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Author: Gant, Roger, interviewee
Interview conducted by Bulla, Ben
Funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services supported the electronic publication of this interview.
Text encoded by Mike Millner
Sound recordings digitized by Aaron Smithers Southern Folklife Collection
First edition, 2006
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Publisher: The University Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
2006.
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Languages used in the text: English
Revision history:
2008-00-00, Wanda Gunther and Kristin Martin revised TEIHeader and created catalog record for the electronic edition.
2006-12-11, Mike Millner finished TEI-conformant encoding and final proofing.
Source(s):
Title of recording: Oral History Interview with Roger Gant, July 17, 1987. Interview C-0127. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series C. Notable North Carolinians. Southern Oral History Program Collection (C-0127)
Author: Ben Bulla
Title of transcript: Oral History Interview with Roger Gant, July 17, 1987. Interview C-0127. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series C. Notable North Carolinians. Southern Oral History Program Collection (C-0127)
Author: Roger Gant
Description: 174 Mb
Description: 30 p.
Note: Interview conducted on July 17, 1987, by Ben Bulla; recorded in Glen Raven, North Carolina.
Note: Transcribed by Unknown.
Note: Forms part of: Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Series C. Notable North Carolinians, 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 Roger Gant, July 17, 1987.
Interview C-0127. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Gant, Roger, interviewee


Interview Participants

    ROGER GANT, interviewee
    BEN BULLA, interviewer

[TAPE 1, SIDE A]


Page 1
[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]
BEN BULLA:
Roger, to begin with, what year were you and Rose Ann married?
ROGER GANT:
1949.
BEN BULLA:
Had you known Everett Jordan before then?
ROGER GANT:
My first exposure to Everett Jordan was back in the depression years when the flying squadrons were coming to the textile mills in the South and trying to vandalize them. The situation was so severe and dangerous that my father put all five of us children in the car one day and drove us to Saxapahaw to see machine guns sitting on the corners of the roof of that mill behind sandbags to protect that mill from the vandalism from the flying squadrons. It was a very dramatic situation which my father recognized, and of course Everett did too. But that mill had been threatened and he had called for help from the National Guard to protect his property. That was an indication that the man believed in individual rights and believed in protecting them. He wasn't going to let somebody run over him. I didn't know him at that time but in my mind's eye I can still see that machine gun emplacement on the end of the mill closest to the bridge.
BEN BULLA:
Was that in 1930 or 31?
ROGER GANT:
I don't remember—I was a little boy.
BEN BULLA:
When were you born?
ROGER GANT:
1924.
I didn't know Everett until I started dating Rose Ann. When I went down to Saxapahaw to date Rose Ann I met him then, and then I got to know him very well after that.
BEN BULLA:
How did a UNC graduate fare with the Duke powerhouse that was all Duke—the Jordan family?

Page 2
ROGER GANT:
Well love overcomes those barriers. I think it was a traumatic experience for both the Jordan family and the Gant family to be friends with the enemy camp after being bitter rivals all the time. But we laughed about it—it never bothered Everett, he offered me tickets to the Duke football games when he had extra ones—he included me in his count I guess.
Then when the game was at Carolina I would get tickets on both sides of the stadium. Everett always had seats in the guest box so I never had to worry about him and Katherine, but Rose Ann and Ann would sit on the Duke side of the stadium and the rest of the family on the Carolina side. That was no problem at all, I admired Everett's willingness to work for Duke and he did—he worked hard, and he loved his service on the board of trustees and his association with people like [unknown] Semons and the other trustees, but that was his style. He recognized that service on those boards allowed him to serve in other ways. One area of service would lead to another, and of course, eventually led to the Senate for him.
BEN BULLA:
Those were good contacts.
ROGER GANT:
Yes. He didn't make the contacts to try to get to the Senate, he made the contacts because he believed in service. He had inherited that from his father who as a Methodist preacher spent his life serving other people.
BEN BULLA:
Let's discuss Everett Jordan as a person. Assume I don't know him—describe him to me please.
ROGER GANT:
I'm sure that my impressions are not like anybody else's precisely and reflect comparisons in contrast to my own upbringing. Everett, from a business viewpoint believed in business success through smart selling, contrasted to my father who of course recognized that you had to sell your

Page 3
product at a profit, but my father emphasized saving money in purchasing and in manufacturing efficiency and that kind of thing. Everett realized that if you could sell your product for ½¢ more a pound that was an easier route to bigger profits than trying to take a ½¢ a pound out of the cost—usually. And he recognized that steady running—if you could get a customer who could use good volume on a regular continuous basis, that you could effect economies of manufacturing that you never could if you were trying to switch products all the time. The pholosophies under which businesses grow vary with the business a great deal I think and Everett Jordan's business was one of making commodity products which was different from the business background that I had where practically every thing made at Glen Raven was a specialty items. It was interesting to see the two different pathes of success succeed, and to see the way Everett ran his business very successfully, but quite differently from the way our business was always run. It was very interesting.
Everett Jordan had great patience, and I guess that's a sign of maturity, I don't guess you are mature until you have patience. But after he got into politics people would call him every free moment he had at home. Somebody would be calling him on the telephone with sometimes big important issues to discuss, but most of the time, fairly petty, unimportant issues, and he never lost patience with them. Even those who were real pests and habitual callers about one thing and another. He never indicated any exasperation or impatience when he talked to them either in person or on the phone. A lot of people would come to the house to see him and interrupt him at lunch or supper or anytime of day, which would have infuriated me, but he never lost his cool, never indicated that it was disturbing him a bit, and felt it was a part of his job as a representative

