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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 >>

Coverage of the "Marion Massacre"

A variety of journalists, authors and historians have covered portions of the Marion Strike. The Finleys talk about their impressions of Sinclair Lewis and other authors who have come since then. They also describe how reticent the company is to share information about the strike even to this day.

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

SAM FINLEY:
And Sinclair Lewis was right on the picket line with us.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Did you meet and talk to him?
SAM FINLEY:
Yes, he was right in the crowd. That was when he was writing. . . He wrote one or two books about this strike. You can't get a hold of them no more; I don't know what happened to them.
VESTA FINLEY:
Don't they have one in the library?
SAM FINLEY:
I don't know.
VESTA FINLEY:
Yes, somebody told me they had one; who was it was here said they had a book that they got at the library? They're bound to have one up there.
SAM FINLEY:
I went to the bookstore and asked the man about it. Oh, he said there was some book written about it. He wouldn't talk to me about it; he wasn't interested.
VESTA FINLEY:
Somebody around here told me they got one at the library to read.
SAM FINLEY:
There was a boy, a young man that came by here about two years ago. Going to school, and he was going to write about this Marion strike. I talked to him out there a good little while. And he wanted to find out who lived here And I told him I was here. He asked me some questions, like you're doing. He said: "I went down here to the office, to talk to the personnel man. I went down there and wanted to see some of the records that happened that year when there was the strike. And the personnel man told me that they had a boiler explosion and water damaged all the records and they were ruined." [laughter, Vesta Finley] I told him I said: "Now he didn't want you to see the records." "Oh," he said, "I'm going to find out what I want to know if I have to go to Raleigh." And when I came in, "Tell me what Sparkey said," she said. "How did he think so quick?" I said: "He didn't have to think; all he done is open his mouth." [laughter, Vesta Finley and MF]
VESTA FINLEY:
And then even at that told Sparkey. [laughter]
SAM FINLEY:
I told you that; I don't care. And he told me the ending: "Well, that man come here wanting to know Sam Copeland and Adam Hunt, and some of the mill men that's been dead for years, wanting to see some that were here." I said, "And you sent him to my house." He said, "No I didn't." I said: "You did; and I loaded him up." [laughter, Vesta Finley and MF]
MARY FREDERICKSON:
Do you think they do have the records?
SAM FINLEY:
Yes, they've got records, but nobody can see it.
MARY FREDERICKSON:
I just wondered if you thought they really did.
SAM FINLEY:
Yes. But there's never been no boiler explosion and no records destroyed. He was just quick on the trigger.
VESTA FINLEY:
He just told him that because he didn't want to. . . .