but it makes you … well, it is in a way always that. You could not deny the pay-off of possible learning from any work of art and by learning, you simply mean not only learning of an emotional nature but of a logical strength so that if you have a pedantic novel or play that teaches, if it is done beautifully enough, the pedanticism is illuminated and sublimated in such a way that it is inspiring. Now, I wrote something that I knew when I was working at it, that it wasn't actually physically true, about some people who came to Roanoke Island in the sixteenth century and tried to make a settlement and they perished, they were lost. Well, I put words there that actually, realistically, didn't fit and had them do things that they didn't do, but you could say artistically, they should have done. So, I have a fellow come out, the narrator, and say, "We have come to dedicate this bit of humble earth." It's right where this colony was and then he says, "For here once walked the men of dreams." Well, all of us are dreamers … "the sons of hope and pain and wonder." Then I have him go on about the sunlight of truth on their foreheads, their lips sang a new "song for ages yet unborn, For us the children that came after them, O, new and mighty world to be," they sang. "O, land, majestic, free, unbounded." Well, they never said that but you use them to be beyond themselves so the artist, the playwright, he can never put life down just as it is. He interprets it. Anyway, I do in my feeble efforts. Now, in these later years, in feeling

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the impact of the country and this democratic faith that we have and the malfeasance that is happening, I guess that I've been encouraged to try to say something about that, to try to deal with people.
I wrote a thing at Williamsburg, The Common Glory. Well, Jefferson never did do exactly the way that he is put down there, and I know that a lot of people in Virginia came to me and said, "Here you are writing something … ",and I never was too proud of the thing, I thought that I couldn't get enough humanity in it, didn't have time. But they would say, "You don't want to write about Jefferson, you ought to write about Patrick Henry. That's the man." Now, why didn't I choose Patrick Henry? Well, because in studying the life of Patrick Henry and also in realizing that he didn't have the impact in the world that Jefferson did, I found that Patrick Henry had a narrow minded view I thought, of the democratic faith. I couldn't go all out for him. Well, you can write a play about Patrick Henry, but not an epic that I wanted. I know that I am paying some penalty for it, too, because the characters that I am creating now, they won't bleed, if you cut them, the way that some of my folk characters will. The fellow in that novel, as bad as it is written, I broke down in that novel and it's got a weak place in it. The turning point should have been the big scene and I kind of floundered. But I was working in a hurry, and they had already started setting it up at Harpers, and I did the best I could at that time.
JACQUELYN HALL:
You mentioned the rebellions that went on in the '30s, against the poverty and the whole sweep of industrialization by the working people, who gained this certain kind of self-consciousness and a certain kind of understanding of where they were and began to try to organize. There were many different kinds of things that happened in the '30s. Could you kind of talk about this … the Burlington Dynamite Case, for example? Some of the incidents of labor organization

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that you got personally involved in?
PAUL GREEN:
Well, in the South, the labor union, the trade union movement was slow and they never got started. Some of the reasons were that the people who came out of the Civil War depression and gradually awoke, like the Reynoldses, the Grays, the different people around and got the South started again. All around the South, the Carolinas, Georgia, a local fellow would get the idea and he would build him a little factory and then he would expand it. So, these were sort of landlords with a landlord's point of view and I know that down at Erwin, North Carolina right near where I was born, when I was a little boy, I would go by there with my father and we saw a lot of Negroes sawing and cutting down trees. We said, "What's happening?" and they said, "We are going to build a cotton factory." And the Dukes and Mr. Erwin, they changed the town's name, it was called Duke but it is now named Erwin, and that was early in the century. So, more local industry began to spring up everywhere and the people behind that, Mr. Erwin, was a good Episcopalian and he gave the money and helped build this Episcopal church down here, the new one and they were all, every darn one of them, good church members. Some of them taught Sunday School, like John D. Rockefeller, Sr. did. Each one of them also had that possessive point of view about his factory. He herded in these people, cheap labor. At Erwin, I used to go by and see these children at the noon hour come out of the factory all yellow. I tried to deal with it a little bit in that novel you just mentioned. Well, gradually, when the war came on, a lot of these mill people went to Europe and were treated with this doctrine and so on and saw some new things in the world and then the impact of the labor unions in the North and the Middle West began to seep in. Now and then, there would be a young man in the labor group here in the South who

Page 17
would speak out and later they began to rebel. Like at Burlington and Gastonia and all around.
JACQUELYN HALL:
How did you get involved in the Burlington incident?
PAUL GREEN:
Well, earlier at Gastonia, I had gotten a little interest in it. Well, I read about it and I thought, "This is a shame, it ought not to be. These people …."
JACQUELYN HALL:
You had been aware of it and been involved in the Gastonia strike?
PAUL GREEN:
Not involved in it myself, but reading about it and writing about it, writing some letters.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Who did you write letters to?
PAUL GREEN:
Later, I got involved with Fred Beal, who was a leader.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Yes.
PAUL GREEN:
But actually, I got really involved in the Burlington thing, actually working. You see, I was in Europe on a Guggenheim Fellowship and got back here in 1930 ….
[END OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]

[TAPE 1, SIDE B]

[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE B]
PAUL GREEN:
… maybe I wrote some letters to the newspapers or something, but it was from outside. Then one day, the phone rang and a fellow named Hoggard said that he wanted to come see me ….
JACQUELYN HALL:
Hoggard?
PAUL GREEN:
I think that his name was Hoggard. I've got all that somewhere.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Do you remember Don West?
PAUL GREEN:
Oh, yes. Did you ever know him?
JACQUELYN HALL:
Yes.
PAUL GREEN:
Don's a great tall guy.

Page 18
JACQUELYN HALL:
Yes. It wasn't him that first came to talk to you?
PAUL GREEN:
Well, maybe it was. But anyway, the thing that really fired me up, they were tried. I didn't go to the trial, I think that the trial maybe took place while I was in Europe. When I got back, I read about these guys who had broken out thirteen dollars worth of glass with dynamite and the total amount of penalty was something like a hundred and something years in the penitentiary for all five of them, or however many there were. Well, that was just what fired me up. About that time, Don West and Hoggard and some others showed up. The mother of one of them, a man named Blalock, his name was Florence, by the way, he was a man but his name was Florence Blalock, she was in the group and they looked so pitiful with their sunbonnets … these were mill workers, but really eloquent in their complaints. The language would just pour out. So, I got interested in trying to do something about it and then we looked around for a lawyer, and Bill Couch here, who was running the University Press, was interested and we met. I think that Elizabeth was appointed treasurer of the thing. We started writing letters to get money to hire us a lawyer and we hired a [Major] Colonel Henderson, I think it was, from Graham. Well, I don't remember, I'd have to look it up.
JACQUELYN HALL:
How did Susie Sharp come into the picture?
PAUL GREEN:
Have you seen some of this ….
JACQUELYN HALL:
Yes.
PAUL GREEN:
Yes, I never did like Susie Sharp after that. She was a lawyer from Reidsville, I think, and we heard some way that she was interested in labor cases and we got her to meet. And then Norman Thomas,-we lived over in town and one day there was a knock on the door and there stood this tall man and

Page 19
I recognized him from his picture, it was Norman Thomas. He was running for President, you know, on the Socialist ticket. So, he came in and we talked a lot and I forget just what he did, but anyway, his encouragement was strong. I wrote to Mrs. Roosevelt, I remember that I had a letter from her. That was earlier and then later, Mrs. Roosevelt helped me out on a Lumbee Indian case down in Dunn, North Carolina, and that was a very interesting case, but that was later in the segregation fight. Anyway, we got Colonel Henderson and …it is sort of vague in my mind. I know that we worked and had meetings.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Was there a pretty good sized group of people in Chapel Hill, around the University, who were interested in this kind of thing? Who else worked with you on it?
PAUL GREEN:
Well, there was Loretta Bailey, J.O. Bailey's wife, a girl named Muriel Wolfe, Bill Couch, Elizabeth, J.O. Bailey himself … I don't remember.
JACQUELYN HALL:
What about Ericson, E.E. Ericson?
PAUL GREEN:
Oh, yes. Eric. Well, he was a Communist, everybody said. Eric brought a little shady something, he was a wonderful fellow, but he was so outspoken that it was very easy to call him a Russian sympathizer and we sort of tried to tame him down a little bit, but he was an eloquent fellow. I think that a question came up about his tenure here at the University, but he left here and went someplace, I don't know where. But he was so outspoken that he handicapped us somewhat. Well, that was the main group.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Were these people … was there a large or strong chapter of the Socialist party here?
PAUL GREEN:
No.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Did these people have political affiliations? How did you identify the people who ….