Page 4
in Washington to listen to their problems and try to help solve them. He was always available for any constituent who needed to get a social security check reissued or sent to another address, or try to locate a service man in Germany, or matters that should have been corrected through some other agency of the government. If they came to him he was always happy to try to get the constituents' problems solved. Great patience.
I remember the time the dam was built at Saxapahaw—again, my father was quite interested in complex construction problems and drove us down there on Sunday afternoons several times to see the progress made in the construction of that dam. In later years, when I was courting Rose Anne many times tales would come up about the building of that dam and the washing out of the old wooden dam that was there before, and the floods that came along when they were building the new dam and washed out the forms. And Everett and Davis and the volunteer work crew would get out in the middle of the night and try to save things—Everett right out there in the middle of the river with the rest of them.
And he always had a funny story to tell about practically any point that was being discussed. He had some anecdote to illustrate it. There was the time he found Davis working on a motor down in the pump house and he was standing in water and he grabbed the pump and he grounded the current going into the motor and Everett looked down and Davis was making a croaking noise coming out of his throat and so Everett cut off the switch or grabbed him loose and Davis said, "What took you so long?" Everett said, "Well I just saw you down there and I grabbed you as soon as I saw you—turned off the switch as soon as I saw you." And Davis said, "Well I been hollering at you for about five minutes."
He always had funny stories to tell and of course he'd built that mill, almost as a personal task from the time

Page 5
Mr. Charlie Sellers helped him buy it in 1927 until his death. He had been personally involved with almost every phase of the cranking up of that mill and the reequipping and the expansion. With his great capacity to remember details, he could tell you of every piece of equipment—when it was bought and what it did, why it was there and what the problems were with it, and what its capabilities were, what it was used for, and how the mill had changed products from time to time—rabbit hair blends at one time, and had rabbit hair all over the mill.
And he was a great teacher. He put me on his board of directors very soon after I married Rose Ann—not because I could bring anything to the board, but because I could benefit from being on the board, and I did benefit from it a great deal. I was just a young kid at the time of course, but he recognized that if Sellers shared its experiences with me it would improve my sophistication in my own work and of course he hoped, I'm sure, that my experiences at Glen Raven would make it possible for me to bring something to Sellers board. I don't think I ever did bring much. He and his staff knew so much more about running that kind of business than I did that I couldn't bring it much. But I appreciated greatly his allowing me to sit in on his board meetings.
BEN BULLA:
How did the board function, Roger, was it kind of a sounding board or did it make decisions, or had he already made the decisions himself and just asked approval?
ROGER GANT:
Well the board had great confidence in Everett's ability. His judgement had been good so much of the time—his batting average was so high—and he was conservative in his approach, he believed in having liquidity and not over extending the resources of the corporation. When machinery changes were indicated he investigated the options carefully; he had

Page 6
wonderful rapport with many other textile people and if he wanted to know about a piece of machinery that the manufacturer was trying to sell him, he could call on a half dozen other mills to share with him their opinions about that machinery or that process.
He was a very active member of the ATMI, the American Textile Manufacturers Institute, he went to those meetings regularly and served on boards and committees.
BEN BULLA:
Did he ever serve as president of ATMI?
ROGER GANT:
I don't think he did, I'm not sure.
He was active in the N. C. Textile Manufacturer's Association, the North Carolina Citizens Association—he was a charter member, one of the founders of that organization I believe. He had many friends not only in the textile business but in many others and if he needed to get other opinions about equipment or management ideas such as industrial engineering or computers, why he had a dozen friends he could call on who would be glad to share their experiences with him, and he with them. So he had a relatively easy and inexpensive way to evaluate new processes or new machinery.
BEN BULLA:
Was this unique with him or did other mill men do this?
ROGER GANT:
I don't think he was unique; I think the textile fraternity generally feels there are not many secrets in the long run and if anybody really wants to find out almost anything that is going on in the textile industry he can. But I think the door was more open to him than it was to a great many people.
BEN BULLA:
He utilized it more fully, perhaps?
ROGER GANT:
He used it, and his door was always open. There are many people in this industry like that though. We have several friends in comparative businesses that we would not hesitate to ask them their opinion about

Page 7
machinery or process nor they us and they would frank and open in their actions. Now there are some secrets in the industry of course and those are not shared freely, but you don't expect them to be. But Everett didn't believe in being a pioneer in new machinery and I think that is correct myself. Somebody else can be the pioneer because there are always bugs in a new process or new equipment and have to be ironed out and smaller mills really can't afford to do that kind of thing on a regular basis. Occasionally they could pioneer something and be a tremendous success, but generally speaking he would let somebody else be the pioneer in new machinery. He believed in keeping his mills modern though. He would put in new drawing frames or winders when it was proven that the new equipment was better than the old. So he kept his mills in good condition. Everett was quite bright about developing new techniques that were needed in the mill. For instance on Sunday when he was in town and we were in town we would usually eat lunch with Everett and Katherine. They'd gather the family together and feed us all lunch—children and everything—a dozen or more of us would not be unusual for Sunday lunch, and after lunch, particularly after Everett had gone to Washington and his time in the mill was fairly limited, he might go down to the mill and play with the new formula for was disks. If the disks that they were using were not putting enough wax on the yarn, or were putting too much, he knew how to play around with the formula and come up with a disk that would do a better job. I've been with him in the mill a couple of times when he would be doing that or he might go down, if they were overhauling a piece of machinery, and supervise that job and make suggestions about how he thought it could be done better, and those suggestions of course were adopted.

