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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Thomas R. Ellington, October 10, 1983. Interview C-0122. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Jordan fired two supervisers for causing conflict with his textile mill workers

Everett Jordan supported his employees in their conflicts with supervisors. In this case, Jordan fired two supervisors after their comments enraged Ellington and inspired his coworkers in the spinning room to stop working in protest.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Thomas R. Ellington, October 10, 1983. Interview C-0122. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

BEN BULLA:
Dock, tell me this, did you ever see Mr. Jordan get really mad?
THOMAS R. DOC ELLINGTON:
No, I never did.
BEN BULLA:
Loose his temper?
THOMAS R. DOC ELLINGTON:
No, I never did see him loose his temper. One time when Mr. Jordan was in New York, Tisdale and Lynch were overseers; no Lynch and Ralph Ritchie. They had gotten an old grease-gun from Richard Stanford. One person would have to stand down and pump it and another person up greasing the motors. So one day I was pumping and Alse Davis was up there greasing the motors and Ralph Ritchie and Lynch came in there and wanted to know what I was doing. Davis stuck his head out of a hole up there and said, I don't know that it's any of your business, but he's pumping grease up here to me. So we got through and started on back in the mill and Lynch and Ralph Ritchie came up. Old Mrs. Cole was sitting out there eating and they said, That's got to be stopped and stopped right now! They said I was to go over and tell her. I said, No, you go tell her if you want it stopped, they have been eating there ever since I've been in Saxapahaw. So I went on in the mill and Lynch sent for me to come on down to the office. He was sitting there all reared back with his thumbs stuck in his vest, and I said, What do you want? He said, SIT DOWN!! I said, Listen, I can hear what you got to say standing up; I had a piece of machinery in my hip pocket. He said, Why is it that every time you go to speak to anybody you blow up like a bullfrog? I said, Now I'll tell you Mr. Lynch, if anybody looks like a bullfrog you do, the way you sitting there. So I walked out and the more I got to studying about it the madder I got. They were holding a section man meeting and I was out in the spinning room and Lee Durham come up behind me and I wheeled around and struck at him with that bald-faced machinist hammer. I went down there and told Ralph Ritchie, Put somebody out there on my job, for I ain't got no business being in here; I'll hurt somebody. I asked Bunk Vickers to work the rest of the night in my place and he said he was sick. Well I started out the door crying and I told Boyd Stacy that if anybody wanted to know where I was, that I had gone home. I never did get home. Harley Anderson picked me up and brought me back over to the store to get some Alka-Seltzer. Joe Neel came up there and asked me what was wrong, and I told him just like it was; how I was out helping Davis grease the motors and what they done and then they called me down in the office and bawled me out there and wanted to know how come I would blow up like a bullfrog when I spoke to somebody, and I got mad enough to cry, and when I get that mad I'd have killed him if he'd a come around. Joe said, Let's ride. So I got in the car with Joe and we rode up to Richard Stanfords old place. I told Joe I would go back down there and start that mill up for him; they had done stopped the whole spinning room off, spoolers were all standing, and said they weren't going back to work until I came back.
BEN BULLA:
Were you a section hand then?
THOMAS R. DOC ELLINGTON:
Yeah. I told him I would start that mill for him or Mr. Jordan but I just be damned I would start it up for Ritchie or Lynch either one. Joe said, Well come on. We went by Cephas Knighten's to see if he would go and he wasn't at home. Joe carried me on over to the mill and stopped down at the lower gate and was going to let me out at the cotton shed. There stood Ritchie and Lynch down there all reared back and Joe told me not to get out there. He carried me on up to the silk room to get out. He told me to go on just like nothing had ever happened and walk over my job and do like I would do every morning or evening when I came in. I'll be in there he said. I went in and when I came down the steps Hazel Roberson said, Lord-God yonder's Doc. And when she did they all came in there. They wouldn't let me put up a end, wouldn't let me start a spinning frame. Joe came in there and threw his arms around my shoulders and he said, Now you got it; you're as good a hand as ever walked in here; you've got it and you can run it if they'll let you alone. I told Joe that if either one of them two came in there and said anything to me I'se going to bust them in the head with a hammer, so help me God. I said, I'm going to do it! I went to start the old big motor up on the spooler and when I did, here came Ralph Ritchie and Lynch around the end of the spooler. Joe went up and grabbed them by the arm, turned them around and took them on out. He told them that if they went in there and he kills you, he'll pay for it, and he'll do it. Joe took them on out. I went in and those fellers wouldn't let me put up an end nor start a spinning frame up they all got them all straightened out themselves. I didn't know it at that time but Jake Miller was up there in the office talking to Mr. Jordan in New York over the telephone. Joe told me about it. The next evening, Lynch came walking in there and asked me, What the hell was wrong with you yesterday? I didn't say anything I saw a Pepsi-Cola bottle sitting over on the end of the spinning frame and I walked over there and picked it up by the neck of it Dee Herring walked up and told him, If you don't get out of here and leave him alone, I'm going to bust your head wide open, and she made a swing at him with one of them big Chavis rollers, and Lynch went out the door. He didn't come back and bother me. I didn't know it at the time, but Jake was talking to MR. Jordan and they fired Lynch and let him go. I worked on. Joe Neel came in there and told me that Lynch wouldn't be bothering me any more. Another time I was doffing and I carried a box of yarn up to the winder room. Grady Foster was there and he told me to clean up this row and that row of frames and that three old Mason frames. I cleaned them up, and mopped under them after I got them mopped, Hoagie Steel came up laughing and said, Thank you for cleaning up my frames. I said, No, I didn't clean your frames up, I cleaned Sellers Manufacturing Company's frames. Grady came by there and called me a damned liar about it, I made a dive after him and he grabbed me by the overall galluses and was going to drag me up the steps. He had his knife up in his shirt pocket, and I jerked his knife out and I said, Grady, I have never cut a man in my life I've been cut, I know it hurts but if you don't take your hands off me I'm going to empty your entrals right here on top of me. Oh, you won't he said. I made a swish across there and just cut his shirt, and I said, Now the next one is going to go deeper. He took his hands off me, and I walked on up where Mr. Bailey was sitting at the desk at the door. Grady says, I fired him. I says, Mr. Bailey, I quit at 5 minutes 'til eleven o'clock. He says, do you want your time now? I says, No, I'll be around payday. I went up and sat down in front of the company store. Here came Mr. Jordan and he said, Huh, what're you doing up here. I told him I wanted to talk it over, so we went into his office and I told him how it happened. He said for me to go down to the mill and tell Grady Foster to get up here on the double. I said that I'd be back and he said, No. You get on that doffing box and go to doffing. Get back to work. So I went down and told Grady that Mr. Jordan wanted to see him on the double. He said, Well, I'll go up there terrectly. I told him that he meant now, not tomorrow or this evening, that he wanted him right now! I was watching when he came out of Jordan's office instead of coming to the mill he went to his house and went to packing. I says to myself, Uh-oh, he's done fired him.