Page 20
PAUL GREEN:
I don't know, it was just Bill Couch of the Press and he was interested in interpreting the South and we had Howard Odum and Gerald Johnson and Rupert Vance and Guy Johnson … Guy is still here. They were working in the Southern Regional Council down in Atlanta. They were not as definitely pro-labor as this little group, but they were opening up and almost acting as midwives from the old order into a new order to be, I think. They worked for racial justice and Johnson himself went down to St. Helena Island or someplace where they had a group of people and he wrote a book on Sea Island music, I think, down there. So, we were supported somewhat by Odum and Johnson, although Odum … I talked to him some, but he had an institutional responsibility and was always trying to get money from the foundations to support his endeavors, so he didn't go … he never met with this group, the mill crowd. We were renegades, in fact, we were investigated by the FBI.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Well, what is the difference between you and Ericson and Bailey and the people that would work with you on something like this and the Institute for Research in the Social Sciences crowd?
PAUL GREEN:
Well, we were, they would say, more radical and we were for case action rather than a general program. For instance, I had a lot of correspondence with Theodore Dreiser about another case, the Scottsboro case where five or six Negro boys were sentenced to death for the so-called "rape" of a white girl, who was a sort of a tramp. We worked on that. Well, just the case.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Why that strategy of focusing on particular cases?
PAUL GREEN:
Well, we finally got the ILD, the international labor organization from New York, they got into it somehow, I was opposed to that. I did all I

Page 21
could to prevent it. That took it away from a local control. As I wrote Theodore Dreiser, I said, "Good God, man, you are willing to execute these boys for this philosophy of socialism that you have. Well, I am interested in saving these boys. Then, if you save the boys, that has more impact for your general cause." Odum and his people were for the big front, for the movement that they were behind and they felt that if they got involved in special cases, that would obscure it and maybe then hold them up and make them possible of derogatory action, whereas if they got a big general truth that they were promoting, that would ultimately overwhelm the ignorance and help lift the individual cases. Well, that was two philosophies. My philosophy was to save the guy. Just like it is a hellish thing to me to send boys out to die for a cause, I say, "Save that boy and to hell with the cause." Like Mr. Ford last week, at Arlington, and he gets up and there are all these white crosses of boys that have died and what does he say? He says, "We must keep our military might," [unknown] is saying "We must have more of these." He didn't say a word about the character and ethical nature of this nation and what a pity that these men had to die. Save the boys and the cause will save itself.
JACQUELYN HALL:
It is interesting because clearly you were more radical than Odum and that group and yet, when you describe your strategy for dealing with injustices and social issues, it could be seen in another light as being less systematic, kind of piecemeal social work thing, the approach that a social worker would take to problems. Really, a feeling that you could never change the social system as a whole, you can only ameliorate individual cases. What is the difference?
PAUL GREEN:
No, I'm saying that the real way to change it is by exhibits, statistics. You can pull a fellow out … We appealed this Burlington thing

Page 22
right on up to the State Supreme Court. They sent down some Jewish lawyers and we met with them and I told Bill Couch, "Listen, these guys are going to ruin the whole thing if we let them get up and plead this thing." So, we talked with them and they promised that they would go to the hearing but that they would say nothing.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Why did you think that they would ruin it?
PAUL GREEN:
Because for one thing, we had a local North Carolina Supreme Court and it was just like the University here. As long as we have got good North Carolina boys running it, the President and the Chancellor, good fellows and all, we don't have a single voice that has a nationwide clarion call as a great educator, we are all administrators, good fellows. We've got some good teachers, but … I knew those members of the Supreme Court and I used to always find it easy to go to the governor and talk, but not go as a representative of the Civil Liberties or the NAACP. I went not as an institutional man, but as a simple citizen and I was always welcomed by every governor going way back to Angus McLean, Gardner, Hoey, Broughton, Ehringhous, right on back even Luther Hodges. As soon as we had this ruling from the Supreme Court, Alex Heard and I had a little caucus and we said, "Now is the time to hit" and we went to see Luther Hodges, he was the governor and we said, "Now Governor, we've got the backing of the Federal United States Supreme Court and we have already talked to Mr. Davis at Chapel Hill and he is ready to move to let the students enter Chapel Hill and we can have a pilot project right off to start it." Well, to my surprise, I was in school with Luther and he said, "Paul, you can't do this." And then he used that phrase that infuriates you, "You can't do this overnight." [Laughter] I said, "Luther, it has been three hundred years." Alex and I put up a plea and he wouldn't

Page 23
do it. He stopped this; we already had a decision and he helped reverse it, and got the Pearsall Plan and I wrote a letter, sent a wire and a copy, a long wire, to the state papers. He got my wire … I told him that I was going to do it and he said, "Now, don't do it." I said, "I'm not going to concur in this, we've got a chance here to move forward." I, as a thousand, times, urged that we take the lead in the South in abolishing capital punishment and again, they said, "Paul, you can't do it overnight." Well, I was on my way to Manteo to do something about that show and I got a call from Luther. He said, "I just got your telegram and I am very sorry that you sent it." I said, "Well, I'm not. We have a great chance here to take the leadership in North Carolina and to my surprise, Governor, you are stopping us." He said, "No, my ways are right. I'm going to appear on television next Tuesday and I want you to listen. But don't send this wire, please, to the state papers." I said, "I've already done it." "Oh," he said, "well, it is too bad."
JACQUELYN HALL:
What made you think that Luther Hodges would act differently?
PAUL GREEN:
I thought that he maybe, being educated here, and that he had the backing of the United States Supreme Court, and had been a businessman out in Chicago with the Fields company, that he would maybe … just like Foo Giduz when he wanted to run for mayor, you know Giduz who writes for the local paper. Well, they wouldn't let the Negroes in the restaurants here and so I said, "You are going to run for mayor, you've got a great chance, Roland. Come out for this thing. Take the lead. It's right and the time is right." Well, he wouldn't do it. He was against opening the restuarants, and Lee beat him. Well, maybe he would have beaten him anyway, but he wouldn't do it. I remember working …
I'm off the subject now, but anyhow, these are all connected with the general matter of improvement of relations. We tried for years to get at least Negro graduates into this

Page 24
University. We tried for years to get the motion picture houses to allow all the citizens to attend. Finally, Porgy and Bess arrives here and I go to Carrington Smith and I say ….
JACQUELYN HALL:
When did this happen?
PAUL GREEN:
Oh, a few years ago, not too long ago. We had already had the Supreme Court decision and so on to back us up. I went to Carrington and said, "Carrington, Porgy and Bess is coming here and that is a Negro movie and this would be a great time to invite our Negro people to come and see their movie." "Oh," he said, "We can't do that." So now, you go up there and the Negroes are coming in and it is wonderful. We've finally done it, but without the backing of Uncle Sam and the Supreme Court, we would still be in the darkness.
JACQUELYN HALL:
It is very surprising to me how slow the University of North Carolina was to take any kind of position ….
PAUL GREEN:
We are a terribly provincial state and there are many reasons for it. One is because of men like Billy Graham. When you already have all the truth that you need, you see, a fellow that is lost and wandering and hunting for salvation, he is always more sympathetic, but a guy that has already got it has got it all made. So, the University has been controlled by Baptists, and our battle to eradicate capital punishment in the state has always found its greatest opponents in good church people. The Roman Catholics first of all are adamant as a rule, the Episcopalians next and the Baptists and Methodists down the line, but you find a free thinker, nearly everytime, he is on our side. There is something funny there.
JACQUELYN HALL:
I was interested in The Enchanted Maze.
PAUL GREEN:
Oh, what a play. [Laughter]
JACQUELYN HALL:
What did that play come out of? How did you view this University? Have your views of the University changed over the time, have

Page 25
you been more or less critical of it?
PAUL GREEN:
Well, the young people … I know that they come out here and you are young and you can see old people like me and see where they are missing it. I came up here and was very much like Jude the Obscure who looked toward the dream city of Oxford or Cambridge where he might go to school some day and this place to me was the light on the hill. So, when I got up here and got close by, I found that it was more human and the first thing I thought was, "Gee, this is wrong." When I was a student here, I saw a little Negro boy come into the library with a note, I was there at the desk getting a book. This little fellow handed the note to the librarian and she said, "I'm sorry." And then she handed it back to him. Well, I got interested and maybe my sympathies were with the little black boy already and I asked her, "Do you mind telling me what it was?" He said, "He is a school teacher, a Negro school teacher that wrote a note and wanted to borrow a book and we are not allowed to lend them." I said, "Oh, " … of course, I said it in language too strong for her, I said, "I know …" I said that I knew, I really didn't, but I said, "I know that that boy's granddaddy built this place. He toted the mortar and moved the rocks." So, I went to see the dean or somebody, there wasn't a chancellor then, and they looked at me as if I was from another planet. So in no time, I fell afoul of this place.
JACQUELYN HALL:
When did this happen, in the early '20s?
PAUL GREEN:
That was in 1919 or 1920. It was incredible and right on up to the recent times. Why couldn't they do that?
JACQUELYN HALL:
Why didn't Frank Graham take more leadership in the question of race?

