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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Emma Whitesell, July 27, 1977. Interview H-0057. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

A violent strike at a textile mill

Whitesell remembers a violent strike at Plaid Mill: strikers attacked strikebreakers with stones, and the National Guard bombed the mill. Despite this experience, Whitesell has not given much thought to unions. She seems to feel that they inappropriately interfere in the lives of workers.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Emma Whitesell, July 27, 1977. Interview H-0057. 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:
Do you remember when they had that strike in thirty four, when the National Guard came in?
EMMA WHITESELL:
When they bombed it?
CLIFF KUHN:
When they bombed it, yeah.
EMMA WHITESELL:
Yeah.
CLIFF KUHN:
What do you remember about that?
EMMA WHITESELL:
Well, I was just scared 'cause I was living on Trollinger Street then and I wasn't working at Plaid Mill at the time.
CLIFF KUHN:
Where were you working?
EMMA WHITESELL:
I wasn't working anywhere. It was about the time my baby was born. I forgot what month it was, but my baby was born and died in July. That must have been thirty four. I would walk up there towards the stores you know, every evening, and they'd just throw rocks and all at cars coming out of the mill. It was kind of scary.
CLIFF KUHN:
Did you know any of the people involved at all?
EMMA WHITESELL:
Well, I didn't know who was throwing the rocks, but some of the people that was working I did, yeah. But I don't remember who they were.
CLIFF KUHN:
What did you think about the unions?
EMMA WHITESELL:
I don't know, I didn't think much about it, 'cause it was kind of scary. And I don't think anybody ought to have a right to tell the other one what they can do and what they can't do. Them people that went in there and worked would just risk their life, going in working. 'Cause they didn't know what they was going to do and they'd throw them great big old rocks. They're liable to went through a windshield and hurt somebody. But nobody didn't get hurt I don't think.
CLIFF KUHN:
No, I don't think so either. Well, what do you remember about the bombing?
EMMA WHITESELL:
It just went off. [laughter]