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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with James Pharis, July 24, 1977. Interview H-0038. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Keeping his job in a wave of firings

Pharis remembers in instance when a new supervisor at a mill in Reidsville, North Carolina, fired everyone at the mill but him and gave him a raise.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with James Pharis, July 24, 1977. Interview H-0038. 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

CLIFF KUHN:
So your first job was over here in Reidsville, you said, as a supervisor?
JAMES PHARIS:
The first job was supervisor in Reidsville.
CLIFF KUHN:
And that was with Burlington Industries?
JAMES PHARIS:
Burlington Industries. I never will forget it. When I went to work with them, the job was right on the bottom. Terrible. I'd work one week and when I went in on the following Monday after I'd work one week, and when I drove up (I'd drive in from Spray over there) all the employees stayed in the little old drink stand across from the mill. When they'd see me coming in, I went over and stayed with them until it was time to go into the mill. They said, "What you doing over here?" I says, "I got to work. Why?" They says, "Well, they done fired everyone of you all. Didn't you know that?" I said, "No, I hadn't heard anything about that." Well, I was thinking to myself, "Well now what?" So I didn't go into the mill. I went to the superintendents office and there was a new superintendent. I told him, "They told me everybody's fired except me. If I'm fired I don't want to walk up there and have to get my coat on and walk out. Just tell me now and I won't go in there." And he says, "No you're all right. Just go ahead." And they came around about an hour or two later and told me I was getting a raise.
CLIFF KUHN:
This is the first week?
JAMES PHARIS:
The second week. Told me they was giving me a raise. I was thinking to myself, "By golly, I must be all right [Laughter] Fired everybody but me and give me a raise.
CLIFF KUHN:
Did they hire all these new supervisors…
JAMES PHARIS:
All new supervisors come in.
CLIFF KUHN:
All at one time?
JAMES PHARIS:
All except me. I was there one week. Maybe it was two weeks, either one or two weeks.
CLIFF KUHN:
Do you have any idea why they did that?
JAMES PHARIS:
Well, one reason was the job was in such a bad shape. They just wanted to try a new crowd, a new bunch in there.
CLIFF KUHN:
Now what do you mean, "It was in such a bad shape?"
JAMES PHARIS:
Seconds about fifty percent seconds. About half of the products come out of there were seconds. And they just wanted to make a change and they made it totally all except me.
CLIFF KUHN:
How did you manage to get that job in the first place?
JAMES PHARIS:
The supervisor from… the first shift supervisor over there, he had worked at a place I had worked at before he got to be supervisor.
CLIFF KUHN:
So he had worked at Spray?
JAMES PHARIS:
He knew me, yes. He come over and asked me if I'd be interested in the second hand job in Reidsville. I told him I'd check with him on it. They hired me.
CLIFF KUHN:
As second hand?
JAMES PHARIS:
As second hand.
CLIFF KUHN:
On which shift?
JAMES PHARIS:
On second shift.