Page 26
PAUL GREEN:
Well, Frank and I were cousins. His father and my grandmother were brother and sister. I didn't know it until one day he mentioned it and then I looked it up. So, I felt a little closer to him. It is an interesting thing. Frank was a wonderful person, but he wouldn't fight. I heard him once when he was a professor of history here make a speech in Memorial Hall, it was a real fighting speech about justice. It was a great thing and then he asked me to come in and help him on some labor dispute or something but I only lasted about three days. I wanted to get in there and do something and he began to sort of back away from it. I was too radical. So, I fell out of the thing. He loved people so that even when he had a scoundrel to deal with, it weakened his fighting power.
JACQUELYN HALL:
When Frank Graham was President of the University, did you ever try to talk to him about dealing with the black community around here or about integrating the University?
PAUL GREEN:
That's right, I did and he was in principle for it. I remember when Frank was appointed-and this is funny, I haven't thought of it since, I guess,-Howard Odum and I held a lamentation session and I will never forget. I wrote something in my diary or somewhere and Howard Odum and I both agreed that one of the first things that would happen, we would look out under the Davie Poplar and there would be a religious meeting of the Holy Rollers. Frank was so religious and we were just sick, but Frank was better than that and he made quite a name for himself. But, he was just too darn good. It just killed him for somebody to come up and say, "You son of a bitch, you …" He couldn't take it. He loved people so. I went with him on some trips and we couldn't make any progress at all. Every little town that we would drive through, he would say, "I have to speak to So-and-So" and he would come into a drugstore and "Dr. Frank." The first thing that you'd know, he would have

Page 27
a lot of people around him and time would go by. He just loved people, but there are certain times, I think, when you have to use a red hot iron on evil and burn it out.
JACQUELYN HALL:
How do you deal with that kind of conflict? Do you have real personal conflicts with people, do they come up to you and say, "You son of a bitch …"
PAUL GREEN:
Yes.
JACQUELYN HALL:
How does that effect you?
PAUL GREEN:
Well …Bill Friday interviewed me once and he asked me something about appraising eastern North Carolina and I got loose and said, "Well Bill, I suppose that two of the greatest evils that have held us back here in North Carolina and that may have held back other parts of the country are a narrow-minded fundamentalist religion and mistaken patriotism and worship of the flag and so on." Well, I got loose on that and I got some letters …whew! They would say, "You ought to be run out of North Carolina."
JACQUELYN HALL:
But what about among your peers and friends in the University community? Have you had real personal conflicts with people?
PAUL GREEN:
Not here, no. They have always been either pretty silent or just … as far as I know, I was never penalized. I was sort of disappointed, I never had a cross burned in front of my house and I've never been shot at. Well, the opposition to all is the Ku Klux Klan and the narrow fundamentalist religion, justice among laboring people and all of those things that I have been involved.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Could we go back to the Burlington case for just a little bit. You talked about the International Labor Defense lawyers, the New Yorkers,

Page 28
Coming to the South, you see them as having done more harm than good?
PAUL GREEN:
Well, it is a part of that local mores where the stranger is always suspect. We had a man [A.M. Scales] who was running for governor. He was solicitor at the time and he was, of course, the prosecutor of these Burlington boys. He lived in Greensboro, a very upstanding man. I went to see him two or three times. There was some chance that we could get an amelioration or deviation of their sentence. Well, he agreed with us, but then he pulled that thing like often when I would go to the governor about commuting a sentence when a poor devil was about to die, he said, "Paul, I would like to do it, but the jury said so, the judge said so. I have a letter here from the judge urging me not to commute or reprieve the man." They always pull that other authority on you, so this lawyer said, … the sentence wasn't too unjust and he said, ….
JACQUELYN HALL:
Who was this?
PAUL GREEN:
I was just trying to think of his name. His son was here in school and became a Communist and I will think of it in a minute. Well, after the case went before the Supreme Court, these ILD guys got up in the middle of things and started preaching and cussed out North Carolina for the injustice here, the blindness of the people, "You sir, sitting there." Well, gosh, these fellows threw them out and wouldn't hear the case and it was reaffirmed, and that was when we went to the solicitor and prosecutor and judge. I forget, but some of these boys served some time and they got out of prison … I would have to look up the correspondence, but I know that one fellow, Florence Blalock, they had him in jail over here in Hillsborough. He had done some other misdemeanor and had been locked up over there and his mother came to see me and said that Florence was going to die, he had tried to kill himself and couldn't I do something for Florence. She was a mill

Page 29
worker, a very illiterate woman, but tears are never illiterate, they all speak the same language and motherhood does also. So, I went with her over there to see Florence. The jailer … they had always been pretty nice, these jailers and governors and so on and would let me see these people. So, I went in and Florence was in his cell and there was water everywhere. He had gotten hold of a hose somewhere and tried to drown the place. His mother said that he had taken twelve poisonous capsules and tried to kill himself but they had pumped him out. He was in bad shape, and I asked him finally what sort of pill he had taken and it finally come out and I was convinced that what he had done was to take asprin and was pretending. I don't remember just how it was proved, but anyway, we went on his bail and I signed the documents for $4,500 to get him out of there.
JACQUELYN HALL:
You put up bail for some other people too, didn't you?
PAUL GREEN:
Yes, I did, but I don't remember who. Anyway, Florence got out and whooped and hollered any enjoyed himself and went down here towards Sanford somewhere and broke into a store and the next thing we knew, he was back in the pen again.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Did you get your bail money back?
PAUL GREEN:
Well, we didn't put up money, we just signed and so we went up there later, I drove up to Alamance or wherever it was … well, maybe it was Graham or somewhere but I went to the Clerk of the Court and told him that I would like to get this bail cancelled because it was against my bank record here, I had committed the $4500. He smiled and said, "I wish I could do it, but I can't." I said, "What?" He said, "The bail says that you promised to deliver him for trial on a certain day for trial." I said, "I can't deliver him, he's in the penitentiary." He said, "Well, that's what

Page 30
the law says." It was all complicated and comic. So, I went away and so far as I know, he is still on that bond. Anyway, I don't know what has happened to the fellows, they are scattered away. I guess that most of them are dead. It was a pitiful thing.
JACQUELYN HALL:
What about someone like Don West? What did you think about him?
PAUL GREEN:
Don was slightly unreliable. He was excessive in some ways, but a very imaginative person, as I remember him. I wish I could look up some things, but I don't remember him too well, except that I got the impression from his volubility, he would get up and make speeches to us and was quite over fluent. Where is he, is he still living?
JACQUELYN HALL:
Oh yes, he runs an educational center in Appalachia. He's still quite active.
PAUL GREEN:
Well, I imagine that he is ….
JACQUELYN HALL:
But he is a very strange person, I think. He is really a loner.
I had a feeling that his self expression, this need to express himself in words and statements was often put as a prerogative before other things. I got the feeling that, "we are interested in this case, let's keep on this thing," and it was a means by which he had a freedom of self expression that he enjoyed.
To make speeches and write ….
PAUL GREEN:
I think that some of us, our hearts were all tied up in knots over these poor devils and there was sort of an enjoyment in West in participating in this.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Well, you have some files which include the broadsides put out by the Workers Defense Committee and letters written by Don West and he was

Page 31
also here, he came here last year and when he came, he had looked through his files and he brought me some copies of some things having to do with the Burlington Dynamite Case and about your role in it.
PAUL GREEN:
Well, I don't remember it all and may convict myself with contradictions.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Well, the thing that interested me about this material, as time and again I look into the '30s, is how much more radical, much more openly … I don't know how to express myself very well here, the whole intervention of the '50s and '60s changed the terms of political discussion. By the time I was coming along, nobody in Graham, North Carolina, would dare to put out the kind of literature that Don West was putting out at that time.
PAUL GREEN:
Right.
JACQUELYN HALL:
It was very extreme, very radical, very hard hitting. There are a couple of letters from the local Communist party of Alamance County, which after the '30s, you could not openly put out literature in the name of the local Communist party of Alamance County. There wouldn't be a Communist party of Alamance County that would be above ground.
PAUL GREEN:
I wonder what sort of faith Don has now?
JACQUELYN HALL:
I don't know.
PAUL GREEN:
Well, I knew a lot of them in those times and that came out of the Depression, they thought that they saw in the American system such a failure, the system was failing and like the Group Theater, they were all young people who felt that Joe Stalin was the greatest guy and Thomas Jefferson was a kind of a phony.
JACQUELYN HALL:
What about the Group Theater? Your involvement with the Group Theater was in 1931, which would have been four years before the Burlington

Page 32
Dynamite Case and right at the very beginning of the Depression. I read an essay that you wrote about the Group Theater in Plough and Furrow which I thought [unknown] was very interesting because on one hand you were very critical of method acting and the politics of the people but then you ended the essay by saying that the Group Theater, along with Eugene O'Neill, was one of the two most important things that was happening in the theater.
PAUL GREEN:
I think so.
JACQUELYN HALL:
I was wondering what kind of impact your experiences with the Group Theater had on your thinking? Did it change you?
PAUL GREEN:
I don't think that it affected me.
JACQUELYN HALL:
How did you see yourself as being different from these people?
PAUL GREEN:
I always felt that I couldn't subscribe to … there was a sentimental fervor in them and that offended me. They were so full of Stanislavsky, but I never saw a Group Theater actor on stage that I didn't realize that here was a guy or a person much more sensitive and much more resilient to the theater than, say, some of the old timers like Sidney Blackmer, who was a good actor. These people, they felt … Lee J. Cobb, Morris Carmovsky, John Garland, Elia Kazan, they all went through there and they all came out, I think, with their emotional nature exacerbated.
JACQUELYN HALL:
It is interesting to me that you were critical of their emotional involvement in their work because your plays are very emotional. I am sure that you have been criticized for being too personally involved in your work and too emotional.
PAUL GREEN:
I guess that one thing was just their ignorance of and their distaste for the American philosophy of government. They knew little about it. They were, most of them … well, one of them came down here and wanted to play in one of these outdoor dramas that I had written and the

Page 33
young man in the outdoor drama was a pioneer, a hard working guy who would grab an axe and cut a tree down, you know. He was a real worker. Well, this boy, he hardly knew what an axe was, but he wanted to play this part. So, he spent a couple of days with me and he could feel all over the place, he was full of feeling and so, I talked to him about this guy and I said, "Have you ever tried to cut a tree down?" He said, "No, I haven't." I said, "Would you like to try?" He said, "Sure, sure." His hands were so soft and white. I said, "Well, do you know what a crosscut saw is?" "No." I said, "Well, I have one on the shelf and I have a couple of axes and we'll go out here in the forest and try our hands at cutting down a tree." He had read the part and he wasn't very good in it. He was a soft boy, six feet something and had about twenty or twenty-five pounds of extra flesh and he could hardly hit the tree with that axe. Well, we worked awhile and he was panting and he took off his shirt and he was sweating and finally I said, "How are your hands?" They looked red and so we went back in the house and he read again. I said, "You are reading better." So, the next day I said, "Let's do some more cutting." We went out and cut some and I said, "How are your hands?" He said, "Pretty bad shape." I said, "Well, this boy, you know, he got to where he could cut all day long." Well, anyhow, from the actual participation in that work, he came back and he got the part and he later played it and played it better because of that bit of experience. Well, it is the lack of that sort of experience that … the Group Theater was emotionally involved by way of Stanislavsky, but they knew nothing about America, really.
JACQUELYN HALL:
What about the Theater Union, were they more or less different from the Group Theater?
PAUL GREEN:
They were all sort of similar. I remember Mike Gold, wasn't