Page 8
He kept his hand on the business all of his life, and he was very smart about not only management but about the technology of running the spinning mill. And he was smart about recognizing his limitations too. When he took over that mill in 1927 it was a spinning and weaving mill and the warps were still on the looms and the assumption was that he could continue to operate as an intergrated weaving mill, but Everett said, "I don't know anything about those looms and I do know something about spinning frames so lets crank up these spinning frames. We're not going to run those looms, at least for the time being, because I don't know anything about them." So he never did run the looms and he replaced looms with spinning frames eventually when he could afford it. So he recognized that there were possibilities—opportunities available to him in the spinning business without having to take on a new technology about which he knew nothing. He didn't know anything about the manufacturing or the selling of woven goods.
I guess his greatest business talent was as a salesman though. He didn't put on any airs about that—if he had a sample of yarn to take to Philadelphia or New York he was more apt to carry it up there in a paper grocery bag than he was to have it boxed up or dressed up fancily.
Having control of the manufacturing as well as the selling he could translate the customers needs into manufacturing requirements and conversely he could help the customer understand the limitations as far as manufacturing went and work out a compromise plan. So he was a superior salesman; the customers had great confidence in him and the fact that he owned the business made them understand that if he made a commitment to them it would be fulfilled. So while he had sales agents that made routine calls on his accounts, any of the principal accounts he saw several times a year

Page 9
and several of them he counted among his very close personal friends. They would take trips together or see each other on a personal and social basis maybe more often than they did on a business basis. There was a genuine friendship; it wasn't one that was there only because of business. He just liked them and they liked him and they got along well together.
BEN BULLA:
Is that normal among businessmen in general?
ROGER GANT:
I think it was normal but I think it was true with Everett to a larger degree, I think Everett just liked people—his father liked people, or else he would never have been a Methodist preacher—and Everett inherited that and Everett never met anybody that stayed a stranger very long. He just liked them for what they were whether they were business related or not. He just liked all kinds of people—understood them, and understood that they were all human and had their frailties and he never belittled anybody because of any frailties they might have. He was very big—generous and understanding of the way people were put together and the way they acted and what they needed. He had very close associations with people of all levels in his mill; he didn't value the friendship of the mill superintendent any higher than he did the floor sweeper. Went to church with all of them; in Sunday School class with them. He was not impressed by class or clothes or material ownership of the people he knew. As far as I could tell he equated them all which, I think, is unusual. As his representing them in the Senate goes that was certainly true. The person with the lowest ranks of society had just as much influence with him as the business person had—business owner had. And I think he judged issues on the merits and in a way there was much less bias then most business owners could have done. Most business owners think of issues in so far as they concern to business—I certainly do—

Page 10
and I'd be constantly amazed at Everett judging an issue on a completely different basis. He might judge one in a manner that might be anti-business, but he would justify it by saying that it was just the right thing to do or it wouldn't be fair to these people to do it otherwise.
BEN BULLA:
Can you give me an example?
ROGER GANT:
I'm trying to think of one. Whose that ex-boxer with the beard that use to worry him all the time—
I did not always agree with his evaluation of issues in the general assembly or the congress. I'm having difficulty thinking of any specific one.
BEN BULLA:
When you disagreed, what happened?
ROGER GANT:
Well he respected my right to disagree with him and I didn't respect his as much as he did mine. I couldn't see sometime how he would be on the side of an issue that would adversely affect business. I'm too far to the right I guess—
[END OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]

[TAPE 1, SIDE B]

[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE B]
ROGER GANT:
Yes, I'm further to the right than he was. I feel that business is the backbone of the country—backbone of the success of this country and everything should be done that can be to encourage its support—the business community, especially the businesses that create wealth. I think the more wealth the country has the more wealth can be distributed amont the population and therefore the greatest chance of the highest standard of living for everybody. Those business that create wealth in manufacturing is the principal creator of wealth. You take a hunk of dirt and make steel out of it and that creates a useful product; or you take a hunk of cotton and spin yarn and make a garment out of the fabric woven from the yarn and that creates an item that improves the standard of living for somebody,

Page 11
and therefore creates wealth. The service businesses don't really do that by the terms of reference I'm trying to illustrate—and poorly. They are swapping the money around and of course you can say that a restaurant does create or improve the standard of living because it feeds somebody, or feeds them better than it would otherwise. I'm not going to argue that point. But getting back to my main point—anything that improves the climate for those businesses which create wealth should be encouraged, and that sometimes results temporarily in not directly improving the wage level for instance. If the minimum wage level is raised then in theory the wage earner takes more money home and improves the standard of living. But the other side of that coin is that if you raise the level of wages to where they are not competetive, well the cost of producing the product or service become non-competitive with the alternative method of producing that product or service and somebody loses a job. And I've sometimes felt that Everett was not looking at the big picture, that he was looking at short term cures for the symptoms rather than the long term cures for the diseases. I don't remember specifically what his stand was on the supported minimum wage increases, but there would be similar issues that had sociological inferences on which he and I would not always agree.
BEN BULLA:
On wage scales, Roger, you were aware of how his mills wage scales compared to comprable mills?
ROGER GANT:
We compared them with ours here at Glen Raven a couple of times and generally speaking the wage levels were a little bit lower than ours, but we never did make a comparison of the total picture. Sellers furnished a whole lot more mill houses to its workers than we did and if you throw into the formula that an employee was renting a house for so many dollars a month, that offset, at least to some degree, the difference there may

