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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Jane Squires, September 21, 2002. Interview R-0192. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Qualities of a successful tobacco auctioneer

A good auctioneer has mastered the chant, keeps a level head, feels compassion for growers, and maintains a good relationship with warehousemen, Squires says. A good relationship with buyers helps, too, but conflict is inevitable. The atmosphere of the tobacco auction encourages some participants to act out, Squires believes.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Jane Squires, September 21, 2002. Interview R-0192. 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

WILLIAM MANSFIELD:
Well, what makes a good auctioneer?
JANE SQUIRES:
Clear chant. Level headed. Got to have a compassion for the grower. You need to get along with your warehouseman. You don't necessarily have to get along with all the buyers, but it does help.
WILLIAM MANSFIELD:
How so?
JANE SQUIRES:
Well, I'm sure there are some buyers that don't like me. If everybody liked me it would be a very boring job. But I did try to get along with as many as I could. Now if one was just going to be intolerably difficult, I'd just tune him right out. And say I'm going to have him this season and deal with him and be done with it. That's the way I look at it, if I knew I was getting a buyer that had a reputation of being a trouble maker. And you get those.
WILLIAM MANSFIELD:
What do they do to make trouble?
JANE SQUIRES:
Nothing is ever right. [They'll] dispute everything you do. [They'll] say you missed a bid and they didn't even bid. Blame every thing on the auctioneer. And a lot of times that happens. It doesn't happen much any more, but it happened in the past. Usually I know I can make it one season with anybody. I never had that many that I didn't like.
WILLIAM MANSFIELD:
I was going to ask, if this guy is constantly disputing and slowing down the sale, how does that go over with the other buyers?
JANE SQUIRES:
They get enough of it too and say, "Please just do your job." But that's the kind of person that would make waves in any job he had. Not just on the tobacco sale. You know there people like that everywhere you go.
WILLIAM MANSFIELD:
I'm afraid so.
JANE SQUIRES:
It's just on a tobacco sale they're a little more animated I think. They're out in the open. They're not behind a desk. They're not in a classroom. Which to me is a lot like being on stage, being in a classroom.