Page 34
he the editor of the Communist paper?
JACQUELYN HALL:
The New Masses?
PAUL GREEN:
the New Masses or whatever it was. Well, a lot of them, they were full of feeling and full of ignorance, naive, but were much better artists than the Gordon Craig theory. He has a theory that an actor is just a puppet, he is moving and the director is the man, everything comes through the actor by way of the director. These people … I remember one night in the Theater Guild in New York, we had a rehearsal without scenery, we had an invited audience, some critics and these kids, they had no scenery but they had some props and had a table, they pantomimed the story as they went through. They got so overcome at a place in the play that Morris Carnovsky let out a sob or something and another girl, Stella Adler, dod too and they all broke down and cried. They had to stop the show while they all cried and wept. They were all so full of their own feeling. Well, I was about to go around and spit on the ground, "to heck with this."
JACQUELYN HALL:
The Theater Union occurred to me because there is a letter in your files from J.O. Bailey suggesting that during the Burlington Dynamite Case you try to start a worker's theater in cooperation with the Theater Union and the Workers Education Project of the Federal Emergency Relief Corporation, and he seems to be sort of tentative about it, he is assuming that you are not going to be sympathetic, that you will assume that it will be too much of a propaganda device. But there is no record of your reply.
PAUL GREEN:
I don't know. I remember that we wanted to start a dollar theater, I remember that Bobby Lewis was a member of the Group and when the Group began to break up, it was strange that it would break up, but with that

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emotional instability, which was a grand thing too, but it got fastened down in the play, that some of them wanted to start another theater and got the idea of starting a dollar theater. That was all we were going to charge. I met with other groups, and we wanted to start an American lyric theater in which the plays would all have lyrical quality and there were all sorts of ideas. Will Geer, I remember old Will, he is playing the old man in "The Waltons". Will acted in a lot of my plays and we had a theory of starting some kind of a thing comparable to the civic theater of Eva Le Galliennedown on Fourteenth Street. There were a lot of them. I don't know, on my part, I got interested in moving out among the people.
JACQUELYN HALL:
You have done a lot of different kinds of things. You have written in different genres, folk dramas, social protest, symphonic drama. What do you think is your most important? What has given you the most satisfaction?
PAUL GREEN:
I have a lot of regrets, and then you say, "What is the regret?" Regret maybe based on ignorance, selfishness, or what. I remember when I first started working on what I call the people's theater in these outdoor dramas and so on, Brooks Atkinson said, "You are making a great mistake. You ought to stick in here." And so did Barrett Clark and others. I said, "Well, I am just worn out with this, you can't experiment here. I want to get some big cast and you can't do it, you can't pay the thing. One play that I tried with a big casts, and kind of symphonic thing with dance music and so on, we lost our shirts."
[END OF TAPE 1, SIDE B]

[TAPE 2, SIDE A]

[START OF TAPE 2, SIDE A]
JACQUELYN HALL:
So, why did you make that transition to the people's theater?
PAUL GREEN:
Well, why did I quit writing movies? Not that I had made enough

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money or anything like that and could retire on it, but I just got worn out. Well, I just couldn't get the reach I wanted. In the movies, you are handicapped by the industrial pattern. The last few movies that I wrote, I just wrote them as well as I could and handed them in and got paid for them and let them put a play doctor on them to cheapen them down. I may have mentioned this before, but I worked in practically all the studios off and on, and it was the same story. I would try to write something and … well, I wrote a film on a fellow named Eddie Rickenbacker, a great World War I ace, and Eddie Rickenbacker was a narrow, hard boiled segregationist. So, I tried to create a character in the play who might take a little different point of view with Eddie someday and bring out another side. They would say, "You want to stand up here and preach and we don't." In those days, you couldn't … that's not so long ago. You couldn't offend anyone. But the taste now, the movies just offend my taste with the violence.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Did you write Cabin in the Cotton?
PAUL GREEN:
That was the first one that I wrote and it was a funny thing, I got some protest in that. They left me pretty free. Darryl Zanuck and the Warner Brothers, he was the producer there, I guess they just thought, "We'll just put out a feeler and see how well it does." In order to protect themselves, they had it signed by "Professor Paul Green."
JACQUELYN HALL:
Rankin says that …he's critical of your change in your work from your earlier social protest.
PAUL GREEN:
Who is that?
JACQUELYN HALL:
It's a book called Drama and Commitment. It's about the '30s, the drama of the '30s. He says that in your early work was formed by an intense regionalism, social and psychological insights, and then you moved from

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there to a very patriotic epic drama. He sees that as a real falling away of your social commitment and your insight. Is that the kind of criticism that you ….
PAUL GREEN:
Yes, that's the kind of critcism that Brooks Atkinson of The New York Times made, and I guess that there is something to it. I guess … I have two or three plays out there almost finished now about protest, and I found that I was repeating myself. I have a play about a Negro boy who tried to get into this University early and I don't know why, I worked on it and I found that I was saying my same message. Well, you could say that "in these outdoor dramas now, maybe you are saying the same message." I don't know. After you do a thing …I guess there is a truth in that, but maybe when you keep singing one song, you want to try another song.
JACQUELYN HALL:
How did you get involved with Fred Beal?
PAUL GREEN:
Well, if I may, I'll speak about that in a minute, but to go back to this Cabin in the Cotton, one thing that I learned early in trying to write plays, and I don't know where I learned it, maybe it was just sort of natural, but I knew that if you are going to get the truth between two antagonisms and usually in a play, you have a protagonist and antagonist point of view, one against the other, and I bet that I have half a dozen labor protest plays half finished out there, scenes of rioting and all, and maybe I should have stuck and finished them …but I learned that if you are going to do a good job basically, you must explain how the … how each one got to be the way that he is. For instance, I wrote a one act play and made it finally into a long play about a Negro educator. Well, how did this fellow, where did he get an idea to try to teach school? He is a mulatto. Well, some of the colored fellows are talking and say, "That Abe fellow, he is mixed up.

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he's a white man up here, and a white man will say one thing and a Negro will say another. He's mixed up. He's a mulatto." One of them says, "He's got them damn books." The other one says, "Yeah, ever since that time that they hanged that Charlie fellow on the telegraph pole and shot him full of holes, ever since Abe seen that, he's been different." The other one says, "Yeah, the fool. You know what he done? He went down there in the night and he cut that Charlie boy down and helped bury him." "Yeah, he ain't never been the same." So, I tried to derive his difference and so in the Cabin in the Cotton, I knew darn well that this boy, this tenant farmer, I could do his case, but there was the landlord. I've got to explain how the landlord is the way he is. Otherwise, you get a melodrama and in a lot of the protest plays, the factory owners or the landlords are just sons of bitches and they are just like that. You have to let each side have its voice and say its say. I've got to corroborate it.
JACQUELYN HALL:
That's the difficulty that you ran into when you tried to shape your plays that had to do with the labor protest?
PAUL GREEN:
It has something to do with that and each one … that's one of the drawbacks, say, in a play .. a Shakespeare play like Othello. This fellow Iago is just as mean as he can be and Shakespeare never explains how he got to be so mean. So, when Verdi made an opera out of Othello, he got a man to write the libretto, Boito, and Boito gives Iago an aria in which he sings and explains why he hates Othello so and it is a better job. Of course, Shakespeare was working so fast that he couldn't take the time. And that is one of the drawbacks that I found in Mike Gold and John Howard Lawson and a number of those protest writers. The landlord or the factory owner or the politician are always just mean, and the good guys are the labor

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people.
JACQUELYN HALL:
You don't have any characters in your plays, or none occur to me, that might be derived from someone like Don West or Fred Beal, local union organizers and people tried to take matters in their own hands in that kind of collective way as opposed to individuals trying to better their lot. Or do you?
PAUL GREEN:
No. I've got a lot of unfinished things. We'll get to Fred Beal in a minute, but I remember going over to Durham once years and years ago and went to a house for some reason and there was an old woman in there stringing tobacco sacks and the young woman, the daughter or whatever it was, said, "Ma makes twenty-five cents a thousand," or something like that, "stringing these sacks." In those days, they would have tobacco in sacks and you would roll your own or fill your pipe. Well, they had a home industry in Durham with this. I got so exercised about that, that the American Tobacco Company people in Durham were oppressing all these poor people. So, I talked to this woman and talked to some other people and about this terrible poverty, it was a starvation wage that they were paying these people. So, I went around among them and tried to preach, "Let's get together and do something about it." I ran into, "Oh, no. The first thing that you know, we'll lose this job and we won't even have that." So, I came home and wrote a play, or tried to, about a young man, I made it different kinds of workers. They had a meeting and wound up with rioting and shooting and so on. It's in there somewhere in manuscript, but it wouldn't come out. I remember when Frank Graham was president here, I got exercised about the people that worked for the University, the janitors and all. I went around and got some figures and one man, I remember that he had ten children, I think