Page 12
have been in the wage levels, or the fact that he had a pension plan many years before we did offset to some degree the direct wage level. We never did, I don't think, make a comparison on wages plus all benefits. And then of course the commuting and living costs for most of his employees was lower when they lived right at the mill than ours were where we had become much more urbanized and our employees were commuting from 10 or 15 miles or 30 miles away and our wages had to reflect those costs also. But I think he was able to attract better employees at a lower wage than we could. That may have been his personality too. People liked him and liked to work for him. If they had problems why he helped them solve them. He had a much closer personal reltainship with the employees than we have had in many years. Back when my grandfather, or even my father and his brother were running the company the relationship with the employees was very close. My father would walk through the mill, and like Everett, he knew everybody by their first name and knew their children and knew what church they went to and knew what illnesses they suffered from, had a much closer personal relationship than we have now. Principally now because there are so many more employees it's just hard to know them.
BEN BULLA:
How many employees do you have now?
ROGER GANT:
We have about 3,000 in 10 or 15 plants from Georgia to the Virginia line and it's just hard to get to know them. I guess the real reason though is the style of management. I tend to manage from my office by paper more than by getting out in the mill and talking to the employees.
BEN BULLA:
Everett Jordan managed as a one-man type operation; many companies operate with committees or many key people who have much responsibility—didn't you find that to be true with Everett Jordan?
ROGER GANT:
Yes I think so. Everett, as I said earlier, created that mill from

Page 13
when it was shut down in 1927 until his death, it was his handiwork. He had hired all the key people; he had lived in the village with most of the employees and their families; went to church with them, and his relationship with that business was very—almost perfect illustration of the entrepreneurship at its best. He ran the business. Of course after he went to the Senate he turned a good deal of the management over to Ben Jordan and you—Joe Neel—but he ran the business. He was a one man show—all the decisions came up to him to make until he turned it over to Ben. He didn't always agree with Ben after that. And that's quite different from our organization—that's the way my grandfather and his two sons ran this business but it's become quite different in recent years because we just can't run it that way anymore. But Everett had this tremendous capacity for details and he could run the business that way, and if you can do it that's the most efficient way to run. You get very quick decision making and you get very quick reaction to your customers and you eliminate several layers of overhead so you enjoy the economies of not having all that staff. But principally it's the reaction time, you just cut down that time it takes to make decisions tremendously.
BEN BULLA:
An operation as large as yours could not do that could they?
ROGER GANT:
I don't think that operations as complex as ours could do it. There may be a few people that could run this company that way but I certainly don't have the capacity to do it that way. I don't think anybody at management level in this company has the capacity to run it that way. I'm sure there are geniuses that could do it. Everett Jordan would never have created this company. He wouldn't have allowed the business to get as complex as ours. Rather than going off in a dozen directions as we have done he would have gotten bigger and bigger in the yarn spinning business.

Page 14
Or maybe the combed yarn business—something very close akin to what he had, and he may have been able to run a company of our size as a one man show, but it wouldn't be as complex a business as we have.
BEN BULLA:
You have a great variety of end porducts?
ROGER GANT:
Yes. We have a dozen different product lines and in each of those product lines there is a lot of variety. We are quite decentralized in our management philosophy. We have division managers who are general managers. They control the manufacturing, the selling, the purchasing—they're responsible for the bottom line profits at their division. A division can mean either a product line or manufacturing unit. We give them a great deal of autonomy. And this is quite different from Everett's business, but he stuck to the combed yarn business and didn't have the complexity that we have. He shut down those looms—he stuck with the things that he knew how to do and was very successful. Everett could manufacture at lower cost than the big mills because he did not have all that staff to slow things down or increase cost. His wage levels might have been a little lower but the real economies of his type of operation were in the entrepreneurship that one man's judgement was the final decision point, and that judgement was very good. He guessed right a whole lot more than he guessed wrong.
. . . This grabbing the wires and going "ugggg ugggg uggg" he used that to illustrate a point sometimes and another one he had was about the country preacher who started his sermon by saying, "Well today, brethren and sistern I'm going to preach about the sin of adultery—if it is a sin." He would illustrate a point or two with that occasionally.
. . . and they lived in Morganton and he was about 16. Everett was always resourceful and so to earn some extra money—he had a little wagon and he would go around Morganton gathering up junk that people wanted to dispose and he would take it to the junk yard and sell it. He was earning

Page 15
his pocket money that way, until one day he came home and he had gathered up a bunch of whiskey bottles from this local tavern—the tavern had thrown them out and Everett was going to take the whiskey bottles and sell them to the junk man, and his father saw this wagon full of whiskey bottles there at his Methodist parsonage house so he made Everett quit. He got him out of the junk business right away.
Everett's father sent him over to Rutherford College to get him educated—I don't think he stayed very long—Everett didn't finish college—his English wasn't perfect—his grammar—but he was educated in the important things all right.
Katherine says that Everett never put any restrictions on her that she could do anything she wanted to do so far as fixing up the house or village or anything. And he never adhered to a budget and told her that she couldn't do anything, so if she wanted to get a new rug for the house or new draperies for the windows she always felt she had the freedom to do that. She claims she never abused the privilege and I guess she didn't really. She never certainly spent beyond Everett's ability to pay for it. He was very generous with her and their relationship was extremely close. I have never heard them have a sharp word with each other at all despite the many difficult times they came through. They were always working together rather than apart. They seemed to carry the same opinions about how problems should be approached and solved. I never heard a cross word between them. I knew them from 1949 until Everett died in 1974. I never heard either one of them have anything but very positive approaches to their lives or any of them around them. If other people weren't doing the things they ought to do why Everett and Katherine's comments would not be critical of what the other people were doing bad, but only how they could help them do things right. Quite different from my own

