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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Vesta and Sam Finley, July 22, 1975. Interview H-0267. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

National union leaders

Sam and Vesta insist that the strikers in Marion refused to follow any leaders who had Communist leanings. This difference, they say, is what separated their experience from the strike experiences in Gastonia and Elizabethtown.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Vesta and Sam Finley, July 22, 1975. Interview H-0267. 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

MARY FREDERICKSON:
Before the strike went on here, had you heard of strikes going on in Elizabethtown or in Gastonia?
SAM FINLEY:
Yes.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
How did you hear about them?
SAM FINLEY:
Well, in the newspapers. We didn't hear the real fact of the matter; just what they wanted to put in the papers is all we knew about it.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
But did you think of those people in Elizabethtown being in the same situation that you were in, or. . . .
SAM FINLEY:
Yes, we thought of it that way. We knew they were.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Was there any communication, except for the organizers? Did any people, come, local leaders from. . . .
SAM FINLEY:
No.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
In Gastonia the National Textile Workers were doing some organizing. Had you heard about them, or. . . .
SAM FINLEY:
We heard about them, but we didn't have much to do with them. We didn't like the tone of their voice. They were communists. They were too much communist, and we were warned not to have nothing to do with them.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Who warned you not to?
SAM FINLEY:
The leaders.
VESTA FINLEY:
The leaders didn't want to have anything to do with communists, but we had them there in the union. Because I was supposed to make a talk at one of the union meetings one night, and I had picked up a book that they had brought in for us to read in. And I was getting my headlines from the story in there from some man. And so when the man that was the head of the meeting that night saw what I was going to talk about, he said, "Don't do that." And I didn't have sense enough to know that the man was communist, you know. So he didn't want me to bring that out in the meeting.
SAM FINLEY:
Now tough part to organize; the communists would come in, then, and try to take over. Because there were some few of them here, but they didn't make any headway.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
What about Hoffman or Tippitt, Tom Tippitt in Argentin? Were those the people you were very familiar with and felt comfortable with as organizers, or were you. . . .
SAM FINLEY:
Yes, we felt pretty good with Mr. . . .
VESTA FINLEY:
Well, they had a winning personality and a lot of talk. They were educated in the thing. They knew how to handle a situation and when the people, you know. . . .
MARY FREDERICKSON:
How did you feel about their coming from the North to the South?
SAM FINLEY:
Well we didn't think much about it. [laughter, Finley] We was looking for help; we didn't care where it came from.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
What about the leaders here who you thought were communist, or who were communist? How did you find out about them, or how did you know. . .
SAM FINLEY:
Well, we didn't find out too much 'til later. But when they'd try to squeeze in and take over, we kind of shied away from that.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Do you remember who any of them were?
SAM FINLEY:
Well, I won't call names.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Did they live here, or did they come from outside?
SAM FINLEY:
No, they come here from other places. Nobody that lived here was mixed up in it.
VESTA FINLEY:
Well, I believe that Mr. Ross was, and he was from Holland or somewhere. Didn't he come here from Holland?
SAM FINLEY:
I don't know where he come from. But there were several of them that. . .
VESTA FINLEY:
I believe he was an ex-immigrant.