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it was, and was sweeping. I went around with a notebook and tried to get to them, most of them were a little afraid to talk, but this fellow talked. He said, "It's a shame. You know how much I make a week?" I said, "I don't know, I think that it's less than fifteen dollars." He said, "I get fourteen dollars a week and I can't quit. I've got a garden and I'm trying to make a little something, but Mr. Green, something ought to be done." So, I went to see Frank Graham and said, "Frank, it is just a shame what the University is paying these people." Well Frank, you know, was a pro-labor man, but nothing happened. I went to the bank with this fellow and said, "Listen, why don't we just all get together and I can get a lot of professors on your side and we will just do something about this." He said, "I know Mr. John Bennett and the first thing that I will know is that I'm fired. I won't have no job." I said, "Well, they can't fire you if you get enough of them." Well, this sort of faded out. Then, during the Depression, Frank being such a good fellow, he had a meeting and he called on all the professors to cut their salaries. I said, "What about the men in Raleigh, the governor and the workers and so on? Are they cutting their salaries?" He said, "No, they are not, but we can set them an example here." So, I called a meeting and had a lot of the renegade professors and all and I said, "We won't take it, we just won't accept a cut." You know, they went out one by one and faded away. I don't remember what happened, I think that the cut went into effect. But you know what you were up against, the people were afraid and then I didn't follow through. There was always an urge to do something for the people that worked with their hands. I remember 'way back in 1926 that I put out a book of Negro plays and I wrote an introduction to it about the Negro being at the bottom and so on. It has been so true. This freedom … I did all

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that I could in my small way when they decided that they would have to do something to get the Negroes the chance to study law. So, they had Bob House, Fred McCall a good friend of mine, and a lot of people testifying and I testified and I pleaded, "You can't afford to build a new law school in Durham at that college there and set up teachers when we have plenty of room here and we've got the faculty and the books. Why not let them in, for God's sake? The fellows are going to be lawyers." They killed it and they went ahead and they built the law school over there in Durham, got a pitiful faculty and some trustees went over there to have a look around and I knew the president and they asked him, "How is the law school doing?" He said, "Well, it's getting started." "How many professors have you got?" "We have three professors full time." "How many students have you, doctor?" "We've got three students." Then he said something that I will never forget. He said, "Gentlemen, this prejudice comes high." Our chancellor here fought against them, so all along, it has been the same story. We've had three hundred years of Negro talent, great voices, possible mighty singers, mighty poets, doctors, all gone to oblivion. I don't suppose that half a dozen out of the 14 million that have lived and died in North Carolina, just to give an illustration, hardly half a dozen reached their full maturity and power. Only a few, and they could have. I guess that there is nothing as sinful as a man, is there, as a human being. The greatest sin, I guess, is to cause another person to miss his life, because he has missed all. And we have caused so many people to miss their lives. There are 56,000 over there in Vietnam. You know, we ought to have a universal ululation you know that word ….a lament ….
JACQUELYN HALL:
Yes, [unknown] lamentation. It seems to me that you have been

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frustrated in your attempts to bring, to deal with the evil that you have perceived in a collective way, to try to organize people in their own behalf and also that you haven't been able to really portray that kind of human endeavor in your work.
PAUL GREEN:
That's right, as I was saying, I've got four or five frustrated efforts out there (in the file,) and I got so exercised about the political setup once that I decided that I would do something new. So, I created a woman, a little woman philosopher and she decides to run for office, she just gets so fed up with it all. Her son was killed in a war and so she just wows them. She's just marvelous. I have her making speeches and she is a female Will Rogers or even more so and by gosh, she gets elected to Congress. Then I take her to Congress and then I got mired down, I couldn't finish it. So, it is out there now. I loved that little woman, she was so healthy. Then, I still have regrets. Maybe it is lack of will power or something, but it is a mysterious business, how you think and something doesn't work out. You stick in there and it doesn't come out. Gosh, I've sat up for many a night, all night long until sunrise, struggling with a scene that wouldn't come right. Well, you know.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Yes. I'm curious about Fred Beal. He came back from Russia and was arrested and tried and imprisoned in North Carolina in 1938 and you seem to have been one of the few southerners who really kept in touch with him and tried to … what was he like?
PAUL GREEN:
Didn't I talk about this earlier to you?
JACQUELYN HALL:
Did you speak to Billy Barnes, perhaps?
PAUL GREEN:
I don't know. I've done so much talking. There has been a fellow here from the Smithsonian Magazine and another from the Baltimore Sun

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last week and I talked so darn much that I ….
JACQUELYN HALL:
Well, don't talk about that if you are tired of talking about that subject ….
PAUL GREEN:
No, I don't mind, I just thought maybe I had talked to you about it.
JACQUELYN HALL:
No, I don't think that you talked to me about it.
PAUL GREEN:
Well, I read about the Gastonia trouble and Fred Beal leadership in it and he was one of those voices that rebelled that I spoke about. He was a bright young man and then he had a flair for showmanship, too, and this combination … I followed the trial, but I didn't, for some reason, I don't know, I didn't get into it. But I sympathized with the people. I don't remember just when it occurred, it might have occurred when I was out of the country.
JACQUELYN HALL:
In 1929, I believe. So, you probably were out of the country.
PAUL GREEN:
Yes, but when I came back, I read up on this thing a little bit. They had already sentenced them and I will never forget that I wanted to write a play about it and one scene, that I felt I could do something with it, was the scene in the trial where they brought the effigy of Chief Aderholt in and one of the jurors went crazy.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Right. Have you ever read Grace Lumpkin's To Make My Bread?
PAUL GREEN:
Oh, no … I, yes, I know it. Say … I'm going to look that up. She wrote two or three novels. I don't remember that. Does that have a scene like that in it?
JACQUELYN HALL:
Well, it doesn't have that scene in it, but it culminates in a strike that is based on the Gastonia strike.
PAUL GREEN:
Would there be any place for a play … I ought to get out there and finish one of those things, one of those protest plays. Reading

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Gerhart Hauptmann's The Weavers, I thought of that. I don't know whether you know that play, but it is about a group of people who are losing their jobs for machinery and they rebel. It is a good play. And things are being written now about all these boys in the war and all. What would you do if you were President, would you free all of them, grant them amnesty? Wouldn't you? I would.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Yes. I got you off the topic. You were aware of it and you read about it and you even thought about writing a play about the strike, but you didn't get involved?
PAUL GREEN:
Well, I was thinking that it would make a nice play and particularly that scene. I am always particularly interested in phantoms and dreams and puppets involved in the theater. They are marvelous masks. I've just written a scene in this play that I am doing where there are three judges sitting way up behind a scarlet desk thing and they all have masks on. There is a chief justice and then down below, they bring in this pitiful guy. It's after the Revolutionary War and things went to pieces, things are sold out and there were protests, Shay's Rebellion in Massachussetts. So, in a way, in this play that I am doing, I have a protest thing. These fellows in masks have a gavel about that big and they bring in the fellow and he is to be dispossed and this sounds … I can't use it, but I've got it in the play. The last one is brought in and they have him in chains for murder. "What have you to say further in your defence?" He says, "You will condemn me to death, I know. Let it be, but a ruffin came to my house to drive me out." He couldn't pay his taxes. "He insulted my wife" and so on and so on and "I killed him in self defense." Then the judge says, and this is actually copied out of an old volume of legal decisions, "Let him be taken to the

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public place of execution, let his body be opened, his entrails taken out and burned, his head cut off and put upon a pole and put in front of the capitol building as a warning to all evil doers whatsoever. Let it be so." And then they bang the gavel. You wouldn't think that in America we had that sort of punishment, but they did. Now, a fellow favoring capital punishment would say, "Oh, how terrible!" Well, Fred Beal is still waiting to come on, isn't he?
JACQUELYN HALL:
Yes.
PAUL GREEN:
Well, I don't guess that I told this to Billy Barnes, but to somebody recently, I talked about Fred. As I say, when I got back from Europe and read about this trial in Gastonia, my heart was in sympathy with Fred Beal and there was a girl, a Wiggins girl ….
JACQUELYN HALL:
Ella Mae Wiggins.
PAUL GREEN:
There was a ballad written and I heard her sing it when she came through here. I thought about trying to write a play, but I never did. So, I had some correspondence with Roger Baldwin, this head of the Civil Liberties Union and Roger had already put up bail for Fred, $20,000, and he was going to brought in for trial. Anyway, he was free on that bond, and as I remember, and I may have some of the facts wrong, you would know maybe, he skipped to Russia, and I would hear about Fred. I know that he wrote a book or two.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Proletarian Journey.
PAUL GREEN:
Yes. But as I remember, I don't have any correspondence with him from Russia. I was surprised one day to get a letter, and I don't know why he wrote to me except that maybe I had been in some cases and he had read about them. Anyway, I had a letter from him and he was, I think, in