Page 16
attitude. I tend to be critical of people first and then eventually I can be talked into trying to see the other side of things, but now Katherine and Everett, their attitude was one of trying to solve problems rather than be critical.
BEN BULLA:
Rose Ann made a comment in one interview on this subject—something like: For me to talk to you to get you to discuss Everett Jordan's philosophy concerning money as compared to the Gant philosophy.
ROGER GANT:
Well we've delved into that a little bit. As I said, my father believed in saving money—having money to spend through saving money, and Everett believed in making money and having money to spend through making it. My father was always looking for bargains. My father would go to the OPO—One-Price-Only store to buy his suits, because they were $30 instead of $60. If he could save $30 on the suit then that would be $30 he would not have to come up with or $30 he would have to spend on something else. Everett believed on going out and making $30 more and buying the $60 suit, but figuring some way to make $30 extra to spend on something else. Everett thought the reason you were in business was to make money and the reason you made money was so you could improve your standard of living and other peoples too. He was very generous; he improved other people's along with his own, but he stayed in good hotels and ate in good restaurants. My father would stay in a decent but cheap hotel and eat in decent but cheap restaurants. Quite a hundred and eighty degree difference in attitudes about things. Everett knew that if he could get an extra half-cent a pound for yarn or sell a hundred thousand pounds more of yarn, then it would be more profitable and he'd make more money and everybody else in the chain would too. Not that daddy didn't believe in selling the product—he had to sell the product before he could make any money at all—but my father was very much more of

Page 17
a penny-pincher than Everett. He may be more like the Sellars although he wasn't one and Everett, he was one.
BEN BULLA:
At your Sunday dinners, Roger, what was your chief topic? —with the Jordan family. Was it mill business, politics, family?
ROGER GANT:
There wouldn't be much mill business discussed at the dinner table. There might be some if Ben was there and if Everett had been away and had not been able to talk to Ben about a mill problem or mill issue. They may have discussed it briefly or Everett might have Joe Neel or somebody else in the mill come by—Ben Bulla or somebody come by and answer a question they might have or bring a paper to be signed or something like that, but not very much mill business. There would quite often be a discussion about village matters. If there was somebody in the village who had gotten married or if there had been a death in the village or somebody whose house had caught fire or something like that. That would often be discussed.
BEN BULLA:
How about politics?
ROGER GANT:
Yes, there'd be politics discussed. I don't know that Everett would initiate those discussions, but if there was a political issue in which I was interested I didn't hesitate to raise a question about it, or as I say, he had these telephone calls coming in all the time—they might initiate or stimulate a discussion about politics. Often the discussions were about Duke or members of the family—in a large family you've always got something to talk about in relation to the family. Church—there would often be discussions about the church.
BEN BULLA:
As head of the house he was the dominant factor in the conversation wasn't he? Did the children play much of a role in the conversation?
ROGER GANT:
I guess you would say he was the dominant factor, but Katherine—yeah

Page 18
the children played full roles in the conversation. No inhibition on the conversation—he would not dominate the conversation. The children or the children-in-law or the guests—there would often be other guests for Sunday dinner or other times. Quite often it would be family members—The Charlie Jordans or some member of the Henry Jordan family or the Frank Jordan family. Edith Walker came down for Sunday dinner for years.
BEN BULLA:
Was that Edith Sellars Walker?
ROGER GANT:
Yes, Everett's first cousin.
BEN BULLA:
Let's talk about the 1972 primary against Nick Galifanikas. Other than health and age reasons, Roger, do you know of any other aspects or factors that could have been involved in his defeat?
ROGER GANT:
Well I think they are the two primary ones, Ben, they are the two that Nick kept saying he wasn't going to talk about. I guess he said that several dozen times, but even then Everett was very charitable to this opponent who was using, at best, questionable tactics in his campaign. Everett was very reluctant to even criticize even that.
No, I think they were the real issues; certainly age—Everett was not too old to be elected—if age had not been brought into the campaign, because there had been dozens and dozens of very able politicians—less able than Everett—who had been elected at an older age than his was. Health was questionable and I guess in the final analysis it was just as well that Everett did not get reelected the last time.
BEN BULLA:
Was there a change in this country from the so called ERA people, the younger folks and the John Kennedys and Robert Kennedys—a youthful group. Was that a sort of mass type of thing at that time where youth versus age was taking a bigger role?
ROGER GANT:
Yeah, I guess so. The mood of the country changes from time to time.

Page 19
Some of these changes happen very quickly and are very short term—Camelot, the Kennedy Camelot era certainly had an effect on the country, and still has. Many people consider John F. Kennedy to be one of their great personal heros. Even I do in some respects. I think John F. Kennedy was certainly one of the great leaders we've had. He was very charismatic, and like the Pied Piper, when he blew his horn, people followed. Whether he led them in the right direction is another story. I guess the mood of the country had something to do with it.
BEN BULLA:
Do you think the Democratic Party had become complacent?
ROGER GANT:
Ben, I'm no political strategist. Gosh, I don't know, I don't understand the way the public behaves. I think the fact that these issues of health and age were constantly touted in the media and by the other side, certainly were the principle cause, whether they were legitimate or not is not the question, but the fact that they were constantly brought to the public's attention certainly had an impact. I don't know about the general youth syndrome because there were a lot of older people who were—look at Walter Jones. You talk about age and health, Walter Jones should have been gone from the Congress years ago. That guy can't even get to the floor to vote but about one time out of ten his health is so bad, but nobody has made an issue about it.
. . . protective of the people that worked for him. Look at the people on his Washington staff. When he knew that he wouldn't be back he found good jobs for everybody on his staff I think, that wanted to stay there, from Bill Cochrane right on down to the newest clerk. He placed them all and I think that's a great credit to the respect that other people had for him. If they hadn't had that respect then they wouldn't have found jobs for these people. It was a much less friendly capital than it would have

