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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Sidney Leneer Pete Underdown, June 18, 2000. Interview I-0091. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Underdown's father died from an electric shock in a factory elevator

Underdown's father was killed by an electric shock from an elevator cable. He had been walking between furniture plants in the rain and fell victim to a faulty fuse.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Sidney Leneer Pete Underdown, June 18, 2000. Interview I-0091. 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

See my father got killed, and we came back to Lenoir in 1928.
KATHLEEN KEARNS:
So you were very young when he died. Do you mind if I ask you what happened?
PETE UNDERDOWN:
Yes, my father got killed. He was general superintendent of Bassett Furniture Industries. He was the mayor of Bassett, Virginia. He was the police chief of Bassett, Virginia. He was a deputy sheriff for Henry County. That's where he got his arresting authority and all that. But he ran Bassett, Virginia, the whole town, both north and south, old town and new town. New town was where he first went to work. And we lived there about five years. He was out there about six, six and a half. He got electrocuted on an elevator. You've probably never seen an elevator that you have to take hold of the cable to work the switch with in a loft on top of the building.
KATHLEEN KEARNS:
I've seen it in movies.
PETE UNDERDOWN:
You change it. Well, he went in there and they pulled that-. In the new plant that they'd just built, they'd been having a little trouble with the fuses blowing. Well, somebody filled a fuse up with lead so it wouldn't blow. And he walked from one plant over to the other plant that [] built, and got his feet a little wet. It was raining. Or they say he got his feet a little wet. I'm not sure that he did. But he pulled a cable to get the elevator down to the floor he was on. When he took a hold of that, seventeen thousand volts hit him, and the only way they got him loose from it was to cut the power off.