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New Hampshire. He had come back from Russia and he had said, "I would like to surrender and take my punishment." Evidently, he had had enough of Russia, like Paul Robeson and Richard Wright and all those fellows. So, he said, "Would you arrange to have me returned to justice? I would like to do it through you." So, I wrote him a letter and said, "Sure Fred, I will be glad to do anything that I can." So, back and forth and I think that maybe I had a letter from his counsel. He had a lawyer, and he said that he would come to Raleigh on a certain day and that he would, if I would get a room at the Sir Walter Raleigh Hotel and let him know what room, he would come to that room at a certain hour, ten o'clock in the morning, and surrender himself to the law. Well, I said, "O.k." Then, I got to thinking about it, that I should have some witnesses. So, I told Frank Graham and said, "Frank, would you go with me and help receive Fred Beal?" He said, "Sure, Paul, I'll be glad to." Then I called Jonathan Daniels, the editor of the News and Observer and said, "Jonathan, how about this?" He said, "Sure." So, on that particular day, Frank and Jonathan and I went over there. I had made a reservation and let Fred know. Anyway, we were sitting in this room waiting and pretty soon, there was a knock on the door and there was Fred. I had never met him before. He was a sort of a short fellow, had sort of red hair. With him was somebody, his counsellor. After a few minutes, we chatted a bit and the man with him said, "Well, Fred, good luck." He shook hands and left. In the meantime, I called Governor Clyde Hoey. So, the governor was waiting for the four of us to walk up Fayetteville Street to the governor's mansion, the old statehouse. We go in and meet the governor. Governor Hoey was very glad. He said, "Mr. Beal, you have done a noble thing and as governor, I'm going to remember this. I am going to see

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that this accrues to your credit," and so on. I thought that Fred would be out in thirty days, that's what it sounded like. So, we turned him over to Governor Hoey and the sheriff comes in and we shake hands and they took Fred away to the penitentiary in Raleigh. Now and then, I would write to him. He didn't stay there very long and the first thing that I knew, I had a note from him and he had been moved to the tough farm, Caledonia Farm, way down in eastern North Carolina, where they put the bad guys. He wrote and said, "Your governor sent me down here." Anyway, the governor promised me, he said, "Paul, before I go out of office, I'm going to do something for Fred. I am going to lighten his sentence a great deal." I tried to pin him down as to how much it would be. He had done so much and the governor was going out in about six months. I tried to urge him to make it a year, but I never got any answer. Well, it came on and pretty soon, I knew that it was the next week that the governor was going out of office. So, I called Governor Hoey. I said, "Governor, I would like to get in to see you if I could." He said, "Sure, come on over." I said, "I want to talk with you a little bit about Fred Beal." He said, "Oh, sure, sure. Come on over, Paul." So, I go over and this time, I go alone. I don't bother Jonathan and Frank. I talked with the governor and said, "Now, governor, you are going out of office next week and I want you to remember about Fred Beal." He said, "Oh yes, I remember Fred. Fred did a good thing in turning himself in. But I am not going to take a day off. He has got to serve his sentence." His face got hard. I said, "But, governor …." He said, "No, no. You brought him in here and turned him over and we took him to prison and had him examined and you know what? He had syphillis." I said, "Well, I hope that you got him cured." He said, "He had syphillis, I'm telling you. I

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sent him to Caledonia Farm and I reckon that they took care of him down there. When I found that out, I said, ‘No, not one day."’ That's the truth.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Amazing.
PAUL GREEN:
Well, there was a fellow over there named Roebuck, I think that's his name. A sixteen year old boy sentenced to die, this was a little before Fred, and I went to see Governor Hoey. A wonderful church man, Governor Hoey, Bible class leader. Every Sunday, hearing the sermon, sitting there and drinking it in. I said, "Governor, surely you are not going to let this boy die, he's only sixteen, you can't." No, he was only fifteen. He said, "Paul, he weighs 185 pounds. He's a man. He raped a woman up there in Buncombe County, Asheville." "But he's not old enough." "No, Paul, he is a criminal." I got real sore and he said, "Let me show you something," and he picked up a letter from the sheriff of Buncombe County. It said, "Dear Governor, I hear that there is a movement of some of the radicals in North Carolina about this boy Roebuck. He is a criminal …" He read on. "I remember time and again walking the streets at night, or some of my men, and finding him robbing garbage cans as a boy ten years old. He has been at it since he was ten years old." He said, "You see, Paul, he is just naturally a criminal." I said, "Great God, Governor, the poor boy was hungry." Ten years old and robbing a garbage can! Anyhow, there was such a stink raised about this fellow that they commuted his sentence to life and as far as I know, he is still in prison. But to hear the governor say that!
JACQUELYN HALL:
You were involved in a lot of cases of trying to defend black prisoners or to reform the legal system. The Shropshire and Barnes case I read about in your files. Now, that is an incredible thing. Did Hymn To The Rising Sun come out of that?

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PAUL GREEN:
Yes. I decided that I would write something about Shropshire and Barnes losing their feet and all ….
JACQUELYN HALL:
Could you tell me about that? That happened in 1935.
PAUL GREEN:
I talked to somebody about that. But this Governor Hoey was the governor and there is the glory of the press. What would we do without the press, newspapers that tell these things? I've got pictures of those boys around here somewhere that were brought to me by a Charlotte Observer reporter, showing them sitting in wheelchairs and both of them looking down at their feet.
JACQUELYN HALL:
William Jones was the reporter that uncovered that case.
PAUL GREEN:
Is that right?
JACQUELYN HALL:
Yes.
PAUL GREEN:
Well, gosh, you know more about it than I do.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Do you remember him, Bill Jones? Do you know who that is?
PAUL GREEN:
I don't remember, but he showed up here over in town where I lived. I said, "My Lord!" He said, "Well, can you do something about it?" I said, "I'll think about it."
JACQUELYN HALL:
It was this Charlotte Observer reporter who came to you and told you about the case?
PAUL GREEN:
Yes, I didn't know anything about it, I was away or something, but this fellow called me up from Charlotte, or wrote me a letter. He was a young man. Did you say that his name was Jones?
JACQUELYN HALL:
Yes.
PAUL GREEN:
He said that he would like to see me about a matter. So, he showed up and he told me about this thing. It was so tragic that it passed out of tragedy to the grotesque and there was some kind of vinegar laughter almost about it.

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JACQUELYN HALL:
It was the most incredible thing that I ever read. It just went on and on and on.
PAUL GREEN:
I said, "What can you do?" He said, "There they are." I said, "The State of North Carolina will have to pension them at least. They can do that for them."
JACQUELYN HALL:
So, you found out about it really after it had happened and their feet had been amputated?
PAUL GREEN:
Yes, you see, the chain gang thing, they took the fellows out to work on a project and they had a steel cage on wheels, and sometimes when they would be away from the big center, they would just spend the night there. Well, these boys, I guess, had done something and the old convict boss, his name was Little. I have a picture of him, too. I wonder where we could find that.
JACQUELYN HALL:
I saw those pictures.
PAUL GREEN:
You did?
JACQUELYN HALL:
They are in there.
PAUL GREEN:
Well, this boss ties them up in the cage and during the cold night, they lost their circulation and so they got gangrene and lost their feet. I said to this young reporter, I remember that I had just come back from Hollywood, I said, "I'll go see the governor." So, I called up Governor Hoey and this was before the Fred Beal thing and I hadn't worn out my welcome. You see, they are always concerned about someone that will vote for them, so they welcomed the citizens. So, he said, "Sure, come on over." I told him that I had a very important matter that I wanted to talk to him about. So, I go over there with these pictures and I said, "Governor, here is a hell of a thing that happened up in Charlotte." [interruption]

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JACQUELYN HALL:
So, you went to see the governor.
PAUL GREEN:
So, I go over to the governor and I show him these pictures and say, "Here is something terrible that has happened." He said, "What is that, Paul?" I said, "Governor, these are a couple of fellows that the State of North Carolina has cut their feet off." So, I tell him the story.
JACQUELYN HALL:
He didn't know about it? Surely he knew.
PAUL GREEN:
Of course he did. He said, "Oh, Paul, that's just terrible." I said, "You're right, Governor, it is terrible." He said, "Well, it's just terrible." [Laughter] I said, "Well, Governor, what are we going to do about it?" He said, "Well, there is nothing that we can do." I said, "Can't the state do something?" "No, we can't do anything. We can't accept responsibility or agree that we are liable. They can't sue the state." He was a lawyer, you know. I said, "Well, Governor, something ought to be done. They can't make a living now." I don't remember, maybe he changed the subject. You know how they always have a secretary run in with a message or something and you know that it's time to go. So, somebody came in and brought him a message and I had to go. So, I said, "Well, Governor, we ought to do something." He said, "We can't." I said, "Well, I guess that I'll have to do something." "Good luck, Paul, do what you can for them." I said, "I know the Paramount News man in Hollywood and when I get back home, I'll call him in Hollywood and tomorrow or the next day, we'll have a team of photographers here and we'll photograph these boys. We'll cover the whole United States with their pictures and …."
JACQUELYN HALL:
Did you think of this just off the top of your head while you were talking to him?
PAUL GREEN:
Yeah, it just came up. I hadn't thought of it before.