Page 20
been had he won his election.
BEN BULLA:
As far as textiles go how do you appraise his performance as a senator? Did he do a good job representing the industry?
ROGER GANT:
Oh yeah. I'm trying to think of some specific issues that were raised at the time.
BEN BULLA:
You know the got the two price cotton system changed for one thing.
ROGER GANT:
Yeah. He was a very strong representative of the industry. Very strong. Everett was a much better arbitrator than anybody we've had since I think. One of the things that would irritate me at times about Everett's political life was his compromising and supporting opposing issues when I just really felt deep down he must feel the other way about it. But Everett knew how to get the better end of a trade, and if he made a compromise if you'd look back a couple of years later you'd see that his compromise hadn't been as great as the other man's compromise.
He was a born trader. He would trade his position on a minor issue for somebody else's position on one that was more major to his constituents.
BEN BULLA:
D. K. Muse expressed it this way: "When Everett Jordan compromised he extracted a price."
ROGER GANT:
He got the better end of the deal. He may have compromised on an issue that was unimportant to N. C. but very important to Idaho and in exchange he got an Idaho vote for an issue that was very important to N.C. and not very important to Idaho. He knew how to put those combinations together. He always got more than he gave for his constituents, and I don't think we have anybody that can do that now. Jesse Helms has given up his ability to do much trading and I don't think Terry knows how to do it very well. Everett was charitable in letting other people to take credit for things that he had done. Specifically the U. S. government environmental health facility at the Research Triangle—that agency came to N. C.

Page 21
principally because of Everett Jordan's work in Washington, but he allowed Terry Sanford to take the credit for it when he was governor. I believe my timing is right on that. And he really never stepped up and tried to take the spotlight away from Terry although Terry had very little to do with it. I wouldn't have stood back and let that happen but Everett saw that in the final analysis the important thing was that the agency came here—not that any one person get credit for it. He was instrumental in helping Luther Hodges and Archie Davis getting the Research Triangle going, but you rarely see his name associated with it. His influence was probably as great as either one of theirs, but the history books will record somebody else as the father of the Research Triangle. It won't be Everett. He and Luther Hodges were extremely close friends and business associates in two or three ventures. They had great respect for each other and worked very close together behind the political scenes, and I guess Everett had a lot to do with Luther Hodges going to Washington and certainly with his becoming governor. And I think Luther would have acknowledged that.
Bill Umstead—Everett was quite instrumental in getting Bill Umstead elected and having Luther Hodges appointed to take his place. There were times when Everett did like to get the glory, but there were many times when he stepped aside and let somebody else get it. Everett liked the privileges of being a senator. He liked having a good parking place; having a senatorial license on his tags so he could swing and park in a great many places that were prohibited to other people. He liked the privileges that came with that job, and he liked running the inaugural proceedings and being able to get his family placed on the platform and letting people he wanted to to go to the inaugural balls and all that kind of thing. He liked that. I don't

Page 22
think he ever abused it but he enjoyed those privileges. You can't blame him I guess.
BEN BULLA:
He had one hot potato while he was up there that was somewhat controversial and he was criticized—Bobby Baker—how do you appraise that?
ROGER GANT:
Bobby Baker. Yes. Everett saved Lyndon Johnson's skin on that. Again, Everett's ability as a trader and a negotiator kept that matter about as quite it could be kept and Everett certainly pulled the attention away from Lyndon Johnson on the matter and let the heat fall somewhere else. He couldn't keep Lyndon Johnson's name out of it completely but the heat stopped with the Senate and when Lyndon Johnson went to the White House the heat didn't follow him, and Everett maneuvered that.
BEN BULLA:
He and Johnson were very good friends.
ROGER GANT:
Very good friends until after the Baker case was settled and then Lyndon didn't have much more the need of it. Everett did not agree with Lyndon Johnson on very many social programs that Lyndon had adopted. Lyndon changed a great deal. Lyndon was a great politician and certainly controlled the Senate and therefore to a large degree the House also, when he was the majority leader. After he got to the presidency Lyndon changed his attitude about a lot of things. He looked to the country rather than Texas—his stand changed about a lot of things and it got farther and farther away from Everett, and therefore Lyndon couldn't count on having Everett vote the same way he wanted the Senate to vote, because Lyndon's requirements changed, so he no longer had this very close voting ally that he had had before, and he didn't need Everett very much any more. I think he kind of turned away from—turned his back on him. He couldn't ever give him credit for the Bobby Baker saving—saving his tail on that—he couldn't let that issue rise again—I don't know whether it's in his memoirs or not—
BEN BULLA:
Did Everett ever comment on the Baker case in your presence?