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He said, "No, no. You can't do that." I said, "You are damn right that I'll do it and I'll even make a speech." So, he got busy then and out of that, they pensioned them.
JACQUELYN HALL:
It's interesting, though. Do you know Capus Waynick?
PAUL GREEN:
Oh yes. Now, where does he come in?
JACQUELYN HALL:
He was the Chairman of the State Highway Commission and the convicts were under the supervision of the Highway Commission because they were out working on the road.
PAUL GREEN:
Yes, I'd forgotten about Capus. How does he come in?
JACQUELYN HALL:
Well, according to this report written by this William Jones, he says at the end of all this that he was not satisfied with the way that the whole thing ended, because he felt that it came up in the legislature to pass a bill giving a lifelong pension to these two men and Capus Waynick stepped in and said, "No, you don't have to give them pensions. I will give them a lifelong job with the Highway Commission." Jones and other people assumed that they really wouldn't have to work, but then this other controversy started. Waynick really wanted them to work for their money and gave them kind of low paying jobs and they were still very sick and couldn't work, so this kind of controversy started up. You weren't really involved in that?
PAUL GREEN:
No, I remember. I forgot all about Capus Waynick. Didn't he later become Brigadier General or something? I knew him very well, we had a lot of meetings about something, but I remember that the governor threw up his hands at the idea of publicizing this whole thing and that ultimately something about it was done, by way of him or ….
JACQUELYN HALL:
Do you remember talking to Capus Waynick about it? Or what

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his attitude about it was?
PAUL GREEN:
I don't know … gosh, I saw Capus about a lot of things and I am trying to just recall.
JACQUELYN HALL:
It really surprised me to find that he was so … he was the top man in charge of this system, so that these things that were going on with the convict labor on the roads were under his jurisdiction.
PAUL GREEN:
Was he the head of it at that time?
JACQUELYN HALL:
He was the head.
PAUL GREEN:
Well, that's funny. It looks like the governor, maybe the governor did say, "You'll have to talk to the head man of the Highway Commission." But I'll never forget how alarmed he was at the idea of this thing being spread over the country.
JACQUELYN HALL:
But you don't remember Waynick's attitude or anything?
PAUL GREEN:
I don't remember about Capus. How did the case end?
JACQUELYN HALL:
Well, they had jobs. One of them was an elevator operator and the other one was supposed to be something else.
PAUL GREEN:
That's right. Did they get any pension?
JACQUELYN HALL:
They got paid. It wasn't a pension, it was a job.
PAUL GREEN:
Disguised, sort of. Well, maybe I was bought off and didn't know it. [Laughter]
JACQUELYN HALL:
I don't know.
PAUL GREEN:
But anyway, I ….
JACQUELYN HALL:
I was interested in the earlier interview that you did with Barnes, you talked about the inspiration for Hymn To The Rising Sun and you didn't mention this (Shropshire) case. Was this the direct thing that you based it on?

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PAUL GREEN:
Oh, yeah. I kept thinking, "How can I do something about this?" It is interesting, too, there was a fellow doing an anthology of American plays and he wrote me wanting to know if I had something that I could contribute and I told him that I had an idea and he said, "Well, I'm going through Chapel Hill and I'll stop in and see you." His name was Percival Wilde. So, he did, and I told him that I had been thinking about this tragedy and I said, "Would that fit in?" He said, "Whatever you write, if it is good, I'd like to have it."
And about that time, I met a fellow named Matthews, Thaddeus Matthews, who was a convict guard. Thaddeus came over to see me and wanted me to recommend him as a writer for the WPA. Well, Thaddy, we called him Thaddy, was a great big beefy man. He was what we called rank, the kind of language that you use about a billy goat, "he was a very rank fellow." He wanted to write. He said, "I kept some notes while I was a convict guard." So, I talked to him a lot about it and he said, "Oh … " I said, "Did you ever shoot anybody?" He said, "Yes. Not long ago, I shot a fellow there. I was watching him, we were out on the road working and I got suspicious of him and I said, ‘Son, don't you try to run, because I know how to use this gun.’ So, I watched him and one day he did, he broke and run, and the woods were about 150 yards away from where we were. I waited until just before he got to the woods and I let him have it." He laughed and then he showed me these notes that he kept about the cruelty, the things that they did. They had what they called the old Black Maria. I got sort of reinterested in the subject looking at his notes, and they had a convict camp over here at Hillsborough, I don't know whether you've ever seen it, I went over there

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the other day ….
JACQUELYN HALL:
Is it still there?
PAUL GREEN:
It's just this side of Hillsborough.
[END OF TAPE 2, SIDE A]

[TAPE 2, SIDE B]

[START OF TAPE 2, SIDE B]
PAUL GREEN:
… I went over there, it had barbed wire and all and I talked to the boss man and he was very nice and said, "Look around. We've got some bad guys in here. In fact, I've got one guy in there in the potato house now who is a bad character, but I'm sweating it out on him." It was a hot summer day. I said, "Can I go down there and speak to him?" He said, "Sure, go down there and speak to him. He's in there. I reckon that he is able to talk to you. He'll be hollering for mercy before long, he'll give in." The fellow wouldn't work or something and they were punishing him. So, I went down to this potato hill thing, kind of dirt with a grill or bar thing and he was back in there. They had a kind of a tin roof or something and I bet that it must have been 150 degrees in that place.
JACQUELYN HALL:
It was dug out of the earth?
PAUL GREEN:
The side of a hill and I call it a "potato hill," but it was especially built for sweating. I went back and he said, "How is he?" I said, "It's terrible to do a man like that." He said, "Well, you have to be hard. That's what it is here." That sort of got me more interested in it and I got to thinking more about the convict boss and I remembered a top sergeant that I had during the war and I had always wanted to put him in a play. He was a terrible man. I enlisted as a private in the First World War and he was my top sergeant and these fingers here were gone from his hand and he got me to work for him because I could type a little bit and I could type things in his tent. On pay day, he would get with the boys and

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crapshoot and he would pull out his pistol and lay it down and by the time that a day or two or night had gone by, he had most of the money. His name was Hough. One day he said, "I see that you are looking at my fingers. You know how I lost them fingers?" I said, "No." He said, "A goddamned nigger bit them off. I drilled him with the cold steel and he spit them out." I found out that he had been a convict boss. So, I put them all together and I found out that the more I thought about it, Shropshire and Barnes faded further away. I couldn't write about them directly.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Why?
PAUL GREEN:
I felt that I would have more of an impact for the whole subject if I didn't make it too vivid about something like that with the feet being cut off. So, it all kind of faded away and in the play, he is making a speech on the Fourth of July, this Hough, to the convicts on freedom.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Is it because that Shropshire incident was so bizarre, so extreme that you didn't think people could ….
PAUL GREEN:
Well, you could write (a play) about them if you faded in on them sitting in a wheelchair, two guys talking, and they are war casualties or something and as they talk, it gradually comes out why their feet have been cut off. You could do something like that, but I wanted to get something that was a bigger sweep and with their feet cut off, it bound me down to a chair. So, I finally have this guy say, "You think I'm hard, you should see what they done to them Shropshire and Barnes fellows. I ain't hard at all." That's all I've got in there.
JACQUELYN HALL:
I thought that Black Marias were kind of police cars. What are they?

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PAUL GREEN:
Well, they do ….
JACQUELYN HALL:
A paddy wagon.
PAUL GREEN:
You can call it a paddy wagon. In the play, I have a sweat box on the stage that they put this fellow in. I hooked it up with the Fourth of July and freedom and so on. I remember the stage directions starts out before dawn, and during the play there is drumming in the box and this convict boss says, "All right, Runt, we'll let you out in a little bit and then maybe you will quit messing with your private organs again." That's what they've got him put in there for, they found him behind the tent masturbating or something. Well, when they do finally open it up, old Runt is dead. So, this fellow Hough, I sort of explain how he is. Will Geer played Hough in New York 'way back in the early days, and he was pretty good at it, too. Well, I decided that I would do something, I had been working at it, and I bought two hundred and something copies of the published play myself … I don't know how many copies, but I sent one to each newspaper editor with a letter, sent one to each member of the Legislature, the Senate and the House. I never heard one word from anybody about it. But 'way back when I was a little boy, I would see them working on the road and they would be wearing a ball and chain. One day, there was this fellow that looked at me when I stopped by them and he said, "Yeah, I wears the ball and chain, but I'm mean." It frightened me. [Laughter] I was a little fellow.
JACQUELYN HALL:
In your efforts to get people out on parole, did you deal with Edwin Gill when he was Commissioner of Paroles?
PAUL GREEN:
Yes, that's right.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Was he helpful to you at all? What kind of person was he?

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PAUL GREEN:
Not too much. Well, I was in Hollywood once and a fellow named Spice Bittings killed his landlord over here at Oxford and his wife wrote to me, and Elizabeth got in touch with me and I couldn't come back, so I got her to work on it all she could. But we couldn't do anything, he was executed. Oh, there are so many cases where you see this … there's a fellow … let me think what his name was. Well anyway, a few years ago, his mother came to see me and she said, "They've got Robert over there and they are going to execute him for raping a girl at Salisbury." I said, "All right, I'll do what I can." I went over to see Robert, they used to let me go into the death row to see my friends, but they brought him out this time to an anteroom and in chains. A little tiny fellow. He was supposed to have raped a girl at Salisbury six times in an hour, or something like that. Well, we got busy and somehow we saved his life and it's a long story, but we got the governor to commute him to life. Every Christmas, I get a card from Robert. Christmas before last, he told me that he had been promoted to head of the bakery. He never went to school, they were poor and he was just illiterate, a mill guy and so I always send him a Christmas card and so this Christmas, my card was returned with just one word written across it, "Escaped." [Laughter]
JACQUELYN HALL:
How closely did you work with Jonathan Daniels on these things?
PAUL GREEN:
Not too much. Jonathan was opposed to capital punishment, but we never did any real … that business of Fred Beal is the closest, I think, that Jonathan and I ever cooperated on anything.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Did you try to get him to use his influence as editor of the News and Observer?
PAUL GREEN:
Yes, he wouldn't get into cases. He would write editorials, but

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stay aloof and in this case with Fred Beal, it didn't involve anything. Well, I could see that, as an editor of the paper, he had to stay aloof and Frank as the head of an institution had to, but it didn't bother me, I was free to get involved.
JACQUELYN HALL:
It sounds like you have worked on these things pretty much as a loner. I guess that Elizabeth was working with you, but who has been your closest ally across the years, people that you ….
PAUL GREEN:
Well, I guess Bill Couch and J.O. Bailey were the closest and J.O. Bailey's wife. I wrote a play when I was a student here, I think. I got so worried about the Lumbee Indians down there and I wrote a little play about them and years later, one day I looked out and there was a car with six or seven big swarthy fellows. They all came up to the house and they were these Croatans or Lumbee Indians, down from Pembroke. They came inside and … I haven't told you about this, have I?
JACQUELYN HALL:
No.
PAUL GREEN:
Well, I told somebody. [Laughter]
JACQUELYN HALL:
What was the name of the play that you wrote about the Lumbee Indians?
PAUL GREEN:
The Last of the Lowries.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Oh, right. The Last of the Lowries.
PAUL GREEN:
It was bred right out of J.M. Synge's Riders to the Sea. That inspired it. These guys came in there and sat down around the room and finally, one of them said, "Did you write a play called The Last of the Lowries?" I said, "Yes." He said, "You said that my grandmother had Negro blood." I said, "Did I?" "That's what you said." And they had a copy of the play. [Laughter] And you know, they were as fiery as could be about this Negro

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thing. And then I read there and it said, "Cumba, [unknown] an old Portugese Negro." There I was and there were six of them. I looked, but they didn't have a pistol or anything. One of them was real rebellious. I had a tough time and explained that I didn't know, that I had read a book by Mrs. Norment and she had said that Cumba was a Portugese Negro. I said, "I am sorry." Well, some time went by and one day, one of these guys showed up with two girls and his wife, the same fellow and he said, "Mr. Green …", one girl was named Juanita, I forget the other's name, he said, "I've got two smart girls here and we are trying to get them into school at Dunn, North Carolina, and they won't let them in. We brought suit and they are going to have a trial in Lillington next Monday and I want you to come." It was quite a different visit on his part. Then he told me the whole story. They had to ride something like seventy miles and they went right by Dunn, they lived right near Dunn.
JACQUELYN HALL:
When did this happen, the second visit?
PAUL GREEN:
It must have been ten years ago, I would say. Well, anyway, you see the reason that they weren't letting them in was because of still that Negro strain. I said, "My gosh, how about the mayor of Dunn?" "He's the worst of them all." I said, "Well, he's my first cousin, George Blalock and I know him. I'll call George." I called him and said, "Now George, this is a hell of a note." He said, "No sir, Paul. They have brought suit, but they will be defeated." So, I go to the trial at Lillington and creep in and take a seat in the back. They are up there, they're the plaintiffs. The judge, Judge Burgwyn, the first time that I had met him, he was half drunk. Well, I won't tell you that, I'll take that out. [Laughter] But Judge Burgwyn said, "I see in our audience Dr. Paul Green. Will Dr. Green please come forward." He wanted me to come up and sit with him while the trial went

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on. I had a tough time, I went up there and said, "Judge, please …" He finally said, "All right," and I went back to my seat. Of course, we didn't get anywhere and they adjourned. We had a caucus afterwards and I said, "I don't know when they'll try it." So, I wrote a lot of letters trying to raise some money and I remember that I wrote Mrs. Roosevelt again and she sent me some money. We got up enough and we got some good lawyers and we beat the case and they were forced, my cousin, George Blalock, to let them into the high school. Well, a couple of years went by, or more and one day, here he was again with his two girls and his wife and he was taking her, Juanita, to some college, Greensboro or someplace. And he came in and said, "I just wanted to thank you. Juanita has been elected president of her class this last year in Dunn and the other (one) has some honor in the school." The young people, you see, accept things and she was just as happy as she could be. They were bright children, nice. The fact that she was elected president of the senior class was a great thing for him.
JACQUELYN HALL:
I have one last question I want to ask you, unless you have something else that you wanted to talk about.
PAUL GREEN:
No, I've got to get you to tape something for me.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Well, this is really off of the subjects that we have been talking about, but it's something that I am very curious about. It seems to me that sexual symbols and sexuality plays a good part in your plays, not anything like the exploitation films that are coming out now, but the theme is there. It's an important, symbolic theme. You are interested in the irrational and the supernatural, which you might see as being related to the unconscious. You are not limited in the way that you look at the human psyche to the rational and the logical and the social. And yet, I have

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noticed in a lot of your writings that you really dislike Freudian psychology and are very unhappy with the effect that Freudian thought has had on artists and intellectuals. Would you talk about that a little bit? What is it about that that you ….
PAUL GREEN:
Well, I have had a lot of problems, I guess that you could say that the greatest problem that man has is woman and the greatest problem that woman has is man and partly due to my relationship with my mother, I've … you see, I was sick a lot when I was little and she loved me up a lot. She was ambitious. We lived in a four room house and she had six children, and she worked all the time and she tried … she would tell my father, "I want my children to have a chance to be something." We were so poor, really poor. So, I always felt close to her and my father, of course, was loaded with trying to make a living out of that farm with cotton down and all. It was tough, but somehow, I always sided with her. One day when I was a little boy, I happened to pick up the county paper and there was a little poem in there signed "Betty Byrd Green." That's my mother. I tore down and around the porch and she was churning and singing. I said, "Mama, did you write this?" She turned pink as a girl and said, "Yes, I wrote it." I don't know that it was any good, particularly, but to me, it was wonderful. So, her ambition, I don't know, her mothering me, I guess … I always felt close.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Did she mother you more than she did the other children?
PAUL GREEN:
Well, since I was sick, I had a lot of bone trouble. I remember that the only time that I ever saw her without any clothes on, she was dressing me to go to church and I remember this, I said spontaneously, "Oh Mama, you're pretty." Just spontaneously.
JACQUELYN HALL:
What did she say.

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PAUL GREEN:
Well, she got something on right quick, I guess. Well, I guess that it is natural to be affected by women. I have never been too good at depicting it, maybe, but there is something so marvelous about a woman, that to have a fellow with a kind of a sick, pseudo-science to come with this … [interruption] … you see, I never met Freud, but I tried to read his book on dreams and to me, he is a charlatan and yet I know that people say that he did more about making us conscious of the unconscious and so on and so on. But all that nonsense about the Oepidus Complex and the sexual business. I ought to know a little something about that, and I do, but the sexual thing being the prime drive. Well, you and I know that ambition and loneliness and conformity, all sorts of things are powerful and the sexual things of little boys and children, you are supposed to grow out of homosexuality, I suppose, and into heterosexuality. But anyway, to me, the effect that these things have had in the theater and the people that I have known who go all to pieces … actually, he has provided, and no one has done it, but he has provided a real subject for drama in that he has told mankind, you and me, that we have in us the fate. The Greeks had an outside fate, like Oepidus was fated to do all those things, but according to Freud, we have these inner things, the libido, the ego and the unconscious and everything and that we are creatures pretty much controlled by these powers. Well, you and I know that civilization is built upon control of ourselves. We had a girl here last night that ….
JACQUELYN HALL:
But Freud says that civilization is built upon the opression of those forces.
PAUL GREEN:
Well, no, he uses the wrong word, but the sublimation of the

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proper conductivity of them. I had a dinner one night in Berlin with Freud's secretary, she had just flown up from Vienna, I had an appointment with a fellow, Walter Harlan, a playwright, and he brought her along. So, I thought, "I won't meet Freud down in Vienna, but maybe she can tell me something." So, I asked her a lot of questions about her boss. He couldn't quit smoking, he had a terrible cancer and I said, "Well, have you got any aberration that he has anything that would be Freudian?" I was quite bold about it, because I had a friend whom I played tennis with and he was going to Vienna twice a week under Freud and getting psychoanalysis and he was going crazy, plumb crazy. He would come back from Freud and his eyes were as red as a terrapin's. She said, "Something funny has been happening. When I come into work on recent mornings, Dr. Freud has looked up and said, ‘God morning, Clara.’ And Clara is his sister." I said, "Uh-oh. I see something, you had better watch him." [Laughter] Well, if I had been saying that about my sister or something, Freud would have said, "Uh-oh …" Well, I don't know how you feel about Freud, but I have talked to a lot of psychiatrists and nearly everyone of them says that he did more for psychology or psychiatry than any other man. Of course, Jung broke away from it and between the two, well, Jung is full of nuts too, in some ways, I think. But this business of having this little old homunculus, this embroyo inside his mother early saying, "I hate my daddy, I hate my daddy," long before he has even been born, to me is nonsense. Well, read his book of dreams. I remember that one of his cases, I read about a woman who had had trouble, and so had her husband. She would get nauseated around her husband and then Freud tells how he discovered the trouble and cured her and she left her husband. [Laughter] Well now, an ordinary old Puritan or somebody would say, "You've got certain

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duties here, let's see if we can't accommodate this thing and get together on it." I knew Tolstoy's daughter, Anna. She came to visit us here in Chapel Hill long ago. She was run out of Russia, you know, after the Revolution. I had read something about it, but she was telling me about her father, Leo Tolstoy. He started a school there on his Yasnaya Polyana plantation for serfs, and he asked her to teach and she hated it. She came to him in tears and said, "Father, I hate it." He said, "But you were there yesterday teaching and the day before." "Yes, Father." "Now, be there tomorrow and there is nothing better for your character than to do work that you know is good to do, you don't want to do it, but you make yourself do it." That's the way to be strong." Well, Freud, you know, would find something and she would be out of the schoolroom. I think that for me, and what he has done to modern literature, the sick people, that … what is it, "connaitre tous, perdonner tous," "to know all is to pardon all." I think that it is another one of those superstitions, a myth mainly. Maybe he has done something that is great, but not for me. You ought to talk some, now. [Laughter]
JACQUELYN HALL:
I was just curious about your views. Thank you.
END OF INTERVIEW