Page 23
ROGER GANT:
I don't ever remember discussing the Baker case other than commenting on what was in the papers. Everett didn't talk about it much. I don't think I ever heard him discuss it, certainly never heard him discuss anything that wasn't already in the papers.
BEN BULLA:
He was very discreet in those matters.
ROGER GANT:
Very discreet. He certainly was. I never heard him criticize Lyndon Johnson ignoring him.
After Lyndon Johnson got to the White House for the first few months Everett had his ear, but after that he didn't. I think Everett could still arrange tours through the White House for his Washington guests and that kind of thing, but as far as being a close confidant of Johnson, he no longer was.
BEN BULLA:
In the Senate they worked very closely together.
ROGER GANT:
Very close. Lyndon Johnson was much more conservative or middle of the road in the Senate than he was after he got to the White House. He didn't have the Great Society ambitions when he was in the Senate, or at least if he did they weren't voiced. Lyndon was a very conservative Democrat in the Senate like Everett was. He was one of the Democrats that was trying to keep the Democratic Party from becoming so liberal. He felt the way to do it was to stay in the party and not desert it as Everett did. But after he got in the White House he just completely forgot all those conservative trends and seemed to realize that the more voters he could do things for why the more they were going to idolize him. Rightly or wrongly, he thought that.
BEN BULLA:
When Everett pulled away from his southern bloc and became a dove instead of a hawk in the Vietnam war—did he ever comment to you about his decision to make that change?
ROGER GANT:
No.

Page 24
BEN BULLA:
That probably gave him more acclaim than any other one thing he did—so far as national acclaim.
ROGER GANT:
Yes that may have lost him votes on the conservative side. No, I don't remember us discussing that. It was one of the issues that I didn't agree with him on, but I'm sure that his convictions about it were completely honest.
Everett used to tell some stories of when he was in WWI—what are some of those. Then he used to tell some stories about when he was out in Kansas with Uncle Fred about fitting eye glasses. That was one thing he did in the jewelry store. They really did the same thing then that these very complex machines do now. They had a tray of lenses in the back room and somebody would come in that needed new eyeglasses and Everett would ask them if their arms
[END OF TAPE 1, SIDE B]

[TAPE 2, SIDE A]

[START OF TAPE 2, SIDE A]
ROGER GANT:
Everett was going to run—
BEN BULLA:
For governor.
ROGER GANT:
Well this was in the early planning stages and Everett was considering whether he ought to run or let Henry run and Everett was seriously considering running, and Charlie Jordan came to him and said, "Look here Everett, Henry is the one that's been laying the groundwork for this job and he's been the highway commissioner and he's been the one out organizing the team to work on this thing. If you step in and—it wouldn't be fair for you to come in and take over on the groundwork that Henry has done if he wants to run. For once, you just step back and let somebody else be NUMBER ONE." Finally neither of them ran, but Charlie had stepped in and said that Henry was the one that deserved this opportunity rather than Everett, and asked Everett not to screw it up for Henry if he wanted to run.

Page 25
BEN BULLA:
But Everett was the oldest of the four sons and he might have thought that Henry should stay still the younger brother or the second brother.
ROGER GANT:
Yeah he did. And he always felt that he had the privileges of the senior member. And I think he felt that he was more [unclear] than they were. And Charlie didn't want him to decide—if the choice had been between Charlie and Everett I don't know what Everett would have done. He had a great deal of respect for Charlie.
BEN BULLA:
Custom made shoes had made in Boston didn't he?
ROGER GANT:
Yeah, I believe it was in Boston; had a special last made and had his shoes handmade.
BEN BULLA:
He'd buy two pair; one brown and one black didn't he? Or were they both black? Probable both black.
ROGER GANT:
Well in later years they were certainly both black.
BEN BULLA:
He always wore the same color dark grey suit.
ROGER GANT:
Dark grey or navy blue—almost black. Katherine gave him a sport coat and slacks one time. They would go off on these cruises with Carl Cline and Albert Garrou and everybody would be wearing sport coats, or they would go to the ATMI meeting—and so Katherine gave him a sport coat and he wouldn't wear it. It stayed hung up in his closet all year so Katherine wrapped it up again that Christmas and gave it to him again. He never did have it on I don't think—never would wear it.
. . . he tried to help people as long as he could. Whatever he could do for anybody he tried to do it as long as it didn't hurt somebody else.
. . . The house at Montreat was the only real estate he owned. The mill owned the house he lived in and he bought that farm down there and he owned that but that was kind of a—the Montreat house and that farm were

Page 26
kind of a response to the deep seated urge to have a permenant place to go. He said that if anything ever happened to the mill, and he had come through some pretty hard times with it—if anything ever happened to the mill, says, "I got that farm I could go to to scratch out a living." Before that he had the house in Montreat, "I've got a piece of real estate, a house that belongs to me and if anything happens to the mill I can have a place to live." He had a special feeling, especially for the Montreat house.
BEN BULLA:
The mill was his consuming interest wasn't it?
ROGER GANT:
Well, I don't think it was his consuming interest. I think the mill was a way to do the things he wanted to do. I think his consuming interest was these people that he knew and associated with and talked to all over the country. Other mill people—the ATMI, the family, these people involved in state affairs before he really got into politics formally. The N.C. Citizens Association for instance. He was interested in the political process long before he became formally active in politics. The citizens association is a good example. That was an outlet for this urge he had to try to improve conditions in the state.
. . . was talking about—something about theis NC Free—about how screwed up I was about political issues and things.
BEN BULLA:
Are you still chairman?
ROGER GANT:
Carl Jessup the head of the Weyerhouser operation in North Carolina.
BEN BULLA:
How about David Stedman, did he play a key role?
ROGER GANT:
Yeah—quite involved in it. The Carolina Telephone Company guy was chairman a year, Carl Jessup is chairman this year.
BEN BULLA:
You were Chairman in the beginning weren't you? Are you one of the charter members?

Page 27
ROGER GANT:
Yeah. I chaired it for two years while the thing was trying to get organized and going.
BEN BULLA:
How about [unknown] did he serve as chairman?
ROGER GANT:
No, not yet, I expect he will.
BEN BULLA:
Did David ever sell his company?
ROGER GANT:
Yeah. I don't know whether he's been paid for it. I assume he's being paid over a period of time, but he has sold it.
. . . balance on 50/50 blends. We have a carded yarn cotton mill in Macon Georgia that used to belong to Bibb, and we have a combed yarn mill in Kings Mountain that used to be one of the Johnston Mills and they are both balanced on 50/50 cotton and something else. Kings Mountain mill is 50/50 polyester/cotton combed and the Macon mill is usually 50/50 cotton/polyester but it can be cotton and rayon or cotton and something else. And we make heather blends in that plant. That's carded yarn, and those two mills operate as one division of our company. Division manager Jack Davis who comes sales agents perspective, and he reports to Eddie, my brother. Then we have a division that Charles Grady runs which makes acryllic yarns primarily. We do make some polyester yarn. And we make some specialty yarns that have nylon in them and crazy things. That's mostly dyed yarn operation. We've got a yarn dyehouse over here similar to the one at Saxapahaw—not nearly as nice, but it dyes about 300,000 pounds a week. Yarn from these three spinning mills that Grady runs. And also he spins yarn for our canvas business in two plants. One plant spins the heavy shades and one plant spins the light shades.
BEN BULLA:
Is canvas a heavy item for you?
ROGER GANT:
Yes. That's a good business for us we've been in it a long time. We're dominant in our part of the market. Grady does some of the yarn spinning for them, some of the weaving. We bought a plant in Anderson

Page 28
S. C. from West Point almost a year ago to expand that division. That used to be run by "Chet" Gant, Cecil, Jr., and since his retirement David Edgerton runs that and that sells this colored canvas to the awning and canopy trade—Marine boat covers and boat tops, sail covers.
BEN BULLA:
How about panty hose, are you still in that?
ROGER GANT:
Still in the pantyhose business. Bruce Voncannon runs that; we sell about 35 or 40 thousand dozen a week of panty hose and knee-high ladies stockings.
BEN BULLA:
Any men's hosiery?
ROGER GANT:
No. That's a good steady business for us. We don't have a big share of the market but we do some specialty things in that area. We make a very high percentage of outsized goods—queensize which require an extra panel to be sewn in, and we make a very high percentage of boarded goods so that look nice in the package. Both of those are premium priced products. We try to stay away from the real commodity, highly competitive part of the business.
We have two filament yarn texturing operations one at Norlina which was started by Harriet and Henderson as a polyester texturing mill. And they got out of it and Bob McCorkick took it over and went broke and killed himself over it and then we bought it out of bankruptcy and started making nylon hosiery yarn instead of polyester. We were already in the nylon hosiery business. We had some machines at Altamahaw. We consilidated all of them at Norlina and have expanded that unit right much and we have about 20% of that market and want to build it up to about 30%. Dick Ferro runs and reports to Alen Gant.
Then we have another filament yarn texturing operation that air textures filament yarn. We air texture in the finer denier range. It's been around a long time in carpet yarns and upholstery yarns, heavier

Page 29
deniers, but we're pioneering in apparel denier range. We've been in that about 12 years I guess. We're the major factor in that market. Alan is responsible for that—Pete Long is his division manager.
Then we have a weaving mill at Burnsville that makes heavy tafetas. We don't make the cat goods stuff—the 70 deniers and the 50 deniers, but from 150 denier up to a 1000 denier, and those fabrics are used for some apparal—parka shell fabrics, policemen's jackets, collar interlinings, cloth for soft sided luggage and back packs, some upholstery. We're the largest customer of Du Pont for cordura—specialty areas.
BEN BULLA:
You don't do any denim?
ROGER GANT:
No. I guess in '75 we made some.
. . . make commodity products. We make them at very low cost and sell a little bit below the general market. We don't make commodities. We do make some but the polyester combed yarn business is a commodity business I guess, and we wonder whether we ought to be in it, but we have a little section of the market that we are doing very well in, after some start-up pains and problems. They make a very good quality that sells to the underwear trade—t-shirt trade. That's certainly a commodity product.
Then we had two commission finishing plants
[END OF TAPE 2, SIDE A]

[TAPE 2, SIDE B]

[START OF TAPE 2, SIDE B]
ROGER GANT:
I think Rose Ann is more like her father than either one of the other two. Ben is much more like his mother; a heck of a nice guy; he's real nice and gives everybody the benefit of a doubt. He tends to see everything through rose colored glasses.
Everett had a great stubborn streak in him and John has that to the extreme. Rose Ann has a lot of it, but I think she has more of her father's ability to judge situations and people involved in them and adjust to them. Now John tends to be more analytical in sizing up people and situations than Ben.

Page 30
BEN BULLA:
[unclear]
ROGER GANT:
Yeah. Yeah, Rose Ann should have been a man. She'd have been the image of her father. She wouldn't have had to play a woman's role such as women have to do because they're born women. She would have played a man's role and been just like her father.
BEN BULLA:
[unclear]
ROGER GANT:
I don't think she has any trouble making decisions, but she analyzes . . . situations where a man is inadequate . . . she would analyze as her father.
I think John often makes his decisions before the fact based on what happened in the past, and a decision made in the past needs to be modified—John was reluctant to do. I think he has the flexibility to adjust to the situation that his father had.
BEN BULLA:
Mr. Jordan was a good listener.
ROGER GANT:
He was a good listener but he didn't always [unclear] what he had heard. And John has inherited that trait. Everett paid more attention to what other people said than John does I think. John had prejudged and predetermined a course of action and dosen't adjust to what's happened since he made that decision. Everett would prejudge and predetermine a course of action but he would adjust to factors . . .
END OF INTERVIEW